Saturday, December 29, 2018

A New Year's resolution suggestion for the Democratic Party: Reject centrism, embrace the New Deal, and educate conservative voters

Above: A WPA nurse visits a mother and infant in New Orleans, ca. 1935-1943. New Deal policymakers vastly improved America's public health--especially for lower-income folks--with new hospitals & clinics, immunization campaigns, home visits, more funding for medical research, health education classes, improved waste disposal & drinking water infrastructure, and much more. Today, the situation has reversed, with suicides & infectious diseases rising, rural hospitals & clinics closing, unacceptable infant mortality rates, children drinking lead from old infrastructure, and our healthcare under constant attack by right-wing politicians (politicians who want to run free market experiments on our lives). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

The answer to our modern problems is not to cave to misinformed voters, but to educate them

Joe Donnelly, the Democratic Senator from Indiana who just lost his seat to Republican Mike Braun, recently told CNN, "But when you talk 'Medicare-for-all'... you start losing the people in my state... When we start talking about, 'Hey, we're going to work together with the insurance companies to lower premiums,' that's what connects."

First of all, I'm not sure that's true. For example, a recent poll showed that most people, including most Republicans, like the idea of Medicare-for-All. Second, Joe Donnelly appears to have received large campaign contributions from the insurance, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries, so perhaps we need to take his advice with a grain of salt. And third, even if he's right, the answer is not to back down and whimper, "Oh, okay, you don't like Medicare-for-All? Sorry, sorry, no problem, I won't support it." Instead, the answer is to educate misinformed voters.

Anyone who believes that health insurance managed by greedy, selfish, profit-driven shareholders and executives, is better than health insurance run by We the People is clearly misinformed - especially in light of our deteriorating public health (see, e.g., "Deadly Hepatitis A Outbreaks Are Exposing Crumbling U.S. Public Health Infrastructure," Huffington Post, December 28, 2018).

The fact of the matter is, Americans, when compared to citizens other advanced countries--most of whom enjoy some form of universal health insurance system--are paying more to die younger. Yes, let me say that again: We're paying more to die younger. Conservatives need this explained to them, repeatedly; they don't need their lack of understanding catered to.

Conservatives need to be taught, for example, that profit-based insurance does not work very well for healthcare because (a) healthcare can be very expensive, and so (b) there is always an incentive to charge sky-high premiums, deny payments, or deny coverage altogether. They also need to be taught that paying higher Medicare taxes, for a Medicare-for-All system, is better than paying sky-high premiums, hefty deductibles, and pick-pocket co-pays; and better than being price-gouged by the pharmaceutical industry; and better than being forced into a medical bankruptcy; and better than being told, "Sorry, you don't get this drug or that procedure because you're not a millionaire or billionaire. Try a GoFundMe campaign."

Centrist Democrats are dim dull old objects, selling nutrient-free milquetoast policies

Claire McCaskill, the centrist & outgoing Democratic Senator from Missouri who just lost her seat to Republican Josh Hawley, recently and dismissively described new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a "bright shiny new object," who's selling unattainable policies. I suppose, by contrast, this makes McCaskill a dim dull old object, selling nutrient-free milquetoast policies.

Imagine if Democrat McCaskill had been a policymaker during the New Deal. She would have opposed Social Security, voted against unemployment insurance, and tried to block the state & national park development of the Civilian Conservation Corps. She would have labeled the FDIC, the SEC, and the TVA as pie-in-the sky nonsense. And yet, all of these bold New Deal creations are things that we enjoy and rely on today, 80 years later.

The problem with the modern Democratic Party is that they don't sell progressive ideas (when they have them) very well. They hear conservative opposition and, instead of sticking to their guns and educating conservative voters, they back down and water down their agenda. They gently float the idea of Medicare-for-All, or a public option, for example, and then hear some opposition and quickly cower away and mumble something else, like "healthcare as a right" - a slogan that makes most of the criticism go away, but ultimately leaves us in a legislative & public policy fog. And this fog is a breeding ground for monsters like Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump. 

The Democratic Party needs to adopt a bold, progressive, New Deal-type platform, and then create a strong and well-funded public education office (it's unclear to me whether they even have a small public education office), to strongly & repeatedly explain to conservative voters why these policies will be better for them than the neoliberal, trickle-down policies that have devastated their lives.

If someone says, "I'm going to drain the oil from my engine and replace it with root beer, so it'll run better," you don't nod your head or cower away; instead, you educate them: "No, don't do that, it will ruin your engine." The Democratic Party needs to do the same with conservative voters. When conservative voters say, "I think we should give tax breaks to the rich, and it will make our lives better," the Democratic Party needs to educate them about the horrific results of our decades of trickle-down economics (e.g., soaring national debt, fewer good-paying jobs, crumbling infrastructure, stagnant wages, and deteriorating public health).

The Democratic Party needs to get its act together in 2019 & 2020, and stop being weak corporate puppets. Otherwise, the next Republican president might make Donald Trump look like Gandhi.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A New Deal for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and 4-H

