Erasing Student Debt without Tuition-Free College?

With the stage set for Joe Biden to take the White House, many on the left are praying he will pass anything from Bernie’s agenda. By the looks of his complete corporate sell-out of a cabinet, from Amazon to Air B’n’B people, we are crazy to expect anything but a social security cut. However, they have recently floated the idea of eliminating all college debt. While this seems like a victory at first, this falls right in line with the Wildcat Democrats, they only move on things when it enriches or empowers them. With the election results showing the new American divide is the college-educated vs the non-college-educated, this seems to be a massive payout to highly educated people who supported Biden. This has the potential to incite class warfare, this is a trillion-dollar wealth transfer to the most upwardly mobile segment of the population. You are probably thinking, wait wasn’t Bernie for this? Are the companies that loan this money preying on minorities that receive the worst end of the bargain? Let’s break down how this plan differs from Bernie’s and why exactly the corporate Dems are keen on it.

First off, we should know, the Corporate Democrats that sell out constantly would never actually pass a bill to help working families, it is strictly against their donor’s demands. So how does this debt relief bill gets approved by the lenders that pay for their mansions? This is where Wildcat liberalism comes in. See the Dems find a way for these seemingly liberal policies to line the pockets of them and their rich donors. Stated more clearly the Pelosi brand of liberalism is to back a cause once it is financially profitable for her and her donors. Someone like Elon Musk becoming one of the wealthiest men on earth from renewable energy is a great example. They only get on board once they can make money doing so, just like all these consumer brands running marketing campaigns for social justice. Is the cause morally there? Sure, but they are ultimately doing it to make money. Nothing is sacred to this group of corporate elite Dems, and their donors who run these marketing campaigns. Remember Nike backing Collin Kapernick, all the while using slave and child labor to make their shoes overseas. While the call for social justice is real and legitimate, the movement has been overtaken by those profiting off the campaign. This is the case for every “liberal” cause that the corporate Dems have backed, it either makes them wealthy or at the least cost them nothing, for example publicly backing the #metoo movement yet not passing any legislation. 

So how could relieving student debt not excite the Bernie Base? Well if you are familiar with the debate on student loan debt there are a few different ways to slice this cake. The plan Elizabeth “The Snake” Warren and the Bidens corporate administration back calls for erasing all student debt. Is removing student debt a bad thing? No, at first take it is a really good thing. We know that minorities are more likely to take on student debt to attend college. If you are younger than 45 you know the pressure of attending college, do it or flip McDonald’s hamburgers for the rest of your life. We are also aware of the predatory practices with student loans, for example it does not disappear with bankruptcy. Student loans also cripple those in the most critical roles in society like social workers, who the market system tell us are worthless based on their paycheck. From this perspective you are probably wondering how could we not be excited about their plan? 

This is where it is important to highlight the difference in the Corporate plan and the Bernie plan. Bernie’s plan included making all public colleges and universities tuition free. This is the crucial part that Biden is missing, and also the part that risk further dividing the country. Imagine being in the massive group of people who did not attend college and you have no student debt, but you have plenty of debt on your home and car. You voted for Trump, he losses and Biden devises a plan to transfer as much wealth as possible to his voters and not you. He does it by erasing all student loan debt, not UBI or free healthcare that all voters receive, but by erasing the debt that majority of his voters carry. This is the major difference in Bernie’s plan and theirs, they are breaking FDR’s golden rule, never create a program that doesn’t include everyone. They are choosing a specific group to help, if we should ever cry foul play it is now. When the governement starts segmenting people you enjoy it until you are on the losing end of the deal. What happens if the Republicans are propelled by angry voters to give UBI only to those who didn’t attend college?(it would never happen) We would be in an outrage! This is why Bernie’s plan of making public universities tuition free is superior, it includes everyone and prevents this nightmare student debt crisis. 

This is the the primary divide between Bernie and the Corporate Dems like Pete and Warren, he is actually fighting for all people, not just his voters or donors. For the Corporate Dems the greed and thirst for personal power aligns with todays cynical climate. They flourish speaking negatively about the other side, scoring internet sound bites are much more important than actually legislating, Kamala Harris is a great example of that. This is why they will only back progressive seeming policies when they are lucrative to them and their base. They aren’t in the game to help the nation, they don’t care about red states or red voters, just the next election.

