Change the Paradigm

The President indicated those “on the top” should pay higher Taxes

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

He did not know that 20 years ago?

The new president, two days ago, talked about the trickle-down effect: “We’ve seen time and again that trickle-down doesn’t work.” He was alluding to the huge tax cuts for “those on the top and [the hope] that the benefits they get would trickle down to everyone” – tax giveaways granted the richest people and enterprises over the past 15 years (it was most likely a few more years, probably reaching back to the Reagan-Administration). He now sees a need “to change the paradigm.” That’s correct.

“Eine Kraehe hackt der anderen kein Auge aus”, as the old German saying goes. Freely translated: There’s honor among thieves. Because representatives of both parties are able to wheel and deal with lobbyists from the “very top”, my fear is that in the end not the billionaires, but representatives of the higher educated class will have to pay for the bulk of a new tax burden. In other words: those who were not eligible for the latest stimulus check because they are above a certain income level. If this happens, it would be a serious mistake by the Biden administration – because it would hurt America’s innovative future.

What Joe Biden did not say last Friday in the Rose Garden is the following: It is a misconception to assume that a national economy regulates itself in such a way that there is justice in the end for the many. From this follows what already John Adams and Teddy Roosevelt knew: The state needs to implement government power to tame nefarious profiteers permanently (the true “top”, which I hope Biden meant) and protect those Americans in their rights that are toiling day after day at the edge of the society to no avail. Will it take another 20 years before a majority of Americans come to this realization?

Because he left this part out, Biden was only talking about half of a plan that would really improve the livelihoods for the majority of Americans. Or did he omit this part on purpose and is clandestinely already on a path to “social democratize” the United States – a path that most Americans seem to confuse with “Socialism?” Has anyone actually realized that the Corona crisis is the last point in which it becomes clear that the United States, with all diversity and disparity, cannot go on as before if it wants to be prepared for the future?

The churches in particular have supported Trump and hatefully painted the specter of Socialism on the wall, fearing that Satan in the form of a Democrat might come after them, brandishing the tax bill with glowing eyes. Unfortunately, it is to be feared that hardly such a thing as taxing the churches will occur, although the President also said the following: “By the way, we don’t have anything against wealthy people. (If) you have a great idea, go out and make millions of dollars, that’s fine. I have no problem with that. But guess what: You’ve got to pay your fair share.”

Amen, Mr. Biden.

Game without Referee

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

I once lived in both Germanys [1] and have watched and listened to (West)-German news from my childhood on to this day, now on the Internet: Over there – at least ever since the wall came down – I have never seen news channels contradicting each other with facts and “alternative facts” to a degree it has long become daily routine in the US. One American station offers its audience a sometimes completely different story about one and the same topic than the other, with the clear intention to affect and often manipulate public opinion. Needless to emphasize that these brainwashers do not fit any category of “independent news.” Americans, it seems, are so used to it that many of them have surrendered their ability for differentiation, inconsiderately choosing the source of information closest to their perceptions best match.

The only weapon against such delusion is knowledge: historic knowledge, in this case. If people in their majority would only – no matter whether they prefer CNN or Fox News – think more for themselves, and, most importantly, ignore everything tossed at them carrying bogus dummy-labels like “Socialism” or “Liberal”, clueless about the fact that their own country has nothing but liberal roots. Instead, leave party ideologies aside and take the time to listen to the history of your own country. The examples are innumerable: 26th President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, a Republican, used the power of government to regulate the market and implement measurements in support of the little guy from the street. He openly sided with the Unions and deemed every American worker the right to join them. Did it make him a Socialist? Certainly not. Franklin Delano Roosevelt created social security and public work programs to pull millions of Americans out of the despair of the Great Depression. Read George Washington, even better: the writings of John Adams and his vision and apprehensions about the American society, and make up your own mind if developing and implementing ideas in support of the ones in need has anything to do with things like the “radical left”, “radical socialists”, or anything else associated with it.

This polarized country could be easily united if certain people would make use of common sense instead of letting ideology determine their political alignment. Opinion can differ and find its expression in arguments – that is part of a democracy in a fair contest of ideas to find the best way possible. But if unsubstantiated and plain rhetorical remarks, not seldom paired with a lack of knowledge, are the result of a different intuition about which course the society should take, then the result can only be an irreconcilable, often even hateful nation. Since the emergence of a party system in the infant USA, stemming from the days of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, this country has endlessly suffered from ideological division – and back then, newspapers were occupying the places of CNN and Fox News to play both ends against the middle. It was already bad at the very beginning of this nation.

The maltreated United States of modern days runs under a free, uncontrolled, exploitative market economy with millions of its citizens subsequently being left behind, virtually without any option to protect themselves at their work place [2], not to mention the ability to obtain adequate health care insurance. The correction of both issues should constitute a basic right, not a privilege. Why does a system of more equal justice works relatively well in other western countries? Why can’t a more fair distribution of wealth be arranged in the United States?

