Elizabeth Warren and the “Elephant in the Room”

January 15, 2020

NOT JUST AN ELEPHANT: Up to Our Asses in Elephant Dung

California voters begin casting ballots in less than a month. The one question that needs to be asked continues to be neglected; in fact, in last night’s debate in Iowa between Democratic candidates for the party’s presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren was the only one to bring up “the elephant in the room,” which is the aging population. At a phenomenal pace, the number of 70 year olds in the United States is escalating at a rate that would cause the Federal Reserve to panic, if inflation were equivalently soaring. The density of this shift is exacerbated by the fact that many of these Baby Boomers had their economic lives wiped out by the Great Recession.

The economic strangulation of the first increment of the Baby Boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1954) was not a sudden reversal of good fortune, however; rather, it can be traced to a stasis that was in full force a quarter-century ago. Read the following paragraph, which opened an article the Santa Monica Evening Outlook on Wednesday, July 19, 1995 (page B1):

“Raises will sink to historic lows in California next year, and employees will play a growing share of medical costs, according to an annual job survey, released Tuesday.”

The Great Recession was indeed devastating to the Baby Boom generation, but this was only the culmination of a sequence of “minor” recessions (1974; 1982; 1992-1997 — yes, in Los Angeles County the recession lasted that long — and much of the first half of the first decade of this century). In between these recessions, stagnant wage growth and constant job attrition combined to force all too many baby boomers to deplete their scant retirement accounts.

The result will show in about ten years, when 80 year olds need assisted living care and nursing home assistance; I assure you that the nation will turn its back on this cohort, and kick them to the sidewalk. How do I know this?
Four years ago, Bernie Sanders proposed a pittance of an increase in social security for aging baby boomers. In contrast, he offered young people a free college education. As far as I can tell, he has not learned anything from his failure to grasp the enormity of the problems faced by aging baby boomers.

Do I feel hopeless in the face of this economic repression?

Yes, because I didn’t see anyone on the stage last night who is capable of defeating the incumbent President. If nominated, Elizabeth Warren might well win the popular vote by an even wider margin than Hillary Clinton did, but she will lose the Electoral College because Trump will cheat, in ways similar to elections in 2000 and 2004, not to mention his own campaign in 2016. Cheating in the United States, unfortunately, carries minimal penalties. Did the Astros cheat in the World Series? Of course they did! Did they lose their World Series title? Ha-ha-ha-ha. Of course not. Instead of the MLB Commissioner vacating their title from the record books — leaving only the contestants’ names and an Astro-asterisk “Cheater” — and demanding the trophy back, he all but said that the trash can the Houston players banged on to transmit the stolen signs should be installed in the Astros’ Hall of Fame.

President Trump is, in fact, currently under indictment for an act of cheating committed well over a year before the ballots will be counted. The evidence is strong enough that it is likely he will only be saved by a packed jury, aka Senate Republicans whose loyalty sleeps soundly in the lair of stupendous corporate wealth.

President Trump: 2016-2024. The thought itself is beyond repulsive, and yet it points to the essence of the intertwined connivance at the heart of this country’s deceptive pretensions to self-governance. What is truly needed is a constitutional convention that mandates that the presidency is determined by total popular vote. Short of that, corporations will continue to control the Electoral College, and the hard-working citizens of this country will not share proportionately in the wealth that their knowledge and efforts make possible.

In the face of certain defeat, however, I refuse to surrender without some semblance of resistance. I will still vote, and I intend to cast my vote for Senator Warren in the California primary. I don’t intend to let Senator Sanders’s opinion that a woman can’t win the Presidency deter me. And I don’t blame her for not shaking his hand after the debate. On national TV, he called her a liar.

Even if a major miracle were to occur, and she were nominated and elected in November, the task she faces is more overwhelming than she realizes. It’s not a question of an “elephant in the room.” This country’s military-industrial complex is a mansion full of elephant dung. Any country as addicted to military prowess as this one will only free itself from this bondage when it comes to terms with the full costs of empire.

I suppose I sound like the kind of disputant that I dislike in Bernie Sanders’s approach to campaign rhetoric. His constant scolding, no matter how justifiable, wears thin very quickly. He is a doctor who has the right diagnosis, but absolutely no bedside manner whatsoever.

Mea culpa etiam.

Finally, if someone were to ask why Amy Klobuchar shouldn’t also be considered a woman who could defy Sanders’s prognostication, I would say that the Minnesota senator has no more chance than Walter Mondale did in 1984. Klobuchar is a younger version of Joe Biden, someone who is all too willing to let the military-industrial complex continue to prosper along with the credit card companies whose usury is enforced by a global system of weapons of mass destruction.

Part II

In case anyone thinks I am exaggerating the crisis for working people in this country, I would point to the following three articles to underline the urgency of supporting Warren’s policies.

“The stock market is near record highs, but working class Americans (often defined as those without college degrees) continue to struggle. If you’re only a high school graduate, or worse, a dropout, work no long pays. If the federal minimum wage in 1968 had kept up with inflation and productivity, it would now be $22 an hour. Instead, it’s $7.25.

“Who Killed the Knapp Family? — OPINION by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
The New York TIMES, Sunday, January 12, 2020; Sunday Review: Ideas, Opinion, News Analysis; Page 4

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“Wage inequality is surging in California — and not just on the coast. Here’s why”

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-10-10/wage-inequality-is-surging-in-california-and-not-just-on-the-coast-heres-why

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“Report: Six Banks Reaped $18 Billion Last Year from Trump Tax Cuts”

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/1/17/headlines/report_six_banks_reaped_18_billion_last_year_from_trump_tax_cuts?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=5fb1a5c5d5-Daily_Digest_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-5fb1a5c5d5-191637761