Local Everything

Have you ever wondered what life was like or would be like with no large chains or corporations? What would your town look like if Sonic, McDonald’s, and Walmart didn’t exist? Those are just the obvious retail chains, could we function without larger companies like the internet or agricultural companies? This article will serve as an open ended thought experiment to build upon in series format. Let’s first dive into the advantages of large companies and how they occurred somewhat naturally, then we will look at the advantages of moving to localism. 

First, let’s think about how businesses have gotten so large and how they became non-local. Walmart is a great example here, they started with one location in Arkansas and expanded all over the world. Was this a Dr. Evil style plan to ruin rural economies? Very doubtful. See they had legitimate value to offer their customers, they had the lowest prices. Then as they grew they were able to keep lowering prices due to volume discounts. See businesses naturally get better prices as they get larger and larger. No matter where you live Walmart can give you the cheapest Boar’s Head Deli Meat because they are Boar’s Head’s largest customer. It’s called a unit discount, you buy X amount of units the price per unit drops. To this point they defeated competition honestly by having lower prices and more options. From there you can see how someone would open new locations in towns that didn’t have grocery stores(of course we also know they went to plenty of towns and put the locals out of business). Thus the value of having low prices spread to consumers across America. 

Let’s just compare the composition of American small towns before and after Walmart. While the prices benefit the community and leave more money in their pocket upon purchase of groceries, they are permanently taking money out of their community. See before Walmart they might have paid higher prices, but they were paying a member of the community who was going to spend that money in the community. Just imagine how many local business owners have gone under because of Walmart, potentially 3-15 business owners per town. This is how corporations start the slide toward inequality, first, they take out the local grocery store owner in a small town, she then quits visiting the local salon to get a discount at Heads Up, slowly putting the local salon out of business. This is the snake that eats itself, we selfishly or for survival need the discounts, and we perpetuate the cycle leading to fewer and fewer people owning businesses and making a profit. It is like a corporate vampire that has sucked the money of every rural town in America. 

Why is it so tough for us to try and support our neighbors? First, these large companies spend fortunes to win over trust so let’s not pretend the average person is just stupid. Secondly, many of these chains like Walmart and Dollar General prey on the impoverished, they know if you barely have enough money for food, you will buy from the cheapest store where you can get the most food per dollar. So many people are barely surviving today that we can’t just ask them to start paying more at a local level until wages start to rise to support the community. 

From a cultural standpoint, we are the most individualistic society on earth, this is another barrier to corporations’ advantage, for now. Think about Native American cultures where you were valued based on how much you gave to others. If you caught the largest fish the “prideful” thing to do is to give it to the whole tribe. Contrast that with our views of the community, the small town where people watch out for each other is dead and gone. This is the same reason we struggled more than any other country with COVID, we have a hard time thinking collectively. However, this same individualistic drive could save us. We need to flip the script and use that drive to open your own local business. We already adore the big entrepreneur culturally, now we need to adore the local entrepreneurs! This isn’t too big of a shift for Americans, the shift will be supporting local members of the community consciously. 

One of Karl Marx’s most accurate and relevant critiques of capitalism is that eventually, our work would alienate us to the world and importantly alienate us from the products we produce. What did he mean by alienate? Well, Marx saw the system with two halves, the owners and the workers. He believed that the longer a worker was asked to produce a product with no ownership, the more hostility would grow toward the product. Likewise they would grow alienated from the outside world where the product is being sent. Let’s think back to the America of Eugene Debbs childhood in the early 1800s when the majority of Americans worked for themselves as farmers or small business owners. Say you lived in a thriving small town like Debs, and you were the town watchmaker. You had control over the process and got to see the clock come together from beginning to end, feeling prideful of your daily work. Then you also felt connected to your community being the clockmaker, you walk around town seeing your clocks and your happy customers and you feel a sense of belonging in the community. Let’s compare that picture of the local clockmaker with the factory worker in the clock factory. In the factory, he works placing the same cog in the same clock all day long. He never completes a clock himself or sees a finished product because the rest of the process is finished in another building. The clocks are then distributed to customers that he doesn’t know and never sees. Eventually this employee starts to completely despise clocks and the factory. 

