Labor Day Communique 9-7-2020 "The Good Deal"
By Philip Drucker
Today is Labor Day. The traditional beginning of the end of the election season. Up to now, there has been plenty of jostling, juggling, and jockeying for position. For those of you who have never run for office positioning is an important aspect of a successful campaign. It’s that part of the process where people get to know you and learn about your political leanings and if elected, what your priorities would be.
I am a socially liberal, fiscally conservative blue dog. This is not to say I wouldn’t spend tax dollars on programs that make us healthier, safer, and provide for the general welfare, but I do not believe the government should be run like a business. Profit should not be anything more than one factor, and a small one at that, when making budget decisions as profit is often a very poor arbiter of social, economic and political success.
The military is a good example. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Marines lose money on an annual basis. Could it be run differently? Could we cut costs? Of course, but let’s be honest, should we? There is nothing wrong with lean and mean. But weak and feckless? That is not the American way. The military is an employer. The military is a contractor. The military is when necessary a builder and it is our protector. It keeps people busy, money flowing and unwanted invaders off our shores. Sounds like a good deal to me. And that is what I am looking for. Not a New Deal, Square Deal or Green Deal, but a good deal. In fact, when I ran for State Senator I called my economic agenda “The Good Deal”.
When at the grocery store I pride myself on being a good shopper. I look for items that are on sale, or two for one, anything that saves me my cabbage so I can buy more cabbage. You know, a good deal. More of what you want for less. The best products for free if we can get them. The American Way. Innovation at the right price. Isn’t that the essence of capitalism? A good deal? I’d like to think so.
So where are the good deals these days? Where are the monetary incentives designed to help the middle class? For it is the middle class that buys stuff. The genius of America was and always will be the realization that a truly strong economy grows from the bottom to the middle out. Assembly lines (innovation) and higher wages (right price) led to the average worker’s ability to purchase the goods they themselves made, albeit not as craftsmen, but as part of a grand experiment in mass marketing and production.
Then came the plunderers. The “businessmen” who decided a good deal for the people was not nearly as lucrative as playing “debt” games, swapping derivatives, purely paper transactions, ROI and if all our jobs go overseas along with our capital stashed in offshore accounts, so be it. This is the legacy of Trickle Down Economics. Create an upper corporate/oligarch class based on imaginary numbers hoarded in secret accounts to be used not for the benefit of society, but to allow greedy bastards with too much money to make more money, not by investing in people, or goods, or small businesses, but in fiscal instruments that have no purpose but to make money. Problem is, this type of income is not tied to anything even remotely resembling a social conscience, progress, competition or any of the hallmarks of a capitalist society. Yes, we can has become no you don’t.
When did it become better to place our collective futures in the hands of a handful of corporate sharks and raiders who think we are losers and suckers because we are not rich? We are in a hyper state of “I’ve got mine” mentality with any attempt to give economic aid, even at this, a time of a pandemic, from the government directly to the people who need help a wanton act of socialism? Hey, I have a tip for you. Corporate bailouts are socialism and as we can plainly see, America is not strong when corporate profits are being artificially propped up. When the stock market is being manipulated for the benefit of a few insiders.
When Amazon, a company that doesn’t make anything, is profiting off the cheap labor and lack of healthcare and other benefits for its employees and make no mistake our tax dollars. Do you believe this is the proper role of our government? Giving tax breaks to those who do not need them while the general populace suffers, in many cases through no fault of their own? Did you know there is no line on a corporate balance sheet for “human resources”? That your labor is an expense that carries no actual identifiable value to your employer? But wait, it gets worse.
Today is Labor Day, the holiday we celebrate workers for their contributions to society. A day usually spent with family and friends over a BBQ full of hotdogs, hamburgers and potato salad. But I bet a lot of folks aren’t in what you would call a festive mood today. There are so many who are thinking it’s more of a No Labor Day. No job, no money and the rent is/was due on the First. The children somewhat back in school as we head into an election season unlike no other. During a pandemic and a recession soon to be a depression. Remember, it doesn’t matter if an apple costs a nickel if you don’t have one. And then, it gets worse. Enter the Trump factor.
How many of you are familiar with lifeboat ethics? I’m going to give you the down and dirty here. It means that rich people should not bother themselves with saving the poor, even if there is room in the lifeboat to do so. It is also a theory which asks such interesting and ethereal questions regarding the efficacy of cannibalism as a way of preserving resources.
Lifeboat ethics is an outgrowth of a very old economic theory of managing resources called the “Tragedy of the Commons”. First proposed in 1833 by British economist William Foster Lloyd, the tragedy involves mismanagement of shared resources leading to depletion, then to regulation and eventually privatization, exactly the type of economic malpractice we are seeing today. Why do I say malpractice? Despite the many grand pronouncements of death and doom of the empire the commons or grasslands for grazing, survived. England survived. Everyone survived.
Their secret? Common sense planning for the greater good. It seems when given the choice of starvation, rational persons will choose to work together and come up with a reasonable plan for exploiting shared resources in a prudent and sensible manner. The long term over the short term. Trump? A short-term thinker (assuming he thinks at all) if there ever was one. Doesn’t like regulation and he loves privatization. Common sense management for the greater good? Not so much. See where we are going here?
There is one more piece of the puzzle worth exploring to help explain our current situation and it involves a fellow named Garrett Hardin. In 1968 Hardin, an ecologist by trade came up with a philosophy blending Tragedy theory with issues involving human values and morality, mostly in the catalyst of population growth.
Some equated his finding by comparing Planet Earth to a spaceship for which we are all responsible for its maintenance. Other commentators gravitated toward and tacked on the Lifeboat Theory as the way out of our inevitable overpopulation and the societal havoc it would bring. Trump to the rescue? I think it’s fair to say you are either in the lifeboat or not, all allusions to cannibalism aside.
And as for the cherry on the Trump Truffle Toxic Cake? Why it’s racism, of course. No discussion of any of Trump’s policies is complete until you add in a scoop or two of hatred and fear mongering against POC. And Hardin’s research fits the bill for his belief and use of eugenics in his work as valid science and his no real bones about it position as a white nationalist, as corroborated by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Vote for Biden. Who is none of those things. He’ll give us a good deal. Happy Labor Day.