Article 43

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Financial Stress

America is slowly dying

We Have to Face the Major Problem of Acute Financial Stress

By Dr. Galen Buckwalter
AlterNet
November 27, 2016

Editor’s Note: Long before the shocking election of Donald Trump, Galen Buckwalter and his colleagues were doing research and thinking hard about the emotional consequences of inequality, credit card debt and the range of financial stress points in people’s lives. What they found seems so obvious, yet brilliant at the same time. Tens of millions of people have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. How can we, as a society, pretend they are not physically and psychologically affected by this constant anxiety and vulnerability? This ends up costing our society hundreds of billions in health care and lost productivity and leads to higher addiction and suicide rates as well as increased domestic violence.

This is the first of three articles by Buckwalter to begin to raise public consciousness about the huge impact financial stress has on every aspect of physical and emotional life. Can we doubt that under President Trump, this situation will worsen?

AlterNet Executive Editor, Don Hazen

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Constant debt leads to trauma, stress and illness.

The conclusion is clear: We are out of balance in a way that is endangering our health, and our relationship with money plays an outsized role in a nationwide health epidemic. As a research psychologist studying stress and mental, physical and emotional health, I’ve spent the last several years examining how we deal with money in an effort to deepen a scientific understanding of how it impacts our health. In the past, I’ve worked with people in varying states of stress, including Marines and humanitarian workers. Today, I study the presence and effects of what we are calling acute financial stress (AFS), essentially financial PTSD.

Our findings are multifold. We’ve found that financial stress is affecting our cognitive processes. I’s also damaging our bodies, leaving millions of Americans sick in ways were just beginning to understand. We know that stress disproportionately contributes to many causes of mortality nationwide, and stress over money is a significant, though widely ignored, contributor. Part of this puzzle is what we’re calling financial personality.Basically, a majority of us don’t have the natural cognitive and organizational styles of those who excel at the kind of thinking that financial planning requires, leaving many of us exceptionally vulnerable to chronic stress.

In our research we decided to apply what we know about personality in general to how people demonstrate their individuality in their financial values, behaviors and attitudes and found a strong connection between our basic personalities and the ways we approach our finances. For example, much like some of us are more open, conscientious or neurotic in relationships, how we deal with money fits into the same patterns.

We asked study participants to respond to seemingly unrelated statements, including: “I do my taxes at the last minute,” “It’s not worth my time to plan for my financial future because I will never be able to make enough money,” “I have little idea of how much money I really have, “and I do not allow my family to know my real financial picture.”

In the responses we received, we saw a profound problem emerge. Feelings of stress, failure, isolation and paralyzing fear kept surfacing in our analyses with alarming regularity. Examining this fear from every angle, we tried to ascertain what we were looking at and what the implications might be. Was this a temporary neurosis brought about by stress? Was it an existential fear stemming from financial concerns? Was it indicative of money altering our brains on a cognitive level that scientists hadn’t yet focused on?

The Emergence of PTSD in Financial Stress

The answer hit me one day: it’s a version of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The mental health community has officially recognized PTSD since 1980 as a serious mental condition. Stemming from a conversation about the financial pressure felt by someone who had lost everything after a divorce, I was reminded of the checklist of PTSD symptoms, which I spent several years focused on while working with Marines and humanitarian workers in an effort to prepare and protect them from post-traumatic stress disorder with resilience training before deployment.

Our studies led us to surprising findings: 23% of adults and 36% of millennials experience acute financial stress at levels that would qualify them for a diagnosis of PTSD. We knew people were feeling under the gun and often anxious about their futures, but this degree of clinical stress was more severe and pervasive than we imagined.

A traditional diagnosis of PTSD requires meeting a number of criteria. Often reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks, the disorder brings on avoidance of any situation that reminds a person of the trauma. Additionally, ones beliefs and feelings change, the world feels more threatening and relationships become difficult, leading to depression and isolation. Perhaps most important, PTSD results in hyperarousal, in which itԒs chronically difficult for people to fully calm down, even in sleep. The mind and body are always prepared for trouble, leading to chronic stress that wears down all of the bodys systems, hastening the natural processes of aging the body and mind.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this constant state of hyperarousal results in a myriad of negative physical and medical outcomes. The connection between PTSD and coronary heart disease is notably strong. Links to increased addiction, likely motivated by the increase in anxiety and depression it causes, is also evident.