So how can we take back the profits of ownership and our life satisfaction? Is it through Government oversight? Is it through a lobbying effort or private group? Hard to say but this is a cause dear to our heart here at True American Radar. We often hear the phrase “vote with your dollar”,  in America that is the true ballot. We are starting on that level, personally opting for local at every chance. However, let’s not kid ourselves, this will take a mass coordinated movement to turn the tide against the Walmarts of the world. Stay tuned for more discussion on this topic.

Why Bernie Couldn’t Speak Up.

As time passes and we got to see Joe Biden get as close as possible to blowing the election entirely. His candidacy was the detriment of many Senators and Representatives, or Trump’s candidacy was their savior. Either way, Biden wasn’t even close to the Blue Wave, and we believe history will show this was the election that started a damning trend for the Democrats, they officially traded all policy to court white suburban voters. Not only did Joe abandon policy he abandoned the working class altogether for the college-educated. Seeing this complete disaster play out, we can’t help but wonder, would Bernie have flipped the senate and given us the blowout needed to delegitimize Trump? Because Joe Hidden’s low enthusiasm campaign couldn’t fully take Trump out, he will be in our face for the rest of our lives. This brings up an old campaign question, should Bernie have declared war on the media and lashed out at them for supporting their elite friend? 

It is easy to want to criticize Bernie, he’s the only one in the arena! And as the saying goes, it is easy to criticize others when you’re sitting in the bleachers. However many respectable people in the progressive left knocked Bernie for taking the abuse of the media and the corporate Democrats. They wanted him to call them all out for being hypocrites, it’s safe to say it felt like the good guy could finally get a shot to layout the bully. After so many years of the Government serving the wealthy and being so corrupt who didn’t want someone to stick it to the Andrew Cuomos of the world. Heck, we see that conservatives wanted to give Washington the middle finger so bad they would have backed anyone willing to do so. While it would have felt good for 30 seconds watching Bernie accurately tell off Jake Tapper, it wouldn’t have gone the way we think.

For those who are thinking,” well Trump went against the media and he won” let’s break that down. While Trump’s Twitter following and media strategy were successful, read more about it here, let’s focus on the damage the media did to him. In 2016 Trump was able to best the media. Even though he won, the media was able to cripple him in so many ways. They did successfully frame him as a rude and an idiot to the suburban white people that gave Joe the election. After Trump shocked them, thanks to his Twitter following(which dwarfed all media channels combined), the media adjusted their gameplan. Their strategy evolved and they found their calling card. It wasn’t in persuading voters, it was in completely silencing those they didn’t like. They didn’t need to convince voters to choose Joe Biden, they just had to cover the race like he was the only one running. This is the game Trump bested them at, ‘news media’ is just a marketing channel. And just like marketing the more a name or face is repeated the more it sinks in. In 2016 Trump garnered Billions in free advertising from CNN and MSNBC, they couldn’t quit talking about him. This is the first big reason why Bernie didn’t have the option to go nuclear on an interview with Anderson Cooper, he would have been exiled immediately, with them cutting reruns of the moment to make Bernie look insane. That is the price Trump paid, they replayed his gaffes until it drove suburban whites right out of the party. Just pause for a moment and think of all the humiliating offensive things Joe Biden has said on the campaign trail, the corn pop scenario comes to mind, or the let your kids listen to records moment, if that had been Bernie or Trump it would have played on every station on repeat, yet the media never mentions it. 

