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2016 Year-Ender: We're In For A Wild Ride


#1

2016 Year-Ender: We're In For A Wild Ride

Gwynne Dyer

The main message of 2016 was that we are entering a period of economic and political upheaval comparable to the industrial revolution of 1780-1850, and nothing expressed that message more clearly than Donald Trump’s appointment of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Even though it’s clear that neither man understands the message.


#2

One aspect reflected in the elite/effete paths chosen and the rhetorical bs characterizing this era/error is the dearth of creativity and addiction to death grip on violent modes of power usurpation - not a healthy approach to life in any way shape or form. And on top of that it is utterly dependent on schoolyard bully practices. Think: kicking the can of consequences down the road with fingers stuffed in ears saying nananana-I-can't-hear-you to the majority of human beings experiencing the coups being perpetrated on their lives and the life of the planet.

It does not have to be this way and I would submit that the alternative voices - like that of Dwyer are indispensable to jogging loose the creativity and energy free from the imposition of fear. One such voice is that of George Lakey.
I am reminded that real politics is exercised in every day in a social environment rather than "campaign" drubbing.

Wishing all an energized New Year!
"Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right – and How We Can, Too!" (he starts to talk at min 7:45)


#3

What if no more jobs existed except 10% of the population who's main task were to serve the 1% like cutting lawns or washing laundry? Would the other 90% be told... "Too bad! Should of pulled yourself up by the boot straps. Starve, it's your own fault!". Unfortunately most citizens in developed countries have difficulty believing that a UBI is not only feasible, but necessary in this age of automation. Objections such as..."Who's going to pay for it?" "We will all be sitting on our asses doing nothing all day!" misses the point entirely. But because corporations are naturally predisposed to a zero sum game (90% starve, 9% get crumbs and 1% live like billionaires do), UBI will never be discussed in the mainstream, taught in our schools or introduced to the public at large unless it is shown in an extremely negative light. Therefore it is essential that we educate the public at a grass roots level if we are to take control of our own lives.
UBI should form the basis of either a new, revamped Democratic Party or else be the center piece of a third Party that will challenge the regressive policies of a Trump administration. UBI would drive up wages, end poverty, reduce stress, increase productivity and free up more time for the populace to address serious social flaws like consumerism and addressing climate change.


#4

The photo of Puzder included with the article shows the image of a face that would seem perfect clothed in a Gestapo uniform.....................


#5

this is not only a great idea but a positive response to fear.


#6

my response to the video


#7

Just like u wouldn't go shopping st.... dont post either. Happy Holidays


#8

So angry that they didn’t care about the repercussions of their vote but not angry enough to want a war? Are you sure about that? Perhaps we should approach their anger with less sanguine views: "All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." -- Herman Goering, 1946


#9

This country remains on a course that was set by the Reagan administration. The US shut down/shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare aid in the 1990s. We know that not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren't jobs for all. What has been our response to those who are left out?

We have built an abundant surplus of job-ready people who are absolutely desperate for any job at any wage -- grateful for the chance to replace you for far less than you are paid. With this agenda, the US has remained on a downhill slide. We have no mercy on those who are left out. The overall quality of life in the US has taken a nosedive, the country can no longer adequately compete in the modern world market, yet our agenda remains the same.


#10

Googling it, I get: "More than 45 million people, or 14.5 percent of all Americans, lived below the poverty line last year." Of course, there's no way to count the very poor, unless/until they become jail or morgue statistics. By contrast, the middle class are a little under 50% of the population today. They are able to afford adequate food, shelter, and so much more. Our bottom line is that we have more people in need of jobs, than are needed by employers, and we have no mercy on the jobless today.


#11

I love the idea of a universal basic income, but have to disagree with one thing: the world can no longer afford millionaires and billionaires. One group of people having a substantial amount of money more than everyone else means democracy can't function. In our society money and power are interchangeable commodities. If we're going to have a universal income, it has to be universal. Everyone has to have the same income. Wealth belongs to the tribe and all tribe members share equally in what they all produce together. That's the only way post fossil-fuel democracy will work.


#12

People can't believe a UBI is feasible because they have been conditioned to think that money is a "thing," meaning that it cannot be created or destroyed. But in reality, electronic money (in a checking account) is created by a widespread accounting gimmick every time a bank makes a loan, and destroyed when the loan is repaid. A relatively small amount (3%) is also "fiat" money printed by the treasury. The frantic deleveraging that accompanies economic downturns can, often does, and back in 2008 actually did destroy enough money (mainly in the money market, but that's a detail) to completely freeze the economy, until the government stepped in as a borrower of last resort with TARP. But the constitution says the government has the power to "coin money, and regulate the value thereof" directly. A growing number of people, including some economists, believe this is how all money should be created, in order to create a more stable economic system. And guaranteeing everyone a UBI would be a very indiscriminate way to do that, meaning it would not involve picking winners and losers via a political process. See positivemoney.org in the UK for more info.

