Tag Archives: Donald Trump

The DeBlasio and Cuomo Administrations:  Leadership

Governments enact rules to force people to do and not do things, or force them to pay taxes and use the money to do things for them.  You have the political power, the monopoly of legitimate violence, and the economic power, using incentives to made it harder to do one thing and easier to do another.  That’s public policy.  But what about all the choices people make in their own lives, with regard to how to live, how to live with each other, and how to act in society?  This can be influenced through leadership.

In a democratic society a politician is not the leader, the way they are in a totalitarian society. But a politician could be aleader, one of many.   At one time, in addition to elected officials, Americans looked to poets, preachers and priests, philoseophers and artists for direction.  At one time even architects and city planners aspired to leadership, creating buildings and communities that facilitated a certain lifestyle and society.  And then there were parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, back when more people spent their lives nestled in a large web of family relationships. Not anymore.  

But that doesn’t mean that people, most of whom don’t really figure things out for themselves, aren’t being led and influenced.  Celebrities and paid influencers have taken the place of the prior sources of leadership.  Who is providing meaning and direction in people’s lives?  Who is deciding what it means to live a good life, or to be a good community?  The advertising industry, which means that a good life ends up costing more and more and more for people who have (in inflation-adjusted dollars) been paid less and less, generation by generation.  Did Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio try provide an alternative?  Not really.

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There and Here, Generation Greed Wants Everything but Refuses to Pay For Anything

Who, in a decade or two, will want the job of changing former President Donald Trump’s diapers, and who will have to pay for it?  

As I’ve said for years, The Donald is THE MAN of his generation.  A generation that came to interpret freedom as freedom from responsibility, to a greater extent than the generations before or after.  For those on the so-called “right,” it was freedom from social responsibility — to the community through paying taxes, to the planet by conserving natural resources, and even, it turns out, to those around them by wearing masks and getting vaccinated.  For those in the so-called “left” it was freedom from personal responsibility, to family members, or non-family progeny, when personal fulfillment, or sexual gratification, or just wanting to get high made that responsibility burdensome.  That has been the story, but not the fact.  In reality Trump, like the majority of his generation, was against any responsibility at all, social or personal.  Eventually, however, he and those of his generation will age to the point where they require custodial care, care that is either hugely expensive or personally draining to provide.  To be provided and paid for by whom?

I bring this up again because it would appear that in the UK, the generation that demanded lower taxes on itself is now demanding additional old age care for itself, paid for exclusively by the less well of generations to follow. Generations already on the wrong end of slashing social benefits for children, while putting a triple lock on a guarantee of benefits for aging adults.  Thus continuing to align Generation Greed’s economic, social and political choices with what, at least here in the United States, have been the personal and family choices of many, if not most.  All while engaging in a culture war to distract attention from what they, collectively, have done.  But there, unlike here in the U.S., generational inequities are at least talked about.

If you happen to be a comedy writer or comedic playwright, hold that thought about Trump’s last days.  I’ll have a suggestion for you at the end of this post, one that could bring 40 years of economic and social trends home to the later-born in a way that perhaps lots of boring data and analysis that you’ll have to get through first does not.

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Alice Kramden Voted Against The Donald, But Ralph Kramden Voted For Him

I had read that there might be a shortage of poll workers, so I did my civic duty and signed up, asking the Board of Elections to hire someone else if they needed the money, but offering to serve if required.  I was selected and asked to work as a Line Manager at a poll site on Stillwell Avenue, on the Gravesend/Bensonhurst border.  

These had been traditionally an Italian-American neighborhoods, and there are still some folks like that around based on what I observed, but there are also many Chinese, Eastern Europeans, some Latinos, some Afro-Americans and Caribbean Americans, and a few Hasidm.  Judging by their accents and limited English there were many first generation immigrant Americans, often there with their Americanized children, some of whom were voting for the first time.  If one ignores skin color, religion and country of origin, in fact, the neighborhood is probably exactly what it was in 1950 – a working class area occupied by immigrants transitioning to Americans, but now with less pizza.

At the end of the night, they put the tapes up on the wall with the results for that location, and I took a look.  Adding it up quickly, there seemed to be about 1,000 votes, and The Donald finished second among the candidates for President.  By two votes.

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The Trump Economy: Great Again?

As far as I’m concerned, The Donald was elected President in 2016 for one reason.  At a time when President Obama and Senator Clinton claimed everything was fine, because the economy was recovering in a cyclical sense, and because things have (for the most part) remained fine for college and graduate-school educated people who were born in 1957 or earlier (59 years old or older at the time, 63 or older today).  Trump was willing to acknowledge that for less well educated Americans, and even for better educated people who were born later, things have significantly become worse over the long term.  And that the U.S. as a whole is getting poorer, deeper in debt, more dependent on subsidies from the rest of the world.  He didn’t really understand why, or have a real idea what to do about it, but he at least pretended to care about what those inside the affluent bi-coastal bubble were indifferent to.   When later-born generations saw that no one was really speaking to, or caring about, their situation and concerns, they stayed home.  Meanwhile working class Whites, and some working class Blacks and Hispanics, took a chance on Trump, just as Michael Moore predicted.

