I Live in a ‘Shithole Country.’ It’s Called the United States.

Indifference to poverty

(Photo: ptrabattoni/Pixabay)

It takes a level of pomposity inconceivable to most of us to describe another country as a “shithole.”

It’s unfortunately just one more of the obnoxious, racist, and altogether absurd statements we’ve come to expect from President Donald Trump. If the president were to venture beyond the manicured lawns of Mar-a-Lago or the White House, he might see that the U.S. is not exactly in a position to judge, much less denigrate, our global neighbors.

In case you missed it, here’s what Trump reportedly said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He was referencing Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and apparently most of Africa. He went on to ask why more people from Norway (a nearly all white country) weren’t coming to the U.S.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post. It’s been confirmed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who heard the words firsthand.

Trump and his defenders completely ignore the direct and disgraceful role America has played in making life worse in the countries he cited. Among many other things, we’ve backed right-wing death squads in El Salvador, supported cruel dictators in Haiti, and trapped poor countries the world over in debt through International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans with tight strings attached.

I’ll leave it to foreign relations scholars to parse the rest. What I’m concerned about is Trump’s complete lack of concern over the “shit-holiness” of the country he leads.

Gandhi taught us that a country’s greatness is measured not by its richest, but by how it treats its most vulnerable members. By this measure, the U.S. is a certified shithole.

Read the rest at Fortune.com

The post I Live in a ‘Shithole Country.’ It’s Called the United States. appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


It’s the Best of Times for Billionaires, The Worst for Everyone Else


(Hans Splinter / Flickr)

Charles Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities, perhaps his most famous tome, with the now iconic line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The book is set in London and Paris during the late 1700s, the lead up to the French Revolution.

While revolution appears unlikely in the near term, we can draw some lessons from this tumultuous era to understand the growing economic divide in the United States today.

The ultra-wealthy are doing phenomenally well. The Forbes 400 own a combined $ 2.68 trillion in wealth. If you could lay all their money in dollar bills down to create a dollar-bill carpet, it would cover the entire state of Massachusetts.

This concentrated wealth at the top continues to skyrocket. Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, saw his wealth jump by $ 10 billion in October alone, making him the richest person in the country. In other words, one person’s wealth jumped by nearly $ 4 million per second last month.

And if that kind of obscene profiteering wasn’t enough, the president is offering a gigantic handout to the already uber-wealthy in the form of his tax plan.

For Jeff and his billionaire peers, it’s the best of times.

Things aren’t so good for everyone else. The United States remains the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee health care to all its citizens. We’re among the only countries in the world with an expanding work week, meaning we spend more time toiling and less time on things like parenting, playing, or sleeping.

We’re also witnessing the rise of what Nobel Prize winning economist Angus Deaton calls “deaths of despair.” Opioid overdoses and suicides are both on the rise.

Many Americans are coming to terms with the fact that millennials are likely to be the first generation in American history who won’t do better financially than their parents. One in five families is underwater, meaning they owe as much or more than they own.

A gripping stagnation is taking many forms throughout the country, leaving millions of families unable to get ahead of their problems. Rising student debt, declining workforce participation, and a minimum wage way below the basic cost of living are all factors.

For folks at the bottom, it’s the worst of times.

There’s a couple different ways this could play out.

Stagnation for the masses could become the status quo. In this scenario, an ever increasing portion of the population toils for an ever decreasing portion of the nation’s economic resources. Wealth funnels upward.

This is essentially the scenario Dickens depicts in 18th century France. If you remember anything about this era from your history classes, you probably remember what came next — the guillotine.

Fortunately, redistributing our nation’s resources doesn’t have to be violent or even unpleasant. It looks like increasing opportunities for everyone, supported by a strong social safety net. It’s funded by those who’ve benefited the most from the nation’s basic economic, political, and social structure contributing their resources and their support to this effort.