Fight the Powerlessness

Financial stress, specifically the stress associated with an inability to consistently pay all of one’s bills, appears to be strongly associated with the presence of an external LOCUS OF CONTROL. What this means is people often have a belief that powerful external events control our life choices, as opposed to a sense of self-control and being in the drivers seat. This feeling of powerlessness present in many people who cannot meet their financial obligations serves as the impetus to drive them to abandon a sense of responsibility. Once responsibility is abandoned, it leads to a profound sense of powerlessness and stress.

Chronic stress like acute financial stress tends to preclude people from being able to make rational changes toward a healthier and more stable, less stressful way of life. With severe stress, comes further debilitating self-destructive ways of thinking including avoidance, denial and isolation. As the ability to manage stress spirals, it inevitably moves toward physical dysfunction and chronic disease.

Unfortunately, our current economic and commercial cultures rely on avoidance and denial. These popular coping mechanisms, in turn, overwhelm the brain and body’s needs for security and activate our stress responses system. Relatively recently, the profit-making equation changed even further by putting credit cards in almost everyones hands, ostensibly for consumer’s convenience. The result, of course, is ever increasing consumer debt. Through the black magic of compounding interest, this industry has created a new source of stress that seems to literally be breaking the back of middle-class America.

Culturally, we often perceive of financial difficulties as personal failure, leading people to remain in silent shame about what theyre going through, only compounding their problems with a sense of total powerlessness. Stress isolates people, which leads to weakened relationships, more isolation, depression and often, avoidance of the source of the problem. Avoidance is the enemy of overcoming, so changing this starts with being able to talk about it. IҒve found that by simply discussing their experiences, people with acute financial stress can find a sense of relief and realize theyre not crazy, that this is a real issue and above all, they are really not alone.

This is the starting point, when we begin to understand how many people around us are traumatized by the money in their lives and how itҒs affecting everything from sleep to interpersonal relationships. A reinvention of our collective relationship with money must become a priority because without it, were only going to incur more debt and suffer the ever-increasing health consequences of this problem.

Coming up in the series: Part II: Financial Stress Is as American as Apple Pie; Part III: How to Rise Above AFS in Challenging Times.

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Posted by Elvis on 11/29/16 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Next Four Years

|Those

The Worst Is Yet to Come

By John W. Whitehead
November 14, 2016

Stay alert, America.

This is not the time to drop our guards, even for a moment.

Nothing has changed since the election to alter the immediate and very real dangers of roadside strip searches, government surveillance, biometric databases, citizens being treated like terrorists, imprisonments for criticizing the government, national ID cards, SWAT team raids, censorship, forcible blood draws and DNA extractions, private prisons, weaponized drones, red light cameras, tasers, active shooter drills, police misconduct and government corruption.

Time alone will tell whether those who put their hopes in a political savior will find that trust rewarded or betrayed.

Personally, Im not holding my breath.

I’ve been down this road before.

Ive studied history.

I know what comes next.

It’s early days yet, but President-elect Trumplike his predecessors - has already begun to dial back many of the campaign promises that pledged to reform a broken system of government.

The candidate who railed against big government and vowed to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and special interest donors has already given lobbyists, corporate donors and members of the governmental elite starring roles in his new administration.

America, youve been played.

This is what happens when you play politics with matters of life, death and liberty.

You lose every time.

Unfortunately, in this instance, we all lose because of the deluded hypocrisy of the Left and the Right, both of which sanctioned the expansion of the police state as long as it was their party at the helm.

For the past eight years, the Left - stridently outspoken and adversarial while George W. Bush was president -has been unusually quiet about things like torture, endless wars, drone strikes, executive orders, government overreach and fascism.

As Glenn Greenwald points out for The Washington Post:

Beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nationגs mass electronic surveillance

Liberals vehemently denounced these abuses during the Bush presidency. But after Obama took office, many liberals often tolerated and even praised his aggressive assertions of executive authority. It is hard to overstate how complete the Democrats about-face on these questions was once their own leader controlled the levers of power. After just three years of the Obama presidency, liberals sanctioned a system that allowed the president to imprison people without any trial or an ounce of due process.

Suddenly, with Trump in the White House for the next four years, its all fair game again.

As The Federalist declares with a tongue-in-cheek approach, ғDissent, executive restraint, gridlock, you name it. Now that Donald Trump will be president, stuff that used to be treason is suddenly cool again.

