That’s all for now folks, take care of yourself out there.
The first of what hopefully are many weekly (bi-monthly) updates promoting the latest episode of the excellent podcast The Margin of Error co-hosted by Allan Branstiter and Carson Starkey. In the future this website will be shamelessly, unapologetically, and proudly posting and promoting each episode, along with Bruce Springsteen music, and Jimmy Buffett retirement communities.
Hey, Carson — don’t ya think it’s time we have another installment of Conversations with the Ghost of America’s Future Past? Trump-era edition?
New York, NY — (the capital of national Democratic Party incompetence, cluelessness, and cultural excess).
The beating heart of America and the state of New York (like every state) is the people. And the people have been betrayed. While the GOP celebrates, and all Americans should be protective of those most vulnerable and commit themselves to being the best person they can be, it is time for the Democratic Party to take these next six weeks and actually do some introspection. I have no doubt that introspection is going on in the hearts and minds of voters and supporters. However, it is rarely going on in the minds of boomer-heavy Democratic Party leaders. And that will not change until we demand that it changes.
Permanent Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is not going to suddenly discover his populist voice at the age of 65. Permanent Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not going to suddenly discover her populist voice at the age of 76. I do not bring up their ages to be an agist. Far from it. Because the war on the young and the war on the middle and working class has been going on ever since their generation came to power via Watergate in the mid-70s. I bring up, what in the end are mere numbers to highlight the concept of subsidiarity: let those that are closest to the problem, and are more likely to know the problem — solve the problem.
The problem with the party is neoliberalism and corporatism. The problem is empty and soulless “high society” and “status” liberalism. The problem is an irrational appeal to moderation, compromise, incrementalism, and the idea that leaders (and especially the President) can just solve anything. They can’t and they won’t. We must do it. We the people. Welcome to the third and final part of the story of the future Greater Recession: Party’s End and a New Beginning.
In 18 to 36 months, because it is a fact of the business cycle, and for reasons cited in Parts One and Two, this country will be in another “bubble” recession. The recession is inevitable. The pain caused to human beings because of short-sightenedness, corporate greed and grift, and government sponsorship of it, is completely avoidable. Were it not for the fact that elections, a lack of vision for the future and a good message, and voter apathy having consequences.
It would have happened if Hillary Clinton had won too. Don’t forget that former incoming Majority Leader Schumer had a stated top legislative goal of corporate tax cuts to get after overseas tax shelter-corporate profit dollars in the coming session. Now that Donald Trump has won, it will still happen. In some ways it’ll be the same, in others worse. The difference now is how the powers that be will react to it, and how we the people will react to it. Life is ten percent what happens to you, ninety percent how you react to what happens to you.
The big financial institutions and investment banks are already lining up and betting for the market to fail. Hiring freezes have commenced. All the indicators are there.
Despite all of his populist rhetoric, and many commentators citing that it was a farce and fraudulent in advance, the incoming Trump administration has already tapped a Goldman Sachs banker as the next Treasury Secretary. It might as well be enshrined into the Constitution at this point. Doesn’t matter who wins–there’s going to be a GS Treasury Secretary.
Bizarrely, this Greater Recession will not feel greater than the great one. Why? Because working families and working people have not made up what was lost economically for them in 2007-09. My ancestors barely felt the Great Depression in the 1930s–why? Because they were already poor to begin with. If/when the market fails and there are more bail outs of banks, but not people–get ready for the student loan “bubble” to burst too. Mr. Pres.-elect, it’s up to you what you want to do–I recommend doing the right thing.
For anyone who thinks the intra-party civil war within the Democratic Party can save us all from this fate, or if you think there will be an inevitable electoral backlash, think again. And then read Thomas Frank. Then get back to me. Then go read Thomas Frank again. Then listen to the “Margin of Error”, then branch out from there.
After the 2016 Election — the two party power structure in this country looks like this:
Presidency: GOP (the first elected President in American history without any political or military experience prior to the Presidency)
US Senate: 52 GOP, 48 DEM (+2 DEM)
US House: 238 GOP, 194 DEM (+6 DEM)
US State Governors: 34 GOP, 15 DEM, 1 IND (Alaska) (+3 GOP)
US State Legislatures: 36 GOP/GOP-caucusing, 14 DEM/DEM caucusing in State Senates | 32 GOP/GOP-leaning, 17 DEM, 1 IND (Alaska) in State Houses.
After 2018 Midterm Elections — this is a realistic possibility:
The GOP faces a very favorable Senate map in 2018. 2016 was actually the last time in a long time the Democrats had a realistic chance to pick up the Senate absent a wave and a complete re-organization of the Democratic Party. Now we have the following seats that will still likely fall, or very well could.