There’s no natural order dividing the ultra-wealthy from a nation of strivers. These conditions have been socially created by a system of rules and norms. Changing these norms won’t be easy, but they will change one way or another.

I, for one, hope we choose the compassionate route and save ourselves the bloodshed.

The post It’s the Best of Times for Billionaires, The Worst for Everyone Else appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.


It’s Not Too Late to Reverse the Road to Zero Wealth for Households of Color

What would U.S. society be like if a majority of families had no wealth – no savings, no home equity, no investments of any kind?

That is exactly where the country is headed if we continue on our current path toward economic dystopia for black and Latino families.

While we celebrate a modest reduction in poverty rates and an encouraging uptick in median income, as disclosed in this week’s Census report, the stagnation and decline of wealth remains a troubling indicator.

Between 1983 and 2013, median black household wealth decreased by 75%  to $ 1,700 and Latino household wealth fell 50% to $ 2,000. At the same time, median white household wealth rose 14% to $ 116,800.

If this trend continues, an African American born in 2013 will see her household wealth hit zero by the time she turns 40. Her Latino peers will suffer the same fate 20 years later.

This is happening as households of color make up a growing share of the population and are projected to reach majority status by 2043. If the accelerating racial wealth divide isn’t halted, a majority of U.S. households will no longer have enough wealth to stake a claim in the middle class. The consequences for the economy and society as a whole will be devastating as racial and political polarization deepens and intensifies.

A combination of bold societal and policy changes is the only way out of this crisis.

We have a choice to make. Do we want to become a country like Brazil where staggering wealth inequality is the norm? Or do we want to be more like Canada, where there is far less inequality and greater opportunities for all?

Read the full article on USA Today.


It’s Lonely Being a Person of Color in the Sustainable Energy Sector


(Photo: Shutterstock)

Back in November, I started my job at a small progressive advocacy group in Maryland. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a lot in common with the other new hire, who started on the same day. Not the least of which was that we were the only people of color in the office, effectively increasing the office population of folks like us from 0 to, well, 2.

My job is to coordinate a campaign for an affordable, socially just and environmentally responsible transition to clean energy in Maryland. So I meet frequently with the leaders of groups that work on climate action, clean energy, public health, green jobs and social justice. I admit that I’m still learning the ropes, but it surprises me — and increasingly worries me — that the majority of the leaders I meet are white.

I’ve been comforted to find that I’m not the only one who noticed. A group called Green2.0 first called attention to this phenomenon in 2013 with the release of their seminal survey-based report, “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations.” The results revealed an overwhelmingly white “Green Insiders’ Club,” where racial diversity among staff hadn’t broken 16 percent — the so-called “green ceiling.”

Results were no better at the leadership level. Green 2.0’s April 2017 diversity scorecard likewise showed that, among the top 40 environmental NGOs, people of color represented only 14 percent of senior staff. Despite their socially progressive reputations, these groups clearly need to do a better job of putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to diversity.

A similar phenomenon is happening on the industry side. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a directly comparable investigation into diversity in the clean energy industry, but several industry leaders have highlighted the reality.

Read the full article in the Baltimore Sun.


It’s a Myth That Corporate Tax Cuts Mean More Jobs


Photo: Shutterstock

“The arithmetic for us is simple,” AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said on CNBC in May. If Congress were to cut the 35 percent tax on corporate profits to 20 percent, he declared, “I know exactly what AT&T would do — we’d invest more” in the United States.

Every $ 1 billion in tax savings would create 7,000 well-paying jobs, Mr. Stephenson went on to say. The correlation between lower corporate taxes and more jobs, he assured viewers, runs “very, very tight.”

As Congress prepares to take up tax legislation this fall, including an effort to reduce the corporate tax rate, this bold jobs claim merits examination. Notably, it comes from the chief executive of a company that’s already paying comparatively little in federal taxes.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, AT&T enjoyed an effective tax rate of just 8 percent between 2008 and 2015, despite recording a profit in the United States each year, by exploiting tax breaks and loopholes. (The company argues that it pays significant taxes, at a rate close to 34 percent in recent years, but that includes deferred taxes and state and local levies.)

