“Protectionism” literally means we, as a nation, protect our national interests. It is one more word that has been twisted to make people think it’s a bad thing, like “entitlement” (the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy) or “welfare” (people in a democracy making each others’ lives better.)
“Trade” is about competitive advantages. It used to mean one region can grow bananas and another can grow corn, and by trading they each end up with both bananas and corn in their kitchens. (Good.) Today, though, it means authoritarian governments have the “competitive advantage” of allowing slavery and pollution so their factories can make things for less. So (the executives of) big corporations move production there, then squeeze the remaining workforce here with threats to move their jobs as well if they won’t lower their standard of living. (Bad.) All the gains of that “trade” are passed to a few already-wealthy owners and managers of that means of production. They use some of the gains to influence our laws to allow them to do this.
A democracy obviously would consider its people’s standard of living an interest worth “protecting” and would never allow businesses to influence lawmaking.
Trade can be done a different way but that requires democratic governance. Economists (used to) tell us that society gained from trade because making the economy more “efficient” by moving production to lower-cost regions frees up resources, providing increased investment and general prosperity; better infrastructure, higher pay and more free time for everyone in the society. And the production moved to the lower pay area means jobs and investment there, so they also move up that same ladder to increased investment and prosperity. That assumption depended on viewing society as liberal democracies capable of making and enforcing rules that would pass these gains on to everyone.
The failure of our country to maintain itself as a democracy has resulted in the allowance of trade with slavers and polluters, resulting in the extreme inequality we see. Thereby enabling further squeezing of workers and environment here. It also incentivizes authoritarian governments to allow slavery and pollution.
The solution to this, and so many other problems, is, of course, to remove the influence of money from our political system.
People don’t want to say that Republicans attempted a “coup” but they certainly attempted to overturn the clear results of a democratic election. They tried to end our democracy, right in front of our eyes.
The election was almost “close enough to overturn.”
The Democrat received (the counting is not finished) over 6 million more votes but it was “close.” This is because our 18th-century electoral college system, designed to keep the “slave states” happy, does not belong in the 21st century.
If Republicans had blocked a few more people who couldn’t get birth certificates, etc. from voting…
If Republicans had been able to close a few more polling places…
If they had taken away a few more ballot drop-boxes…
If Republican had scared just a few more people…
If Republicans had told just a few more lies…
If the USPS had delayed a few more ballots…
If just a bit fewer Democrats had voted…
…they very well might have gotten away with it.
Take what happened very, very seriously. Because they tried. Right in front of our eyes.
And if we don’t take steps to do something about this, next time they will do … just that bit more.
We don’t have to “bring back jobs from China.” Economists explain that exporting low-level jobs and automating free up resources so “we” can have more $ and free time. And places climbing the jobs ladder get jobs.
The problem is how “we” are distributing the gains. Right now a company ships jobs away or automates and a few already-wealthy people in charge of the company get all of the gains. The workers a shit out of luck. They lose homes, etc.
AND on top of that the owners of companies use those job losses to break unions, etc, forcing wages down. “Shut up and accept the pay cut or we’ll fire you.”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine if “we” all shared the gains, and received more $ and free time. And as those other countries automate, etc., they also get more $ and free time.
What we need is democracy (aka “socialism”,) so we can GET that $ and free time.
Imagine if we had an economic system designed to be of, by and for We the People, where we require that automation and job exports mean those economic gains go to US – We the people – instead of an already-wealthy few.
A company improves efficiency by automating, etc., and the gains go into a fund. As all the companies do this, the fund provides income to working people. People get the same pay and reduced hours because the efficiencies mean there is less work to do. Or they can move up the ladder to more-skilled jobs for more pay.
In other words, imagine democracy
We are so propagandized that we’ve lost our understanding of the reason we have our government.
In a democracy the job of government is to make people’s lives better. And to protect people. The People. WE The People. Government is WE the People making the decisions on how to make our lives better.
When you see it that way the last thing you want is “limited” government or “smaller” government, or government so small you can drown it in a bathtub.
When you see it that way you want BIG government. You want MORE government.
Not more as in more bureaucrats overseeing means-tested programs, making sure only the “deserving” get things that make their lives better, by the way.
This post originally appeared at Seeing the Forest.
Along the lines of the voter assistance agency idea I posted the other day, here is something that I’ve wondered about since I had a business.
Government makes rules and regulations to protect the people and environment. But the compliance can be difficult and cost money. So people responsible for operating a business are left in this situation of not just having to run the business but also having to deal with all of that, too. It really can be “burdensome,” especially for smaller businesses.
Shouldn’t governments that regulate also have a function like some kind of Regulation Compliance Assistance Agency? The mission would be to help businesses comply and even assist with the costs if needed. The agency would send people familiar with the regulatory environment and requirements into the business to do the work and interact with the regulators until the job is done. They would help with any compliance costs in cases where the business was not intentionally cutting corners.
If the idea is that we need regulations to protect people, then clearly this would further that idea by getting the businesses complying as quickly and easily as possible? Why just put out some rule and then expect all the businesses to fix problems on their own. This necessarily creates anti-govt resentment.
It’s a win-win. The mission to get the public protected is achieved. Businesses are stronger for it. People can appreciate that govt is supposed to make our lives better.
We need a Federal Voter Assistance Agency.
The Federal Voter Assistance Agency’s mission would be to reinforce democracy by getting every citizen registered and empowered to vote. This would include helping people get registered, helping them vote, and helping people overcome suppression efforts like Voter-ID laws.
The agency would conduct outreach, even door-to-door, to let people know they need to be registered, hep them register, and help them vote.
The agency would also fight voter suppression by doing things like helping people in voter-ID states get the correct ID. This would include an online service to get valid birth certificates and everything else people need (for free) to get the necessary ID in their state. For those who can’t get things like birth certificates for various reasons the agency’s mission would include doing the research necessary to get birth documentation to get their ID. (Free, as a service to democracy.)
An idea like this couldn’t get through the Senate NOW (nothing Democrats pass can), but it educates the public about the possibilities of government being on their side again.
It also puts it out there for when Democrats do have the power to pass it.
Originally written May, June 2017 but never published. Posted at Seeing the Forest Aug 14, 2018.
How Did Trump Happen To Us?
How did Trump happen to us?
We are experiencing a shock and awe attack. Every single day we face a flood of terrible things being pushed at us so fast that we do not have time to react. Our system and commons and norms and standards and protections and rule of law are rapidly being dismantled. We are overwhelmed, exhausted, our spirits wear down, we don’t know what to do. Worse, the country risks normalization and eventual acceptance of the cruelty and insanity coming from the top.
Will we get out of this? With the nuclear codes in the hands of a crazy, egomaniacal, racist, malignant narcissist, will we live another year? If we’re alive will we be in jail?
Continue reading “Democracy and Corruption”
Here is a question to ask yourself when you are looking at something the government is doing: “Would a democracy do this?”
When cutting regulations (protections) on corporations, “Is this something a real democracy would do?”
If Congress is working on a tax cut, look at it and ask, “Would a real democracy do this?”
A general rule, ask if a democracy would really do it.