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One chart, two trend lines, and the 12 Word Platform

Notice the two trend lines:

1. The Clinton administration: Real wages up.

2. The Bush/Obama administration: Real wages down.

Now, I can dig out a link to a Clinton permathread if anybody wants; my point here is that the perception of concrete material benefits is very important (at least to those of a generation to have experienced the contrast. I mean, back in the 80s I had dental care. Can you imagine?) There is a reason that the truck driver in PA reacted to the OFB this way: "What part of the Clinton administration don't they like? The peace? Or the prosperity?" And that reason is very simple: The truck driver's life got better. I bet he was happier.

Note that every aspect of the 12 Word Platform has a "concrete material benefit" expressed or implied:

1. Medicare for All: You won't die for lack of care, and the country saves $350 billion a year.

2. End the Wars: Your kids won't die for reasons nobody can explain, and we can start manufacturing things for people to use, instead of machines that get blown up. And ending the war on drugs gets a lot of normal people out of jail who should never have been there. Also, too, pot, and why not?

3. Tax the Rich: Though taxes do not "raise" money that the government then "spends," taxing the rich is important to end a tyranny of inherited wealth that destroys opportunity for those whose children are not wealthy.

4. Jobs Guarantee: You won't lose your house, your health, or your life because the elite crash the economy again. And the aggregate demand the Jobs Guarantee creates will kickstart the economy and get the whole country working again.

People can probably improve these talking points, but one thing I notice about the signage in #TakeWallStreet is that there is no positive program that yields concrete material benefits. Rage is not enough.

NOTE Speaking of which: danps, any photos from that DC event?

UPDATE In the three years since this post was published, we've expanded these ideas to "The 12-Point Platform." More words, same objectives.

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Eureka Springs's picture
Submitted by Eureka Springs on

peace, was the perception of the electorate perhaps.. but it's egregious to abuse that perception since in Iraq alone, neoliberal Clinton's air enforced sanctions were killing a whole lot of innocent people.

I'm sure there are other ways, but the only thing I can imagine bringing back the kind of "prosperity" of the 90's... would be ending free trade as we know it while passing a law all big box store shelves must be stocked with 70 percent or more American made goods (especially food, drugs, clothing, electronics and tools) in five years or less. the race of chinese, japanese and american companies back into manufacturing here would be like a gold rush... especially if minimum wage were simultaneously raised to 20.00 per hour and single payer were established as a human right.

Submitted by lambert on

.... I can dig out a link to a Clinton permathread.

This post is not about that. Please reread.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I mean, back in the 80s I had dental care.

Hey, I had optical back then, too. Now, I'd be lucky to get major medical coverage.

Submitted by jm on

undercuts your argument.

1. Yes, the perception of concrete material benefits is important, but only so far as those benefits are delivered in such a way as to have a lasting effect. Otherwise, it's just that--perception. We're seeing right now what happens when electoral victories are based solely on perception. Actual reality fell short of the perception for an awful lot of people in the 1990s. Many just didn't realize it at the time. Meanwhile, the Democrats enabled the divergence in income distribution, the benefits of which the uber-class used to buy the political/economic outcomes--the reality, if you will--plaguing us today. These graphs put the trend into this wider context:

The benefits of an expansion built on bubbles were, for the vast majority, ephemeral. So, yeah, the truck driver's life got better (briefly), but only when seen through blinders.

2. The graph you chose skews the story in another way. Yes, household income went up (briefly), but factors other than wage growth played a more important role (at least for those of us in fields not directly related to the bubbles). The most obvious one is that more households were bringing in two incomes. This graph provides a more accurate picture of economic dynamics in the 1990s:

While productivity was going through the roof real hourly wages during the decade rose minimally, but remained below where they were 10-20 years earlier. While the increase isn't a bad thing, the more important issue is why wages were lower than they once were.

What were the Democrats doing during this period? They (with the Republicans) were enacting a free trade policy that gutted high wage blue-collar employment, putting downward pressure on all other working class wages, and deregulating the economy pretty much across the board which directly enabled the looting of the 2000s and the Bush-Obama trend you cite. This is the real Clinton legacy.

The 12 Word Platform is a concrete, positive plan for action. It is powerful enough to stand on its own. Likening it to Clinton era policies only dilutes that power. The Clinton years weren't that good for many of us. They only look good if you ignore a lot of unpleasant facts.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Stupid truck driver too stupid to realize his life wasn't better.