Read the full article on the New York Times’ website.


Trump’s Worst Collusion Isn’t With Russia — It’s With Corporations


(Photo: Flickr / Glenn Halog)

I’ve always been a little skeptical that there’d be a smoking gun about the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia. The latest news about Donald Trump, Jr., however, is tantalizingly close.

The short version of the story, revealed by emails the New York Times obtained, is that the president’s eldest son was offered “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” and “would be very useful to your father.”

More to the point, the younger Trump was explicitly told this was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Donald, Jr.’s reply? “I love it.”

Trump Jr. didn’t just host that meeting at Trump Tower. He also brought along campaign manager Paul Manafort and top Trump confidante (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner.

We still don’t have evidence they coordinated with Russian efforts to release Clinton campaign emails, spread “fake news,” or hack state voting systems. But at the very least, the top members of Trump’s inner circle turned up to get intelligence they knew was part of a foreign effort to meddle in the election.

Some in Washington are convinced they’ve heard enough already, with Virginia senator (and failed VP candidate) Tim Kaine calling the meeting “treason.”

Perhaps. But it’s worth asking: Who’s done the real harm here? Some argue it’s not the Russians after all.

“The effects of the crime are undetectable,” the legendary social critic Noam Chomsky says of the alleged Russian meddling, “unlike the massive effects of interference by corporate power and private wealth.”

That’s worth dwelling on.

Many leading liberals suspect, now with a little more evidence, that Trump worked with Russia to win his election. But we’ve long known that huge corporations and wealthy individuals threw their weight behind the billionaire.

That gambit’s paying off far more handsomely for them — and more destructively for the rest of us — than any scheme by Putin.

The evidence is hiding in plain sight.

The top priority in Congress right now is to move a health bill that would gut Medicaid and throw at least 22 million Americans off their insurance — while loosening regulations on insurance companies and cutting taxes on the wealthiest by over $ 346 billion.

As few as 12 percent of Americans support that bill, but the allegiance of its supporters isn’t to voters — it’s plainly to the wealthy donors who’d get those tax cuts.

Meanwhile, majorities of Americans in every single congressional district support efforts to curb local pollution, limit carbon emissions, and transition to wind and solar. And majorities in every single state back the Paris climate agreement.

Yet even as scientists warn large parts of the planet could soon become uninhabitable, the fossil fuel-backed Trump administration has put a climate denier in charge of the EPA, pulled the U.S. out of Paris, and signed legislation to let coal companies dump toxic ash in local waterways.

Meanwhile, as the administration escalates the unpopular Afghan war once again, Kushner invited billionaire military contractors — including Blackwater founder Erik Prince — to advise on policy there.

Elsewhere, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and other architects of the housing crash are advising Trump on financial deregulation, while student debt profiteers set policy at the Department of Education.

Chomsky complains that this sort of collusion is often “not considered a crime but the normal workings of democracy.” While Trump has taken it to new heights, it’s certainly a bipartisan problem.

If Trump’s people did work with Russia to undermine our vote, they should absolutely be held accountable. But the politicians leading the charge don’t have a snowball’s chance of redeeming our democracy unless they’re willing to take on the corporate conspirators much closer to home.


It’s Time for Trump to Do Something About High CEO Pay


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The House is expected to vote Thursday on a Wall Street deregulation plan that would roll back several Obama-era CEO pay reforms, including a ban on banker bonuses that encourage excessive risk, and a new regulation that requires publicly held corporations to report the ratio between their CEO and median worker pay. But instead of rolling back modest pay reforms already on the books, lawmakers should be pushing for bolder solutions, such as using tax and government contracting policies that reward firms with reasonable CEO pay levels.

