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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Is Donald Trump a New Herbert Hoover, With his Policy of Isolationism and Protectionism?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”

 

To treat [U.S.] auto imports like a national security threat would be a self-inflicted economic disaster for American consumers, dealers, and dealership employees,” Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, Wednesday, on May 23, 2018.

 

Lots of countries have resorted to protectionism when their economies were doing badly. It almost never works. But Trump may be the first leader ever to do it when the economy is booming. He’s trying to fix a problem that ain’t broke. The auto industry is healthy.” Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, on Wed., May 23, 2018

 

The 1929 depression was so wide, so deep, and so long because the international economic system was rendered unstable by British inability and U.S. unwillingness to assume responsibility for stabilizing it by discharging five functions:

(1) Maintaining a relatively open market for distress goods; (2) providing countercyclical, or at least stable, long term lending;

(3) policing a relatively stable system of exchange rates;

(4) ensuring the coordination of macroeconomic policies;

(5) acting as a lender of last resort by discounting or otherwise providing liquidity in financial crisis. Charles Kindleberger (1910-2003), American economic historian, and author of The Great Depression 1929-1939, 1973, revised and enlarged in 1986.

 

When every country turned to protect its own private interest, the world public interest went down the drain, and with it the private interests of all.” Charles Kindleberger (1910-2003), American economic historian, and author of The Great Depression 1929-1939, 1973, revised and enlarged in 1986.

 

American president Donald Trump seems intent to isolate the U.S. economy from neighboring economies, and even from the world economy, and thus to break with three quarters of a century of closer economic cooperation between countries, established after World War II. There is a clear danger that theinternational economic system could become structurally unsettled for years to come, which does not mean that such a system is not in need of reform.

 

What worries many economists is Donald Trump’s approach to international economic cooperation, or lack of it, which appears to be a dangerous throwback to the 1930’s. — If his administration were to continue in that direction, the negative economic and industrial dislocations and consequences, both for the American economy and for other economies, would be severe, potentially very severe, considering how closely intertwined modern economies are today, through investment, industrial and technological cooperation, and through reciprocal international trade.

 

Trump: a Sorcerer’s Apprentice in international trade?

 

Is it possible that American president Donald Trump is some sort of aSorcerer’s Apprenticeas far as his protectionist trade policy is concerned? He seems bent on instigating a trade war with other countries, from neighboring Canada, to Europe and to China. In so doing, however, he may start a sequence of events, which could be impossible to control or to stop once set in motion, with very negative economic outcomes. Such outcomes could be a severe economic recession, similar to the 2008-2009 Great Recession, and potentially, in the most extreme case, an economic depression,similar to the one the world experienced before World War II.

 

Indeed, during the ten years of the 1929-1939 Great Depression, international trade measured in dollars plummeted 65 percent, total U.S. production fell by 47 percent, wages fell 42 percent and the unemployment rate rose to 25 percent. This was truly an economic disaster, mainly brought about by bad public economic policies. Who would want to repeat such a failure?

 

Is Donald Trump set to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s?

 

By now, most everybody knows that hotel and casino owner Donald Trump is an extremely self-centered individual who operates in government as he did in his own business, when he was known, in New York, as being a ruthless private real estate negotiator, constantly trying to pull the blanket over to his side, and not hesitating to violate rules and contracts when that suited him. — But a government is not a private corporation. Citizen Trump does not “own” the U.S. government. The U.S. government belongs to the American people and its main function is to pursue policies that promote the common good, not the private interests of a megalomaniac politician or the financial interests of his immediate family, or those of his rich donors.

 

We have some indication of the troubled economic thinking of Donald Trump, when we consider what he said in a tweet, on March 2, that international “trade wars are good, and easy to win”! I have never heard a statement as outrageous and as irresponsible as this one coming from a head of state, although in Trump’s case, this seems to have become customary.

 

Trump seems to be oblivious to basic facts of history or basic economics. He doesn’t seem to have a clue about the way international trade and international investment function. He doesn’t seem to understand that the reason the U.S. dollar is widely used as a means of payment internationally, and as a key currency for other countries’ central banks, is a direct consequence of the United States promoting harmonious and multilateral international economic relations. The United States collects important economic and financial benefits from this privileged situation.

 

Trump’s economic ideas are primitive, obsolete and mercantilist. Let us consider his pretention that for a country to “win” when it trades with other economies, it must have a trade surplus with everyone. In a multilaterally trading world, this is practically impossible. In a given year, a country may have current account surpluses with a number of countries, but will likely have current account deficits with other countries. And this is the normal outcome, if we assume that there are no capital movements between countries.

 

However, when there are capital movements between countries, as it is the case nowadays, a country can finance an excess of domestic investment over its domestic savings (without inflation) and reap the benefits of faster economic growth. In which case, a net borrowing country will register acurrent account deficit to counterbalance its net capital inflow, in any given year. That is because a country does not only borrow capital or savings from abroad, it borrows an excess of goods and services from other countries over its own domestic production, and this is paid for with an increase in its net foreign debt (foreign liabilities minus foreign assets). When this new capital is well invested, the country takes advantage of a faster rate of economic growth.

 

At the end of 2017, the United States had a net foreign debt equal to $$7,845.8 billion. If the Trump administration were serious in wanting the U.S. economy to generate a trade surplus with the rest of the world, it would stop borrowing heavily from other countries to finance its budget deficit ($440 billion in 2018) and it would take measures to increase domestic savings to cover the needs of all U.S. domestic investments.

 

But the United States is a net borrower of foreign savings, in a given year, and that is the reason it has a current account deficit. No pronouncements from American politicians can change that reality.

 

The general principle here is that the balance of payments of a country always balances and there is an economic adjustment, (through interest rates, exchanges rates and incomes), which makes sure that this the case.

 

That an individual who is the head of state of an important government like the United States does not seem to understand these simple economic and accounting principles is a scandal in itself.