GOP gains: IN, MO, MT, ND, (Joe Manchin holds on, but switches parties), 59 seats.
The situation will not improve much in the US House in an era of gerrymandering, voter ID, and key provisions of the Voting Rights Act gone.
Therefore, the next two years should be a legal battle in key states and 2017 should be about actually voting in progressive major US city Mayors so we can stop looking so hypocritical when corporate Democratic Mayors engage in tax giveaways to subsidize sports stadiums, and real estate projects, etc. We can stop looking so hypocritical when it comes to education achievement gaps, etc.
Lessons have not been learned and the liberal boomer establishment is mostly not getting it.
The Democratic Party will still have a DCCC that dictates to local units their “expert” opinions and sophisticated numbers over the local knowledge of people who have lived most, if not all, of their lives in their communities.
Most of the chairs and public elected officials of the Democratic Party remain unchanged. And already the Keith Ellison for DNC Chair (which I support, with some small reservations) momentum is slowing down because the “donor class” doesn’t want him and mostly, doesn’t like him.
We have no evidence since the year 2006 that Dems will magically turn out in a midterm when they do not hold the White House. 2006 was certainly a wave, but it was a wave that was created by the Iraq War and the Bush Administration being historically unpopular. It is likely that Trump will be unpopular, but when you have Democratic leaders like (permanent) Minority Leader Schumer in the Senate, and (permanent) Minority Leader Pelosi in the House vowing to make Donald Trump more popular, and vowing to work with him on some things, in stark contrast to how the GOP leadership behaved after an *actual* landslide in 2008, the jury is very much still out on the so-called coming 2018 Democratic wave.
2018 should be focused on the states and localities. Gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns. Party-building begins locally and it begins personally. Think local.
If the GOP maintains most of what they hold or even slightly improve (via winning the MN and PA gubernatorial races, a distinct possibility if nothing changes), not only are they knocking on the door of a filibuster-proof Senate, but they are also knocking on the door of a Constitutional amendment proof majority in the states (3/4ths, 37 states needed to pass and ratify proposed Constitutional amendments).
Not only will there be no wave if things do not change in a hurry for the party, but there are many areas past the above mentioned Senate map looking brutal, where we could lose ground further.
New York Democrats are currently prepping Chelsea Clinton to run for Congress in a long-held but only slight Democratic district in the New York-17th. I predict the GOP goes out and gets an Iraq Veteran who delivers lines like this across the district:
“While Chelsea Clinton was getting groomed to run for Congress and join the family business someday, I was dodging bullets in the Middle East.” – the Eric Greitens of the New York 17th.
I’m sure Chelsea is nice, this is not personal. But I ask our readership to please get an early start in starting the human rights watch campaign to free Chelsea Clinton from what Democratic Party insiders and the Clinton cabal of advisors keep asking her to do. Go into careers that she does not want to do and is not a natural at doing. It’s insulting to her humanity, it’s insulting to the electorate, and I can only hope that she does not run. Enough with the Dukes and Earls, whether political or economic.
The 2020 Presidential Election — here are the early, talked about candidates:
One of the Reagan-baby Gen-X heavy GOP deep benchers (Rubio, Sasse, Cotton, Haley, although probably not Speaker Ryan as he’ll be too politicized) wins the Presidency, replacing Trump, who limits himself to one term citing political success and victories, or because he is impeached by a GOP congress, bringing us briefly, a President Glen Allen Walken…I mean Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, here is what the Democratic Party is countering with as of now, or at least this is what the early chatter is in the Beltway.
Sen. Cory Booker (NJ).
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
Sen-elect Kamala Harris (CA).
Gov. John Hickenlooper (CO).
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN).
First Lady Michelle Obama (Will reside in Washington D.C.).
I wanted to give everyone the proper amount of time away but now it is time to be honest.
Michelle, I have no doubt would be great. But she has stated many times that she has no interest in electoral politics. The Obama family has served their country enough. Leave them alone.
Sen-elect Harris will not run, and while she has a bright future, she is also from California, which has never produced a Democratic President and looks unlikely to do so in this current climate. Lets see what kind of Senator she is going to be first. I have high hopes that at the very least she’d make an excellent AG or VP candidate, then perhaps President after that.
Furthermore, every- single-talked-about candidate was only analyzed in terms of fundraising abilities, not potential message or vision for the future. The amount of people who do not get it in the political, media, and intellectual elite is alarming. For the most part, only the folks and their supporters are getting it. A quick note on the rest: Booker and Gillibrand (as well as Cuomo) may very well run, but they won’t win. If Sen. Klobuchar or Gov. Hickenlooper run, see Tim Pawlenty.
