The best things that happened in 2016

Reflections on 2016 consistently emphasize a slew of celebrity deaths and a miserable election cycle. However, beneath the headlines it was a pretty good year. It will probably look even better in hindsight.

Optimism powers ambition. In moments of dire threat, we often experience our greatest opportunities for change, both on a personal and collective level. No one achieves great things hiding in the safety of their parents’ basement. American political culture teeters on the brink of an enormous transformation. This is no time to be shy. Looking back on 2016 with a more careful eye we find ample fuel for hope. Recognizing what went right will be key to fixing what went wrong and blunting the wrongs to come.

Booming Economy

Early in 2016 we hit a new record, experiencing our longest stretch of private sector job growth in history. That streak has continued and accelerated with no end in sight. Real median incomes have been rising at a steadily increasing rate since 2010. They had been flat over the previous decade. In 2016 we discovered that last year’s rate marked the largest jump in median incomes ever.

It gets better. Poverty fell by the sharpest margin in 50 years and the bulk of income growth was experienced by middle-earners.

Stocks are up more than 250% under the Obama Administration. That makes the Obama Era the second friendliest time for stock market growth in our history, behind only the Clinton years. Despite living through the second longest economic expansion in our history, gasoline, energy, and other commodity prices remain near record lows and inflation is negligible.

Explosion in Automation

A convoy of driverless trucks made their way across Europe for the first time ever in April, marking the arrival of a new era in labor automation. Case Equipment unveiled its driverless tractor at an Ag show in September.

This year Uber put its first self-driving cars into production. Launching that program in Pittsburgh is highly symbolic. That city was a center of the last wave of industrial innovation. Thanks to decades of reinvention, the city is on the cutting edge of the next era of development. While bureaucracies struggle to keep up, tech companies are busy turning transportation into a cheap, rented utility, driving down costs while simultaneously reducing the demand for fossil fuels.

Life Keeps Getting Better for Ordinary People

High school graduation rates keep setting new records every year. An aggressive federal crackdown on corrupt for-profit colleges has finally begun to protect low income students from abuse. Life’s essentials have never been cheaper or more abundant. Food prices hit another record low this year while wages have been rising.

Lower income service jobs have seen a big hike in salaries. Companies like Costco and IKEA have instituted new company-wide minimum incomes at $12/hour. Wal-Mart’s new minimum income is $10/hour.  Starbucks and Chipotle have instituted new time-off and health insurance programs. A big, controversial minimum wage hike in Seattle has so far had no impact on the city’s overall economic expansion while boosting incomes. State and local governments are leading the charge toward higher minimum wages and better conditions for workers.

Teen pregnancy rates hit new lows, led by huge declines among Hispanic and black women. Abortion rates continued their long, steep decline, approaching lows not seen since the procedure was made generally available. Divorce rates also hit a 40-year low.

Global Peace

We live in one of the most peaceful eras in human existence. That streak continued in 2016 as global combat deaths continued their long decline. Conflicts in Syria and Libya grabbed lurid headlines, but the impact and reach of those conflicts is remarkably limited. Just forty years ago the Khmer Rouge killed off a quarter of the population of Cambodia. Twenty years ago, fighting in Rwanda killed perhaps as many as a million people in just three months. Modern conflicts pale in comparison to the past, even the near past.

A Flight to Cleaner Fuels

Despite the availability of ever-cheaper oil and coal, the rapid expansion of the renewable energy market continues. Over the past few years, economic growth has uncoupled from growth rates in energy consumption. We passed a very important milestone just last month, as the price of new solar installations fell below the price of wind power, a development no one expected this quickly.

Google announced this month that it will run entirely on renewable energy next year. Again, despite near-record low gas prices, Tesla continues to be America’s fastest growing car maker.

Even with bargain-basement prices for coal and oil, solar energy is now selling at cheaper rates. The cost of solar is declining on an exponential scale, putting the future of carbon fuels in doubt. Coal production hit record lows this year not seen since a major industry strike in 1981. Despite low prices, demand for oil remains soft, sparking concerns that we may reach peak demand within a few years.

Marijuana and the Liberty Revolution

Bad as this election cycle was, we passed a remarkable milestone in November. California just dropped marijuana prohibition. Eight states now allow marijuana use, but California marks a vital tipping point. One in ten Americans lives in the Golden State. Its market impact is even larger than its population. This trend toward greater personal independence and individual decision-making may mark our path out of the present political crisis.