While President Donald Trump bashed high CEO pay on the campaign trail, since taking office, he hasn’t raised the slightest concern about his fellow Republicans’ crusade to repeal Obama-era executive compensation reforms.

If Trump truly wants to “make America great again,” one of his primary goals should be to restore CEO pay to the more rational levels of decades past. In 1980, the gap between average pay for the heads of large U.S. corporations and typical workers ran about 42 to 1. Today, this pay ratio stands at 347 to 1.

These extreme disparities are not only unfair, but they’re bad for business.

Company culture
The mega-millions that flow directly into executives’ pockets every year are just a small fraction of the total cost to American companies. But the effects on employee morale carry a much higher price. When the boss makes 347 times more than you, it’s difficult to swallow the canard that “there is no ‘I’ in team.” A 2016 Glassdoor survey of 1.2 million people bears this out statistically, finding a strong correlation between high CEO pay and low employee approval ratings for their bosses.

A Brookings Institution analysis reached a similar conclusion, finding that “large differences in status” within companies can inhibit participation. And in a study published in Administrative Science Quarterly, four researchers agreed that “extreme wage differentials between workers and management discourage trust and prevent employees from seeing themselves as stakeholders.”

Read the full article on Fortune’s website. 


After the Chemical Attack, It’s Time to Get Rid of the ‘Muslim Ban’

(Photo: Flickr / Jordi Bernabeu Farrús)

When I saw footage of the alleged sarin gas attack in Syria, I felt ill.

The whole episode, which killed up to 100 civilians in Syria’s Idlib province, was ghastly. But worst of all was the kids — glassy-eyed, discolored, and limp as their little bodies were carried away.

Donald Trump apparently felt the same way.

“That attack on children had a big impact on me,” he told reporters, condemning the Syrian regime’s “heinous” targeting of “innocent people” and “even beautiful little babies.” Then he fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian air base supposedly used to launch the chemical attack.

Even some of Trump’s critics applauded that move. But it was a huge flip-flop.

The Obama administration faced a similar crisis in 2013, following a much deadlier chemical attack on a Damascus suburb. Back then, Trump was unambiguously against intervening. “DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA,” the billionaire tweeted in all caps. “VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN!”

An informed change of perspective is a good thing — but only if it’s informed. Though it might’ve felt good to see the Syrian regime pay a price for its crimes, there’s no way a strike like this can ease civilian suffering.

For one thing, it was a pinprick. Within days, Syrian planes were taking off from the same base and bombing the very same town. But escalating the war risks provoking a devastating conflict with Russia or Iran, Syrian allies who could step up their support in response.

Even if that war succeeded in ousting the regime, the country would only plunge deeper into chaos — just as Iraq and Libya did after we ran their similarly horrible governments out. Islamist extremists would be well positioned to fill the void in Syria, too: Al Qaeda-linked forces currently hold Idlib, while ISIS controls much of the east.

Either way, it’s innocent people who pay the price. Just ask the families of the 1,700 civilians reportedly killed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria last month alone. Many of those were children, too.

Airstrikes, in short, are a recipe for humanitarian catastrophe. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing the U.S. can do to help suffering Syrians. It’s just going to require another big flip-flop.

For starters, Trump should give up on his “Muslim ban.” Both versions of that order, now held up in the courts, would have indefinitely banned all migration from Syria — and suspended refugee resettlement from everywhere.

Trump’s said that’s necessary because Syrian refugees are “pouring in” and we don’t know “who they are.” But the U.S. admitted just 18,000 Syrians from 2011 to 2016, all after years of vetting. (Syria’s tiny neighbor Lebanon, with a population less than metro DC, has taken over 1 million.)

During the campaign, it never bothered Trump that children might be affected by his anti-refugee policies. “I can look at their face and say you can’t come here,” he said about Syrian kids in February 2016. “They may be ISIS.”

That’s chilling. I hope Trump now understands there’s a direct line from that policy to the “beautiful little babies” murdered in Idlib.