Yet as Greenwald makes clear, if Trump is about to inherit vast presidential powers, he has the Democrats to thank for them.

A military empire that polices the globe. Secret courts, secret wars and secret budgets. Unconstitutional mass surveillance. Unchecked presidential power. Indefinite detention. Executive signing statements.

These are just a small sampling of the abusive powers that have been used liberally by Obama and will be used again and again by future presidents.

After all, presidents are just puppets on a string, made to dance to the tune of the powers-that-be. And the powers-that-be want war. They want totalitarianism. They want a monied oligarchy to run the show. They want bureaucracy and sprawl and government leaders that march in lockstep with their dictates. Most of all, they want a gullible, distracted, easily led populace that can be manipulated, maneuvered and made to fear whatever phantom menace the government chooses to make the bogeyman of the month.

Unless Trump does another about-face, rest assured that the policies of a Trump Administration will be no different from an Obama Administration or a Bush Administration, at least not where it really counts.

For that matter, a Clinton Administration would have been no different.

In other words, Democrats by any other name would be Republicans, and vice versa.

This is the terrible power of the shadow government: to maintain the status quo, no matter which candidate gets elected.

War will continue. Surveillance will continue. Drone killings will continue. Police shootings will continue. Highway robbery meted out by government officials will continue. Corrupt government will continue. Profit-driven prisons will continue. Censorship and persecution of anyone who criticizes the government will continue. The militarization of the police will continue. The governmentԒs efforts to label dissidents as extremists and terrorists will continue.

In such a climate, the police state will thrive.

The more things change, the more they will stay the same.

Weve been stuck in this political Groundhog’s Day for so long that minor deviations appear to be major developments while obscuring the fact that were stuck on repeat, unable to see the forest for the trees.

This is what is referred to as creeping normality, or a death by a thousand cuts.

It’s a concept invoked by Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist Jared Diamond to describe how major changes, if implemented slowly in small stages over time, can be accepted as normal without the shock and resistance that might greet a sudden upheaval.

Diamonds’ concerns are environmental in nature, but they are no less relevant to our understanding of how a once-free nation could willingly bind itself with the chains of dictatorship.

Writing about Easter Island\s now-vanished civilization and the societal decline and environmental degradation that contributed to it, Diamond explains, In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism҅ Why didnt they look around, realize what they were doing, and stop before it was too late? What were they thinking when they cut down the last palm tree?

His answer: “I suspect that the disaster happened not with a bang but with a whimper.”

Much like Americas own colonists, Easter Island’s early colonists discovered a “new world” - a pristine paradise - teeming with life. Almost 2000 years after its first settlers arrived, Easter Island was reduced to a barren graveyard by a populace so focused on their immediate needs that they failed to preserve paradise for future generations.

To quote Joni Mitchell, “they paved over paradise to put up a parking lot.”

In Easter Islands case, as Diamond speculates:

The forest… vanished slowly, over decades. Perhaps war interrupted the moving teams; perhaps by the time the carvers had finished their work, the last rope snapped. In the meantime, any islander who tried to warn about the dangers of progressive deforestation would have been overridden by vested interests of carvers, bureaucrats, and chiefs, whose jobs depended on continued deforestation The changes in forest cover from year to year would have been hard to detect Only older people, recollecting their childhoods decades earlier, could have recognized a difference.

Sound painfully familiar yet?

Substitute Easter Islands trees for America’s republic and the trees being decimated for our freedoms, and the arrow hits the mark.

Diamond observes, “Gradually trees became fewer, smaller, and less important. By the time the last fruit-bearing adult palm tree was cut, palms had long since ceased to be of economic significance. That left only smaller and smaller palm saplings to clear each year, along with other bushes and treelets. No one would have noticed the felling of the last small palm.”

We’ve already torn down the rich forest of liberties established by our founders. They don’t teach freedom in the schools. Few Americans know their history. And even fewer seem to care that their fellow Americans are being jailed, muzzled, shot, tasered, and treated as if they have no rights at all. They don’t care, that is, until it happens to them - at which point its almost too late.

This is how the police state wins. This is how tyranny rises. This is how freedom falls.

