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Posts Tagged ‘dying empire’

American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 3

August 27, 2020 5 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about how there is no significant difference between establishment Republicans and Democrats when it comes to their overall worldview. Sure.. one group pretends to care about a woman’s right to choose and “systemic racism” while the other pretends to be interested in “banning abortion” and upholding the 2nd amendment, but this is all crappy window-dressing to cover the fact that both are equally subservient to the interests of big corporations and very rich. In that post, I also pointed out the almost everyone in current crop of Democratic party establishment is a D-list actor who are incapable of anything beyond mouthing empty platitudes and pretending to care about useless cultural issues such as “gun control” and “diversity”. I do plan to devote a future post to why the ranks of leadership, both political and non-political, in west is increasingly made up of incompetent but credentialed D-list actor types.

Anyway.. back to the topic. As I have written in numerous recent posts- the way establishment Democrats, and their Republican equivalents, have reacted to the ongoing immiseration of many tens of millions due to COVID-19 fallout has shone a lot more light on their almost total loss of touch with reality. Readers might also remember that I recently wrote about how establishment Democrats (and Republicans) have no realistic plan to completely reopen and reboot economy. But have you ever wondered why one bunch of dummies are just as clueless as the other? Well.. there are a bunch of intersecting reasons which have a lot to do with how the composition of political (and other) leadership changes in late capitalism aka neoliberalism aka financialism. But rather than go on another deep dive into underpinnings of this change, let me use a few simple-to-comprehend examples to illustrate the various factors that go into creating this mess.

Have you noticed that political and technical elites in west have lost the ability to assess information rationally and make thoughtful decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are a few examples.. Remember how face masks were supposed to be useless until they suddenly changed their mind sometime in May or June? Given that the pandemic was well underway in China by early January AND caused by a virus from well-characterized family, isn’t it odd that the elites had no clue about whether wearing face masks in public was worthwhile as late as May? Here is a hint: masks without special filters, at best, reduce the size of inoculum rather than prevent airborne viral infections. But it gets worse.. much worse. Let us talk about how western political elites displayed a total lack of understanding about whether the virus was transmitted outdoors or indoors. Once again, it was obvious as early as February and March that the vast majority of viral transmission occurred indoors and in cramped quarters.

In China and South Korea, it became obvious within a couple of months that majority of those who were infected got it from their family, co-workers or others in very close proximity at indoor markets etc. Yet, we still see western political elites pretending that outdoor gatherings (such as beaches, parks etc) carry the same risk as being cooped up in the same house, apartment or crowded workplace. Need I remind you that the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in USA have occurred in nursing homes, ships, submarines, prisons, meat-packing plants and crowded low-income urban housing complexes. Some of you might think that this is a sign of elite malfeasance rather than incompetence, and you are welcome to keep believing that, but I think otherwise because it is just one more in a long series of similar occurrences that strongly suggest incompetence. And this brings me to the next example of incompetence- namely, an inability to comprehend the statistics of risk, mortality, immunity, asymptomatic rate etc.

I have looked through the available mortality statistics for this infection in many west-European countries (Italy, Spain, Germany) and others such as Canada and South Korea. Here is what we know.. in countries with lots of testing and low positive rates, mortality from this infection among people under 50 is less than 1 in 2000, rising to about 1 in 1,000 for those between 50 and 60 and about 1 in 300 for those between 60-70. Note that hospitalization and ICU utilization rates are also pretty low until the patients are over 65. In every single one of these countries over 80% of deaths occur in people who are over 80 AND in assisted-living facilities. My point is that for everybody below 60 or 70, COVID-19 pandemic does not have a higher mortality than influenza pandemics of 1957-58 and 1968. Sure.. we should certainly protect people over 65 or 70 by providing them free N95 masks, hand sanitizer, food and grocery delivery etc. But let us not pretend that COVID-19 is more dangerous for most people than a bad strain of Influenza.

Of course, this display of incompetence does not end here.. is just the beginning. Consider the bullshit about testing for antibodies as a proxy for exposure to this virus. First, the political elite pretended to believe that available tests were not accurate enough. Once it became hard to keep up that brainless charade, they pretended to believe that antibody tests accurately captured the infection rates in population. Newsflash- anybody with more than a basic understanding of medical microbiology knows this is not the case. Let me explain.. see, antibody titres are most important when considering immunity to infections by bacteria that produce potent toxins or those with protective capsules etc. As far as viral infections are concerned, the development of specific memory cells which can survive for decades in body and start production of antibodies and kickstart immune response as soon as they encounter the antigen in question is what matters! This class of cells is, for example, why your body can produce specific antibodies etc many decades after a measles infection or MMR vaccine if you are re-exposed to virus.

To make a long story short, antibody titres after viral infections are fairly mediocre indicators of immunity. However we still use them since tests to measure antibody titres are much cheaper and simpler than those for measuring presence of memory cells. But that is also why we require clinical trials of vaccines for viral diseases rather than just measure the antibody response to them. This is also why sub-clinical reinfection which does not progress to clinical disease is quite common with viral diseases, even if you have immunity to that disease. Now you understand why reinfection, but not clinical disease, is possible even if you are immune to COVID-19 and almost any other viral infection. Also note that we know from a wide variety of veterinary coronavirus diseases that they almost exclusively cause acute infections with one notable example of a sub-acute infection (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) in some cats. Now tell me.. did you notice political, or other, elites mentioning these facts? If not, why not?