Low Crime Rates and High Police Safety

Crime rates continue to bump along near record lows after steep declines in recent decades. New York City in 2016 is on track to set a new record low for murders. Apart from Chicago, other major cities are approaching record lows for murders and other serious crimes.

As one would expect under these conditions, police have never been safer than they are today. In the Reagan years, we averaged more than a hundred police line-of-duty deaths annually. Today that figure has dropped more than 40%. The most dangerous decade for police officers was the 1920’s. Police safety has been improving pretty steadily ever since. Popular fantasies about a current crime wave are a fake news phenomenon. We are safer than we have ever been, including those who protect us.

 

To top things off, Sturgill Simpson was nominated for a Grammy, and we got new albums from Lucinda Williams, Drive by Truckers, and the Jayhawks.

In short, 2016 was a pretty amazing year. In the years to come a Trump Administration is dedicated to undoing much of the progress we achieved. With a hearty resistance and a little luck, they might fail. Enjoy the holidays.

82 Comments

  1. Happy holidays, everyone!

    I’ve been lurking on this site mostly–haven’t had the heart to post plus have been crazy-busy with the new job.
    It would be great if 2017 turned out better than 2016 but I’m not too hopeful on that front. Fingers crossed….

    1. MassDem! You’ve been missed, but glad you’ve been following. Yes, the news of 2016 ended badly for most of us on Nov. 8th….and, I share your concerns going forward. Each of us will have to make stands that we are comfortable with because this year will test us sorely.

      Are you still teaching? I have continued to search out and share good writing from the Boston Globe in your absence when I am not pay-walled!

      So happy to hear from you…Hope Sassy is still doing well up in TN…miss not hearing from her and many others.

  2. Happy post-Christmas everyone and a good New Year.

    Thank you Chris for posting this wrap-up post for 2016. I found it to be optimistic overall. It coincides with my overall long-term optimism. Though I feel that America will have some very difficult times in the not too distant future, I have confidence that the American People will persevere and emerge stronger than ever. As the regular readers realize, I am somewhat of an amateur historian. Always before when America has faced a crisis we have worked together and emerged stronger than ever, but only after we could no longer avoid facing the issues. We have many advantages, including our relative isolation, a strong government and institutions, a rich land, and most important, the PEOPLE. The forerunners of all Americans (including the first peoples) immigrated to America, thus they were willing to strike out for the unknown for a better future. Some more recent than others, but we are all immigrants. There remains a fundamental optimism in America.

    Also thank you for the shout-out to Seattle and the minimum wage. So far it seems to be working OK. The growth still continues.

    Finally, I’d like to post some links to articles that I have found interesting. The first is from a column in Salon regarding the election. The author, Amanda Marcotte, reviews a recent poll from the Glover Park Group. My take from this is that the Culture War issues really hurt the Democrats in this election and in the last few elections. Even more emphasis on economic issues would not have made a lot of difference. That concurs with much of what Chris has written. The most revealing point was that the people supported individual issues covered by the Affordable Care Act, but when it was called “Obamacare”, they were ready “to throw the baby out with the bathwater”. My conclusion is that a slow down in the cultural changes is probably required to re-establish some sanity in American politics, but that is going to be very difficult and may not be wise. We witnessed that in the 1950’s. On the surface it was a decade of boring normality and stability, but with retrospect, tension was suppressed and that led to the wrenching blowups and riots of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. My feeling is that it is better to deal with these issues now, nevertheless the Democrats need to really emphasize the economic issues. The link is:

    http://www.salon.com/2016/12/21/drain-the-swamp-of-all-those-p-c-liberals-turns-out-trumpers-dont-care-about-lobbyists-or-plutocrats/

    Also, below is a link to some articles that I have copied and placed in MyDropbox. One of these by Bob Young from the Seattle Times discusses the effects of the Affordable Care Act has had on health care in Washington. This article also includes a map showing the Congressional Districts in Washington and the Medicaid expansion. As in most states the more rural the district the greater the dependence on Medicaid. The 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th districts are largely rural and are held by Republicans. The greater Seattle metropolitan area (Pugetopolis) encompasses the 7th, 9th and the largest part of the population of the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 10th districts. The 8th is an anomaly in that it has a small projection to include an exurban but very conservative portion of Pugetopolis with the intent of protecting an incumbent Republican. That shows some gerrymandering that occurred.