 

Donald Trump goes rogue on international trade and border taxes

 

Thursday, May 31, 2018, could be known as the date when Donald Trump launched a trade war with a host of countries, many of them close allies of the United States either in NORAD, as is the case with Canada, or in NATO, as is the case with many European countries. And Trump had the gall to pretend that he is raising tariffs on imports from Canada and from European countries for “national security” reasons, relying on an obscure section 232 of the 1962 trade law (the Trade Expansion Act of 1962), without having Congress vote on the issue!

 

In Canada’s case, one of Trump’s demands to maintain the 1994 North American Free Trade Area (NAFTAis to insert a sunset clause to automatically terminate and renegotiate the trade agreement each five (5) years. Considering that companies plan their investments twenty or thirty years in advance, only bad faith or mischievous intentions would explain why such an impractical demand has even been considered.

 

What are the likely negative consequences of an open trade war for its participants?

 

- First of all, U.S. export industries, their production and their employment, will be heavily penalized and disrupted by the new border taxes and similar taxes imposed by other countries, in retaliation, on American exports.

- Secondly, U.S. import industries will face higher prices for their supplies, thus raising prices for the consumers and raising the overall rate of inflation. Don’t forget that border taxes are taxes, and that they are ultimately paid by the consumers when they buy goods, from the purchase of jeans to buying houses.

- Thirdly, American companies operating worldwide will see their chain of supplies perturbed. They may also face a less welcoming regulatory climate in some countries, as a result of the Trump administration’s hostile economic policies. —Their profit line is most likely to suffer. For instance, for the year 2012 (the last year for which data are available), American corporations reported that profits earned by their US-controlled subsidiaries abroad amounted to more than one trillion US$. American investors profit directly for such foreign incomes.

- Fourthly, a rise in domestic inflation is bound to translate into higher interest rates, which are bound, sooner or later, to derail the stock market, with heavy losses to be expected, and possibly an overshoot on the way down.

- Fifthly, as economic uncertainly spreads, productive investments will decline, possibly resulting in a self-reinforcing general downward economic spiral, with lower productivity growth, lower incomes, lower employment and lower consumer spending.

Other countries will suffer similar contractions in their economies, causing negative multiplier effects worldwide.

 

This is a doomsday scenario that the world has seen before and has lived to regret. I do not know a single economist who would advise a course of action such as the one the Trump administration seems to be willing to take.

 

People who ignore history are bound to repeat it.

 

Indeed, the Republican Trump administration’s frontal attacks against multilateral trade looks as reckless and as irresponsible as the much reviled Republican Herbert Hoover administration’s move against international trade, in 1930. On June 17, 1930, indeed, President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Act into law, — a law that imposed stiff tariffs on importsFirst,American imports plummeted. And secondly, other countries raised their own tariffs in retaliation against American exports. The end result was a dramatic contraction of international trade, which transformed an economic recession into a full-blown worldwide economic depression, which lasted ten years.

 

It is relatively easy for politicians to start a trade war. It is much more difficult to end one. Donald Trump has no knowledge or competence in international economics and finance, and he probably also is ignorant of the damage that the Republican Herbert Hoover administration did to the U.S. economy, when it precipitated a drop in international trade and international financial flows.

 

That Donald Trump wants to repeat, 88 years later, the mistakes of the Hoover administration is difficult to understand. [N.B. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) defeated President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) in a landslide, in the 1932 U.S. presidential election.]

Indeed, why would Donald Trump impose economic, and eventually, political isolationism, on the United States, with his improvised and destructive attacks on international trade and world economic prosperity? He should know that in so doing, he will do a lot of damage to the U.S. economy, to U.S. corporations, to American workers and to American consumers, and to the world economy as well.

 

In fact, the Trump administration risks destroying the post World War II system of international economic cooperation, which has been so beneficial to the United States, and which has contributed to raise the standards of living of people, not only in the United States, but in many other countries. American corporations and American banks, and their employees, have especially benefited from the economies of scale, from economic specialisation and from the productivity gains (reduction in production costs) that the opening and stability of international markets have allowed.

 

Trump’s partisan political motivations

 

What could motivate the Trump Administration to adopt the risky protectionist policies of the 1930s? This is certainly not for immediate economic reasons, since the U.S. economy is currently operating at full capacity... Unless, of course, what really guides Donald Trump is his political obsession regarding the U.S. mid-term elections of next November. Polls indicate that Trump's tax policies and other policies put forward for the benefit of the ultra rich, and financed through future increases in public debt, are not very popular among the general population.

 

Therefore, the enactment of populist trade policies could appeal to the Republicans, at least in the short term and especially in some rust-belt states. In other words, Donald Trump and the Republican Party might believe it to be to their political advantage to ride a wave of economic nationalism and of trade protectionism, in some key industrial states. It will take several months before the negative effects of a trade war will be visible to the American public.

 

If that were the case, it would be an example of partisan political expediency to reap political gains; a case of short-term political gain for some, at the cost of longer-term economic pain for everybody else.

 

Conclusion

 

The conclusion is straightforward. It would be most irresponsible for Donald Trump to initiate a trade war, especially against allied nations, when the American economy is already prosperous. As a general rule, politicians should not play with the economy for their own narrow political benefits. Most Americans, workers or consumers, will pay a high price when American companies will be subjected to the new trade taxes, and will have to raise their prices. The same can be said for the citizens in other trading nations. Trade protectionism has been tried before, and it does not work.

 

_________________________________________

 

Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles” and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s new WEB site:

http://rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.ca/

 

Posted, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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Under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please carole.jean1@yahoo.ca.

_____________________________________________________________

© 2018 by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, economist.

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Winning War the NRA Is Waging on American Kids

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”

 

It’s like the front lines of a war.” A student at the Texas Santa Fe High School, where 8 students and 2 teachers were shot and killed on Friday May 18, 2018, (less than two weeks to go before the end of the school year.)