A thousand cuts, each one justified or ignored or shrugged over as inconsequential enough by itself to bother. But they add up.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, each cut, each attempt to undermine our freedoms, each loss of some critical right - to think freely, to assemble, to speak without fear of being shamed or censored, to raise our children as we see fit, to worship or not worship as our conscience dictates, to eat what we want and love who we want, to live as we wantthey add up to an immeasurable failure on the part of each and every one of us to stop the descent down that slippery slope.

It’s taken us 200 short years to destroy the freedoms our founders worked so hard to secure, and its happened with barely a whimper of protest from Œwe the people.

So when I read about demonstrations breaking out in cities across the country and thousands taking to the streets to protest the threat of fascism from a Trump presidency, I have to wonder where were the concerns when access to Obama came easily to any special interest groups and donors willing and able to pay the admissions price?

When I see celebrities threatening to leave the country in droves, I have to ask myself, where was the outcry when the government’s efforts to transform local police into extensions of the military went into overdrive under the Obama administration?

When my newsfeed is overflowing with people wishing they could keep the Obamas in office because they are so cool, I shake my head in disgust over this “cool” presidents use of targeted drone strikes to assassinate American citizens without any due process.

When legal think tanks are threatening lawsuits over the possibility of Trump muzzling free expression, I can’t help but wonder where the outrage was over the Obama administrations demonizing and criminalization of those who criticized the government.

And when commentators who previously dismissed as fear-mongering and hateful any comparison of the government’s tactics to Nazi Germany are suddenly comparing Trump to Hitler, I have to wonder if perhaps weve been living in different countries all along, because none of this is new.

Indeed, if we’re repeating history, the worst is yet to come.

SOURCE

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Noam Chomsky: ‘The Republican Party Has Become the Most Dangerous Organization in World History’

By C.J. Polychroniou
Ecowatch
November 14, 2015

On Nov. 8, Donald Trump managed to pull the biggest upset in U.S. politics by tapping successfully into the anger of white voters and appealing to the lowest inclinations of people in a manner that would have probably impressed Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels himself.

But what exactly does Trump’s victory mean and what can one expect from this megalomaniac when he takes over the reins of power on Jan. 20, 2017? What is Trump’s political ideology, if any and is “Trumpism” a movement? Will U.S. foreign policy be any different under a Trump administration? Some years ago, public intellectual Noam Chomsky warned that the political climate in the U.S. was ripe for the rise of an authoritarian figure. Now, he shares his thoughts on the aftermath of this election, the moribund state of the U.S. political system and why Trump is a real threat to the world and the planet in general.

Q. Noam, the unthinkable has happened: In contrast to all forecasts, Donald Trump scored a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton, and the man that Michael Moore described as a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath” will be the next president of the U.S. In your view, what were the deciding factors that led American voters to produce the biggest upset in the history of U.S. politics?

A. Noam Chomsky

Before turning to this question, I think it is important to spend a few moments pondering just what happened on Nov. 8, a date that might turn out to be one of the most important in human history, depending on how we react.

No exaggeration.

The most important news of Nov. 8 was barely noted, a fact of some significance in itself.

On Nov. 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivered a report at the international conference on climate change in Morocco (COP22) which was called in order to carry forward the Paris agreement of COP21. The WMO reported that the past five years were the hottest on record. It reported rising sea levels, soon to increase as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice, most ominously the huge Antarctic glaciers. Already, Arctic sea ice over the past five years is 28 percent below the average of the previous 29 years, not only raising sea levels, but also reducing the cooling effect of polar ice reflection of solar rays, thereby accelerating the grim effects of global warming. The WMO reported further that temperatures are approaching dangerously close to the goal established by COP21, along with other dire reports and forecasts.

Another event took place on Nov. 8, which also may turn out to be of unusual historical significance for reasons that, once again, were barely noted.

On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the governmentexecutive, Congress, the Supreme Courts - in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.

Apart from the last phrase, all of this is uncontroversial. The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? The facts suggest otherwise. The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.

Is this an exaggeration? Consider what we have just been witnessing.

During the Republican primaries, every candidate denied that what is happening is happeningwith the exception of the sensible moderates, like Jeb Bush, who said it’s all uncertain, but we don’t have to do anything because we’re producing more natural gas, thanks to fracking. Or John Kasich, who agreed that global warming is taking place, but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.”

The winning candidate, now the president-elect, calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.

