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March 23, 2023 08:04 AM UTC

Thursday Open Thread

  • 5 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”

–Albert Einstein

Comments

5 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread

  1. As far as I can tell, the only thing that's different in the Manhattan DA investigation into Trump between last week and this week is that Trump said he was gonna be arrested…. that's it. That's the only difference!

    There's all this chaos just because the orange chaos monkey said chaos things. That's it! That's all!

  2. Robert Reich is surmising that MAGA financier Peter Thiel's FOUNDERS FUND pulling out of SVB was an opportunity for fulfilling the cryptic libertarian view of destroying US GOV then build it back better. 

    From Robert Reich's newsletter today. 

    "What connects Trump’s likely arrest with the bank bailouts?" 

    Answer: the anti-democracy movement

    MAR 23

     Friends,

    What connects the two biggest stories now dominating the news — Donald Trump’s likely arrest and the Fed’s bailouts of shaky banks?

    Start with multi-billionaire Peter Thiel, and follow the money.

    You may recall that in 2016, Thiel spoke at the Republican National Convention to make the case for why Trump should be the next president of the United States.

    In the midterm elections of 2022, Thiel donated $15 million to the Republican Ohio senatorial primary campaign of JD Vance, who alleged that the 2020 election was stolen and that Biden’s immigration policy meant “ more democrats pouring into this country" .

    Thiel also donated at least $10 million to the Arizona Republican Senate primary race of Blake Masters, who also claimed Trump won the 2020 election and who admires Lee Kuan Yew, the authoritarian founder of modern Singapore.

    Masters lost. But thanks to Thiel’s munificence, Vance is now in the U.S. Senate.

    Thiel and other wealthy self-described “libertarians” want Trump to be re-elected president in 2024. I’ll get to the reason in a moment.

    What connects Thiel to the bank bailouts?

    Days before Silicon Valley Bank failed, Thiel’s venture firm, Founders Fund, advised clients to pull their deposits out. This contributed to the run on the bank.  

    Some $50 million of Thiel’s own money was still stuck in the bank. Then, guess what? Thiel and other rich depositors got bailed out by the Fed.

    Charges of hypocrisy have been leveled at Thiel and other wealthy depositors who claim to be libertarians but were rescued by the government.

    There was nothing hypocritical about it. Thiel and others like him aren’t really opposed to government, per se. They’re opposed to democracy. They prefer an oligarchy — a government controlled by super-wealthy people like themselves.

    ***

    Thiel is part of the anti-democracy movement, of which Trump is the informal leader.

    Their antipathy to democracy comes from the same fear that the extremely wealthy have always harbored about democracy — that a majority could vote to take away their money. That fear has been heightened by the fact that more and more of the nation’s wealth is going to the top, combined with demographic trends showing the majority of voters becoming less economically secure, more non-white, and politically left.

    Thiel and his ilk see in Trump an authoritarian strongman who won’t allow a majority to take away their wealth. In December 2017, Trump and his Republican allies in Congress engineered a giant tax cut for the super-rich and the companies in which they invest. Many believe that a second Trump administration, backed by a Republican Congress, will cut their taxes even further.

    They also support the Fed. Like most of the world’s central banks, the Fed is removed from democratic accountability, out of fear that financial markets otherwise won’t trust them to do unpopular things like bailing out banks or controlling inflation by slowing economies and causing millions to lose their jobs. The Fed is run largely by bankers. You might say it’s part of America’s oligarchy.

    A few years ago, Thiel wrote that “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Presumably he was referring to the freedom of oligarchs like himself to be unconstrained by taxes and regulations. In this narrow sense, he’s correct: Oligarchy is incompatible with democracy. Nor is oligarchy compatible with the freedom of the rest of us.

    Thiel and others like him want to return to an era when American oligarchs had freer reign. In that same essay, Thiel wrote:

    The 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics. Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

    But if “capitalist democracy” has become an oxymoron, it’s not due to excessive public assistance or because women got the right to vote. It’s because billionaire capitalists like Thiel are undermining democracy with giant campaign donations to authoritarian candidates.

    I’m old enough to remember a former generation of wealthy Republicans who backed candidates like Barry Goldwater. They called themselves “conservatives” because they wanted to conserve American institutions. But Thiel and his fellow billionaires in the anti-democracy movement don’t want to conserve anything — at least anything that came after the 1920s, including Social Security, civil rights, and even women’s right to vote (except for the Federal Reserve’s bailouts for the rich and its ability to draft average workers into fighting inflation).

    The 1920s marked the last gasp of the Gilded Age, when the richest Americans siphoned off so much of the nation’s wealth that the rest of America had to go deep into debt to maintain their standard of living and sustain overall demand for the goods and services the nation produced. When that debt bubble burst in 1929, we got the Great Depression.

    It was also the decade when Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler emerged to create the worst threats to freedom and democracy the modern world had ever witnessed. "

     

     

    1. The 1920s marked the last gasp of the Gilded Age, when the richest Americans siphoned off so much of the nation’s wealth that the rest of America had to go deep into debt to maintain their standard of living and sustain overall demand for the goods and services the nation produced.

      1920s, “the last gasp of the Gilded Age” . . . ??????!!!??????  Maybe in one of somebody else’s other multiverses?

      I guess I’m missing the part here where these 2020s here are some kind of proletarian utopia where the obscenely wealthy have’t sucked up the lion’s share of the country’s wealth, and no one ever even imagines any others might be going into deep long-term debt to maintain a standard of living??  

      When have those of us of our age ever not seen and not been subject to government of the autocrat, by the autocrat, and for the autocrat?

      And this, 

      I’m old enough to remember a former generation of wealthy Republicans who backed candidates like Barry Goldwater. They called themselves “conservatives” because they wanted to conserve American institutions.

      ??????!!!!!???????

      CHB might be smiling, but — Nope.  Goldwater and his ilk were, at their very best and most generous, dupes and “useful idiots”; useful to loosening whatever imposed shackles still held any remaining restraint on the autocrats from the 1929 Crash through WWII. (But, yeah, those so-called “conservatives” did save the Lorax and heroically replanted his entire Truffula Tree forest . . . [let us now dim the lights and pause for a few moments as we join and listen carefully, with rapt attention, to the wizened village elder retell the full enchanting tale for all the wide-eyed children sitting around the campfire mesmerized here with us.])

      The autocrats have never changed their spots — why should they, they’re always the winners for god sakes? They only once-upon-a-time used to bother, in America’s gentler mid-Twentieth Century times, with spinning their sweet bedtime fables and making any small effort to convince folks that they were ever good guys — “job creators” and the like — on the side of, and benefiting, their exploited, plucked, and fleeced.

       

       

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