Yeah, that's how we win.

Submitted by jm on

but any stupidity on the driver's part is your inference, not my implication. The blinders I referred to belong to present day commentators.

And because the shit hasn't been stirred up enough already, can someone flesh out this truck driver? I haven't been able to find reference to his statement elsewhere. I did find this:

Occasionally, in this campaign, I hear somebody criticize the 90's. That's fair. But I always wonder to myself, what is it they didn't like, the peace, or the prosperity? I could never figure that part out.

Now, you already shot down the peace part. I'm arguing that the prosperity part, ephemeral as it was, came at way too high a cost. As such, using the Clinton experience as an example of "concrete material benefits" is not the best way to support the propagation of the 12 Word Platform.

Submitted by lambert on

You write:

Yes, the perception of concrete material benefits is important, but only so far as those benefits are delivered in such a way as to have a lasting effect. Otherwise, it's just that--perception. .... So, yeah, the truck driver's life got better (briefly), but only when seen through blinders.

So who's wearing the blinders? If it's the truck driver, yeah, you're calling them stupid. If it's me, you concede my argument: That concrete material benefits count politically. (And I deny "ephemeral." Once again, for the umpteenth time, I fixed my teeth and bought a furnance. Not ephemeral. The very reverse of ephemeral.

As for the truck driver, it was during the PA primaries and IIRC in the midst of the Mayhill Fowler dustup on bitter/cling to. Google doesn't bring it up, and since I blew away the search tables to shrink the database for a port, I can't find it here. I didn't imagine or invent it, but read it.

Submitted by lambert on

.. but it's wrong. You write:

Yes, the perception of concrete material benefits is important, but only so far as those benefits are delivered in such a way as to have a lasting effect. Otherwise, it's just that--perception.

You're claiming that if my wage packet increases (say) for five straight years and then drops, the increase was an illusion. That's absurd on its face. If I bought a new furnace and fixed my teeth with the money I would not have had if wages had remained flat, I've still got the furnace and my teeth even if my pay drops to zero in year 6. That's reality, and not perception.

I agree with your point on household income vs. wages; you're right.* However, I'm still right on wages proper; see here for chart that shows the same thing: Increases during the Clinton years (stops at Bush, but I think we can assume they go down...)

For the rest of your comment, I'm well aware of the increase in inequality -- there's a chart for it on the sidebar. I'm also well aware of the policy continuities among neoliberals from Carter on. These are all part of the Clinton permathread, and don't affect the point of the post.

I think that, in general, we would do well to use a bit more empathy and imagination about why wage earners retain positive feelings for the Clinton administration, and a good deal less explaining to them why their perceptions are invalid or wrong.

NOTE * To amplify: Jeebus, oops. Good catch.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

foreheads:

I think that, in general, we would do well to use a bit more empathy and imagination about why wage earners retain positive feelings for the Clinton administration, and a good deal less explaining to them why their perceptions are invalid or wrong.

1000+

And just to emphasize: the growing inequality between poor, middle and uber-rich is very important. It is not just, fair, or in any way principled, or consistent with any modern concept of democracy.

However, if you're at the poor to middle end, it is pretty much of abstract importance (ie, not particularly important) compared to the concrete reality of actual changes in your wages and income. If I am losing ground, it doesn't really matter much to me whether Joe Uber Rich is 100 times richer than me or a 1000. If I am doing well -- and my wages/income are growing -- well, it still doesn't matter all that much. I may care a bit, but the relative inequality between me and the uber rich doesn't concretely affect my everyday life: is my family secure? can I make my mortgage? do I have a job? will I have a job tomorrow? can I afford to pay for my kids' medical care?

All those stupid truck drivers out there aren't wrong, or too stupid to understand what income inequality means. Their analysis starts at a different point, and it's not a wrong one.

Submitted by jm on

Suppose Gore won in 2000, and again in 2004. How does the past decade substantively change with respect to general prosperity (and for the purposes of this thread, only with respect to general prosperity)? By January 20, 2001 the 2000-2001 recession had already begun. Gramm-Leach-Bliley had already been passed. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act had already been passed. Greenspan was still at the Fed. The financial regulatory apparatus had already been captured. In other words, the table was already set for the housing bubble. How would have the financial clusterfuck of 2008 been substantively different under President Gore and Treasury Secretary _____ (insert your own Robert Rubin clone here)?

