Friday, September 16, 2016

bruce wilder 09.15.16 at 12:59 am

The U.S. government does not run. This isn’t greasing the proverbial gears; this is throwing sand in the gears.

In many respects, the corruption is aimed at preventing routine prosecution for economic crime and executive malfeasance — possibly Obama’s most important legacy being the blanket immunity given to banksters. As executive level leadership pays itself more and more — and the numbers have been staggering for quite a while — the money has to come from somewhere, and it often comes from looting institutions. As the high standard for executive pay has spread out from large business into non-profit sectors, the looting has disabled some institutions for which people have had genuine affection. The erosion of integrity in educational institutions is widely felt. Quite a lot of people are trapped in debt peonage by student debt or are experiencing the continuing deterioration of American health care and insurance under the pressure of high costs driven by greed and for-profit strategies.

There’s still a high-level of ethical inertia in American society I think, but it is eroding and with it the legitimacy of institutions. Sometimes, it seems like there’s just enough ethical inertia that scandals are exposed along with the political failure to respond proportionately, so the corruption is not contained but the popular disillusion is fed a steady diet.

With both candidates for President widely reviled for their dishonesty, it feels like this trend of declining legitimacy has the potential to get much worse or even reach a critical point. Certainly, the traditional two-party remedy of rotation in office is seriously blunted by the foreclosure of options.

I am inclined by temperament to be doomsayer, so I am not always a good barometer, but I sense a growing unease about financial and business stability — I am not talking about anything more than a routine recession, except that these circumstances make the potential for precipitating a political crisis of legitimacy from even a mild recession seem to me quite significant.

The inability of the U.S. military to win a war, or just end one cleanly, is also hanging out there after 15 years.

Even if you take the pejorative of “corruption” out of the analysis, the performance of U.S. elites on behalf of the country’s general welfare and their apparently insatiable demands for an increased share of income and wealth seems unsustainable.

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