Above: The description for this photograph, taken in Rocky River, Ohio, ca. 1935-1943, reads, "New cabin in the Girl Scouts Reservation - Much of the lumber in this building came from an old frame house demolished by the WPA." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: An information pavilion in Washington, DC, set up by the New Deal's National Youth Administration and the Boy Scouts of America, ca. 1935-1943. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: The description for this photograph, taken near Findlay, Ohio, ca. 1935-1943, reads, "Enhanced by $50,000 worth of improvements by WPA workers, the Berry Boy Scout Reservation... has become the outstanding camping place for boys and girls in this section of the state. The reservation covers 80 acres. Tent floors and the hundreds of trees are some of the improvements made by the unemployed men on the WPA projects. Five frame buildings were also built by WPA." Today, on the Camp Berry web page, it states: "a swimming pool and shower house were built by the WPA in 1937. A headquarters cabin and three overnight cabins were also built at this time." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: This photo shows WPA workers in Portsmouth, Ohio, ca. 1935-1943, "putting in base logs of a cabin that will be used by local boy scouts as their meeting place and recreational center." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: A WPA-supported archery class for a Camp Fire Girls of America camp in Pennsylvania, ca. 1935-1943. Today, the organization is just called "Camp Fire," and is open to both girls and boys. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: A WPA-built club house for the Boys & Girls Club of Vernon, Texas, 1937. The Boys & Girls Club of Vernon still operates today, and offers after-school programs for K-12 youth, related to "character & leadership, education & career, health & life, the arts, and sports & activities," but it's unclear whether the WPA-built club house still exists. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: WPA workers built this 4-H club house in Cabell County, West Virginia (near Huntington), ca. 1935-1943. According to their website, "4‑H is delivered by Cooperative Extension - a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: The WPA-built club house, still used by 4-H today (see previous photo). Photo courtesy of the Cabell County Commission, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Above: In addition to helping existing youth organizations, the New Deal created plenty of it own projects too, like this National Youth Administration (NYA) summer camp for disadvantaged kids, in Chepachet, Rhode Island, ca. 1935-1943. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: These young women are youth leaders at the NYA summer camp in Chepachet, Rhode Island. Many young adults trained to be camp and recreation leaders, while also earning a paycheck, in the NYA. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

December 25, 1938

Above: The description for this photograph, taken on December 25, 1938, reads: "President and Mrs. Roosevelt with members of their family leaving the White House today for St. Thomas Episcopal Church where they attended Christmas services. L to R: Mrs. J. Roosevelt, sister-in-law of the president; Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt [Eleanor]; Mrs. Sarah Roosevelt, mother of the president; President Roosevelt; James Roosevelt; Mrs. James Roosevelt; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr; and Harry Hopkins, new Secretary of Commerce. In the front are Sarah Delano Roosevelt [left], daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Roosevelt, and Diana Hopkins, daughter of Harry Hopkins." Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

To revive and thrive, rural America needs to stop relying on the private sector so much, and embrace a more positive view of government

"I don't know the answer, but I am absolutely certain demanding individual responsibility isn't going to make anything better."

--Betsy S., from Otsego County, New York, in "Small-Town America Is Dying. How Can We Save It?New York Times, December 22, 2018.

Above: "Plowing," an oil on wood painting by Leo Breslau (1909-2005), created while he was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1934. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The problems of rural America... that the private sector won't fix

Rural America is hurting. There are serious problems involving infrastructure (particularly sanitation and water quality), suicides, opioid addiction, hospital & clinic closings, struggling farms, unemployment & low-wage work, Internet access, education, and more (see, e.g., "Where Government Is a Dirty Word, but Its Checks Pay the Bills," New York Times, December 21, 2018, and "Small-Town America Is Dying. How Can We Save It?" New York Times, December 22, 2018). 

I have spent most of my life in suburban or rural areas, so I write from many years of observation and experience; and I can tell you this: The private sector is not going to save rural America, largely because rural America does not enjoy an economy of scale, as the Joint Economic Committee recently pointed out: "Rural areas cannot offer the economies of scale to deliver the revenue streams that private investors demand." This was seen during the 1930s too, when private companies were uninterested in extending electric power into rural areas (thus prompting the creation of the New Deal's highly successful Rural Electrification Administration), and can be seen today with, for example, rural America's Internet problems, i.e., spotty coverage, frequent interruptions, and slow speeds. There just aren't enough people clustered together to attract private capital.

Learning from the New Deal

To help rural America, researchers from the Brookings Institute recommend, among other things, an increased Earned Income Credit (EIC), to incentivize work and enhance wages coming from the private sector. Interestingly, one the researchers remarked: "Our call for a wage subsidy is us saying, 'We can’t figure this out, and we hope the private sector will'" ("The hard truths of trying to ‘save’ the rural economy," Watertown Daily Times, December 23, 2018).

Increasing the Earned Income Credit is a great idea, in fact the EIC amounts should be doubled or tripled. But perhaps we could "figure this out" if we looked to the New Deal, when millions of rural Americans were helped by the Public Works Administration, the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Youth Administration, the Soil Conservation Service, the Resettlement Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, and multiple pieces of farm legislation.

This is not to say that the private sector should not play a role in rural America--of course it should--but it will never create a truly vibrant economy - for that, the federal government is needed.

The private sector, and their political & media puppets, have trained us to be helpless and reliant

Many rural Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that "government is the problem, not the solution." And so they sit by, year after year, waiting for the private sector to swoop in and save them. And though the private sector may "save the day" in a few areas, they're not going to do it in wide scale fashion. 

Many rural Americans also have the belief that government assistance is shameful. But, as I've written many times before, if government is We the People, as our Constitution says, what is wrong with We the People helping We the People? Indeed, government assistance--in a true democracy--is the ultimate form of self-help. It is a decision by the people that they no longer wish to have their quality of life defined and limited by super-wealthy executives and shareholders who whimsically throw their money here and there, and then just as whimsically pull it back. Instead, in a true democracy, the people wish to take a more direct role in the outcome of their lives.

And government assistance doesn't have to be dominated by food stamps or Medicaid. It can be more like the New Deal. It can be large scale public works, like Internet expansion, forest & environmental restoration, and infrastructure modernization (roads, bridges, dams, health clinics, etc.). There is nothing wrong or shameful about government funded, or directly-provided jobs (nor is there anything shameful about food stamps or Medicaid). Indeed, the largest employer in the United States is already none other than the U.S. Government. Many of our fellow citizens already have government jobs. And if the private sector isn't interested in our skills or services, why shouldn't we have government jobs too - jobs that improve our community, and perhaps train us for better-paying private sector jobs? 

Dear Rural America: The people who are telling you, "government is the problem not the solution," are deceiving you. They're telling you this because they want to cut programs that help you and then funnel the savings back to their rich donors in the form of colossal tax cuts. Don't buy their snake oil, "free market" garbage. Instead, embrace a more positive view of government; a democratic view of government. A view that says, "I am the government... you are the government... we are the government."