 

“We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. As the Brady Campaign, we work to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence.” Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Mission statement, 1974.

 

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman, and author.

 

American schools have increasingly become shooting galleries in a war that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is winning, with the help of venal politicians and clueless Supreme Court Justices, against American students and teachers. In the U.S., criminals, crazies and angry types alike can buy attack weapons of any kind, at will. As a consequence, when students and teachers go to school in the morning, they and their parents are never certain if they are going to come back home, after school. If you follow the news, you may have gotten the impression that American schools have become a lottery of death. Students and teachers have become the innocent pawns whose lives are being cut short to please the fanaticism and the gun idolatry of the NRA.

 

This was not the case fifty years ago. What has changed for the worse is an increasing lack of moral responsibility on the part of people in authority in the United States, and a rise in political corruption, which has allowed private organizations and entities, such as the NRA and the makers of guns, to buy up politicians to replace the common good in favor of narrow private interests. The editorial boards of newspapers and other media are also to blame for their lack of moral fortitude in not taking clearer stands against this widespread corruption. They are all accomplices, to a certain degree, in the epidemic of mass murders of children and teenagers in American schools.

 

Between 2012 and 2017, there has been no less than 239 school shootings in the United States—more than three gun shootings each month—and the massacres continue, month after month, relentlessly. The most irresponsible-in-chief is the current U.S. President, Donald Trump, who cowardly and publicly echoes the NRA propaganda motto that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people”. Such statements sweep under the rug another evidence, and that is that the instruments of killing do matter. In fact, guns are front and center in all mass killings. Military style automatic weapons can kill hundreds of people in a short span of time. This was well illustrated in Las Vegas, on October 1, 2017, when a heavily armed killer assassinated 58 persons attending a concert, and wounded 851 others, before he was found dead in his hotel room. He could not have done so much killing and wounding with his fists or with a knife! The type of weapons used was responsible for the high number of victims.

 

Of course, it takes a wicked, or a deranged or troubled individual, to kill another human being. That is a universal truth. However, given that evidence, the easiest it is for an evil or a deranged person to have access to deadly instruments of killing, the more killing there will be. This is a truth that some people refuse to accept, even though it is only pure logic. They pretend that they need an arsenal of heavy automatic weapons to protect themselves and their family against attacks. From whom? Is this paranoia or not? What can be said is that such a stand is illogical because when everybody is heavily armed, everybody is in mortal danger, even policemen who are entrusted with law enforcement to keep public order.

 

Indeed, many policemen are killed each year while being ambushed by heavily armed individuals. Between 2006 and 2016, some 1,500 police officers have been killed on duty, in the United States. As consequence, police officers are increasingly on their guard and may have become trigger-happy, because so many people are roaming the streets and highways while being armed to the teeth. This may have encouraged police officers to become more prone to overreact in some dangerous situations, to protect their own lives, but in so doing, they may threaten the lives of unarmed citizens. Arming every citizen, as some have proposed, not the least being U.S. President Donald Trump, would only make a bad situation worse, and it would risk bringing the United States to the threshold of an anarchic civil war.

 

But pure logic seems to have somewhat disappeared from the public discourse in the United State, and it has been replaced by a twisted and deranged logic, especially when the issue of easy access to sophisticated military-style automatic weapons is concerned.

 

The original constitutional guarantee, in the United States, to own a musket in order for ordinary civilians to dutifully joina well-regulated militia” to defend the land, at a time when most people lived on a farm and at a time when the United States had only a small professional army, has been exploited and corrupted, a few centuries later, and has been elevated to the status of an absolute and unregulated right, for any individual, to have as many military-style attack weapons as he can afford, even in a close urban environment. This is a clear abuse of language and would seem to be far remote from the initial intention.

 

For some gun enthusiasts, indeed, the right to own lethal weapons would seem to supersede the right to life for everybody else, and private interests would seem to trump public interest. A society that accepts those crooked principles in this day and age is well on its way to social decay and disintegration.

 

Since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado on Tuesday April 20, 1999, there have been no less than 139 American students, teachers and others who have been assassinated in American schools, and close to 300 other people who have been injured, by disgruntled and heavily armed killers. Only three months ago, this time at a South Florida High School, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018, seventeen people, (14 students and 3 instructors) were murdered at the hand of an expelled student, armed with an AR-15-style assault weapon.

 

While the problem persists, people tend to forget and move on to other preoccupations, that is, until the next mass killing in another school occurs.

 

Conclusion

 

Young Americans are reported to be increasingly eager to register to vote. This is a good sign. The political pendulum has swung too far in favor of the private right to own automatic guns for some and not enough in favor of public safety for all. Maybe the American youth will bring back sanity, in due time, to that deadly debate.

______________________________________________

 

Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles” and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s new WEB site:

http://rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.ca/

 

Posted, Monday, May 21, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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© 2018 by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay: The New American Empire Blog.

 

 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

In Provoking Iran and Allies Alike to Please Netanyahu, Is Donald Trump the Most-Pro-Zionist American President Ever?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”

 

 

Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal [Iran Nuclear Deal]. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position. Binyamin Netanyahu (1949- ), Israel Prime minister, (comment made on Tues. Sept. 12, 2017).

 

You know that I am the best thing that could happen to Israel…and I’ll be that. Donald Trump (1946-), (in a speech to Jewish donors and supporters to his presidential campaign, in Washington D.C., on Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015).

 

“When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States, 1801-09, (in The Articles of Confederation, 1793).

 

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.Lord Acton (1834-1902), English historian, politician, and writer.

 

There are presently warmongering characters (Netanyahu, Erdogan, Trump, etc.) in charge in some countries, and they show no respect for international law, whatsoever. The most dangerous among them is, of course, the U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

It has become more and more obvious, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see that Donald Trump’s drive to power is making the world a less secure place, possibly a very dangerous place. Trump is constantly poking the fires of war with his bullying foreign policy, a policy that seems to be framed by Israel’s Netanyahu.