    Also included is an interview by Jerry Large, again of the Seattle Times, of Franz Wassermann, a Seattle resident, who escaped Nazi Germany when he was 12 in 1938. It is quite chilling and bears reading. We need to be vigilant and active during this next administration.

    I’ve also included the post-election Horsey blogs, which some of you may find interesting.

    The link is:

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fewuwrngejjegze/AAD933xHhhJrNtaDAuWp5_8ka?dl=0

    Forgive the length of this post, but I wanted to share these and I’ve not had time to post for several days.

    1. Happy New Year to all is in order going forward!

      Per the Salon piece: “Trump voters are an incoherent mess when you ask them about regulating the financial industries or corruption in politics, but have a strongly cohesive ideology when it comes to race or gender issues.”

      The strong objection to contraception for women is mind-boggling. It’s like those who object to contraception while totally opposed to abortion can’t connect the dots….Do they not understand how babies happen? Do they not want to prevent/avoid unwanted, untimely pregnancy in an orderly, affordable, safe way? If opposition to contraception is really a statement of male offense at women taking control of their lives and competing with them for jobs – that’s not going to change by making women pay for contraception.

      The thrust of the article helped me better understand what actually motivated Trump supporters….especially as the economic argument seemed so at odds with the self interests of these people. I’m not in favor of backing off on social change, but I agree it’s going to be difficult to maintain the progress that has been made. Social changes were strong antagonists for mobilizing opposition to liberals as the survey indicates, but given the burgeoning Gen X and Millennial numbers coming up, social change is here to stay….That doesn’t mean conservatives won’t do everything within their power (which is huge) to repeal laws, policies, etc that enable social change, but their efforts will fail in the long run. One bright spot on social change is the surprising strength business has shown on this issue. Undoubtedly, management has listened to employee outrage and this likely motivated their stands, but giving them credit for standing firm is important.

      1. Yes, let us give credit to the major corporations and the sports groups for standing firm. But the reason for that is because they realize that the potential long term losses in the major metropolitan areas and with Gen X and Millennials could be devastating.

      2. I also believe their players and employees made their feelings known. Of course, in the case of sports, many fans are younger so there is that angle as well. I’d like to believe that big business is more aware of their role and appeal to a broad cross section of people. In a competitive market, they must have felt they had more to gain than lose by taking the stand they did. It certainly hasn’t moved the needle in NC with their Legislature….That state has some deeply rooted problems.

        Regardless, business/sport teams (which are “big business too) stand is important as another buttress for social issues and will be increasingly important on climate change.

      3. Here’s analysis that offers an explanation of “not just the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. but also the rising polarization and extremism that seem to have permeated the world….” collated from some of the leading psychologists…..

        http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/the-psychological-research-that-helps-explain-the-election

        Obviously, there is still a great deal of confusion and disagreement about why the election turned out as it did. At some point, probably sooner would be better, the focus needs to turn to how we deal with what is coming….because, it is coming. In the meantime, we still try to understand…….

      4. Mary, The New Yorker Article is very pertinent. It does help explain why people are so reluctant to change their perceptions. Churchill observed this in regards to the US when he remarked that America must try everything else before doing the right thing. Also the pattern that major progressive change always requires an overwhelming majority in Congress and generally immediately follows or coincides with a major crisis is partly due to this phenomenon. We all have certain perceptions and changing those perceptions is very difficult.

      5. The problem and my fear is that with total control of all branches of government, Republicans will plow ahead without regard for what is lost in the process. The philosophy Paul Ryan has expressed about health care “access” being what’s important, not universal coverage……He just doesn’t get it and he obviously doesn’t care either. Trump has set up a cabinet slate that appears poised to tear down the framework of democracy….not that I oppose constructive change, but destructive change serves only the pursuit of power – it doesn’t build anything.

  3. I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday. This years Hanukkah is starts tonight. Seems like a confluence of events that bodes well. There may not be a new post for several days. Taking a few days off and traveling to visit in-laws on the East Coast. I’ll try to build a link post next week. Happy Holidays.

      1. I need to do some research with SCOTUS opinions on civil forfeiture. I simply cannot believe that this hasn’t been dealt with by the SC…and, struck down, but obviously as it is still going on, I am wrong. This just shouldn’t be allowed as it is being utilized.

