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Posts Tagged ‘dying empire’

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

May 31, 2020 24 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 BrĂ¼ning.

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 22 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?