Some of you might think, once again, that this is part of a “bigger plan”. To which my answer is.. just read the transcripts of how political elites and “credentialed experts” talk about these issues. It is as if they don’t understand the subject matter in any detail, and this is not surprising since the types of elites who rise through system under neoliberalism do so because they are D-list actors who are good at court intrigue. Here is another example of incompetence. You might have heard about long-term effects of COVID-19. Here is the truth. Anybody sick enough to end up in ICU and under mechanical ventilation for more than a day WILL take a few weeks or months to recover completely. This occurs whether you end up in that situation because of a car accident, post-surgery complications or COVID-19. Invasive positive pressure ventilation (PPV) beyond a couple of days WILL cause some lung damage even if you didn’t have any to begin with. It usually resolves in a few weeks to months, though some never completely recover from it.

Similarly, most viral infections beyond common colds and minor stomach bugs WILL cause elevated levels of systemic inflammation in a decent minority of people for a few weeks after recovery. This phenomena has been fairly well studied in children with viral coup and asthma, young adults who experience upper-respiratory and systemic symptoms for up to 2-3 months after recovering from a bad lower-respiratory tract infection or people developing temporary joint issues after recovering from a bad case of salmonellosis. It should also be understood that many sensitive tests for measuring heart damage and systemic inflammation will come back mildly positive for up to a couple of months after recovery from moderately bad infections. Now tell me,, how much of this very well known (if somewhat specialized) knowledge factors in the series of bad decisions made by western elites since the beginning of COVID-19 crisis? Why not?

In the next part, I will go back to what I was originally going to write for this part- namely, how establishment Republicans are not that different from their Democrat counterparts when it comes to privileging corporate interest over their voters.

What do you think? Comments?

PS: I also hope to soon write a quick piece about my thoughts on what is going on in Kenosha, especially its longer-term indirect social and political effects.

American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 2

August 21, 2020 10 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about how the pathetic response by american political (and other) elites to the COVID-19 crisis is yet another example of their disconnect with reality. As I also mentioned, their rapidly growing disconnect from reality was first obvious almost two decades ago, but it took a number of subsequent developments such as their inept response to 2008 GFC and election of Trump in 2016 etc for this phenomenon to become unignorable. The ongoing and incredibly dysfunctional response by american political elites to COVID-19 pandemic should therefore be seen, in it its right context, as the latest obvious sign of their loss of touch with reality. To be fair the political elites of other western countries have not done much better than their american counterparts, so this isn’t strictly an american thing.

As some of you might know, I recently wrote a series about how the COVID-19 crisis exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals (aka most american elites) and another about how their inept response will result in a public backlash. Let us take the points made in those posts and pursue them further. As many of you might have noticed the “response” (if you can call it that) to the COVID-19 pandemic and its sequelae fall along partisan lines. Establishment Democrats and their brain-dead LIEbral supporters are all in for stupid and ineffectual measures such as indefinite lockdowns, closing down schools and universities, mandatory face masks and other pandemic theater without grounding in reality. The “other side” aka Establishment Republicans and their delusional CONservative supporters want to open everything without any plan to mitigate the possible negative consequences of doing so.

Did you notice a few big fucking problems with both courses of action, apart from the fact that they are both bonkers. In case you haven’t.. let me spell it out for you. Firstly, neither Democrats nor Republicans have any worthwhile plan to make the tens of millions who have lost financially during the shutdowns whole again. Now people such as MikeCA might mutter something about financial help contained in some bill that is being held up by the Republican-dominated senate. To which my answer is.. bullshit! Democrats passed some bills in the house to convince dumb folks that they are “doing something”. They did it with full knowledge that those bills would never be passed by senate and become law. You might remember the Republican equivalent of this being their many attempts to rescind Obamacare during 2012-2016 even though they knew that those bills would never pass and become law. It is all Kayfabe, a feature of politics in dying empires.

And this brings up the inevitable followup question- namely, why are the political elites of both parties so clueless about the massive negative impact of lockdowns due to COVID-19 panic on the already precarious financial situation for tens of millions of their fellow citizens and millions of small business? I mean.. hadn’t things already become pretty bad for the younger age-groups over past decade manifested by decreases in house + auto sales and opioid epidemic? Also note that this apparent cluelessness is not just restricted to their lack of understanding effect of shutdowns on tens of millions. It extends to many other areas such as the lack of realistic plans to limit mortality due to pandemic, reboot the economy and much much more.

In fact, the types of speeches you are seeing at the hilariously bad Democrat convention simply bolster my claim. Have you noticed how these D-rate actors aka political elites are spouting all that bullshit about “decency and norms”, “democracy is under threat”, “our international image”, “what will the children think” and “identity politics”, while almost totally ignoring the horrible socio-economic effects of this shutdown on average voters? How can they continue spouting policy- and governance- free drivel about how people should vote for them because Trump is a bad.. bad.. man. It is as if they learnt nothing from 2016, or maybe they do not want to learn anything from that humiliation because even the act of acknowledging that it happened makes them look totally incompetent. How do you lose to a reality show clown who was constantly mocked by corporate media and had less than half the funds as your candidate?

But it gets worse.. much worse. Have you noticed that Establishment Democrats have no realistic plan about how to reopen schools, universities and the rest of economy. If you ask them about their plan, those pathetic circle-jerkers will say something about “follow the science”, “wear masks all the time”, “e-learning for all”, “constant testing” and tons of other bullshit that is not practical in real-life. They have no plan about the hundreds of millions of people who depend on public schools for what is essentially baby-sitting their kids. They have no feasible plans about how to reopen universities, many of which are already in a pretty precarious financial situation. How many universities, even many state ones, can survive a year of being basically closed for undergraduate teaching- which is essentially their main source of income.

