October 19, 2017

Tax cuts are elites abandoning stewardship over society; Will commoners abandon acquiescence to elite rule?

Now that the same ol' Republican BS about cutting taxes is rearing its ugly head again, we're hearing the same ol' griping about how it's only fair to cut their taxes since they pay the vast majority of the tax revenues. The apology goes that, It's impossible to "cut taxes" without making it a yuge boon to the very wealthy, and of minimal impact for the working class.

But that assumes that the main goal is to lower taxes, and that the inequality aspects are incidental, which nobody believes. Everyone knows the goal is to make the rich richer, whether or not that benefits the middle class, and even if it won't benefit the working class at all.

By now the mask is off: the elites of our society refuse to provide for our protection and prosperity, i.e. to fund the government that provides these large-scale public goods, whether directly or indirectly by establishing the rule of law, regulations (especially over economics), and so on.

The Pentagon still refuses to defend our southern border, or any of our borders for that matter. They turned a blind eye to obvious terrorists who were training on our soil (Florida, run by Jeb Bush at the time) to blow us up on 9/11, and they have refused to exact the slightest revenge against Saudi Arabia, the nation that attacked us and that continues to be the #1 exporter of radical Islamic ideology (Wahhabism). They instead took us on a pointless and ruinous war in Iraq and Afghanistan, who did not attack us.

Our military elites do not want tax revenues to go toward protecting the American people, but toward trying to (and always failing at) extending the empire's borders abroad. The American people couldn't give less of a shit about whether or not we are in control of Afghanistan, but to the brass at the Pentagon, that is a very big deal -- another piece on the chessboard that they may come into possession of.

On the Democrat side, Wall Street still refuses to use banking as a means of building and sustaining the American economic ecosystem. As far as stockholders are concerned, America is only good for corporate headquarters and the executives who run them. Actual productive activity may take place in a foreign nation, or at best in a domestic setting but with an immigrant workforce that works for pennies on the American worker's dollar. That's putting aside that so much of the banks' activity is speculation -- gambling -- rather than productive.

Given our elites' clear contempt for the notion that they have a duty to protect us and help us prosper, it comes as no surprise to see them clamoring for paying even less for such projects than they already are.

Besides, cutting taxes won't dry up their funding for the elite-benefiting bubbles -- they'll just borrow another trillion from China in order to bail out Goldman Sachs or wage war in Afghanistan. Some future group of suckers down the line will pick up the tab for today's elite debtors, or maybe the country will default and suffer a massive credit penalty -- borne by those future suckers, not today's charge-a-holic elites.

No society has had the elites disconnected from the common people for very long. In pre-industrial, pre-democracy times, the elites provided protection by raising standing armies to defend against invaders, personally leading the charge into battle, and so on. They provided the land to live on and to raise food up out of for commoners, albeit with a decent chunk of that food going to the landlords and other elites.

This big chunk going to elites would not materialize without the participation of the masses in a stratified large-scale economy. The elites owe their elite status to the cooperation of the commoners. If the elites only relied on themselves, they would be dirt-poor commoners, too, with no status. A tiny number of people cannot produce what is needed for massive wealth and power. It is their connection to, and reliance on the labor of, their far more numerous subjects.

In return for propping up the elites, the commoners enjoyed a certain measure of protection and prosperity.

Otherwise, why would the vast majority tolerate elite rule? They could simply encircle the elites with their sheer numbers, march them up to the guillotines, and then that's that for the elites. They only go along with elite rule because they're getting enough out of it, enough to stay safe and to earn enough of a living to support their family. The relationship is normally one of symbiosis.

But once the elites begin to hold back on protection and prosperity, they become a big fat parasite on the poor host. Then it becomes only a matter of time before the host tries, by more and more desperate measures, to excise the parasite and begin healing.

Today's elites are so insulated by their constant in-fighting and hyper-competitiveness against one another, that they don't realize how despised they have become by the common people. And once that trust is lost, by continued abdication of their elite duties, it becomes impossible to win it back with just words and promises. They will settle for nothing short of a purge of the elites and a whole new group of leaders, a whole new vision of how society ought to work, and a whole new attitude toward their subjects.