    1. Funny you should reference this. I just took my paperback copy of Small is Beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered off the shelf to see how/if it resonated with me today.
      It was written in the early 70s. I seem to remember that Jerry Brown was a fan of it.
      E. F. Schumacher addresses production, education, development, large organizations, socialism and ownership.
      Right now, I find the style irritating. Lots of double negatives that insure misunderstandings.

    2. Wonderful piece, Creigh. Thank you for posting it. Vocational education, as a career path, has not been respected generally. The advent of technology has opened up many new quality career choices that don’t require a college degree, and that is very positive, but all require at academic preparation. The “strong back” jobs are fading away.

      An important point (for me) in the Atlantic article related to the distinction between how we perceive unions for working people negatively but view positively the organizations that serve much the same purpose for “elite workers—professionals, managers, financial workers, tenured professors”… (who) “organize collectively, through lobbying, credentialing, licensing, and other strategies. But fewer ordinary workers have the same ability to do so: Unions have been crushed, the government steps in less often on their behalf, and local political machines—”

      The theme for me is the value society places on work without respecting the difficulties of attainment. American dignity and respect are wrapped up in one’s work status but regarded differently. I believe unions for working people are still very important structural systems but they are slowly being dismantled and working people are losing yet another support system – which brings us right back to the premise of this article that our self-worth is inextricably tied to job status.

  4. I’m wishing truly happy holidays for everyone here. I love dropping in to see what’s on your mind.

    For the new year, I wish you lots of energy, applied to the resistance. I also wish you blissful times with people you care about.

    Me, I’ve moved from being one of the world’s oldest graduate students to retaking the mantle of world oldest social media marketing maven — and the work will take place from my home and at the office, which is literally within walking distance of my house. (Even I have difficulty absorbing that…a job in Houston with no commute…)

    To the resistance! (we need a slogan with an exclamation point)

    1. Bobo, an article on resistance! and old advice from De Tocqueville on what’s best about democracy….

      https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2016/12/20/trump-no-ordinary-president/?

      “The final wall of defense against the erosion of democracy in America rests with civil society, the feature of our country Tocqueville was most impressed with. Community organizations, businesses, nonprofit organizations of all types, including think tanks that engage in fact-based policy analysis and embrace the democratic norms essential to the preservation of our way of life. The objective is not artificial bipartisan agreement, but forthright articulation of the importance of truth, the legitimacy of government and political opposition, and the nurturance of public support for the difficult work of governance. It is in this sector of American society in which citizens can organize, private-sector leaders can speak up in the face of abuses of public authority, and extreme, anti-democratic forces can be resisted.”

      IOW, resistance! is most effective when local….each of us can make a difference, and collectively, we will make a difference – but only if each of us is willing to stand up for what we believe in. Sometimes that will be uncomfortable, but the alternative is worse.

      1. “down here it (Festivas pole) is covered with mold…”

        Or, paint (-; I thought I was going to be attacked in a boutique last week when a lady standing next to me in the check out line made a negative comment about some lovely cards that used “Happy Holidays”…The imp in me couldn’t resist…The sneer on her face was, let me say, downright “un-Christian”. I suggested she look in the next aisle where there were cards with other secular messages…(knowing full well her religious bent). It was a delicious moment to watch her reaction.

        I respect everyone’s right to their own beliefs, but not their denigration of other people’s beliefs – including my own…

    1. Another point, Chris. Your research documents the gains made by working class people which is a good thing. It didn’t, however, speak to the very real income and wealth divide that is getting larger even as we can applaud that working people did make modest income gains,

  5. Testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh might’ve been for more practical reasons as well. Marooned it the wild northlands over an hour from the city for work for the last 20 years, I forgot how much of a bewildering, three-dimensional maze the place is until recently I took two trips down to the South Hills and Oakland w. my family.

    “But I can see where we need to be. It’s right down that hill there!”

    Heh. Google Maps is fair, but doesn’t account for the tiny, twisting, narrow roads (cars parked both sides) w. oncoming traffic, multitude of one-way streets, and streets climbing seemingly near vertical slopes. (And I visited before the usual rugged Yinzer winter hit).

    If Uber’s self-driving cars can manage that, then they’re ready for anything.

  6. EJ

    Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyeuse Noel. May everyone have a pleasant Wintermas according to their own custom.

