Ken Ballweg was kind enough to point me back to a post I wrote for Talking Points Memo two years ago on my continuing obsession: The Interregnum. It is one of those periods that come along perhaps once a century, where “the old is dying and the new cannot be born”.And then Alex Bowles sent me a wonderful essay by Marc Chandler called Crisis and Instability–Searching for Terra Firma which makes much of the same argument.
This is similar to where we are now, in-between. What is at stake is not the capitalist system as such, but how it is organized; not just economics, but political economy. How will productivity gains be distributed? What is the relation between employee and employer? What is their relation to the state? What is the relation between industrial and finance capital?
And then I woke yesterday to this stunning analysis of the global political unrest that has shaken India, Israel, Great Britain, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Spain and now the U.S. Read more…
As you can see to the right, I have a new book out which I hope you will enjoy. It’s kind of a personal narrative of the counter-culture and its role in American society in the last century. Obviously much of it deals with my adventures in the music and movie trades from 1965-1995. A quote from the preface may give you a little insight into my thoughts.
But the artistic explosion of the 1960’s didn’t just get delivered from the heavens by aliens—it was the work of men and women who understood that they were part of an American tradition of “counter-culture”. Bob Dylan was no more a rebel than Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday or Orson Welles. But as the political establishment of America moved right, it served the culture warrior’s purpose to paint the artists that made American music and film the envy of the world as dangerous desperadoes. And in a sense they were. I call this movement The American Vanguard, using the English term for the French “Avant-Garde”. The spiritual godfather of the movement Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It is not so desirable to cultivate a respect for the law so much as for the right.” To which Bob Dylan replied, “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”
You need to read it on an I Pad, because it has more than 100 embedded videos of the artists. Enjoy
I run an Innovation Lab at USC. It is supported by some of the most innovative companies in the world. I can tell you one thing with certainty—the truly innovative companies have learned to devolve power and flatten organization structures. If the United States is to survive as the design and innovation hub of the digital world, it is going to have to have a government structure designed for a 21st Century World. And that means that power and funding is going to need to devolve from the Federal level to the State and City level. I’ve been writing about this idea for almost five years, but I’m more convinced than ever that some sort of New Federalism is the only way out of the grinding political gridlock that is destroying our country. Democrats cannot fight this notion that power that is closer “to the customer”, is more efficient power.
But the problem with giving the states more responsibility is that you need to encourage mobility in America, not discourage it. If my 2050 version of Social Security is being managed at the state level, it’s just harder to move. The beauty of a Federal social insurance system is that there is never any impediment to get up and move to where the work is. Your social security number is good anywhere.
So let me specify what I think we need a Federal Government for:Departments of Defense, State, Treasury, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security as well as Social Security and Medicare benefits. Everything else should be a State matter. Certainly law enforcement agencies like the FBI and SEC would operate at the Federal Level to enforce Federal statutes, but the funding and the personnel for the departments of Education, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Transportation and Labor should primarily exist at the State level. Obviously both the Housing and the Agriculture departments in California and Mississippi would be concerned with very different issues. And of course as the Imperial Dreams of America come down to earth, the bloated Defense and Homeland Security budgets would shrink dramatically. Read more…
Categories: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Defense Policy, Foreign Policy, Innovation, New Federalism, Politics Barack Obama, Interregnum, Iraq War, Military Industrial Complex, New Federalism, Politics
The best moment for me in Obama’s Thursday night jobs speech was his description of the basic choice that will be put to the electorate in 14 months. On the one hand there is the Tea Party view.
In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own — that’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America.
And then there is Obama’s view.
Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and the envy of the world.
But there’s always been another thread running throughout our history — a belief that we’re all connected, and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party. But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future — a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad — (applause) — launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges. (Applause.) And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set.
This is an essential truth. Read more…
What is at the heart of the great disappointment Liberals are having with President Obama? I wonder if it is inherent in any of the three progressive “change elections” I have experienced in my lifetime. Do we really believe that just because the Presidency passes from a conservative Republican to a progressive Democrat that anything really essential to the established power structure of America is going to change? My first experience of Progressive Disappointment Syndrome (PDS) was when I was too young to even vote in 1960. Somehow a teacher of mine convinced me that Kennedy would really listen to Eisenhower’s warnings about the unwarranted power of the Military Industrial Complex and move us towards a more peaceful stand with the rest of the world. But all you have to do is look at this picture of the first meeting after the election where Ike and JFK met.
There lurking behind the Presidents were the Joint Chiefs, as if to say, “don’t worry, nothing is going to change”.
And then there was Bill Clinton, heading out for his first trip on Air Force One, and for the Wall Street establishment, Bob Rubin is right by his side as if to say “don’t worry, nothing will change”
And then we come to President Obama, elected in the middle of the biggest financial disaster of the last 70 years, caused by Bob Rubin and his buddies. And who does Obama show up with on the White House front steps? You got it. Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, Bob Rubin’s acolytes, saying to the barons of finance, “Don’t worry, nothing will change.”
I really feel like Obama has to prove in the next week that he is not a prisoner of the establishment. He has to show that he can break with the twin powers of the Military-Industrial Complex and the Financial-Congressional Complex that have bankrupted our country, compromised our democracy and condemned us to years of stagnation and drift. It’s obvious the Republicans have no solutions to our current crisis. There are solutions out there. Whether Obama get’s his balls back on Thursday seems to be the only question.