Trump has already taken steps to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by placing in charge of the EPA transition a notorious (and proud) climate change denier, Myron Ebell. Trump’s top adviser on energy, billionaire oil executive Harold Hamm, announced his expectations, which were predictable: dismantling regulations, tax cuts for the industry (and the wealthy and corporate sector generally), more fossil fuel production, lifting Obama’s temporary block on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The market reacted quickly. Shares in energy corporations boomed, including the world’s largest coal miner, Peabody Energy, which had filed for bankruptcy, but after Trump’s victory, registered a 50 percent gain.

The effects of Republican denialism had already been felt. There had been hopes that the COP21 Paris agreement would lead to a verifiable treaty, but any such thoughts were abandoned because the Republican Congress would not accept any binding commitments, so what emerged was a voluntary agreement, evidently much weaker.

Effects may soon become even more vividly apparent than they already are. In Bangladesh alone, tens of millions are expected to have to flee from low-lying plains in coming years because of sea level rise and more severe weather, creating a migrant crisis that will make today’s pale in significance.

With considerable justice, Bangladesh’s leading climate scientist said that “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.” And to the other rich countries that have grown wealthy while bringing about a new geological era, the Anthropocene, marked by radical human transformation of the environment. These catastrophic consequences can only increase, not just in Bangladesh, but in all of South Asia as temperatures, already intolerable for the poor, inexorably rise and the Himalayan glaciers melt, threatening the entire water supply. Already in India, some 300 million people are reported to lack adequate drinking water. And the effects will reach far beyond.

It is hard to find words to capture the fact that humans are facing the most important question in their history - whether organized human life will survive in anything like the form we knowand are answering it by accelerating the race to disaster.

Similar observations hold for the other huge issue concerning human survival: the threat of nuclear destruction, which has been looming over our heads for 70 years and is now increasing.

It is no less difficult to find words to capture the utterly astonishing fact that in all of the massive coverage of the electoral extravaganza, none of this receives more than passing mention. At least I am at a loss to find appropriate words.

Turning finally to the question raised, to be precise, it appears that Clinton received a slight majority of the vote. The apparent decisive victory has to do with curious features of American politics: among other factors, the Electoral College residue of the founding of the country as an alliance of separate states; the winner-take-all system in each state; the arrangement of congressional districts (sometimes by gerrymandering) to provide greater weight to rural votes (in past elections, and probably this one too, Democrats have had a comfortable margin of victory in the popular vote for the House, but hold a minority of seats); the very high rate of abstention (usually close to half in presidential elections, this one included). Of some significance for the future is the fact that in the age 18-25 range, Clinton won handily and Sanders had an even higher level of support. How much this matters depends on what kind of future humanity will face.

According to current information, Trump broke all records in the support he received from white voters, working class and lower middle class, particularly in the $50,000 to $90,000 income range, rural and suburban, primarily those without college education. These groups share the anger throughout the West at the centrist establishment, revealed as well in the unanticipated Brexit vote and the collapse of centrist parties in continental Europe. [Many of] the angry and disaffected are victims of the neoliberal policies of the past generation, the policies described in congressional testimony by Fed chair Alan Greenspanח"St. Alan,” as he was called reverentially by the economics profession and other admirers until the miraculous economy he was supervising crashed in 2007-2008, threatening to bring the whole world economy down with it. As Greenspan explained during his glory days, his successes in economic management were based substantially on “growing worker insecurity.” Intimidated working people would not ask for higher wages, benefits and security, but would be satisfied with the stagnating wages and reduced benefits that signal a healthy economy by neoliberal standards.

Working people, who have been the subjects of these experiments in economic theory, are not particularly happy about the outcome. They are not, for example, overjoyed at the fact that in 2007, at the peak of the neoliberal miracle, real wages for nonsupervisory workers were lower than they had been years earlier, or that real wages for male workers are about at 1960s levels while spectacular gains have gone to the pockets of a very few at the top, disproportionately a fraction of 1%. Not the result of market forces, achievement or merit, but rather of definite policy decisions, matters reviewed carefully by economist Dean Baker in recently published work.

The fate of the minimum wage illustrates what has been happening. Through the periods of high and egalitarian growth in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the minimum wagewhich sets a floor for other wagesחtracked productivity. That ended with the onset of neoliberal doctrine. Since then, the minimum wage has stagnated (in real value). Had it continued as before, it would probably be close to $20 per hour. Today, it is considered a political revolution to raise it to $15.

