February 11, 2017
Greed Is On Center Stage in Washington
Muncie, Indiana – The 2016 election cycle made one thing very clear, and not just in the United States, but throughout the world – “Our leaders are completely out of touch with average citizens.” Progressives were hoping that eight years of Barack Obama would correct our social and economic disparities, but Obamacare failed and we ended with even worse income and wealth inequality than before he started in 2008. And, unless Trump has saved his “working class centered” agenda for later, there is nothing he’s proposing to help average Americans. In fact, his current policy directives are signaling a full blown Kleptocracy – Gordon Gekko is running the White House.
It’s too early to assess how protectionist policies will help American workers, but from all indications, it will be a wash. Traditional job creation is no longer the solution. Due to the internet, we’ve become global citizens, but we’re not being treated as such. Quite the opposite.
Years of manipulation through social engineering isn’t working. Millennials don’t watch corporate run networks. They also know when they’re being coerced as consumers. Our institutions of higher learning should be in the forefront leading these new concepts like “universal basic income”, but too many have become political beasts of the donor class who support free market capitalism.
As I’ve written about numerous times, neoliberal policies from the 80’s, or enriching the rich to benefit society as a whole has done only one thing – enriched the rich. You cannot espouse cutting taxes on the rich AND disparage income redistribution models. You can’t make life better for the capitalists while making life worse for workers. These policies have created authoritarians like Trump who’ve promised to balance the scales, but as we’ve witnessed with one cabinet post after another – he lied. He’ll be doing nothing but enriching those who supported him and inflict damage on his opposition. In other words, it’s the same old political games played out whereby one corporate owned political party attacks the other, and then vice versa. It’s boring.
So, what happens when voters figure out Trump’s policies and cabinet members only care for the wealthy, and the pain felt by average Americans and local communities only increase?
More “dispossessed workers” and more “disillusionment” will be wanting to tar and feather Trump and find someone ever more ego driven to hammer the politicians in power who failed them once again. Fascists aren’t a party for the people, so anybody coming from the right will only perpetuate the pain. We’ll need a leader like Bernie Sanders from the left – a progressive.
The Solution is “Leave No One Behind”
As I wrote about last week, there are leaders on the world stage who understand the problems and have solutions. Many of them were in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) last month to discuss these issues. Here’s a snippet of hope from the WEF:
The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda commits us to “leave no one behind”, while the International Labour Organization’s goal of “Decent Work for All” embraces the same principle. Today, we find ourselves at a pivotal point in history to make this happen. I see the global political developments of the last few months as a revolt of the dispossessed, of people – workers – who feel they haven’t benefited from globalization. Every generation hopes and dreams that it will be better off than the previous one, both professionally and as a society as a whole. For many, this dream has been thrown into reverse.
And I think their frustration and disillusionment are very much generated from people’s experience of work, whether that’s their exclusion from work, or their insertion in labour markets in conditions which they find unacceptable.
The societies we all live in are distributing the benefits of globalization and economic processes extraordinarily unfairly. It is a well-documented fact that since the 1980s and 1990s, for example, wage inequality has increased in many countries around the world.
When I look at the job market in Muncie and see high school graduates looking for retail or fast food jobs making less than $10.00 an hour, when their grandparents made $40,000 a year in a factory, it’s understandable why there are so many drug issues facing our communities. Escape from reality is a viable option when you’re born into a family who also struggled to keep afloat. I’ve heard kids talking about jail like it’s a hotel. Until they get caught, they’re making better money selling drugs part time. And, when the upside is a brief vacation in the county jail, society is going to have problems.
I would say our world leaders are on the right track. I heard that Jack Ma has met with Donald Trump several times in the past few months. What’s still incredible to me is the lack of editorial discussion about greed within the United States. We need to end this adoration with greed – it’s a cardinal sin and we need to treat it this way. Instead of idolizing conspicuous consumption, we need to hold it accountable for what it is – self-centered greed. The 80’s culture of “greed is good” isn’t working any longer and it was never going to work. As global leaders have acknowledged, it’s time we change directions and usher in a new culture of shared wealth for all global citizens. This will challenge the prevailing political structures of both communism and capitalism.