The Weiner Component Vol.2 #1 Part 3 Introduction

At some point during the 1980s, when I was a social science high school instructor, for the last two or three weeks of an eleventh grade United States history course I decided to teach a unit on the future.  We would examine the possibilities of how the Twenty-first Century might affect the lives of my students.  Virtually everyone in the class balked at this.  They absolutely refused to consider the changes that could occur and how these possible societal changes could affect their future lives as adults.  I had never faced this type of response before.  It was an interesting situation.  The future, even the immediate future was unknown.  The past was known and could in the minds of many also be idealized.  I did not attempt to teach this unit again.  From then on the course ended in the immediate present.

 

Is the general public that different from my students?  Do they idealize the “Happy Days” gone by and avoid thinking or dealing with the possible changes to come?  It would seem so.  Most people like dealing with what they know.  Unknowns to them are scary since these might easily change their living conditions for the worst.  (Unfortunately even so called knowns can bring about changes in the society.)

 

Most people (Family units) live economically on the edge; they are, more or less, living up to their financial limit and in many cases slightly or more beyond.  Any real change could throw them into financial disaster.  I would guess that a very large percentage of the population move forward with this concept, problem, or anxiety constantly before them.

 

Of course, change is constantly occurring: economically many low skilled and other occupations are diminishing, robotics are the new manufacturing tool, some new occupations are materializing.  The myth of a changeless safe society is just that, a myth.  But apparently the reality has nothing to do with the perceptions.

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We may ask:  What brings about societal change (both economic and political)?  Is anything ever fixed for a lengthy duration?  Is society dynamic, in an ever state of flux, constantly undergoing some form of evolution (growth, shrinkage) either positive or negative changes?

 

If change, gradual or otherwise, is a constant what then determines it?  Is it mainly political or economic?

   

In approximately 900 AD the Emperor Charlemagne set up what has come to be known as Feudalism in his massive domain which comprised most of what was to become Europe.  His lands were divided into fiefs (large estates or sections of land, some as large as modern states, each with its own population and largely self-sufficient).  These were ruled by individual nobles, who, in return for the fief owed their lord (Charlemagne) fidelity (allegiance and a given number of knights and other armed men when called upon by their lord, the king).   With the death of Charlemagne his empire was divided up among his three sons and the beginnings of modern Europe were formed. 

 

Wealth, at this time, was ownership and control of land.  The king divided his kingdom among a relatively small number of high nobles who owed him fidelity (men and arms in time of need).  These nobles divided their lands up into smaller estates to lesser nobles who owed them fidelity when called upon.  This process could continue into smaller and smaller estates numerous times, with each owing his lord fidelity/military support when called upon.  Each small estate also supported a number of knights.  Theoretically the king ordered the higher nobles to appear at a certain place at a certain time.  They, in turn, ordered their subordinate nobles to do the same and so on down the line, proceeding all way down to the knights and unarmored fighting men.  Thus the king was able to go into battle with an army.  After a few generations all sorts of complications would occur from this arrangement.

 

The use of money was not a factor.  Supposedly the circulation of specie had ceased by this period.  The use of fidelity replaced the need for money.  However according to quite a bit of historical research done from the middle of the 20th Century on the use of money, gold and silver coins, never quite disappeared.  Their use diminished considerably and at some point slowly began to increase, allowing gradually for the rise of cities and of the bourgeoisie or middle class throughout Europe.  For that matter the Italian City-States existed throughout the Middle Ages.

 

With the gradual rise of the bourgeoisie and the independent cities throughout Europe money was slowly returning to common use and commerce was also growing.  Wealth was slowly transitioning from land to gold.  And with this there was the slow rise of the modern nations and kings who could collect taxes and pay their armies.  They could also use their armies to break the power of the nobles in their countries.  This was exemplified by the French king Louis XIV who also became the model of an absolute monarch.  Modern nations were formed or defined under the kings. Within two reigns after Louis XIV the French Revolution came about and it would end in rule by the middle class.  The remnants of Feudalism and the nobility would persist, mostly on a name basis, until the end of World War I.

 

What brought about these changes?  How do we move from small, largely independent economic entities to rule by the bourgeoisie?  To answer this question we have to go to a force Karl Marx called “economic determinism;”   the economic system controls the political system.  During the Medieval Period the nobility controlling the land determined the development.  The society was not static but in a very slow state of flux.  With the change in the wealth base, land to gold, there was the rise of kings.  The wealth which enabled the kings to develop their nations and their absolutism was created by the bourgeoisie who eventually broke the power of the kings and set up middle class democracies.  The economic development of the different nations brought about the changes.  Those who controlled the wealth of the nation would eventually control the nation.

 

A relatively modern day example, on a smaller scale, would be racial integration in the United States during and after World War II.

During World War II the United States both had massive armies in the field and supplied them and their allies with the materials they needed to successfully pursue the war.  Prior to United States involvement in the hostilities that nation had been largely segregated, but with the war on there was a constant and endless need for war materials.  First the women were brought into the factories to work alongside the men, then the older high school students after their school day, and after that the orthopedically handicapped.  Finally Blacks, in 1943, were hired and because of the great need, were allowed to work alongside whites in the “battle for production.”

 

Economic necessity had brought about what was then considered a great change in the society.  Blacks not only worked in the factories; they also, as they moved north to get these jobs, ended up, in many cases, living among whites.

 

And irony of ironies, in the military, segregation continued to exist.  Black troops were commanded by white officers.  The exception being the Tuskegee pilots.  All pilots, in the U.S. Air force, were automatically given officer rank.  Blacks, who flew planes were consequently officers and had to be saluted by soldiers of lesser rank.

     Parenthetically this led to interesting situations.  In military bases, particularly in the Southern United States, white privates had to salute Black officers.  Here the rationalization became that they saluted the uniform, not the man.  Another situation occurred in the U.S. Navy, where no Black could become an officer.  A doctor volunteered to serve in the navy during World War II.  An investigation of his background revealed that he had a Black forbearer of which he was unaware.  The event of his volunteering was in the newspapers.  But the Navy could only accept him on the lowest core level.  Consequently he never served.

 

The U.S. Military sent a segregated, Jim Crow, army overseas to fight the Nazi/Axis menace and bring freedom to the world.  In the decade after World War II the military was integrated, one service at a time.  Despite some people’s contrary feelings there was no longer any practical reason to maintain segregation.  In 1954 the Supreme Court rendered its Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Decision; and after another decade of resistance education in the U.S. became, more or less, integrated.  Defacto segregation in housing would very slowly break down but never really disappear.

 

The most effective weapon used by Blacks in most of the southern communities, besides marches and protests which made the nation aware of what was happening, was the economic boycott.  In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks, a Black lady, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.  She was taken off the bus and arrested.  For nearly a year afterwards the Blacks in that city refused to ride the busses and shop in many of the city stores. 

 

When all was said and done, principles of right and wrong were outweighed by the basic principles of economics.  In Montgomery, Alabama, an economic boycott desegregated the busses.  Other changes would come about brought by threatened or direct economic change: the “sit-ins,” desegregation of interstate busses, etc., etc., etc.  Perhaps the exception might be the Earl Warren Supreme Court decision in 1954 but, I suspect, the state of Blacks and what they were willing to tolerate at that time is what ended the Plessey vs. Ferguson Decision of the late 19th Century which made segregation legal in the South. 

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The Gross Domestic Product includes all the goods and services produced in the United States in one fiscal year, twelve months.  If we deduct from this the amounts needed for the development and replacement of outmoded and worn out machinery, all sorts of necessary research for the development of new products, and take the remainder and divide it by the number of people in the United States we have considerable individual incomes.  If the problem of a fair distribution could be solved no one in this country would be homeless, would go without proper medical treatment, or proper food levels of nourishment. 

 

We are currently tied to an archaic economic model which, among other things, is shrinking the middle class toward nonexistence.  We could, in the near future, conceivably end up a nation of upper and lower class, with a token middle class; and with more and more of the wealth going to the upper class and less and less to people able to purchase the goods and services provided.  It would be a situation similar to that of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and could result in a depression far greater than that of 1929.

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If we go back to our earlier premise that in order for goods and services to be continually increasing then those goods and services must be continually consumed:

Production of Goods and Services = Consumption of Goods and   Services

The problem in insuring this positive circumstance is the proper distribution of the money needed.

 

How can this be done?  If we follow Adam Smith’s market-place model the distribution will actually decrease as control of wealth passes, more and more, to a small group leading eventually to a massive breakdown of the Business Cycle: recession and depression.  And this breakdown could be a meltdown on a world basis causing all sorts of disruptions both within and between nations.

 

How do we avoid this economic breakdown?  The simplest means would be through transfer payments.  The government taxes everyone on a graduated basis: the more one earns the greater the percentage of tax paid.  It then transfers or pays out to those earning below a certain economic level bringing these people up to a “so called” minimum standard of living.  Thus the government is ensuring a level of consumption which would guarantee continued production of goods and services.

 

Of course, transfer payments is an attempt, albeit a necessary one, to avoid economic disaster.  It continues an old economic system with yet another variation and allows the market model to continue to work.  What is really needed is a new economic model which would allow for an equitable and continual distribution of goods and services.  And that means a redefinition of the concept of work, with an extended system of remuneration, a fairer tax system, and a new understanding of the concept of money as a means of exchange rather than as a means of wealth.

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The basic societal economic decisions: What to produce?  How to produce it?  And for whom to produce it?  These are currently largely determined by the “market;” i.e., demand.  The entrepreneur determines there is a market for a particular product.  He/she then will produce it at the lowest possible cost; and then ship it to the various market(s) where it can be sold at the best possible price.  How would these decisions be made in a non-market economy?

 

Parenthetically, when these decisions were made in the mid-20th Century in the Soviet Union by central planners there was no real correlation between decision and actual needs; and often parts of the system broke down temporarily when vital parts like bolts or a specific type of screw had not been produced in enough volume to meet the needs and the manufacture of something like automobiles had to stop until the bolt or screw had been manufactured and shipped to the auto plant.

 

It would seem that these market decisions would still have to be largely made by some form of demand.  Of course the government would have to control the process since income was no longer a factor.  In fact, somehow, government would have to control the entire process.  But then again I suppose in this digital age with computers, we can be a lot more efficient than the Soviets.  But can computers determine demand?

 

The concept of ownership and wealth would also have to become different.  The idea of group responsibility, snergy, would have to change.  We would all have to become our brother’s/sister’s keepers; each becoming responsible for all others.

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To create a new economic model we have to first redefine the concept of work.  In the early 1930s during the depth of the depression the Roosevelt Administration had a group of economists, in Washington, D.C., define the concept of work in order to be able to measure its growth or contraction.  They created, what they called the Gross National Product, which was supposed to measure the wealth produced in one fiscal year, as the form of measurement.  This is now the Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.).

 

The question for them was: What to measure?  They decided to include all those aspects of effort that earned money.  They did not include such domestic efforts as homemaker or childcare since these were non- remunerative activities.  Interestingly, in some European countries, housewives and/or mothers are given two week vacations away from their families at government expense.   Even today different societies place different values on what constitutes work.

 

What, then, would constitute work?  Does it have to be something which is remunerative?   Can it be virtually any activity?  Does it have to produce something: material?   Ascetic?

     Suppose we define work as any effort to achieve something; then building something is work; thinking is work; writing or learning would also be work.  Virtually any activity which brings about any kind of change would be work.

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Let’s start with one type of effort: education/learning.  Every society, no matter how primitive or advanced, has some form of teaching its youngsters to successfully function as adults.  Education, learning should not only be a form of work, it should be considered one of the primary forms of employment in any society for it readies the next generation to continue the progress of development of the society.  Gandhi, in the 20th Century, during his crusade to equalize society in India said, about the Untouchables that among them with proper learning could be another Einstein or Newton.  Can not the same thing be said about the poorer elements of the United States?

 

Do we search our young to find the truly brilliant individuals and then nurture them to their full development?  No, in the United States we provide, by law, primary and secondary education, albeit at different qualities depending on where the youngster lives and goes to school.  Then he/she may apply for some full or partial scholarship or pay tuition and go on to a Community College, University, or Graduate School.  The cost for this must be borne by the individual or his/her parents

 

Education is a right in this country to which every youngster is entitled through high school whether or not he/she or their family want it.  It is general and teaches a level of literacy which is supposed to allow the youngster to function later as an adult.  Would it not make more sense, as is done in many European nations, to actually prepare the child for a specific endeavor based upon his/her ability?  Education would still be a right but it would also be a privilege.  The youngster has to earn his/her advances and would consequently be trained to the fullest of his/her ability, from preschool through graduate school or anywhere in between.  Each individual would be trained to the fullest of their ability.  Late starters could be also worked into the system.  No one would be wasted; all the potential Einsteins, Newtons, Rembrandts would be found and allowed to develop.  This would indeed be a positive usage of the concept of work.

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Despite Adam Smith’s concept of “hands off” by government in his market model, governments, particularly of industrial nations, have never totally kept hands off their economies.

 

The question that arises in the 21st Century is what is or what should be the role of government in dealing with the economy?  If we look at the United States Constitution it begins in the Preamble with the phrase “We the People. . . .”  The document had to be approved by a majority in nine of the twelve states participating.  (Rhode Island had refused to deal with any part of the process.)

 

If we then ask, after studying the Constitution, what is the major purpose and/or function of the government?  Is it to protect the property rights of the few or provide for the welfare and prosperity of the many?  Are we protecting property rights and allowing more and more people to live at substandard level of existence?

 

     A “nation so conceived and so dedicated,” to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, is or should be “of, by, and for the people.”  If we accept Lincoln’s premise then the government has a responsibility which is to serve all of its people; and that means to provide for them economically when they cannot or are not allowed to provide for themselves.

The Weiner Component Vol 2 #1 Part 2 The Introduction

Deviations from the long term growth trend US ...

Deviations from the long term growth trend US 1954–2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business Cycle

Business Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To avoid the vicissitudes of the business cycle and the inequality of the distribution of the National Income, the Gross Domestic Product, we need a new economic model or we have to make intensive changes in our present system.  If we stay essentially with our present model then the government has through a tax and redistribution system to balance incomes. A realistic minimum standard of living has to be set.  Those earning more than this level will have to be taxed on a realistic graduated level.  Those earning less would receive transfer payments from the government to bring their standard of living up to the minimum level which has to allow for a decent standard of living.  With this system, which more or less exists today in many European nations, we can keep the profit system and have all its so-called advantages.  But would this end the vicissitudes of the Business Cycle?

 

The amount of productivity today per working unit/person is constantly increasing.  One individual working continually provides for more and more people.  In order to keep constantly producing goods and services this productivity must be continually used up so more is always needed.  Consumption now becomes as important as production if the economy is to continually grow.  Therefore the consumer whether or not he/she is employed is needed as much as the producer.  This system can only flourish through government taxes and a redistribution of the National Income.  The producers can earn assorted amounts of surplus income which they can spend, save or invest while the unemployed or underemployed population can receive government transfer payments which will allow them to properly consume the necessary goods and services to both keep production going and have a decent standard of living.

 

Of course if we can create a new economic model which would allow for a fair distribution of goods and services without using the profit system then we would be far better off.  But this would probably require a complete change in our overall thinking and value systems.  We would also have to deal with the issues of what to produce and how to produce it without the motivating force of the profit system. 

   

Is it possible?  We would have to separate production of goods and services from money and find another reason to labor other than individual profit.

 

There is a disparity between the use of money as income, a means of exchange, and storage for labor and profits.  The distribution and expenditure of money determines where we are on the Business Cycle.  This, in turn, can throw the economy into recession or depression and cause a breakdown in the production of goods and services and partial or massive unemployment.  The extent of the distribution of money can cause a partial or full cessation in the distribution of goods and services.  They are two separate entities that are tied together in an unwholesome relationship.  If they were separated the economy would be far better off.  The problem, of course, is how to separate them.

