Listen to Audio Here
2021 is going to be a year of decision for America and the world. Political demands for progressive reform are at an all-time high. The social need for progressive reform is also at an all-time high for some very grim reasons, specifically because America today is in the middle of its worst internal social disaster in its history. Yes, it is that bad. It's a lot worse than the depression. At least in the depression children could go to school. At least in the depression people could run around without masks. At least in the depression 170,000 Americans had not been killed and the death toll is still rising. The virus has not been defeated. The Grim Reaper is still very much around. Also, it probably isn't being documented, but there has been, and will be, a huge cost, a huge death toll, and a huge social cost to the health problems created by the economic collapse, which are compounded by people losing their health insurance.
THE LACK OF ECONOMIC RESOURCES TO DEAL WITH THE CRISIS
Unfortunately, the economic resources to deal with this crisis are at an all-time low. Many progressives have not put two and two so to speak together. Their criticisms of the neoliberal world order were correct, but they don't want to draw the logical conclusions from those criticisms. Specifically, that the American economy today is very sick.
Progressive politicians like to talk about America being the richest country in the world. Well at one point it was the richest country in the world. From 1916 to 1980, America was the richest country in the world. It was the industrial heart of the world. It was the world's largest holder of foreign exchange reserves so on and so on. That's not the case today.
AMERICAN INDUSTRIES HAVE BEEN SHIPPED OVERSEAS
Starting in 1980, the financial and economic elites of America have been willing to sell out the American people so they could have more money by shipping US jobs overseas. Politicians like Bill Clinton assured us this was all a benevolent process. It was a mysterious process called “globalization” to create utopia. It didn't create heaven. It created a living hell for the middle class and in 2016, the full scope of that living hell became apparent when voters decided they really didn't want any more globalization. They didn't really want any more Wall Street, and they voted for Donald Trump.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONTINUES CHEERING ON THE PLUTOCRATS
Trump has pursued policies that are ironically in many ways even more regressive than the previous ones, but many voters see him because of his rhetoric as a kind of populist, and this is a problem for the Democratic Party.
It's a problem for the Democratic Party (not all, but many) that they have been such an enthusiastic cheering squad for the plutocratic elite and their disastrous policies.
WHAT NEEDS TO GET DONE IN 2021?
THE NEED FOR NATIONAL HEALTH CARE
Now let's get back to 2021 and what needs to get done. America is the only country in the modern world that does not have national health insurance.
National health insurance isn't charity any more than having a fire department is charity. You don't want sickness in your society. It's not good for you.
Unfortunately, the U.S. plutocratic elites never could understand. These people are not just vicious (not all) but a good part of are incredibly stupid and incompetent. We need to have a national sick leave bill like everybody else because you don't want sick people coming to work and spreading their disease all over the place.
The promise by Trump that he would cover the cost of Covid care is baloney and it isn't being fulfilled. And when you think about it, it's a phony claim anyway. Suppose you're a working parson facing eviction, facing other problems. You're going to go to the hospital and risk getting a $4000 emergency room bill? Well obviously, you aren't, or at least you'll be very reluctant to go.
THE NEED FOR AN EMERGENCY HEALTH CARE FOR ALL BILL
So far, the Democrats, to their everlasting shame, have ignored the bill of Senator Sanders and Congressman John Paul to provide emergency healthcare for everybody. That's absolutely necessary, so that needs to get done immediately. Now the question emerges, in 2021, should progressives demand that Biden do that strictly through Medicare for All?
We don't have the answer to that question. We believe that Medicare for All is necessary, but it's important to give Biden some room to operate and perhaps Biden can figure out a way where healthcare for all for at least one year can be put through without Medicare for All. We’re not going to debate the details of that. What we are going to debate, and what we are going to insist on, is that healthcare for all at a reasonable price. No $7000 Obama care deductibles, no lunatic nonsense of open enrollment where you can't buy health insurance other than a certain number of times a year at all and other lunatic nonsense like that. That has to go immediately. We need healthcare for everybody that is affordable for everybody and affordable for good part of the population in light of the economic collapse, which means free.
THE NEED FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL
Now America has been living in a dream world for a long time. We needed a green new deal for years. We didn't get it. The climate is collapsing around the world and there's a whole series of other environmental problems that haven't been dealt with since 1980.
THE U.S. GOVERNMENT'S PRIORITIES
TAX CUTS, GLOBAL IMPERIALISM, AND THE BETRAYAL OF U.S. WORKERS
The US government has had three main priorities. The first is welfare for the rich, consumption oriented tax cuts for the rich. The same people who told us that we couldn't afford various social programs because of the deficits voted over and over again for trillions of dollars in money-losing tax cuts for the superrich. This is crazy. It is also evil.
Now, the second big priority is global imperialism.
At least under Reagan Reagan, he did keep the country out of major wars and he did build up the military and that did bring the Russians to the negotiating table and it did end the Cold War. So you could say that Reagan's big military expansion made sense. You could and we're not going to dispute that.
