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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Difference between a Prophet or a Leader and a Critic

Yes Bernie Globalization is Failing the 99%

Yes our current structures protect "private, separate advantage" regimes of trade, monetary policy and legal protections that protect the rights and privileges of a select few. Really more a .1% than a one percent. They are engineered to protect neo-colonial features. Those features turn most of the world into either drive-by neo-colonies or fly-over neo-colonies. And yes, they are tyranny and oppression.

He's right. It is tyranny. Of a very special kind. One we engineered, first as step children of the European Colonial adventure, and then as the dominant power in the world.

Yes Bernie, WE Need to Wake up

So here's the thing: At one time those features benefited this country.

Yes, that degraded a long time ago. Employers, seeking low wages and playing off governors against governors, north against south, and then country against country; headed south in the 70s and then kept traveling south and East and West til former enemies were competing for jobs we once performed at home and former friends, offended, have been wondering WTH is going on. Globalization mostly has meant offshoring since the 80s began. We can talk about NAFTA, CAFTA, etc... but these are symptoms of a trade regime negotiated for big industry, the wealthy and a tiny pool of very wealthy trade lawyers. And it is a three fingered thing. But does Bernie Sanders mention any of this? No, He's a politician not a prophet or an analyst.

And that is why we need Hillary

Channeling Jim Nabors

Bernie Sanders writes in a NY Times Article titled "Bernie Sanders: Democrats Need to Wake Up":

"Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children." [Bernie-NY Times]

Of course there is more to this than simple worker discontent. There was a considerable component of xenophobia and fear-mongering on the part of the conservatives who engineered the BREXIT vote. But Bernie is making a point mostly aimed at domestic politics:

"And it’s not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere. Incredibly, the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population — around 3.6 billion people. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent. The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water." [Bernie-NY Times]

What are his alternatives? None!

The Global economy is working fine for the wealthy. But yes, it has always failed most of the world. As I already noted it once benefited Britain and the United States because we were the biggest looters and privateers for most of the late 19th and early 20th century. And we in the USA benefited from being relatively unscathed by WWI and WWII (compared to the rest of the world). We engineered the trade regimes that we now so loathe. Does he note this? No. Bernie is a critic not an analyst.

And Bernie you are long on complaints and criticism, but short on solutions or alternatives.

Could it Happen Here?

"Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could." [Bernie-NY Times]

Of course it could. It's happened before. Woodrow Wilson engineered the USA participation in World War I largely because he thought it would allow him to dominate the peace negotiations. The GOP rejected his ideas of how to create and enforce the peace and so Hanlan's principle dominated the peace process and the victorious powers; mostly France and Britain, engineered an unstable post-war regime that destabilized the middle east, set up World War II, a great depression and the rise of fascism. It's happened before. The result was the rise of both Fascism and Bolshevism, both of which played on the anger of working people and those harmed by the trauma, not only of World War I, but of the tyranny of an arbitrary restoration of colonial rule and separation of peoples into borders that didn't fit their needs. We are still paying for that "rejection of globalisation" and it started with the GOP victories in the 1920s. It took a great Depression for the Democrats to come back into power. Rejecting globalization guaranteed the Great Depression would occur.

"During my campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve visited 46 states. What I saw and heard on too many occasions were painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize." [Bernie-NY Times]

The political establishment, including Bernie Sanders, recognize that there are painful realities, but are too busy trying to demagogue them and capitalize on them to come up with a viable alternative, or support efforts to come up with one.

The Litany of Symptoms

Bernie repeats the litany of symptoms of our bad economic policies:

"In the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have closed, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this is related to disastrous trade agreements that encourage corporations to move to low-wage countries." [Bernie-NY Times]

Much of it is related to disastrous tax, labor and economic policies too. And Bernie blames the multilateral trade agreements but almost all the job losses reflect bi-lateral trade agreements with countries like China, Korea or Vietnam. All of which is true. They also reflect trickle down tax policies.

"Despite major increases in productivity, the median male worker in America today is making $726 dollars less than he did in 1973, while the median female worker is making $1,154 less than she did in 2007, after adjusting for inflation." [Bernie-NY Times]

We Democrats have been fighting this all along. Most of these policies reflect Republican policies and dominance of our legislature. We've been fighting these policies, while those who should have our backs shoot at them. As Bernie is doing here!

We Democrats know better about the 47 million in poverty than Bernie does. He represents Vermont. Most of these poor live in states dominated by the Republicans and their anti-poor policies. Does he offer to help us fight the Republicans here? No. His Surrogates have, instead, attacked the ones who are trying to fight this.

"Nearly 47 million Americans live in poverty. An estimated 28 million have no health insurance, while many others are underinsured. Millions of people are struggling with outrageous levels of student debt. For perhaps the first time in modern history, our younger generation will probably have a lower standard of living than their parents. Frighteningly, millions of poorly educated Americans will have a shorter life span than the previous generation as they succumb to despair, drugs and alcohol." [Bernie-NY Times]

Does he support the medicaid expansion? Medicare for all helps folks with good jobs. Medicaid is for those who have poor incomes or no money. The fact that 28 million have no insurance represents the need to finish ACA. Replacing ACA won't fix that unless it includes Medicaid provisions.

Unfriendly fire at our Backs

And Meanwhile he practically accuses the Democrats of being owned by the one percent!

"Meanwhile, in our country the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Fifty-eight percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. Wall Street and billionaires, through their “super PACs,” are able to buy elections." [Bernie-NY Times]

Actually, if there is anything that the Obama, Bernie and Hillary campaigns have proved is that Super PACS can influence elections but they can't buy them unless we Dems don't have the resources to fight back.