Another welcome about-face would be to ramp up relief for those Syrians who remain. Trump’s “skinny budget” proposal nearly zeroes out humanitarian aid, but food and medicine are much cheaper than Tomahawk missiles, which run $ 1.4 million apiece. And they’ll save a lot more suffering Syrian kids.

Getting more deeply involved in Syria’s war is a grievous mistake. The silver lining is that it proves Trump can change his mind. Now that he cares about the fate of Syrian children, I hope he’ll open up our country — not bomb theirs.


Steven Bannon’s Real Vision Isn’t America First. It’s America Alone.


(Photo: Der Spiegel)

Donald Trump is holding up the severed head of the Statue of Liberty.

It’s a striking image for a magazine cover. But it’s not the front of the Nation or the ACLU newsletter. It’s this week’s issue of Der Spiegel, Germany’s version of Time Magazine. To punctuate the point, one of Spiegel’s articles declares Donald Trump “the world’s most dangerous man.”

Der Spiegel is channeling a widespread European sentiment. It took only a couple weeks for the Trump administration to make transatlantic relations so toxic that Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, felt the need to slap an orange alert on the orange-haired president. The new administration has seemingly “put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy,” Tusk wrote in a letter read round the world. In his urgent missive, Tusk identifies the United States as an external threat to Europe comparable to Russia or the Islamic State.

Because Brussels can no longer depend on Washington, Tusk’s letter amounts to an EU declaration of independence. What’s next? German activists dumping Snapple iced tea into the Rhone?

I can feel Tusk’s pain. The European Union faces a serious existential crisis, and Trump has made matters worse by supporting the EU’s dissolution. But this is just one of the fronts in America v. World.

The Trump administration has alienated seven Muslim-majority countries by attempting to ban their residents from entering the United States. One of those countries, Iran, is the subject of escalating rhetoric from National Security Advisor Michael Flynn — he “officially put Iran on notice” on Friday — which threatens not only the nuclear agreement but raises the potential of war.

China has been “on notice” ever since Rex Tillerson, in his confirmation hearing for secretary of state, suggested that the United States would stop Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea. North Korea has been warned not to test an ICBM. The Islamic State is presumably bracing to be bombed out of existence.

Trump himself has blasted Australia for its refugee policy, Japan for its currency manipulation, Germany for the temerity of acting like a sovereign country, and Mexico for the misfortune of bordering the United States. Some presidents pride themselves on visiting as many nations in the world as possible. Donald Trump, the Don Rickles of American presidents, prides himself on insulting as many nations as he can — late at night and with fewer than 140 characters. So sad!

There are several pariah states in the world. The head of Sudan is a mass murderer. No UN member states recognize the independence of Transnistria, a Russian puppet state that seceded from Moldova. North Korea is effectively frozen out of the international economy.

But these are small countries. What does it mean for international relations when the most powerful country in the world becomes a pariah state?

Trump’s got it wrong. It’s not America First.

It’s America Alone.

The Powerful Pariah

It’s not the first time that Americans traveling abroad have had to pretend that they’re Canadians out of fear or embarrassment.

The George W. Bush years featured torture, extraordinary rendition, and military invasions that went terribly, horribly wrong. The Reagan era brought the world close to nuclear war. Nixon’s term-and-a-half was full of dirty tricks at home and abroad. It wasn’t only Republican presidents who sullied the reputation of the United States, but these three took an almost perverse delight in thumbing their noses at international norms.

Previous U.S. administrations have taken an a la carte approach to global policy, picking and choosing what they want from the kitchens of the world. The Trump administration, on a strict diet of fast food, refuses to order anything on the menu, except perhaps a small bowl of borscht — and it’s even reserving judgment on that.

Yet it was the United States that cooked up this whole world order in the first place and seasoned it specifically for American tastes. After World War II, the global economy ran on the dollar. America had disproportionate influence over institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The U.S. military ensured access to the necessary raw materials to fuel the rise of a large American middle class. The U.S. government facilitated the spread of American music and movies.

