How our republic could die in the age of Trump - in a stunning parallel to the fall of Rome
The death of a republic is different from the death of a nation; Rome was a nation for nearly 2,000 years, but its period of being a republic was only around 300 years long. For the rest, it was a brutal empire with a small but wealthy and corrupt ruling class and a thin patina of democracy-for-show.
Trump is openly defying the norms and laws of our republic, while calling for the imprisonment of both his political enemies and members of the very law enforcement agencies that might hold him to account. And he's only able to do it because billionaires like Rupert Murdoch, with Fox News, and the billionaires Republicans depend on to fund their re-elections are providing him with cover.
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I think Thom can stop calling AMLO "Mexico's Bernie Sanders" after the surrender to Trump's bullying on refugees from Central America. Not only has he set Mexico up for more bullying and handed our own "Dear Orange Leader" and his Nazi advisor Steven Miller a big propaganda victory. He is pulling 5000 security personnel from their duties confronting the violence rampant in much of the country to instead stem the great security threat posed by some of the poorest people on earth, a great majority being families with children. What look like summary deportations without due process have rampted way up (which was in process even before the current agreement). A word on my personal perspective. My own family was in the exact same circumstances as these desperate refugees after WWII in Central Europe. Had the USA and Austria taken the same stand as the USA and Mexico today, I dont know what would have become of my parents and other Displaced Persons (DPs as they were called, often perjoritively). What I do know is that Austria took in hundreds of thousands of refugees of all types until they were resettled. The USA and other nations provided immediate relief and eventual new homes, my parents coming to Chicago. My parents often recalled the roles of Presidenr Truman and especially George Marshall in their hour of need. My wife's family were similarly refugees from Chile's military dictatorship, seeking refuge first in Panama and then Chicago. The generations since have become lawyers, social workers, accountants, union organizers and teachers. I have no doubt that these new refugees will make similar futures for themselves given the chance. As it stands I truly worry for my German/ Mexican/Chilean grand children. This is all very personal to me, not abstract policy discussion. Handing Trump and his hard core this victory has made things much worse.
Back to AMLO, he not long ago gave a speech to bankers stressing that markets regulate themselves and government regulation should be minimal. As reported in Spain's El Pais, the tone would have raised the eye brows of even the pre 2008 Alan Greenspan. Additionally El Pais has reported that AMLO's government government plans to shore up coal mining by devoting considerable resources to the same. To be clear I am not at all of the a pie in the sky sort nor am I doctrinaire. 30 year union organizer that I am, I understand the concept of balance of forces, tactical compromises and building power for coming battles and so on. But what struck me about that particular account was how government officials poo pooed entirely any notion of transition of these coal producing areas toward production of renewalble energy of the future. None of this sounds like Bernie Sanders to me, not even as short hand for listeners who may not be following Mexican affairs too closely.
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About 15 years ago, I saw some data that Scandinavian countries are the most open to free trade. Here is a link that kind of shows the same thing:
The US economy seems to be more closed to trade. I don't think the problem is trade so much as redistribution. We know trade is good for some people in a given country and bad for others. This is why the Scandinavian countries do it right. Their safety net helps the people being hurt by trade, which overall is good for countries.
Also, I tend to agree with Paul Krugman's take on VATs:
They're not really unfair.