 

Generally speaking, the overall public reaction to all of this is to return to the thinking of the late Nineteenth Century: the “safety” of the profit system. This, I believe, President Donald J. Trump will attempt to do; and this, seems to be today, the basic Republican value for economic growth.

 

     MONEY: ITS HISTORY AND USE:  The two entities which keep any economy functioning are self-interest and money.  Self-interest would affect every working individual from owner, entrepreneur, to physical laborer who wants the greatest return he/she can get from their endeavors.  Money is the grease that operates the economy: it is wages, salaries, profits, rents, interest, and dividends.  The spending of money determines demand, production, and also the phases of the Business Cycle.

 

The entrepreneur, factory or store owner will charge the greatest amount they can legitimately and pay his employees the least amount they can get away with.  Thus prices will be as high as possible while money paid to worker will be as low as it can be.  The producer will maximize production to increase profits; the workers will not be able to purchase all the goods and services produced because of low wages and over-production will eventually result.  This will lead to recession, unemployment, business failures, and depression.  Self-interest, which is the major motivating force of the economy, also tends to eventually cause the economy to malfunction into depression.

 

What is the problem?  It is the process of the distribution of money throughout the economy.  Whenever the distribution breaks down the economy goes into recession and depression.  It ceases to operate for the benefit of its members.

 

The use and distribution of money becomes the problem.  What then is money?

 

To understand what it is and its use(s) we need to have knowledge of how money was used both historically and at present.  Presumably, at first, man begins with barter: goods and services were directly exchanged for goods and services.  At some later point in time these were exchanged for their exact value, generally, in precious metals.  Rather than continue using scales to weigh the metal one group of traders, probably the Phoenicians, began stamping the weight on the metal piece.  This became the initial use of money.  The idea was then picked up by other groups or nations and coins came into being: an exact weight of a precious metal with the country or ruler or some symbol stamped on the metal to guarantee its value.  What happens here is that a good is exchanged for its exact value in the metal: equal value for equal value.  This allowed for free trade throughout the Mediterranean several thousand years ago.

 

Money, as it existed at this time, was labor or a good whose value was exchanged for its equivalent in gold, silver, or cooper coins.  Similar worth was exchanged for similar worth.

 

As time proceeded the coins became more ornate.  Rulers images were stamped on the coins, various designs were used.  Different denominations appeared, allowing coins to be minted in different sizes and weights; and also in different metals.  And thus was value exchanged for value, money for goods and services.

 

Of course, into this economic system occasionally various enterprising individuals and/or governments began a process of “watering” some of the coins minted; that is, mixing base metal with the gold or silver, thereby hoping to get more goods and services for less gold or silver.  This process would be done on a large scale by such individuals as the Roman Emperor, Nero; who tended to need more money than he could collect in taxes.  The result was to cheapen the value of the specie bringing about inflation which also resulted in a lowering of overall wages and other disruptive problems to the economy.

 

However, this economic system worked and continued to work successfully as long as conditions in the society(ies) were stable; that is, there is no rapid infusion of massive amounts of gold or if large amounts of money don’t have to be transferred over distant areas.

 

The discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus brought into Europe, in the Sixteenth Century, massive amounts of gold over a fairly short period of time.  The Americas were systematically looted.  The gold passing through Spain and went on to the Netherlands, which was ruled by the same person as Spain, and then into rapid circulation throughout Europe.  This caused, what has been referred to as, “The Gold Revolution” which decreased significantly and continually the value of gold in its relationship to goods and services, and brought about unbelievable economic hardships to the wage earning working classes of Europe.  Wages remained essentially fixed while the value of the money dropped continually in a never ending cycle of inflation; thus bringing about a tremendous drop in standards of living.  It took about a century for a new reasonable balance between the value of gold in relation to the cost of goods and services to come about.   

 

Another problem which could upset the economies was large scale trade over great distances and/or between different nations. There was great danger from bands of thieves on land or pirates when shipping gold over bodies of water.  A safe way had to be found to ship gold. 

 

During the late Middle Ages different cities, city-states, provinces, and countries became known for producing certain products.  These were desired throughout Europe.  Also some of the Italian city-states, after gaining control of the Mediterranean Sea, gained a monopoly of trade with the East for spices and other products.  (It was the search for a new route to the East that brought about Columbus’ expedition.)  This and other factors brought about a need for the safe transfer of specie over long distances.  In addition the breakdown of Feudalism and the rise of Kings brought about a necessity for the availability of large amounts of money for the payment of armies and other large scale projects.

 

To offset these economic needs there arose in various cities: first in the Germanies and then in the Italian city-states merchant families who eventually traded in money as a commodity.  These became the merchant bankers of the Hanseatic League and the Italian city-states.  They set up branches of their banks in different countries which allowed for immediate transfers of gold; and they became in many cases the new nobility: the merchant princes.  Of the Medici family of Italy two of the women became queens in France and one of the Medici became a pope.  Cosimo, the founder of the family had been a money lender whose symbol of trade was three brass balls.

 

From the Italian Renaissance on (Fourteenth Century) banking was fully developed with the banking families, in many instances, ruling the Italian city-states.  The goods of the East came to Europe by way of the eastern Mediterranean, through the Italian city-states, and on to the general population of the continent.  The fleets of ships plying that sea were controlled by the merchants of the city-states; who also controlled banking and, among other enterprises, made high interest loans to the emerging kings.

 

It was the potential profits from the trade that caused the new nations like Spain, Portugal, England, and France to explore, searching for a new route to the East.  This was the justification for sailing west to get to Asia and thus discovering the Americas.  Prince Henry of Portugal began sending expeditions south, exploring Africa trying to find a river crossing Africa west to east.  Eventually one of the expeditions rounded that continent and was able to bring back to Europe a cargo of spices worth many times the value of the ship and cost of the expedition.  Portugal controlled that trade for about fifty years. 

 

With the new routes and the emergence of pirates in the eastern Mediterranean, Italy lost control of that body of water and the trade and profits moved to the new emerging nations.  Incidentally the Renaissance now became the Northern Renaissance and banking and trade moved to these countries.

 

Money, during this period, remained as it had always been: equal in value to the goods and services for which it was exchanged.  Spain’s looting of the gold from the New World and having it pass directly into the European economy brought about a 90 year period of inflation in the Sixteenth Century but did not change the concept of value for value.  Actually by making gold more plentiful and less expensive it allowed for a more rapid economic growth.

 

With the coming of the wonders of the Industrial Revolution (the development of machines going from wood to metal, transportation: put a steam engine on wheels and you have a train, advances in medicine: ever increasing abilities to fight the assorted diseases, phenomenal population growth, advances in metallurgy, gas and electric engines, etc., etc.) the nations of the planet underwent massive changes: national populations went from the low millions to the high millions approaching and exceeding in one or two cases a billion people.

 

As we moved into the Twentieth Century (in addition to the major wars which wiped out millions) with the tremendous growth of business, of  the needs for ever increasing goods and services there were not enough precious metals to allow for an exchange of goods and services based upon value for value.  For this and other reasons in 1929 we have the Great Depression.

 

Paper money when it was first used consisted of silver and gold certificates which supposedly could be exchanged for actual specie at any time at one’s bank.  (However, if everyone were to do it at the same time there would be a run on the banks and they might well become bankrupt because there was never enough metal to satisfy everyone’s needs.)  In point of fact the Industrial nations eventually got off the direct gold standard by collecting and storing the gold bullion and printing paper money supposedly based upon the value of this stored bullion.  Silver coins would maintain a certain amount of precious metal for a while.  Later in the Twentieth Century virtually all nations will go off the gold standard basing the value of the money on the prestige of the particular country. The remaining silver coins became copper sandwiches.  By the beginning of the Twenty-first Century money is, in all cases, devoid of any precious metal or anything else of real value except the credit of the nation issuing it.

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Since 2008, when the United States went through what is generally called today The Great Recession the country has been recovering from what could have easily been The Greatest Depression in its history.  This economic condition had been building rapidly since the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, when all government restrictions on trade, many of which were developed by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression, had been done away with by the Reagan administration.  The banking industry in the country had a free hand to do whatever they wanted.  And what they wanted was to increase their profits astronomically.

 

The banking industry convinced a large percentage of homeowners to turn their homes into bank accounts by a process of continually taking equity funds out of their homes.  They did this by constantly refinancing their properties.  In the process of doing this the paper value of the homes continually increased.  Presumably people were spending what they believed was their never ending increases.

 

This became rampart from the Reagan administration on.  By 2007 the oncoming crash was apparent but the banking industry was in denial.  At that point mortgage refinancing was raised to 125% of the appraised value of the home.  In 2008 the crash came and the Housing Industry collapsed.  Many of the banking houses were overextended and also at the point of collapse or bankruptcy. 

 

Since the basic financial structure of the entire economy or nation is based upon the banking structure and their functioning the Bush administration in 2008 lent large amounts to the banks.  This, however, was not enough money and the incoming Obama administration had to make more massive loans to the banking houses in order to save them.  The Obama administration also set conditions about massive remunerations to executives which the Bush people had not done.

All of this was in 2008 and 2009.  The trillions of dollars the Federal Government spent at this time saved the country from going into a more massive depression than that of 1929.  In fact we would still be coming out of it if the government had not jumped in. 

 

What emerged instead has been called The Great Recession.  In 2009 the unemployment rate had risen to 7.6%.  By 2010 it had reached 9.8%.  Thereafter it began to fall, reaching 4.6% by November of 2016.

 

In this process millions of people were underwater in their homes, suddenly owing more on the house than it was worth.  The banks, with aid from the government, largely recovered, with some being taken over by other banking houses.  Even with virtually no regulation some of the banking actions were illegal.  No one went to jail.  Instead the banks paid fines, which taken together were in the billions of dollars. The banks eventually repaid their government loans and executive pay rose to new heights.

 

We are still in a recession, with unemployment at the tail end of December 2016 at 4.5%.  For recovery on the business model to occur the range of people not working would have to reach 2.5%.  Is that a future possibility with President Donald Trump?  Probably not.  Since the Republican image of creating jobs has nothing to do with current levels of economic understanding.  They believe that jobs are created by doing away with government regulation.  It would seem that by their way of thinking as pollution increases so do jobs.

Donald Trump enters the Oscar De LA Renta Fash...

The Weiner Component, Volume 2 – Economics in the 21st Century: #1: Change & the 21st Century: Part I Introduction

 

Prenote: I find myself getting bored with Donald J. Trump and his machinations.  He, as President-Elect is setting up a government which seems that it will wipe out any progress made in the 20th Century on.  Will it?  We’ll have to wait and see. 

Meanwhile the stock market is rising to new heights.  Is that because of President-Elect Donald J. Trump or in spite of him?  Again we’ll have to wait and see.  Basically the issue with Trump is that we, the public, will have to wait and see what he does after January 20, 2017, when he becomes President of the United States.

Meanwhile I will begin a new version of my book, “Economics in the 21st Century.

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Volume 2 #1 – The Purpose of Government in the 21st Century:                                                            Introduction: Part 1

 

The past is always safe, particularly if it is mostly imagined.  It is a known when balanced against the future which is always unknown and therefore unsafe.  In the presidential election of 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected by a minority of voters who were fearful of the changes that were occurring in society.  Trump promised to bring back the past.  He would bring back the values and conditions that supposedly were while Clinton would continue forward to a changing society.

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 With the election of Donald J. Trump, as President of the United States by a majority of people from the smaller states the country choose the candidate that got the minority of popular votes but the majority of electoral votes.  Hillary Clinton actually won the election with nearly three million more votes than Trump received.  The voters who choose Trump actually choose to stay with what they believed would be a return of the past, to the supposed happy days when there were jobs for all the low skilled workers.  Trump would, he said, “stay the course” and continue the process of lowering taxes.  He would continue the war effort in the Middle East and the War against Terror.  He would bring back all the jobs that had moved overseas and take the country back to its happy days, whenever they were.  He would reform our society, making it as it had been in the past.

 

Of course “reform” historically was a euphuism for change or raising taxes among the ordinary citizens of the country.  Trump has promised to lower taxes for the wealthy.  Ordinary people would object to a tax raise but how can they be unhappy about reform, semantical games.  The problem is that the government is spending billions of dollars daily above what it collects in taxes pushing the National Debt (which President Clinton had begun to reduce) to new astronomical levels.  Trump will lower taxes for the wealthy and the corporations.  He will have to make up the difference somehow.

 

There is currently one vacancy on the Supreme Court and one Justice in her eighties.  From what I understand Trump should be able during his tenure as President to probably make two appointments to the Court.  This should make the Court 6 to 3 in favor of the conservatives.  The significance of a solid conservative balance on the Supreme Court is that it might, among other things like individual rights, finish striking down Roe vs. Wade; and thus take away the right of choice from slightly over fifty percent of the population.  The majority of women, according to the surveys taken, are overwhelmingly in favor of choice.  It would be a decision imposed by a minority upon the majority.

 

 This seems to be Trump’s version of the “good old days.”

                           *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

But despite what is currently happening with Donald J. Trump as the new President-Elect no one really knows what he will do as President.  Still the Twenty-first Century holds the promise of all sorts of social and economic changes for the people of the United States, the other Industrial Nations, and even for the emerging non-industrial countries of this world.  The question, of course, is whether these changes will be positive or will they be otherwise.  Our traditional economic model will no longer function (if it ever did properly beyond the theoretical stage).  Technological change, particularly that of the Computer Revolution is moving forward at a rapid pace.  The changes are speeding up. 

 

     With these changes the concept of employment (What is work?) is/will also undergo evolution.  Low skilled jobs are and have been disappearing in the United States; some highly technological occupations are and have been coming into being.  A large number of factory and many white collar jobs are moving overseas where they can be performed at a much lower cost.  The economy today is a world-wide one with the individual nations still being essentially nationalistic.

                         *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

     For the last three to four thousand years the concept of work has been fairly constant.  It has essentially been effort related to survival: production of food, shelter, clothing, and gradually entities needed for recreation.  Up until the Industrial Revolution it took ten or more people working full time (sunrise to sunset) to provide the fundamentals needed for one individual to have the leisure time to be a priest, government official, artist, or someone not having to work for survival.  With the change over from a hand-craft society to a machine- operated one the ratio has changed and continues to decrease.  From ten to one we gradually went to one person supplying everything for one hundred people.  With the coming and continuance of the Computer Revolution the ratio has gone from one supplying everything for one hundred people to one supplying what’s needed for a thousand individuals, with the possibilities of eventually going well beyond that number.

 

     What then happens to both the concept of work and the need to work when all the rudiments can easily and almost effortlessly be supplied?  Traditionally man (and woman) have earned their bread like Adam (after being expelled from the Garden of Eden) by the sweat of his (her) brow.  Now, ironically, we have returned to garden conditions.  Can we handle them?

 

     Today, at the Second decade of the Twenty-first Century, we seem to be well into the Computer Revolution; but, I suspect, we are only seeing its initial stage. 

 

The government constantly monitors and publishes the unemployment percentage of the working population.  They are thrilled when it decreases by one or several tenths of a percent.  Politicians like Donald Trump, are constantly promising to decrease unemployment.  The President will proudly proclaim and take credit for any tenth of a percent decrease.  The goal, as far as the government and public are concerned, seems to be a healthy economy with full employment in an era when computers are rapidly increasing the rates of productivity and many corporations are downsizing while increasing their output.  We seem to be squarely and hopefully looking historically backward.

                               *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Many thousands of years ago a man-like creature first picked up a rock or piece of wood and used it as a tool or weapon for the first time.  From that time on the concept was passed to others and they did the same, eventually discovering that they could chip the rock into a specific shape and sharpness and sharpen the wood, fire-hardening a point.  Over the multitude of years types of tools were developed.  Mankind developed more and better means of increasing his productivity, of making life easier for himself.  In fact his conscious or unconscious goal during all the years of his existence has been to produce more with less effort.