However since 2001, America has been involved in a campaign a runaway global imperialism, and that campaign of imperialism was expanded rather than reduced under Obama. You had people like Susan Rice, people like Samantha Power who were hog wild to get the country into one war after another, and they did. America intervened in Libya and produced chaos and disaster. America intervened in Syria and produced chaos and disaster. America teamed up with Saudi Arabia and created the greatest humanitarian disaster of the new century in Yemen, in fact in Libya, in Syria and Yemen there's a pattern of America working with Saudi Arabia.
Sorry folks. That's not democracy.
Meanwhile, America backed extreme right wing forces in the Ukraine to overthrow the government and then slapped a whole series of sanctions on Russia. When the people of Crimea decided they didn't want any part of this new government this resulted in a huge escalation in terms of imperial competition vis-à-vis Russia.
Under Trump, there has been a huge escalation in imperial competition vis-à-vis China.
Now America's grievances against China are to a certain extent legitimate. Though we need to discuss that in the context of the next big priority of the government since 1980, which is the sellout of the US worker to foreign manufacturers.
But the way to deal with China is to deal with China in an orderly manner and also there is China's horrible environmental practices such as the overfishing and plastic in the ocean and also some other nightmarish problems such as that.
So you now have America adopting extremely hostile tactics towards the two other major powers in the world. At the same time, under Obama, the largest nuclear arms race in history. Under Trump things have gotten a lot worse where Trump has repeatedly pulled out of nuclear arms control treaties and is in danger of pulling out of the most important one, the START Treaty in 2021, but Obama was certainly no great shakes there either because the attack on Libya followed Libya's decision to give up its nuclear weapons. Obviously in the future, countries are will be reluctant to give up their nuclear weapons in light of what Obama and Samantha Power and Susan Rice did there.
So that's an issue right there. So there has to be a de-escalation in the in military confrontation. Simply talking about cutting the Pentagon budget is meaningless if there's not a de-escalation of tensions with Russia and China.
Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 elections because the American people were fed up with plutocratic globalization. She did not lose the election because of Putin and his activities. It's about time people in the Democratic Party came to terms with that, and it doesn't make sense to risk blowing up the entire world in a huge escalation of nuclear tensions with Russia just to put a pretty face on Hillary Clinton or to dispute who should or should not control Crimea.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the people of Crimea want no part of the government America installed. So do we want to blow up the world in a dispute over Crimea? No we don't.
We have to deal with the fact that the US economy has been a hollowed out by all these trade deals so many progressive economists think that it's 1933. It is not. The US economy was the richest economy in the world in 1933, a good part of the bad debt had already been flushed out by a horrible process of nationwide bankruptcies and bank collapses, but in 1933, the US economy was very healthy and the US economy was not burdened by lunatic delusions about global imperialism and so on and so for.
So in 1933 the US economy was very healthy. Today the US economy is very sick.
The third great priority of the leaders of this country since 1980 has been to betray the US workers and so they could make more money ship US jobs overseas and destroy US industries. So that today we have a $400 billion trade deficit with China, so that today America has a net -10 trillion deficit. That's where America's international positions is.
PROGRESSIVE DELUSIONS IN THE FACE OF A MAJOR CRISIS
Now as result of the virus the whole economic crisis has gotten a lot worse. This is where many progressive seem to be and maybe the whole country seem to be in a state of denial. The scale of the disaster economically is just mind-boggling. Trillions upon trillions have been taken out of the economy that could've gone for green new deal to pay for emergency relief for the economy. That's not over and there may be trillions and trillions of dollars more.
However, we have not seen hardheaded discussions in the progressive movement about that fact this is going to make it extremely difficult to find progressive priorities.
Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do that. We should fund the Green New Deal so on and so forth. We have to fund the Green New Deal, but we see very little discussion in the progressive community about how difficult that's going to be. One leading progressive economist said that the relief packages can’t be large enough. No let's just think of how stupid that comment is. This is dangerous idiocy.
THE NEED FOR TOUGH CHOICES
So there are going to have to be tough choices. When you look at the big picture, we see a long time of austerity to do what's needed to be done to get this country back on track. Liberals hate the term “austerity.” Well, where's the money coming from? There's a good question right there.
The US economy today is sort of an upside-down debt bubble. The corporations have spent vast amounts of money, hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, possibly trillions of dollars, on stock buybacks and other gimmicks which used to be illegal, by the way, rather than investing in the future. So it's going to be a long road back for the US economy and our point is that in 2021, progressives need to be very cold-blooded about the fact that they’re not going to get a large part of what they want. The question is where do they draw that line? It's going to be a very painful line and President Biden needs to come in educating the American people about the scale of the problem. We don’t see the Democratic Party talking about the scale of the problem right now. Maybe that's politically impossible but that's an issue and that's the background of why some very tough choices need to be made.