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writing for godot

Danger! Danger! 'Opportunity' Ahead.

Written by librarian1984   
Tuesday, 31 July 2018 18:20

Recently on CSPAN two opportunities arose to see exactly how the establishment, left and right, plans to screw us over next.

1) First, Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, Third Way VP in charge of social media and outreach, attempted to make the case for the latest organization to attack progressives. Ms. Hatalsky tried to justify another electoral foray into appealing to 'moderate Republicans', an idea that never seems to die among neoliberals. She correctly interpreted their Big New Poll to say that Americans are worried about the economy. Duh. But from there it went sideways.
Hatalsky was quite certain that 'old ideas don't work' -- not 1960s socialism or 1990s centrism or the New Deal. Summarily dismissed despite the New Deal having saved the country (and capitalism) in circumstances very like this and having propelled FDR into the presidency four times -- presumably five if he'd lived.
Instead, assured Ms. H, we need to appeal to red and purple voters (1), and to that end the TWers, under the umbrella of their initiative 'Opportunity 2020', had concocted a list of Ten Big Ideas, including privatized portable pensions and the creation of an American Investment Bank to spread venture capital to all fifty states. Oh good.
Then The Poll got trotted out. The TW poll, a masterpiece of guided testimony, which just happened to say all the things TWers want to hear. For instance, people don't want a blanket minimum wage of $15. No! They want wages indexed regionally, because an Alabaman doesn't need as much as a New Yorker, so TBD algorithms that we will never see will figure that all out -- so don't worry your pretty heads about it. Capice?
As I heard this I was thinking, Hmm. I bet Americans don't want single payer health care either and sure enough, that was next. People would rather have an improved ACA than a government plan (wink) like single payer (2). She said the difference was even more marked among Ds and D-leaning Independents, because improving the ACA garnered 36% approval generally while single payer got 29%, a difference of 7%, but the same numbers among Democrats had a 9-point differential (3).
This is when the Big Idea appeared. According to Ms. H the notion that automation will eliminate jobs is wrong. Technology will DISRUPT jobs, not DESTROY them -- and besides, Americans don't want free things. They want to EARN them. (Like we earned our 'entitlements'?) So the TW is going to give them the OPPORTUNITY to earn, rather than giving them 'handouts'. Oh! dignity! Yes, when a robot has your old job and your kids are hungry you are in no mood for universal basic income. That's just commie!
Ms. H tells us that because Republican voters are more ideological than Democrats the DP must be more of a big tent and so must appeal to a wider range of people -- therefore we can't move to the left. Ignore those stadia bursting at the seams -- that would just be silly!
There is absolutely no attempt to reach the generation of enthusiastic young people who want to vote progressive, and there is no acknowledgement that this same idea of trying to get GOP votes hasn't worked for the past two decades -- which is precisely why the GOP has 33 state houses, most state legislatures, the House, the Senate and the presidency.
Ms. Hatalsky concluded with a bit of TW wisdom and a threat: In 2020 we want 'an affirmative agenda providing every American everywhere the OPPORTUNITY TO EARN A GOOD LIFE' (emphasis mine). This sounds like GOP weasel-speak.
And when asked what kind of candidate could defeat Trump in 2020 it's just a total coincidence it sounds like TW honcho John Donnelly, the first 'Democrat' to declare his run. (He's already been to NH 24 times!) Ms. H says it should be someone who is an outsider and maybe 'new to politics'. Yeah, because outsider and new-to-politics Donald Trump is doing such a great job. Really? Bernie Sanders is more of a Democrat than this guy, no matter what letter is next to his name. (Let's give Donnelly an 'A' for Ass.)
2) The next guest was from Forbes Magazine, Steve Bertoni, talking about a bipartisan provision snuck into the GOP tax reform bill that provides for 'Opportunity Zones', devised ten years ago by philanthropist Sean Parker (Napster, Facebook) and concocted over the years by a benevolent mix of 'politicians (Cory Booker, Tim Scott), philanthropists and billionaires'. These zones would allow the do-gooders to invest unrealized gains in impoverished areas -- with a couple of incentives. If someone were to invest in one of these areas and keep the money there for ten years, not only would there be no capital gains tax on that money but after the ten years it would never EVER be taxed!
These impoverished areas are first selected by meeting one of two criteria: either the poverty levels are 20% or higher or the median income is less than 80% of surrounding areas -- but that results in 8700 (!) possibilities, at which point the GOVERNORS will choose who is included in the program (4)!
When asked if this wouldn't just result in high-speed gentrification Bertini said local safeguards would need to be in place. The CSPAN host said, 'Wouldn't that just raise rents and drive people out?' to which Bertoni replied, 'That's a reality anywhere, right?' (5) He even had the nerve to say that maybe home loans could be arranged.
Bertoni said this is collusion -- but in a good way -- and that mayors should 'have a package ready' to attract investors, as they hope to have program details in place in early 2019. He said 'money will flow'.
Mr. Bertoni got a GREAT call from a NJ man. It was so wonderful I quote it in its entirety:
"40 years ago I made $8 an hour. Here it is 40 years later and folks are still earning $9, 10, 11 an hour. Back then cars were $2500. Now they're $25,000. It's going to be the same thing. These 'opportunities' help the rich, the corporations and the money just doesn't trickle down.
"I feel like the greed of the elites in this country has destroyed our nation and until capitalism is tweaked so it benefitsmore people and it's a more fair system we're going to continue to see this over and over again, and watch our country be destroyed from the inside-out as we lose our neighborhoods and people become more despaired, on drugs -- they work every day but can't make a living -- and until this is addressed -- I don't care what you do -- with giving the elites and corporations more -- It's not going to save our nation. It's going to continue to destroy our people."
Bertoni: Is that a question? I don't know. The problem of poverty and inequality has been with humans since humans have been around. I don't know. But I want to get back to the Opportunity Zones law ...
One gets the feeling Frank Luntz has focus grouped the sh!t out of obfuscatory words and 'opportunity' came out the winner, a word that promises without guarantee, that hints at redemption while all benefits go to the same groups who always get them.
For the foreseeable future 'opportunity' is a word that should raise red flags and send you running in the other direction.
We can beat these opportunistic arseholes -- but they're not going to just lay down for us. Pay attention to what they say and what they're really offering.
'Opportunity', for now, seems to be the new bait-and-switch scam, a word future thesauruses may synonymize with 'Screw you -- and the horse you rode in on'. Beware!
(1) Why do we need to appeal to GOP voters rather than the big, energetic left wing of our own party?
(2) I imagine these numbers would change if you took ten minutes to explain the specifics, which is one reason Sanders' series of town halls is a bit of genius.
(3) Well within the margin of error, so no, not necessarily -- and an indicator we are being spun.
(4) Remember there are GOP governors in 33 states.
(5) Yeah but without the no-taxes-in-perpetuity bit. Oh, and there is no cap on the amount that can be invested either. your social media marketing partner
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