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Friday, December 9, 2016


Dear political friends,

The new president-elect is slowly filling his cabinet with billionaires, neo-Nazis, fundamentalist voucher advocates, narcoleptic ex-surgeons, climate and science deniers, a professional wrestling mogul, and a quantity of generals large enough to trigger flashbacks of Argentina and Turkey.

Trump has just "solved" the Carrier Air Conditioning problem with a tax giveaway. The press hasn't focused much on his many conflicts of interest, but the Tweet-addicted fast-food aficionado will remain Executive Producer of "The Apprentice."

God help us if there is ever a national emergency while he is groping one of the apprentices.

Speaking of fast-food: Trump's newly-nominated Secretary of Labor is the CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardees, which should give the Orange One's loyal supporters proof that America will be Great again. Great Americans will be doing plenty of great burger flipping these next four years.

In the coming political winter, Democrats and those of us slightly Leftier need to coalesce around a Democratic Opposition with some teeth. The Democratic Party has decided to retain Charles Schumer in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi in the House. Not inspiring -- but the DNC Chair is up for grabs. This is a ray of hope.
Keith Ellison, a Muslim and Black American, is currently the most active candidate for the job, and he has been endorsed by Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Tammy Duckworth, a fair number of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and -- today -- by the AFL-CIO, which respects the work Ellison has done in Minnesota. However, Ellison has a target on his back from both Republicans and AIPAC Democrats and every bigot in America.

So the Democratic Party has a decision to make -- go forward with a more progressive platform. Or double-down on the fuzzy grab-bag of centrist and neoliberal policies that got it in the jam it presently finds itself.
Ellison is an indisputable friend of the poor and of the working-class -- precisely the group that expressed its discontent with the Democratic Party last month. Ellison can give the party the focus it needs, can uniquely unite traditional Democrats and Progressives inside and outside the party -- and I hope you will give him your support and financial assistance.

David Ehrens


Danny said...

Professor Wolff, I think you complained that there were no comments to this thread. First!! Yet I doubt you will ever complain that you don't see enough comments from me, because they are too many, and because they are versions of 'I'm quite impatient with Marxism, I don't even have a fancy Harvard education'..but let's proceed anyways.

I'd like to narrow the focus of the notion of 'being progressive'. I sense, little appetite to substantively revise stances on issues like abortion, gay rights, gun control and immigration. However divisive such stuff may be. But what interests me, is a sort of overarching theme of economic fairness, or somesuch. Bread-and-butter priorities. A sparer agenda.

Yet even here, there are distinctions.

Are we talking about protecting Medicare and Social Security? Blocking legislation that might restrict access to health care? Fine, but what interests me is the notion of attacking income equality, like it's practically the same thing as attacking political corruption. In that, everybody is of course against political corruption. But income inequality is the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner among a population. It is the gap between the rich and everyone else.

The question in my mind, is whether it is also Wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, the great economic issue of our time, and the great political issue of our time. I might agree that there is perhaps no issue in America more contentious, and I might, I think, agree that the United States stands out for having an especially high and rising inequality of income. I don't think I agree at all, about the main factors at play here. I'm thinking of the notion that we need to work on union bargaining power, and on the government benefits recieved by working-class families, and on the political role of the working class. What I think, is that global trade has exposed the wages of industrial workers to tough international competition from workers at much lower pay scales. That's not politics, that's trade, and it is a main factor at play, and similarly, I think of technology, etc.

I'd better go ahead and explain that I think technological innovations have raised the demand for highly trained workers. Of course, and one may call this 'hugely beneficial', ingenious machines have been invented to replace heavy physical labor, throughout modern history. I'm picturing sympathy for the working man, the hard toil, the drudgery, the dangers, and diseases, the heavy farm work, the mining, the heavy industry. And guess what, your problems are now solved, you are *unemployed*. There are office jobs, but not for you, because they require more skills. And the machines are getting smarter and better, faster. And who lost?

This strikes me as an issue.

Danny said...

In 1970, 14 percent of men held four-year college degrees. So over time, we took hundreds of thousands of people out of the pool of those who might want a gas station attendant job and pushed them up, toward the professional job market, adding a lot of value to society and their wallets. A generation of gas station attendants got smoked. Technology has mostly hurt the less educated, but it has also helped the more educated. The Industrial Revolution was a wave of automation. And we're way better off in almost every way. Automation helps overall standards of living rise, literacy rates improve, average life span lengthen, crime rates fall. What is the most common job in the world? Truck driver. 3.5 million of them in the U.S. In maybe 15 years, 'truck driver' will be an anachronism. Uber recently paid $680 to buy a startup working on auto-drive trucks and founded by former Google AI specialists. I wonder if it is wrong of me to say these things. I feel like I come across like the anti-Marxist that I am, but these are facts, right?

I do do 'Ellison', and this idea to pick a highly vocal and controversial black, Muslim congressman. Stipulated, that he is the on-the-ball tenacious champion of progressive causes you know him to be. And I am not, myself, interested in the tedious work and routine of executive-level management. Nor am I polished for fundraising. I'll leave it at that.