On this Labor Day, give yourself a sense of the perilous times we are in by scanning the weekly Popular Resistance newsletter put together by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. What jumped out at me is "The Future of Work" section:
The Future of Work
There are some major trends that indicate we are in the midst of a radical transformation of what work means and how people will have income.
The most significant trend involves robotics, artificial intelligence and software that will do most current jobs. The research firm Gartner predicts that “one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025.” Oxford University researchers estimate that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated by 2033. Already the official unemployment rate hides the fact only 63% of working-age adults are actually working.
These changes are happening alongside the demise of unions and worker power; as well as globalization resulting in lost jobs and a race to the bottom of low paid workers. Workers are already in politically and economically weak positions to survive the onslaught of robots.
It is time for these issues to rise to the top. The transformation of jobs and what to do about them is not even discussed in the 2016 elections, other than reforms like raising poverty wages. A broader discussion is needed.The authors go on to advocate for a universal basic income and worker cooperatives.
One thing is for sure, the economy is not working for most people. Official unemployment is down to 5.1 percent, what many mainstream economists believe to be the "natural" rate of unemployment, but wages are still broadly stagnant. This fact is succinctly explained in Doug Smith's "Labor Day? Let's Tell the Truth and Call It 'Assets Day' ": "Take heart. Through your self-denial, executives, owners, and shareholders have grabbed all the productivity gains of the past quarter century for themselves."
Krugman's Labor Day column, "Trump Is Right on Economics," addresses the root of Trump's popularity: He is the only Republican addressing this issue of the systemic lack of work in the globalized neoliberal economy:
And here’s what’s interesting: all indications are that Mr. Bush’s attacks on Mr. Trump are falling flat, because the Republican base doesn’t actually share the Republican establishment’s economic delusions.
The thing is, we didn’t really know that until Mr. Trump came along. The influence of big-money donors meant that nobody could make a serious play for the G.O.P. nomination without pledging allegiance to supply-side doctrine, and this allowed the establishment to imagine that ordinary voters shared its antipopulist creed. Indeed, Mr. Bush’s hapless attempt at a takedown suggests that his political team still doesn’t get it, and thinks that pointing out The Donald’s heresies will be enough to doom his campaign.
But Mr. Trump, who is self-financing, didn’t need to genuflect to the big money, and it turns out that the base doesn’t mind his heresies. This is a real revelation, which may have a lasting impact on our politics.
Again, I’m not making a case for Mr. Trump. There are lots of other politicians out there who also refuse to buy into right-wing economic nonsense, but who do so without proposing to scour the countryside in search of immigrants to deport, or to rip up our international economic agreements and start a trade war. The point, however, is that none of these reasonable politicians is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.Like Trump, Bernie Sanders is also bringing the neoliberal temple down, except for the Democratic half of the duopoly. Sanders only gets a fraction of the media attention though; nonetheless, at this point, the Clinton camp has basically acknowledged that it is going to lose Iowa and New Hampshire. That was the point of yesterday's "Hillary Clinton Relying on Southern Primaries to Fend Off Rivals," by Patrick Healy and Amy Chozick:
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign is methodically building a political firewall across the South in hopes of effectively locking up the Democratic nomination in March regardless of any early setbacks in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
Mrs. Clinton’s advisers, struck by the strength of Senator Bernie Sanders in those two states, have been assuring worried supporters that victories and superdelegate support in Southern states will help make her the inevitable nominee faster than many Democrats expect. They point to her popularity with black and Hispanic voters, as well as her policy stances and the relationships that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have cultivated. Mrs. Clinton was similarly confident at this point eight years ago, before Barack Obama and his superior organizers began piling up delegates, including in many Southern states.
In interviews, advisers said the campaign was increasingly devoting staff members and money to win the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 while laying the groundwork to sweep Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia on March 1. Those Super Tuesday states are highlighted in red on maps in the offices of Mrs. Clinton’s senior aides in Brooklyn.
The eight primaries will deliver several hundred delegates for Mrs. Clinton, advisers believe, toward the goal of more than 2,200 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. The campaign is barraging superdelegates in the South with requests for support — sometimes even jumping the gun by sending pledge forms prematurely — in hopes of adding scores of these party leaders who can bring their votes to the Clinton column at the Democratic National Convention.
The Southern firewall also includes Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina, which vote through mid-March. If Mrs. Clinton wins big in the Michigan and Ohio primaries that month, her advisers and supporters believe, the nomination will essentially be hers (though crossing the total delegate threshold takes time).In order to sew up the nomination, Hillary is relying on votes in states Democrats have slim chance of winning in 2016, votes based on ignorance of Bernie Sanders' positions vis-a-vis Clinton's. This is her "Southern Strategy." If it is to pay off and she is to win the nomination, it will almost certainly be a Pyrrhic victory. Winning a nomination based on the ignorance of voters who reside in states most of which will not be in play for Dems next year is a prescription for disaster. How can Hillary juice turnout and return the Obama coalition to the polls if she is relying on public ignorance and superdelegates to push her across the finish line?
As for the Biden, after reading the coverage of his jaunt to Florida and Georgia, it is clear to me he is not going to run. Seventy-two is 72 and not an age that allows for a late-entry, come-from-behind win of a presidential nomination. Biden exists as a decoy to keep rank-and-file Democrats from giving Bernie a look and thereby to keep as many Dem voters on the Clinton reservation as possible. Clinton's support is fast disappearing. To slow things down the Democrat power elite have introduced a Biden mirage.