The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 8, 2019

This post is by Tony Wikrent

You read it here first

The Green New Deal has forced into public discourse the fact that solving the crisis of climate change is going to require trillions of dollars of new investment. A recent example: 

Ocasio-Cortez: $10 trillion needed for effective climate plan
[The Hill, via Naked Capitalism 6-6-19]

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that any plan to sufficiently address the climate crisis will need to cost at least $10 trillion.

“I think we really need to get to $10 trillion to have a shot,” the progressive firebrand said in response to a question from The Hill in the Capitol.

“I know it’s a ton,” she added. “I don’t think anyone wants to spend that amount of money, it’s not a fun number to say, I’m not excited to say we need to spend $10 trillion on climate, but … it’s just the fact of the scenario.”

If you had been reading Real Economics, in December 2014:
Dear Dems: Give me $100 trillion and I’ll save your sorry ass

“$100 trillion to build a new economy” will be another test, but one that we need to impose over the coming two years. It can completely transform what issues are defined, and how, for the 2016 election. We need to get general public awareness of the need for “$100 trillion to build a new economy” – and how doable it actually is. Once we do that, it will be a relatively simple matter to determine if someone is serious about solving the problems we face. The next time we meet someone who is a leader in the Democratic Party, mention the fact that we need “$100 trillion to build a new economy” and watch carefully how they react. If they are hopeless neo-liberal water carriers for our would-be corporatist overlords, they will recoil in horror, or try to argue that such a huge amount is simply preposterous. Anyone who is stuck talking about programs of a few billion, or even a few hundred billion dollars, is simply completely uninformed about the problems we face – or just not willing to face reality – because reality is that we can no longer afford to let Wall Street play funny money games. We must figure out how to impose new laws and regulations that force banking and finance to serve the general welfare, not just private gain.

And about Trump and USA politics: if you had been reading this blog, Real Economics, in June 2014:
The best of times. The worst of times.

….what is needed to survive, we have already at hand. We have the science, and we have the technology. What we do not have is the political will to create crash programs to apply that science and technology, because that would require crushing our present rulers and leaders. Indeed, one half the formal political system in the USA has devoted itself to opposing science. And much of the other half has devoted itself to opposing technology.

But what we lack most of all, is VISION. We do not have a coherent, plausible, positive vision. And without vision, the people will perish – another hard-learned lesson of human history the world’s major religions warn us about.

The 2008 Obama campaign showed us how powerful a vision of hope can be, no matter how much of a charade it might be. What do you think would be the electoral results if Democratic candidates starting telling people we are actually on the verge of a massive new economic boom? Because there is $100 trillion of work we need to do to solve the problem of climate change. This new boom will last for decades, just like the boom unleashed after World War 2 by meeting pent-up consumer demand and rebuilding Europe and Japan. I believe, in a few years or decades, the harshest and most important historical judgement of President Obama will be that he took office at a point where he could have led the nation and the world into a new golden age of capitalism, but instead chose to defend the status quo, and as a result the populist upsurge against the status quo veered right instead of left. (Bolding not in original 2014 posting.)

Strategic Political Economy

Corn That Won’t Get Planted This Year Could Shatter All U.S. Records
Michael Hirtzer , Isis Almeida , and Dominic Carey, May 30, 2019 [Bloomberg]

Rabobank is predicting an unprecedented number of unplanted acres of corn, the most widely grown American crop. A Bloomberg survey of 10 traders and analysts indicates growers could file insurance claims for about 6 million corn acres they haven’t been able to sow, almost double the record in 2013.

Intense Rainfall Is As Damaging to Crops As Heatwaves and Drought, and Climate Change Is Making It Worse

[Yale Environment360, via Naked Capitalism 6-5-19]

It is fundraising time. I hope to be able to keep writing at a fair pace (an article almost every day.) To justify doing so, I need to see that people care enough to give. If you do, Please Donate.


Warren’s Astonishing Plan for Economic Patriotism
The Massachusetts senator presents by far the most serious proposal to bolster American industry.
Robert Kuttner, June 4, 2019 [American Prospect, via Naked Capitalism 6-5-19]

Warren’s proposal does nothing less than turn inside out the globalist assumptions pursued by the past several administrations, Democrat and Republican alike. Where they have pursued more globalization of commerce as an end in itself (and as a profit center for U.S.-based multinational corporations and banks), Warren’s goal is to bring production and good jobs home.

Even better, she knits it all together with a coherent plan, beginning with a new Department of Economic Development “with the sole responsibility to create and defend quality, sustainable American jobs.”

The new Department will replace the Commerce Department, subsume other agencies like the Small Business Administration and the Patent and Trademark Office, and include research and development programs, worker training programs, and export and trade authorities like the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The new Department will have a single goal: creating and defending good American jobs.

Globalization didn’t just happen, Warren points out.
“America chose to pursue a trade policy that prioritized the interests of capital over the interests of American workers. Germany, for example, chose a different path and participated in international trade while at the same time robustly—and successfully—supporting its domestic industries and its workers.”

By contrast:
Biden girds for clash with Trump over China
Politico, via Naked Capitalism 6-6-19]

Donald Trump’s campaign is itching to take on Joe Biden over his pro-free trade past and his comments downplaying the China threat — an issue Republicans see as especially potent in critical Rust Belt states where Trump is struggling and the former vice president has strength…. [Biden:] “Our workers are literally three times as productive as workers … in Asia. So what are we worried about?”

A Cross-Atlantic Plan to Break Capital’s Control


America: A Christian Nation


Why the Economy Is Bad for Most People and How to Make It Better


  1. Mel

    AOC’s GND:
    If it were me I would try to say “It’s a huge amount to spend, I know, but we’re going to spend it on you.” Assuming that it will get spent on/with Americans.

  2. Hugh

    In most markets, cable is a monopoly. But rather than acting as a community service provider, the cable companies are targeting upscale zip codes and letting their upkeep everywhere else slide. They don’t keep up their lines and equipment to most areas. This results in weak and dropped signals. People complain. The cable companies don’t care. People leave. It just gives them even more reason not to bother with basic maintenance. They can not go under fast enough as far as I am concerned. It is another example that competition is just a buzz word to justify treating workers badly. Competition is never meant to apply to corporations themselves.

    I think it is a stupid misuse of language to call Trump honest. There is so much such misuse of language in our political discourse. Why add more? I agree he is in your face. He’s such a steaming pile of shit that he debases anything and anyone he comes in contact with. He has managed to show that the Republicans are not a bunch of tough law and order types but a group of whimpering political whores. He has shown that other groups from the Democrats to the evangelicals wouldn’t know a principle if it kicked them in the ass.

    Re desperation, it bears repeating many Americans in the lower 80% of the population never left the recession that began in December 2007. And the unemployment rate is a meaningless statistic. He does not measure unemployment. It measures job seeking.

  3. Jeff Wegerson

    I’ll see your $10 trillion and raise you $90 trillion.

    I love this as a “litmus” test. It tests both the seriousness of pursuing a so-called Green New Deal and an understanding of money and how it works.

    Of course there’s no way to know ahead of time the “real” number or even the order of magnitude. But it doesn’t matter. You lead until it bleeds, bleeding being inflation in the wrong places. Then you deal with that and appropriate/spend some more.

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