Thomas Cole (1801–1848) Destruction from The Course of Empire. 1836 painting 39 ½ x 63 ½ in (100.33 x 161.29 cm) New-York Historical Society
By ann summers
November 8, 2016 could signal the end of the Republic when the American people anoint King “Amazing” Trump and his Political Communication by Twitter — while beginning National Recession and Global Depression by neoliberalism.
Will we see the Trump Presidency of 2017 continuing neoliberalism’s onward path from the final apocalyptic project of charismatic Reaganism — to achieving minimal government in preparation for its Grover Norquist bathtub drowning, just make sure you’re in the correct bathroom when you’re doing it.
TRUMP HAS CERTAINLY BEEN THIS ELECTION CYCLE’S MOST RIVETING FIGURE. HE INITIALLY FOCUSED HIS ATTENTION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM, CALLING FOR A WALL TO BE BUILT BETWEEN MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES AND DEMANDING THE DEPORTATION OF 11 MILLION UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.
He has since rolled out other policies and positions: a major tax code overhaul; repeal and replace Obamacare; renegotiate or “break” NAFTA; stop hedge funds from “getting away with murder” on taxes; reforming the Veteran’s Administration; and impose import tariffs as high as 35%. All while keeping the deficit in check, growing the economy and leaving entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security untouched. Immigration remains a major pillar of his campaign, and he has now moved on to the question of Muslim immigration as well. He has finally laid out a plan to make Mexico pay for the wall, too…
“That off-the-cuff, gruff, tell-it-like-it-is approach that Donald Trump has may be great for headlines and a stadium full for supporters, but what unguarded comments like that from a president do is make dramatic fluctuations in the world economy, in stock markets in the United States and in the world,” said John Hudak (Brookings Institution). “Think about how much the market reaction is to the choice of two or three words from the Federal Reserve chairman.”
The words chosen by American officials can have serious economic repercussions, and the country — and the world — have equally high expectations for their commercial and diplomatic capabilities. The blunt way of speaking that has made Trump so popular among Republican voters could be detrimental once he’s in the Oval Office.
“His brand of rhetoric would actually make for profound economic instability,” Hudak said. In an October interview with The Hill, Trump warned of a looming recession and stock market bubble and targeted Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen in his comments. “She’s keeping the economy going, barely,” he said. Such comments coming from a presidential candidate are one thing — coming from the president of the United States they would be another.
And weren’t Bush43 and rMoney supposed to be the “business” presidents. And even Clinton42 promoted deregulation and privatization of some public or common resources including “welfare to work”; this goes back to Teddy Kennedy’s support of transportation deregulation in the 1970s.
The same Republicanism that even failed to overthrow FDR in a coup was motivated by such neoliberalism against the backdrop of America First nativism.
“This is despotism, this is tyranny, this is the annihilation of liberty,” one senator wrote to a colleague. “The ordinary American is thus reduced to the status of a robot. The president has not merely signed the death warrant of capitalism, but has ordained the mutilation of the Constitution, unless the friends of liberty, regardless of party, band themselves together to regain their lost freedom.”
The above is Republican Sen. Henry D. Hatfield of West Virginia, bemoaning the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, not Ted Cruz whining about PBO in 2016.
The main points of neo-liberalism include:
- THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.
- CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
- DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
- PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
- ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”
Despite his radical vision of how to remake America, and all his outrageous talk on juvenile subjects like his anatomy — to say nothing of the polls showing him behind Hillary Clinton — Jan. 20 may find the most underestimated politician in America assuming the presidency.
While professing some surprise at his success, Mr. Trump increasingly sounds like a man who thinks he knows where he will be eight months from now, and the unrivaled power he will hold.
He talked of turning the Oval Office into a high-powered board room, empowering military leaders over foreign affairs specialists in national security debates, and continuing to speak harshly about adversaries. He may post on Twitter less, but everyone will still know what he thinks.
“As president, I’ll be working from the first day with my vice president and staff to make clear that America will be changing in major ways for the better,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview on Saturday. “We can’t afford to waste time. I want a vice president who will help me have a major impact quickly on Capitol Hill, and the message will be clear to the nation and to people abroad that the American government will be using its power differently.”…
“Trump is predicting he’ll be able to do all these things, but his workload will be pretty enormous and his power would be so limited by precedent, by the bureaucracy, by the Constitution,” said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian. “Even in trade and immigration, where Trump says he will make revolutionary changes, Congress has a say on those things. A lot of people have a say. The president is not king.”
But Mr. Trump pledged in the interviews to deliver on his campaign promises, even if they prove disruptive or explosive.
On his first day in office, he said, he would meet with Homeland Security officials, generals, and others — he did not mention diplomats — to take steps to seal the southern border and assign more security agents along it. He would also call the heads of companies like Pfizer, the Carrier Corporation, Ford and Nabisco and warn them that their products face 35 percent tariffs because they are moving jobs out of the country. Democrats and some Republicans have warned that financial markets would react poorly and that Mr. Trump’s protectionist stances might plunge the country into recession, but he insisted that trade is “killing the country” and “the markets would be fine.”
Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump.
But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?
Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power…
The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.
‘When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.‘ (Benjamin Franklin)
‘The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.’ (Alexis de Tocqueville)