I'm glad you and others did well in the '90s. Had Gore won, would your present economic circumstances be much different? If not, how would that affect your perceptions of the Clinton-Gore Administration today. Would that warm and fuzzy feeling still be there? In any event, what good are perceptions the day after the election? What makes you think any Democrat, including Hillary, could have delivered on your post-Clinton perceptions, even if they had wanted to? Jeez, if the Obama experience has proven anything it is the emptiness of perceptions. If you want to harken back to the good old days why not go long with FDR?

Meanwhile, a lot of us didn't do that well under Clinton. In real terms, I didn't see any wage gain even though I was receiving nominal raises. This was largely an effect of Clinton's free trade policies. I also experienced two temporary layoffs during that time because of the volatility that comes with bubble inflated economies (I worked in manufacturing producing a luxury item). My co-workers and I were not unique examples of what was happening in the working class back then.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

and entirely unwarranted assumptions of personal prosperity during the 90s. Or, shorter: you don't know jack shit about anyone's background, so shut up about it.

Regardless of your individual situation in the 90s, Lambert's, or anyone else's on this thread, the latter two about which you know absolutely nothing, many people experienced concrete material benefits. Enough people so that the man who was president during that period is remembered well by those that experienced them.

Your hypothetical is irrelevant to Lambert's point -- that the 12-word platform delivers on concrete material benefits, which are both politically popular and the right thing to do.

The reason Corrente has a Clinton permathread is because every time this point is made with a mention of either of the Clintons, the same kneejerk misreading of the point that you are making now, is made.

To Lambert: on Tax the Rich, I feel like the description's a little off, or awkward. Instead of:

3. Tax the Rich: Though taxes do not "raise" money that the government then "spends," taxing the rich is important to end a tyranny of inherited wealth that destroys opportunity for those whose children are not wealthy.

How 'bout something like:

3. Tax the Rich: Though taxes do not "raise" money that the government then "spends," the rich need to bear their fair share of supporting our society's welfare and your children's futures. Your children should have the same opportunities open to them as the children of the wealthy.

Submitted by jm on

I didn't claim the increases were an illusion, I wrote they were ephemeral, as in lasting a short time.

My point here is that the Clinton era "prosperity" came with a very real neo-liberal price tag attached (globalization, deregulation, permanent wartime footing, etc.). We are paying that price right now. Knowing what we know now, was that transitory prosperity, which was by no means experienced by everyone, worth it? I guess you would say yes. I say absolutely not, the cost was way too high.

My other point, which I'm not making very well apparently, is that the 12 Word Platform would be better served without the Clintonian albatross around its neck. Especially given that the causal links between Clinton's actions and the income gains were, at best, weak.

Submitted by lambert on

... two things will happen.

First, you'll be able to read what you yourself wrote:

. Yes, the perception of concrete material benefits is important, but only so far as those benefits are delivered in such a way as to have a lasting effect. Otherwise, it's just that--perception.

If that's not a claim of being an illusion, my reading comprehension skills are much worse than I thought. It's also wrong. I fixed my friggin teeth and bought a furnace with the money. How is that "just... perception"?

Second, you'll be able to distinguish pointing to an effect with endorsing a candidate or a policy. Let us remember -- we do want to win, right? -- that for a majority of voters in the D primaries in 2008, the Clintonian "albatross" was no albatros. Clinton won a majority of the popular vote, in the teeth of the party establishment, a press that hated her, and ruthless manipulation of the party machinery by her enemies. How? Well, one answer, and I don't think this the answer you would prefer, was that she was an excellent candidate who really connected with voters, especially wage earning voters (stigmatized by Obama creative class types as racists who cling to guns and religion). A second answer is that voters on the whole and on the average regarded the Clinton area as "good times."

I've made this argument a couple of times, and every time the fucking Clinton permathread comes up and I have to explain again that yes, I know that the Clintons were and are neoliberals. That has nothing to do with the points I am failing to make:

1. Concrete material benefits matter to voters (as the Clinton administration, and Hillary Clinton's run, both show)

2. The left would, therefore, do well to remember that when crafting its messages, and

3. The left would also do well if it stopped explaining to truckers how stupid they are.

I mean, Jeebus. Maybe I need to put "Caution: Clinton trigger!" at the top of posts like this. Because apparently I'm going to have to keep hammering away at these obvious points until they are understood.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

People can probably improve these talking points, but one thing I notice about the signage in #TakeWallStreet is that there is no positive program that yields concrete material benefits. Rage is not enough

.