 

During the 19th Century the emerging handicraft society began to change in England and then Europe and the United States with the gradual development of machines; this became known as the Industrial Revolution, when manufacturing changed from hand-production to machine production.

 

The early machines were mostly made of wood and were operated by water-power, and shortly thereafter by steam power.  With the invention of the electric motor and development in metallurgy the machines became metal and also more highly efficient, multitudinously increasing their productive capacities.  Where in the Eighteenth Century it took ten people to produce enough to free one from labor, now gradually one person could produce enough to supply ten individuals with all their basic needs.  Life and the concept of work changed.  A percentage of the handicraft people were displaced becoming superfluous; these were the luggites.  Machines did their work a hundred times faster than they could by hand.  The level of productivity brought about by the Industrial Society achieved by the middle of the Twentieth Century a level of supply of goods and services in the Industrial Nations that had been inconceivable earlier.  It also brought about the Business Cycle — prosperity, recession, depression, and recovery — in a never ending pattern erratically coming about in shorter or longer periods of time.

 

Recession and depression, presumably caused by overproduction, brought about a situation in which there was fair to large scale unemployment, reduced consumption of goods and services in an economy where the overall workforce strongly desired to work and consume but could not.  The economy had broken down, ceased to smoothly function.  The willingness to work was there but the economy could not utilize it.  For one reason or another the basic rudiments that caused the economy to smoothly flow no longer worked. 

 

The question here is why?  There is a ready and willing workforce anxious to labor and consume the goods and services produced but there is no work for them and very little for them and their families to consume.  WHY?

 

The grease that allows the economy to function is money.  The distribution of that entity throughout an economy, the amounts that each family unit earns or has determines who will get how much of the goods and services produced.

 

How then is money distributed within a society?  The different occupations receive different levels of remuneration.  Unskilled labor, which is mostly grunt type work requiring generally brute strength only would be the lowest paid earnings.  In many cases, not enough is earned to provide for the basic needs of an individual or family.  Skilled labor, on the other hand, can go from a fair standard of living to a level where the amount of money earned cannot possibly be spent because of its vastness in the millions.

 

Money can also be stored, not used for consumption, but put into banks or other financial institutions where it earns interest.  In addition it can be used as a commodity where it can earn profit.  Used this way it tends to increase the productive capacity of a nation; but this has nothing to do with the distribution of goods and services.

 

Money, in the form of profit (Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”) becomes the motivating force behind production of both goods and services.  Profit, from the sale of goods or the charge for services and the accumulation of money is the motivation for production.  This accumulation allows a small percentage of the population to amass large amounts but again, has nothing to do with a reasonable distribution of the specie.

 

It can be argued that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” works on every level of the economy.  Given a choice the laborer, white collar worker, executive, entrepreneur will take that position which pays the greatest amount or has the best advantages.  Therefore each entity within the society is functioning where he/she can in their own interest; doing the best for themselves and their family unit.  But, again, what has this to do with a fair distribution of the National Income?

 

Several interesting questions arise here: Is money really related to the production of goods and services?  And if it is not then in what way would distribution be accomplished?  Since volume of production is tied directly to volume of consumption how, if we are to avoid upturns and downturns (constant recovery and recession), can we maintain a steady course of production and distribution of goods and services? 

 

The economic model (capitalism) was stated in 1776 by Adam Smith in his book “An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations,” which was published that year.  Smith designed his model for a pre-industrial nation, for a time when production could not meet the overall needs of everybody in the society.  We are now almost into a postindustrial society moving rapidly through and into the computer Revolution.  We are still prone to the vicissitudes of the Business Cycle.  Can we afford this kind of continual economic up and down turn?

                   *********************************

The Twenty-first Century promises to be a time of intense change.  If we continue to adhere to what we have now then the economic upheavals can be catastrophic.  The Great Depression of 1929 could be mild compared to what we may face. In 2008 we faced such a situation.  It was avoided by massive spending by Presidents Bush and Obama.  

 

Donald Trump seems to be pointing toward the pre-2008 period.  He could, during his four year presidency, bring us back to an economic situation as bad as or far worse than the potential 2008 Depression. 

 

To avoid the possibility of negative economic change within our economy the country needs a new economic model or it has to make massive changes within our present system.

 

 

The Weiner Component #175 – Part 2: Notes on Donald Trump

Currently there is little going on between the Trump Group

US Intelligence Community Seal

US Intelligence Community Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and the CIA and other intelligence services.  For one thing Trump is refusing to attend daily Intelligence Briefings more than once a week.  He claims he is smart enough to know what is going on in the world and that the meetings are redundant.  He is having his Vice-President, Mike Pence, attend daily. 

 

On the other hand there is heavy dissent over the issue of Russia having influenced or tried to influence the Presidential Election by hacking and releasing through WiliLeaks thousands of Clinton and others Democratic emails.  There is even a possibility of Russia having hacked into actual voting in the rural areas of the smaller states.  These assertions have come from both Democrats and Republicans, marking the first time he had been officially called out by his own party.  In fact Senator John McCain, the chair of the Armed Services Committee called for an investigation of Russian interference in the election.

 

The Trump people are mockingly pointing out that the CIA supported the concept of weapons of mass destruction during the first Bush Jr. administration, which incidentally they did not do.  They were surprised by this Bush assertion and stated then that it wasn’t true, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Bush and Cheney had found a pseudo expert who propounded this theory.  Bush Jr. wanted the invasion because the ruler of Iraq had attempted to assassinate his “Daddy.”

 

Currently leaders in Congress are attempting to form a bipartisan group to investigate this situation.  Trump is insisting that this finding by the Intelligence Community is nonsense for two reasons: (1) He didn’t need any help in winning the election, and (2) He has specific plans for dealing with Putin and Russia under his administration and the move by Congress could force him to alter them.

 

Trump’s rationale seems to be that the Intelligence Community has “no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody else.  He called their report “Ridiculous.”  Of course he knows this without looking at the CIA’s evidence.  Remember, he does not attend Intelligence Briefings.

 

In the first postelection pushback that Trump has encountered from the Republican Party that belatedly and reluctantly embraced the unconventional candidate whose views often clash with traditional GOP ideology, the majority and minority heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer stated: “Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to defer and defend against further cyberattacks.”

 

During the final weeks of the campaign thousands of emails, many stolen from the Clinton campaign were released to WiliLeaks on an almost daily basis.  On Friday December 9th President Barack Obama ordered the CIA and other intelligence agencies to conduct a full review of foreign based digital attacks aimed at influencing the election. 

 

On Friday December 16th in his final Press Conference President Obama stated that he had seen the evidence that the hacking had been done by Russia in order to influence the American election in favor of Trump.   He also stated that this would never have happened unless Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the action.  President Obama further stated that the United States would take action, some visible and some publically invisible against Russia.

 

President Obama has a fraction over one month to take action or actions against Russia.  On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States for the next four years and he has a positive view of Vladimir Putin. 

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Trump was elected by numerous individuals, many of whom probably voted for the first time because of Trump’s promises.  In fact choosing him as the Republican candidate was a populist revolt over Congress’ inaction over the last six years.  The group or groups in the individual states that caused him to win the election were both high school graduates and non-graduates who couldn’t stand the Democratic Party but had gotten nothing from the Republican Party in return for their votes in the past.  Trump, the so-called billionaire, became the representative of this group throughout the United States.  At the Republican Convention he promised to be their voice, to represent them and to bring back the past.  That is, to bring back the jobs which have gone overseas or had technologically disappeared during the last forty or fifty years, which their group supposedly had in those earlier decades when life was simpler and, presumably, these people prospered or at least were able to earn a decent living.

                       ****************************

Trump made all sorts of promises during the campaign.  Now we begin to see, in a vague manner, where Trump is going politically by his Cabinet choices.  He seems to favor generals, billionaires, and Wall Street.  This is a strange group to satisfy the needs of the “forgotten man” or woman.  He has chosen one of the most consistently conservative policy teams in the total history of the nation.  In fact, most of these people chosen seem to hold opposite views in terms of the offices to which they are being appointed.

 

Trump vigorously campaigned against Wall Street and big banks, then chose a former Goldman Sacks partner who is a billionaire, Steven Mnuchin, to run the Treasury Department.  Mnuchin is the co-chief executive of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management.  He has served as chairman of the One West Bank after he led a group to purchase it.  The bank has been criticized for a large number of foreclosures and for discrimination against minorities.  It has also financed several high-profile films.  Prior to that Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sacks.  According to the Progressive Orange Campaign Committee Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on working family homes.  This is the man Trump has chosen to oversee the financial structure of the United States.

 

A former lobbyist for the Koch brothers, who led a group that argued that solar energy would dramatically raise the cost of electricity is Trump choice to take over the Energy Department.  Thomas Pyle is the man.  For years Pyle has led a national assault on renewable power.  Pyle has tweeted that he expects the new administration would go beyond a mere rollback of President Obama’s climate change actions.  This is the man that Trump would have run the Energy Department.

 

In Health and Human Services, Social Security and Medicare, which Trump promised to save he has chosen Representative Tom Price, who has advocated major revisions in both, to run those services.  Price is a six term Georgia Congressman who has led the charge to privatize Medicare.  Trump did not mention Price’s plans for major changes to Medicare and Medicaid.  Price wants to privatize Medicare and give participants in the program medical vouchers.  He wants to save the government money by actually gradually making the beneficiary more and more responsible for paying for his own medical care.  In terms of Medicaid give grants of money to the states.  In this fashion the Federal Government can gradually decrease what it pays for these social programs.  These programs mostly serve poor Americans.  These changes would slowly decrease their benefits.  He probably would also privatize Social Security. 

  

 His choice for Labor Secretary is Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE that owns Hardees and Carl Jr., who will control the working people and has spoken of the advantages of using automation instead of people at Carl Jr.  He named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a man that has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Presumably his choice for Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the Exxon Mobile Corporation.  Tillerson has had dealings with Vladimir Putin and Russia.  In fact in 2013 Putin gave him the highest civilian medal that could be awarded to an individual, the Russian Order of Friendship.  It has also recently been released that Tillerson is a Director for a Russian-American oil company based in the Bahamas.

 

For Attorney General Donald Trump has chosen Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true Southerner with strong Southern values who claims he is not a racist.  Republican Representative Mick Mulvancy, a Tea Party deficit hawk is Trump’s choice as his budget director.  He is cofounder of the hard right House Freedom Caucus and has a reputation for pushing deep spending cuts in order to balance the budget.

 

For Transportation Secretary, Trump choose Elaine Chao.  She served eight years as George W. Bush’s Labor Secretary and is married to Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate.  Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was named as National Security Adviser.  Flynn was fired by the Obama administration for erratic behavior and has used anti-Muslim language that even the most strident Republicans have avoided.  He has used the words “radical Islamic terrorism in a way that blurs the lines between a war on terrorism and a war on Islam.  Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, was chosen to become Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

Trump is still looking for people to appoint to other departments and there are others he has already appointed.  The point has been made that most of Trump’s appointments are people who are opposed to the departments they are heading.  Their function, apparently, will be to do a hatchet job on their departments, destroying any progress that has been made toward a cleaner, nonpolluting environment.  The country has chosen a rather depressing four years.

           *********************************

In order to save jobs in Indiana Trump got the air conditioning company, Carrier Corporation to not move 2,000 jobs to Mexico.  Instead for a state tax rebate of seven million dollars voted by a committee headed by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, Carrier, the highly financially successful company, is only moving twelve hundred jobs to Mexico.  Trump saved eight hundred jobs.  It only cost Indiana seven million dollars in lost taxes. 

 

What emerges here is essentially a negative pattern in which President Donald Trump by placing people who basic philosophy is counter to the departments in government to which they are appointed can in a relatively short time wipe out the achievements of their departments and bring the country back to where it was prior to 2008 when the Housing Debacle occurred.  They can relatively quickly get rid of all or most government restrictions on industrial and banking development.  Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party group, applaud these choices by Trump.  A small percentage of the Republicans do not appreciate them. 

 

There are currently 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic ones in the Senate.  Most of Trump’s appointments require “advice and consent” by the Senate.  I can think of no way in which all the Republican Senators will give Trump a blanket vote.  Trump may find it impossible to get many of his choices for Cabinet department heads through.  The Democrats will give negative blanket votes against almost all of them.  It will only take 3 Republican votes to get a person rejected.  The hearings should be interesting and dramatic.

                       *********************************

What we see here seems to be a pattern of what the two major political parties stand for and where they currently are in terms of historical time. 

 

The Republicans seem to be in the late 18th Century, when this country was started, and in the 19th Century when life and work was simpler.  Their basic premise seems to be that the function of government is to take care of wars and provide a safe environment where business can take place.  The people of the nation are responsible for themselves.  This type of government did function during the early period of our history, when men could pack up their families and go west.

 

The Democratic Party, which was begun by Thomas Jefferson, initially was the party of the yeoman farmer, it served the little man as he and his family made their way through life.  This changed in the 20th Century when life became mostly urban and monopoly arrived, virtually totally exploiting the common man.  A young lawyer, Louis Brandeis, introduced sociological evidence, the living conditions of workers, in his trials for the first time and essentially changed the concept of what was considered evidence.  For this he was rewarded or punished by being placed upon the Supreme Court.

 

Brandeis was followed by the Great Depression of 1929 and Franklin D. Roosevelt who redefined the functions of the Democratic Party as the Party of the common man.  Its functions, in addition to the normal ones of a National Government, became those of assuming responsibility for the functions of society that individuals could not handle for themselves, making the nation safe and positively functional for everyone.

 

With the election of Trump we seem to be at the beginning of a return to the past.  Of course, with doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), which the Republicans have tried to do multiple times under President Obama and claimed should be done, we could, at some point in 2017, see well over 20 million people lose their medical coverage.  In addition the entire medical insurance industry could be totally disrupted as the insurance companies base their premium rates upon their knowledge of their clientele.  A disruption of this sort could cost the Republicans both Houses of Congress in 2018.  And it’s interesting to note that toward the end of 2016, after Trump became President-Elect, there has been a massive surge of sign-ups for Obamacare.  It is in the millions.

          **********************************

Donald Trump has promised, among other things, not to change Obamacare other than to make it better.  The Republicans in Congress have promised to do away with it for the last six years.  Over 20 million people who had no medical insurance prior to Obamacare are now insured.  The Republicans have promised to replace it with something better but in six years they have come up with nothing better.  What are they going to do?  Twenty million or more people suddenly losing their health insurance will, no doubt, make their feeling known in the next Congressional Election in 2018.

 

Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently was questioned by the press about Obamacare.  He equivocated, saying that nothing has been decided yet.  The Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress for nearly two years and nothing has been decided.  Apparently the Republicans do a good job of objecting but a lousy job of legislating.  It would seem that the different shades of conservatism are incapable of coming to agreement on most things among themselves or, to put it more simply, compromising even among themselves.

                  

In terms of Trump and the majority of Congress, both claim to be Republican, but do they really agree on all or even most traditional conservative policies?  Keep in mind that the conservatives in Congress have problems functioning as a single unit, then add the President-Elect, who has his own version of conservatism and would come to different conclusions on many issues, and try to visualize what will probably happen.

 

The issue is Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  There are also innumerable other issues.  One gets the feeling that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, doesn’t quite trust Donald Trump.  The two smile a lot together but don’t really trust one another.

 

First: Ryan was the only Republican in the House of Representatives that all the Republicans in the House could accept as their conditional leader after John Boehner was forced to resign as Speaker.  Second: Ryan is using the same techniques against Trump that he used against President Obama.  The Finance Bill, which funds the Federal Government, traditionally was passed for the entire fiscal year.  Ryan changed that.  It is now passed on a four month basis.

 

According to the Constitution all money bills have to originate in the House.  The Bill then goes to the Senate.  They can pass it exactly as it is or they can change it.  If they change it the Bill then goes to a Conference Committee, made up of Representatives from both Houses of Congress.  Both Houses vote on the new Bill; and when passed, it goes to the President for his signature.

