Cheery predictions.by Joseph Jobbins on 05/22/16
The computer / internet connection is giving me a hard time today. So instead of describing in detail this nightmare I had last night involving watching a beautiful girl overdosing on some drug to the point of her vomiting up this long seemingly endless tube-shaped stream of sudsy liquid before finally dying I am going to copy and paste something...
Yesterday was at the Left Forum at John Jay College. The first talk I attended was on the problem of alienation as described by Karl Marx. The second talk I attended was called A Brief History of the Future. The following is one of the three panelist's -- Steve Breyman from Rensselaer -- very entertaining presentation (I'm sure he would not mind my posting it here, he was enthusiastic about sending it out to people):
A Brief and Cheery History of an American Future
By Steve Breyman
May 21, 2016
John Jay College
What follows is an exercise in utopian imagination. I take a statist approach with a focus on the federal level. One could just as well fantasize at the state, local or neighborhood level. And one could just as easily focus primarily on non-state action as did Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward.
Instead, I look forward from the present. I’ll share a brief annotated timeline of the exciting changes that we and millions like us could make over the next thirty or so years. The changes are consistent with this year’s conference theme of Rage, Rebellion, Revolution. This is what might happen should we Organize Our Power.
Why is it possible to imagine such change at this moment? Because wide swaths of the American public have simply had it with the decline in living standards, the disappearance of quality jobs, and with cynicism and hopelessness about the future. There is overwhelming public disgust with and anger against neoliberalism, corporate capitalism, the system, the 1%, the establishment--whatever you call it. People are ready, nay eager to make peace with the planet, and realize the clock is ticking. Most Americans are sick of racism, sexism, homophobia, and endless wars—and those that are not, those still susceptible to the siren calls of bigotry and militarism might ultimately be brought along as their fears subside, ignorance shrinks, and prospects improve.
There is at present a sense of both crisis and opportunity that even reaches, I think, a reasonable share of the alienated, apathetic, and turned off. Divisions that may prove lethal have appeared among elites. There’s growing militancy and boldness among working people.
How might such radical change come to be? The millions of Sanders enthusiasts join with the millions of us active in diverse progressive social movements to bowl over the rich and powerful and institute a deep, lasting and long overdue transformation of the country.
Given time constraints, I can only touch on major legislation and its consequences, and will move quickly.
Annotated Timeline (the order of events is somewhat arbitrary but all could come to pass)
One or another of the wacky rightwing conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton turns out to be true and she’s forced from the race. Bernie wins the nomination and names Jill Stein his VP candidate. They cruise to an easy victory over Donald Trump who returns to r reality TV as host of “The Biggest Loser.”
The Restoration of Voting Rights Act passes: its features include automatic voter registration at 18, early voting, mail in voting, extended voting, election day as national holiday, automatic restoration of voting rights to ex-felons, an end of voter ID requirements, and other overdue reforms. Voter suppression can no longer keep progressives from the polls.
The Genuine Democracy Act passes: it institutes public funding for elections at all levels and places strict limits on corporate lobbying. Money is no longer the mother’s milk of American politics. The Act also mandates independent redistricting boards for each state and territory bringing gerrymandering to an end.
These two commonsense reforms set the stage for further electoral success of rapidly growing left Green forces. Various right wing marginal parties spring up here and there but never again pose an electoral threat.
Mass surveillance by NSA and other agencies is brought to a close (or so we think).
Thanks to the Genuine Democracy Act, Berniecrats and Greens sweep the House and Senate. The Republican Party collapses from infighting. What’s left is a rump alliance of white supremacists and disaffected former corporate Democrats. The so-called Reagan Democrats become Greens.
There’s also a left sweep of state houses and governorships across the country, led by the Greens. Texas is the sole exception.
The Longhorn State witnesses massive in-migration of yahoos, rednecks and gun nuts from elsewhere. They immediately set upon one another with formerly concealed handguns and once hidden assault rifles, including in churches and on college campuses. Texas gets serious about secession from the Union, while sane Texans move to the People’s Republic of Austin.
Guantanamo Bay is finally closed and detainees set free. The facility is returned to Cuba which turns it into an amusement park.
The Sustainability Act passes overwhelmingly. Its provisions include:
• 100% clean energy by 2030
• a just transition for those dislocated by decarbonization
• a massive, WWII style mobilization
• an emergency adaptation campaign for unavoidable climate instability
• public lands protection: no grazing, logging, mining, or fossil fuel extraction
• an end of support for biofuels, CCS and bioengineering
• an end to more subsidies for nukes and fossil fuels
• an unprecedented push for conservation and efficiency esp. for low income people
Passage of Medicare for All leads to healthcare for every resident of the US, regardless of immigration status, and to the speedy collapse of the private health insurance industry. The predicted economic stimulus from redirecting 8% or more of GDP is stunning.
Sanders and Stein are re-elected by the largest margin in American history. The Koch Bros. relocate to the Cayman Islands.