Thanks for sticking with us. Let’s get organized team future, we’re the last, best hope and it’s time to accept that.
Months ago during the Presidential primary election, during the peak of this nascent website’s readership (so far, perhaps forever), I wrote about what could be appropriately called the “Greater Recession.” It’s detailed focus was on the millennial generation (those born between circa 1980/81 and 1998 or so) and housing and the role that will play in contributing to the next recession. At the end I teased that housing will not be the chief driving force however behind the next recession, rather it will be the fact that baby boomers, retiring en-masse starting a few years ago, will be cashing in their 401K’s and this outflow will outpace the money that is going into retirement markets. What sounds alarmist now and overly complicated will sound stupidly simple when history is written: retirement accounts need money in them. Duh.
In the wake of the silliest U.S. Presidential Election and national conversation on record and for a country whose youngest working generation and middle class is still reeling from the previous Great Recession, it’s completely understandable why no one wants to hear or read about the next one (don’t worry, they won’t). But demographics are still destiny.
They are a chief driving reason Italy cannot grow more than 1 percent annually because Italy cannot replace its own population. Birth rates. If it were not for their relatively more modern and diversified economies, France and Spain would suffer from similar systemic growth problems because most of Europe is suffering from historically low birth rates. The United States has its own birth rate crisis too, but at the other end of the spectrum. The post-World War II baby boom from 1946 to roughly 1964.
As of mid-2015 withdrawals from 401K plans exceed new contributions, a shift that could shake up the U.S. retirement industry and a trend that will continue well into the next decade and perhaps beyond. Three to four million baby boomers will be retiring every year between now and 2020, and it is expected to accelerate beyond that. The direct result will be on asset management firms and the retirement portion of investment banks being squeezed of large amounts of money because they rely on fees charged to employers and investors as their chief profit engine. Before I move on, let’s go through a quick primer on the history of 401Ks.
401K retirement plans came into wide usage in the 1980s as more companies embraced them as a replacement to their more costly pension fund counterpart. In other words, 401Ks are the privatization of pension plans. Along with the general erosion of big labor and private (as well as some public) sector unions in the U.S., this trend has contributed to declining and stagnant middle and working class incomes. The financial capitalism model that rose in the United States in this decade coincides with globalization ascendent generally, with the post-War political and economic consensus fading into history. Pensions were out. Privatization was in. The prevalence of 401K plans coincide with the major working years of the baby boomer generation, the largest cohort in American history until millennials.
A 401K bubble, unlike the housing bubble, will be far more fundamental than Senator McCain could ever conceive of because it will be demographically and systemically driven. We have seen so many cracks in globalization’s inevitability this past year, whether it is Brexit, the rise of nationalism generally, or the entire 2016 Presidential Election cycle. The final nail in the coffin to its inevitability may very well be another recession, which will no doubt have global implications as well because nearly everything does now. If we’ve learned anything since 2007-09 it’s that globalization and interdependence is failing, and will likely keep failing, rightly or wrongly. We have also learned that nation-states still matter and they matter the most. Rising nationalism that borders on jingoism and xenophobia in some quarters is frightening to anyone who has read history, but at the most basic level–the primacy and importance of national leadership and its ability to control and secure national interests is still incredibly relevant. Much of this development is political and populist in nature, and often very much to the chagrin of the global system, especially those in the financial community.
It has been said, and I think this is still the best case for globalization (although slipping a bit each year), that countries that trade together and are dependent on one another will not fight each other. A free trade and globalized world order is a peaceful world. With each passing year though, this gets harder and harder to believe. When Iraqi civilian casualties are 1/4th the total of the holocaust, you know instinctively that you are not living in a more peaceful world. Rather, you are merely avoiding the most dangerous parts of the world.
In fairness to those who would call this alarmist thinking, there are three economic developments and one political, that could at the very least, stem the tide. Starting with the most unlikely to succeed.
1. Millennials putting enough money into their own retirements (very unlikely).
Despite the demographic ability to do it, millennials are squeezed out of good paying jobs still and even if they obtain those jobs (a big “if”), significant student loan debt and other costs will limit our ability to save for retirement in the years to come.
2. Asset management firms reinvesting a good potion of boomer-held wealth back into the market (more likely).
This may not be enough either though. Aging costs money and boomers are not nearly as wealthy as we all think they are. After all, their entire working lives coincide with America going from an FDR / New Deal / “We take care of our own” – model to a Reagan / “trickle-down economics” / financial capitalism – model.