But the United States couldn’t go it alone. It needed secure allies to reduce the threat to the American homeland and stabilize the global economy. A united Europe emerged as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. Alliances with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines were supposed to prevent the spread of Communism throughout Asia. Washington also needed Europeans and Asians to become middle-class consumers of American goods and services: their prosperity was linked to our prosperity. American car manufacturers and software producers need access to a global market. American businesses rely on international talent — otherwise known as immigrants — to fuel innovation.

Being a pariah, meanwhile, is generally bad for business and the economy, as any average North Korean or Eritrean could tell you. The reaction of American businesses to the Trump administration’s executive order on travel restrictions for Muslims — with protests coming from Starbucks, Silicon Valley, and major executives — indicates just how big the cleavage within the Republican Party will grow if Trump remains on this trajectory.

Meanwhile, consumers are building their own domestic BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement, like #grabyourwallet, to target the Trump web of oligarchs. The prospect of a trade war with China, Mexico, and other countries that provoke Trump’s ire has Wall Street in total freak-out mode.

Other countries are poised to take advantage of America’s new pariah status. Germany finds itself the default “leader of the free world.” Russia has become a more pivotal wheeler-dealer. China is fancying itself the great helmsman of the global economy. “If people want to say China has taken a position of leadership, it’s not because China suddenly thrust itself forward as a leader,” a Chinese foreign minister official told reporters. “It’s because the original front-runners suddenly fell back and pushed China to the front.”

Even the Islamic State is cheered by the loss in U.S. stature. As Samia Nakhoul writes for Reuters, “Jihadists are still celebrating Trump’s election triumph in online forums, saying it vindicates their argument that his views show the United States’ true face and that his policy will polarize communities, one of the militants’ goals.”

Immediately after September 11, Jean-Marie Colombani penned the famous essay in Le Monde in which he asserted that “we are all Americans.” It was not an entirely complimentary article, however. Further down in the essay, the French journalist observed, “America, in the solitude of its power, in its status as the sole superpower, now in the absence of a Soviet counter-model, has ceased to draw other nations to itself; or more precisely, in certain parts of the globe, it seems to draw nothing but hate.”

The Trump administration is not interested in drawing other nations to itself. It seems reconciled to inspiring hatred. The new crew is comfortable with the solitude of its power — and the zealotry of its vision.

The Zealots

Reza Aslan’s 2013 book Zealot is an attempt to extract the historical Jesus from all the layers of commentary that has blunted his message over the centuries.

Aslan argues that the real Jesus was a revolutionary who wanted to sweep away the corrupt Jewish religious authorities of the time, cleanse the land of foreign elements, and champion the interests of all Jews who’d been left behind by the economic changes of the 1st century CE. This Jesus chased the moneychangers out of the temple. This Jesus preached only to the Jews and kept his distance from the gentiles. This Jesus said, “I came not to bring peace, but to bring a sword.”

Because of the failure of various Jewish revolutionary movements of the time, the writers of the Gospels distanced themselves from the insurrectionary events that led to the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. They emphasized instead a different kind of Jesus, one focused more on heavenly concerns and not the matters of the material world.

The historical Jesus was a zealot. Like his predecessor Hezekiah, Jesus believed in an uncompromising assault on the orthodoxy of the time, namely the collaboration between corrupt Jews and the Roman authorities, and a restoration of a Jewish theocracy in Palestine.

Steve Bannon is a zealot in two senses of the word. He is an extremist who doesn’t believe in ordinary political compromise. But he’s also a zealot in the more historical sense that Aslan outlines.

