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Oh, I Don't Know, I Suppose They Think Slavery Isn't Good Enough for Them.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 06/17/2016 - 07:00
Young Americans are giving up on capitalism. That's the angle of an article from Foreign Policy. The report paints a grim but familiar scenario.

Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought.

In America, the bottom falls out fast. 

The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered.

America's young, the 18-29 year olds are turning against capitalism, at least the predatory capitalism that is the hallmark of neoliberalism.

According to an April 2016 Harvard University poll, support for capitalism is at a historic low. 51 percent of Americans in this age cohort [18-29] reject it, while 42 percent support it. 33 percent say they support socialism. The Harvard poll echoes a 2012 Pew survey, in which 46 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds had a positive view of capitalism, and 47 percent a negative one. While older generations had a slightly more positive take on capitalism — topping out at 52 percent for the oldest cohort, citizens over 65 — youth had a markedly different take on socialism. 49 percent viewed it positively, compared to just 13 percent of those 65 or older.

Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll,told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

American youth seem to be rejecting modern predatory capitalism that preys on their generation. What they seek is some restoration of New Deal democracy, what I like to call progressive democracy. 
Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.
You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself.

The crushing reality depicted in this article breathes life into Chris Hedges' contention that America is in a simmering, pre-revolutionary state. He argues that it's not a matter of if but when and then how bad will it be. Remember the Arab Spring uprisings were a result of several forces but youth disaffection was one of the most powerful. Sanders and Trump have shown that their country has a broad-based discontent that, when properly led, could be the kernel of open unrest that takes hold and spreads. 
Neoliberal capitalism with its hellspawn of globalism, inequality and oppression never was the "trickle down" cornucopia of prosperity and ease. It was, instead, a "trickle up" phenomenon where wealth was gradually sapped from the working classes, winding up in the laps of the 1%. It only took just 30 years for America to reach the point of economic feudalism.

Justin Trudeau and the Un-Googling of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Fri, 06/17/2016 - 06:57

As you probably know I have been extremely pleased by the systematic way Justin Trudeau and his Liberals have been demolishing Stephen Harper's foul legacy.

Scrapping his monuments, deep sixing his fascist crime bills, taking out the garbage, and improving our image in the eyes of the world.

And in that regard this is another excellent move.
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An Impressive Debut

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 06/17/2016 - 05:31
I don't feel much like writing lengthy posts these days. In the final analysis, as my literary friend Hamlet would say, they are just "words, words words." However, every so often I come across a video that seems more than worth sharing, as in the following.

Now is the season of commencements, and Grade 8 graduate from Arlington Heights Jack Aiello sets a new standard that will likely be hard to match for years to come. Showing a real capacity for mimicry and a surprisingly
mature understanding of U.S. politics, Jack uses the current presidential race to full advantage, as you will see. His Trump is priceless, and if you watch to the end, you will be stunned by his Bernie Sanders.

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When Politics Becomes Reality TV

Northern Reflections - Fri, 06/17/2016 - 04:30

Kevin O'Leary wants to lead the Conservative Party of Canada. But, before they hand him the keys to the kingdom, the Conservatives would do well to examine the fate of another star of reality television -- who is spontaneously combusting. Micheal Harris writes:

Frothing-at-the-mouth populism is face-planting south of the border. The Donald is not only getting the big “F— you Donald Trump” from rocker Neil Young. He’s not only being told that he’s a fascist democracy-killer by the likes of Johnny Depp — in effect, according to the actor, the “last” president of the United States Americans will ever have if they’re foolish enough to elect him. He isn’t just being called out as a fake and a fraud by the Republican establishment, including the party’s last presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
The polls seem to indicate that Young and Depp are not alone in their opinion of Trump:

Despite the Rosie O’Donnell treatment Trump has meted out to Hillary Clinton, the first woman running for the White House in American history leads the Donald by 12 points nationwide. Trump owns a 70 per cent disapproval rating with women; with Mexican Americans, the Donald’s disapproval soars to 89 percent — and when it comes to African Americans, the reality TV star is about as popular the Zika virus, with a stunning 94 per cent disapproval rating.
And then came Orlando:

Orlando was a train-wreck for Trump. Obama, he hinted, had not taken forceful action to stop domestic terrorism because he sides with Muslim extremists. It was an odd moment — a presidential candidate actually suggesting that a sitting U.S. president was in some way complicit with terrorists — was a traitor. As Bloomberg News reported, that “landed with a thud for the majority of Americans, with 61 per cent disagreeing with that suggestion.”

Trump also displayed what a horse’s ass he is when it comes to informed analysis of world events. In referring to the Orlando shooting, the Donald talked about the danger of allowing “thousands and thousands of Syrians into the country.” But the shooter Omar Mateen was an American citizen, born in Queens, New York. And his parents didn’t come from Syria, but Afghanistan.
You don't have to be smart to make it on Reality TV. You just need to be controversial -- the more the better. And, in the final analysis, everybody loses -- including the star.


Donald Trump and the Ask The Gays Outrage

Montreal Simon - Fri, 06/17/2016 - 02:18

As if it hasn't been a brutal enough week for the LBGT community. So many deaths, so much grief.

And so much anger over the way people like Donald Trump are using their tragedy and their pain to try to hurt others.

By whipping up hatred against Muslims, Mexican-Americans, refugees and others, while ignoring the hatred that killed their brothers and sisters. Homophobia, the beast that lives in so many.

So as you can imagine, this was like adding insult to injury.
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