That's why they elected the guy who campaigned against the "rigged system," who expressed frustration with both parties of leadership, and who promised to "drain the swamp" in the nation's capital.

The elites have responded by taking the people's ambassador hostage and running society exactly the way it has been run for the past 40 years. Draining the swamp is not happening (not just at a slower pace than we'd want, but the re-growth of the swamp), the nationalist project has been halted for the time being by the purge of Trump supporters in the national security apparatus, and it still remains to be seen if the populist themes will get any real action like gutting NAFTA and slamming 35% tariffs on corporations who fire Americans in search of cheap labor abroad.

Trump is only one man, with few supporters inside the government or elite factions, and who as a total outsider came into the White House with zero political capital. So we must blame the elites for all of the bad things that are still getting worse. And most people do. They see who the real problem is -- not Trump, but the GOP Congress, its donors like the Koch brothers, and its elite factions like agriculture and the military who insist on cheap labor and open-borders multiculturalism (which empires necessarily are).

The fact that the Republican Party could be pushing the biggest tax cuts for the rich in world history, during at time of populist rebellion among their own party's most hardcore voters, just goes to show how suicidal the party is. It may be beyond redemption at this point, to be replaced by a new second party -- not a permanent third party, but a new second party. It's only happened once before, but that too was during a climate of literal civil war. Maybe it's going to happen again.

Trump re-election theme: "The Republican party -- forget about it, it's dead, it's gonezo. We're going to repeal and replace the Republican Party -- and we're going to get much better policies!"

The Democrats are bound to hang on and ride this whole thing out. People thought after the election that it was the Democrats who were dead, and the Republicans who had become invincible and immortal. Wrong. The Republicans are still hell-bent on suicide, while the Democrats are at least adapting to the new climate. They're not as shrill about identity politics, framing their arguments against Trump / GOP as battling elitists, rather than racists or sexists or homophobes.

To reiterate: the Dems are going to ride it out rather than exploit Republican weakness to triumph like never before. Democrat voters are not as angry with their own party, and do not want to burn it all down like the Republican voters do to their own. That's because Democrats actually deliver for their voters, even if it's just bread crumbs -- better than absolutely nothing.

In this context, there's a big role for Rust Belt Trump voters to play in getting the Democrats to deliver more substantially on their issues that overlap with the populist agenda. "We voted for Trump, so if you want us to vote Democrat for House or Senate, you'd better propose a soak-the-rich tax policy." Otherwise, the Democrats can kiss Trump voters good-bye.

Obviously the Democrats' framing would not be "soak the rich" as though they were victims, but as making the elites give back to the commoners who are the basis for the elites' wealth and power. Otherwise we're going to see wild mobs chopping off heads in order to free themselves of the parasites, and nobody wants the war to escalate that far. They can frame themselves as the calm reasonable mediators between the two classes, and the Republicans as the "let them eat cake" party -- not a hard thing to do, since that's exactly how they're behaving, even after their own voters told them "populism or death".

While the Democrats peel off the populist half of the current zeitgeist, the new second party will peel off the nationalist half. The main faultline in the GOP today is insurgent nationalism vs. Establishment globalism. And since the GOP is already more of the elitist party on economics, they have nothing to offer the populist-nationalist movement.

After peeling off their specialty area, they have to not be so crazy on the other area, which is hard in such a polarized partisan climate. Democrats must say, "Yeah, we're open to closing the borders -- on the condition that American workers get more unionized." And the new second party must say, "Yeah, we're open to single-payer healthcare -- on the condition that only American citizens get access."

In the meantime, keep burning down the worthless, globalist-elitist GOP.


  1. "Democrats are at least adapting to the new climate. They're not as shrill about identity politics, framing their arguments against Trump / GOP as battling elitists, rather than racists or sexists or homophobes."

