“One of the essential explanations for mounting economic inequality in the United States is the increasing monopoly power over the economy.” Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy
As I write this, House Republicans are gathering to cast votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a half-baked, cruel, craven and crass alternative. I have never understood why the ACA -- a scheme cooked up by right leaning think tanks -- engenders such animosity and hysteria in Republicans. Is it simply because the ACA became known as ObamaCare, and that moniker alone is enough to make Republicans foam at the mouth? Listening to Paul Ryan one would certainly think the ACA has been ruinous to the American character.
Ryan, of course, is purported to be the GOP’s Big Thinker, but this is only because the intellectual bar in the GOP’s ranks is set six inches from the floor. In a room full of dimwits, a nitwit stands out.
The Russia-tampered-with-our-sacred-electoral-process story, and its myriad offshoots, continues to skitter around the newscycle. I still don’t buy it. From the very beginning, the story lacked coherence, and the passage of time hasn’t made it less so. Too many things don’t add up.
Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee, Neil Gorsuch, gives me the willies.
I wonder if we could have one day with no American made munitions falling anywhere in the world.
Here in Santa Barbara, jewel of the Central Coast, hipsters and gentrifiers, under the encouraging gaze of city planners, continue their assault, demolishing the old, erecting the new; rents are high, vacancies almost non-existent, and tenants are making noises about their rights, some going so far as to whisper the dreaded words, “rent control” out loud, an utterance that freaks out the owner class. There are decent landlords in SB -- I am fortunate to rent from one -- but the stories of greedy, unscrupulous, shitbag property owners are the stuff of legend around here. Many a prospective renter has responded to an advert promising a “spacious, airy, upper East Side cottage offering lovely appointments and off-street parking,” only to discover, on inspection, a cramped, dilapidated hovel with water stains on the ceiling, piss-stained carpeting, peeling paint, and a shower infested with mold.
I was thinking about the online retail behemoth Amazon the other day -- as I was searching for a book -- and got to wondering how many different businesses all over the nation Amazon has sundered. Macy’s is closing stores, including one here in the retail core of SB, and Sears/KMart may be on the brink of the same fate. Technology is a wonderful thing, but technological advances rarely fail to produce unintended consequences. Amazon is too big for our good, but the same can be said for any number of industries which have been allowed to become virtual monopolies. For this we can thank the political duopoly. As a mechanism for checking the size of corporations and their raw power, antitrust laws are a laughing stock.
If I possessed a magic lamp and could make one wish, only one, I would wish that the 99% of American citizens who have been losing economically for 40 years, whether white, black, Latino, female, queer, straight or trans, wake up to the fact that our need for decent employment, health care, affordable education, and housing unites all of us far more than our identity differences divide us.
Are the stock market averages still rising? Are we headed for another burst bubble? Economic growth is anemic and yet the casino economy hums right along. Bankers are delighted. Seems like a warning sign.
And Trump is still in the White House.