Exxon-Mobil declares bankruptcy after successful criminal fraud prosecutions and several giant climate change damages lawsuits. The firm vows to reorganize as a solar power company.
The Fair Trade Act ends US participation in so-called trade pacts, withdraws the US from the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, the World Bank and the IMF. Development and financial assistance is now funneled through the new Department of Fair Trade.
The Peace Now Act radically reforms US foreign and defense policy. It:
• puts an end to imperial wars
• Abolishes secret intelligence agencies
• fast tracks nuclear and conventional disarmament
• leads to massive spending cuts, the first-ever audit of the Pentagon, and redirection of funds to socially beneficial purposes including confronting climate change
• Closes overseas bases and ends all foreign military assistance
• Cancels nuclear weapons modernization and myriad other wasteful and provocative weapons programs
• withdraws the US from NATO and other alliances
• converts the Department of Defense into the Department of Peace with an emphasis on peace education, peace keeping, and peace making
The last coal mine in the US closes.
The EPA becomes the Department of the Environment with adequate funding and staff.
The Economic Democracy Act moves US social democracy several steps closer to socialism:
* Full employment: Living wages for all jobs (federal government as employer of last resort)
• Worker ownership/management
• Nationalization of the commanding heights (including banks, railroads/airlines, auto manufacturers, oil and gas companies, utilities including telecom providers, defense contractors, insurance companies)
• All workers, public and private, represented by labor unions
• Real, guaranteed pensions for all
• Basic Annual Income to replace shredded safety net
• Tax reform/closure of havens, carried interest deduction and other loopholes for plutocrats
--End to corporate inversions
--Closure of domestic tax havens through the absorption of Delaware by Maryland
--Enactment of Tobin tax on stock trades, ban on futures trading, derivatives and other financial weapons of mass destruction
--Confiscatory estate tax to reduce oligarchy
--a return to Eisenhower era tax levels on the wealthy and corporations
The Affordable Green Housing Act leads to a massive nationwide construction program to ensure every working person pays no more than ¼ of income for rent in state-of-the-green-art, community-centered housing complexes.
The Let’s Get High Act legalizes and taxes drugs. Substance abusers are treated as patients rather than as criminals.
The Justice At Last Act provides $1 trillion for reparations for African-Americans to be paid out as an annuity over five years. Its nontaxable cash to be used for any purpose recipients see fit. Another stimulus jolt to the economy
Jill Stein and Kshama Sawant are elected President and Vice President in a landslide over Libertarian candidates Ron Paul III and David Koch, Jr.
A constitutional amendment changes the US’s winner-take-all electoral system to multiparty proportional representation system with various preferential voting options available at the state level. It also lowers the voting age to 16. Innovative left parties spring up, led by teenagers.
Jill Stein helps engineer an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a single secular democratic demilitarized state encompassing both peoples known as Jerusalem.
The Independent Media Act passes Congress unanimously. Not-for-profit local media prosper. Community studios train all comers to be news, music, and commentary content producers. Media monopolies melt. Fox News has fewer viewers than PBS. The corporate media fades away.
The Never Again Act ends mass incarceration and does away with mandatory minimum sentences, transforms the criminal court system into problem-solving courts, vastly reduces the prison population, and converts prisons to productive purposes.
With Stein’s latest appointment, the Supreme Court now has a radical majority that works feverishly to undo two hundred and fifty years of injustice.
The Fairness in Education Act provides adequate funding for public education in all schools regardless of tax base. High stakes testing and the war on teachers are things of the past. Government support enables the end of tuition at colleges and universities.
Stein and Sawant are reelected. Vermin Supreme comes in a distant second.
The EPA Administrator announces that thanks to the Environmental Justice Act, first enacted in 2019, all lead drinking water pipes in the country have finally been replaced.
The last nuke plant is decommissioned, and the last oil and gas wells stilled. The country now operates nearly completely on solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy sources.
The Good Food Act passes. It subsidizes organic, regenerative agriculture; any and everyone can now afford it. All subsidies for non-organic food disappear. Antibiotics and other drugs in meat are forbidden. Factory farms are banned. Dietary guidelines are rewritten without the assistance of Big Food. Urban farms flourish. GMO food is outlawed. Monsanto transforms itself into a streaming music service.
Thanks to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 2020 (mandating equality across gender, race, and sexual preference) studies show that men now do as much housework and childcare as women, and that women have opened up a positive pay gap with men. People of color at last close the racial wealth gap.
National problems solved, action at the federal level slows to a trickle. People now rule themselves in small, confederated neighborhood committees.
Finally, in 2050, the State withers away.
This was of course but one possible American future. It’s not—as you know—probable at this point, but we know another United States, what Eugene Debs called a Cooperative Commonwealth is possible. It will be forged by millions of activists working together in grassroots, sustained and massive mobilizations for radical change.