Do they think that students are going to keep paying tens of thousands for zoom lectures during the fall and especially winter sessions? Democrats want people to believe that electing Dementia Joe in November will somehow magically change everything. Do they think that people who have become very cynical over years in addition to being immiserated because of decisions by political class will forgive them? Don’t they remember what happened in 2016? Perhaps they think that keeping schools and universities closed for next few months will somehow create enough chaos to create a popular revolt against Trump? If so, this is a very stupid and short-sighted decision since most schools in Republican-controlled states are going to be kept open by September and it will quickly become obvious that risks to the young are essentially non-existent.

Ironically, this stupid Democrat-promoted policy to keep schools and universities closed for next few months is going to hurt the economy of ‘blue’ states far more than ‘red’ states. And that is just the tip of iceberg, since all the other stupid ‘social distancing’ and other bullshit policies are already destroying small to medium sized business in ‘blue’ states far more than ‘red’ ones. Do you think all the people whose livelihoods and business are getting destroyed are going to care about “following credentialed experts” and all that other bullshit to contain a disease which kills less than 1 in 2,000 people under 50 and about 1 in 500 of those between 50-70? Also don’t forget that Establishment Democrats are already talking about implementing economic austerity if they win in 2020. Talk about being more stupid and delusional than Trump..

And it gets even worse, if you can believe that. have you noticed that in addition to blathering about “values and decency”, “our international image” and other coastal bourgeoisie bullshit, they are promoting plans that no sane party which wants to election in the current environment would even dare to mention. You know.. things like referring to Hispanics as LatinX, talking incessantly about ‘gun control’, supporting bullshit causes such as transitioning children, killing oil and gas sector jobs and many other brainfarts which are not popular outside certain coastal zipcodes. Notice everything is missing from that list? What about plans for a comprehensive universal single-payer healthcare system, higher minimum wage, taxpayer funded higher education, less expensive childcare, changes to zoning codes to allow the construction of more affordable housing. But wait, there is more.. much more.

Establishment Democrats have still not put forth a feasible plan (one which does not involve hand-waving and invoking underpants gnomes) to reopen the economy completely. Think about it.. even after four months of the ongoing bullshit, they still don’t have a feasible plan to reopen the economy. But why not? Here is my theory.. because they are intellectually bankrupt. One of the most interesting and universal effects of a country adopting neoliberalism is that its ruling class gets increasingly filled with conartists, shysters, mountebanks, careerists and other creatures who are incapable of original and independent thought. This is why, for example, why Democrats could not use their electoral victory of 2008 to pass any major changes that would make them more popular. This is also why the recent DNC circle-jerk fest looked like a bad infomercial filmed in 1992. My point is that establishment Democrats are actually incapable of thinking in ways which have not been preapproved by the incestuous social bubbles they inhabit.

In the next part, I will tell you about how establishment Republicans are not that different from their Democrat counterparts- especially when it comes to privileging corporate interest over those of the vast majority of their voters.

What do you think? Comments?

American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 1

August 14, 2020 14 comments

Throughout recorded history, one of the most consistent and definitive signs of the impending end for any empire is the disconnection of its political (and other) elites from reality. Some of the most famous examples of this from the past century include the incredibly and consistently bad decisions made by pre-1917 revolution elites in Russia, the highly dysfunctional decision making in last two decades of Austro-Hungarian empire, the unbelievably dumb decisions made by the three pashas and their flunkies in WW1-era Ottoman empire, the very stupid decision by British elites to get involved in WW1 etc. My point is that, regardless of the continent, ethnicity of people or historical era.. all dying empires end up being led by elites who have lost touch with reality. While I have theories about the reasons behind this pattern, it is best discussed in another post.

This post will focus on the many signs that american political elites, like their many predecessors in other dying empires, have lost all touch with reality. Some of you might think that losing touch with reality is the same as being stupid or incompetent. Well.. it isn’t. Losing touch with reality is something which occurs when the person in question has such faith in their own mental model of the world that they disregard any external evidence that it is incorrect. In other words, they keep making decisions based on a mental model of world that has increasingly tenuous connections to reality. While they might have some initial partial success due to system inertia, sooner or later their luck always runs out and a series of bad decisions end up sealing their fate. One of the most interesting features of this disconnect from reality is that, faced with increasingly bigger defeats, elites of dying empires double and triple down on the very positions causing their losses.

So what about 2020 makes me think the elites in this country have lost touch with reality? Well.. a whole fucking lot! And let us be clear about something else, their loss of connection with reality has been increasingly obvious since September 12, 2001. However, it has become too hard to ignore for the past decade and is a thoroughly bipartisan affair, with both major political parties and the deep state fully behind this disastrous trend. Since I have to start from somewhere, let us begin by talking about the decision of Democratic party establishment to nominate a person with visible signs of dementia (Joe Biden) as their candidate for the presidency. If they didn’t want Bernie (a spineless pushover) to win the nomination, they could at least have got a hack without dementia such as John Kerry to be the establishment’s favorite in primary.

But the Democratic establishment, like its Republican equivalent, is too intellectually bankrupt and lazy to pull off this shit in a semi-competent manner. Their selection of Kamala Harris, a black establishment politician marginally less slimy than HRC, as the “safe” choice for VP position in Democratic ticket simply shows more of their intellectual bankruptcy. Let me remind you that when Kamala Harris dropped out of the Democrat party primary, she was polling at 3-4% and ended up in 4th or 5th position in the state she currently represents as a senator. It is as if the Democratic party learnt nothing from their clobbering at the hands of Orange Man in 2016. Why else would they think that a black female version of Tim Kaine was the best choice for VP slot on their party ticket? Do they think that repeating 2016 will yield different results this time?