Let's cleanse our spirits and minds, and wipe away the poison of public policy charlatans, political hacks, and propaganda artists. Let's ridicule Individualism and the Cult of Personal Responsibility for the shams that they are, and get back to the founding words of our nation: 

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Republican War on Christmas

Above: The description for this photograph, taken in Seattle, December 1938, reads, "The WPA Recreational Department took part in Christmas plays and entertainments in many small communities. This Christmas play was sponsored by the Education Department in the state of Washington." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

In just the past few days & weeks, in the run up to Christmas, when the nation should be full of good cheer, Republicans have tried to reduce food assistance (the SNAP program); get rid of healthcare for the poor & people with pre-existing conditions (the Republican judge's ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional); cut off people's paychecks (the looming federal government shutdown); put people in fear with abrupt and ill-explained troop withdraws (forcing the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis); given Stephen Miller--Trump's sociopathic, dead-soul adviser--the megaphone to spout his hateful messages; told us that immigrants make our country dirtier; and more.

Yes, when we should be drinking eggnog, planning our Christmas trips, anticipating gift-giving, singing carols, and spending much-needed time with family & friends, the Republicans give us all-out chaos and hatred.

Republican talking heads love to tell us that there is a war on Christmas, conducted by liberals. And perhaps a small percentage of liberals do take things a little too far when they question certain aspects of the holiday season. But nothing compares to the blitzkrieg Republicans have unleashed. They've taken a sledge hammer to our presents, ripped the string lights off our front porches, and set our Christmas trees on fire - all with a menacing giggle.

Welcome to the Republican War on Christmas. Their holiday message was summed up by Paul Krugman, when he critiqued their healthcare position, "Get Sick, Go Bankrupt and Die."

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

$1 trillion in stock buybacks for the rich; but only an eight-tenths of one percent pay raise for workers. This is the political right's economic "miracle."

"When [a] corporation uses profits for stock buy back it's deciding that returning capital to shareholders is better for business than investing in their products or workers. No surprise we have work life that is unstable & low paying."

--Rare wisdom from a Republican politician; Marco Rubio, quoted in, "Corporate America gives out a record $1 trillion in stock buybacks," CNN, December 17, 2018.

Above: "Wall Street Station," a lithograph by Elizabeth Olds (1896-1991), created while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1938. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Yesterday, it was reported that "U.S. companies have spent $1 trillion this year on buying back their own stock - a record figure reached three weeks before year's end." Stock buybacks are a way to manipulate stock prices by creating scarcity. It enriches wealthy executives and shareholders but does nothing for the economy at large. We also know, of course, that the super-wealthy are already enjoying record wealth.

Meanwhile, the latest real earnings summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that "Real average hourly earnings [for workers] increased 0.8 percent, seasonally adjusted, from November 2017 to November 2018." Real earnings are wages as compared to inflation; essentially, the buying power of your paycheck. And this stagnation has been going on for decades, despite the repeated promises of the political right, i.e., that Reagan's tax cuts for the rich would make life great; that Bush's tax cuts for the rich would make life great; and that Trump's tax cuts for the rich would make life great. (See, "For most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades," Pew Research Center, August 7, 2018.)   

Not only is the value of workers' paychecks going nowhere, Corporate America and neoliberals are also trying to take away our retirements and healthcare. They've also loaded us down with record debt, while simultaneously restricting our access to debt-relief. Further, they've pushed the revenue burden down on the middle-class & poor, at the state & local level, even as the rich have engaged in all manner of tax evasion & avoidance (see, e.g., "I.R.S. Tax Fraud Cases Plummet After Budget Cuts," New York Times, October 1, 2018).

But none of this really matters does it? Because tens of millions of Americans will support the next charlatan who promises a free market & jobs utopia--by way of tax cuts for the rich--all previous failures be damned. In America, there is an endless parade of suckers who march, mouths agape and starry-eyed, before their millionaire & billionaire heroes: "If we just give them another tax cut," they cry out joyously, with streams of tears running down their cheeks, "They'll invest in us and give us their charity!!" The rich, meanwhile, are watching us closely through the gates of their private compounds, amused and perplexed; the way an owner watches his/her cat running around high on catnip.

And if you need proof that we've become unable to learn from our mistakes, look no further than a new poll showing Joe Biden, a mega-Corporate Democrat, to be the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president, 2020. Yes, it appears we're going to continue on with the same gut-wrenching, never-ending, Twilight Zone pattern of neoliberal Democrat, then right-wing nut job, then neoliberal Democrat, then right-wing nut job. Here's how it will go down: Biden wins because Trump is so awful; then Biden doubles-down on the terrible Third-Way Democratic Party policies that offer no hope for the middle-class & poor; then Americans get upset and elect a goofball even more ridiculous and heartless than Donald Trump, as well as a Tea Party Congress to rubber stamp whatever psychopath polices the new monster conjures up.

In other words, don't expect your paychecks to be any more valuable in 2019... or 2020... or 2021... or 2030... or 2040. We're locked in folks. Our brains have shrunk and there will be no further progress.

Monday, December 17, 2018

When liberals and progressives denounce men, does it cripple the progressive agenda?

 Above: "Agency for Unskilled Labor, CWA, Omaha, Nebraska," a lithograph by Elizabeth Olds (1896-1991), created while she was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1934. Men suffered greatly during the Great Depression, as did women. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Liberal blogger, journalist, and author Amanda Marcotte has just written a piece for Salon titled: "Lessons of Maria Butina: Are men too easily flattered by young women to be trusted with power? Should men be allowed to have power at all? Latest scandals in TrumpWorld suggest they simply can't be trusted."

Her thesis, in a nutshell, is that men are too easy-pickings for women making "goo-goo eyes at them" - in fact, so easy, "that we need to find another gender to take the reins of power..." It's an interesting framing of the problem. In Marcotte's eyes, it's not political sneaks like Maria Butina (who apparently used sex as a tool to undermine American democracy) that are the main problem, but the men who are dumb enough to fall in love and/or want sex with them.    

