Of lies, damn lies and Trumpism

The current presidential race stands out for the shameless lying of one of the candidates. As a self declared billionaire who admits having paid politicians for favors and openly admiring Vladimir Putin for being strong (rather than autocratic) and white supremacists (America First movement), Donald J. Trump is riding a wave of populism that is both cynical, earnest and emotional. His speeches contain thinly veiled threats to his opponent Hillary Clinton. He proves that we make important decisions not based on rational considerations (what is best for us), but on emotional satisfaction, currently the will to stick it to the political establishment and the disdain and hate for Obama and the Clintons. Trumpism has only one guideline – self-aggrandizement (You will love Donald Trump, quote-unquote) and power for the sake of power. He is a master of deception and manipulation. In his rawest expression he is a truther to his followers who drink from his poison well of lies and who bullies anyone who stands in his way. And for the Christians who support him and pretend that he is a moral man, be advised that Trump is a man who preaches water and drinks wine.

Brexit Lessons on Democracy

One striking outcome of the Brexit vote is how divided the country is… not a country, really, a union of countries (see the EURO cup with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). The New York Times called it an overwhelming vote, although it was 52%, with half the country loathing the outcome. The question is, why such an important (and actually legally non-binding) referendum is not set at a higher threshold, like a two-thirds majority, or even 75% as is required for any change to the American Constitution. The outcome of the Brexit vote, is after all, really important. Why else would the international markets react with such viciousness (and absurdity, since nothing has changed, actually). Then there is the split within the UK, where Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. Now the Scots are itching to leave the UK to rejoin the EU. It would be funny, if it weren’t true. So what to do? Take a lesson from the Swiss (and again constitutional changes in the US) in federalism. After all, the electoral college in the US provided a victory to Bush, even though Al Gore won 52% of the American votes. Not only does one need a majority of the votes overall, you also need a majority of the Swiss Cantons to agree. This protects the minority regions with small populations to be overruled by the larger populations, with supposedly equal count in the Union. Great Britain does not have a written Constitution. Great Britain has a Monarchy without any say what so ever. Just garnish on a republican cake. The English Leavers now pride themselves of being once again independent. But independent of what? From whom? Here is a tiny nation that votes for isolation after having been an Empire for half a millennium. How far can Britain fall? To an English/Welsh also running Kingdom?

Less regulation means more inequality

Inequality is the result of an imbalance of power. And this is also true for economic power. Clearly, in today’s labor market, workers have less influence than employers and big corporations, including too big to fail financial institutions. The latter control the flow of money throughout the economy. Over the last 20 to 30 years, these institutions have enjoyed less regulation and more control over the nation’s and the global economy. The results of this influence are apparent in stagnant wages, increased profits, higher stock market, and lower corporate taxes. Their influence is such that they are too big to fail and many have been bailed out by the tax payers.

There is an oversupply of cash in the American economy that gets corporation cheap money.  But that money is not flowing into wages. Instead it flows into share holder pockets. As a result, the stock market is vibrant and has recovered from several disastrous down turns, while working wages have not, even though jobs have recovered.

So why are the job creators harboring cash instead of paying their employees better salaries or creating more jobs? Because they can and because they don’t have to. Their is no incentive for companies to invest, since they are not judged by how well they treat their workers, but how well they compensate their stock holders.