3. Wall Street downsizing (most likely, already happening).
An interesting facet of the Greater Recession could very well be the great irony: just as the Great Recession could be characterized as Wall Street driving an economic recession that left millennials with few paying jobs, the Greater Recession could be characterized by millennials lacking the assets, paying jobs, and income to prevent an economic recession that will in turn, leave many on Wall Street without their high-paying jobs.
And then there is the political solution.
We all saw how swiftly both parties acted in the wake of the global financial meltdown in 2008. But even in success, we also saw how readily evident it was that the United States has a public policy that is so incredibly friendly to wealthy elites and corporations that more and more publications are taking to calling the United States an oligarchy. Furthermore, political gridlock in the Obama years has made another swift action in response to an economic crisis harder to imagine. It’s far more likely any political response is an incredibly partisan one, carried out by a Republican Party in complete control of the United States government after 2020.
Therefore it’s far more likely that social insurance programs get privatized due to the political winds of the time, bad luck, and poor party-building and planning by the Democratic Party, which will be the chief purpose of the third and final part of the Greater Recession article series.
The fallout from the Democratic debate last night, hysteria over Bernie Sanders’ surprise victory in Michigan, polls that show 1 in 3 supporters of his candidacy won’t vote for Hillary in the General Election, and subsequent press leaks that the future President is critical of the current President’s foreign policy doctrine of “not doing stupid shit”, has led to plenty of fact-free analysis on the Socials today. Even worse, the Boomer plot to slaughter Millennials in the 2018 (give or take) war with Iran has been uncovered.
For many Boomers, to be a serious person, unlike the young and naive Millennials, you have to support at least 65 percent of wars, and at least 50 percent of bloody, costly, avoidable wars.
“The world is a dangerous place, it is important that we check the very large Millennial generation, who are now larger than us, by sending them into battle for the third time.” Explained a local Boomer, after finishing his 46 minute Robert’s Rules of Order-heavy special district meeting. “This fight will also give us a down-payment on cutting into the numbers of Generation Z”, he added.
Throughout America, young Millennial officers and enlisted, and very young Generation Z E-1’s, E-2’s, and E-3’s, will not know what hit them. If they thought they were in the clear from perpetual war and deployments, think again. Nothing is over. Rhetoric that inspired former Vice President, serial Presidential loser, and radical centrist John Hoynes to action during his Delta fraternity days at Faber College (motto: “Knowledge Is Good”).
Hoynes voted for the Iraq War, which combined with Afghanistan, killed over 5,000 American Millennials and maimed 50,000 more. He is enthusiastic about the potential to surpass those heights with the Iran War while spouting faux-patriotic nonsense from the sidelines. “It’s not like I’m sending my own children to war, that would be ridiculous. It’s called generational leverage: other people’s kids. Duh. However, I’m being responsible about this. I’ve already instructed my two children, John Jr. and Jane, on the proper way to put a yellow ribbon sticker on their car. We’re in this together and these colors do not run. Hoynes 2020!”
“They just don’t know foreign policy like us Baby Boomers do”, critiqued David, a Boomer who never faced the draft during Vietnam because it ended when he was 17, after finishing a conversation with Tom, a 28 year old Millennial who just got done with his 2nd tour in the Middle East. “I mean, I would have gone if my country called back in 1975, but Vietnam was just ending.”
“A war with Iran really is a meeting of two mutual self interests between our two countries”, lectured a local armchair activist who frequents the comment section.
The generational ruling class of the United States, Boomers and the Gen X-ers who worship the fictional version of President Reagan, and Iran’s ruling class, religious zealots and fundamentalists, who fear the growing youth movement going on in their country that helped propel 30 moderate, reformist candidates to victory last month in the Iranian legislative elections.
“I have fond memories of my parent’s generation, especially the version of them that fought World War II, both the effort abroad and at home. I love what they did, and am often glued to the Military Channel documentaries”, romanticized a local Boomer enjoying his post 5-o’clock beer.
What it is not as romanticized is the post-War story that built-up the American middle class and the most broadly shared time of prosperity in American history for thirty years, via policies and programs like the G.I. Bill, interstate highway system, expansion of social insurance, affordable college education via Grants, and Civil and Voting rights legislation that carefully navigated cultural waters going back hundreds of years, which Boomers later single-handedly took credit for because a few of their older siblings were at marches in the early-60’s.
“You know it wouldn’t have to be this way if this lazy, entitled generation would just start more families and give us more grandchildren”, complained your parents, who are now five days away from becoming Donald Trump supporters.
“Those Millennials. They are clearly failing this country, so we are left with no choice but to ensure they hold up their end of the bargain by implementing our deeply unpopular, fact-free, forever wars and adventures into countries I cannot locate on a map”, said, the Baby Boomer Generation.