P.S. Jim Hansen's proposal for a "fee and dividend" program to curb carbon emissions would also be a significant step towards creating a UBI.


#13

Gwynne,
Automation is a huge issue, to be sure, at the same time we have seen this game before. Back in the 1920's the adoption of assembly lines greatly increased the productivity of people without increasing their purchasing power. Leading to supply outstripping demand and the curtailment of production in the 30's. The New Deal changed the distribution of production and allowed the economy to grow at rates never imagined before for almost 3 decades after WWII. Off-shoring became a factor in the 70's and as it gained momentum economic growth slowed, and the balance of power between corporations and citizens moved vastly in favor of corporations. This is allowing automation to be implemented in a way that benefits the few instead of the many.

It could be the best of times - it should be the best of times; however that is not likely. Off-shoring has created huge trade deficits for the developed world. The US runs deficits in the neighborhood of $600 billion per year and this means lost employment opportunity for citizens. It also means increasing debt in the sense that when an economic entity buys more than it sells, it takes on debt or needs to sell assets. US consumers are about $18 trillion in debt and the government,who has been pumping money into the economy to keep it going, has accumulated $20 trillion in debt. Assets like real estate and corporations are being acquired by foreign entities and this along with foreign financing of US debt keeps the dollar high in value - preventing market corrections.

So with automation gaining steam, the trick becomes finding a way to finance support of the citizenry in an economy that is bleeding value. This means looking at how the returns of economic activity are distributed and that makes it a political issue.


#14

Middle class, the classic definition, are the people who own things and run things, people such as Bill Gates. The use of the term has been expanded and bastardized by the media so that anyone who buys some shiny consumer crap think they are part of the middle class. If you work for a paycheck, even if you are middle income, you are working class, albeit working class with a latte not a lunch bucket. To the real middle class, you are an annoying cost unit not a fellow human or citizen and you won't be allowed to breed into their small circle of friends.


#15

Those are all valid points. It is the "conditioning" that prevents Americans from collectively demanding UBI. Universal healthcare is in a similar dilemma in which too many citizens are conditioned to believe that "we" can't afford it. It won't be an easy task to enlighten the populace to the true nature of their suffering (corporations undermining the public interest) or to the solutions we need to stop the collective bleeding of the 99%.


#16

When someone takes out a loan money is created as it is just a medium of exchange. People pay back their loans by reducing consumption relative to what they produced. We are paid money as a share of what we produce - no production no money. If a government just produces money and hands it out - then what is produced? Actually nothing - for a time we could buy goods from another country but when they go to buy something for themselves - there is nothing produced.

I agree that we need to put people before money and that governments taking on debt to put money in banks to salvage their greed is a bad idea. The sustainable way of doing it is increasing taxes and redistributing the money. That way the economy will stay in balance.


#17

► Someone will produce something in exchange for the money that's handed out


#18

Few if any economists would agree with you that money is the same as what you buy with it, although relatively few economists actually worry about money per se at all (save for prices). You seem determined to view money is something physical or at least something that's "out there", when in fact it's all in our heads (and our computers). Rather than trying to convince you otherwise, however, I'll just refer you to a very good web site where you can learn how the monetary "system" really works to your heart's content: http://positivemoney.org/


#19

Well, Gwynne, I love your work and have read and watched so many of your products, but this really makes me depressed!!!! Happy new Year!!


#20

Money is a unit of value, a store of wealth and a medium of exchange. We get money by working or investing - I only view money as it is. I watched the video, Ben is talking about people going into debt to buy consumer goods and housing. Yes debt creates money - that has been going on for hundreds of years the problem is with the economy of the past 20 years. Ben confuses debt with trade balance. Britain has been running a trade deficit for about 20 years, when people buy more than they sell they take on debt. If there was balanced trade then there would be less debt.

One of the problems of the past few decades is that people were encouraged to take on debt to help the economy. When a country is running a trade deficit that debt finances growth in the countries were the goods are produced. I am totally okay changing the role of the banks but that will not solve the bigger problem of trade deficits. I agree with the money getting investing in the real economy - but here is the rub that Ben misses: take the money and build a factory and then try to produce goods for the same price as countries paying there employees $2 per hour - best of luck.

I disagree with economists that were taught in versions of the neoclassical school, their use of normative assumptions leads to errors and misunderstandings.