It appears that this is the case, and these dumbfucks believe that the result of 2016 election was an aberration rather than due to a buildup of popular discontent with the course of electoral politics over past three decades. They are delusional enough to believe that “racism” was the biggest reason Trump won in 2016 even though many swing voters who voted for him in the Midwest had previously voted for Obama.. twice. But intellectual bankruptcy and delusion is not a monopoly of Democratic party. Establishment Republicans are just as dumb and delusional as their Democratic counterparts. Witness their inability to stop a “reality show” clown from snatching the Republican party nomination from many establishment favorites in 2016 primaries. Do you remember how easily Trump ran over establishment favorites such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and many others.

But it gets worse.. remember what Republicans did after Orange Man was elected in 2016? Well.. they tried to repeal Obamacare without replacing it with anything better. While Obamacare is a sloppy blowjob to insurance companies, it was at least marginally better for many people than the web of shit which preceded it. MikeCA might not agree, but the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare was the main reason they got thrashed in 2018 mid-terms. So what have Republicans achieved since 2016? Not much, other than passing tax cuts for corporations and rich + getting lots of right-wing federal judges appointed to further the interests of corporations and rich + supporting wars in far off countries (the last two actions being bipartisan). In other words, they did exactly what you would expect establishment Republicans to do.

But how is any of this a sign of losing touch with reality? For the past thirty years, the Republican party has increasingly become a party of white people, especially of the working class type. So what promises does the Republican party offer the majority of its loyal voters? Well.. in addition to professed support for social conservatism (banning abortion, opposing homosexuality, upholding gun rights etc), they offer working class whites the promise of making sure that non-white people have a shittier life than them. But note that most Republican voters are actively opposed to most Republican economic policies such as free trade, job outsourcing, allowing corporations to become monopolies etc. This scam worked for about twenty years, though it had started to wear thin by the mid-2000s. Over the past ten years, changes such as legalization of gay marriage + inability to reverse Roe Vs Wade etc have made a mockery of their alleged social conservative platform, except perhaps for delusional old white people.

My point is the support for wedge issues based in social conservatism (with notable exception of gun rights) has become untenable. At the same time, the quality of life for white working class has decreased a lot over past two decades, but especially in aftermath of GFC of 2008. There is a reason why white working class has been doing so much methamphetamine, opioids and alcohol over past 10-15 years. This is also why the (empty) promises of Trump to restore manufacturing and similar jobs for this group resonated so much with that group during the electoral campaign of 2016. Given the changing racial demography of this country, the smart thing for Republican party to do would be courting this base with economic populist policies (not unlike Democrats under FDR) instead of fixating on social wedge issues that have been pretty much decided.

The white working class voter of 2020 cares far more about having a job, rising costs of housing, education and healthcare rather than banning abortion or gays. But Republican establishment, like its Democratic equivalent, is in thrall of corporations and ultra-rich. It is therefore unable and unwilling to read the writing on wall and adjust its positions. Luckily for them, the Democratic establishment, which is paid by same groups, has no desire or ability to exploit this weakness. But as Trump showed in a very spectacular manner in 2016, and politician willing to break away from the neoliberal economic orthodoxy (if only in words) can effectively steamroll the Republican establishment. You can bet that a few young Republican politicians (Cotton, Hawley, Rubio), who are smarter than Trump, have already internalized this message.

But how is any of this manifesting itself in 2020? For starters, both Democrats and Republicans have been unable (and unwilling) to understand how badly the COVID-19 shutdown has affected the economy, and not just in the short-term. While the relief package offered by Republicans is laughably inadequate, even the somewhat more generous one proposed by Democrats is quite inadequate. There is something darkly comic about Republicans showing contempt for working class people who have lost their jobs while Democrats pretend to care about budget deficits and maintaining collegiality with Republican counterparts. While somewhere between 30-50 million people in this country are either officially unemployed or cannot collect unemployment even though they have lost their jobs, politicians from both parties are attacking each other on social issues which almost nobody cares about right now.

Trump and his coterie of dumbfucks are promising a rapid return to normality, without the means or capability to do so. Democrats, for their part, are promising open-ended lockdowns which will mysteriously end if Dementia Joe wins on 3rd of November. Neither groups has any worthwhile plans on reopening the economy completely, procuring enough doses of an effective and safe vaccine let alone do anything about compensating the millions of small business that have been devastated and will likely shutdown forever by the time this shitshow is over. But what do you hear on Clinton News Network (CNN), MSDNC and Faux or read in establishment rags such as NYT and WP? Well.. it is mostly the latest clickbait scare news about COVID-19, bullshit about political manoeuvring and “norms” that very few outside the incestous political types care about, articles supporting the latest american wars and unsuccessful attempts at foreign intervention, more stuff about how Trump is a liar, stupid, evil etc. Notice what is minimized or missing?

These corporate news outlets either completely ignore or devote very little space to issues such as the socio-economics of reopening schools and universities, the tens of millions without jobs who are increasingly unable to pay rent or mortgages and in some cases afford to buy food and medicine, the millions whose small business or gig jobs have gone under, the total inadequacy of current government programs for helping the unemployed, the rapidly growing loss of confidence among people about “epidemiologists” and “experts”, the massive increase in rates of opioid overdoses in many economically distressed regions of country, the long-term effects of university lockdowns on finances of those institutions, the effect of revenue loss due to small business closure on local and state governments + the general loss of faith in the future of this country.

The political “elites” and their catamites in corporate media have their head too far up their behinds to actually notice that the country they pretend to lord over is rapidly coming apart. They keep on playing the stupid old games they know because they are intellectually bankrupt and therefore totally incapable of actually solving problems. I will write more about what the almost complete mishandling of COVID-19 crisis says about the american elite in the next post. I also hope to tackle how the willingness of this country to start conflicts all over the world without the wherewithal to actually win them is another sign of its loss of touch with reality.