On liberal and progressive websites there is a fairly constant flow of articles and op-eds casting aspersion on men. And, coupled with Hillary Clinton's and Kirsten Gillibrand's declarations that the future is female, we get a picture of a world where men are considered second class citizens, unworthy of participating in public policy because they're just too beastly and sex-driven to be trusted. This reminds me of Trump's statement that he doesn't want a poor person running the economy (better, I suppose, to have a rich, greedy, sociopath running the economy?).  

Also, during the presidential primaries, supporters of Bernie Sanders were routinely labeled as misogynists for not siding with Hillary "Wall Street" Clinton and her corporate-friendly, milquetoast policies. Hillary shills didn't understand then, and they don't understand now. We don't want a Hillary Clinton. We want an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (please don't go anti-male AOC!). 

What do these anti-male messages do for the progressive movement? Well, as I was telling a friend recently, I've been thinking I'd rather be called an "Independent" than a "Progressive," because I don't share the views of people like Marcotte, nor will I be shamed into silence as so many progressive men have. I would never accept a statement like "women can't be trusted with power" or "blacks can't be trusted with power," and so neither do I accept the statement "men can't be trusted with power."

We also know that men are more likely to vote Republican than Democrat. No doubt a good percentage of these men believe that liberals, progressives, and the Democratic Party are hostile to them (a belief that is not completely untrue). It seems to me that the political left is too-often letting their economic message get squashed by gender vendettas.

It may come as a surprise to some, but not all men are rich, mean, and powerful. Many are poor, many are in prison, many are killing themselves, many are dying deaths of despair, and many are lonely and touch-starved (a group of men that even some liberals & progressives occasionally belittle, for example, the proverbial "man living in his parents' basement"). Some men have a near-limitless capacity for love, but are turning bitter at a world that they believe (and in fact) does not give a damn about them - a world that scoffs at their pain & problems and says, "Oh, you're just a woman-hater." 

The progressive movement should be better than this.

Femaleness does not make a perfect person (nor does maleness). If it did, then Ayn Rand, for example, would have made America a kind & loving nation, instead of the horror show that it is. The truth is, Ann Coulter is just as nasty as Donald Trump; Tomi Lahren is just as hateful as Rush Limbaugh; Sarah Palin is just as goofy as Glenn Beck; Betsy DeVos is just as greedy as the Koch Brothers. And I could go on and on.

When it comes to public policy, keep your genitals in your pants. I don't need to see them. Show me your heart and your mind instead.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Tea Party Christian under criminal indictment is on the verge of taking healthcare away from millions of Americans

"We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are... The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health..."

--President Franklin Roosevelt, Second Bill of Rights speech, January 11, 1944

Above: This WPA poster embodied the New Deal spirit of making sure that everyone, regardless of income & wealth, had access to healthcare. During the New Deal there were large immunization campaigns, increased funding for medical research, new hospitals & clinics, WPA nurses making house calls, medical check-ups for young adults in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration, and much more. President Franklin Roosevelt even wanted a national health insurance system put into the Social Security Act, but the opposition was deemed too strong. Further, there is a direct line of philosophy, i.e., greater federal assistance for those in need, linking the New Deal to the creation of Medicare, Medicaid, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Conservative Christians attack the poor

Tea Party Christian and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is currently under criminal indictment for securities violations, and is funded by a who's who of Corporate America (for example, Walmart, Comcast, Raytheon, Citigroup, Microsoft, Pepsi), has successfully argued that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. A Republican judge nullified the ACA yesterday.

It appears that the ACA will remain in effect though, pending appeal. But once it reaches the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh may finally have his golden opportunity to exact revenge on the liberals who, he says, destroyed his family.

Donald Trump is delighted. The ruling was a culmination of numerous Republican activities, including his own, to dismantle the ACA bit by bit. In two tweets, he wrote, "Great news for America!" and, "Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions."

Yes, the un-indicted co-conspirator praised the attorney general under criminal indictment, for jeopardizing the healthcare of millions of Americans who need help because (a) they have pre-existing conditions, (b) they're very poor and must utilize the ACA's Medicaid expansion, or (c) they could not access America's greed-based private health insurance market for other reasons.

Of course, the Tea Party, Republican, and corporate ghouls behind all this will say, "We'll find free market solutions!" Except... they won't. There is no free market solution for poor people and people with pre-existing conditions. No private health insurance company will offer good, or any, health insurance to people who are going to cost far more than what they're paying in. Private health insurers can't turn a profit on these people. The executives can't buy more yachts and mansions if they insure these people. Instead, we'll be right back to square one, with tens of millions of more Americans with zero health insurance.

But there is something much larger going on here, and that is this: Conservative Christians have an intense, intense hatred of the poor, and they resent the fact that their millionaire & billionaire sub-gods are being forced to pay more taxes to help the poor. In various parts of the New Testament, particularly in the book of Matthew, Jesus criticizes wealth and uplifts the poor. Conservative Christians today, however, have turned that philosophy on its head. Now the rich are to be praised and the poor are to be scrutinized, or even mocked. This is why you see Republican and Tea Party politicians & talking heads--who are supported by conservative Christians--constantly insulting the poor--for example, "parasites," "takers," "moochers," "lazy good-for-nothings"--and also constantly trying to cut programs that help the poor, in order to funnel the savings back to the rich in the form of tax cuts.

Make no mistake about it, conservative Christians are a clear & present danger to the lives of the poor. And the fact that they are trying, among other things, to pull the Medicaid rug out from under the poor, with no viable alternative in place, is indisputable proof of this.

"Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal."

