Saturday, November 2, 2019


Thomas Piketty resumed the heart of the economical Western hangover in his iconic formula r>g:  the return on capital outpaces the growth rate of the economy. Tax breaks only exacerbate a structural malfunction, wherein money coagulates rather than spreads.  Trickle down policies--the Laffer mirage--have been proven wrong. Revenues might grow until a certain point but they create a glut for the few and seldom, even indirectly, benefit the many. 

The current American administration praises an economic boom which indeed looks good on paper. Since President Obama's intervention, Wall Street continues to climb and the wealthy in the first place count their blessings. The majority of Americans however don't see any silver-lining in the overall picture. Health care, education, environment do not receive the attention of this tone deaf government. Yesterday's better functioning institutions (to a certain extent) no longer convince. In Ralph Emerson's words: "An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man."  Under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson or Obama, inequality was receding, albeit in an incomplete, slow pace. Today the split between the rich and the "others" is growing at too fast a pace and it is metastasizing. 

Admittedly, for the same reasons, the West as a whole is not immune from doubt and tensions. The clash is a cultural one, if under culture one also understands a more sociological reality. The rise of white suprematism is an all together complex, paradoxical phenomenon. Stoked by policies of the "rulers" and by latent  insecurities, it affects mostly the white middle class and blue collars. Their frustration, legitimate or not, is weaponized against immigrants, minorities,  the long-term incarcerated, as long as they fit in the "others" category. This malaise is orchestrated by a cabal which feeds red meat to the beast.

Some Democrats, with good intentions, suggest an American social counter-reformation, rooted in some hybrid socialist codex. Most of their proposals would not score with Karl Marx!  Their references to the Scandinavian model are misguided since the social consensus in Western Europe is the result of a larger political agreement which occupies a space separated from the classical political dispute.  Health care, education, gender equality are considered in terms of solidarity, which bypasses the usual political dialectic. Soon the climate and environment will likewise figure in the rank of agreed European society commandments. There is a tradition of social dialogue (found in the ILO) so that workers, employers and governments work out mutually agreed formulas for wages and growth. The formula does not always work out (the yellow jackets) but capitalism gets a breathing space to auto-correct.

In America, the torched-earth proposals by Senator Sanders or House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez send us back to the minutemen of the Sixties. Senator Warren's health care plan, thought over in a haste, is another white elephant, carrying with it taxation and the loss of existing health care. Hitting business and the wealthy is a dangerous, divisive path. She also risks further alienating a large segment of duped Americans who want to defend their Jimmy Stewart mythology of "cookies USA", which is adverse to abstract mega plans wherein federal spending rules.

Republican and other defenders of the American model stand just for a set of of rules made for the members of a club, closed to most. It is neither a doctrine nor an experiment. It is a benign Ponzi scheme, which is the opposite of the EU's social engineering. The Hamilton days or FDR experiments are things of the past. 

Elsewhere in the world there is no communism left. Republicans fight windmills for their own benefit alone. There is no clash of ideas here. There only remains a cynical adjustment between economic ambition and political opportunism. Socialists are hard to find anywhere. It would be ironic if they were to pop up in, of all places, the USA.

We don't need Orwell, we need Keynes. It is Halloween and the voters prefer to grab sweets rather than scares. America needs to address too many  (Call me by your name ?!) to indulge in home made derailments!  Senator Warren & Co. had better let the better candidate against Trump take over.  The problem is to find him or her, fast...crossroads don't wait.

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