Had Bernie teed off on MSNBC he would have been smeared into oblivion. Think about it, they so rarely even let him on the air, if he would have lost his temper they would have spent every waking hour declaring they were right, Bernie was crazy. I can just hear it now, Bernie is a crazy sexist that attacked a woman live on air, just as we suspected his a sexist maniac. Think about the fact that Bernie has lived a spotless life, no dark secrets or dirty deeds like all other politicians. Yet despite the fact that he has believed the same positions on record his whole life, they still spent more time smearing him over saying Cuban literacy rates were impressive(highest in the world). Hold those smears in your mind as we think about all of the past life issues of other candidates that were never mentioned- Elizabeth Warren was a conservative her whole life, Joe Biden saying he didn’t want to send his kids to school with black children in a “race jungle”, Pete Buttigieg going from a Bernie fanboy to a corporate straw-man. The list goes for days, but we will never hear these stories on CNN or MSNBC. Sadly if you want to know the truth about the Corporate Dems, Fox News is more likely to tell you the truth. All of these stories were there, yet we never heard them. This again highlights the fact that the media’s true power lies not in persuasion(because they are more hated than Mitch McConnell) but in omission. They are the information gate-keepers of the world, if they don’t cover it, it doesn’t exist. This is how they are slowly trying to remove Bernie Sanders and his platform from our collective consciousness. Let’s not forget for the last few years Bernie has been the most popular senator in the country, and you will never see his face on CNN or MSNBC. 

The thing often overlooked about Bernie is his chess grandmaster-like ability to win and push ahead despite every one of power declaring war on him. Remember how badass it was when he put so much pressure on Bezos that he raised the company minimum wage to $15/hour. Talk about making it happen! We really believe that Bernie had a very well thought out philosophy on how to conduct himself, as well as the knowledge of how the media would treat him. You can watch clips for days of Bernie talking about the corruption of the media and how they are negatively impacting us. This is the final point as to why Bernie did pull a Trump, his reputation will stand through history. See Trump went to war, and he had a heavy price to pay. There are already talks of historically “canceling” everyone who worked with him. There are already movies coming out to bash Trump, they will tell him story till the end of time just to try and humiliate his name and legacy. See if Bernie would have declared war, he would become a laughing stock of high brow corporate Dems. His reputation would have been painted by the media as the maniac we always told you he was. We would hear quips and jokes at his expense, and he would live in our minds as a joke instead of the thought leader of America. 

One of Bernies great moves is that we all respect him more than his adversaries and infinitely more than the media. He walked the tight rope campaigning for 6 years and maintained respect decency and honesty despite naysayers trying to knock him down the whole time. In honor of Bernie’s hard work let’s vow to never forget his fight, but most importantly never forget who our true enemies are. They came after our boy, let’s have his back for once. Turn off CNN! Turn off MSNBC!

The War Within – Why Progressives need to accept the war Corporate Dems have waged.

Ever since the corporate Democrats and their donors teamed up against Bernie in the primaries, the debate has gone back and forth on whether we should just fall in line and support Biden. For Bernie supporters our next move will possibly be the most important of the movement, do we stay organized, our splinter into a thousand pieces? Let’s really start to think about how we can accomplish the agenda, but most importantly we need a thorough understanding of our enemies and how they sabotage us. We will also explore the flimsy reason why we wouldn’t go to war with Biden and company. In life and especially in politics you are never sitting still, if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward.

Flashback to 2015 when Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and Hillary Clinton rigged the DNC and democratic primary against Bernie Sanders. Did you know the DNC didn’t even allow Bernie access to their voter database(they give access to all candidates)? If you aren’t familiar with the process, imagine the RNC choosing Ted Cruz over Trump, and giving all data and resources to Cruz. Bernie had to start completely from scratch on outreach. Despite being essentially cheated and constantly dogged by Hillary and the rest of the corporate dream team, he still fought like hell to stop Donald Trump. Then after she lost the election, she spent all of her time publicly blaming Bernie for her loss, pathetic! It is truly amazing that Bernie has the integrity to take the high road and not blow up on them. 

Back then, we had no idea how to react to Trump, we were led to believe this was the evilest human to date. It was a no brainer that we could never support Trump, and any vote against Hillary could only be sexism or racism. Plus the first time around Bernie was such a long shot that it lessened the feeling that something had been taken from us, in a sense we couldn’t lose what we didn’t have. It was mostly in hindsight that we saw the Clinton shenanigans with the DNC and with the Iowa vote count, that we realized how close we were. More importantly, the first run showed us that we did exist in politically relevant numbers. Perhaps the biggest lesson missed was the strength and determination of the Corporate Dems aka our opponents. We underestimated them then, and underestimated them in 2020, to our downfall.