 

This is a complete reversal of what Donald Trump said during the last American presidential campaign, considering that he ran as some sort of ‘peace candidate’. Indeed, on numerous occasions, Trump has denounced Republican President George W. Bush for havingdestabilizedthe Middle East, in making the “mistake” of attacking Iraq.

 

The most recent example is his reckless so-called unilateral ‘decision’ of Tuesday May 8, without any input from the U.S. Congress, to withdraw the United States from the Iran Nuclear agreement, a deal concluded between China, France, Germany, Russia, USA, plus the EU, and Iran, in 2015. Trump seems to be very anxious to return his country to a position of being able to raise aggressive sanctions against Iran, with even a possibility of a joint U.S.-Israel military war of aggression against that country, which has not attacked the United States in any way or form. Is this a means for him to pay his political debts to some of his rich donors? That is a fair question.

 

This could have been expected since Trump has surrounded himself with known Zionists, in the persons of his new National Security adviser John Bolton, a rabid neocon warmonger and one of the architects of George W. Bush’s 2003 illegal war against Iraq, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and a close friend of Netanyahu, and Stephen Miller—the former being Trump’s special adviser and the latter being Trump’s speechwriter.

 

That may be one reason, among many others, why Donald Trump is considered by some observers to be themost pro-ZionistAmerican president, in U.S. history. It is not a coincidence that both Trump and Netanyahu are presently facing big political problems at home, and beating the drums of war could be a good way for both of them to change the public discourse. Indeed, the political technique of “Wag-the-Dog”, with the frequent active encouragement of corporate media, is quite alive in the United States, among unscrupulous politicians. American presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, among others, have all found it convenient to use it to deflect from their domestic political problems.

 

In general, it can be expected that when crooked politicians are facing a quagmire of their own making, and when they feel powerless and under attack, they will be tempted to spend unlimited amounts of public money and to sacrifice unlimited numbers of other people’s lives, in order to save face.

 

Conclusion

 

Sadly, it can be said that the warmongers are at it again. They will stir the pot to find pretexts for war, in any way they can, because they think that the more chaos they create, the more they stand to benefit personally, politically speaking.

 

History seems to repeat itself. And Donald Trump is true to himself in being autocratic and petty. His provocations are designed to please his rich Zionist donors, even if in doing so, he greatly increases the chances of war. He does not care, because he thinks that this is convenient for him at this juncture. Maybe he should study history a little more. He would discover that tyrants usually end up very badly.

 

COMMENTS (12)

 

_________________________________________

 

Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book

“The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”

and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site and multi-language international blog at:

www.rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.ca

 

Posted, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, at 12:30 pm

 

Email to a friend:

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Under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please carole.jean1@yahoo.ca.

________________________________________________

© 2018 by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay: The New American Empire Blog.

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Donald Trump: Is He Too Dangerous to Be Head of State?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

We [the United States] spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives. ... Obviously, it was a mistake… George W. Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East…

—They [President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney] lied… They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Donald Trump (1946- ), during a CBS News GOP presidential debate, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.

 

 Mental impairment and criminal-mindedness are not mutually exclusive; not only can they happen at the same time, when combined, these two characteristics become particularly dangerous.” Bandy X Lee (1970- ), an internationally recognized psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and editor of the book ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,’ 2017.

 

An autocrat in the making is typically an elected outsider who disdains norms, questions the legitimacy of political foes, tolerates violence, and shows a willingness to curtail the free press. Steven Levitsky (1968- ) and Daniel Ziblatt (1972- ), (in their book How Democracies Die, 2018, 312 p.)

 

 ...An empire is a despotism, and an emperor is a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy. For, although the will of an absolute monarch is law, yet his edicts must be registered by parliaments. Even this formality is not necessary in an empire. John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd American President, (1797-1801), (in ‘The Political Writings of John Adams: Representative Selections’, 2003)

 

 To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it…

To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) (1903-1950), English novelist, essayist, and social critic, (in his book ‘1984’, 1949, chap. 2)

 

Introduction

 

US President Donald Trump (1946-), as a politician, has succeeded in attracting voters who are dissatisfied or partially dissatisfied with their economic or social situation, especially working class white voters without college degrees. Income inequality and wealth inequality is growing in the United States, and the balance leans toward the winners, even though the losers are more numerous and have not been compensated through job training or social services. In other words, many Americans are disillusioned regarding their chance of living the American dream and about the way the system and public policies disadvantage them. Trump attracts also single-issue voters.

 

All this creates a fertile ground for a populist politician. This has happened elsewhere and it is now a political reality in the United States. It is also normal that Donald Trump is strongly opposed by various establishments and attacked by those to whom his populism is repugnant.

 

But beyond the purely personal considerations people have to support or oppose him, what are the characteristics of this neophyte in politics that many, and not only in the United States, consider scary?

 

For example, some observers have drawn a parallel between the current occupant of the White House and the decadent emperor Caligula (12-41 CE) of Ancient Rome. Caligula was autocratic, unpredictable, unhinged and a self-conscious populist who lacked self-restraint. He was a sociopath who enjoyed hurting and humiliating people. Moreover, he treated politics like a show. He indulged in pornography and depravity. He was disruptive and contemptuous of existing institutions, and he was a warmonger who courted the military. 

 

A biographer in the know has also linked Trump’s outrageous behavior, as a politician, to Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the subject of his book ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil’, 1998. Indeed, author Ron Rosenbaum (1946- ) explains how a constant attack on the media and the courts by Trump was also a tactic used by Hitler to gain power, in Germany. History has a way of repeating itself, and no one should think that disastrous past experiences cannot be repeated.

 

Whether all this is the case or not, what can be safely said is that never in its entire history has the United States faced a president in the White House of the sort that Mr. Trump represents. Persons closed to him have warmed us: Donald Trump is “deeply mentally ill” and “no longer connected to reality” and what is more, he is prone to loose his temper and act in anger, sometimes in pure madness. These are, we will all agree, very dangerous character traits for any U.S. President, if they are true.