    2016 was the year that humans:
    – Directly observed gravity waves
    – First analysed the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star
    – Developed a bacterium able to break down PET, a common plastic pollutant
    – Lost at Go against the machines
    – Created synthetic bacteria
    – Found the origin of Smith’s Cloud
    – Modelled the orbit of the possible Planet Nine
    – Saw Makemake’s moon
    – Confirmed that GM food is safe (we weren’t that worried but it’s nice to be sure)
    – Created reusable spacecraft
    – Invented phase-change memory
    – Found oxygen on Mars
    – Found both the brain-location and the genetic predisposition of depression
    – Observed the light-spectrum of antimatter
    – Found an Earthlike planet around Proxima Centauri

    Those of us in space science also got a bunch of new shiny toys to play with, with gifts from across the world.
    – America finished building the James Webb space telescope, which is going to revolutionise infrared telescopy.
    – Europe got the first data from the Gaia orbital observatory, which is so exciting that it’s hard to sit still while typing these words.
    – China switched on a ground-based telescope called FAST, which is the biggest and most awesome ground telescope yet built by humans.
    – Belgium is not often considered a world power, but their TRAPPIST robotic telescope did good work this year, finding a bunch of Earth-sized exoplanets around a single star.

    1. EJ, you’ve inspired me to “pay the good forward”! Here’s an example of the good that can happen when people work together for a common good. Homelessness in Albuquerque, NM and mental health in San Antonio, TX are noteworthy in this regard. Key in both cities – people who cared, worked across the aisle, gave generously, and problem-solved together.

      Albuquerque, NM – http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/what-works-albuquerque-homeless-solution-housing-policy-214527

      San Antonio, TX – https://apps.bostonglobe.com/spotlight/the-desperate-and-the-dead/series/solutions/

      1. And, yet another wonderful piece of news – a vaccine has been developed for Ebola that is working! An interesting side note is that the vaccine was developed by the Public Health Division in Canada…darn! Those pesky gubmint scientists have done it again!!! The drug is also a testimony of how scientists and medical personnel worked together to pool information, studies, results. The best news is it works and millions of people will have a means of avoiding this deadly infectious disease. Yea science!

        http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/22/14039628/rvsv-zebov-ebola-vaccine-trial-effective

      2. mime, the San Antonio story is as inspirational as any holiday story could possibly be. What kind, thoughtful human beings. I know they’re out there and I resolve to meet more of them.

        These things stand out in the story:

        1) A millionaire donated the millions to create the Haven of Hope.

        2) Concerns about policy changes due to personality changes due to the recent election.

        3) The hunt for money to keep everything going.

        “Texas as of 2013 spent less money per-capita on mental health care than nearly every state, far less than Massachusetts, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The center draws funding from more than 100 sources, including the state and federal governments, philanthropic groups, and private industry.”

        “And Evans increased the time clinicians spent doing direct care, which brought in additional Medicaid money.”

        A shrink friend tells me that even less Medicaid money for mental health may be on the horizon due to the actions of a lawyer in Austin. Apparently, she’s trying to remove the licensure requirements for psychologists. That would mean they couldn’t get their fees paid by insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid.

        Makes ya wonder who is paying that lawyer, right?

      1. Who says Trump et al will comply with the WTO? He’s writing his own rules. The people he is going to have a fight with over this are corporate interests…Let him continue to mouth off, commit to actions without due deliberation or bothering to communicate with American interests who will be negatively impacted….When you are convinced you are the smartest person in the world, who prides himself on his “gut” instincts (based upon superior intelligence, of course), it’s act first then think…….

  7. Chris, thank you for an uplifting message at Christmas. We’ve experienced sadness and pain and concern for what lies ahead. This makes it easier to overlook the positive things that have happened in this year. I’d like to thank you for your time and effort to consistently, frequently offer thought-provoking, informative pieces for your extended family of followers, as well as extend appreciation to all who comment and add so much to the discussion.

    It will be interesting to compare your Christmas 2017 message with this one…For now, I’ll focus on today and this year’s achievements. Still, in spite of all the gains across so many sectors, classes, and issues – millions of Americans seem unappreciative or possibly unaware of the many good things that surrounded them. The anger, division, ugly and false rhetoric seem out of place when measured against the big positive picture you drew. Is it too little too late for some? Is it never enough for others? Is it inevitable in a nation that holds so much promise but is failing many of its citizens? Is it simply the turbulence that occurs over time. I don’t have answers to these questions but hope that in time, those who lashed out and have such hostility for their fellow Americans will be able to resolve their frustrations and anger and gradually appreciate that our imperfect country is still a great nation.