The 2020 Sanders campaign showed so much grit and experience from the first time around, yet no amount of skill and experience could win. When Bernie pulled ahead of Warren and started knocking Pete around at the polls, it looked like a sure victory. Then came a crucial lesson for us, the media bats last. After a pitiful campaign full of gaffs Joe Biden leaned into the political establishment and won South Carolina handily. Even though Bernie won Nevada by a similar margin, Joe received 4x the amount of positive coverage as Bernie. 

Then the unthinkable happened, behind closed doors, every greedy corporate Dem led by Obama connived up a plan to stop Bernie Sanders at all cost. They would all drop out to endorse the man in 4th place who had no agenda and seemed to be facing rapid mental decline. Never in history has someone in Pete Buttigieg’s position dropped out so early. Never forget that when this weasel gets a cabinet position in the Biden administration and Bernie doesn’t. Another lesson we didn’t learn with Warren in 2016 that we must remember with Pete- our most dangerous enemies are in blue and they are right beside us. If you don’t remember Warren endorsed Hillary when she could have tipped the race for Bernie, we should have known she would be the final dagger on Super Tuesday when she refused to drop out despite never finishing second in any state. If you watch Game of Thrones(Spoiler alert!), this is exactly like the scene where the knights watch all stab John Snow with the deception being led by Ollie, the small boy that John mentors, who stick the very last knife in his stomach. 

This is where we have to take a step back and really study our adversaries. In 2020 we quickly forgot who was really against us and how motivated they were to stop us. Clearly, we are losing the internal battle for the party. Let’s not forget the Democratic party is a shell that stands for nothing except the person in charge. If we want someone like Bernie to ever be able to win, we have to start picking off his adversaries. Replicating AOC’s victory should be our number one goal, let’s pick off vulnerable corporate Dems. Even if we can’t beat them we cannot allow them to ignore us by staying quiet and submitting to them. The Republicans cream us because they allow invigorated and aggressive members to take the world by storm. Pelosi can’t let people like Bernie in because they expose her as what she truly is- Republican Lite. The big picture lesson, we will never beat the Republicans, without beating the Corporate pseudo-Republicans on our own team first. Despite the trash-talking, we actually have to prove we have more voters than them. Say we actually go toe to toe with them and fight just as hard but keep losing, then we will have to look internally at the fact that our message does not resonate. For the time being, our enemies in blue seem to be a larger roadblock than our message.

The Creative Commons – Taking Back our Productivity

John Maynard Keynes, a highly quoted economist by conservatives and capitalist predicted in 1930 that our efficiency would rise so much that we would only work 15 hours a week. Keynes thought that by now his grandchildren would only work Monday and Tuesday and have a five day weekend. No spoiler here, we all know wages have not risen higher than inflation since the 1980’s. People are working longer hours for lower wages. There is now a massive and new class in America, the extremely hard-working poor. Is there a term that is more opposite the American dream than the phrase working-poor. This means they have the right effort, not “welfare queens”, hard working Americans trying to make ends meet and they are simply unable to on the wages of today. On top of that we see that after each recession more jobs are permanently displaced, meaning that the person who lost that job will never get it back and instead move to waiting tables and working retail- the sector where the majority of “new” jobs appear. Where did Keynes go wrong? How did he miss that we would make less money relative to cost of living? 

It all lies in productivity, Keynes knew that our productivity was increasing at a break-neck rate and assumed that at some point we wouldn’t have to spend all of our lives working. So what did he miss? Massive inequality, see keynes was right about our efficiency, except all the gains were taken by the ultra wealthy and not distributed among society. Hell, if we actually did divide up all the money in the US evenly, every person in the country would have $750,000/year. Pretty disgusting to think we could eliminate child poverty/hunger, homelessness(many of which are veterans), and so many other problems if it were only a priority. 

It is easy to see that Keynes is wrong in his final assumption, we are still working 5 days a week. However the basis for his hypothesis holds true, we have become more efficient/productive with every passing year. 

This graph from the economic policy institute at once redemes Keynes and shows his blind spot. It shows the flaw in the assumption that the “rising tide lifts all boats”. One thing Keynes could never see coming was the creation of the Creative Commons and the wealthy’s ability to own and profit from the general public’s data. 