 

Paul Ryan changed that pattern.  The House would pass the money Bill just before the House adjourned for some sort of break.  The Bill sent to the Senate had to be passed just as it was.  There was no time for the Conference Committee to meet.  Attached to the money Bill were riders the President would not ordinarily approve.  The choice was to pass the Bill or allow the government to run out of money.

 

The last money Bill that Congress passed was in the middle of December of 2016.  The next money Bill will have to be passed in the middle of April of 2017.  Ryan has left himself with leverage that can be used against President Trump if it is necessary.

       **************************************

Trump’s Presidency should be loud and vociferous.  Trump will be highly frustrated every time he doesn’t get his way.  The frustration will begin with many of the appointments he has made.  Only a percentage of his appointments will be approved.  He should be denouncing congressmen loudly, accusing them of all sorts of things.  In addition he will want to perform assorted actions that Congress does not approve of and he will be reacting to that.  At some point the House may even vote a Bill of Impeachment against him for conflicts of interest or for some other reason.  The next four years will be colorful and probably, at times, very emotional.

 

The Weiner Component #174 – The 2016 Election

 

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election by at least 2.8 million votes.  She actually won the election but lost the Electoral College Vote: Clinton had 232 Electoral votes to Trump’s 306. On the basis of a true Democratic Vote, rule by the will of the majority of people in the country, Hillary Clinton actually got the majority of votes.  She should have won the election.

 

Donald Trump won the actual election because of a system inaugurated by the Founding Fathers in the late 18th Century that allowed the election to be skewered toward the much less populated states.  The initial issue in the late seventeen hundreds was representation for all thirteen states regardless of population. 

 

Each state regardless of size got two senators while the number of representatives in the House of Representatives was determined by the population of each state.  The smaller states didn’t want to be totally overshadowed then by the larger states.  The 2016 Presidential Election is the fourth time in the history of the nation that the election has gone to the person with the lesser amount of the public votes.

 

It has happened twice in the 19th Century and, so far, twice in the 21st Century.  As a rule the Republicans tend to do better in midterm election than in Presidential elections.  This is mainly because a lot of voters don’t vote then.  In addition to this Republicans use what methods they can to suppress the minority vote.  Texas has been quite successful with voter suppression.

 

The majority political party in the United States is the Democratic Party, then comes the Republicans, then the Independents, down the line there are the Libertarians, and finally the Green Party.  There are other groups but they tend to be regional.  Occasionally there will be Third Party candidates.

 

During a Presidential Election only two of the fifty states, Nebraska and Maine, do not follow the winner take all principle.  In the remaining forty-eight states whoever wins the majority of votes gets all the electoral votes for that state. 

 

There are 435 elected members in the House of Representatives that represent the 50 states.  There are three more that represent territories held by the United States.  Not all territories are represented.  The 435 seats is a fixed number.  Every ten years a census is taken and the seats are redistributed based upon population changes.  Regardless of population every state will have at least one member in the House.  In the Senate every state is represented by two Senators regardless of population. 

 

Every four years a Presidential Election is held.  The voters, within the country, do not vote directly for the president.  Instead they elect an invisible elector who will vote for the person they choose.  There are 538 people who are chosen as electors, three or more from every state representing the members of Congress and three representing the U.S. territories.  It takes 270 electoral votes to become President.

 

One of the problems with this system is that the Electoral Districts are the same as the House of Representative Districts.  Both political parties, but the Republicans particularly, have gerrymandered their Districts within their states to give them the most advantage when it comes to elections.  They have drawn the districts to break up Democratic blocks of voters and whenever possible give Republicans the advantage.  This same advantage exists in the Electoral Districts of many states, since both are the same. 

 

This advantage has allowed the Republicans to hold a majority in the House of Representatives since 2011 even though in 2012 over one and a quarter million more Democrats voted for members of the House.  That same advantage existed for Donald J. Trump even though Hillary Clinton has received well over two million more votes from the general population than Donald Trump has gotten.

 

Two of the Texas electors have announced that they cannot in good conscious vote for Trump.  One has stated that he will resign and the other will vote for another Republican.  This, of course, will not change anything.

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Since the overall population of the United States increases and continually relocates a National census is taken every ten years to determine the number of House of Representative Districts in the nation.  The number is fixed at 435.  The Congressional Election Districts are rearranged every ten years.  Also within the cities of each state there is a continual movement from the rural areas to the urban cemters where most job opportunities occur, so that the population will dynamically change within the ten year period.  Consequently the cities continue to grow making for totally unequal numbers in many of the Congressional Districts.  Within most states the urban votes count for less each year against the rural districts, which tend to lose people continually.

 

What is true for the individual states is also true for the United States, except that here it works on a larger scale.  The number of people voting in the larger states, which have many more and much larger urban areas, have their individual votes count for a lot less than those residing in the smaller states, particularly in the rural sections of the smaller states.

 

All fifty states are shown on MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News as either red or blue states: red is Republican and blue is Democratic.  There are also purple states, which are the swing states that can go either way.  Most of the campaigning during Presidential Elections is done in the purple or swing states.

 

These battleground states carry disproportionate influence in Presidential Elections.  In 2016 most of the campaigning was done in just twelve states.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau there is a net population gain of one person every 13 seconds.  This means that the United States gains 110.77 people every day or 40,431 every single year.

 

The following population statistics are taken from the Census Bureau’s July 2014 estimate.  If anything they tend to be conservative.

 

The statistics here used were done by the Census Bureau in July of 2014.  According to the official 2010 population count officially done by the Census Bureau the population of the United States was 308,745,538 and was estimated to be 318,857,056 in July of 2014.  The 2016 Vote was taken from the results of the Presidential Election.

 

                                                               House     Elect.      Pop. Per   |2016

Rank|     State           | Population|  Seats|   Votes   |House Seat| V0te

    1  |  California      | 38,802.500|    53    |     55       |      717,763|  D

    2  |   Texas            | 26,956,958|    36    |     38       |      734,867|  R

    3  |   Florida         |  19,893,297|    27    |      29       |      715,465| R

    4  |  New York     |  19,746,227|    27    |      29       |      724,824| D

    5  |  Illinois           |  12,880,580|   18     |      20       |     715.292 | D

    6  |Pennsylvania |  12,787,209|   18     |      20       |     709,085 | R

    7  |     Ohio           |   11,594163|   16     |      18       |     721,514 | R

    8  |    Georgia      |   10,097,343|   14    |       16      |      708,568 | R

    9  | N. Carolina   |      9,943,964|   13    |       15      |      750,159| R

  10  |  Michigan     |      9,909,877|   14    |       16      |      705,954| D

  11  | New Jersey  |      8,938,175|   12    |       14      |      738,716| D

  12  | Virginia         |      8,326,289|   11    |      13       |      744,170| D

  13  |Washington  |      7,061,530|   10    |      12       |      689,701| D

  14  |Massachusetts|   6,745,408|     9    |       11      |      738,460| D

  15  |   Arizona       |      6,731,484|     9    |       11      |      728,139| R

  16  |   Indiana       |      6,596,855|     9    |       11      |      726,370| R

  17  |  Tennessee  |      6,549,352|     9    |       11      |      717,360| R

  18  |   Missouri     |      6,063,589  |     8   |       10      |      752,749| R

  19  |  Maryland    |      5,976,407  |     8   |       10      |      735,570| D

  20  |  Wisconsin   |      5,757,564  |     8   |       10      |      715,800| R

  21  |  Minnesota  |      5,457,173  |     8   |       10      |      672,392| D

  22  |  Colorado     |      5,355,856  |     7   |         9      |      741,083| D

  23  |  Alabama     |       4,849,377  |     7   |        9      |       688,860| R

  24  | S. Carolina   |       4,832,482  |     7   |        9      |      674,818 | R

  25  | Louisiana     |       4,649.676  |    6    |        8      |      766,982 | R

  26  | Kentucky     |       4,413,457  |    6    |        8      |      730,069 | R

  27  |  Oregon       |       3,970,239  |    5    |        7      |      779,871 | D

  28  |Oklahoma    |        3,878,051 |    5    |        7      |      762,964 | R

  29  |Connecticut |        3,596,677 |    5    |        7      |      718,059 | D

  30  |     Iowa         |        3,107,126 |    4    |        6      |      758,547 | R

  31  |  Arkansas     |        2,994,079 |    4    |        6      |      737,283 | R

  32  |Mississippi    |        2,984,926 |    4    |        6      |     746,232  | R

  33  |      Utah         |        2,942902  |    4    |        6      |     713,822  | R

  34  |   Kansas        |        2,904,021 |     4    |        6      |     721,476  | R

  35  |   Nevada       |        2,839,099 |     4    |        6      |     689,733  | D

  36  |New Mexico |        2,085,572 |     3    |        5      |     695,179  | D

  37  |  Nebraska     |       1,881,503  |     3    |        5     |      618,508 | R

  38  | W. Virginia   |        1,850,326 |     3    |        5     |      618,471 | R

  39  |    Idaho         |         1,634,464|      2    |       4     |      797,864 | R

  40  |   Hawaii        |         1,419,561|      2    |       4     |      696,157 | D

  41  |   Maine       |    1,330,089   |         2    |       4     |      664,596 | D

  42  | N. Hampshire| 1,326,813  |         2    |        4     |      660,350| D

  43  |Rhode Island|   1,055,173  |         2     |        4     |      525,146| D

  44  |   Montana   |    1,023,579  |         1     |        3      |  1,005,141| R

  45  |   Delaware  |        935,614  |         1     |        3      |      917,029| D

  46  | S. Dakota    |        853,175  |         1     |        3      |      833,354| R

  47  | N. Dakota   |        739,482  |         1     |        3      |      699,628| R

  48  |   Alaska       |        737,732  |         1     |        3      |      736,732| R

  49  |   Vermont   |       626,011   |         1     |       3       |     626,562 | D

  50  |   Wyoming  |      584,153    |         1    |        3       |     576,412 | R

 

Depending upon population every state has at least three people in Congress, two in the Senate and at least one in the House of Representatives.  Wyoming, population-wise has the smallest population, a little over ½ million, while California has the largest population, almost 40 million.  California has 53 house members and two Senators.  The other states generally come between these two. 

 

Altogether there are seven states that have only one representative in the House and two in the Senate.  Of these two voted Democratic and five voted Republican.  Only thirteen states have ten or more electoral votes.  All the others go from one to nine.

 

If we take the bottom 29 states and count their total population then we have approximately the same population as California.  They have 55 House Districts and 42 Senators.  This gives them 97 electoral votes against California’s 55 electoral votes.  There seems to be something wrong with this math. 

 

If it’s argued that some of the bottom 21 states voted for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, then if we skip those states and count just Republican states the number diminishes a little but the same problem exists.  The number of House votes will increase and there is still a large number of Senate votes.  No matter how this is added up it is totally unfair.  The smaller states each have two Senators and the number adds substantially to the number of electors representing them while the much larger states only have two senators.  

 

The reason for the Electoral College may have made sense in the late 17 hundreds but it makes no sense today.  A fair election in a Democracy is an election where all the people are equally represented.  This does not exist with the Electoral College.  It is past time for a change. 

 

Even Donald Trump has called the system unreasonable.  With a fairer system Trump said he would have done most of his campaigning in the bigger states.  He believes he still would have won.

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In addition, under the current system, there are actually 50 plus elections going on with no carry-over from one to the other.  Forty-eight of the states are winner take all states.  This means that every vote for the losing candidate is lost.  In a truly democratic election there would still be one winner, but every single vote would matter until the winner was chosen.  That doesn’t happen here.  Hillary Clinton had well over two million more votes in the 2016 Election than Donald Trump.

 

In addition states like California send millions of tax dollars to the Federal Government.  The smaller states are generally the recipients of much of this money since many of them receive much of this tax money in aid. 

 

Trump ran up large margins in small cities and rural areas turning out white, working class workers in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  He also did extremely well in rural areas of battleground states like Florida and North Carolina, which he won.

 

It is certainly time to modernize our election system.  All votes should be counted equally.  The Founding Fathers did not visualize or necessarily approve of political parties.  They developed a system that they believed would allow the President to be chosen by the best educated people living in the country.  They never even had a glimmer of a country such as exists today. 

 

Political Parties came into existence almost immediately after the Constitution was ratified.  Alexander Hamilton organized the first political party, the Federalist Party.  Shortly thereafter Thomas Jefferson organized the Democratic-Republican Party.  Both men served under President George Washington. 

 

We are now in the 21st Century.  It is time to modernize the Constitution.  Hillary Clinton should have won the 2016 Presidential Election.  Hopefully Trump will not take us back to the 1920s and the disaster that followed in 1929.

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Hillary Clinton had 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump.  She had approximately the same number as Barack Obama had in 2012.  She won big in the larger states like California and New York, beating Trump by almost 2 for 1 in California.  Trump, where he won, won by small margins.  In the smaller states he won by slight margins; and mostly by votes in the underrepresented rural areas of the smaller states.  It was an election where the smaller states, those that generally get economic help from the Federal Government, made Trump the winner.  The 2016 Presidential Election was a prime example of rule by the minority.

 

The Weiner Component #173 – A Short History of Political Parties

The Republican Party came into existence with the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860.  It was a combination of different political groups that didn’t agree with the Democratic Party, which was the major political party that existed throughout the entire United States. The other political parties were all reginal.  It should be noted that in this election the Republicans were not on the ballet of any one Southern state.  The election in the Southern States dealt only with the Northern and Southern Democratic Parties.

 

With the exception of the issue of slavery the Republican Party supported business and its growth.  In fact largely so did that of the Democrats with a slight emphasis on agriculture.  This period was the era of business growth in the country.  The Industrial Revolution had begun in Great Britain at the turn of the 19th Century; it spread to Europe by the 1830s; and thereafter moved to the United States where it began slowly speeding-up during the Civil War and then growing even more rapidly in the post war period.

 

Politically the Republicans would stay in power for most of the balance of the 19th Century.  With the death of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, the Vice-President, would become President.  He was a former Southerner and Democrat who had been elected during Lincoln’s second term when the Republicans had run under the National Union Ticket.  During his presidency the Congress was almost totally Radical Republican and did what they wanted even to the point of unsuccessfully impeaching Johnson.

 

Johnson served out his term, 1865-1869, and was followed by the Republican Union General, Ulysses S. Grant who served two terms, from March 4, 1869 – March 4 1877.  In 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes stole the Presidential Election from the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden.  Tilden won the popular vote but there were two sets of electoral votes from several states and the Republicans were the ones who prevailed.

 

In 1880 the Republican James A. Garfield was elected President.  He served 200 days in that office and was shot by a dissatisfied office seeker.  His Vice- President, Chester A. Arthur, then became President.  In 1884 the Democrat Grover Cleveland won and four years later in 1888 he lost to the Republican, Benjamin Harrison.  In that election Cleveland won the popular vote but Harrison won the Electoral College vote.  But in 1892 the Democrat Grover Cleveland won his second term.  In 1896 the Republican William McKinley was elected to the presidency. 

 

It was during this post-Civil-War period that the United States began turning into an industrial giant.  And it was during this time that the country underwent the rise of a new class, the plutocrats.  These were essentially the “robber barons” who owned most of the new industries that arose.  They had largely bribed their way through the State and Federal legislatures.  It was a time of intense corruption in all levels of government.  Shortly after this period that the people would get the right to directly elect senators through their votes and the Progressive Movement would take off in an attempt to return the country to its people.

 

As we’ve seen the Republicans, more or less, stayed in power during this time.  But the nation was going through intense growing pains.  It didn’t matter which political party was in charge the country was changing on almost a daily basis and it was impossible to keep up with everything that was going on.  These Presidents did their best; but, I suspect, no one totally understood or could have done what was really necessary with the speed of change.  In many respects the corrupt political machines, both Democratic and Republican, that existed then in the cities served the poor in return for their votes.  There were no government or other services.