What do you think? Comments?

Quick Thoughts on Why the Summer of 2020 Will be Full of Discontent

May 31, 2020 26 comments

Regular readers might remember that a couple of my posts on the topic of COVID-19 (link 1, link 2) explicitly mention the likelihood of serious and lasting social unrest – especially in USA. Some of you might also remember another post (link 3) on that topic on which I talked about collapse of public trust in the old establishment after WW1 and during the great depression of early 1930s was responsible for the rise of fascists and strongmen and military types all over the world- from Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland to Japan. Many years ago, I wrote yet another short post (link 4) about how the Nazi Party was a fringe party in Germany (receiving no more than 5% of votes for many years) until the economic crash of 1929 caused in a huge rise in unemployment which was made worse by the austerity policies of Heinrich Brüning.

To make a long story short, there is enough historical data from previous one hundred years that actual unemployment rates over 20% consistently produce interesting and “unexpected” political outcomes. As many of you might have heard, the unemployment rates in this country (massaged as they are) have now exceeded 25%. Let me also remind you that the unemployment benefit system in this country is designed to exclude people from receiving benefits. Therefore the real unemployment rate is probably closer to 35-40%. The last time we saw such high rates in our country was in the early 1930s- almost 90 years ago. To make matters a bit more interesting, the rates of unemployment among the healthy young are much higher than those of in older age groups. In other words almost everybody under 40 or 45 is screwed.

But why does it matter and what is the relevance of any of this to my predictions of widespread social unrest for the past two months? Well.. let me ask you a few simple questions. Firstly, how did all that talk of social-distancing and COVID-19 dissolve into thin air within the past 2-3 days? Isn’t it odd that the country went from pretending to shame people who violated all those stupid guidelines to burning down social unrest at multiple places in at least 25 cities (thus far) all over this country. Also, how come so many young white people have decided to protest the public murder and lynching of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. What is going on? Surely, all these young white people could not have suddenly developed so much empathy for black people within the past couple of months.. could they?

More than a few “hip” journalists are trying to spin a theory that this is all the result of people spending too much time indoors in past two months. Perhaps.. but why aren’t we seeing the same sorts of protests in other western countries yet? What is so exceptional about this country? Well.. have you ever considered the possibility that one of the biggest difference between USA and other developed country is the quality of the social safety net? Also, USA is an empire in an accelerating phase of its decline. Furthermore, you might have noticed that the age range of protesters skews heavily towards the younger end. In case you haven’t figure what I am getting at by now, let me say it clearly. It is not so much about about race and policing as much as it is about a collapse of belief in the ability of existing status quo to continue providing even the previous bare minimum of living standards.

However, this does not mean that race and policing are not an issue for most people protesting. It is just that they matter in ways not readily obvious to conventional thinkers. Let me explain.. white muricans of previous generations (upto middle of Gen-X) benefited from racial inequality and disparate policing of minorities. That is why for example, shitholes such as Reagan, Clinton, Bush41 and 43 got elected and why that whole “tough of crime” bullshit flourished from mid-1970s to 2008. However due to neoliberal globalization etc, almost everybody born in late 1970s and after has, to put it mildly, been fucked over by the system- regardless or race. Sure.. black people have been screwed over the most but, unlike in previous eras, so have whites below a certain age- albeit to a lesser degree. Long story short, whites people below a certain age have little to no loyalty for system. Then there is the issue of racial demography.

It is no secret that a rapidly increasing percentage of the younger age groups are non-white and therefore have even less of an attachment to the old status quo. It also does not help that those under 40 have been disproportionately affected by negative socio-economic changes from loss of job security, ever increasing costs for housing, higher education and healthcare, multiple asset bubbles whose bursting transferred wealth in this country upwards, the global financial crisis of 2008, stagnant or declining wages for all their working lives. In other words, they have been served a massive shit-sandwich in the name of american exceptionalism and all that associated bullshit for the past twenty years. To make matters worse, if that is possible, the militarization of police throughout this country which began in earnest during 1990s has made them even less accountable and far more willing to harass and abuse white people than they used to in the past.

To make another long story short, majority of those under 40 are far more likely to take the side of a black guy murdered by police than their parents generation. It does not help that the police no longer have popular legitimacy among the younger age groups as they are now seen as as occupying force elusively protecting the interest of hyper-parasitic plutocrats. While this sor of discontent had been openly brewing since 2008, a series of events in past few months have pushed things into overdrive. The small-scale riots you are seeing right now all over this country are just the beginning of an interesting period on the history of this country- assuming there is a functional one left by the time this phase is over. And yes.. that particular outcome is much more likely than most people are willing to admit.

The thing is.. the very public lynching of George Floyd was the perfect spark which set fire to a lot of dry tinder and fuel that had been accumulating (at an increasingly accelerating rate) for past few years. Most dumb conventional thinkers pay too much attention to the spark but ignore the tinder and fuel- at their own peril. These idiots think that all these riots will be self-limiting or follow patterns from the past- such as those from the late 1960s. Here is my prediction.. they won’t follow previous patterns and here is why. The late 1960s or any other period in american history after 1938 did not have prolonged 20% + unemployment. Nor were the unemployment rates so peculiarly distributed by age. If you think that close to 50% unemployment + severe underemployment rates for those under 40-45 won’t cause more and larger social problems in a country without an effective social safety net, you are delusional.