Every football- and soccer game comes with a referee, who is in charge of the unbiased observance of the rules, ensuring a fair outcome of the contest. Without the referee, there would be chaos, and club law would be the order of the day. In a democratic society it is the task of the parliamentary bodies and the government to establish protective rules (laws) for its citizenry; rules that also reach into the work environment, and thereby serve as a referee. This would move the United States’ economy from a wild-west system to a civilized Social Market Economy, whereby “Social” should not to be confused with “Socialism.” [3]

But, the economic and social system in the United States thus far never knew such a full-time referee. Regulation seems to run counter with the American notion of unlimited freedom. And too many Americans will always fall into the trap of dividing populism – a sinister trump card played at the service of the ruthless gentry, taking shameless advantage of the many.

Notes:

[1] After World War II and mounting divergences among the three western powers and the Soviet Union, a free, democratic Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) under the protection of the United States was founded in September 1949 in the west. Sixteen days later, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established in the eastern zone, controlled by the Soviets. The GDR disappeared from the world map after a peaceful revolution in 1989/90, tolerated by a transforming Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. 

[2] The author has worked eight years for America’s largest retailer, Walmart.

[3] For a more optimistic outlook, it is my prediction that the United States of America will slowly move toward that direction. Otherwise, the country as a unity would have no chance for survival. With more demographic changes in the future inevitable, I am sure the younger generation will confront the challenges of the 21st century with more progressive determination and a sound sense of reality than most self-declared, conservative farts living in certain hillbilly-regions of the US. Movements like “Fridays for Future” certainly give rise to that hope.  

Political Scientist predicts Biden-Victory

A look ahead what might come next

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2020 by Uwe Bahr

American political scientist Allan Lichtman predicted the outcome of each presidential election since 1984 correctly, when Ronald Reagan won his second term. According to Lichtman, Donald Trump will be the first president since George H. W. Bush in 1992 not winning reelection. But, it would be a surprise if any outcome of the 2020 race would allow the country to calm down. Instead, times of even more unrest seem imminent.

In the event of Donald Trump nevertheless winning reelection, the country will probably, if not certainly continue on its wavering course as a banana republic – a circus neither taken seriously by thinking fellow US citizens nor anywhere else in the rest of the world. Four more years of Trump will dangerously amplify social injustice, fume a ubiquitous racism and thereby deepen the divide between Americans even further, making life a horror for many people of different skin color and different thoughts – especially in less educated regions of the United States. The commencement toward a calamitous development of government-controlled deception and encroachments not authorized by legislature but enthusiastically welcomed by the political right, was already observable during the past summer months – not too different anymore from what I have seen in the East German (socialistic!) dictatorship a few decades ago.*

Should Joe Biden come out as winner – and given his advanced age Kamala Harris should be intentionally mentioned here –, the tone coming from the White House, no doubt, will return to a civilized level. Allies in the world will feel relieved and the United States’ reputation will revert to the normal. The country will recommit itself to central problems facing all mankind pressingly and darkly, like the fact of man-induced global warming. The United States will also return as the respected leader to the table of the international community. In other words: It will be back to the status of fact that no country in today’s world is capable of going its own way by sheering out from the global community whenever it seems convenient. There is no America first, as there is no other country first. America needs the world, and the world needs America.

Domestically, Biden and Harris first of all face a rampant pandemic with frightening prospects for the coming winter months. In the presence of a tremendous crises, it remains to be seen if enough room for maneuver is left to tackle other primary problems. If there is, team Biden might move a few things around from here to there. They might even patch up some shortcomings to the advantage of the little guy. In terms of health care, many people presumably should be in better aid than under Donald Trump.

But Biden/Harris will not effectively attack the cardinal American sin that John Adams in his worst nightmares saw coming more than two hundred years ago: They will not curb the super-rich living at the cost of the rest, they will not shift the blatant inequity in wealth toward a more balanced and bearable level to benefit all Americans. They will also not touch greedy corporations decisively, not to mention dare regulating them in terms of workers’ rights – for any such provisions will stand in the way of the ruthless profiteer’s lone interest and their legalized entanglements with the machinations of American politics. Biden/Harris will more than likely not cap the profit margin of Health Care Insurance Companies to leave money in the pockets of the general public, and they will never even think of touching the country’s most popular, upfront bill dodger: the churches.

Aside from that, the worst-case scenario I fear most hopefully will never happen. For that much seems clear: Even in case of a Biden victory, resentments among Americans will not disappear. The United States, with all the guns, racists, denialists, propagandists, and conspiracy theorists out there, is far from becoming a peaceful country. Horror fills the mind if one imagines the unthinkable: that in the sign of a worsening corona crises the country would find itself on the verge of civil war-like conditions.

*If there is anything comparable at all in America with socialism that I have witnessed while once have lived myself in a pseudo-socialistic system, it were the scenes of 1 June, 2020, in Washington DC, transmitted via the media. I no longer trusted my eyes when armored vehicles in a “free country” were slowly rolling towards peaceful protesters to remove them from Lafayette Square and surrounding streets, so President Trump in a histrionic gesture could hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. On that day and in front of the world, the Trump administration revealed shocking dictatorial traits, in effect similar to a system of government observable in some countries in Latin America, Africa, or currently Belarus.