Saturday, March 31, 2007

Deep Political Suggestions -- Curing the Underlying Disease

ONE WAY TO FIGHT THE MADNESS...

....INVITE SOME OF THE NEOCONS TO “COME HOME”

In the post-election, I unleashed a series of proposals and concepts that may (in the view of a “futurist”) seem worth turning into law... resuming America’s cautious but ever-optimistic progress, after a dozen years of agonizing betrayal that followed the much-vaunted (but never implemented) “Contract With America.”

(The last time we saw anything like idealism or ambition - other than for graft - in the GOP controlled Congress of the United States.)

ostrichpapersAfter laboring over my own wish list, please don’t imagine I am sanguine about the chances that all... or any... of my suggestions will actually come true!

Some of the proposals may be hard to pass in today’s politically poisoned environment. A few others seem so logical that it is hard to imagine them as anything but win-win-win slam-dunks... or “no-brainers”...

...but relax. I won’t hold my breath.

Still, we have to try, right? For, it is the sublime madness of our Great Experiment.... whether you call it the Enlightenment or the American Dream or the modernist agenda... that many of us actually convince ourselves to believe tomorrow may be different. And possibly better. That we do not have to slip back into the dull mundanity of evil that characterized nearly all other human cultures and times, when fancy dogmas and incantations all served one monotonous purpose, making excuses for a few to enforce feudal power.

In fact, I hope we are seeing - at long last - a national emergence from the bad case of Y2K Future Shock that hit us in 2000, harder than anyone (including this “futurist”) thought possible. (How else to explain the surge of romantic nostalgia filling minds both left and right?)

If so -- and bearing in mind that new centuries seem to “begin” about 15 years after the calendar flip -- then we are confronted with a serious question.

What must we do at a deeper level to ensure that the Third Millennium really will be one that empowers free minds?

Well, in a spirit of taking the long (and always unconventional) view please bear with me, while I build a case for America’s liberals and moderates to try a sudden new social tactic.

A jiu jitsu move so agile and fresh that it could strike at the very heart of neoconservatism. Another win-win... only this time it would take real guts.


Warning, this will be a long one, for the table must be set, before serving A surprising main course.

Also, what follows may seem a little bit carnky and“crack-potty.” What it DOES feature is my patented approach to polemic. Whenever anyone starts being too sure of what “niche” or category David Brin falls into, I make sure to do a sudden veer. It may superficially seem right or left or weird. But the cliches don’t matter... so long as it is interesting.



NEXT TIME: HOW THE ORIGINAL NEOCONS MADE A PACT WITH THE DEVIL

See also: The Ostrich Papers: How it will take ALL Decent Americans to restore decency to America

15 comments:

Don Quijote said...

Here is your basic problem, and the source of all the other problems, until you fix that one don't expect any of the others to be fixed.

Historical Income Tables - People

2005
Median wage and Median wage and salary
Male $34,926
Female $23,546

1975
Median wage and Median wage and salary
Male $35,955
Female $16,874


Median wages for Males have not budged over the last thirty years and from the looks of it aren't about to improve anytime in the near future.

Tony Fisk said...

Hmm..

Those figures are adjusted against current $ buying power.

How has the cost of living varied over that time (and before?)

Females seem to have done pretty well (but who cares about them?)

And this is a basic problem how..?

Jonathan said...

I do note that those dollar figures you cited are adjusted for inflation - before this adjustment, median wages for males roughly tripled between 1975 and 2005. In short, wage increases have about kept pace with inflation.

And this is a "basic problem" because...?

TwinBeam said...

DQ also seems to have "accidentally" choosen the previous peak in male income - ignoring that wages fell off significantly after 1975 and have recovered since.

And he ignores the fact that wages for females have monotonically increased since 1977, by about 75%. I guess that doesn't count as progress?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps people would understand a little better if GDP in real dollars was provided as well.

Don Quijote said...

DQ also seems to have "accidentally" choosen the previous peak in male income - ignoring that wages fell off significantly after 1975

No Accident!

