“America will never be a socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism.
In the conservative mind, socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into massive bonuses for bank executives. On the other hand, more than 4,000 lower-level bank employees got a big dose of harsh capitalism. They lost their jobs.
Banks that are too big to fail – courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout – enjoy a hidden subsidy of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears.
Trump and his appointees at the Federal Reserve are easing bank requirements put in place after the bailout. They’ll make sure the biggest banks remain too big to fail.
Trump is promoting socialism for the rich and harsh capitalism for everyone else in other ways. Since he was elected, GM has got more than $600 million in federal contracts plus $500 million in tax breaks. Some of this has gone into the pockets of GM executives. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra raked in almost $22m in total compensation in 2017 alone.
But GM employees are subject to harsh capitalism. GM is planning to lay off more than 14,000 workers and close three assembly plants and two component factories in North America by the end of 2019.
When he was in business, Trump perfected the art of using bankruptcy to shield himself from the consequences of bad decisions – socialism for the rich at its worst – while leaving employees twisting in the wind.
Now, all over America, executives who run their companies into the ground are getting gold-plated exit packages while their workers get pink slips.
Sears is doling out $25 million to the executives who stripped its remaining assets and drove it into bankruptcy, but has no money for the thousands of workers it laid off.
As Pacific Gas and Electric hurtles toward bankruptcy, the person who was in charge when the deadly infernos roared through northern California last year (caused in part by PG&E’s faulty equipment) has departed with a cash severance package of $2.5 million. The PG&E executive in charge of gas operations when records were allegedly falsified left in 2018 with $6.9 million.
Under socialism for the rich, you can screw up big time and still reap big rewards. Equifax’s Richard Smith retired in 2017 with an $18 million pension in the wake of a security breach that exposed the personal information of 145 million consumers to hackers.
Wells Fargo’s Carrie Tolstedt departed with a $125 million exit package after being in charge of the unit that opened more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts.
Around 60 percent of America’s wealth is now inherited. Many of today’s super rich have never done a day’s work in their lives.
Trump’s response has been to cut the estate tax to apply only to estates valued at over $22 million per couple. Mitch McConnell is now proposing that the estate tax be repealed altogether.
What about the capitalist principles that people earn what they’re worth in the market, and that economic gains should go to those who deserve them?
America is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history. As rich boomers expire over the next three decades, an estimated $30 trillion will go to their children.
Those children will be able to live off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of them to their own heirs, tax-free. (Capital gains taxes don’t apply to the soaring values of stocks, bonds, mansions and other assets of wealthy people who die before they’re sold.)
After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand non-working families.
To the conservative mind, the specter of socialism conjures up a society in which no one is held accountable, and no one has to work for what they receive. Yet that’s exactly the society Trump and the Republicans are promoting for the rich.
Meanwhile, most Americans are subject to an increasingly harsh and arbitrary capitalism in which they’re working harder but getting nowhere, and have less security than ever.
They need thicker safety nets and deserve a bigger piece of the economic pie. If you want to call this socialism, fine. I call it fair.
Mueller probably won’t be giving new information — here’s why that can still sink Trump
Former special counsel Robert Mueller will appear in Congress this week to testify for two hours about the report he authored on the case of Russian collusion.
The hearing is set for Wednesday, though Mueller has said that he won't have any additional information other than what is in his report. A Washington Post report used examples of past Mueller testimony to outline what can be anticipated. The reality, however, is that regardless of whether Mueller sticks to the report or not, he'll deliver enough to put the president in a difficult situation.
Lara Trump snarls at critics of ‘send her back’ for pushing a ‘biased, racially-charged narrative’
Lara Trump, the wife of President Donald Trump's son Eric, has accused CNN anchor Anderson Cooper of pushing a "biased, racially-charged narrative" after he criticized her recent defense of the Trump administration over the "send her back" scandal.
This article first appeared on Salon.
"Anyone insinuating that there was some premeditated plan to orchestrate the “send her back” chant is obviously desperate to continue pushing a biased, racially-charged narrative. #FakeNews," Trump posted to her Twitter account on Saturday. She included a link to the Washington Examiner, a right-leaning newspaper which included a quote from Cooper blasting Trump for supposedly "lying" about her role in whipping up a crowd to chant "send her back" about Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
Racism, Inc.: How Donald Trump profits from xenophobia
Several of the headlines emerging from the fallout of President Donald Trump’s recent racist behavior claim that fascism is coming to America. It’s perplexing to read them, because they seem to suggest that there is something new to the blatant and unapologetic racism and xenophobia of the Trump camp. But there really is nothing new here. No surprises whatsoever. Just Trump and his team and his supporters doing exactly what they have been doing since before he announced his candidacy in June 2015.