In his classic American novel of 1925 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald crafts the character Meyer Wolfsheim, a Jewish gangster who wears human molars as cufflinks. He is one of the title character’s “gonnegtions” who also happened to have fixed the 1919 World Series and, in doing so, in Fitzgerald’s worlds, “played with the faith” of the American people.
On this day of the 2020 Women’s March, masses of people across the nation will gather and march to call for recognizing the human rights of women as a necessary element of a truly just and equal society for all.
The wealthy often complain when sane and reasonable minds point out the dangers and reality of the obscenely class-stratified nature of U.S. society.
These complaints often find expression in such phrases as the following:
When Josh Jacobs was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, he received a signing bonus of $6.7 million. The story of the star running back from the University of Alabama quickly circulated, featured in the headlines in major media outlets such as USA Today, NBC News, ESPN, and more.
What is the story of the U.S. economy?
Not unlike the proverbial elephant subject to scrutiny by a band of blind men, the nation’s economy is subject to multiple narrative descriptions depending on which component of the beast, whether our economy or an elephant, the blind man massages.
Who would think of making a comedic drama about the Holocaust, one the most tragic and horrific events in world history, resulting in the genocide of six million Jewish people, as well as other groups, such as gay people and Gypsies?
In the last Democratic debate, candidates challenged the narrative that record-setting stock market performance and historically low unemployment rates signal the success of Trump’s economy. They countered describing how this economy is failing most Americans. Despite low unemployment, wage stagnation means people work multiple jobs. The high cost of housing and healthcare are leaving people with insufficient access to either. Trump’s tax cuts disproportionately enriched corporations and the wealthy. In short, the “booming economy” is just another massive transference of wealth from the middle and working classes to the top wealth hoarders.
When Democratic primary candidates were asked last Thursday about the economic policy platforms of their campaigns in light of the fact that Trump’s economy has yielded record-setting stock market performances, historically low unemployment rates, and significant GDP numbers, Andrew Yang’s answer interestingly sounded more like a medical doctor diagnosing America’s collectively failing health than an economist wonking out on growth policies.
The Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations merited certain rights of personhood. The decision in this case became crystallized in the notorious phrase, “Corporations are people.”
Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow has hinted that another supposed middle-class tax cut may be in the works, a “Tax Cut 2.0” to be delivered—Surprise! Surprise!—in time for the 2020 election season, an bare naked ploy to try to convince average Americans he really cares about and their economic interests.
In response to news that the economy created 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate dipped to 50-year lows, CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza rehashed the tired but nonetheless damaging and deceptive narrative that “the economy” is indeed strong, providing Trump a clear path to re-election if only he were politically deft and disciplined enough to stay on it. Cillizza suggests he isn’t and that it is precisely his inability to stay on point about the success of the economy that threatens his 2020 re-election bid.
Back in 2004, Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? elevated the state as the textbook case of how the Republican party has been able to leverage a platform of conservative social values to sway the electorate to vote against its economic interests. Railing against abortion, affirmative action, big government, elitism, political correctness, and the like, Republicans surfed the wave of voters’ cultural outrage to election victories and then performed the bait-and-switch.
Speaking before the Ohio Women’s Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia in February of 1950, Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy waved a piece of paper before his audience’s eyes, insisting he had a list of over 200 communists working in the state department.
Remember in 2016 when an armed Oregon militia group, led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Princeton, Oregon? They viewed the federally managed land as an encroachment on their land use rights as ranchers and as an example of the federal government’s overreach in asserting its authority against the people.
In a recent interview with CNN, billionaire Leon Cooperman choked up, visibly upset as he talked about the future he envisioned for his vast fortune and the havoc he imagines a wealth tax, like those proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, would wreak on his plans. He characterizes her proposal as “socially and morally bankrupt” and complains, echoing Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, that Warren has been engaging in the “vilification” of billionaires.
Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal has certainly sparked debates not just about basic questions of fairness, of morality, but also about the economic effectiveness and very meaning of taxation.
The debate raises the question of what it means to invest in America.
After last Thursday’s House vote to advance the inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) labeled the proceeding a “soviet style impeachment process” and effectively accused democrats of hijacking the 2020 election, usurping the people’s democratic rights because of their sour grapes over the 2016 presidential election results.
The national security threats the behavior of President Donald Trump and his administration have posed to the United States have justifiably been the focus and concern of those members of congress leading the impeachment inquiry. After all, the Mueller report compellingly concluded that the Russian Government “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” and discovered numerous points of contacts between Russia and the Trump associates leading up to, and even after, the 2016 Presidential election. Trump’s recently discovered shenanigans in soliciting the Ukraine government to dig up dirt on his opponent Joe Biden and effectively interfere in the 2020 election.
While pollsters continue to assess the American electorate’s appetite for impeaching and removing President Donald Trump from office for his criminal behavior, finding still a population virtually split down the middle, voters seem to have far less tolerance for the fraudulent enterprises of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The wealth taxes Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed continue to provoke the malice of Wall Street, corporate democrats, and now even other Democratic candidates running for president.