Also, Guy Fawkes masks? For real, Guy Fawkes? Are New Yorkers likely to identify with a man like Guy Fawkes?

Submitted by lambert on

The argument seems to be that we can't say that increases in real wages have a beneficial effect politically, because wage earners use the money to improve their lives, because the increase occurred during the Clinton administration.

That's one of the stupidest arguments I've ever heard in my life. And shorn of all the verbiage about ephemeral albatrosses and the evil that is Bob Rubin (true dat), that is exactly the argument that's being made. ("If you want to harken back to the good old days why not go long with FDR.")

Submitted by jm on

Okay, I am wrong to think of your material benefits as ephemeral. Having not shared in the income gains of the '90s it was an easy thing to overlook. Too easy. Bad on my sloppy thinking.

And okay, my counter-factual scenario above, among other things, is irrelevant to the larger point. Again, bad on my sloppy thinking.

However (he said raising his foot towards his mouth), I'm still trying to come up with a way to express that divorcing the effect from the context in which it took place undermines the efficacy of your argument. Effects don't occur in vacuums.

Failing in this, I think I'll just shut up and cut my losses.

Submitted by lambert on

I wish I had a way that was a lot less wishy-washy then "Sure, both Clintons are neo-liberal, but..." There's not a lot of fire in that, eh? To me, the Clintons are on the left of the Overton Window, which is not to say they actually are left, just more in that direction. I want to learn from it, but that doesn't mean the Clinton administration is a baseline or a time to which I would return. It's too late for that now, way too late.

* * *

As for the rest, don't worry about it -- your argument is not you.* Corrente is a tough crowd, and deliberately so.

NOTE * Until you make it you by doing the same thing and expecting a different result ;-)

Submitted by Lex on

And that perception, regardless of the raft of free-trade agreements, welfare reform and the like has an effect on people. Like a few others i disagree with the reality behind that perception but i understand that isn't the point.

What i don't understand is drawing the line between the 12-word platform and Clinton. To what end? Clinton (either of them) wouldn't support it. The Democratic Party wouldn't support it or enact it. No candidate capable of winning Democratic Party support would ever say it out loud.

Attempting to marry the 12-word platform to the Democratic Party will be as successful as pissing up a rope without getting wet. It will appeal to the people who vote Democratic, but if those people don't feel completely abandoned by their party yet ... if they haven't quit in frustration and disgust yet, then they're the same type of low information voter the GOP relies on.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

What i don't understand is drawing the line between the 12-word platform and Clinton. To what end? Clinton (either of them) wouldn't support it. The Democratic Party wouldn't support it or enact it. No candidate capable of winning Democratic Party support would ever say it out loud.

Submitted by lambert on

Maybe I just should have rewritten the friggin thing so that it read:

Between 1994 and 2000, during the term of The President Who Shall Not Be Named, real wages went up.*

Subsequently, in the 2008 primaries, there were beneficial political effects for The Candidate Who Shall Not Be Named.

Would that make the bitter pill that concrete material benefits win votes easier to swallow?

NOTE * Subsequently, under Bush/Obama, real wages went down. Presumably, as liberals or progressives or former Ds, we are entertaining the possibility that policy choices by The Administration That Shall Not Be Named had something to do with this? That it wasn't mere random fluctuation? Yes?

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

That's a glossary word isn't it? HWSNBN?

Anyway, yes, it is a tragedy that most stupid people have the "perception" (not reality), that their lives were getting marginally better during a certain period of time that they associate with HWSNBN. This tragedy is compounded by the blasphemy of the highest order that HWSNBN, is "preceived" (despite the reality) by Versailles, by the pundits, by the MOTU and other enemies of the people, to be somewhere to the left of Stalin. Sadly, ironically, these stupid people then have this ridiculous notion that their lives were better based on policies advanced by someone (HWSNBN) to the left of Stalin. Of course nothing could be further from the truth! They just don't understand that not only was the marginal difference in their life not meaningful, it really wasn't anything to be happy about, and that is because despite what they thought happened, HWSNBN is exactly the same as everyone else so their life couldn't really have been better and he was advancing right wing policies so even if their life was better, it isn't because of why they thought it was. So who you gonna believe? Me or your own lying eyes?

So yes again, it is a very good thing that nobody on the (putative left) would ever use someone's misperception of an "improved" (somewhat recent) life, combined with their misperception of that being attributed to somewhat left policies (because it wasn't, and they weren't, right?), in order to argue that we should radically move our policies to the left of the (current) center at the very minimum.