    I hope you're right about this, but I'm not sure. I just see the wealthy gals so very in charge on that side. But, if I've read you correctly in other posts, you don't think they have that much power?
    The latest example of their selfishness: they seem more interested in keeping the Hollywood scandal focused on women (and even taking a bite out of Trump, serving a political agenda) rather than trying to expose and bring justice to everyone. Blinded even to children.

  2. Hard to believe that, until relatively recently, a substantial part of the white working-class voted Democrat. This held true even into the 90s. Here's a scene from the movie "Primary Colors", where the Bill Clinton stand-in jokes with a bunch of dockworkers. That kind of scene could never take place in today's political climate.


    Has not just to do with inequality, but the "identity politics" created by cocooning. As Agnostic said, the liberal politicians don't actually take that stuff seriously, but it has a big psychological impact on the public.

  3. OT emergency:
    Ag, please put on your quant hat and keep an eye on this:
    Emil Kirkegaard is wondering if
    Lynn fudged national IQs. "Independent recalculation by David Becker. All open and verifiable. So far, n = 305 studies covered. r=.90."

    I think he's working on a write-up now...

  4. I think the biggest indicator that the Republicans and conservatives in general have no idea what they're doing is looking at the Great America Alliance. Remember how everyone was so excited to see what Bannon unleashed meant for the swamp creatures Recucklicans and all it's amounting to is a resurgence of the Tea Party, a "movement" funded primarily by mainstream conservative money. There's really nothing at all that differentiates the Tea Party from the mainstream Republican party aside from being a little more religiously zealotous and a little more whiny about taxes.

    It's just such a losing proposition and if the Democrats aren't complete idiots and, as you said, give even the smallest bit of bread to the white working class of the Great Lakes region then the gains Trump made with them will be erased. It's just lunacy, the Republican version of the mistake the Obama Dems made of doubling down on social issues. Much like how nobody but the Dem diehards cared about prog garbage like gay marriage, trannies in general, women's issues and such the same will hold true about religious freedom laws, abortion and tax cuts for the rich. None of that affects the life of the average person so the average person will be wholly ambivalent to it. I mean can you imagine if the Republicans had run Teddy Teabagger instead of Trump? He would've been slaughtered.

  5. Actually, these things do matter......To people born in 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, who had enough economic opportunities that they could afford to get morally worked up and/or buy into ideology about getting the goddam gubmint out of everything and freeing up heroic private enterprise (tm) to work it's magic.

    It was really the 90's when it all started to corrode. But this corrosion has affected younger people the most. Older generations could soak up the goodwill flowing from the mid-century. Remember, Boomers in the 80's bought into the hallowed rhetoric about America being a shining city on a hill. And early X-ers, who've never effectively left the (ideological) shadow of Boomers, aren't dissimilar. Too many early X-ers just checked out, or became too deferential to the sanctimonious me generation.

    It's really up to people who graduated high school in the 90's and beyond to get us back on track. To us, we never could remember the country being on track in the first place. The End of History, the official start of the culture war in 1992, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama all being inept and corrupt to varying degrees, no definite and enduring foreign policy victories over clear-cut villains, de-industrialization, China owning us, etc. are all that late X-ers and Millennials have ever really known.

    It it takes shame and embarrassment over Pax Americans to rein us back in, we've got to wait for more people born since the mid-70's to get more influence. After all, they are the ones most stung by modern excesses, who cringe about what America has always been to them instead of wallowing in nostalgia for a sunny past they never benefited from.

  6. While the Bannon candidates are straight out of the Tea Party, there may be a change this time if they can embrace "economic nationalism" -- Bannon's recurring phrase for how to beat the Dems, win the white working class, and change militarism in the Middle East into trade wars against China and Mexico.

    He says those are litmus tests for his approval -- trade and immigration -- so that's an improvement over the Tea Party, when no one mentioned big-picture economics, let alone in a more protectionist way vs. a kneejerk libertarian way.

    The difficulty is that the states that offer the best opportunity for insurgents are safe red states -- there, the only election is the GOP primary, so it's fine to dislodge Establishment Republicans w/o risking a loss to the other party. Voters there feel safe choosing a Tea Party type for a general election.