 

It has been observed that the White House under Trump’s direction is often in turmoil, in disarray and sometimes, in complete chaos, and that the American president is mentally unstable and that he is prone to act impulsively, like an unmoored loose cannon, in most anything he does. It is said that Trump often acts in a bluffing and vengeful way, firing people right and left for any motive, sometimes in a most nefarious way. That should certainly be another reason for alarm and consternation.

 

It may be worth recalling here what the former Director of the CIA under Barack Obama, John Brennan (1955-), said, referring to Donald Trump and his mean dismissal of the FBI's No. 2, Andrew McCabe (1968-), Friday night, March 16, 2018, a few hours before the latter was to become eligible for a pension:

 When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you.”

 

Recently, for example, he was reported to want to launch an international trade war for the childish reason that he did not want to be “laughed at”. This is unsettling, because all this is based on faulty economic thinking and wrong facts. A protectionist U.S. President can do great harm to the world economy. —Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn had enough of that craziness, and he resigned. Trump only wants "sycophants" around him.

In the coming months, I fear that American consumers and the world stock markets will give their own assessment of Trump’s economic folly, and it won’t be pretty.

 

Consequently, many people have concluded that the current occupant of the White House is not mature enough and not competent enough to be president of the United States. In his book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, author Michael Wolff writes that Trump lived… as a real-life fictional character”, that he is a man detached and mostly cut off from reality, being comfortable in relying on so-called false and subjective alternative facts”. For such a person, only appearances matter, not reality.

People who know him well have labeled him unpredictable and inconsistent. Trump is the flip-flopper par excellence. Indeed, Trump’s intellectual inconsistency is beyond comprehension. He can adopt, almost simultaneously, two opposite positions without flinching... and without apology.

 

And, as if this is not enough, Donald Trump is also besieged by huge conflicts of interest, not the least is a level of nepotism not seen in the White House in modern times. 

 

Let us try to get a more complete picture of the political situation in the United States:

 

1. The American electoral system favors Republicans

 

First of all, let us say that it is one of the peculiarities of the American democratic system that it happens quite often that the winning candidate in a presidential election becomes president while receiving fewer votes than the losing candidate. It sometimes happens that the losing candidate receives even a majority of votes, but is still not elected. This happened in the 1876 election.

 

In fact, American presidential elections are not necessarily decided by the popular vote. According to the rules of the Electoral College, a few hundred “grand electors”, chosen in each of the 50 states, are the ones who elect the U.S. President.

 

Such a system tends to advantage the Republican candidates and it disadvantages the Democratic candidates, because it gives less weight to the votes in the most populated states than to those cast in the less populated states.

 

For example, according to the official results of the 2016 election, the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received 48.5% of the popular votes (65,953,516 votes) but received the support of only 232 “grand electors” out of a total of 538, or 43.12% of these. However, the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump only collected 46.09% of the national votes (62,984 825 votes), but received 306 or 56.9% of the “grand electors” votes. Consequently, it was Donald Trump who became U.S. president and not Hillary Clinton.

 

Note that in 2000, Republican candidate George W. Bush also received half a million fewer votes than Democratic candidate Al Gore, but the Electoral College system resulted in electing George W. Bush president. — In 1876 and in 1888, similar results ensued, when a Republican candidate was elected U.S. President, while receiving fewer votes than his Democratic opponent. — It can be said that the system of the American Electoral College tends to favor Republican candidates, who are generally more conservative.

 

2- Trump is egocentric and authoritarian

 

The current sitting American president, Donald Trump, does not seem to have deep-seated personal principles. He seems to be egocentric and he is always on the lookout to profit personally from any event: if someone or something gives him pleasure, prestige or money, he is all for it. No American president before him has dared to express openly his feelings or his insults of others, and even state his policies, on a social medium like Twitter, so much so that Donald Trump has been called the toddler-in-chief.

 

That is why Donald Trump is not your normal American president, even for the United States where money plays a larger role than elsewhere in electing public officials. Being a real estate oligarch who owns hotels and casinos, among other properties, he has brought to the White House the authoritarian and plutocratic ethics found in some wheeler-dealer corners of that industry, an ethics of ruthlessness.

 

Accustomed to running his real estate empire by himself, he was badly prepared to lead a democratic government, which is, by definition, decentralized. However, his authoritarian approach seems to appeal to his supporters. In fact, Trump acts as if he were the representative of rednecks in the White House.

 

In a new book, with the ominous title of “How Democracies Die”, two political scientists (Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard University) compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:

1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules;

2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents;

3. He or she tolerates violence;

4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media. According to the authors, “a politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern.” Unfortunately, in their eyes, “Donald Trump meets them all!

Regarding violence, Trump did not hesitate to name a torturer to lead the C.I.A. Torture is an immoral practice that he has personally espoused in the past.

 

Basically, Donald Trump is an unscrupulous demagogue, being both populist and authoritarian, of the type that has become dictator in other countries. This should be a source of preoccupation because for some time now, American presidents have been stretching the law to govern through executing edicts and to keep the United States on a permanent war footing. Donald Trump has expanded that practice and brought it to a new level. In his first year in office, indeed, Trump has issued no less than 58 executive orders and some 30 so-called “proclamations”, without any input from Congress.

 

Some business leaders can be expected to line up behind the Trump administration, especially if they expect to draw financial benefits from it, when they are at the receiving end of some money largesse (such as huge tax breaks financed with more public debt). The same applies to ambitious politicians who are willing to dance with the devil, if this can advance their career. However, it is another matter when the Trump White House extends its authoritarian cult of personality to American career civil servants, supposedly sworn in to work for the nation and uphold the Constitution, not to hold allegiance to the person temporarily sitting in the White House.

