The Price of Screwing Workers


The only economic program centrist politicians had to offer in the Western world over the last 30 years was the continuation of globalization, offset with redistribution to compensate the “losers.” Whenever fiscal constraints appeared, those redistributive measures were the first to go, even if they weakened government accounts. Thus were low-wage workers sold out.

The victory of the Leave campaign in the UK and the Republican nomination of Donald Trump in the United States represent a revolt of working-class voters against the mainstream politicians who mortgaged their futures. Only time will tell what the long-term results will be, but the chances of a trans-Atlantic recession in the short-term just got a whole lot better.

The only possible bright side is that this marks the first time in contemporary economic history that the wealthy have paid a direct, tangible price for screwing over working people. This might change the political and economic calculus of class warfare. In the meantime, of course, the poor will suffer the worse. What else is new?

Colonies are unAmerican

Puerto Rico’s debt crisis has finally reached the public consciousness thanks to Jon Oliver:

Setting aside for the moment the absurdity of public policy in the world’s most powerful country being dictated by late night comedy and variety shows, I’d like to focus instead on the absurdity of a country, founded in a revolutionary war against a colonial empire, that maintains colonies over a large part of the world.

In 1901, in a series of frankly racist majority opinions, the Supreme Court ruled that the residents of conquered and subverted lands could be denied basic protections of citizenship because they were inferior and incapable of self-government. It was one thing to accept the unacceptable when racism was a respectable and majority view. It’s quite another to assert stare decisis when you can be fired from virtually any job for spouting such odious nonsense.

The bizarre and byzantine series of statuses held by residents of different American territories is best explained by:

and, again, by Jon Oliver:

While the text contains a hole big enough to drive a truck full of Federalist Society nutjobs to a book burning, the gist of the Fourteenth Amendment is pretty clear:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It’s also pretty clear that a country established as an Enlightenment-era political experiment in liberty is inviting some pretty serious political legitimacy questions by maintaining empire and demi-citizenship.
It produces legal and political precedents for all kinds of assaults on human rights, whether economically or politically motivated. It makes no difference whether these abuses take place overseas or in the District of Columbia. There can be no half-citizens. Every liberal and progressive should be committed to the principle of In or Out: Every place subject to American law must be part of a state whose residents have full representation both in Congress and the Executive or it must be all or part of an independent country. After all, our first rallying cry was:


The Party of Women

In the last 40 years, the Democratic Party, long the political home of Southern segregationists and Northern labor unionists, has been searching for a constituency. Ham-handed attempts to appeal to Black voters are no substitute for a ballot with Barack Obama at the top. Our appeal to Hispanics can be summed up as: “those other guys really hate you.” As for youth outreach, well:

The less said, the better. Hillary with the stars of “Broad City.”

If only the GOP would embark on a program to find brilliant new ways to piss off 51 percent of the American population. Hmmmm ….

How about, when asked for ways to prevent campus rape, the “moderate” Republican candidate for President were to advise staying away from parties? No? OK, Well for parents trying to balance work and kids, you can take your babies to work, right? Well, at least working women can earn money to raise those kids. OK, no kids, focus on work. Well, it’s not like all those Republicans elected in the States in 2010 pulled some bait and switch after promising jobs and spent their time trying to ban abortion instead, right? No, obviously not.

See, none of this is fair. Surely the top two Republican politicians in the US have a disciplined, professional attitude toward the majority of Americans. I’ll bet the GOP’s Presidential front-runner has a genius for pandering to women voters. No? Well, then, there’s always his responsible opponent.

The Democratic record on measures strengthening families’ health and pocketbooks could be a useful electoral counterpoint. I don’t think there’s any reason to be coy about it. If there’s one way Democrats, warts and all, could shatter the GOP’s governing coalition, this is it.