Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

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By now, many readers will have seen or heard Donald Trump’s call for the country to get back to work within the next couple of weeks, accompanied by a slew of other insidious and irresponsible remarks along the same lines—from business executives, politicians, and pundits, including ex-Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Fox News

What can one say in response to such a blatant disregard for workers’ lives, all in an attempt to protect capitalism, restore private profits, and goose the stock market? Yesterday, Jack Amariglio, Professor of Economics Emeritus from Merrimack College, came up with the perfect rejoinder. . .

 

My modest proposal (no satire implied):

All those 1/10th-ers of the 1% and their political lackeys who are calling for “America to go back to work”—indeed, asserting that workers WANT to go back to work—should have to agree to the following conditions. I propose that ALL the health resources—ALL of them, or their monetary equivalent—that this sliver of the American population can and does command, either by ownership or by consumption, should be immediately transferred to all workers and non-workers in the United States as a precondition of “workers going back to work.”

In addition, this 1/10th of capitalist and financier loudmouths should work the most menial job (that is, “menial” in their opinion) in whatever companies or organizations they head or own or are a major shareholder in for the next full year beginning now. They should be made, or rather “agree,” to work this job for an average 8-hour day, 5 days a week minimum for this entire year. Moreover, the health coverage this elite should have access to should be the national average healthcare coverage of workers doing this particular job, whatever it is.

If they are willing to abide by these conditions—for starters—I for one would support Trump “reopening” the American economy, and workers going back to work knowing full well that doing so is going to kill at least 1-2% of them from COVID-19 in the coming year. Perhaps, in fact, some of that 1/10th will be killed off. But, of course, as some of them have said, that is the “patriotic” price they would have been willing to pay in order to make sure that “their children and grandchildren” have access to “the American dream.” If the 1/10th and their political mouthpieces are NOT willing to agree to these conditions—and that includes Trump and his sycophantish children—then they should immediately shut the fuck up and wait until the United States has at the very least “flattened the curve.” This is in lieu, for now, of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, not to mention full paid leave and extended unemployment benefits for workers, a guaranteed annual income, and the equivalent for the self-employed and non-workers.

Please add to this or amend it as you see fit.

 

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Motto

In the dark times, will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing.
About the dark times.

— Bertolt Brecht

( trans. John Willett, from the Svendborg Poems)

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus for the past two months (the last real post, aside from daily cartoons, was back in January). But readers have encouraged me to get back in the game and resume my “occasional” commentary on economics, culture, and society.

Right now, in these dark times—as the number of confirmed cases of and deaths from the novel coronavirus pandemic, in the United States and around the world, continues to soar—we’re focused on immediate measures, individually and socially, to stay safe. And, of course, capitalist economies are in meltdown, not only in stock markets, but with massive unemployment (which the Trump administration wants states to hide from view) and increasing precarity for millions and millions of already precarious workers.

The provision of much-needed medical supplies, school closures and other measures that encourage social distancing (or, my preference, distant socializing), “stay at home” orders, lots more testing—all are desperately required. As well as are funds and policies that protect workers who have few protections against unhealthy and unsafe working conditions and, through no fault of their own, are losing their jobs and being forced to find ways of surviving in the midst of the current chaos.

Immediate measures, then, to keep people safe and financially secure.

But we also need to be thinking about what all this means, for ourselves and for our economy and society going forward. We need to discuss and debate not only the immediate measures being proposed and adopted, but also what this portends for our collective future.

As for myself, I am particularly interested in the way the existing common sense may be shifting—in darker directions, to be sure, but also in opening up new possibilities. As a friend wrote to me just yesterday, maybe there’s some hope in the fact that “at least some governments feel compelled to feed, house, and save people, [which] may be a great lesson in the reality that stands behind property and the ‘laws of economics’: social labour that we can socially allocate.”

That, it seems to me, is our challenge in the days, weeks, and months ahead—to think seriously and critically, perhaps against all odds, about our current situation and to be ruthless in that criticism “both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.”

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Posted: 17 March 2020 in Uncategorized
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