 

Also, it could be considered odd when Donald Trump applauds himself, but when he requests, in a dictator-like way, to be applauded when he speaks, whether he tells the truth or not, and pretends that it is even ‘un-American’ not to applaud him, this should raise alarm.

 

It is not at all surprising that there is a widespread distaste in the United States for Trump’s personality and for his obnoxious character. A majority of Americans who cherish their democracy simply cannot stand him. He is an embarrassment even for his supporters.

 

3- Trump acts and speaks like a sociopath who enjoys making other people miserable

 

It would be comical if it were not potentially so tragic. Trump is in a permanent state of self-admiration, constantly relying on exaggerations, on overstatements and on illogical statements. No previous American president could have matched him as an adept of self-congratulation. He shows himself as a self-aggrandizing individual. He seems to be suffering from an advanced case of megalomania. In fact, Trump is an expert in erroneously declaring himself an expert in about everything. And, he does not hesitate to qualify himself a “genius”!

 

Trump has also confessed that he likes to “make the life of people miserable”, i.e. the life of journalists, authors, competitors and anyone who opposes him. An example, among hundreds if not thousands of frivolous and gagging lawsuits, is his meritless but expensive litigations, in time and money, against author Timothy O'Brien for writing the book “TrumpNation”. After his suit was dismissed in court, because it was a direct attack on the First Amendment, Trump stated to the Washington Post, I did it to make O’Brien’s life miserable, which I am happy about.” Such is the modus operandi of a very sadistic and malicious person who does not hesitate to attack the free press and the right to free speech in a democracy.

 

4- Trump is a compulsive liar

 

Numerous public allegations have also made the public aware that Trump is obsessed with sex and sex, sex, and sex again. He is also an alleged sex harasser who continually disparages women.

 

On Tuesday March 20, former Vice-President Joe Biden (1942- ) did not mince his words, while speaking at an anti-sexual assault rally, telling students at the University of Miami what he thought of Donald Trump and the way the latter talks about women:

If we were in high school, I’d take him [Donald Trump] behind the gym and beat the hell out of him”, for disrespecting women.

 

It is well known now that Donald Trump is a pathological liar who seems to fear the truth like the pest. That is because Donald Trump is fundamentally intellectually dishonest. That is probably the main reason Trump’s lawyers are adamant in not wanting their client to testify alone and under oath, in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation about his alleged electoral collusion with Russia.

 

Publicly, Trump pretends to be willing to be questioned under oath by special counsel Robert Mueller, declaring: “I’m looking forward to it, actually”; “I would do it under oath.” This could be another example of a ‘good cop-bad cop’ charade by Trump, because he would never accept to be interviewed alone, without his lawyers, under oath, and he would likely blame his lawyers for another flip-flop of his own.

 

This is also the reason why Trump has held only one formal press conference since taking office—unlike its predecessors, who held one each month—in order to avoid being questioned by experienced journalists. He prefers partisan political rallies where no one can contradict him or steal his show.

 

5- Trump is a dangerous man to have control over nuclear arms

 

Even if it were possible to disprove half of what has been written about Trump’s eccentricities, his laughable theatrics, his twisted logic, and his lies, Donald Trump would still be a monster of a human being. We will never repeat often enough that he is a dangerous person to hold power, especially in a country like the United States, which is loaded with nuclear arms. Trump is indeed an unstable and irresponsible person; he is a person with poor judgment, besides being erratic, reckless and trigger-happy. He also employs constantly a bellicose tone in his relations with foreign leaders. This is a very bad combination for a head of state in today’s complex world.

 

And to add to that image, Trump would like to return to a bygone era, when well-known totalitarian leaders favored big shows of force. Trump made it known to “his generals” that he wants a large-scale, multi million dollar “beautiful” and pompous military parade, in his honor, in Washington D.C., on Veterans Day, with thousands of soldiers in tight formation, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, with planes and helicopters buzzing by the Washington Monument and with 70-ton Abrams tanks and Patriot missiles systems rolling down before the President’s stand. Trump seems to have had this idea after attending the French military deployment of July 14th, last summer. It’s a bit as if a childish Trump had seen a toy in the neighbor’s yard and said, “I want one too!

 

Such a powwow show would gratify Trump’s infatuation with military toys he would like to play with. It would be quite an irony if the United States, which fought fascist Germany during World War II, itself adopted fascist trappings, three quarters of a century later.

 

Regarding nuclear arms, Tom Collina, policy director of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund, has noted that a recent poll indicates that 60 percent of Americans do not trust Trump with nuclear weapons. Consequently, he concluded: the public is right to distrust Trump with nuclear weapons, and we all need to speak up and oppose these new, dangerous policies.” — I totally agree.

 

Trump has not only sociopathic tendencies, being insensitive and having no empathy for anybody else but himself; he could also be considered a would-be genocidal psychopath when he talks freely saying this is the “calm before the storm”, that it (North Korea)will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before”, even going as far as threatening to totally destroy North Korea”, a country of more than 25 million people! This is even more scandalous, considering that Donald Trump uttered that insane threat during a speech at the United Nations, an organization specifically created to avoid war.

 

Therefore, one cannot completely exclude some foul acts of savagery coming from the Trump administration in the coming months and years. The current disorganization in the Trump White House could lead to inhuman disasters, considering the instability of Trump’s character and the lack of moral fortitude and vision on the part of the current Republican leadership in both the House and the U.S. Senate.

 

6- Trump can be expected to rely on “wag the dog tricks to get out of trouble

 

It is indeed common practice for some American presidents to wag the dog”, i.e. distract from domestic or personal domestic problems by provoking some conflicts abroad. On this score, since Trump’s domestic problems are presently piling up, with multiple lawsuits launched by women with whom he had sexual affairs in the past, with serious allegations that foreign governments were involved in his election, and with the looming Special Prosecutor’s report possibly raising an accusation of obstruction of justice against him, he could be expected to want to distract attention from his problems and to make dangerous, possibly catastrophic, policy decisions. Indeed, it is a modus operandi for him to attempt to deflect attention from his personal problems by creating problems elsewhere.