So what are we talking about with the Creative Commons? It’s hard to say exactly but the businesses who profit from it that we are referring to here are businesses like Google, Uber, and AirBnB. Essentially we are seeing individuals own complex systems that only exist through the effort of all involved. Think about the fact that Google does not create any content that it displays on its search results, their value and product is presenting info they do not create to then study your behavior and sell that to businesses. Google is more complex which is why we believe it has made it so far without threat of anti-trust, lets look at Air BnB and Uber. These companies exploit the fact that there are individuals who need rides and individuals who have cars looking to make money. What is Uber really adding here? Yes the founders built the original software, but they aren’t riding or driving, they just built the apparatus first and get to permanently take a cut of all rides. 

Let’s take a step back before this hyper exploitation. Think about the business of making software, this is where Bill Gates made his billions. You make software at a high R&D cost, but after that there is virtually no variable cost, meaning no additional cost to sell a unit. This allowed Microsoft to retain its massive profit margins and rapidly accumulate wealth. Imagine all the homes and schools across the globe that sent Gates $50-75/year. Now zoom back in on Air BnB, they don’t even have software they are selling to end users, they created the only meeting hub where property owners can speak with renters. Once they own that hub they are like the local mafia, you want to do business here you have to permanently kick in to my coffers, even though you are providing all of the value. This would be like private citizen billionaires owning the roads and being able to put up tolls freely, could you imagine the outrage! 

This picture becomes even more grim as we see the horrors of social media, where corrupt billionaires(Mark Zuckerberg) own the virtual space where we interact with our community. What does Facebook really offer you? Other people! They use you to lure in your friends, once you’re all there they record your behavior and sell it to businesses. They don’t inherently do or add any value, they simply sell your friends to you, then sell access to likely consumers to businesses. They only know you’re a likely consumer, they monitor your internet usage and social media activity. 

While we are nowhere close to a solution today on how we can take back the creative commons, we must begin to wrestle with these concepts. What if Uber was non-profit and took 10% of what they currently do? What if postmates paid a living wage with benefits? How can we distribute the technological gains of the last 40 years to benefit society as a whole?

What is the American Good Life?

In Slavoj Zizek’s 2017 book the Courage of Hopelessness, he mentions multiple revolutions that have tried and failed vs the ones that tried and succeeded. In all these cases he is talking about mass worker/communist revolutions, I would include the American Revolution as well. Zizek brings up this idea of the clichés of daily life and society at large and how they hold our system together. The successful revolutions that totally changed daily life for its people were the Bolshevik and Chairman Mao’s takeover of China. The failed revolutions are too many to name, however the tie that binds them is that they sought to stick with old norms in a new system or completely scrap them without creating new ones, according to Zizek. Lenin and Mao were successful at creating new clichés and norms, they asked the question what did daily life look like for the citizens of a communist society? Let’s use this as the start to a thought experiment.

 In America one cliché would be the American Dream “if you work hard, you can have the life you want”, while being very vague it serves as an underlying support for our whole system. Every society has functioning rules, norms, and clichés that give structure to our lives, even if we don’t like them. Zizek highlights some revolutions completely destroying old clichés, when they took power or attempted too, and people had no conception of what values to hold onto, that level of change was utterly shocking. Where Lenin had succeeded was answering the existential questions of his constituents, what is their purpose and role in the larger system. A very tangible example of this is the fact that most men in America die shortly after retiring, no matter their health. They have nothing to hold on too or work towards, their daily purpose is gone leaving a massive longing for meaning and value. This is the same as a revolution without values and clichés.

Hopefully we didn’t lose any conservatives at the mention of Lenin, because this thought experiment is valuable for everyone. Let’s imagine the country decided, today, to start totally over and the candidate of your dreams was the president with both houses of Congress, bringing in sweeping changes and rebuilding the system. Try to go beyond your current partisan riffs and topics, those have been fixed, what does daily American life look like? What really is the true American good life? If you like Trump, what does your ideal society look like? Let’s throw out an example-

An easy one to start with is UBI. More and more we know that we are losing jobs to technology. Technically we are efficient enough to barely require working, our priorities are just not aligned with life satisfaction. Lets picture the world Elon Musk predicts where the majority of people have been replaced by technology and redistributive taxes on those who own the technology provide enough for everyone in society to make $150,000/year(not his number) from the Government. While this sounds beautiful on the surface, there would be extreme challenges. Americans derive value from working, all of a sudden the free time and resources might feel like a prison, no objectives and nothing to achieve- a complete loss of meaning. This is where we would have to bring in new clichés, our society would have to place much more value on creating, traveling, art, cooking, and recreation(just my examples). This is visible comparing America to Latin American countries, the core of our society is work and the core of theirs is family. If we took out work we would have a massive lack of meaning that will need an alternative. 