Trump’s best line?  “What have you got to lose?”  

Now it is four years later, and The Donald is singing a different tune. Things are Great Again! he says, and all because of him, and if it wasn’t for bad luck – a once in a century pandemic – he would have been re-elected easily.  As of last December some people seemed to buy it.

But is this true?  We would be having an election about nothing, absent COVID-19, but now we are having an election about almost nothing.  Just Generation Greed’s culture wars, which are mostly about sex, rather than the extent to which the future and those who will be living in it are screwed.  But I couldn’t let Trump’s assertions go unanswered.  He was, in this case, right the first time, and what he said the first time in 2016 was still true in 2019, before the pandemic even hit.

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Imported Oil: American Gutlessness Means Perpetual Slavery

Did you hear about the United States finally becoming energy independent again thanks to our great President Donald Trump, the guy who has essentially declared war on mass transit and alternative energy?  Actually, he didn’t just promise energy independence. He promised energy “dominance.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/28/trump-america-energy-dominant-policy.html

Here’s how Energy Secretary Rick Perry explained energy dominance to the White House press corps on Tuesday: “An energy dominant America means self-reliant. It means a secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations who seek to use energy as an economic weapon.”  “An energy dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and our influence.”

You might have missed it, but the Saudis didn’t.  So OPEC has done it again. Jacked up production and sold below cost so the price of oil and gasoline plunge to $20 per barrel. They can count on the neediness, whining and shortsightedness of the generation that is still in control of the United States, the Baby Boomers, and the gutlessness of U.S. politicians, to stand aside yet again as the domestic fossil fuel industry, alternative energy companies, and conservation are wiped out and replaced by cheap foreign oil. And then, when our dependence and vulnerability have been fully re-established, OPEC will again slash production and jack up the price of oil to $100 a barrel, causing another recession and another avalanche of U.S. dollars out of the country.  As they did in 1973, and 1981, and 1990, and 2008, and 2011-14.   Ah, but that’s the future, and we can’t think about that now!  What about my need for cheap gasoline!  I want for me now, and now, and now, and again now!

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Imported Oil: It Seems The Donald is Yet Another Gutless President

Last week, the federal government slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, based on the finding that the Chinese are manipulating the market to promote their own solar industry, with the effect of reducing solar panel production within the United States.   Most of the U.S. solar industry, the purported beneficiary or the tariff, was opposed, because with the cost of the panels falling so low they only account for one-third of total solar costs, the production of ancillary equipment and solar system installation is booming here.

http://time.com/5113472/donald-trump-solar-panel-tariff/

“The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected tens of thousands of job losses in a sector that employed 260,000. The tariffs are just the latest action Trump has taken that undermine the economics of renewable energy.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/01/22/trump-imposes-tariffs-on-solar-panels-and-washing-machines-in-first-major-trade-action/?utm_term=.f12a7cff072b

“It boggles my mind that this president — any president, really — would voluntarily choose to damage one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy,” said Tony Clifford, chief development officer for Standard Solar in Rockville, Maryland. “This decision is misguided and denies the reality that bankrupt foreign companies will be the beneficiaries of an American taxpayer bailout.”

This tariff, which also included imported washing machines, was the first by “tough trader” Trump.   But if manipulating the market and American jobs are the issue, rather than tribalism and trying to harm some Americans to the enjoyment of others, what about imported oil and OPEC?   Manipulating the market to gain market share at high prices is its very mission.

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The New York Labor Force: Is The Donald Chasing People to To NYC?

In mid-2016, looking at Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for that year, I found that after years of rapid growth New York City’s labor force, people working and looking for work, had stopped growing when compared with a year earlier, and in some months had declined.   I wondered if the millennials, faced with low wages (or just freelance gigs), high rents, high taxes and declining services were finally leaving, or not coming to, New York.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/the-millennials-treated-like-serfs-may-have-started-to-flee-new-york-city/

Checking data for other metros, I found that labor force growth had slowed or reversed in other large coastal metro areas with high costs of living, such as Boston and San Francisco, while picking up in other metros that were more affordable.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/the-u-s-labor-force-running-away-from-metros-with-high-costs-of-living/

A year later, American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau was released for 2016, and had similar findings.

https://boston.curbed.com/2017/12/18/16780366/boston-peak-millennial

Boston appears to have hit what some demographers call “peak millennial,” according to an analysis from Time magazine. That analysis looked at the number of millennials—the nation’s youngest cohort of adults—who have exited Boston proper in recent years. Roughly 7,000 exited in 2016, after the city reached a record high of 259,000 millennials calling Boston home in 2015.