 

Note that Donald Trump is the first person to be elected president of the United States without any political or military experience. Recently, he has surrounded himself with sycophants who are immoral torturers and belligerent advocates of regime change in other countries. The summum of cynicism on his part—considering that he campaigned by repeating constantly that the Bush-Cheney 2003 war of aggression against Iraq was a disaster and a dumb decision—occurred on Thursday March 22, when he named one of the very architects of the Iraq War, in the person of the extremely bellicose John Bolton, as his national security adviser. I think the United States of America has a big problem in having such a person as its president.

 

Conclusion

 

Keeping in mind what I wrote in the introduction and the rational motives that motivate his supporters to be behind him, it nevertheless remains that Donald Trump is an emperor with no clothes, and a reliance on cognitive dissonance on the part of his partisans cannot hide that simple fact.

 

Indeed, when all things are said and considered, it is impossible not to conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong with Donald Trump. Many experts and observers have warned the world that his state of mind is a danger to public safety. The Republicans, in particular, who happen to control the U.S. Congress, have a great responsibility to reflect on and to act upon that information before some irreparable damage is done. If Trump were to do something catastrophic in the coming weeks or months, economically or militarily, those Republicans in Congress will have to share personal and collective responsibility in the disaster.

 

More than one year ago, because of Trump’s lack of seriousness and preparation, I warned that he was going to be “a threat to American democracy and an agent of chaos in the world”. Unfortunately, every day seems to bring forth new proofs of that assessment.

 

Therefore, as time goes on, the case for Trump’s impeachment is going to get stronger and stronger. His removal from office will become increasingly urgent and increasingly compelling. It’s a safe bet that credible steps for his impeachment as U.S. President will be taken rapidly, if the Democratic Party regains control of the House of Representatives during this fall election—and possibly faster, if enough Republicans see the light before then.

 

COMMENTS (16) in English or French

 

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International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles” and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

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Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

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Posted, Monday, March 26, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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Friday, March 2, 2018

For All Practical Purposes, the American System of Government Is Failing. How and Why?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the books “The Code for Global Ethics”, and “The New American Empire”)

 

 

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power." Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd American President (1933-1945), (in ‘Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies’, April 29, 1938)

 

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist, statesman, and author.

 

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.Lord Acton (John E. Dalberg) (1834-1902), English historian, politician, and writer.

 

The truth is there are very few members [of the U.S. Congress] who I could even name or could think of who didn't at some level participate in that system [of bribery and corruption in Washington D.C.].” Jack Abramoff, professional lobbyist and onetime power broker for the elite of Washington, D.C. (during a CBS's 60 Minutes interview, Sunday November 6, 2011)

 

Now [the United States] is just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and Congress members. ... So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors. …The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.Jimmy Carter (1924- ), 39th U.S. President (1977-1981), (in a radio interview, Tues. July 28, 2015)

 

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th President of the United States, (1953-1961), and a five-star general, gave a Farewell address that has echoed through the years. He not only warned his fellow citizens about the danger of a “military-industrial complex”, which could “endanger our liberties or democratic processes”, but he also issued a wish in saying that “we want democracy to survive for all generations to come.”

 

Observers have noticed, however, that since the 1980’s, something big has occurred in the United States: the political system and its processes have fallen into the hands of an unscrupulous money establishment in a way that has left a majority of Americans deprived of the basic services they are entitled to receive from their government.

 

This can be explained by the workings of a political cycle of corruption, through which big money increasingly corrupts basic political institutions and practices.

 

Before the 1980s, the U.S. system of government had functioned reasonably well along the lines dictated by the U.S. Constitution and following the democratic principle eloquently summarized by President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) when he said that the U.S. government is the government of the people, by the people, for the people” as dictated by the vote of citizens who elect officials and who favor the adoption of common good policies.

 

The U.S. Constitution is one of the oldest

 

The United States is an old democracy. Its Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world. It was approved on September 17, 1787, after three months of debate, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and it became effective on March 4, 1789.

 

It is a federal constitution, which created a strong federal government, but according to the principle of separation of powers. At the federal level, it establishes an intricate system of checks and balances between an executive branch headed by a President, a legislative branch with two houses forming the U.S. Congress and a judicial branch consisting of a U.S. Supreme Court and other courts. The purpose was to prevent tyranny. The fifty American states delegated certain powers to the federal government, but undelegated powers are reserved to the states.

 

This founding document guarantees constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as spelled out in twenty-seven amendments. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights and they were ratified and adopted in 1791, while the other seventeen amendments have been adopted over time, between 1795 and 1992.

 

Basically, the U.S. Constitution was a compromise between the political ideas of Alexander Hamilton (New York) and Thomas Jefferson (Virginia). Hamilton and the Federalists favored a centralized federalism, and were supported by merchants and manufacturers. Jefferson and the anti-federalists rather favored the principle of a decentralized federal system; they supported states’ rights and agriculture. Over time, economic and technological developments and various court decisions tipped the balance in favor of Hamilton’s espousal of a strong, even aristocratic, central U.S. government.

 

The electoral reforms enacted by Republican President Theodore Roosevelt

 

Since the 1980s, there has been a fundamental change in the way political institutions function in the United States. And this is not only a matter of change in the governance approach to providing public services, as some have pointed out. It is a profound change in the way ordinary citizens choose their elected representatives and in the way they convey to public officials their demands, wishes and needs. Their influence has greatly diminished over the years.

 

For most of the twentieth century, a century during which the American standard of living rose substantially, there existed in the United States a system of laws and practices that protected the sanctity of the voting system as an expression of the choices of the citizenry. Legal entities, such as corporations, banks or other organizations were prevented from using their huge access to money to subjugate the voice of the electorate and debase democracy.