He wants to cleanse America of all foreign elements — not just immigrants (who stand in for the non-Jews of Biblical time), but also “globalists” (who stand in for Rome). He wants to chase the moneychangers of what he calls “crony capitalism” from the temples of American life (and don’t most of our banks and financial institutions resemble ancient temples?). He speaks to those left behind by economic change. He is opposed to Islam, secularism, and any religious sentiment that contradicts his own Salafist interpretation of Catholicism. And he comes not to bring peace — domestically or internationally — but to bring a sword, the same sword that Trump wields on the cover of Der Spiegel.

Jesus became a pariah for his efforts. He was opposed by the Jewish orthodoxy that he wanted to eliminate. He was crucified by the Roman authorities he wanted to oust from Palestine. Only much later did he become a symbol of power and authority when the Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in the 4th century CE.

Bannon is comfortable having the United States raked over the coals by international leaders, the Trump administration “crucified” in the press, and his own name vilified by protestors in the street. To effect a thorough, bottom-to-top revolution in domestic and international affairs, the United States must risk pariah status. Such is the way new orders are born. Nor is Bannon alone in his efforts. He is joined by both religious zealots (like Mike Pence) and geopolitical zealots (like Mike Flynn).

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is not particularly religious, not particularly ideological, not particularly interested in the world beyond what his stubby fingers can grasp. He is merely a meat puppet, a random Tweet generator, a distraction on two legs, a convenient stalking horse. He’s old and greedy, interested only in the short con. He wants to be admired, not reviled as a pariah. But he’s also capable of monumental self-deception, which extends to his mistaken belief that the “real people” have all rallied behind him.

Bannon and his fellow extremists, by contrast, are in it for the long haul. As zealots, they’re willing to put up with pariah status for as long as it takes. Make no mistake: it will get ugly. The liberal internationalists that they excoriate as “globalists” are putting up a fight. So is the not-so-silent majority.

The question is: How long will the wealthy of Wall Street and the well-connected of Washington continue to follow Bannon and company down this road of reactionary revolution?

The post Steven Bannon’s Real Vision Isn’t America First. It’s America Alone. appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.


The Trade Debate Isn’t About the U.S. vs. the World, It’s Corporations vs. the Rest of Us

Media Contacts:
John Cavanagh, johnc@ips-dc.org, 202 297 4823
Domenica Ghanem, domenica@ips-dc.org, 202 787 5205

In an executive order yesterday, Donald Trump scrapped the Trans Pacific Partnership under the guise of bringing jobs back on American soil and promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

This is the response of Institute for Policy Studies Director John Cavanagh, who has been analyzing U.S. trade policies since the 1994 launch of NAFTA:

“IPS has worked for many years with the broad array of labor, environmental, consumer, and other civil society groups in many countries that are primarily responsible for the death of the TPP agreement. The pact was designed in the interest of large corporations – circumventing labor and environmental standards, offshoring jobs, and granting excessive investor rights that would let tribunals sue governments against the public interest.

But we cannot allow the trade policies that replace it to put the interests of multinational corporations first, as the renegotiation of NAFTA under a Trump administration teeming with corporate interests is positioned to do. Trump has promised that the NAFTA renegotiation will create jobs in the United States, but if corporate elites are allowed to dictate the renegotiation, Trump’s false economic populism will result in Americans facing job loss, wage stagnation, and eroding working conditions, especially for low-income workers and workers of color.

We need an internationalist approach to trade that lifts up labor rights, environmental standards, and human rights for people in all of the nations involved in the agreement, and provides good jobs for workers in the U.S. Trump wants to allow corporations to pit American workers against other working communities in a global race to the bottom. IPS will fight with broad civil society networks for a trade policy that lifts up all working families and the environment.

We support the recent trinational declaration that brings together Canada, Mexico, and the United States to make a transparent, internationalist approach to trade a reality.”

For more information:

John Cavanagh, johnc@ips-dc.org, 202 297 4823

The post The Trade Debate Isn’t About the U.S. vs. the World, It’s Corporations vs. the Rest of Us appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Cavanagh is the director of the Institute for Policy Studies.