Other larger East Coast cities such as New York and Washington are seeing a similar trend and the reason is clear: Housing costs. Millennials get to a certain ripe old age—say, 27—and decide they want space for themselves and a potential family more than they want convenient access to decent avocado toast. While things might change given the effects a federal tax overhaul could have on the Boston housing market, the trend of millennial exodus is expected to continue.

But has it? I downloaded the latest BLS data to find out.

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Proposed: A Federal Department of Science, Statistics, and Public Information

In the wake of 9/11, when about 3,000 civilians were killed on U.S. soil despite $billions spent on defense, a series of failures was revealed.   Various agencies had the information to identify and stop the attack, but failed to cooperate. Despite a huge military posted all over the world, there were only two military airplanes defending the entire East Coast of the United States, only one of which was armed. And the non-military agencies tasked with defending the U.S., such as the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs Agency, and Immigration and Naturalization Service, were distributed among a variety of federal departments, with little emphasis on any of them and no coordination between them. To remedy this 22 agencies were removed from other Departments and integrated into a new Department of Homeland Security.

Today, we face the equivalent of 9/11 in every part of the country every year. Life expectancy is falling, due to the cumulative disadvantage foisted on later born generations by those who came before, an opioid epidemic, and rising suicide. Life expectancy is set to fall for the third consecutive year for the first time in 100 years.

https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21733980-thats-not-really-meant-happen-developed-countries-life-expectancy-america-has

But this crisis has been building for two decades, its scope not understood until a couple of economists, with expertise not in vital statistics but rather in value added taxes, brought it to public attention.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/death-is-the-ultimate-statistic-ii-the-most-important-news-in-ten-years/

The belated realization of what is happening is a failure for this country’s policy wonks and journalists every bit as large as 9/11 was for our intelligence agencies and military. And a similar response is required.

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Generation Greed: They Aren’t Using Those Words, but Some Folks Are Starting to Connect the Dots

After a three-decade party, with some folks getting to party a lot more than others, there is suddenly no way to avoid the reality other than drifting into closed-eyed fantasy. The generations I have identified as Generation Greed, the richest in American history, are leaving the generations to follow are much worse off in many ways. And, in many cases, those at the back end of Generation Greed are facing old age much worse off then they themselves had been, forced by their prior excess consumption, debts and prior lack of savings to downsize a material lifestyle that for many of them had been the whole project of their lives. As I most recently noted in detail in my previous post.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/generation-greeds-last-economic-orgy-federal-reserve-z1-debt-data-for-2016-rising-housing-prices-census-bureau-data-on-worse-off-young-adults-falling-life-expectancy-etc/

The consequence of this realization has not been an increase in empathy or an attempt to change the worst aspects of a collective legacy while there is still time. There is still no willingness to make any personal sacrifices in the present for the collective future. The fact that the non-greedy minority of Generation Greed hasn’t stepped up to face the facts and battle for their own offspring is one final disappointment. The desperate desire of some of its rich to insulate their own children from the consequences of a diminished society — by repealing the estate tax — is the only effective example of concern by today’s seniors with what they will leave behind. Rather, the media they dominate remains filled with demands for scapegoats and rationalizations, and one more round of “what about my needs!” Needs that are somehow supposed to be met by latter born generations that are poorer, and yet are having large economic burdens shifted to them that will diminish their entire future.

But if one uses the right search terms, one can find some examples over the past year of younger generations beginning to resent the country they have inherited, albeit not enough to get off the couch and do something about it.

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Generation Greed’s Last Economic Orgy: Federal Reserve Z1 Debt Data for 2016, Rising Housing Prices, Census Bureau data on Worse Off Young Adults, Falling Life Expectancy, Etc.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” – Margret Thatcher in 1976

The problem with capitalism is that given enough inequality, eventually businesses trying to sell things run out of other people’s money” — Larry Littlefield, 2016

For 35 years, generations of Americans born after 1957 or so have been paid less but sold more, with the difference covered first by more household members in the workforce, then by inadequate requirement savings, and then by soaring public and private debt. The richest and most entitled generations in U.S. history worked hard and were very creative, but they over-consumed what even they were able to produce and expected too many years in retirement with too little in savings, at the expense of the poorer generations that have followed them. With some members of those generations grabbing far more than the others. With too much money in too few hands, the whole world economy has become dependent on Americans spending more than they had. And since America finally started to go broke with millions retiring into poverty, the world economy has faced a global crisis of demand.

When you put all the trends together, as I have below, it adds to a shocking picture that puts every current debate in context. Today’s young adults paid less than Generation Greed was paid at the same age in 1975, and forced by government policy to pay more for housing. Life expectancy falling. Personal and federal debts once again soaring, all the mistakes of the 2000s being repeated. Topping it off, we now have Donald Trump as President. Does this mean that the U.S. is finally prepared to admit, face and tackle its problems? Or does it mean that the most over-privileged and entitled members of the most over-privileged and entitled generations in U.S. history are just grabbing more, in one last economy orgy before the final collapse?

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