Because there is just no way to win people over doing that.

Submitted by Lex on

Sorry, i don't fall in love with the spoils of neo-liberal economic empire. I'm not that desperate...

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Maybe your signature should end at "Don't believe them", especially referring to working-class Americans and the brief prosperity they thought they had, since it was on the tainted backs of the "neo-liberal economic empire". They should have just eaten their gruel like all the other proles.

Unfortunately, they (and I) were that desperate.

Submitted by Lex on

Why can't the 12-word platform stand on its own as a piece of political theory or the foundation of something new.

Of course concrete material benefits wins votes. So does blaming all our ills on brown people and promising that no more fetuses will be harmed. Winning votes is the easy part. Actually delivering concrete material benefits is the hard part.

Yes, policy decisions by the Clinton administration had some things to do with it. So did the straight pillage of Russia to be dumped into Wall Street and The City. Billions upon billions entered markets that had never been in play before. Clinton's opening up of Mexico to subsidized corn was a great shot for the US economy short-term; it's also quite responsible for people now winning votes by blaming everything on brown people who got economically destroyed and had to come here for shit work.

But a lot of it was random fluctuation. The Boomers were hitting the peak of their earning potential at a time right before serious off-shoring and labor arbitage to China kicked in. And when it did there was huge market gains to be made by corporations having profit margins explode. That was a decision by the Clinton administration with permanent MFN status to China. And now look.

And maybe this brings us to the underlying, American problem. We refuse to see anything in context. Wow, times were great for me under Clinton. Oh, hey, fuck that poor black woman who got kicked off of welfare; screw the Mexicans and the Iraqi children. Let's harken back to a grand time that didn't really exist except in our own imagination. Things were great for me then.

You can put the 12-word platform in whatever context you want, lambert, but don't be surprised when people who were paying attention to something other than how well we were doing in the 90's point out the issues and find the association distasteful. Because from my perspective, those concrete material benefits came out of the asses of a lot of other people. I can name them and i've known a fair number of them. Excuse me for the luster of those benefits being tarnished.

nasrudin's picture
Submitted by nasrudin on

...when practiced by any neoliberal government -- Ds, Rs, or any other servants of the rentiers -- will generate the illusion of prosperity in the short term for many. When the inevitable bubble-bursting and crash follows, with the hardest losses hitting those who cannot afford them, the rentiers' wholly-owned government will see to it that the lower classes pay to cover the wealthy's bad bets.

The game continues. ALL the DLCers, New Democrats, Third Wayers, neolibs of every stripe -- and their enablers in the "Progressive" Caucus, Black Caucus, Big Labor leadership, etc -- join the Rs in robbing those who actually create wealth: workers.

"One chart, two trend lines" -- two-thirds of the post's title -- promote the illusion of debt-generated short-term prosperity. The 12-word platform will NEVER be allowed consideration, let alone enacted, by those who designed and implemented Clintonomics...or any other neoliberal of any Party supported by Big Capital.

"Anatomy of Clintonomics" by Robert Pollin:
http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=2243

Submitted by lambert on

Nasrudin writes:

The 12-word platform will NEVER be allowed consideration, let alone enacted, by those who designed and implemented Clintonomics...or any other neoliberal of any Party supported by Big Capital.

Since nobody on this thread made a claim that it did, I can only conclude that pure wankery is not confined to career "progressives" or the right.

Suppose I just grant that wage earners are stupid and that being able to fix teeth and buy furnaces when wages go up doesn't matter because what's the matter with them anyhow?

* * *

I'd also like to see a little critical thinking -- hard to do, I know, when you've been triggered by a mention of The Administration That Shall Not Be Named -- on the bubble concept.

There's a big difference between a fraud-driven housing bubble, where you end up with houses you can't give away, mostly because they're way out in the burbs and their pediments are made from styrofoam, and the tech bubble, which for all the pain on the downside, and all the stories like pets.com, built a huge infrastructure with tremendous value that we're using on a daily and hourly basis: Google, Yahoo, the Intertubes, and a ton of content and data processing software.

In other words, the tech bubble was a lot like the railroad bubbles, or the canal bubbles, in the 19th C. At the end of the day, you got railroads and canals (and a better life). The housing bubble was more like the South Sea bubble: Pure fraud, with no value add. I understand the tactical reasons to claim equate the two, but alas, the historical record trumps, or should trump, the polemic purpose.