--Dr. Samuel Dickman, in: "Study: Thousands Of People Will Die In States That Don’t Expand Medicaid," Talking Points Memo, January 31, 2014

Friday, December 14, 2018

Dear Corporate Democrats: I'm not voting for Corporate Joe

Above: "Grim Hope," a lithograph by Pat Jackson, created while the artist was in the WPA, ca. 1935-1943. Joe Biden has put many Americans in a state of grim hope, or no hope, with his support of the 2005 bankruptcy restrictions. Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago, used here for educational and non-commercial purposes.

CNN has conducted another poll showing that Joe Biden is the most popular Democratic contender (among Democratic voters) for the 2020 presidential race, although his support has dipped a little since October, and even though Bernie Sanders has gained a little ground.

Joe Biden supported the 2005 bankruptcy restrictions that have devastated so many lives (see, e.g., "Study: Law creates many too broke to file for bankruptcy," Nasdaq, February 24, 2015; and "Joe Biden Backed Bills To Make It Harder For Americans To Reduce Their Student Debt," International Business Times, September 15, 2015). The bankruptcy restrictions that Biden imposed on the middle-class & poor have no doubt contributed heavily to the soaring rates of suicide, drug overdoses, and deaths of despair in this country. He took from these struggling Americans the centuries-old concept & tradition of a fresh start.

And now Democratic voters want to reward Biden with a presidential nomination? Are you kidding me? Why? With Democratic voters like these, who needs Republican voters?

I'm sure as heck not voting for him, and I bet a lot of independent voters, who are key to the presidential elections (and which Trump won the majority of in 2016), won't either. In fact, I might even vote for the Republican candidate, just out of spite. During the last election, I didn't vote for Hillary or Trump, but I might just go to the dark side, and vote for a Republican candidate, if the Corporate Democrats nominate (yet another) Wall Street crony.

Just say "no" to Corporate Joe.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The New Deal Around DC: The Home of Harry Hopkins

Above: New Deal administrator Harry Hopkins lived in this house, at 3340 N Street NW, Washington, DC (in Georgetown), ca. 1943-1946. This photograph was taken during Hopkins residence, but I'm not sure if the car in front of the house was his (it looks like a 1940 Chrysler Windsor Coupe). Photo by International News Service, scanned from a personal copy, and used here for educational and non-commercial purposes.

Above: The Hopkins Home today. A 2008 article about the home reported: "Recently completely remodeled and restored, this home is now on the market for $2,495,000. The restoration project, completed this year, was undertaken by John Richardson Ltd., known in Georgetown as a premier provider of period restoration" ("House hunting: Georgetown home with charm," Washington Times, October 24, 2008). Personally, I think the home looked brighter and more inviting during Hopkins' ownership; but the 2008 renovations probably restored the house to its original 1830s appearance (see next image). Photo by Brent McKee, December 2018.

Above: A plaque shows that the house was constructed around 1830, and also shows that there is a preservation easement on the deed. Such easements typically limit alterations to historic homes, especially on the exterior, and frequently offer tax benefits. Photo by Brent McKee, December 2018.

Above: The front view of the Hopkins Home is a little deceptive, making it appear somewhat small. But, as you can see from this side view, the house has surprising depth and a rooftop patio--and there is also a basement level--all of which makes it a fairly large house. Photo by Brent McKee, December 2018.

Above: When Harry Hopkins first came to Washington, DC, to serve in the FDR Administration, he was too busy with work to look for a house or apartment, so he stayed at the Cosmos Club on Massachusetts Avenue (his family stayed behind in New York). His living conditions at the Cosmos Club were described as: "good library and newspaper facilities, comfortable beds, very reasonable and very good food, and not very good bathroom accommodations" (Henry H. Adams, Harry Hopkins: A Biography, 1977, p. 53). Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid, provided courtesy of Wikipedia, used here under the CCA-SA 3.0 license.

Above: Harry Hopkins also lived at the White House, from about 1940-1942. FDR offered a room to Hopkins so that Hopkins could perform his national defense-related duties while convalescing from his numerous health problems. (I'm not sure where Hopkins lived in between his time at the Cosmos Club and his time at the White House.) Photo by Brent McKee, September 2018.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If food stamp recipients were treated like the Pentagon, they'd each receive $10,000 in monthly food benefits

Above: "Marching On," an etching by Edward Hagedorn (1902-1982), created while he was in the WPA, ca. 1935-1943. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

"Poor people: Screw up and we'll throw you in prison! Pentagon: Screw up and... well... we'll give you even more money! Lots more!"

Low-income people who receive public benefits, for example, food stamps (also called "SNAP"), are frequently threatened with punishment if they misuse those benefits. They're mailed warnings about fraud, and the application & update forms they fill out are full of alerts about the hefty fines and prison sentences they'll face if they screw up. And, of course, they're told that they'll have to pay back any benefits that they've improperly utilized.

Low-income people who receive public benefits are also routinely insulted by right-wing media personalities and talking heads. And Republican, Tea Party, and Libertarian legislators are constantly trying to cut funding for the programs that help them.

In sum, low-income Americans receiving government assistance face a brutal, never-ending barrage of heavy-handed warnings, cruel insults, and funding threats.

Not so for the Pentagon.

In 2016, a study found that the Pentagon was wasting $125 billion--that's one hundred twenty five thousand million dollars--and further, that it was trying to hide the report from both the public and the Congress ("Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste," Washington Post, December 5, 2016). More recently, the Pentagon failed an audit. The private accounting firms found "the DoD’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible" ("The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed," The Nation, November 27, 2018).

So, are right-wingers holding the Pentagon to the same standard as low-income folks - demanding accountability, demanding that the Pentagon pay back improperly used funds?


Instead, the political right wants to increase the budget of the Pentagon (see, for example, "Trump backs $750 billion defense budget request to Congress," Reuters, December 9, 2018).

Yep, even though America's national defense spending already makes up anywhere from one-third to one-half of total global spending on such activities, and even though the Pentagon wastes enormous amounts of money, tries to hide it, and can't even pass an audit, right-wingers want to shower it with more--and more, and more, and more--taxpayer dollars.