Let’s walk around in this “future state” for experiment’s sake. Starting at the top, you wake up in the morning, there is no where to go, nothing required. This work gap leaves ample time to focus on your well-being. We could value mental and physical health as life’s primary goal. Spend time finding the routine, exercise, and mental work you need to live a healthy life. Take time to grow your own food. Ok well if you don’t want to garden your neighbor now sells veggies as a hobby she loves. Next we would need to find meaningful work, this is difficult. The parameters of what to do have been blown out, it doesn’t have to make money. Obviously you can’t just lose all of your money, but now profit is pointless. You also can think very creatively, there are no more businesses benefitting from scarcity, so a business like dollar tree or Walmart would just become the shittiest stores out there. No one would be forced to buy shitty things. People would spend their money differently as well. You would likely buy things that added to your lifestyle and not simply things that sustained survival. 

It would be important to change our ideology. Instead of commercial products being advertised as “cool” we would have to make some serious shifts. We would need a population content striving for personal development and creativity. Perhaps TV shows and media would need to appeal to these aspects, instead of selling mind numbing devices, booze, or crappy entertainment they would actually have to sell to a new class of consumers who didn’t know scarcity. As individuals who were previously not getting enough daily food now had the means to buy groceries for their family, this would be an entirely new lifestyle for that individual. There would be a massive need for education, there would have to be a public effort to educate people on how to handle their money, how to eat healthy, purchase a home, and get loans for projects or businesses. 

The other big shift we would need to make is to Re-Glorify the local and small business. Making small business ownership became the bedrock of American society, small towns would see a complete renaissance. Anyone with a skill could now start their own shop and work for themselves. Taking us full circle from complete lack of meaning to a cliché American life filled with purpose, autonomy, and value. 

So, what is your version of the American Good Life? 

Studying Ronald Reagan Part 2 – Death of the Union

In part one we dove into “trickle-down” or supply side economics. Now let’s look at another one of Reagan’s biggest “accomplishments” – destroying organized labor. Since 1979 the percent of Americans with collective bargaining(unionization) has dropped from 27% to 11.6% of workers. The end result being the loss of $200 billion per year in potential wages earned. And it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to realize that the owners of the business keep any profit not paid to workers in wages. 

Why were unions so important? Let’s rewind in history, to the late 1800’s, America is becoming an industrialized nation and workers are moving from farms to factories. For the first time Americans start having a boss and being employees. We all know what the working conditions were like- child labor, 7-day work week, 12 hour shifts. It is safe to say workers’ lives were at an all time low in American history. Inequality soared until 1929 when the great depression hit, bringing the times of grandeur to an end. In 1935 FDR passed the National Labor Relations Act or the Wagner Act. The act “guarantees the right of private sector employees to organize into trade unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take collective action such as strikes.” Imagine it being literally illegal to organize or strike? That was the hostile scene before unions. 

It is much easier to see the exact reasons for unionization when we rewind back to those hostile conditions. However, if we have any chance of decreasing inequality today, it will be through unions. One of the most important defenses a union provides is education discrimination. Discrimination is a strong word there, but we mean paying two people different wages for the same job simply because one has a higher education. This can be extremely painful to hear as so many millennials have gone to college and accumulated debt in an attempt to make a better life. The key here though is different pay for the same work, if we look from the employers perspective this is just a tool to pay less wages. Paying a few employees a higher rate will always be cheaper than a company wide raise. 