Submitted by lambert on

Nasrudin writes:

The 12-word platform will NEVER be allowed consideration, let alone enacted, by those who designed and implemented Clintonomics...or any other neoliberal of any Party supported by Big Capital.

Since nobody on this thread made a claim that it did, I can only conclude that pure wankery is not confined to career "progressives" or the right.

Suppose I just grant that wage earners are stupid and that being able to fix teeth and buy furnaces when wages go up doesn't matter because what's the matter with them anyhow?

* * *

I'd also like to see a little critical thinking -- hard to do, I know, when you've been triggered by a mention of The Administration That Shall Not Be Named -- on the bubble concept.

There's a big difference between a fraud-driven housing bubble, where you end up with houses you can't give away, mostly because they're way out in the burbs and their pediments are made from styrofoam, and the tech bubble, which for all the pain on the downside, and all the stories like pets.com, built a huge infrastructure with tremendous value that we're using on a daily and hourly basis: Google, Yahoo, the Intertubes, and a ton of content and data processing software.

In other words, the tech bubble was a lot like the railroad bubbles, or the canal bubbles, in the 19th C. At the end of the day, you got railroads and canals (and a better life). The housing bubble was more like the South Sea bubble: Pure fraud, with no value add. I understand the tactical reasons to claim equate the two, but alas, the historical record trumps, or should trump, the polemic purpose.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

First, define "short-term", if by that you mean 8-9 years, then in most people's minds, that is a fairly good run of improving circumstances no matter how it happens. That is over 10% of their total lifespan, more importantly, it is half of the last twenty years. So although those stupid 40-something truck drivers don't know how wrong they were thinking their lives and prospects were better between 20-30 than between 30-50, we need to absolutely hold to our guns that they don't know any better. That is incredibly smart!

Second*, Lambert was talking above about the perceived concrete benefits** people experienced (based on the evidence shown, they weren't wrong I think), combined with the perception (rightly or wrongly) that it was based on policies far to the left of Bush-Obama. This yielded a positive response from the electorate. I would even say that it was exactly the Hope and Change bait and switch sold by Obama, we will give up conservative economic policies and pursue things (you wrongly thought) were to the left of that.

So I would say the repudiation of Obama is because he hasn't pursued what people perceived (wrongly, yes, ok? wrongly, wrongly, wrongly) as left of center policies they feel*** they prospered under during the administration of HWSNBN.

So I have an idea, rather than work with their perceptions of a better life under left of center policies, let's make sure they understand that Clintonomics are exactly the same as Reagan-Bush-Obamonmics, and even though they thought their life was better under these policies, their personal experience was a lie.

Yeah, that's a winner.

* Woe be unto anyone who mentions HWSNBN, for yea verily, permathread imminent as folks distracted by irritation and lack of message discipline!
** He even used the word "perceived" in the futile hope it would be sufficient prophylactic?
*** Those dumbasses and enablers.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

A careful reading, unblinkered by ideological constraints, would see that, but for the record, Clinton did a lot of things I wasn't pleased about, NAFTA was only one, lowering the capital gains tax rate another, ending Glass-Staegel another. Most of those happened towards the end of his second term (with a Republican congress). So even there, a person not unhinged with Clinton-hate, could say something like "Most people believe we experienced growing prosperity during the 90's, growing opptimism, until right-wing policies like X and Y and Z were passed in the end of that decade and turned things towards the shitter. Before Bush, and now Obama screwed it. We need to get rid of that garbage!". Try that on your co-workers, just as an experiment. It sure works with the hard-hat wearing blue collar people I work with every day!

Anyway, my life trended better during the 90's, and so did most peoples. I guess I am (and they were) too stupid to realize my (our) experience wasn't important.

Anyway, if you'll excuse me, I have to return to my soft-handed job and rebuild my drill rig.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Somerby in a post regarding increasing the capital gains tax rate to be equal to other income rates (as it was set in 1986 which interestingly corresponds to JM's chart above):

We liberals have made little attempt, in the past thirty years, to inform the public about matters like these. In recent weeks, the Post has been doing some very good work.

Granted, this is all happening thirty years late. But shouldn’t we stand up and praise the Post's efforts? Beyond that, shouldn’t we brainstorm about the best ways to transfer all this news to “the folks?”

Sometimes, it seems like we liberals don't enjoy speaking to all those crude, unwashed people!