And no.. the economy is not going to come back to “normal” within a few months. In fact, it is much more likely to get worse before it can get better. Problem is that most of those under a certain age do not have the financial resources to stay afloat till then without a job that pays the same as before. It is no coincidence that the rioting started close to the time (almost two months into COVID-19 shutdown) when most people under 40 would start running out of money and credit to maintain their previous lifestyles and in many cases afford the essentials. If you think whatever happened all over this country on this weekend was bad.. just wait a few more weeks. Also the type of rioting, violence and civil disturbances you have see untill now are just a teaser trailer of what might occur within next 2-3 months.

To make matters worse, if that is still possible, the elites from both political parties in this country are out of touch with reality. These dumbfucks appear to think that all of this unpleasantness will just go away if they double down or pretend that these protests are only about race and policing. We are already seeing idiots on both side of approved political spectrum pretend that these riots were caused by “foreign interference” and “out of state professional agitators” etc. By basing their next actions on such delusional thinking, they are going to choose paths of action which will further inflame the situation. I, for one, do not find this surprising- since almost every single empire in its terminal phase is ruled by elites who have lost touch with reality and hence fail to appreciate the real-life limitations of their rapidly declining power.

What do you think? Comments?

USA Will Likely Suffer the Most Damage from Coronavirus Pandemic: 2

March 18, 2020 24 comments

In my previous post, I wrote about how structural characteristics of the american economy and long-standing institutional decay will likely result in USA suffering the maximum damage from the Coronavirus pandemic. In it, I also promised to talk about other related issues which make USA especially vulnerable to the direct and indirect damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the lack of a usable social safety net, staffing of nursing homes and elder care in general by precariat workers, ideological unwillingness of government to directly workers for lost earnings especially if they are temporary and part-time, the risk of shortages of medicines, chemicals, electronic stuff etc caused by temporary disruption of supply chains in China. So let us dive right in by starting with the issue of a social safety net, or more precisely its lack, in USA.

1] Even the most delusional ‘murican would agree that the social safety net in this country is very meager compared to what exists in other developed countries. While most west-European countries once had similar attitudes towards social safety nets, things changed a lot after WW2. There is a reason why the average European after 1945 decided that working under conditions similar to those found in USA today was unacceptable. And let us be honest about something, the European rich were (and are) not better human beings than their American counterparts. They just had to go along with what the majority in those countries wanted after WW2, or risk losing it all. However, since the USA experienced a long-boom in the aftermath of WW2 (1945-1975) most of its workers never experienced the socio-economic pressures which led to creation of the modern welfare state in European countries.

To make a long story short, socialism never took root in post-WW2 USA because the median american worker in the first three to four decades did not live through prolonged bad times. And this is also why all this current talk of socialism in USA only began after the majority experienced a full decade of stagnation and decline in aftermath of 2008 global financial crisis. So what does all of this portend for the public reaction to the fallout of this ongoing crisis. Well.. let me put it this way. Unemployment rates of over 20% (maybe even north of 30%), even if short-lived, are unworkable in a system without a decent social safety net and where the median person cannot afford to miss even a single paycheck because they have less than 500 dollars in the bank. Things will get very ugly in this country if the government cannot drop a couple of grand of ‘helicopter money‘ per household within the next two-three weeks.

2] To Trump’s credit, he is clever enough to see that this problem and seems to have embraced the idea of ‘helicopter money’. As I have mentioned many times in the past, He may not be a genius (to out it mildly) but the guy is pretty street-smart and is very ideologically flexible when he feels the need to save his behind. Mark my words, he will even channel FDR if necessary to keep the angry mob way from him. Ironically, it is loser establishment democrats such as Pelosi, Schumer etc who are talking about fiscal restraint, “deficits” and “means testing”. To be quite blunt- if Trump is successful with getting the ‘helicopter money’ thing done, along with massive stimulus for especially affected sectors of economy, democrats can forget winning anything let alone the presidency in 2020. Also, let me remind you that Obama did nothing along those lines in 2009 or 2010. And that is why he barely scraped by to win in 2012.

It does not help that between trying to nominate a used-car salesman with dementia (Joe Biden) as their candidate and shouting about Russia, Putin and Ukraine for over three years, they have not done anything big to actually convince potential new voters to vote for them in 2020. Their so-called “victory in the 2018 mid-terms was only possible because Trump was stupid enough to try repealing ‘Obamacare’ without replacing it with a better system. And in case you didn’t notice it, he has learned from that mistake. In my opinion, what happens in USA in the next few months depends on whether Trump can deliver somewhere between 2-4 k to most american households by mid April- at the latest. If he can do that + properly bailout major sectors hit by indirect effects of this pandemic- he will win in 2020. If not, he will be reviled for a long time.

3] Regardless of what he does within next 2-3 weeks, the american economy will enter a steep recession with economic contraction of somewhere between 15-20% in next few months. And no.. these are not the feverish dreams of somebody who wants to see USA fall, but conservative figures floated by people working in supposedly “respectable” banking institutions. I would not be surprised if the economic contraction (and unemployment rate) reached 30% for almost a year. This is great depression territory and much more deeper as well systemic than the GFC of 2008. You know something else, mass unemployment in a country with a functional social safety net at that time was a very important factor for the rise of Hitler to power. And not just him, since almost every strongman of the 1920s-30s (from Mussolini and Franco to many others in East-European countries came to power in the aftermath of mass unemployment and disillusionment with existing institutions and the status quo.

Since we are already close to a thousand words, I will write about the other issues raised in this post in a subsequent part of this unintentional series.

What do you think? Comments?