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In 1900 the Republican William McKinley was elected to a second term.  His new Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt, was put into that position to get him out of New York.  Jokingly it was stated that “Teddy,” the former governor of New York, “had taken the veil;” he could no longer bother anyone in government.  At that time the most nonfunctional job in Washington was that of Vice-President.  In the musical satire “Of Thee I Sing,” there is a scene with the Vice-President taking a tour of the White House so he could see what it looked like since he’d never been their otherwise.

 

On September 6, 1901, less than a year after he had begun his second term, William McKinley was shot by an anarchist.  Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.  To the Republican leadership it was “that damn cowboy in the White House.”

 

From the 1890s on until shortly after America’s entrance into World War I the United States went through the Progressive Movement.  It was a time of reform on all levels of society.  Its goals were to eliminate city political machines and their bosses, to bring direct democracy to the people, and to regulate monopolies and corporations through anti-trust laws.  Theodore Roosevelt became known to his admiring public as the Trust-Busting President.

 

The Progressive Movement brought about prohibition, women suffrage, the direct election of senators, and the Federal Reserve Act.  The three presidents who were directly involved with this movement were the Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. 

 

Roosevelt was President from 1901 to 1908; then he choose Taft to replace him from 1909 to 1912.  In 1912 Roosevelt dissatisfied with Taft decided to run again for the office.  The Republican Party supported Taft.  Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate in the Bull Moose Party.  In this Presidential Contest Roosevelt came in second, Taft was third, and the winner with a little over 40% of the vote was the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.

 

The Progressive Movement, with these three presidents, ended shortly after the Great War (World War I), with woman suffrage and prohibition, the 18th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution in 1919.

 

At the end of the war the Senate had a Republican majority which refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.  The Republican, Warren Harding, was elected President in 1920.  He signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.  The following two administrations that of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were also Republican.  The Secretary of the Treasury for all three administrations was Andrew Mellon, the millionaire industrialist and banker.

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In 1776, Adam Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh published a book based upon his lectures entitled, “An Enquiry of the Wealth of nations,” that defined the functions of capitalism.  The work and its theories are still the basis of modern capitalism.  The study was a vigorous attack upon an earlier economic system called mercantilism which defines national wealth as gold and the amount of gold a nation possessed as its wealth.  Smith defined national wealth as the amount of goods and services a nation produced in a set amount of time, a fiscal year.  The motivating force that caused the economy to work was, according to Smith, the invisible hand, the profit motive.

 

The Republicans not only accepted this idea they have been utilizing it ever since.  The only problem is that the unregulated profit motive has continually led to economic disaster.

 

From 1920 to 1929, under three Republican presidents, allowing the market system, the profit motive, to freely function, brought about the country’s collapse into the Great Depression.  Hoover and his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, the multi-millionaire industrialist and banker, didn’t know what to do.  For over three years of economic decline they kept talking about “prosperity being around the corner.”  They expected the Market to balance itself and prosperity to return.  It didn’t happen.  Conditions went from bad to worse and continued to stay there.  The industrial world foundered in misery.  Some countries like Italy, Germany, and Japan ended up in dictatorships.

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As in had happened in the 1920s, under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, the Federal Government did away with all banking regulations.  The Free Market would determine which way the economy would go.  The motivating force for the Free Market was Adam Smith’s “invisible hand;” this was the profit motive.  In 2008 the Housing Market crashed and the major banking houses were on the point of bankruptcy after about 30 years of constant growth.

 

In the 1920s the Stock Market became crazier and crazier.  On Black Tuesday, October 23, 1929 the Stock Market, after a decade of intense growth, collapsed. 

 

The collapse continued.  By 1932 the Gross National Product had dropped 15%, unemployment was down 25%, and farm prices were down 80%.  In many cases it cost the farmer more to raise the crop than the amount for which it could be sold.  The Hoover administration and the Secretary of the Treasury’s constant response was that prosperity was just around the corner.  Hoover did make some attempts to deal with the situation but they were totally inadequate.  Neither he nor Andrew Mellon, the Secretary of the Treasury, were capable of dealing with this situation, the country and its people floundered.

 

What happened, happened on a world basis.  All the industrial nations were affected by the Great Depression.  It was far worse outside of the United States.  In some countries unemployment was far lower than 25% and the level of misery was far greater than in the United States.

 

The various governments, including that of the United States, put high tariff walls around themselves in order to protect what jobs still existed.  This, in turn, made many prices far higher than they should have been.  Living standards hit an all-time low, with many people dying of malnutrition.  People wandered over the country looking for work.  We had the age of the hobo.  Many, and that included those in the government, did not understand what was happening.

 

In 1932, four years after the Great Depression began, the former Democratic governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), ran for the Presidency of the United States.  The Republicans ran Hoover for a second term.

 

 During this period many of the veterans of the First World War descended upon Washington, D.C.  They had been promised a bonus in the future for serving in the war.  This was the Bonus March.  They demanded it at that time.  The veterans set up a massive camp at the outskirts of the city.  The Federal Government felt it was in no position to pay the bonus early.  President Hoover ordered the commanding general, Douglas MacArthur, to break up the camp but to not harm any of the veterans.  Two men were killed.  This move absolutely destroyed most Republican support that may have still existed in the country.  Roosevelt was overwhelmingly elected President of the United States. He received 57% of the popular vote and carried all but six of the forty-eight states.

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As President Roosevelt offered the country a New Deal.  The term came from poker.  His program consisted of the 3Rs: Relief, Recovery, & Reform.  Relief for the unemployed and the poor, Recovery of the economy to normal levels, and Reform of the financial system to prevent future depressions. 

 

Money at that time was gold and silver.  The Federal Government would pay for this by collecting all the gold coins in circulation, melting them down into bricks of golds, storing the gold in depositories like Fort Knox, and then issuing paper money.  In 1932 a gold coin that weighed an ounce was a twenty dollar gold piece.  The Federal Government bought all the gold mined in the United States at $16 an ounce.  In 1933, after the gold was collected and replaced with paper money its value was legally increased to $32 an ounce.  The Roosevelt administration doubled the money supply.  This would pay for the New Deal.

 

They issued paper money, called Federal Reserve Notes which were then theoretically backed by the gold bricks stored in the government depositories.  No one ever checked to see that the amount of Federal Reserve Notes (paper money) matched the amount of gold in the underground depositories.  The Federal Government could print and issue money as needed, which it did during the New Deal and later during World War II.  In essence the country went off the gold standard in 1933.

 

FDR changed the function of government.  Up to that point, historically, it had run the nation and the people were responsible for themselves.  From 1933 on the Federal Government officially assumed responsibility for the people where they could no longer care for themselves.  Actually the change had been begun during the Progressive Movement, but it was under FDR made into official government policy. 

 

In addition the Federal Government passed laws to regulate industry.  The basic concept was to have a level paying-field for all participants.  It also encouraged unionization of labor.

 

These, in essence, became the major issues between the Democratic and Republican Parties with the Republicans slowly giving in to the Democrats.  After the death of Roosevelt President Harry S. Truman would continue this policy with his Fair Deal.  The next President Dwight David Eisenhower would be a middle-of-the-road Republican building, among other things, a national highway system.

 

Eisenhower was followed by the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who would serve as President from January 1961 to November 22, 1963 when he was assassinated.  Kennedy was succeeded by his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson who was elected in his own right in 1964.  These two presidents were responsible for bringing the Federal Government into the Civil Rights Movement, which, in turn, legally enabled Blacks to vote throughout the South and integrated society making all the nation’s citizens equal.  It also turned the South into Republican voting states.

 

Johnson was followed by, Richard M. Nixon, who was also a moderate Republican.  During the middle of his second term he was forced to resign over the Watergate Scandal and was replaced by his Vice-President Gerald Ford.  Ford officially ended the Viet Nam War.  He was replaced by the Democrat, Jimmy Carter.

 

After one term Carter was succeeded in 1981 by the Republican, Ronald Reagan, who would serve for two terms and leave a definite imprint on American politics.  President Reagan implemented sweeping political and economic changes, bringing supply side economics (Reagonomics), lowering taxes in order to spur growth while actually increasing government spending.  He brought about government deregulation of industry and banking and reduced government spending in social programs for the poor and needy.  He massively increased military spending, starting an arms race with the Soviet Union and raised the deficit to over one trillion dollars for the first time.

 

Reagan brought into government the conservative Republican prospective that had first been demonstrated when ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.  Reagan’s supply side economics was a large tax cut for the wealthy and small tax cuts for everyone else.  The theory being that the rich would invest the new monies into new economic expansion and all sorts of new jobs would be created.  Thus the monies would trickle down to all parts of society.  It never happened. The money was actually invested in old productivity, like the stock market, and produced no new employment.  However to Republicans this was the Conservative Revolution. 

 

Reagan’s military spending brought the National deficit up to over a trillion dollars for the first time.  It also began an arms race with the Soviet Union that would bankrupt them.

 

Reagan was followed by his Vice-President, George H. W. Bush, who had to deal with a Democratic Congress, and ended fighting an unnecessary war against Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, which more than doubled the national deficit.

 

Bush, after one term, was followed by the Democratic President Bill Clinton, who served two terms, from 1993-2001.  Clinton as President reversed or ignored the Reagan economic changes.  During his third year in office, 1994, the House of Representatives acquired for the first time in 40 years a Republican majority.  From 1998 to 2000, the last three years of the Clinton presidency the United States government had a budget surplus and was able to reduce the deficit.

 

Clinton was followed into office by the Republican George W. Bush, who won the electoral vote but not the popular vote.  Like Clinton he served two terms.  He was initially elected in a controversial election, receiving less votes than the Democratic candidate, Al Gore.

 

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City occurred eight months in his first term as President.  George W. Bush’s response to this was to declare War on Terror and send a military force to Afghanistan in 2001 to take control away from the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda.  He was successful in doing this but he was not successful in setting up a Democratic government that could maintain control of the country.  After 15 years in Afghanistan we are still there.  Bush also later decided, for personal reasons, to set up a Democracy in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, had tried to have his father assassinated.  We are also still in Iraq.  

 

Following Republican policy Bush lowered taxes for the well-to-do and somewhat for the middle class while he massively fought two wars and destabilized the Middle East.  Under Bush the National Debt rose from six trillion dollars to ten trillion dollars.

 

During his presidency he signed into law the Patriot Act, a Partial Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits for seniors.  In 2008, his last year as President, the Housing Market crashed and Bush and his Treasury Secretary loaned billions to some banking houses to keep them from going bankrupt. 

 

His presidency has been ranked among the worst by historians in the entire history of the United States.

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In the Election of 2008 the Democrats took both the presidency and both Houses of Congress.  In 2008 the country was on the brink of a Depression that would have made the Great Depression of 1929, which lasted for a little over a decade, look like a weekend affair in comparison.  The new President, Barack Obama, through massive government spending was able to turn it into what has been called The Great Recession.  And, as of early December 2016, unemployment fell to the level it had been at prior to 2007, 4 ½%.

 

During his first two years in office President Obama with the cooperation of a Democratic controlled Congress was able to avoid a massive depression.  He also passed the Affordable Health Care Bill.  From 2011 on he had to deal with a Republican dominated House of Representatives and thereafter was able to gradually continue his economic reform through the use of creative Monetary Policy with the Federal Reserve.  The House forced through some legislation which actually exacerbated what then became called The Great Recession.

 

Barack Obama has been President for two terms.  He will end his tenure on January 20, 2017, when Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.  What the new President-Elect will or will not do is unknown, outside of the fact that he is erratic in his behavior.  His current appointments to his staff and cabinet would indicate that he is moving far to the right.  The appointments indicate also that he is doing the opposite of what he initially proposed, bringing Wall Street and the military into his Cabinet. 

 

As of January 20th the three main parts of the Federal Government will all be Republican dominated, the Presidency and both Houses of Congress.  The Republicans in Congress have been talking about doing away with Obamacare (Affordable Health Care) but if they do that 20 million people would lose their health coverage and numerous millions more would have their young adult children removed from their policies.  In addition those individuals with a prior condition, who the insurance companies were forced to accept, would be dropped from their insurance policies.  The effect of these changes would no doubt cause the Republicans to lose control of both Houses of Congress in 2018. 

 

As I understand the current issue the Republican dominated Congress will do away with Obamacare immediately but the plan will not go into action for three years, not until after the next Congressional Election in 2018.  The Republicans in Congress feel that they can come up with a better replacement over that period of time.

 

Unfortunately the current universal medical plan is an expanded Republican Plan that was developed by a Republican Think-Tank and was first successfully used in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor.  The only alternate plan, which would successfully lower costs, would be a single payer plan run by the government covering everybody in the United States.  In fact it could be successfully financed by an increase in income taxes and no premiums being paid by anyone.    This plan would be unacceptable to the Republicans.  The only basic one that they could in principle support would be Affordable Health Care, which was the Republican plan.  They have opposed it for the last seven years.  2019 should be an interesting year. 

 

And also there is what Donald Trump has promised and will do or try to do.  It is interesting to note that the current Republican dominated Congress does not really trust Donald Trump.  They have only partially funded the Federal Government for a second time this year.  It will have to be funded again in four months during Trump’s presidency.  This action can be used to force him to cooperate with them.

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What should emerge from this article is that the political parties were close together around the 19th Century.  The Democrats emphasized the rural or agricultural areas and the Republicans the urban or business cities.  Other than that the two parties tended to, more or less, cooperate.  The Progressive or Reform Movements that came about from the 1880s to 1920 was a function of men from both political parties.

 

From 1921 on, with the assentation of President Warren Harding we have the modern Republican Party.  Presumably because of scandal Harding died in office and was replaced by his Vice-President, Calvin Coolidge, who was then reelected to serve another term.  It was under these two men that modern Republican principles were developed and continued under the next President, Herbert Hoover.  The forms of government regulation that had been brought about by the Progressive Movement were done away with.  The Free Market was allowed to function unhindered.  This brought about the Great Depression of 1929.

 

Four years later, in 1933, the Democrat FDR became President.  He brought about the New Deal, experimenting with all forms of socialism to put the country back on its feet.  He kept was worked and discarded what didn’t.

 

FDR changed the function of government, making it responsible for the welfare of its people.  This was a new concept excepted in the 20th Century by virtually all the industrial nations.  This concept was actually carried on by both political parties in the United States until the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  Will it continue?  There are many who feel strong doubts.  We are at an interesting or frightening point in our history.

 

Trump’s election seems to indicate a return to the policies of the 1920s.  Could we be facing the possibility of a return to the Depression of 1929 or to the Housing Debacle of 2008, to the potential of a far greater depression than that of 1929?  It is a distinct possibility considering Republican control of the Presidency and the Congress.  And, of course, there are Trump’s attitudes and his appointment to important government jobs.  Republicans seem to have a short historic memory!

The Weiner Component #172 – Part 1: Notes on President-Elect Donald J. Trump

The question that arose at the end of November 2016 was whether Donald Trump was/is more interested in being President of the United States or remaining in charge of his Business Empire?  At present he seems to want to do both.  The problem that emerges here is that doing both means he is completely subjected to conflicts of interest, where as President he is encouraging foreign visitors to use his property facilities such as his new Washington, D.C. hotel which he recently opened.  Trumps attitude seems to be for everyone to trust him, he will keep the two entities separate, even though he does not reveal the extent of his Business Empire. 

 

Trump likes to keep secrets.  He is the only President in recent history who has not released his income taxes.  He has also not released any information on the extent of his property holdings, either within the United States or internationally.  We also have no idea of the ties he has with Russia, China, India, or for that matter, with any other nation.

 

Is this reasonable?  While the President and the Judges of the Supreme Court are exempt from self-interest still conflicts in the two could affect President Trump’s responsibility to the United States.  If he intentionally makes a profit in his real estate empire from acts he performs as President then he is abrogating his role as President of the United States and acting unconstitutionally.  For this type of act he can be impeached.  What exactly will Donald Trump do, if anything, to alleviate his conflicts of interest?  Does he care about them?