[emphasis mine]

So there you have it, in 1986 capital gains tax rates were the same as other income and the share of income after taxes of the wealthiest few started trending down to be equivalent percentage-wise to the rest of the population. In fact, you could look at JM's chart and probably see every inflection change as based on the the change in the lowering of capital gains tax rates, most importantly (as the article says) after the Bush tax cuts, which neatly equates to when people feel we went off the rails systematically, that it wasn't just a 9/11 thing, that Bush was a fuck-up and wanted to kill us. Concrete material benefits, tied to understandable policies. A progressive interested in results might want to equate these things as a powerful argument to pursue fair tax policies (as a starter). That is if they actually enjoyed speaking to those crude, unwashed people!

Submitted by Lex on

Until just recently i was one of them, albeit more educated, better read and better traveled than most. What i've found is that the standard liberal/progressive/Democratic lines don't mean shit to the crude unwashed masses because liberals have proven over the last several decades that they don't mean a damned word of it when push comes to shove.

And those who do mean it devote their energy to helping a party and politicians who don't.

There's no a whole generation of liberals who wax nostalgic about blue collars but have to rely on stories of when their parents were blue collar to attempt to relate to actual workers. That's the liberal problem. Not Obama, not Clinton.

Now if you'll excuse me, lunch is over and it's time to put the hard hat back on. Even if i've got a soft-handed job now, all my time's still spent with real workers.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Ouch! It's the "lower-class cred" smackdown! Well, my turn!

Lived under a bridge for any length of time? In a car for a year? Spent years working 40-hour weeks minimum wage while going to school full time? Have you also spent decades framing houses, remodeling, roofing, anything you can do to survive while in and out of what you thought was going to be your career? Have you ever needed or gotten extended unemployment benefits? Relocated across country multiple times because the economy went to shit? If the answer is no to any and/or all, I win.

So you wear a hard-hat and so do those who work under you? Well that's a damn good job, that's the American Dream!

So, yeah, no, I don't think the problem is "a whole generation of liberals who wax nostalgic about blue collars but have to rely on stories of when their parents were blue collar to attempt to relate to actual workers". I think the problem is a whole generation of people with contempt for blue collar workers. Plus the systematic disappearance of blue collar workers.

Are they pissed? Hell yeah, but mostly, they were sold a bill of goods by Reagan in 1980 and have been fucked ever since. And yeah, there is a "pox on all their houses", but dismissing any time when their lives were actually getting better (as mine did, as Lambert's did, as countless others I know did), seems to me like a foolish waste of an opportunity.

But then, I'm not ideologically pure, and actually am desperate enough to want something better for my family, even if it is based on policies that may not be 100% perfect for everyone on the entire planet. Pretty much for most people (around the world, not just here) that's in the category of "fuck that, I want to live".

Submitted by lambert on

Cultural markers from class differences count for a lot, and I could still "pass." Still, eight years. More than stories for me.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

This is the sad part of our society now. Education equals a change in "class" markers and becomes a divider but, and because it doesn't necessarily change economic circumstances.

Some people are under the delusion (often self-delusion) that people with a good education, people who are articulate, etc. aren't working class. Likewise, some people think that just because they don't have to take a shower after they get off work, that they aren't working class. Everybody talks about "those people", as if it doesn't include them.

Shit look at the graphs above. Fully the majority of the people in this country qualify! We need to find a way to stop dividing what is a natural majority interest group. I mean, we don't have to do it to ourselves, we have an entire oligarchy to do it for us.

This is a whole 'nother topic.

nasrudin's picture
Submitted by nasrudin on

...like "must not be named," the "stupid-worker" bit, an author astute enough to post a series on "all-about-the-rents" yet so enamored of Clinton he's blind to the fundamental rip-off of DLC neoliberalism...hard to figure.

Submitted by lambert on

While you're at it, cites on enamored. This is tendentious, off-topic, any stick to beat a dog crapola, and you're too smart not to know it. Clean up your act.

UPDATE Oh, I got the irony. Faux naïvité doesn't play well with me, but that's not an offense.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

and Hire people to work for you, you are working class. If you have a "small concern" and are at the mercy of the rentiers you are "petite bourgeoisie". In any event, it is highly doubtful that anyone posting here is a member of the "true" bourgeoisie, eg, "rentier". It may be more fruitful to engage in direct action (#Occupywallstreet, work for a 3rd party, etc) rather than encourage divisiveness.