All throughout my life, I've heard right-wingers declare, "You can't solve problems by throwing money at them!!" We now know what a load of horsesh&t that declaration is. They threaten, insult, and try to pull the rug out from people who need food assistance, or health assistance, or education assistance, but then gleefully hand over even more public funds to a financially incompetent Pentagon. $750 billion, $800 billion, $850 billion, $1 TRILLION... no amount of money is too much for their national defense mistress.

What a joke.

The truth is, if food stamp recipients were treated like the Pentagon, they'd each receive $10,000 in monthly food benefits.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Eleanor Roosevelt celebrates African American art

Above: Oliver LaGrone (1906-1995) sculpts "Mercy," for display in the the Carrie Tingley Crippled Children's Hospital in Hot Springs, New Mexico, 1938. The WPA funded this artwork (and also the hospital itself). LaGrone went on to have a prestigious art career (see, e.g., his Wikipedia page, and this Penn State page). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

On May 7, 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at the opening of the Negro Art Center in Chicago (now called the "South Side Community Art Center"). After sharing an uplifting story about an African American artist and her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt, the First Lady told the audience, "because of that... I have always thought more about the contribution of the colored people. And, there is no question in my mind that in music, in painting, in sculpture, in drama, you have particular gifts. And in writing also, you have many distinguished people who have brought us much..."

Eleanor continued: "Now, today, it is a joy to be here and to see what this Chicago committee working with the Federal Art Project has been able to do for the Negro Art Center... And just as I [had hoped] that Art Week--W.P.A. Art Week--would develop a feeling all over the country that it was possible to possess works of arts and things that had been made by craftsmen. So, I hope that we will go on doing that... and in this way we will create a democracy in art."

Above: A WPA poster, promoting National Art Week and also promoting a market for art. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: Two actors in Birmingham, Alabama, rehearsing their scenes, as part of a WPA Federal Theatre Project production, September 1936. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: An African American orchestra in Mobile, Alabama, 1937, funded by the New Deal's National Youth Administration. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: George Jordan, a painter in the WPA's Federal Art Project in Washington, DC, ca. 1935-1939. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: Author Zora Neale Hurston worked for the WPA, ca. 1935-1937, collecting life histories in Florida. This work inspired her most famous book, Their Eyes Were Watching God (see, Amie Wright, "Zora Neale Hurston and the Depression-Era Federal Writers' Project," New York Public Library, January 8, 2014. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, provided by the Library of Congress.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Idioplutocracy

Above: "The Pied Piper," a lithograph by Albert Webb, created while he was in the WPA, ca. 1935-1943. To me, the piper represents the super-wealthy and their political and media minions. The soldiers represent us, following along to our economic, health, and climate doom. Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Most Americans want Medicare-for-All. We won't get it.

It was reported today that the Democratic Party's soon-to-be chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, is heavily funded by the private insurance industry and is also, surprise surprise, against Medicare-for-All. Therefore, even though most Americans, even most Republicans, want Medicare-for-All, this single, corporate-funded Democrat may be able to stop it from happening (with a wink and a nod from other Corporate Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi). And for those of us who want Medicare-for-All, Neal has some advice: Calm down.

It's so easy to be "calm," isn't it?... so easy to be the "adult in the room," when you have great income and great health insurance, as all members of Congress do. Barack Obama was also an expert at being the "adult in the room." He was so calm wasn't he? So peaceful and ineffective.       

And this is just the latest story of a government that does not represent us. Everyday we see the foolishness: Tax breaks handed out to the rich, decade after decade, even as our infrastructure falls apart, our wages stagnate, and our children drink lead; greenhouse gas emission rules weakened, right after a federal report about looming climate catastrophe; funds cut for fire prevention, even as wildfires grow larger and more deadly; blaming & fearing migrant workers, while Corporate America gleefully sends our jobs overseas or replaces us with machines; restricting bankruptcy relief even as suicides--fueled in large part by financial stress--rise every year; engaging in perpetual military intervention & occupation abroad--to protect the investments of the rich--while neglected middle-class & poor Americans increasingly inject and swallow themselves to death.

Above: Drug overdose deaths in America, since 1999. Trickle-down economics, and all its attendant social maladies, has made us a hopeless, miserable people (also see, "Americans are more depressed and miserable than ever," New York Post, February 13, 2018). Chart from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Our Idioplutocracy

All of the above, and more, is evidence that America is not a democracy, but rather a plutocracy - with a thin, oh so thin, veneer of democracy on top; just enough for the electorate to have a choice between Plutocrat A and Plutocrat B. 

But it's also a sign of something more: idiocy. You see, tens of millions of people who are negatively affected by centrist and right-wing-fueled plutocracy, support it nonetheless. They support it when they vote for the likes of Trump, Ryan, and McConnell, and also when they vote for centrist, milquetoast Democrats (to be fair though, tens of millions of others feel trapped, forced to vote for the plutocrat who is less ruthless). And on the rare occasion that we do get a different choice--a candidate who will truly represent us--we usually conclude, "No, no, it won't work, we can't have that!!" Why? Because we've been brainwashed into idiocy. This is a major reason why, for example, Bernie Sanders lost. 

The American people have been so thoroughly brainwashed, for so terribly long, that they think to themselves, either consciously or subconsciously, "I can't possibly vote for someone who has a policy agenda that will benefit me directly. All policies must first be filtered through banks & billionaires. Yes, enrich them first, and then maybe I'll get something too - like a few extra pennies in my hourly wages, or some other type of peanut or trinket."

On top of this political foolishness, of course, is the more nuts & bolts type of foolishness we see in America. For example, we're famous for not knowing our history and not having great critical thinking skills. And even though we kind of understand these mental handicaps, there is no great national initiative to increase our historical knowledge or critical thinking skills. Instead, there is an emphasis (obsession really) on STEM. Yeah, that's what we need alright, a bunch of moral midgets to create more machines to replace more workers; more sociopaths to create medicines that heal the wealthy and bankrupt the poor; more ethically dead automatons to design trips around the moon for bored billionaires. Yeah, that'll make a great culture. Go STEM!