By the way, if you look at the chart, you'll notice that wages doubled for men & women between 1947 and 1975. ( from 17,251 to 35,955 for men and from 8,611 to 16,874 for women)

and have recovered since.

2005 34,936
1975 35,955
Median wage was $1019 more in 1975 than in 2005, you can call that a recovery if you want but don't expect to many people to agree with you.

In short, wage increases have about kept pace with inflation.
But not with productivity growth, productivity has grown by 1.5% a year in the seventies and eighties and at over 2% in the nineties.

And this is a "basic problem" because...?

I don't know, maybe because of this or this or that Dr Brin's beloved diamond is being if not has been destroyed, or because it has given rise to the culture wars and the politics of resentment.


PS. All Dollars Amounts are 2005 Dollars, they have been adjusted to take into account inflation.

Michael said...

DQ is right on this time. I strongly recommend that people read
"The Two Income Trap" on this subject.
DQ's numbers are adjusted for inflation, but they aren't nearly adjusted for the cost of median housing or rent, transportation, education, low-wage taxation, and other non-discretionary spending.

TwinBeam said...

From my calculations, the average worker earned 6% more in 2005 than 1975, and per capita disposable income was up 17%.

Per capita GDP was up a lot more than that - about 57% - meaning that proportionally more is flowing to non-workers (which includes retirees, not just a few capitalists in tophats and tails) than workers.

One explanation might be that the working population increased about 90% (far more women working, boomers?), while total population increased only ~37% - decreasing relative demand for labor, and hence wages.

TwinBeam said...

Oh - and DQ - you gave the 1974 income, not the 1975 income.

2005 income was almost at parity with 1975 income - within the noise. So yeah, I'd call that recovering to 1975 level of income, especially considering that there are far more workers per capita in 2005 than in 1975.

Don Quijote said...

Enjoy!

The Debt Explosion, Income Inequality and Economic Fairness

TwinBeam said...

?? That seems to mostly be about big bad credit card companies evilly enticing stupid people to go hugely into debt??

Not much there about the income inequality or unfairness, which I thought was your attempted point?

Or is the idea that credit cards are a plot by evil aristocrats to impoverish middle class people, thereby squashing the bloated diamond society and restoring the natural pyramid structure of society?

Don Quijote said...

No, it's about stagnant wages and people using credit to maintain a standard of living they can't afford.

I see that you did not notice this link Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

...

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.
...
The analysis by the two professors showed that the top 10 percent of Americans collected 48.5 percent of all reported income in 2005.

That is an increase of more than 2 percentage points over the previous year and up from roughly 33 percent in the late 1970s. The peak for this group was 49.3 percent in 1928.

The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income in 2005, up significantly from 19.8 percent the year before and more than double their share of income in 1980. The peak was in 1928, when the top 1 percent reported 23.9 percent of all income.


2005, another great year for your average American.

Don Quijote said...

One explanation might be that the working population increased about 90% (far more women working, boomers?), while total population increased only ~37% - decreasing relative demand for labor, and hence wages

Civilian Employment Population Ration - Not Seasonally Adjusted courtesy of Brad Delong

Looks like the ratio went from the mid fifties in the 70's to the mid 60's in the eighties and nineties and back down to the low 60's in the oughs.

TwinBeam said...

??Delong's figures don't seem to square with the table in your first link to historical income tables, which is where I got the 90% employment growth. From those figures (and population figures from elsewhere), about 35% worked in 1975, vs around 49% around 2005.

Perhaps his figures included only adults?

Also, note that on the historical income tables, 1974-1976 were an anomalously sudden jump up in income - hardly surprising it fell back to more "normal" levels in the stagflation era that followed.

Shrug... I'm not saying things are great - but compared to what's a short distance ahead for the US economy, when the national and personal debt issues come to a head, I'm afraid the trends you're pointing to are trivial.

Don Quijote said...

Shrug... I'm not saying things are great - but compared to what's a short distance ahead for the US economy, when the national and personal debt issues come to a head, I'm afraid the trends you're pointing to are trivial.

The trends I am pointing to are not trivial, and are a major factor if not the major factor in the national and personal debt issues coming to a head and in our current political polarization.