    Merry Christmas to you, Mrs. P.O. (thank her for her contributions), and your family. As many concerns as I have for what lies ahead, it is time to give thanks for what we have.

  8. In more good news, Finland’s Parliament has officially authorized its UBI experiment, with the first payments to start on January 1st, 2017. How well it does will play a big role in determining whether Finland moves to to a nationwide basic income as well as the cost for doing so. I wish them nothing but the best. Go get ’em, Finnies.

    http://basicincome.org/news/2016/12/finland-basic-income-experiment-authorized-parliament/

    1. Faced with a government run by grifters, psychopaths, and fascists, we may find that our most hopeful path to better times is simply to reduce their power. In other words, libertarians may find support for a lot of their old goals from unusual quarters. If we can’t have a sane, competent government, then perhaps we could at least get less government.

      1. A rather depressing assessment, wouldn’t you agree? Not unwarranted given the current circumstances of course, but the Achilles’ heel in that line of thinking is that it tends towards the lack of a willingness to fight. If one honestly believes that the future is ours, then our task at hand is to mitigate the damage of these fools as best as we’re able until that time arrives. Optimistically, such a time isn’t too far off.

        Lend aforementioned fools even a moment’s breathing room and comparatively benign measures like restricting local governments from raising the minimum wage (nice to see you’re such a firm believer in the power of the state, Gov. Kasich – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/john-kasich-minimum-wage_us_585ae84be4b0de3a08f3fde5) could prove the least of people’s worries.

      2. I’ll never understand the fetish for small government, or government of any particular size. If a government action benefits people, do it; if it doesn’t, don’t. Of course, most government actions benefit some people more and others less or not at all; figuring that out and fixing those things is why we need inclusive politics.
        Frankly, I’m more concerned with the current set of grifters dismantling the progress we’ve made establishing justice for women, minorities, and gays. I’m more concerned about them rolling back the general welfare in terms of health care and environment, in favor of themselves. I’m concerned about them privatizing national parks and education and other public infrastructure and putting up toll booths.
        And I definitely don’t think handing more power over to corporations is going to solve that problem. If anything, I see corporate power growing at the expense of individual power. Marketizing everything is definitely not the way to increase individual liberties.

      3. I completely agree with the caveat that services need to be as efficient as possible. I do not agree with Chris’ conservative views on small government as a solution; I do agree that government should be staffed with smart, experienced people whose focus is on quality service. The allegiance by conservatives to this premise is difficult to pierce.

        I am amused to watch the growing list of West Wing appointments for DJT…could the first infrastructure project be an addition to the White House to accommodate all the newbies? Can’t wait for the re-decorating of the grande dame….

      4. Creigh, to a certain extent I can see how an individual can have power as a consumer, a consumer who can use his buying power, his power to choose among competitors, to keep one corporation in business and put another out of business, to boycott, but as a consumer he can just as easily become a slave to the corporations.

        Still, I see a person first and foremost as an individual, a member of the greater society who should participate to whatever degree he chooses, while keeping in mind the needs of the greater society, and not as a consumer, or even as an entrepreneur or producer.

        I DO like the idea of the individual as a CREATOR, someone with original ideas, as opposed to someone who just produces based on the ideas of others.

      5. Or, I guess we come back to the individual not only as consumer but as WORKER or EMPLOYEE, holder of that all important JOB which is part and parcel of one’s identity. (What is your name, and more importantly, what do you do for a living??)

        So we still come back to seeing people in corporate terms.

  9. Glad to see the depression lifted. Yes we will be able to turn back the forces of evil. The coming attack on Social Security and Medicare is going to get the attention of those who voted for Trump in a big way. Trump and the Republican party are going to overreach. And millions of people are riled up all ready. It would not take much to tip direction. Trump and his mandate my backside.

    1. Let’s lay it out there right now. Don’t assume any potential changes to Social Security or Medicare would somehow spark a massive backlash against the GOP. That’s dangerously close to the kind of arrogant thinking (of which I’m guilty) too many had in this past election that let us to a terribly rude awakening on Election Night. I don’t want another sleepless night like that ever again, not as far as I can help it.