If we look around, tech jobs are the marquee careers of the day, while the former manufacturing jobs that built the middle class are either overseas or done by technology. We are losing all of the decent paying jobs that do not require a college education. Today if a millennial does not go to college, they are going to be working the same jobs they had in high school, competing with teenagers. Next time you enter a fast food restaurant count how many adults you see that are over the age of 30. This in no way knocking those individuals, the working poor are the most mistreated group in this country. The brutal truth is we have hard working adults making $7.25/hour. That is a starvation wage, you could not pay rent in any major city working full time at $7.25/hour, if you can it is at the cost of having food, utilities, or gas money. These are parents and grandparents working for $7.25/hour, do their children not have the right to a decent standard of living? 

Let’s back up and learn more about how we got here. It is hard to pinpoint one action that Reagan took to hurt unions, however his first union battle was the most symbolic. In 1981 Reagan went to task with  the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization. Shockingly this union actually endorsed Reagan. Little did PATCO know that the strike was going to effectively cripple unions for the foreseeable future. Since they were a Government agency, Reagan fired all of them immediately. 

This flipped labor ownership relations completely on their head. Historically strikes were used in the private sector as an effective bargaining tool to negotiate higher wages. Reagan himself once lead a strike as the union president of the Screen Actors Guild. However, this blow devastated all unions and gave the green light to business owners that they could mistreat unions and workers. And they were able to do so because Reagan staffed the National Labor Relations Board, effectively neutralizing all enforcement of labor laws. 

We will dissect why unions are important soon, in the meantime this chart tells the story succinctly. 

Reagan firing the PATCO union members was one of the greatest blows to the working class by any President. This real and symbolic gesture opened the floodgates for states to start cracking down on unions. Any manufacturing jobs left in America have left the Midwest for the south. Why? Because these states have the most anti-worker laws in the country, known as “right-to-work” states. Basically working is a privilege and not a right, and the employer maintains the right to fire you at anytime for anything, including organizing. Sadly if we cracked down on these laws, those manufacturing jobs would move overseas. If only workers everywhere had unions.

The Velocity of Money

Debating the welfare and government system often escalates into a messy argument, winding back and forth until the original point is lost. In the vein of simplicity, simple concepts or in this case proven phenomenon can be helpful. First we will start with everything that we can think of that the Government is “giving away” or “redistributing”. At the bottom we have traditional welfare- food stamps, government housing, and recently the Trump COVID relief check. At the top we have subsidies for large corporations, oil and gas, Elon musk receiving billions from the American government, bailouts, and large tax cuts. Tax cuts aren’t redistribution but it is a financial burden lifted. 

While you are expecting or hoping for a comparison of the two totals, that is not the point. What do you think would boost the economy more- The redistribution at the top or the redistribution at the bottom? The short answer has to do with the velocity of money. If you gave $1200 to an impoverished worker who makes $25,000/year and gave a wealthy person who makes $2,000,000/year, hard data tells us that the worker will spend 100-110% of the benefit they are given. The wealthy person on the other hand will spend far less 0-30%. If we think about it, it makes sense, if you have urgent bills to pay and need groceries to survive, you will spend that money. If you have a solid retirement fund, large salary, and stock portfolio, that amount of money is insubstantial and you don’t literally(as in won’t starve) need it in the same sense. This isn’t a shame-on-you-rich-guy issue, it’s just reality. The worker will put the money right back into the economy while a wealthy person will save it, effectively taking it out of normal circulation. 

The implications of this are massive. This “law” of the system was one of FDR’s greatest tools. None of the New Deal programs were perfect, many were mismanaged or just overly optimistic leading to programs that went nowhere like Eleanors housing experiment in West Virginia, Arthurdale. However, even when these programs missed the mark, they weren’t putting money into the hand of the ultra wealthy, meaning even failed programs paid real workers. Let’s be clear, this is not some call for wasteful redistribution. This simply highlights the fact that America economically is at its best when the Government is by the People for The People and working in the majorities interest. 

This fact makes something like Medicare for all a simple question from a monetary point. We know that every dollar saved on healthcare by the masses will immediately enter the economy. This fact shows that welfare and food stamps literally cannot be ruining our economy. While we have data that tells us recipients aren’t committing fraud(have you ever applied for government assistance, it’s an insanely tough process), however even if every impoverished person was double-dipping it would have a positive effect on the economy and GDP. 

When will the Left wake up to seize control as the party of American economic values? I wouldn’t hold my breath, so long as they are taking the same money as the Republicans.