Monday, May 9, 2016

Trump Can't Win + Self-Driving Cabs Coming to a City Near You

With Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the duopoly's presumed nominees, the best that we can hope for -- some sort of crash on the way to the coronation -- appears to be unfolding.

Trump is facing a row of very high hurdles. While RNC head Reince Priebus pledged fealty to the billionaire television phenom, GOP speaker of the house Paul Ryan has not. Ryan is the darling of the well-heeled funders of the Republican Party as well as an ideological fountainhead of what stands for conservative orthodoxy today. His refusal to back Trump is a sign that GOP paymasters are unwilling to climb aboard the "Make America Great Again" bandwagon and accept a reworking of Republican orthodoxy. This is very bad for Trump, who cannot or will not self-fund a general election with a $1 billion price tag.

The Bushes refuse to attend the GOP convention in Cleveland, as do the last two Republican nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain. But there will be plenty of protesters. I got to see up close how this anti-Trump mobilization works. One of the big unions, say SEIU, gets a hint that Trump is coming to town. The central labor council is alerted. Resounding statements of resistance are communicated to the local press; members are told when and where to protest; and so on. There will be plenty of this in Cleveland.

To my mind the only question is how badly does Trump lose. Ten points? Probably not by that much. If Obama beat McCain by seven points in the popular vote in 2008, it is hard to imagine the cadaverous Clinton doing any better. On the other hand, if the GOP does split and possibly attempt a third-party campaign in key states, it could be a ten-point margin. How this impacts the Republican down-ticket is anybody's guess at this point.

For the Democrats, Hillary does just fine when she is out of the limelight. Bernie beat her in Indiana last week and he is going to beat in West Virginia tomorrow and in Oregon next week. But Clinton will be able to turn things around in New Jersey and California, concluding the primary season with a show of strength. One would hope that the anti-Hillary protests in Philadelphia will be as large as the anti-Trump rallies in Cleveland, but I doubt this will be the case.

So Hillary triumphs against Trump. The bigger issue though is the world around us. The neoliberal paradigm that has dominated the social sphere the last 40 years is falling apart. The main effort to keep it intact is a reboot of the Cold War. Both Russia and China are being engaged.

The New Cold War proceeds absent any public approval, as do combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq (countries where the U.S. is officially not in combat).

Perpetual war conducted in silence.

The biggest story I read over the weekend though was not about Trump or Afghanistan; it was about a driverless cab service premiering as soon as next year in an unnamed U.S. city. According to Neal Boudette and Mike Isaac in "Head of Fiat Chrysler Sees Self-Driving Cars in Five Years, Not 20":
General Motors and Lyft, the ride-hailing start-up valued at $4.5 billion, intend to test a fleet of self-driving taxis in an American city as soon as within a year, according to a person who has been briefed on the two companies’ plans. That would most likely begin using the technology inside the battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about unannounced initiatives. 
G.M. and Lyft formed a partnership in January and said they planned to introduce “an on-demand autonomous network” of self-driving vehicles. A spokesman from G.M. and a Lyft spokeswoman declined to offer additional details about their plans. 
News of the taxi tests was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.
I have heard that more American workers are employed in driving-related jobs than any other type of work. Can you see the way forward for a zombie neoliberalism? Cold wars with China and Russia and robots doing the work at home. Doesn't seem too stable to me.


  1. There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. And that is only the beginning of the jobs that will evaporate. Even non-driving jobs in the insurance industry, medical industry, car repair, gas stations, litigation, safety -- so much will disappear. And what will be the consequences of millions of people out of work and unable to pay their debts? This will be a far greater change in our lives than the Internet ever was.

  2. Trump may not be able to win, but Clinton can lose. There is a scandal around the mayor of Flint that may go back to H. Clinton. I saw a report that a whistleblower who was fired for asking someone to investigate a fund set up for the people of Flint that the mayor supposedly has been using for her reelection.

    I don't know how many funds were set up to help the people of Flint. But right before the primary in Michigan Penny Pritzker, billionaire and friend of Hillary, set up a half million dollar fund for the people of Flint with Chelsea and the mayor in charge of it right before the mayor endorsed Hillary. I don't know if it's the same fund or a different fund. Something to keep an eye on.

    1. All I can say, Bob, is I hope so. I am also hoping for Bernie to pull off a Michigan-type upset of Hillary in Cali so that she drags her corpse into Philly in a slurry of fresh doubts. Maybe a bombshell or two will go off between now and July. If not buying the Flint mayor's endorsement, maybe revelations about dark Qatari millions flooding her campaign.

  3. I agree, J.O. I think a great culling is coming. Last month or the month before there was discussion in the business page about the UBI -- universal basic income. Now that the robots are coming there is no need for humanity in all its billions. To think that there is anywhere near the political means to implement a UBI is delusional. There will be the implementation of a Thai/Egyptian-style police state and Greek austerity in every major state before that happens.

  4. When there are too many people, the ruling class tends to figure out how to get rid of the excess humanity. Conventional war doesn't work anymore to cull the excess. Any time a new disease starts spreading around the third world I get an uneasy feeling.