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

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Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Council will participate in a recount of the votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s general council wrote in a post on Medium on Saturday, November 26, 2016, that the Clinton team has been conducting an extensive review of election results.

 

“While the effort has not, in our view, resulted in evidence of manipulation of results”, stated Elias, “now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation, to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, to participate in the ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported.”

 

The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, has to date raised 5 ½ million dollars for a recount in Wisconsin; where she filed for one on Friday morning, November 25, and has pledged to do the same in Pennsylvania and Michigan.  These are states where President-Elect Trump won or is leading by a small margin.

 

New York magazine reported that a group of activists and computer scientists have implored the Clinton campaign in a conference call on the week of November 20th to call for a recount in the three states.

 

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes, Pennsylvania has 20, and Michigan has 16 electoral votes.  Since each of these states is a winner take all state the total is 46 electoral votes.  In each of these states Clinton did better than Trump in the urban centers where the voting machines were mechanical.  In the rural areas the voting machines were electronic and hooked into the internet.  There Trump did better and presumably won all three states.

 

It is in the rural areas with the electronic voting machines that the computer experts tend to believe there may have been interference and possible hacking of the information.  It could have been changed.  This is where they specifically want a recount which could change the course of the election. 

 

If Clinton actually won these three states it would change the Electoral College vote from 290 for Trump to 244 and Clinton’s 232 Electoral votes would become 278, making her the winner of the 2016 Presidential Election.  It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the election.  Trump has called the recount a scam.  He has stated that the Election is over and that he has won.  Some of his supporters are suing to avoid a recount.

 

What will happen is if a recount gives those three states to Clinton there is absolutely no precedent for this kind of event?  To quote former President, Harry S. Truman, “The manure will hit the fan.”  Hillary Clinton did receive well over two ½ million more votes than Trump.  It is a distinct possibility that it could happen.  The objective noises and denunciations will be heard from one end of this continent to the other.  Will there be acts of violence?  There’s no telling.  Will Trump and the nation get over the shock?  Eventually.

                    

What is the probability of this happening?  It is probably well under 50%.  Actually a happening of this dimension would resolve a lot of problems.  All of Trumps behavioral choices would suddenly go away and he would just be facing his lawsuit with New York State and the investigation of his improper use of his Foundation.  He has settled his three class action law suits over Trump University for a payment of 25 million dollars.  This type of resolution would end the possibilities of endless conflicts of interest.  The country will undergo immediate agony but it will be saved from long term pain over the next four years.

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If we go back to the probability that Trump will remain President-Elect then we should consider two more of his appointments, both women.  As his Ambassador to the United Nations Trump has chosen Nikki Haley, the popular governor of South Carolina.

 

Her parents migrated from India.  Her father teaching first at a university in Canada and later at one in South Carolina.  Her family was Sikh.  When she married she went through two ceremonies, one Sikh and one Methodist.  Today she claims to be a Christian Methodist.

 

Currently she is in her second term as governor of South Carolina.  Governor Nikki Haley received national coverage over the issue of the Southern battle flag at the state capital.  She stated that the flag should represent all the people, not just one group within South Carolina.  It could fly in other areas but not on the state capitol grounds.  Nikki Haley signed a bill removing it from the capital grounds.

 

Obviously she is a very bright lady and is a popular and likeable governor and was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term.  She was even considered as a Vice-Presidential candidate.  Now Trump has chosen her as his Ambassador to the United Nations.  The one comment that can be made here is that she has no experience dealing with foreign nations nor any specialized knowledge of them.  Whether or not this will be a handicap is not known at this point.  After all she is an inordinately bright lady and will have a highly competent support staff at the United Nations.

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Trump’s second female choice is mega-donor billionaire Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.  DeVos has never experienced anything to do with Public Education.  She is an ardent supporter of school vouchers and charter schools. 

 

Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick, have been compared to the Koch brothers for their involvement in Republican politics.  They are a Michigan family that has spent at least $200 million on conservative causes.  They have probably been the major donor in 2015 in support of Republican candidates. 

 

Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway.  Virtually everyone in the family is a billionaire.  A free market think tank that they operate is run out of the Amway headquarters.  Dick DeVos spent $35.4 million in 2006 running unsuccessfully for Michigan governor.

 

Betsy DeVos currently runs a political action committee along with her husband.  “I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,” she wrote in 1997.  “I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence.  Now I concede the point.”

 

Much of DeVos’ political activity has been focused on the expansion of charter schools and school vouchers, putting her in line with Trump’s campaign proposal to shift $20 billion in federal education funding into state school block grants to enroll children in charter and private schools.

 

In the year 2000 the DeVos family funded a failed Michigan ballot initiative that would have required that students enrolled in failing public school districts be offered vouchers for private school tuition.  Even though the measure was soundly defeated by the voters, the DeVos’ spent more on the issue and formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationwide.  They also operate philanthropic organizations known for giving to entities aligned with the charter school movement.  This includes faith-based schools and conservative think tanks.  They also oppose gay rights and abortion.

 

Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos has been very popular among the GOP establishment.  Republicans largely support the issue of school choice.  Former Florida governor and potential presidential candidate Jed bush called DeVos “an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.”

 

On the other side of the political spectrum the National Education Association President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, has stated that DeVos’ “efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students.  She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers, which take away funding and local control from our public schools, to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.  These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps.  She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”

 

Randi Weingarten, the president of American Federation of Teachers, said that DeVos was “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” for Education Secretary since the cabinet-level position was created.  “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”

 

Public education in the United States, with one or two exceptions, is controlled locally by the School District and partly state-wise by the State Legislatures.  The Federal Government can offer recommendations and additional funds, usually for special programs.  The states are not required to accept the Federal recommendations.

 

This would be the limit of Betsy DeVos’ power as the Secretary of Education.  Obviously she will do well in Republican controlled states and poorly in those run by Democratic legislatures, in terms of her education philosophy.  

 

This brings up the “due process” clause in the Constitution.  Can the Federal Education Department favor one group of states financially and ignore the rest of them?  This question will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

 

There is also another important issue.  There is largely a fixed amount of money spent on education in all fifty states.  Currently most of it goes for public schools.  DeVos would try to change that balance.  She would take money from public education and spend it on vouchers that could be used in private and parochial schools.  This would lower significantly the amount spent on public education while reimbursing those who send their children to private or religious schools for their education.  It would, in turn, lower the quality of public education as considerably less money would be available there.  In a word, it would help the upper and middle class while significantly lowering the standards for those who cannot afford to transport their children to private schools.  It is actually a welfare program for the rich and the richer, in that it takes from the poor and gives to those who currently have their children in private or parochial schools.

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On Sunday, 11/27/2016, Donald J. Trump claimed that there was serious voter fraud in three states that Clinton won: California, Virginia, and New Hampshire.  He claimed, without presenting any evidence that millions of non-citizens, voted illegally.  He stated that he would have won these states if they had not voted. 

 

Hillary Clinton won all three states.  In California, which has not elected a Republican in decades, Clinton bested Trump by more than three million votes: 61.6% to his 32.8%.  In Virginia she won by 185,689 votes; 49.9% to 45%. And in New Hampshire she beat him by 2,700 votes.  I suspect by illegal voting Trump means votes by Democrats.  He would like to suppress their voting completely.  It’s amazing how Trump can just grab information out of the air and state it like it’s a fact.

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If Trump is serious about winning the majority of votes in the Presidential Election.  According to the current vote count Hillary Clinton has over 3 ½ more votes cast for her than Trump has.  He has stated that millions of votes for Hillary Clinton were illegally cast by people who are in this country illegally and had no right to vote.  He has also berated the media for not reporting this fact.  He has not presented any evidence for any of this.  Presumably he got this information from a far-right radio host that is always pulling information out of the air. 

 

If Trump is really serious and truly believes all of this then it is possible that he won’t last a year as President of the United States.  He could at some point go off the deep end and lose complete touch with reality.  At that point Congress would have to replace him with His Vice-President.

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #171 – The Trump Presidency

 

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States.  He became the President-Elect and will assume office on January 20, 2017.  Currently he is in the process of organizing his new government.

 

Donald Trump has also recently ended three Trump University class-action law suits for a payment of 25 million dollars and a non-admission of guilt. By this he cannot be legally accused of fraud.  The first lawsuit had been filed in 2010.  There are over 7,000 members of the first class-action suit.  From what I understand the people who were conned into going to his seminars will receive about half of what they paid to attend.

 

 Trump had, on numerous occasions, accused the Judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel of being partial because he is of Mexican ancestry, even though he was born in Indiana. I suppose, following Trump’s thinking, and that since his antecedents are German it would follow that he has an affinity for white power.

 

The Judge had recommended that the case be settled out of Court.  Trump followed this advice.  I suspect this allows him to avoid being legally accused of fraud.  But there is a 40 million dollar law suit by the State of New York for fraud. I don’t know if he has wiggled out of that case.   His Foundation is also currently being investigated for fraud by the State of New York and possibly by the IRS.  Up to forty other states could also tie into this case since his foundation has functioned in many of the states.

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Trump was elected for a variety of reason, some of which were not too wholesome, but mainly because he was an outsider.  The national feeling toward the Washington, D.C. culture was/is fairly negative around the country.  Washington, or to be more specific, the government to the general public’s perception had not done much in terms of passing necessary laws or properly running the country over the last few years.

 

Trump was an outsider with no taint of Washington about him.  He also has no experience in running a government and has made all sorts of outlandish promises about what he would do as President.  He promised something to just about everybody.  But now that he has won the election he is bringing back to governmental power the old scandal-ridden politicians who have functioned on state and local government.  Three of the leading ones with checkered pasts are Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Christie. 

 

Gingrich does not want to be Secretary of State or, for that matter, in the President’s Cabinet.  He seems to want to be a senior planner for the entire Federal Government.  This would be a new post whose line of authority would have to be specifically defined. 

 

Gingrich has a long record of misdeeds and foul statements.  His denunciation of Democrats and the Democratic Party go far beyond the pale of reasonableness.  His lack of any sense of propriety allowed him to serve his first wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from a cancer operation.  Divorcing his second wife was not so dramatic and he is still married to his third wife.  He had affairs with his second and third wives while he was still married to his previous wife.

 

Newt became a member of the House of Representatives in 1979.  He was able to dramatically work his way up to the position of Speaker of the House during Bill Clinton’s third year in office as President.  The Ethics Committee in the Republican dominated House of Representatives had 82 instances of ethics violations.  They eventually charged him with one ethnic breach.  Gingrich resigned as Speaker and shortly afterwards also resigned from the House of Representatives. There is no way he would get approval for any appointment that required Senate approval.

 

After his resignation from the House of Representatives Newt did not return to Georgia.  Instead he stayed in Washington as a political consultant and did numerous nefarious things to raise money over the years.

 

In July of 2016 it was announced that Gingrich was on Trump’s shortlist along with Chris Christie and Mike Pence for Trump’s Vice-President.  Pence was chosen.  What will happen to him in Trump’s presidency is anyone’s guess.  But as long as it doesn’t require Senate confirmation some sort of job is a possibility.

 

Rudy Giuliani was born on May 28, 1944.  He is currently 72 years old.  He has been through three marriages and is currently living with his third wife.  Medically at age 55 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer which was discovered and treated from April of 2000 on before it metastasized.  The treatments lasted several very uncomfortable months according to Giuliani.

 

His past is considered checkered because his philandering went on throughout his career and was fairly well known.   His second wife, by whom he had two children, locked him out of Gracie Manor, the New York major’s residence, when he was mayor of New York City.  She learned of the divorce from the local newspapers.  Earlier it was reported for the entire city that Giuliani was going about with the woman who would later become his third wife.   His second wife settled for 6.8 million dollars and custody of the two children. 

 

Giuliani started his political life as a Democrat up until 1975, then from 1975 until 1980 he became and independent, and finally in 1980 he became a Republican.  It would seem that mostly what he was, was an opportunist.

 

While mayor of New York City Giuliani had been widely criticized for locating the Office of Emergency Management headquarters on the 23d floor of one of the Twin Towers that would eventually face a terrorist attack.  He apparently wanted a convenient place to make his public announcements.

 

This decision was opposed by the NYC Police Department and others because it was considered a prime target for a terrorist attack.  The location the Police Department wanted was in Brooklyn, which would not be a convenient area for news conferences. 

 

 After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, blamed the choice of the Management Headquarters on one of his subordinates.  That individual came up with absolute proof that Giuliani had made that decision.

 

Giuliani was praised by some for his involvement with the rescue recovery efforts after 9/11 but others criticized him severely, saying that he exaggerated his role after the terrorist attacks.  Presumably he cast himself as a hero for political gain.  He collected 11.4 million dollars from speaking fees for the single year after the attack.  His net worth rose about 30 times after the attack.

 

In addition Giuliani downplayed the health effects of the collapse of the Twin Towers.  The destruction of the buildings filled the air of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn with toxic and caustic dust containing, among other things, fine asbestos particles.  He moved quickly to reopen Wall Street, and it was reopened on September 17th some six days later.  He stated that, “The air was safe and acceptable.”  But in the weeks after the attack The United States Geological Survey identified hundreds of asbestos “hot spots” of debris dust that remained on buildings and was easily blown into the atmosphere.  In June 2007, Christie Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey and director of the Environment Protection Agency reportedly stated that the EPA had pushed for workers to wear respirators but that had been blocked by Giuliani.  She believed that subsequent lung disease and deaths suffered by responders were a result of these actions.

 

Currently, presumably, Giuliani is competing with Mitt Romney for the position of Secretary of State.  It’s not known whether Giuliani will be able to get Senate approval for the position if he is chosen.  It would be real embarrassing to Trump if the Senate refused to approve Rudy’s appointment.

 

Another member of Trump’s supporters is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  After dropping out of the 2016 Presidential Nominating race Christie became an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who named him head of his transition planning team.  About the time some of Christie’s close New Jersey associates or subordinates were found guilty of largely closing down the George Washington Bridge (Bridgegate), some members of the State Legislature talked about impeaching Governor Christie whose term of office won’t end until 2018.  Since that time Trump replaced Christie from being in charge of his transition to the presidency with his Vice-Presidential running mate, Mike Pence.  Shortly afterwards three of Christie’s associates were also removed from the transition team.  Presently Christie seems to be still involved in the Trump presidency.

 

These three individuals were all close advisors of Trump until shortly after he became President-Elect.  What their relationship is to him now is not exactly clear.  Whether or not they would be approved by the Senate to be anywhere in Trump’s Cabinet is also not clear.  In fact it might be highly doubtful.

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Donald Trump has promised to surround himself with the best possible individuals in order to run the country.  On about Friday, November 18 Trump began making hard right choices for some of his top posts.  His version of the best possible people seems to rest with the Tea Party and even somewhat to the right of them with his appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

 

For his Attorney General Trump has chosen Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Jeff Sessions, a conservative senator from Alabama.  Jeff Sessions is the perfect image of the traditional Southern white ultra conservative.  In 1986 Sessions was appointed by President Reagan to be a Federal District Judge in Alabama.  He was the second person in the history of these appointments to be rejected by the Senate. 

 

Representative Luis Gutierrez, D. Illinois, has called Sessions “anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights…. If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man.”

 

Trump is loyal to people who support him.  Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters.  This is the man who Trump would have straighten out Federal Justice in the United States.  In Trump’s words, he is the best man available.

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For CIA Director Trump’s nominee will be Republican Mike Pompeo, a Tea Party backed congressman from Kansas.  During his Congressional Campaign Pompeo received $80,000 in donations from Koch Industries and its employees.  On November 18, 2016 Pompeo was chosen to be Trump’s nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

 

On May 9, 2013, Pompeo introduced the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act.  The Bill, which passed the House along party lines but was never even brought up in the Senate, set a time limit for the government to approve natural gas pipelines. 