    But outside of the South, those states are big-league beneficiaries of the de-industrializing trade deals. They want to keep NAFTA, since it traded America's industry for Mexico's agriculture.

    A real Trump candidate is likely to come from the Rust Belt. But then he probably wouldn't be a hardcore Tea Party type then, and wouldn't risk losing the general after displacing an Establishment GOPer in the primary.

    In the South, they could do both -- be Tea Party friendly, as well as tap into Southern populism, and win the general. I'm hoping that Bannon et al. are pushing Roy Moore in that direction on trade deals.

    Appalachian Alabama, where Moore (and Strange) are from, is getting pretty Rust Belt-y itself. Birmingham was called the Pittsburgh of the South. But they're making the same shift to crappy service jobs and a handful of government bubble "new economy" tech jobs (e.g. in Huntsville).

    I can see Moore getting worked up into a sermon about how Alabama doesn't need more phony tech jobs that only lure in carpetbagging yuppies -- they need more cutlery makers so the southern part of Appalachia can give the northern end a run for its money in manufacturing pocket knives.

    "Now that's something you can be proud of!" I sense the same frustration and disgust from him about where our economy has gone, that you hear from Trump. Working Americans need hard honest work that is productive, not soft-handed service jobs that don't add much value to people's lives.

    "Well you can make your own hamburger, we don't need those jobs -- but you can't make your own pocket knife, now can you? That's where people need to be put to work!"

  7. In my Rust Belt city, the largest hospital corporation is "reinvesting in the community" by salvaging some of the unowned but well located downtown real estate and selling them to outside developers for luxury condos and apartments.

    I know the CEO's family. They are the classic Republicans and subsequently, completely tone deaf. What's the point of having these units when there are no major businesses to hire young people to live in them? Parents in the suburbs sure as hell don't want to raise their kids in a downtown apartment. You can't really count on spillover hipsters from a more expensive metro to save a city either or afford those apartments.

  8. Why would the democrats be the one to tone down the corporatism? The primary prcoess on the presidential level rigs things more in the establishment's direction than the GOPs's setup does.

  9. Interesting essay and comments, and I'm responding a couple points of one of Feryl's comments.

    First, I think that Hillary Clinton vs. tea partier Marco Rubio was very much the script for 2012. The script called for Hillary Clinton to lose narrowly to Rubio, with the Republican Party getting its version of Obama. Because she was supposed to lose, her many negatives were not an issue, they would just ensure she lost! I'm not sure how this became unglued, but when Trump won the Republican nomination, because of Clinton's negative's TPTB couldn't just elect Hillary as a back-up.

    Good generational observations. However, I was born in 1970 and I think my experience aligns more with someone born in 1980 or even 1990 than someone born in 1960. Remember that generational theory, which I take with a big grain of salt, puts Gen X at being born between 1965 and 1982.

    The big divide is the period where pretty much any white young adult could count at getting a job, almost on demand, and the period where even highly skilled and energetic people could almost count on long periods of unemployment and underemployment. The big divide seems to have been the GHWB recession of 1991-3. Pretty much if you graduated college before 1990 (born in 1968 or earlier), if you graduated after that date, no, though there were a few bubble economy periods after that, most notably in the second Clinton administration. The deal is that if you were born after 1986, you didn't even get the bubble economies. This is one area where generational theory actually tracks reality pretty well.

  10. "The big divide seems to have been the GHWB recession of 1991-3."
    It might be connected with "cocooning" - people going out of the house less - which benefited the older generations more. The workload is less intense, so the olders can stay without having to quit, and the younger generation. less social, had more problems job networking.

  11. "Now that's something you can be proud of!"

    That's a life you can hang your hat on
    You don't need to make a million
    Just be thankful to be workin'
    If you're doing what you're able
    And putting food there on the table
    And providing for the family that you love
    That's something to be proud of

    1. Moore, Alabama, Appalachian, something to be proud of... Uh oh! A Montgomery Gentry spiral coming on!

      He works way too much for way too little...he hasn't had a raise since new years day in 88.... He's proud he took the rightwing stand in Vietnam...