      Here’s what we’re likely to see. Republicans know very well the peril of which you speak and so they’re going to make any changes as politically palatable as possible, arguing that anything they do was unavoidable in the face of the entire system being wrecked (see Paul Ryan’s outright lies of the ACA’s benefits to Medicare) or having their “reforms” phased in gradually over the course of many years so as to avoid the wrath of those who depend on the system right now.

      Democrats will cry bloody murder, and all they’ll get for their efforts is predictable scorn by Republicans for not facing up to ‘hard truths’ and lackluster election results; all the while they’ll scratch their heads, wondering what could’ve possibly gone wrong, wondering why people weren’t OUTRAGED over this latest “overreach” by Republicans and… blah blah blah. Turn off the TV and rest easy knowing that pundits will have more than enough material for their weekly quotas for months.

      1. I am a boomer and remember the rip off of the early eighties that Tip O’Neill and Reagan cooked up to save Social Security. Boomers are now retiring. Basically the full cost of the reform was put on the Boomer generation. Weakening of the programs for generation behind us undermines political support for these programs. Eventually that will affect us. This frog is not going to settle for slowly being cooked and I believe I am not the only boomer who see things this way. Even the most Fox trance granny can become a screaming Banshee when her Social Security and Medicare are being messed with. The last time Social Security was attacked it was from G.W. Bush trying to privatize it. That did not end well for him or his party.

      2. There is a dawning realization by the GOP that the “replace” concept will require funding…if they repeal the revenue sources built into the ACA, their funding base is gone…unless….and this is what may actually happen – they make cuts to medicare and medicaid that will allow them to shift funds to their replacement…either way, people are screwed and they will have a mess on their hands – and they deserve every molecule of it.

      3. I’m more hopeful that you. There was a firestorm the last time the Republicans tried to hack up Social Security, in 2005. Deforms can be blocked with 3 Republicans Senators and I don’t think that a big reach. Flake, Gardner, Ernst, Collins, and Tillis all face challenging re-elections by 2020, and even McConnell himself may be reluctant to face voters after “putting his government hands on their Medicare”.

      4. >] I’m more hopeful that you. There was a firestorm the last time the Republicans tried to hack up Social Security, in 2005. Deforms can be blocked with 3 Republicans Senators and I don’t think that a big reach. Flake, Gardner, Ernst, Collins, and Tillis all face challenging re-elections by 2020, and even McConnell himself may be reluctant to face voters after “putting his government hands on their Medicare”

        I’m not terribly pessimistic about blocking any significant changes to SS, at least for right now. Obviously, Democrats will assuredly filibuster anything like that in the Senate and Republicans’ majority is far too small to overcome it, even if they were united on it, which, as you pointed out, they likely wouldn’t be.

        What I am saying is is that Republicans (or, at the very least, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell) will make any changes to programs like Medicare as politically palatable to their members as possible, and that you shouldn’t place your faith in Americans’ attention spans. It’s a bet you’re always going to lose. Any ‘firestorm’ that comes their way is likely to come through a market collapse via repeal of the ACA. We’ll see what happens.

      5. They will likely wait on SS until 2018 when they “expect” to achieve their super majority in the Senate……

        I agree, Ryan. The laissez faire attitude of Dems is mind-boggling to me. I understand the party is still recovering from the shock of the election, but on “day one – 11/9) they should have been making their plan to resist what they know is coming. As you noted, memories are painfully short and the GOP exceptionally capable at spinning the truth as they want people to see it.

        I think when the GOP legislative steam roller starts after inauguration, people are going to be dumbstruck – but It will be too late. Michael Moore was on MSNBC last night and offered his 5 step plan for each of us…which basically involves: paying close attention to what is happening and having a small, core, committed team of 5-10 people who are willing to make phone calls, visit local offices of Congressmen/women, protest (inauguration day and as needed)….a groundswell of citizen protest. He suggested each of us who cares make an appointment with our member of Congress prior to 1/21/17 and share our feelings and ask very specific questions. He’s right, of course, but Democrats are not good at preventative resistance and the consequences of that will become apparent very soon.

    2. Ryan, ALEC is behind the legislation regarding suppression of minimum wage increases that the 20 states mentioned in the article followed. This arm of the GOP prepares test legislation across a number of fronts and then the legislatures and governors run them up the flag. In TX, the Legislature passed laws forbidding a small city outside Dallas to ban fracking within their jurisdictional boundaries….

      Here’s the ALEC background: https://www.alec.org/model-policy/living-wage-mandate-preemption-act/

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