 

In 1905, for example, President Teddy Roosevelt (1858-1919), a Republican, in his annual address to Congress spelled out the democratic principle that “all contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.” In 1906, Roosevelt was even more explicit, saying: I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party… Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly. On January 26, 1907, President Roosevelt signed the Tillman Act of 1907, which was the first legislation in the United States prohibiting monetary contribution to national political campaigns by corporations.

 

How the U.S. Supreme Court has subverted the American electoral system

 

However, on January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. The more than century-old Roosevelt principle which had prevailed until then according to which “no corporation shall be considered to be a person who is permitted to raise or spend money on federal, state, or local elections of any kind was crudely abolished and thrown into the trash.

 

Indeed with their judgment in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices created a major revolution in the American electoral system. They rejected historic precedents and judicial restraint in order to put a radical pro-corporate spin on the First Amendment, which protects free speech. They declared that “corporations” and other legal organizations are indeed “persons”, entitled to the same human rights as living, breathing persons, and that they can spend unlimited sums of money during electoral campaigns.

 

Consequently, since the 2010 decision of the U.S. Court, the Preambule of the U.S. Constitution that says “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union...” should more appropriately be changed now for “We, the business corporations of America…etc.”, in order to fully reflect the new political philosophy of the five-member majority of the Roberts Court. Indeed, with the decision of Jan. 21, 2010, the type of government the majority of the Roberts Supreme Court wished to establish is essentially ‘a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations’.

 

Nowadays, the U.S. Government is more centralized and more corrupt than ever

 

Indeed, over the last quarter century, there has been a quiet political coup d’état in the United States, with far right money interests taking over the American system of government, and this not only includes the U.S. Congress; it includes also the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court. Billionaire oligarchs have taken control in the United States and they pretty much do what they want with the government, irrespective of what the people think or want. This is a throwback to the later part of the 19th Century when Robber Barons could buy out politicians, pile up the public debt and plunder the public purse at will, while unscrupulously rigging markets and abusing consumers.

 

People want peace, but the oligarchs—and that includes Donald Trump—want war, permanent war, and they want to be free to line their pockets with the war industry profits all over the world.

People want social services and want to reduce poverty, but the oligarchs want to reduce the influence of government, cut taxes and keep politicians corrupted.

 

 

People want their children to be secure, safe and not the target of guns when they go to school, but the oligarchs, manufacturers and extremist organizations want to be able to sell military-style assault weapons to everybody who can afford to buy them. Indeed, cowardly American politicians refuse to ban military-style assault weapons, as they are controlled in most countries.

 

People want to live in a clean environment, but the oligarchs want to be free to pollute and pursue their own private interests.

Most people stand for the rule of law and for democracy, but the oligarchs prefer a system closer to plutocracy, in which their money can call the shots, etc.

 

The potentially corrupting influence of money has become more and more dominant in U.S. politics, and it has been openly encouraged by numerous decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, especially, as we have seen, by the Roberts U.S. Supreme Court, in favor of the wealthy, the powerful and private interest groups, and against the common good.

 

As a consequence, popular trust in the U.S. government has declined steadily over the last half century. According to the Pew Research Center, while 73% of Americans were said to have trust in the federal government in Washington D.C., in 1958, that percentage had fallen to a mere 18%, in 2017. This represents a huge erosion of public trust in government in a bit less than sixty years. This is a generational shift of great magnitude and the sign of a profound disgust.

 

What are the consequences of that shift toward less democracy?

 

Americans are the least likely to exercise their right to vote: in the 2016 election, only 55.7% of eligible voters bothered to vote, as compared to an average of 75% in other OECD countries.

 

In the U.S., politics has become a rich man’s game: In practice and in most cases, no American citizen who is not rich can expect to be elected in the current American political system, unless he or she is willing to become a political prostitute to big money interests. Moreover, ordinary citizens cannot entertain any hope, on their own, of being able to redress the situation.

 

More importantly perhaps, it has become harder and harder to encourage government to pass legislation to enhance the common good and to promote the general welfare of ordinary citizens. Wealthy lobbies, corporations and mega banks, supported by a very concentrated and partisan media, hold the upper hand in anything the government does. These powerful lobbies push the United States to spend more on its military sector than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined.

 

Not surprisingly, income and wealth disparities in the United States are indecent and growing. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality has ranked the United States dead last among the 10 richest countries on that score. Half of the U.S. population lives presently in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data, while the American middle class is losing ground, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center. To compare income and wealth inequality that prevails in the U.S. today, it is necessary to go back 100 years, just before the Great Depression. Presently, there is less social mobility in the United States and the social fabric is increasingly disorganized.

 

Social cohesion is threatened in a country when income and wealth inequalities become exceptionally wide. This has been a big problem in South America for many years. Now it has become a growing social and economic problem in the United States.

 

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ahead of Cuba, El Salvador, Turkmenistan, the Russian Federation and Thailand. Its rate is almost 5 times higher than the OECD average.

 

An ominous sign: Life expectancy at birth in the United States fell for the second consecutive year in 2016, due to a dizzying 21% increase in the death rate from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, this is the first time since 1962 and 1963, two years in which the flu caused an unprecedented number of deaths, that the United States experienced two consecutive years of declining life expectancy.

 

Conclusion

 

Since the 1980s, a vicious cycle of political corruption in the United States has become more and more powerful and has had negative social consequences. It is a cycle of corruption that has allowed the money establishment to tighten its grip on the major American institutions of the Presidency, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Such a cycle of political corruption is self-reinforcing, and as it becomes more and more comprehensive and entrenched, it also becomes very difficult to break up and reverse.

 

COMMENTS (20) in English or French

 

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Rodrigue TREMBLAY-100dpl

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire.

 

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com.

 

Please visit his multi-language international blog at:

http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm.

 

Posted, Friday, March 2, 2018, at 8:30 am

 

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