  12. The big divide seems to have been the GHWB recession of 1991-3."

    That was a make or break period, but since it came so early in the striving cycle, we were gonna end up breaking more things.

    Levels of immigration soared in the late 80's and early 90's, to the point that a backlash developed (which Sailer demonstrated recently with a survey showing that Dems and Repubs. were both hostile towards immigrants in the earlier 90's). People would've been more accepting if we were still in 1986, economically, but American natives understandably were questioning just why so many foreigners were being let in after the 80's bubble was burst (something that arguably happened as early as 1987).

    During Clinton's 2nd term, it was off to the 90's bubble races, and many Boomers began to adopt a passive and cynical attitude about a lot of social/political issues. Things were booming again, why question how it happened (financialization, off-shoring, etc.) or who really was benefiting (primarily older and upper class people). As much shit as the mid-80's get, really the late 90's (as in 1995-2001) were in some ways more disgraceful; this blog once pointed out how populist the left wing was in the 80's and early 90's, and let's not forget that the Reagan admin. was the last regime to do anything that was remotely protectionist (Bill Clinton is really the president who led the full neo-liberal charge).

    Peter Brimelow says that the last chance to really safeguard America's demographics was the early 90's, but we totally blew it.

    The very late 80's is really when a lot of elites began to buy into globalism, with all it entails. We've "only" had to put up with this shit for 25-30 years at this point, and Western elitists are becoming desperate to do anything to keep the con going, most obviously by flooding Western countries with foreigners and refusing to do a damn thing to reinstate quality middle class jobs that Americans took for granted in the 1940's-1980's. About 1/5 of America is now foreign, and that's likely an undercount (does anyone really know how many Mexicans are in Cali. and Texas?). You'd have to go back to the 1920's, maybe even the 1930's, to find a comparable stat. And this isn't just a racial thing, per se. Mayflower descendants by the early 1900's were fed up with so many Irish/German/Italian/Polish accents being audible. It's impossible to have any real solidarity or particular trust in a populace overwhelmed by foreigners.

  13. Feryl, again good points, and honestly there is not much to add to your comment.

    Though he sometimes he forgets this, blue state (Candaian, puritan, left wing) blogger Ian Welsh wrote that the last exit on the road to hell was in 2004. I think that is applicable to all sorts of things. The real damage was really done in the 90s. I'm pretty lenient on Trump -and Obama- since by the time they came in it was really too late.

  14. Oh, Ag! When the time is right, I can't wait for you to address this jump-the-shark moment of this hysteria:

    "It happens, you try to forget about it, and later you exchange war stories with other women."

    I had no idea until now that when I was getting my butt pinched, grabbed, and the worst, flicked, throughout middle school, I was experiencing my own private Vietnam. How did I ever recover?!?

    Seriously, this is elder abuse, this humiliation of a very old man. People of maturity and decency know that the elderly are more disinhibited, part of dementia.
    My sister-in-law, a good Catholic, had a grandfather who sired seven children and was a religious man. He outlived his wife and made it into his nineties. One day, his daughter found a Playboy amongst his things and the family was distraught and gently confronted him. He broke down sobbing.

  15. This hysteria is, so far, a net good and I'm very, very thankful for it. A little of it has been funny, too big a chunk has been exploited by the thoughtless and vain.

  16. I'm sorry you had to go through that. H.W. was posed as a grandfatherly figure when he was in office, and while older people do tend to lose their inhibitions, this seems like something he did when he was younger, too.

    1. Please don't be sorry. No, I wouldn't allow that to happen to my daughters without repercussions, but it's not the end of the world and I wish people would quit acting like it is.
      Please save your compassion for real victims because honestly, so much of this is victimhood stealing.
      There are women trying to grab a piece of that victimhood with woes of being asked for their number "just because" they smiled. Or even "I witnessed harassment but did nothing and I feel so guilty!"-1000+ Twitter likes for that one.
      These people are awful.


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