Regret and Suffering
BALTIMORE – Victoribus spolia…
So far, the most satisfying thing about the Trump win has been the howls and whines coming from the establishment. Each appointment – some good, some bad from our perspective – has brought forth such heavy lamentations.
Oh no! Alaric the Visigoth is here! Hide the women and children! And don’t forget the vestal virgins, if you can find any…
You’d think Washington had been invaded by Goths, now raping the vestal virgins (if there are any within the Beltway) on the White House lawns while the Capitol burns to the ground.
Trump is happening, of course. And the very people who made it happen are now in various stages of regret… suffering… or hysteria. What a delight it is to see them in such pain!
All along I-95 – from the Holland Tunnel to Route 295 into the heart of D.C., at a distance of a football field between one and another – you see their fabled leaders, lieutenants, and water carriers crucified, with a small crowd gathered around each, weeping.
There is Hillary, of course. And Senator Elizabeth Warren (secretly happy to see HRC brought to grief). Then there’s Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. If there is another 9/11 crisis with Trump in charge, he warns: “America as we know it will soon be gone.”
There are the Republican traitors, too – Colin Powell, Henry Paulson, Michael Chertoff – now hanging from their crosses. And there are the neo-con turncoats, too – Max Boot, Robert Kagan… Crucifixion is probably too good for them.
They are not only traitors to the Republican cause, whatever that may be, but warmongers, too, ready to switch allegiances just to keep the money flowing to their crony friends in the security industry. Now they all keen away – but what did they expect?
A random collection of establishment figures, shills, chicken hawks & frauds from the entire officially approved political spectrum. Whatever one thinks of Trump, the fact that he makes this seemingly diverse collection of welfare-warfare etatistes squirm in agony is deeply satisfying…
Had they not been lustily ripping off the working stiffs for decades? With their fake money and fake wars, they had transferred trillions of dollars from the Main Street economy into their own pockets. And then, after the grandest larceny in all of history, didn’t they lecture the poor victims on global warming, racism, and cisgender issues?
Had they not been so rapacious and sanctimonious, they might have their own egregious gal in the White House now! Instead, the country is run by a man they consider an outrageous jackass. Sniff… sniff… We feel so sorry for them.
But where does that leave us? It leaves us with the hero of 2016, too – the man who routed all those hopeless whiners. And it leaves us with the same swamp… the same swamp critters pulling strings and hatching plans and the same fake wars – on the real economy, on terror, on poverty, and on drugs.
So far, the losers are crying – all the way to the bank. Donald Trump is a “great disruptor,” says the press. What exactly will he disrupt? If Mr. Trump is to “make America great again,” he must do more than make the insiders mad. He must make them pay.
We saw what destroyed the Soviet Union’s empire: win-lose deals. The nomenklatura, the insiders, the Communist Party hacks all made out well – for a time. Meanwhile, the average person suffered. His income fell in line with his liberty. Naturally, a lot of people didn’t like it.
Stalin had to use drastic measures to keep the losers in check. Between 1936 and 1937, his secret police, the NKVD, arrested 1.5 million people. They shot 600,000 – a rate of about 1,000 a day.
Unfortunately only this one grainy photograph (and variants thereof) of the event depicted above exists, but it captured a historic moment. It was taken in Moscow in 1934, at the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Steelworkers from Tula had given Stalin a Mosin-Nagant rifle as a gift. He immediately began aiming it at assorted party colleagues attending the Congress, to much laughter, hooting and applause. If only they had known – he wasn’t joking, he was simply giving them a none too subtle hint as to what was coming next. Of the 1225 voting delegates at the Congress, less than half were still alive five years later – and as a rule, they didn’t die of old age. Of the 139 comrades voted into the party’s Central Committee on the day this picture was taken, less than one quarter died of natural causes. At least 98 of them were killed on Stalin’s direct orders. In short, 1934 was an exceptionally bad year for Communist apparatchiks in the Soviet Union to advance in their political career…
Photo via pikabu.ru
By 1953, there were 5 million people in Gulags, or “internal exile,” in Siberia. Whole groups were exterminated, including poets, writers, scientists, and 85% of the Russian Orthodox clergy.
Meanwhile, win-win deals – voluntary exchanges – were practically outlawed. And without them, the system became so pathetic and unproductive, even the elite gave up trying to get anything out of it.
Moneymen and Gunmen
Now we know why America’s middle class suffers, too – not on the same scale, but for the same basic reason. Too many win-lose deals were imposed on them by the Parasitocrats, the insiders – the same people who now loathe the president they so richly deserve.
Household income in the U.S. is now lower than it was at the end of the last century. In the year 2000, the typical household had an income of $58,574. Today, it is only $57,827.
So now we know what Mr. Trump must do: reduce the number of win-lose deals to make room for more win-win deals. It is that simple. But doing so isn’t simple. The swamp critters – the insiders and Parasitocrats who control and profit from government regulations and legislation – are behind the win-lose deals. They’ll fight to protect them.
Is swamp drainage achievable and will the man with the plan be up to it? It is usually best to keep one’s expectations modest – as long as the Donald keeps delivering in the entertainment department and doesn’t start any useless wars, we will be by and large content…
Photo credit: David Becker / Reuters
We’ve seen, too, that the deals fit into three main categories: entitlements, the military-industrial-security complex, and Wall Street. As for the first, the Republicans have promised to overhaul Obamacare. But the president has sent mixed messages.
He also pledged to not cut entitlements. And when asked how he would pay for them, he answered that he knows “where to get the money from” and “nobody else knows.”
More than likely, the new president will be unable or unwilling to make any substantial dent in spending on pensions, pills, or schools. There are simply too many crony swamp critters and zombie voters on the receiving end. Besides, they are not completely lose-lose programs. Overpriced and inefficient they may be. Still, ordinary people do get some real benefits from them.
That leaves the two biggies: the military-industrial-security complex and Wall Street. Thus do the clouds lift and the picture clarifies. Trump and his team must try to rein in the gunmen and the moneymen, or they are nothing but conmen.
Image captions by PT
The above article originally appeared as “This Is How the U.S. Empire Destroys Itself” at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.
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