 

Pompeo rejects many concepts about global warming.  He’s referred to President Obama’s environmental and climate change plans as “damaging and radical.”  He opposes the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and supports eliminating the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).  He opposes the Affordable Health Care Act.  He supported the government shutdown in 2013.  He has been critical of President Obama, who he alleged was indecisive and not properly respectful of military leaders such as General McChrystal, who was forced to resign after making negative remarks about President Obama to Rolling Stone magazine.

 

In terms of security Pompeo supports the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.  This is warrantless surveillance.  He wants Congress to pass a law reestablishing collection of all necessary data and combine it with financial and lifestyle into a comprehensive database.  Legal and bureaucratic impediments in surveillance should be removed.  This makes President George H. Bush’s Freedom Act look like nothing even though it allowed warrantless surveillance. 

 

On July 21, 2015 Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton alleged secret agreements which allowed limited inspections of Iran’s nuclear deal.  He wants Muslim leaders who refuse to denounce acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam “potentially complicit” in the attacks.

 

He also wants Guantanamo Bay detention camp kept open and he criticized the Obama administration’s decision to end the CIA’s secret prisons (the black overseas sites and the administration’s edict that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.

                                  

This is the man that President-Elect Donald Trump announced he would nominate to be his Director of the CIA.  He will have to be confirmed by a Republican dominated Senate, which has a majority of two Republican votes.

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Trump’s choice for his National Security Advisor is retired Lt. General Michael Flynn. On November 18, 2016 he became Trump’s National Security Advisor.  He has suggested that Americans should fear all Muslims.  He has also been criticized for supporting Trump in calling for a thaw in relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In 2015 he was paid to attend a dinner in Moscow hosted by the Russian government where he sat at a table with Putin.  He has also written critically of Putin and the danger Russia presents to the U.S. 

 

Flynn spent 33 years in the army as an intelligence officer, rising to Lt. General in April of 2012.  He was forced to retire a year earlier than he intended after clashing with the Obama administration officials.  Flynn has tended to exhibit a loose relationship with facts, leading his subordinates to refer to his dubious assertions as “Flynn facts.”

 

After retirement Flynn and his son opened a consulting firm which provides services for business and governments.  His company is allegedly lobbying for Turkey.  Flynn has sat in on classified national security briefings at the same time he was working for foreign clients.

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Perhaps Trump’s most controversial appointment to date is Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist.  Bannon has been the chairman of Breitbart News.  He turned the website into “a far-right ideology that promotes what many consider to be white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

 

Breitbart News has been and is a far-right news opinion, commentary website that has pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic material.  In March 2012 Bannon became executive chair of Breitbart News.  Under his leadership it took a more alt-right and nationalistic approach.  Bannon declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” in 2016.  Breitbart has been misogynist, xenophobic, and racist.

 

On August 17, 2016 Bannon was appointed Chief Executive of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign.  Bannon has been married three times.  Each marriage ended in divorce with each of his ex-wives claiming domestic abuse.  In early November of 2016 Bannon declared that he was a nationalist, not a white-nationalist.  Currently he has a leave of absence from Breitbart News.

            

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff in 2017 will be Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee’s Chairman.  Priebus got on the Trump bandwagon early in the campaign and has stringently supported Trump ever since.  To me he seems to have an insipid quality but seems to be loyal to those who are loyal to him.

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These are some of the people Donald Trump has appointed as President-Elect to run the government of the United States from January 20, 2017 on.  I would assume Trump has decided that they are the best people available.  They don’t strike me as being Washington outsiders or the best people available to run those offices.  In fact I get the feeling that Trump is scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with them.

 

It has been suggested that Trump will be impeached before his four year term has ended.  I can well believe the possibility.  

The Weiner Component #170 – The 2016 Presidential Election

On Tuesday, October 8, the 2016 Presidential Election

James Comey

James Comey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was held.  Surprisingly, the winner that emerged was Donald J. Trump.  Clinton went into the election clearly as the favorite.  According to a phone call with some of her staff she blamed her loss upon the FBI Director, James Comey.   

 

Early in his tenure as Attorney General, Eric Holder stated that it was essential that no government agency take sides in any political activity.  James Comey, the Director of the FBI, did that when he announced toward the beginning of July 2015 that the FBI was investigating the Emails of Hillary Clinton that were sent through a private server when she was Secretary of State.  This went against FBI policy, announcing an investigation while it was in process.  In essence, whether he meant to do it or not, Director Comey was both putting himself and the FBI in the middle of a Presidential Election and influencing its possible outcome.  This had not happened since the days of the first Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who used the agency for political purposes innumerable times.  It was, however, against the instructions of Obama’s first Attorney General and the practices of the institution. 

 

The outcome of that investigation was that Clinton had been careless but had done nothing prosecutable.  The investigation did, however, cast a shadow over her campaign. 

 

Shortly before the election, while early voting was going on in many states, in a different case, an investigation against Antony Weiner communicating inappropriately  with a 15 year old girl in another state, presumably more Clinton Emails were found.  Weiner’s estranged wife, Huma Abedin, who was one of Clinton’s close aides, had apparently used Weiner’s laptop computer.  Abedin didn’t know how the Emails got onto the computer.  Even the number of them on the computer was unknown.  The FBI needed a court order to look at the Emails, consequently none had been read.  Only their existence was known.  Comey issued this information to the Republican heads of all the Congressional committees in a letter.  They, in turn, released this information to the press with fictitious statements as to what the Emails contained.  Donald Trump in his campaign quoted the unread emails.

 

Three days before the election Comey announced that the Emails had been duplicates of those seen earlier. There was no case against Clinton.  But the damage had been done.  Several million people had already voted.  Comey had taken the FBI to a new level, it had become a political organization.

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Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 1.4 million votes.  But Trump had 290 Electoral votes to Hillary’s 228.  The American Democracy does not count each vote equally.  When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution there were thirteen states which had been incorporated together under the Articles of Confederation.  In essence there were thirteen sovereign independent little nations that had acted together during the Revolutionary War and continued to act together under the Articles.  But each was sovereign; they could go their own way at any time.  The delegates under the Articles had very little actual authority to do anything.  When any major decisions about anything had to be made they had to go back to their state legislatures for instructions and, as a final step, all had to agree for the measure to be passed.

 

Before the Revolutionary War the large Southern Planters all owed English merchants millions of dollars which they refused to pay now that they had won their independence.  The prewar situation had been such that these rich planters could order anything they wanted through these English merchants: furniture, building materials of all sorts, clothing, whatever, and the merchants would supply whatever they asked for and deduct the costs from their clients slave raised crops or lumber or whatever else they got from the planters.  The planters generally exceeded their crop profits.  Eventually massive amounts of monies were owed.  After the Revolutionary War the planters considered themselves debt free.  Some of the English merchants sued in American state courts, but they always lost their suit.  No American jury would give them anything.

 

In the new country in Massachusetts the tidewater merchants who ran the government needed to raise a certain amount in taxes.  Transportation at that time was very poor and Inland farmers who raised grain all had stills and turned their excess grain into whiskey, which was much easier to carry to places where it could be sold or traded for needed household goods or whatever else they wanted.  The coastal lawmakers placed the tax on whiskey.  What occurred was called Shay’s Rebellion of 1786 – 1787.  Daniel Shay argued that if the Southern planters could make their debts disappear so could the inland farmers.

 

The problem was solved when former General George Washington called out the National Guard.  These were tidewater civilians, many of them veterans of the Revolutionary War, who formed up and went inland.  As the soldiers appeared the Rebellion disintegrated.  Some men were arrested and taken back to the coastal city areas.  Washington eventually pardoned all of them but they had been away from their farms for months.  Thereafter they paid their taxes.

 

This was probably one of the main reasons for the Constitutional Convention which met in the state legislative capital in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, from May 25 through September 17.  They claimed that they were going to amend the Articles of Confederation.  But they met in secret, taking no notes during their meetings.  After quickly coming to the conclusion that the Articles of Confederation by themselves could never be effective as a document of government they decided under their Chairman, George Washington, to write a new document.  This was the Constitution.

 

The group, under Washington’s leadership, was essentially made up of the leading men of property.  Among other things they had their own self-interest at heart.  They wanted a government that was strong enough to protect them and their self-interest and free enough to gain the support of the entire population. 

 

In the process of working out the Constitution they faced a number of problems.  One of these was that among the thirteen states there were large and small states.  The small states wanted their rights; they did not want to be overshadowed by the larger states.  This brought about the idea of a bicameral legislature.  Each State would be given two Senators, older and more stable men who were 35 or older, and a House of Representatives, younger men who were 25 or older and elected every two years.  The Senate would be elected every six years and their election would be staggered into thirds every two years so the government could maintain a continuation of whatever it was doing. 

 

The House would be elected directly by men owning property and represent the property owning yeoman; the Senate by the State Legislatures and represent them.  The President would be elected by an Electoral College, the members of which would be the wisest men in the region and they would pick the best man in the United States to be President. This would be done every four years.  There was no thought at this point of political parties.  If no one person received enough votes then the House of Representatives would choose the President.  Everyone agreed that George Washington would be the first President.

 

Under this system the votes are not equal.  Today they count for much more in the smaller states than in the larger ones.  There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, the number is fixed.  Each State has two senators and currently anything, depending upon population, from one to 55 representatives in the House of Representatives.  The number of electoral votes is fixed to the number of senators and house members; that is 535 electoral votes. 

 

In the 2016 Presidential Election the people elected Hillary Clinton with 1.4 million addition votes for Hillary Clinton but the Midwestern States gave the election to Donald J. Trump.  It was not a fair election.  It’s time to again amend the Constitution.  All citizens now have the vote, both male and female, property owners and renters.  All votes should be equally counted.

 

There is another interesting point to be made.  The House and Senate are fixed at 435 House members and 100 Senators.  The population of the United States grows every year.  Every ten years a census is taken of the populations and the number of House of Representative Districts are reassigned on the basis of the population changes or reapportionment.  Each state legislature then redraws the new legislative districts within each state’s boundaries.  In many cases, particularly when the Republicans control the majority of state governments, the voting districts are gerrymandered to give the majority state party the voting advantage.  They can take any shape as long as the line is continuous. 

 

In 2010 the Republicans gained control of most states.  They gerrymandered the Election Districts to their advantage, giving them control of the House of Representatives from 2011 on.  In the 2012 Midterm Election about 1 ¼ million more Democrats voted for members of the House but the Republicans still ended up with the majority of House seats that year.  Gerrymandering can fragment strong Democratic districts attaching them, on a piecemeal basis, as small parts of Republican dominated districts.  This is blatantly unfair.

 

The Constitution has been amended numerous times.  Its initial object was to create, for the first time, a late 18th Century a Democratic Document of government.  It was the first time a Democracy came into existence since Ancient Athens.  The 15th Amendment in 1870 gave every male, regardless of color, the right to vote.  The 17th Amendment in 1913 made the people of each individual state responsible for electing their senators.  The 19th Amendment in 1919 gave women the right to vote.  The 24th Amendment in 1965 did away with the poll tax.  The 26th Amendment in 1971 reduced the voting age to eighteen.  If you were old enough to fight and die for your country you were old enough to vote.  It’s time for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution.  We have had three Republican Presidents who have stolen elections: one in 1876, one in 2001, and one in 2017.  Every vote cast for the President should count equally.  In a true Democracy the People are supposed to rule.

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Another major problem with the 2016 Presidential Election was the fact that voter turnout was the lowest in years.  The Republicans tend to do well when voter turnout is forcibly and/or voluntarily reduced.  In this election, despite numerous lawsuits to stop the process, there was a lot of voter suppression.  In the State of Texas in 2014 it exceeded 200,000.  In 2016 it could have been higher.

 

In addition the two major candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were both the two most disliked Presidential candidates in United States history.  Clinton was polled at a negative 60% level and Trump, at a 75% level.  Fifty-four percent of the population voted; forty-six percent of the population stayed at home and did not vote.  Still even though Hillary Clinton had the majority of votes she had far less than President Obama received four years ago.

 

Donald J. Trump was guilty of everything he accused Clinton of being and doing.  He has just settled a fraud class action lawsuit about Trump University which was scheduled to begin on November 28, 2016.  Trump had previously denounced the Judge as being of Mexican heritage numerous times.  The Judge had recommended that this case, that was filed 2010, be settled out of court. On Friday November 18, Trump settled this and two other Trump University class action suits for 25 million dollars.  Without admitting guilt Trump will be paying each of the class action participants about half of what they spent at Trump University.  If any or all the cases had gone to trial Trump could also have been guilty of fraud and have been impeached for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” by the Republican dominated House of Representatives and found guilty in a trial by the Republican dominated Senate.

 

As far as I know there is still a 40 million dollar fraud suit by the State of New York which could also include participation by other states that were involved.  Also there is a criminal investigation going on concerning Trump’s Tax Free Foundation by the State of New York.  Forty-one other states could also participate in this case because Trump, among other things, tends to ignore state government laws, particularly dealing with his Foundation.  The IRS is also probably involved in this since the monies involved were tax free and probably shouldn’t have been.

 

As a side comment: What I find interesting is that the FBI could investigate The Clinton Foundation, which has a more positive rating than the Red Cross but not bother with the Trump Foundation where the evidence of wrong-doing is blatant.

                     *************************************

Hillary Clinton has been demonized since she was the First Lady in Arkansas in 1979.  She was then called the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock by several Republican writers.  She has been demonized continually since 1979 for essentially pushing for anti-Republican reform.  Presumably Hillary Clinton has never been a proper wife but has been as aggressive toward reform as her husband.  Obviously this behavior, to Republicans, is not being a proper lady. 

 

Where people believe, whose lives are very busy and don’t pay too much attention to the Federal Government other than on election years, is where there’s smoke there has to be fire or if it wasn’t at least partially true the Republicans would never bring it up.  What has been created is a negative myth about her.  Every one of us has made some mistakes over our lifetime or have done some stupid things but these acts do not define us.  Our entire lives do.  Hillary Clinton has worked, and in many cases successfully, to improve conditions around her, particularly for women and children.  To her “Women’s rights are human rights.”

 

The negative myths about her are just that, negative myths created by the Republicans to put her in her place.  Kevin McCarthy, Charlie McCarthy’s younger cousin, announced over the weekend of November 12th that the House of Representatives’ agenda does not include hearings on Clinton, which were promised for at least the next two years if she were elected President.  They may eventually amend the agenda to hold hearing on Donald J. Trump.  If they could dump Trump then Mike Pence, a good Republican, would be President of the United States and the House could probably do anything it wanted.  That could be the best of all possible worlds for them.

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The Weiner Component #169 – Part 3: The Modern Presidents & the Congress

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon...

The first of the potentially extreme Conservative Candidates to run for the Presidency was Barry Goldwater.  He ran and was massively defeated in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson.  He received 22% of the vote, Johnson got well over 70%.  The extreme Conservatives (reactionaries) were not able to successfully mass their forces and win an election until 1980 with Ronald Reagan.  Both Eisenhower and Nixon tended to be more moderate Republicans.

 

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 and died on June 5, 2004.  He served as President of the United States from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989.  This made him seventy years old when he first assumed the presidency and seventy-eight when he retired from that position, after serving two terms.  Up until that point he was the oldest President of the United States.

 

For his first four year term the Senate had a Republican majority and the House of Representatives had more Democrats than Republicans, meaning that the Speaker of the House was a Democrat.  This continued through the first two years of his second term.  During his last two years in office both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority. 

 

In order to get legislation he wanted Reagan had to be able to compromise with the Democrats; “Take half a loaf.”  Occasionally he would go off on a tantrum and state that unless such-and-such a bill was passed he would not sign any other bills; but mostly he was able to compromise with Democrats.  Once in a while he would get his way.