With all the talk of near-full employment today, labor force participation remains below the earlier norm. And for working people, there is a great difference between a steady job in manufacturing with union wages and benefits, as in earlier years and a temporary job with little security in some service profession. Apart from wages, benefits and security, there is a loss of dignity, of hope for the future, of a sense that this is a world in which I belong and play a worthwhile role.

The impact is captured well in Arlie Hochschild’s sensitive and illuminating portrayal of a Trump stronghold in Louisiana, where she lived and worked for many years. She uses the image of a line in which residents are standing, expecting to move forward steadily as they work hard and keep to all the conventional values. But their position in the line has stalled. Ahead of them, they see people leaping forward, but that does not cause much distress, because it is “the American way” for (alleged) merit to be rewarded. What does cause real distress is what is happening behind them. They believe that “undeserving people” who do not “follow the rules” are being moved in front of them by federal government programs they erroneously see as designed to benefit African-Americans, immigrants and others they often regard with contempt. All of this is exacerbated by [Ronald] Reagan’s racist fabrications about “welfare queens” (by implication Black) stealing white people’s hard-earned money and other fantasies.

Sometimes failure to explain, itself a form of contempt, plays a role in fostering hatred of government. I once met a house painter in Boston who had turned bitterly against the “evil” government after a Washington bureaucrat who knew nothing about painting organized a meeting of painting contractors to inform them that they could no longer use lead paint"the only kind that works"חas they all knew, but the suit didn’t understand. That destroyed his small business, compelling him to paint houses on his own with substandard stuff forced on him by government elites.

Sometimes there are also some real reasons for these attitudes toward government bureaucracies. Hochschild describes a man whose family and friends are suffering bitterly from the lethal effects of chemical pollution but who despises the government and the “liberal elites,” because for him, the EPA means some ignorant guy who tells him he can’t fish, but does nothing about the chemical plants.

These are just samples of the real lives of Trump supporters, who are led to believe that Trump will do something to remedy their plight, though the merest look at his fiscal and other proposals demonstrates the oppositeposing a task for activists who hope to fend off the worst and to advance desperately needed changes.

Exit polls reveal that the passionate support for Trump was inspired primarily by the belief that he represented change, while Clinton was perceived as the candidate who would perpetuate their distress. The “change” that Trump is likely to bring will be harmful or worse, but it is understandable that the consequences are not clear to isolated people in an atomized society lacking the kinds of associations (like unions) that can educate and organize. That is a crucial difference between today’s despair and the generally hopeful attitudes of many working people under much greater economic duress during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

There are other factors in Trump’s success. Comparative studies show that doctrines of white supremacy have had an even more powerful grip on American culture than in South Africa, and it’s no secret that the white population is declining. In a decade or two, whites are projected to be a minority of the work force and not too much later, a minority of the population. The traditional conservative culture is also perceived as under attack by the successes of identity politics, regarded as the province of elites who have only contempt for the ‘’hard-working, patriotic, church-going [white] Americans with real family values’’ who see their familiar country as disappearing before their eyes.

One of the difficulties in raising public concern over the very severe threats of global warming is that 40 percent of the U.S. population does not see why it is a problem, since Christ is returning in a few decades. About the same percentage believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. If science conflicts with the Bible, so much the worse for science. It would be hard to find an analogue in other societies.

The Democratic Party abandoned any real concern for working people by the 1970s and they have therefore been drawn to the ranks of their bitter class enemies, who at least pretend to speak their languageחReagan’s folksy style of making little jokes while eating jelly beans, George W. Bush’s carefully cultivated image of a regular guy you could meet in a bar who loved to cut brush on the ranch in 100-degree heat and his probably faked mispronunciations (it’s unlikely that he talked like that at Yale), and now Trump, who gives voice to people with legitimate grievancespeople who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worthחand who rails against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason).

One of the great achievements of the doctrinal system has been to divert anger from the corporate sector to the government that implements the programs that the corporate sector designs, such as the highly protectionist corporate/investor rights agreements that are uniformly mis-described as “free trade agreements” in the media and commentary. With all its flaws, the government is, to some extent, under popular influence and control, unlike the corporate sector. It is highly advantageous for the business world to foster hatred for pointy-headed government bureaucrats and to drive out of people’s minds the subversive idea that the government might become an instrument of popular will, a government of, by and for the people.

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Posted by Elvis on 11/15/16 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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