USA Will Likely Suffer the Most Damage from Coronavirus Pandemic: 1

March 14, 2020 45 comments

Some of you will remember that I have previously written four previous posts (link 1, link 2, link 3 and link 4) on the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak. Consider this post as the next part of that unofficial series. And yes.. there is a specific reason why I am not making it into an official series, yet. The situation is still evolving and could take a number of highly consequential turns. For example, it is possible that one or more of presidential candidates (Trump, Biden, Sanders) might catch COVID-19 and pass away by election day. Imagine the impact on political scene if Dementia Joe, who also has a long-standing cardiac arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation), dies within the next month. So let us now talk about the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on USA- which I predict will suffer the most damage (direct and indirect) of any country.

1] It is, now, almost a given that there will be an economic recession in this country within the next three months. Sure.. Trump’s fucking up things will make it worse, but it would have been pretty bad even if a semi-competent loser such as Obummer was in office. One cannot just shut down or reduce the activity of so many businesses sectors (airlines, hotels, other tourism related business, restaurants, shops etc) without causing a serious economic downturn. Unlike during previous eras, most jobs in this country are now in the service sector. Did I mention that these jobs offer low job security and poor pay? To make a long story short, most people in the service sector and other business dependent on it are not going to get paid soon- which is a problem since over 60% of people in this country don’t have enough savings to cover their next month’s rent or mortgage payment. And it gets worse.

2] As many of you know, the so-called ‘gig economy’ which flourishes by exploiting ‘independent contractors’ has become a fixture of life in many larger cities over past decade. While these “jobs” are often not the only source of income for those who perform them, they often provide the extra money necessary for many people to “participate in the consumer economy”. So even if ‘Uber’ guy also drives for a regular Taxicab company, any reduction in his expected income from rise-sharing services is going to fuck with his ability to pay bills on time, let alone keep spending on stuff he would normally buy. But the numbers in the ‘gig economy’ pales in comparison to those employed as ‘independent contractors’ by large companies. These ‘contractors’ are often employed by businesses who themselves are dependent on contracts from large companies such as Google, FakeBook, Amazon, Walmart and yes.. even your local hospital, university, school etc.

3] Some democrat cultists (MikeCA?) will try to tell you that the Obummer administration would have done an infinitely better job than the Trump administration. But it is that really true? While the Obummer administration did face some pandemics such as the influenza pandemic of 2009, there is no way to accurately predict how they would have would responded to such a pandemic. See.. COVID-19, unlike Ebola or MERS, is far easier to spread. While it is likely that the Obummer administration would have behaved more professionally, it is unlikely this would have somehow translated into better policy. If you don’t believe me, just look at how that administration handled the foreclosure crisis in 2009-20210 or how it kept pushing outsourcing and globalization even when it was obvious that those policies were screwing over their voter bases. So ya.. there is no definitive evidence that a Obummer administration would have done screwed up any less- even if they would have acted more “professionally” while doing so.

4] Let us now talk about how the defects inherent in the american “healthcare” system, default neoliberal ideology among both political parties and Trump’s obsession with the stock market will fuck things up- even more than they have to be. For starters, consider the issue of testing. Ask yourself a simple question- how can countries such as South Korea and Canada quickly test a pretty high number of people for COVID-19? Well.. the simple answer is that healthcare in both those countries (and every developed country other than USA) is treated as a public good which is highly regulated by the government to make it available (rather than merely “accessible”) to all their people. In contrast, the “healthcare” system is a bureaucratic nightmare full of multiple powerful lobbies whose sole purpose is to extract the maximum amount of money for the least amount of actual healthcare. This intentional design choice makes the system almost incapable of responding or adapting to new challenges and pressures.

Then there is the issue of how people within the system work, or don’t work. See.. in all other developed countries, physicians and other people actually involved in running the system have considerable freedom to make decisions on the fly if conventional approaches don’t seem to be working. For example, in both South Korea and Canada, insurance companies have no role whatsoever in approving tests, treatments in hospital etc. Also the vast majority of hospitals in those countries are not run to make a profit. Consequently, they put the welfare of patients above considerations such as whether some test or medication will get reimbursed. That is why countries such as South Korea were able to put up scores of convenient testing facilities so quickly. However this is not the case in USA even today, and Medicare for all is still considered a pipe-dream by “centrists” such as MikeCA. Moving on to governing ideology..

5] Every developed country other than USA has far more competent governmental bureaucracies because their politicians and populace understand their necessity. However, in this country corporate-funded politicians a good percentage of their brainless subjects are more than happy to go along with the bullshit about governmental bureaucracies being inefficient and “bad”. Guess what.. once you assume that and defund government bureaucracies you will end up with hollow shells of once well-known institutions such as the NTSB and CDC. And this is how you end up with disasters such as the Boeing 737-Max fiasco and, now, the COVID-19 outbreak spiraling out of control in USA. While shills such as MikeCA would like to blame all of this on evil republicans, let me remind you that all the cutting and slashing of governmental bureaucracies which occurred from 1980 to today was largely supported by a bipartisan “consensus”.

Since this post is already above a thousand words, I will leave discussion about other issues such as the lack of a social safety net in this country, the staffing of nursing homes and elder care by precariat workers, unwillingness of government to directly compensate temporary and part-time workers, risk of widespread shortages of products such as medicines, chemicals, electronic stuff etc caused by temporary disruption of supply chains in China, to another post or a new series.

What do you think? Comments?

Couple Of Obvious Predictions about Potential Military Conflicts in 2020

January 12, 2020 9 comments

Since making predictions about the future is often the main reason for people writing online, let me make a couple of really obvious predictions about potential military conflicts in 2020. To make things easy, I am going to restrict myself to those which directly involve the USA- because there is no shortage of potential military conflicts which don’t involve USA. For this post, I have chosen the two most obvious, and long-standing, conflicts which this country is involved in- and have the highest potential for disastrous flareups. But before we go there, let us talk about the common thread which runs through both of them- namely, the inability of american establishment to accept that their empire is circling the drain and that it is not 1991 or 2002.