 

Reagan has been called the Teflon President.  He came across as a nice guy with good intensions, being both an excellent speaker and a likeable person.  His years in the movies from the late 1930s on and the fact that he always played one of the good guys seemed to carry over. 

 

In 1964 Reagan gave a paid speech for Barry Goldwater called: “A Time for Choosing,” that threw him into politics.  He was elected the conservative Governor of California from 1967 through 1975.  Later he unsuccessfully entered the race as a potential Republican Presidential candidate in 1968 and 1976.  He lost both times and was not chosen as the Republican candidate.  In 1980 he did become the Republican choice and won against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter.

 

As the new president in 1981, Reagan instituted new and sweeping changes.  He espoused supply side economic policies which was described as “Reagonomics.”  This advocated tax reduction for the well-to-do, presumably in order to bring about rapid economic growth.  The argument being that if the rich had more surplus income they would then invest that money into new economic growth.  This new money would then trickle down to the ordinary citizens who would hold these new jobs and the government would then collect more taxes by reducing taxes.

 

There was only one problem with this system: it didn’t work.  Reagan himself had been one of the rich individuals benefiting from the new law.  His money had never been invested in new growth and this was true for the entire group that received this benefit; they tended to invest their surplus funds into old investments like the stock market.

 

He also advocated economic deregulation which brought about an increase in pollution and, in addition, he advocated a decrease in government spending; that would be entitlement programs to help the poor since he massively increased military expenditures.

 

Reagan felt that during administrations like that of Jimmy Carter the Soviets had militarily gotten ahead of the U.S. in military preparedness.  He firmly believed that America had to catch up and get ahead of Russia in its military ability.  Consequently we had to seriously upgrade our armaments.  The program was called “Star Wars.”   Apparently Reagan liked movies; some of the weapons he envisioned came out of films; they didn’t exist in real life.  He felt they could be developed as needed.

 

Reagan’s military concepts weren’t true; we were far ahead of the Soviet Union.  The U.S. National Debt went up for the first time to well over a trillion dollars during his watch.  In a sense it was a brilliant strategic move because if we upgraded, even though it was partly on a comic book level, the military was going to utilize weapons that didn’t exist but were going to be created as needed.  Following this happening the Soviet Union to just maintain it world position also had to upgrade its military. 

 

Every country, every economy is limited to the amount of productivity that its citizenry is capable of producing.  It may be a gigantic amount, almost beyond concept, but it is still a finite amount.  Consequently choices have to be made as to what it will produce.  The Soviet Union by trying to keep up with the United States militarily massively deprived its people of what they needed in order to successfully survive and the result was that the Communist State fell economically apart and Russia ceased being a communist dictatorship. 

 

Communism, where it existed, now became a National Movement rather than an international one.  Each of the existing communistic states like China and Cuba now became mixes of socialism and capitalism.  Reagan can claim credit for this; but it was an accident based upon his fears rather than a strategic move.

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Early in his first administration Reagan allowed Paul Volker, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to institute the Draconian measures needed to break the inflationary spiral that had been gradually generated from the time of the Vietnam War.  These measures caused a lot of unemployment and misery throughout the United States.  Interest rates had reached over 12 1/2 percent. To break the cycle of inflation Volker raised them far beyond that.

 

With massive unemployment occurring Reagan went on national television with a copy of the Sunday Employment Section of the New York Times and stated to the American public that he held twenty pages of employment ads.  If anyone had lost their job then they should go to where there was employment.  After the announcement he returned to the Oval Office and forgot about the problem. 

 

From that day on people in old jalopies left home with their families and followed rumors of where there was supposedly employment.  Most of the rumors for employment in other parts of the U.S. were just that, rumors.  By 1982 the FED would reduce interest rates; the GDP would rise to 3.4%; the inflationary spiral was broken but the homeless problem would persist to the present day.

                             *******************************

In 1984 Reagan won a landslide victory for his second term.  His foreign policy was at times strange: He described the Soviet Union as the
Evil Empire.
  In late 1983 Reagan approved having the CIA mine Nicaragua’s main harbor.  This was the harbor of a Socialist country with whom we were at peace.  The object was to keep out civilian cargo vessels and cut off imported weapons, fuel, and other supplies.  The premise being that this would seriously hurt the Sandinista or socialist government of Daniel Ortega.  This, in turn would give a serious boost to the CIA backed rebels or “Freedom Fighters,” as Reagan called them and create and uprising.  The CIA used firecracker mines dropped by small speedboats.  They were noisy but did little damage.  This act created an international uproar which forced Congress to take action.

 

In 1986 the U.S. bombed Libya in retaliation for a 1986 Berlin discotheque terrorist bombing.  There were 40 reported Libyan casualties and one U.S. plane was shot down.  The dead included a baby girl.

 

Reagan illegally authorized the Iran-Contra Affair.  Toward the end of his second term Reagan requested that Congress authorize funds for his “Freedom Fighters” in Nicaragua.  The Democratic Congress would not authorize any money.  Reagan’s people, with his approval, began a secret operation by which arms would be illegally sold to Iran through other countries and the profit would be used for the Nicaraguan rebels.  The operation was right out of the movies, probably a James Bond movie, and the man coordinating everything was Colonel Oliver North, who probably saw himself as the super-patriot.  North avoided prison because he testified before Congress and all of his testimony was exempt from prosecution.

 

It was all totally illegal and Reagan could have been impeached and he and his staff prosecuted and sent to prison.  In his speech when he admitted it to the nation he couldn’t believe that he had acted illegally.  But since his term was almost over and as he had acted, it was believed, for the good of the United States nothing was done.

 

President Reagan initially transitioned the Cold War from détente to rollback by escalating an arms race with the USSR.  He engaged in talks with Mikhail Gorbachev that culminated in the INF Treaty which shrank both countries nuclear arsenals.   He challenged Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall.  This was done five months after he left office and on December 26, 1991, nearly three years after he left office, the Soviet Union collapsed.  It can be argued that President Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War.

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Reagan was followed by his Vice President, George H.W. Bush as the 41st President of the United States from January 20, 1989 to January 20, 1993.  He served one four year term as President.  Both Houses of Congress were controlled by the Democratic Party, consequently there wasn’t much cooperation between them and the Republican President.

 

President George H. W. Bush had a lot of experience working in the government: he had been a member in the House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1971 to 1973, Chair of the Republican National Committee from 1973 to 1974, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China from 1974 to 1975, Director of Central Intelligence from 1965 to 1977, and 43d Vice-President of the United States from 1981 to 1989.

 

In domestic policy Bush wanted to lower the National Debt which had grown to well over a trillion dollars under President Reagan.  He felt that this should be done by lowering government spending.  Congress, on the other hand felt it should be done by raising taxes.  Mostly the Democratic Congress won out.  Bush had promised not to raise taxes when he ran for the presidency but he later signed a bill that raised them.  This lowered his popularity significantly among Republicans.

 

President George H.W. Bush spearheaded, along with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated the majority of tariffs on products traded among the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  The treaty encourages trade among these countries.

 

In foreign policy the U.S. invaded Panama and placed the popular elected president in charge of the country.  He had won the election but the old government under Manuel Noriega had invalidated it and remained in power.  After an American soldier was killed the U.S. invaded and arrested Noriega.

 

In Iraq the situation was different.  President Bush sent a plenipotentiary or special unassigned diplomat to deal with Saddam Hussein the ruler of Iraq.  The diplomat was a woman, which in the eyes of an Arab ruler meant that the mission was unimportant and also her authority to commit the U.S. to anything was highly limited.  Apparently the two verbally spared for a while. 

 

What Saddam Hussein needed to know was what would the U.S. do if Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait?  It would seem that diplomatic meetings never deal directly with the question that needs to be answered.  Saddam Hussein assumed from the meeting that the U.S. would do nothing to stop the invasion. 

 

I suspect that George H.W. Bush assumed he was establishing the concept of equal rights for women.  With his experience he should have known better.  The result of the Kuwait invasion was the Gulf War, which Bush had the sense to end without unseating Hussein.  Saddam Hussein would later attempt to have Bush assassinated for betraying him.  George W. Bush, his son, would later get even with Hussein and turn the Middle East into a cage-less zoo, which it still is.

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In 1992, Bush was succeeded in the presidency by Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who held that office for two terms, until January 20. 2001.  Previously Clinton had been Governor of Arkansas.

 

Bill Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history.  During his first two years in office he had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and he signed into law The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which had been initiated by Republcan President George H.W. Bush.

 

From 1992 until early 1994 the Republicans were able to stop legislation from passing in the Senate by use of the filibuster.  Clinton’s Health Care proposal was never voted upon and other legislation was also stopped in this fashion.

 

In 1994 both Houses of Congress achieved a Republican majority.  Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House and Strom Thurman Majority Leader in the Senate.  The Senate had 47 Democrats and 53 Republicans.  The House had 230 Republicans and 204 Democrats.

 

President Clinton was seen by the Speaker and other Republicans as the enemy.  The Republicans shut down the government twice: from November 14 – 19, 1995 and from December 16 – January 6, 1996, for a total of 28 days.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, would resign his speakership and also resign from the House over ethics violation charges.  The potential vote against him was overwhelming by both Republicans and Democrats.

 

The final attack against Clinton ended in Impeachment Charges by the House of Representatives.  An independent council, Ken Starr, was appointed to investigate Clinton’s involvement in an earlier land deal, called “Whitewater.”  Nothing negative or impeachable was found about Clinton’s involvement.  What was discovered was that he was having an illicit relationship with a White House intern.  When questioned by a Grand Jury he gave misleading information.

 

Presumably he lied to the Grand Jury.  The first article of impeachment was approved by a House vote of 228 to 206.  Five Republicans refused to vote for it and five Democrats supported the impeachment.  He was accused of lying to the Grand Jury about the nature of his relationship with the intern.  The second article of impeachment, obstruction of justice passed by a narrower margin: 221 to 212.

 

The trial was held in the Senate, which also had a Republican majority.  The question, of course, was: Are these “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”?  Bill Clinton was found, Not Guilty.

 

The irony attached to this was that Newt Gingrich had earlier resigned both his Speakership and position in the House of Representatives.  He had been replaced by the Louisiana Republican, Robert L. Livingston as the new Speaker.  Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler Magazine offered one million dollars for each unflattering sexual story about Republican members of Congress. 

 

Apparently one million dollars is serious money.  Livingston was a true family man.  He so believed in it that he had two families, one legal and one not so legal.  His second extra-legal wife gave Flynt her story and received the one million dollars.  Robert L. Livingston resigned both his Speakership and his position in the House.  Other Republicans in Congress got very nervous as Flynt’s offer still remained.

                    ***********************************

For his last two years in office Clinton had a budget surplus and reduced the National Debt.  He signed a welfare reform act and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that provided health coverage for millions of children.  Clinton left office with the highest public approval rating of any U.S. President since World War II.

 

The man who replaced Bill Clinton as the 43d President of the United States was George W. Bush, the second man elected president who did not receive the majority popular vote by the American people.

 

George Walker Bush was elected president in 2001 after a close and controversial election.  Eight months into his presidency, on September 11, 2001, The Twin Towers in New York City were destroyed in two terrorist suicide attacks.  Bush launched the War on Terror, an international military campaign which included the war in Afghanistan (2001) and the War in Iraq (2003).

 

In addition he promoted policies on health care, education, and social security reform.  While going to war he signed into law broad tax cuts, the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind law, social security reform, the Partial Birth Abortion Act, and Medicare prescription drug coverage benefits for seniors.  During his presidency there were national debates on immigration, social security, electronic surveillance, and torture or enhanced interrogation. 

 

George W. Bush was reelected to office in 2004 in another close election.  During his second term he received criticism for his handling, from both sides of the aisle, of the Iraq War and the Katrina Hurricane. 

 

Presumably the preemptive Iraq War was launched because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  No “weapons of mass destruction” were ever found in Iraq.  In point of fact, Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, had tried to have George H.W. Bush, the president’s father assassinated over Iraq’s Gulf War.  Bush Jr’s attack on Iraq was a punishment for that. A rather expensive punishment!

 

In the case of Hurricane Katrina which devastated much of the Gulf Coast and put much of New Orleans underwater, the man who headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown, was a Federal appointment.  He had been rewarded for his participation in the presidential election with that job and was incapable of properly carrying it out.  Bush responded to mounting criticism by accepting full responsibility.  But that was beside the point.

 

In 2006 the Democratic Party regained control of both Houses of Congress.  In December 2007 the United States entered the worst economic downturn since World War II, the so-called Great Recession.  Its causes had been rapidly generated from the Reagan administration on.  The Bush administration obtained Congressional passage of numerous economic programs intended to preserve the country’s financial system.  In 2008 Bush initially bailed out the major banks who through their hunger for profits and the lack of regulation had brought the nation to the brink of financial collapse and themselves to the point of bankruptcy.

                   ************************************

It was at this point that Barack Obama assumed the presidency with the nation facing a disaster far greater than the 1929 Great Depression.  President Obama had been elected on a platform of “Time for a Change.”  Instead he had to make a potentially Great Depression into a Great Recession and allow the country to recover from the state of disaster that the Republicans had created, of which American was in the midst.

 

In his first two years in office he signed the American Recovery and investment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.  He also signed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  In foreign policy he ended U.S. involvement in the Iraq War and increased troop levels in Afghanistan. In January of 2011 President Obama ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden 

 

Up until 2010 the Democrats had control of both Houses of Congress.  In that year the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives.  The Democratic Party lost 63 seats in that House of Congress, giving the Republicans 243 representatives to 193 for the Democrats.  The Republicans had earlier in caucus taken an oath to make Obama a one term president by impeding everything he wanted to do.  For the first two years of his presidency they would delay and make extensive use of the filibuster in the Senate.  After they achieved their majority they would oppose everything he had or would try to do in the House of Representatives.

 

From 2011 on the House of Representatives has not only hampered Presidential actions but have also forced through laws by attaching amendments to necessary legislation that have actually worsened economic conditions brought about by the Great Recession or Housing Debacle of 2008.  They did this by, among other things, increasing unemployment.  Through the Federal Reserve’s use of creative Monetary Policy the President and the Chairman of that organization have brought about a good percentage of recovery.  Had they had Congress’ full cooperation, fiscal policy could have been applied and recovery would have been completely achieved.  Instead the country is still at about 5% unemployment.

 

President Obama was reelected to a second term in 2012.  He has, unsuccessfully in terms of Congress, promoted policies related to gun control, particularly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, among other reforms.  On foreign policy troops were sent back into Iraq to help counter the effects of ISIS and the situation in Afghanistan continues.  In 2015 the Paris Agreement on climate change was signed by the United States and by 192 other countries.  The U.S. was part of a United Nations agreement with Iran not to develop an atomic bomb and relations with Cuba were normalized.  All this, despite the actions of Congress, have given President Obama a highly favorable rating among American presidents and the general public.

                   **********************************

On November 8, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States beginning January 20. 2017.  While the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton had 395,595 more popular votes than Trump, 60,467,245 to 60,071,650.  Trump had 290 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232. 

 

Trump has largely but not completely acted presidential since the election.  He still tweeted stupidly about the spontaneous protests that have occurred across many cities in the United States against him.  He is thin-skinned and over reactive.  But this is not the real crux of his present problems.  On November 28 the first of his Trump University class action suits begins.  Even though it’s a civil suit if Trump loses and is found guilty of fraud, which he is accused of, he could conceivably be impeached.  The judge in the case, who Trump has accused of being prejudiced because of his Hispanic heritage, has recommended that Trump settle the case out of court.  But there are over 7,000 claimants who say they were cheated by Trump’s false claims about Trump University, some of whom paid as much as $35,000 for tuition.  Trump may not be able to afford the cost of settlement.  In addition there are two other class action suits coming up in addition to a $40 million suit from New York State for fraud.  The current case was filed in 2010.  Trump could be impeached during his first year in office for what he did before being elected president.  It should be interesting, if not colorful.

 

 

English: Seal of the President of the United S...