Rise and Fall of the American Empire – Wade Davis

UPDATE – Deanna Kreisel posted a rebuttal to the Wade Davis article:

The Unraveling of “The Unraveling of America”

Wade Davis is a Colombian / Canadian professor of anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia.

One brilliant man.

A recent article of his in Rolling Stone sums up how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era.

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. …

No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise …

In 1940, with Europe already ablaze, the United States had a smaller army than either Portugal or Bulgaria. Within four years, 18 million men and women would serve in uniform, with millions more working double shifts in mines and factories that made America, as President Roosevelt promised, the arsenal of democracy.

When the Japanese within six weeks of Pearl Harbor took control of 90 percent of the world’s rubber supply, the U.S. dropped the speed limit to 35 mph to protect tires, and then, in three years, invented from scratch a synthetic-rubber industry that allowed Allied armies to roll over the Nazis. At its peak, Henry Ford’s Willow Run Plant produced a B-24 Liberator every two hours, around the clock. Shipyards in Long Beach and Sausalito spat out Liberty ships at a rate of two a day for four years; the record was a ship built in four days, 15 hours and 29 minutes. A single American factory, Chrysler’s Detroit Arsenal, built more tanks than the whole of the Third Reich. 

In the wake of the war, with Europe and Japan in ashes, the United States with but 6 percent of the world’s population accounted for half of the global economy, including the production of 93 percent of all automobiles. … 

COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken.

As the crisis unfolded, with another American dying every minute of every day, a country that once turned out fighter planes by the hour could not manage to produce the paper masks or cotton swabs essential for tracking the disease. The nation that defeated smallpox and polio, and led the world for generations in medical innovation and discovery, was reduced to a laughing stock as a buffoon of a president advocated the use of household disinfectants as a treatment for a disease that intellectually he could not begin to understand.

… With less than four percent of the global population, the U.S. soon accounted for more than a fifth of COVID deaths. … 

Odious as he may be, Trump is less the cause of America’s decline than a product of its descent. As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country.  …

The Unraveling of America

 

If Trump were gone tomorrow, the USA is still screwed because of FOX News and right wing media. And the GOP.

If a vaccine were available tomorrow, half of Americans would refuse to take it.

Wade Davis:

… even should Trump be resoundingly defeated, it’s not at all clear that such a profoundly polarized nation will be able to find a way forward. For better or for worse, America has had its time. …

BAYONNE, NJ – MAY 3: A wind blown American flag at the Tear Drop 9/11 Memorial flies over the skyline of New York City as the sun sets on May 3, 2020 in Bayonne, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Social Media – Good or Bad?

When the internet — and then social media — got popular I was convinced it would make the world better.

Better informed.

The poor and powerless would have a voice. A blog. A podcast.

Seems I was wrong. 

Social media was supposed to be the ultimate free speech platform, a place where the world would come together to swap information and share opinions. It would be the battleground of ideas. …

Twitter has become a playground for bots and trolls. Facebook is filled with misinformation, a place where foreign governments can set up groups to spread fake news. …

At the same time, users have retreated into their own bubbles. …

Social Media has had its Day

 

Joker

  1. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant. He certainly deserves the Academy Award for Best Actor.
  2. The theme of economic inequality is important in 2020. It will be one of the big issues of the next 10 years.
  3. Joker is a story of mental illness. A cautionary tale warning us to provide better health care or the worst can happen.
  4. It will be studied by film students for decades alongside Taxi Driver. I thought the cinematography superb. Robert De Niro perfect casting.

Joker .. was inspired by 1970s character studies and the films of Martin Scorsese (particularly Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy) …

The film polarized critics; while Phoenix’s performance, the musical score, cinematography and production values were praised, the dark tone, portrayal of mental illness, and handling of violence divided responses. … (68% on Rotten Tomatoes)

Joker has grossed over $1 billion, making it the first R-rated film to do so …

… the most profitable film based on a comic book …

Phoenix is interested in doing a sequel.

 

 

 

COMPETITION improves the world

Corporations want to be monopolies. Then raise prices as high as they want.

Consumers want competition.

Sadly there’s LESS competition today than in the past. At this rate Amazon will have all the money.

  • Four have 70% of airline flights. (hat tip: The Economist)
  • Four companies control 66% of U.S. hogs slaughtered in 2015, 85% of the steer, and half the chickens. (h/t Open Markets Institute)
  • Four companies control 85% of U.S. corn seed sales, up from 60% in 2000.
  • Three companies control about 80% of mobile telecoms.

Axios

I MIGHT support governments breaking up some of the largest corporations, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

With a rating of 4.36 / 5.00 on GoodReads, this book is popular. And depressing.

My takeaways:

  • Stop worrying about Russia. It’s the richest of the rich deciding American politics.
  • Charles and David Koch started as Libertarians. In fact, David ran in 1980 as candidate for Vice President for the Libertarian Party. In recent decades everything the Kochs do is to enrich themselves. #FollowTheMoney

  • The Kochs will cheat, lie, steal, intimidate to enrich themselves. The GOP are merely a means to an end.
  • The Kochs are good businessmen, employing many. For all the hundreds of millions they’ve spent, mostly on Republicans, they’ve made more back on legislation enriching the richest of the rich.
  • The 2010 Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made the situation much worse.
  • Because their business is mostly Petrotoxins, the Kochs are keenest on preventing action on climate change.
  • Currently Americans for Prosperity is the main Koch lobbyist.
  • The E.P.A. identified Koch Industries in 2012 as the single biggest producer of toxic waste in the United States.

The U.S. political system is a fail, I’d say.

40% think Trump is doing a good job. A majority of those, I’m guessing, believe what they hear on FOX News and right wing radio.

Americans so easily misled deserve worse education, worse health care, medical bankruptcy, etc. … There’s no helping people like that.

I keep thinking American voters will figure out the richest of the rich are taking too much money. They don’t

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016) is a non-fiction book written by the American investigative journalist Jane Mayer, about a network of extremely wealthy conservative republicans, foremost among them Charles and David Koch, who have together funded an array of organizations that work in tandem to influence academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and the American presidency for their own benefit.

Mayer particularly discusses the Koch family and their political activities, along with Richard Mellon Scaife and John M. Olin and the DeVos and Coors families.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Jane Meredith Mayer is an American investigative journalist who has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1995. …

In 2016, Doubleday published Mayer’s fourth book, Dark Money, which became an instant national best-seller, and the New York Times named it one of the ten best books of the year. …

Mayer revealed that approximately six investigators, led by former New York Police Chief Howard Safir, had been hired by the industrialist Koch brothers in an effort to try to dig up dirt in order to smear her reputation, and that accusations of plagiarism had been leveled at her. She responded by publicly airing those tactics of intimidation, effectively debunking the smear campaign.

 

7 days of Heroin

Cincinnati, Ohio.

July 10-16, 2017

18 deaths. At least 180 overdoses. A typical week. ☹️

We have to do everything we can to reduce the number of people addicted to hard drugs. Prescription painkillers should be limited.

Read the story. Watch the video on USA Today. It’s shocking.

Trump’s bungled the Drug Czar portfolio as he’s bungled so many things. I think it’s Jim Carroll in charge, right now.