"On my campaign, I’ve talked to workers unable to make it on $8 or $9 an hour; retirees struggling to purchase the medicine they need on $9,000 a year of Social Security; young people unable to afford college. I also visited the American citizens of Puerto Rico, where some 58 percent of the children live in poverty and only a little more than 40 percent of the adult population has a job or is seeking one." [Bernie-NY Times]

So, and so did Hillary. Moreover, most of us Democrats have been fighting to do something about this since the wages being talked about were 6$ an hour. The enemy is the GOP.

What do you do about the Global Economy

Then he talks about something he has no ideas about how to fix.

"Let’s be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change." [Bernie-NY Times]

We can agree:

"But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message." [Bernie-NY Times]

But how much better is it if we have folks using demagoguery, misogyny and an unwillingness to work with other?

The Distinction between Having our Back and Not!

This is where Bernie should be saying something different. He says:

"We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war. We also need a president who respects the democratic rights of the people, and who will fight for an economy that protects the interests of working people, not just Wall Street, the drug companies and other powerful special interests." [Bernie-NY Times]

He ought to be saying "We have in Hillary A potential President who will promote international cooperation. He would admit that in Obama we currently have a President who is doing his level best. He would affirm that if we'd support her she would also vigorously support international cooperation to bring folks together, reduce hypernationalism and fight for an economy that protects the interests of working people and not just wall street, drug companies and other special interests. This is all something Obama has been doing his level best to do for 7 and a half years and Hillary did as his Secretary of State and would continue if you would support them Bernie!

Dictating Terms

I think we all agree that:

"We need to fundamentally reject our “free trade” policies and move to fair trade. Americans should not have to compete against workers in low-wage countries who earn pennies an hour." [Bernie-NY Times]

At the same time, how do we get "fair trade" at the same time that we keep our own people in jobs? We do it by policies that expand the availability of resources, tax misuse of resources and enable cooperation between individuals and countries. Thus, while maybe we need to defeat the Trans Pacific Partnership as written, we need fair trade agreements and so if we send it back to the drawing board we might be better off. But if it winds up being approved, it won't be the end of the world as some folks maintain. There is blowback from approving TPP and blowback from turning it down. If it were so easy as Bernie's Bullet points try to make it Obama would have created a different TPP.

So when Bernie says "must":

"We must defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership." [Bernie-NY Times]

Can he dictate terms to us Democrats? Normally a Trans Pacific Partnership is a great idea. What makes this treaty bad are the details. "Must defeat" presumes that the terms can't be changed.

Preaching to the Choir

Similarly, when he says "must" here:

" We must help poor countries develop sustainable economic models." [Bernie-NY Times]

He is preaching to the choir! What do you think the Obama administration and the Clinton Foundation has tried to do? Oh But Bernie won't say nice things about it. He's shooting at us from behind even as he tries to seize our concepts and relabel them as his. This is the choir too:

"We need to end the international scandal in which large corporations and the wealthy avoid paying trillions of dollars in taxes to their national governments." [Bernie-NY Times]

Of course, and how will you do that without international treaties? Right now the giant companies play off country against country the way the New Jersey/Delaware style companies used to play off state governments against one another in the United States. TPP may not be evil but the Investor State Tribunals give Giant companies the kind of corrupt courts they used in the 19th century to create the Gilded age here. It is easy to list bullet points. But how do you implement such changes?

Dealing with Consequences

Bernie next says:

"We need to create tens of millions of jobs worldwide by combating global climate change and by transforming the world’s energy system away from fossil fuels." [Bernie-NY Times]

How do you pay for it?

But Bernie also knows that moving away from fossil fuels, at the beginning at least, dislocates people and costs folks jobs. We all agree this goal needs to be pursued, but only a demagogue claims that there is only an upside to policies that have costs and blowback. How will he pay for:

"We need international efforts to cut military spending around the globe and address the causes of war: poverty, hatred, hopelessness and ignorance." [Bernie-NY Times]

Who is going to enforce treaties? Who is going to pay for and invest in ending war and poverty? How do you enlist elites and politicians to combat hatred, hopelessness and ignorance when fascist politicians not only benefit from propagating such attributes but make money from the wars and adventure that they enable? If we unilaterally disarm, history shows, folks use the resulting power vacuum as an excuse to invade and try to conquer one another. Russia blames the USA for its invasion of the Ukraine, but it can do so because there is no strong international capability to enforce peace.

Hatred of the Trumpster is not Enough

Bernie is basically admitting that he's benefited from the same forces that the Trumpster is benefiting from. Like Bernie's Lenin against the Trumpster's Mussolini as alternatives for oppression. Talking about the nastiness of Trump isn't enough.

"The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class." [Bernie-NY Times]

It should sound the alarm for Bernie Sanders, were he a leader rather than merely a critic. He doesn't have his own alternative. He needs to support US.

"In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, and not a handful of billionaires." [Bernie-NY Times]

This is where he should be saying "I am confident that Hillary Clinton is such a leader and will make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and will negotiate fair and equitable trade relationships with the rest of the world and a regime that benefits everybody. He's neither a prophet, nor a leader, though he is a constant critic.


I promised myself I wouldn't write anymore about you Bernie. Sorry. But if William Barber, Elizabeth Warren, John Lewis and the rest of us can work together with us to fight these issues. You ought to be able to too.

Further Readings

NY Times Article:
Definitions, including that of Tyranny

1 comment:

  1. Christopher, you have debunked Bernie Sanders and all his well known talking points. You are correct in that he is all critic and no solutions. I believe in speaking about Bernie when something meaningful and relevant can be said, and you have done just that. Thank you.