The best word that describes American government and culture is Idioplutocracy. Plutocracy supported by idiocy. Learn it, understand it, and then open your eyes and see it around you everyday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New Deal Art: "Perilous Merry-Go-Round"

Above: "Perilous Merry-Go-Round," a lithograph by Jack Markow (1905-1983), created while he was the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1937. According to his Wikipedia page, Markow was a cartoonist whose work appeared in "books, greeting cards, calendars, advertising campaigns and major magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker." Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

Monday, December 3, 2018

GM layoffs, and the role of dried-up purchasing power. Millions of Americans have been banished from the marketplace.

Above: "Automotive Industry," a mural by Marvin Beerbohm (1908-1981), created while he was in the WPA, 1940. A 2006 exhibit label for this mural read: "The Works Progress Administration commissioned 'Automotive Industry' for a library in Detroit, the automobile capital of the world. Beerbohm celebrated the nation's industrial might and the sweat of the laborers who made it happen... The WPA commissioned thousands of images like this, not only to encourage blue-collar workers but to help the nation's artists feel that they were a vital part of America's workforce." Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Tax cuts for the rich, stock buybacks for the rich, pink slips for the middle-class & poor

After receiving massive tax cuts from the Republicans and Tea Partiers, and after using those tax cuts to engage in billions worth of stock buybacks (to enrich their executives and shareholders), General Motors (GM) is closing several auto plants and laying off thousands of workers. Most of the workers are distraught... and Wall Street loves it. Wealthy shareholders are feasting on the tears and misery (and given this structural sociopathy, is it any wonder that America has been experiencing a growing suicide crisis for many years now?).

Yes, the holy "JOB CREATORS" are getting rich, once again, off job destruction. Hmmm...

There are several reasons why GM is closing plants and laying off workers, but one reason is particularly interesting: Falling car sales.

Why are Americans buying fewer cars? Well, for several reasons, for example, low gas prices are fueling a desire for gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs, and some people living in cities don't want a vehicle. But another reason is something that isn't talked about too much - the lack of purchasing power among so many Americans.

Shriveled-up wallets

Currently, most Americans can't afford a minor emergency, and "Some 50.8 million households... can't afford a basic monthly budget for housing, food, transportation, child care, health care and a monthly smartphone bill" ("50 million American households can't even afford basic living expenses," MarketWatch, June 9, 2018).

We also know that the changes made to bankruptcy law in 2005 have destroyed many people's credit, and left them permanently insolvent - they can't pay off their debts and they also can't afford attorneys to see them through the new and more complex & restrictive bankruptcy process (see "Study: Law creates many too broke to file for bankruptcy," Nasdaq, February 24, 2015). It's difficult to buy a new car when you're permanently insolvent.

There are also, of course, many homeless or incarcerated Americans. Are they buying new cars?

As you can see, tens of millions of people have been essentially banished from the marketplace. And this makes things difficult for GM, and many thousands of other businesses, both large and small. Interestingly though, dollar stores have been doing very well. As people make less and less money, dollar stores have become more and more attractive (see, e.g., "America's 'permanent underclass' isn't going anywhere — and that's great news for stores like Dollar General and Dollar Tree," Business Insider, April 11, 2018). I live in a very rural area, and dollar stores have been popping up like dandelions in Spring. But one of the several problems with dollar stores, of course, is the often questionable quality of the products (I once bought a potato peeler from a dollar store, and when I tried to peel a cucumber with it the blade bent!).

Above: A WPA poster. There's nothing wrong with discount stores and bargain basements, but when they become the primary stores of a society, something is wrong. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Tax the rich to increase purchasing power

Explaining why millennials are buying fewer cars, a young healthcare professional writes: "Lots of us can't afford cars. Most of us are underemployed, if we're employed at all. Many of us who went to college are drowning under huge student loan payments. The dollars we do earn don't go as far as they would have gone even ten years ago. A significant proportion of us simply don't have the money to take on the cost of buying a car outright or making a car payment, plus gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs" ("Why Millennials Are Buying Fewer Cars Than Older Generations," Forbes, October 16, 2017).

A very successful banker, and FDR's chairman of the Federal Reserve, Marriner Eccles, once explained the main cause of the Great Depression: "As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth... to provide men with buying power... Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth... The other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped" (Wikipedia, citing Eccles, Marriner S. Hyman, Sydney, ed. Beckoning Frontiers: Public and Personal Recollections, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951, p. 76). 

Today, income & wealthy inequality has reached an obscene level. For example, the richest 400 Americans now control a record-breaking $2.9 trillion in wealth, even as tens of millions of other Americans struggle with basic necessities and decades-long wage stagnation. (But, amazingly, many working-class people continue to goosestep behind super-wealthy Americans like Donald Trump, and still cling to trickle-down economics as if it were the best thing since sliced bread.)

I propose that GM's layoffs, as well as the low success rate of most new businesses, is largely due to the lack of purchasing power that exists in so many parts of America. When half or more of the nation has been expelled from the marketplace, business can suffer. 

More wealth needs to be redistributed through tax policy (investments and philanthropy aren't cutting it), and bankruptcy laws should be liberalized (allowing more people to get a fresh start), so that more consumption can take place in our consumer-based economy. This would be good not only for struggling Americans, but also for businesses.

During the New Deal, the wealthy were taxed more and Americans had more purchasing power.

(Note: consumption doesn't have to rely on environmental degradation - it can be focused on services, maintenance & repair, recycled products, exchange of existing goods, purchases of alternative energy systems, etc.)