Irrespective of what the american establishment believes, the power of its empire has been in a terminal downward spiral since Sep 11, 2001. It is important to note that there are many reasons for this death spiral, and most have nothing to do with spending on military matters. In fact, one could make the argument that the ideologies of neoliberalism and financialization have made a much larger contribution (directly and indirectly) to loss of power by the dying american empire than increased defense spending or development of newer weapons by other countries. I plan to address this particular topic in an upcoming series, but getting back to the one at hand- why is the american establishment so deeply in denial about the rapidly diminishing power of its empire?

Once again, there are many reasons- but the most important comes down to the consequences of acknowledging reality. See.. the cushy and sinecured livelihood of the american establishment is totally dependent on their ability to convince the public (at least most of them) that “USA is still number 1”. To put it bluntly, they would lose all their power and status the instant most people in this country realized that USA is not a superpower, let alone the only one. And this is irrespective of what it still spends on weapon systems, USA ceased to be a superpower about a decade ago when the Chinese economy and their industrial capability surpassed them. In case you want to understand my supporting argument in a bit more detail, here is a short series.

But getting back to the topic at hand, how does the profound inability of american establishment to inhabit the real world make military conflict more likely? Well.. let us start by talking about the peculiar situation between DPRK and USA since Trump and Kim Jong-un decided to first meet in mid-2018. While this first face-to-face meeting between Kim Jon-un and Trump in Singapore was a big step forward, at least diplomatically, subsequent meetings haven’t produced anything beyond photographs of both men shaking hands. But why not? Shouldn’t this big symbolic have resulted in worthwhile progress on real-life issues between the two countries? What is main stumbling block for real improvement in relations between DPRK and USA?

In my opinion, it comes to the american establishment unwillingness to accept reality, at multiple levels. See.. after watching american behavior and actions between 1991 and 2003, only an idiot would trust any treaty signed with it. Which is another way of saying that DPRK is not going to give up its nuclear weapons and ICBMs.. ever. Let me remind you that DPRK went down the path to acquiring nukes only after 2003, after watching USA invade Iraq. Between 1994-2003, DPRK was interested in acquiring nukes but not seriously committed to that goal. If the idiots in DC had lived in the real world, and behaved accordingly, they could have achieved their alleged goal of denuclearizing DPRK. But their whiteman egos prevented them from offering any compromise which would be acceptable to DPRK, and that opportunity was lost forever after 2003.

Flash-forward to today and DPRK has thermonuclear warheads and the means to reliably deliver them to any american metropolitan area of its choice. And guess what.. both countries bordering it (also nuclear powers) aka China and Russia are fine with it, largely because USA has been also busy antagonizing them for over a decade. No amount of sanctions have changed that outcome and none will. It should also be noted that at this stage Kim Jong-un is fully aware that there will never be any worthwhile relief to economic sanctions by USA and has chosen a different path for his countries future. I would add that previous attempts by idiots such as Bush43 and Obama44 to wait for the “inevitable collapse” of the DPRK government have failed miserably.

So why do I think that this conflict might heat up in 2020? Well.. because KJU has indicated his desire to restart testing of newer ICBMs, and maybe even nukes- and he is a man of his words. Expect KJU to restart testing long-ranged missiles, specifically solid-fueled ICBMs sometime this year. He is fully aware that doing so will make Trump look weak and ineffectual, but he does not care because he has an insurance policy- aka enough nukes and missiles to reliably target large urban centers in Japan and USA. The real question then is, how will Trump and the delusional and largely Zionist neocons around him response to such actions in an election year and under the shadow of his impeachment. It will be interesting to watch..

Then there is the conflict with Iran, which I have written about previously (link 1, link 2 and link 3). Without going into a ton of detail, it is fair to say that Israel and USA are trying to provoke a war with Iran. Given economic sanctions imposed against that country and the fact that Iranian leaders are not idiots to wait them out when they have other options- a conflict is likely sooner than later. The bone-headed Zionist-inspired assassination of Soleimani is not going to make war less likely. Furthermore Iran has demonstrated that its ballistic and cruise missiles are now very accurate. To put it another way, it will be basically impossible for USA to conduct airstrikes or even house troops within a thousand km (or more) of The Iranian border.

Let me remind you that Saddam never had missiles that were as numerous, accurate and varied as what Iran posses today and its domestic air defense system is no slouch either. To put it bluntly, it is not realistic for USA to launch a successful land-based invasion of Iran. Also, any airstrikes against targets in Iran will almost immediately result in the war spreading to countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia. Since I do not wish to repeat my previous posts, let’s just say that a conventional war against Iran would be uncontrollable and bad for the economy of west-European countries, who will quickly find out how important all that imported oil is for running their economies. By now most of you might be thinking- won’t cooler heads prevail? Well.. maybe they will, but history suggest another possibility.

If you have ever read the history of large and consequential wars within the last hundred or so years, one thing quickly becomes obvious- most were not started intentionally and almost nobody expected them to develop in the manner they did or result in the final outcome- for both sides. USA is an empire in rapid decline that is run by a bunch of credentialed idiots who do not want to admit the obvious and presided over by an orange buffoon with the mental maturity of a 16- year old boy. To put it another way, things are far more likely to take unexpected routes and result in disastrous outcomes- especially in an election year. Did I mention that current american policies and attitudes are certain to worsen the ongoing conflicts with DPRK and Iran? In summary, 2020 promises to be interesting year.. perhaps, a bit too interesting for some.

What do you think? Comments?