How can tax policy redistribute wealth? Higher taxes on the rich could be used to create public works jobs, create Green New Deal jobs, increase the earned income credit, expand Social Security, implement Medicare-For-All, better fund public education, etc. Currently, the rich are hoarding money and the common good is suffering. Democracy and good-paying jobs are being destroyed by greed and free-market fairy tales.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

New Deal Power Shovel

Above: "Steam-Shovel," a painting by Dorr Bothwell (1902-2000), created while she was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1934. According to her Wikipedia page, Dorr became a very successful artist and during her time in New Deal art programs, "she learned the art of screenprinting, which would become her favored graphic technique." Image courtesy of the General Services Administration, Museum Associates, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Above: WPA laborers work alongside a steam (or possibly diesel) shovel in Clifton Park (Baltimore, Maryland), ca. 1935. On some WPA projects heavy equipment was avoided in order to employ the most jobless workers as possible. But on plenty of other projects large equipment was used, for example, power shovels, steam rollers, and front-end loaders. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.

Above: On this WPA project, a power shovel is used to clear a flood-damaged creek in Westernport, Maryland, in September 1937. Did you know that the WPA rip-rapped 17.3 million square yards of shorelines, creek beds, and bridge abutments, in order to prevent erosion? (Federal Works Agency, Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, 1947, p. 132). Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Suicide rates soar again. Blame America's trickle-down death machine.

Above: Part of "Contemporary Justice & Child," a mural in the Department of Justice Building in Washington, DC, created by Symeon Shimin (1902-1984) while he was in the New Deal's Section of Fine Arts, 1940. The misery that American children endured in the early part of the 20th century has come back, although in different forms and for different reasons. For example, suicide rates have increased not only for adults, but for children and teens too. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and Carol M. Highsmith.

Americans keep killing themselves, and in ever greater numbers

Today we learned that the suicide rate in America has increased again, and this time more dramatically than usual - rising to 14 suicides per 100,000 people in 2017, up from 13.5 in 2016.  In raw numbers, we lost 47,173 last year, up from 44,965 in 2016 (see chart below). Every day now, about 129 people kill themselves. At the end of a typical week, 900 Americans have committed suicide.

People kill themselves for all sorts of reasons, but we know that financial struggles, for example, debt, low wages, and unemployment, are significant factors in the overall suicide rate (see various reports online, from universities, government agencies, and advocacy groups). Even child suicide rates are affected by financial turmoil, as I've highlighted in previous blog posts.

And it's not only suicide rates that have consistently increased, but also depression, anxiety, and deaths of despair (for example, from alcohol-induced liver disease). 

Above: The suicide rate in America soared last year, as it has almost every year. Chart from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

As the wealth of millionaires & billionaires goes up, so do the suicides of the middle-class & poor. Not just a positive correlation, but a causal relationship too. Yes my friend, a zero-sum world.

Two other things have risen alongside suicide: The wealth of billionaires, and bank profits. Do you think it's a mere coincidence? Well then, I have some land on Mars I'd like to sell you.

We live in a zero-sum world, economic blathering notwithstanding. In a world of limited resources, the more wealth that millionaires & billionaires hoard--and boy oh boy have they been hoarding it--the less there is for everyone else. This has devastating consequences.

Of course, many people deny the zero-sum reality. They'll snort & grunt about economic growth, jibber-jabber about a rising tide that lifts all boats, and babble about transactions that make all parties happy, and so on and so on - anything to get you to look away from the carnage of America's blood-thirsty, winner-take-all capitalism.

Far too many of us fall for it, thus allowing suicides to rise and rise and rise.

Above: "Women of Flint," a painting by Jospeh Vavak (1891-1969), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1937. Despair affects everyone. For example, a man who commits suicide leaves behind a grieving mother. A woman who commits suicide leaves behind a grieving brother. A parent who commits suicide leaves behind a grieving child. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Men kill themselves more often, women try more often

What happens when a man doesn't earn much money, as is so often the case in our rigged economy?

Clinical psychologist Vinita Mehta informs us that "research shows that when it comes to short-term dating, both women and men emphasize good looks. But when it comes to long-term dating, women tend to prefer men with a healthy income and high status" ("Are Women Shallow? A woman's desire for a wealthy man may have an evolutionary basis," Psychology Today, July 19, 2012). And Princeton University researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton report that "many more men are finding themselves in a much more hostile labor market with lower wages, lower quality and less permanent jobs. That's made it harder for them to get married. They don't get to know their own kids. There's a lot of social dysfunction building up over time. There's a sense that these people have lost this sense of status and belonging. And these are classic preconditions for suicide" ("The Forces Driving Middle-Aged White People's 'Deaths Of Despair'," NPR, March 23, 2017).

In other words: Men are still expected to be breadwinners; they're increasingly unable to fulfill that role; so they're rejected; they're depressed; they're lonely; they're suicidal; they're called "losers"; and, increasingly, they're dead.  

But if you think women have it easy in our economically and socially-rigged world (where their unrealistic role is to be pretty & sexy 100% the time), know that "Suicide ranks as the number one cause of mortality in young girls between the ages 15 and 19 years globally [and] One of the most consistent findings in suicide research is that women make more suicide attempts than men" [though "men are more likely to die in their attempts than women"] (Lakshmi Vijayakumar, "Suicide in Women," Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2015, on the website of the U.S. National Institutes of Health).

In the United States specifically, suicide rates have been rising more sharply for women (a rate change of over 50% since 1999) than for men, but women still have a long way to go in terms of raw numbers and overall frequency. The pile of dead men is still much higher. But, if we continue down the road of fascism, plutocracy, depression, anxiety, stress, and the like, I'm sure women will continue to make great suicidal "progress."

Why don't we stop all this madness? Why don't we create a new & even better New Deal for men, for women, for children? Social scientist David Stuckler and epidemiologist Sanjay Basu have concluded that "every $100 in New Deal spending per capita was associated with a... drop in suicides of 4 per 100,000 people" ("How Austerity Kills," New York Times, May 12, 2013).

Do you want to know why we don't create another New Deal? Because we're stuck in this insane cycle of voting for politicians who reward their rich donors with massive tax cuts, thereby undercutting the common good and making life more miserable for the rest of us. How pathetic is that?

Expect 50,000 suicides for 2018. After all, we've done nothing to stop it.