George H. Blackford, Ph.D.

 Economist at Large

 Email: george(at)


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.

Itís what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Attributed to Mark Twain (among others)



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On Sanders and Political Practicality

George H. Blackford, 1/28/2016

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 ď. . . 'politically impractical' is just code for

'wealthy donors don't like it.íĒ

Liam Miller


When I turned my attention to trying to understand the financial crisis in 2008 I quickly realized it was the end result of mainstream economists spouting abstract theoretical arguments and ideological nonsense that justified the acceptance of economic policies (especially with regard to taxes and deregulation) that inevitably led to the kind of crisis we were in the midst of. (Ideology Versus Reality and Chapter 1)


Those policies led to an increase in debt and the concentration of income in a way that not only caused the crisis but created imbalances in the domestic and world economies that lie at the heart of the problems we face today.  (Chapter 3)  I also realized that in the face of the onslaught of intellectual nonsense from the right, the left had begun to buckle in the mid 1970s, and there has been virtually no voice on the left in the political arena to fight the right-wing propaganda since the mid 1980s.  (It Makes Sense If You Donít Think About It)


This has led to a situation in which the damage to those at the bottom of the income distribution as a result of the current crisis has been devastating, and the duplicity that brought this devastation about is obvious to most people even if they donít understand it or are wrong in the way they think they understand it.  To make matters worse, there has been virtually no one on the left in the political arena except Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren willing to stand up and speak the truth and truthfully explain the situation to the electorate.  As a result, we have come to a point where people are mad as hell and they arenít going to take it any more (to coin a phrase).


It seems to me that itís no longer a question of what can be done, but what has to be done.  That means we have to find a way to decrease the concentration of income and eliminate the imbalances in the system.  (Lower Taxes, less Government, and Deregulation)  Politics as usual wonít cut it in this situation. There has to be a left-wing movement to make this sort of thing happen, just as there was a right-wing movement that got us into this situation in the first place. (Ideology Versus Reality)  A left-wing movement is not going to happen unless the disenfranchised can find someone they can believe in, and theyíre not going to believe in someone who tries to explain to them what is politically practical.


Now I donít know if Sanders can make people believe in him.  He has  not defended the need for government and taxes as much as I would like to see (Why Democrats Lose Elections), but right now, as far as I can see, he is the only hope we have.  He is not my first choice.  That would be Elizabeth Warren if there were some way she could get into the race, but the alternative to Sanders today would appear to be Hillary, Trump, or some other Republican.  I donít see how any of them can do anything but make things worse, and God only knows what the next election is going to be like if I am right, and one of them were to become president in 2017. 


My biggest fear when Obama was elected was that he would try to get along with the Republicans the way Pelosi and Reid did when the Democrats took over the Congress in 2006, and just about everything I feared at the time came to pass (Why Blame Republicans?).  He didnít attack the Republicans and try to move the electorate to the left as I had hoped.  Instead he just tried to get done what was practical to the effect that the Democrats lost the Congress in 2010.


In the absence of a miracle with regard to Warren, I just donít see anyone out there today who has a chance of being able to start a left-wing movement except Sanders.  As I see it, itís not important that he is able to do what he says he wants to do.  Whatís important is that he is able to make it clear to the electorate what it is that is keeping them from being able to obtain the kind of government they want in a way that makes it possible to eventually achieve that government through the political process.  That means telling the truth about the essential nature of government ( and the need to raise the taxes needed to pay for the kind of government the electorate wants--all of the things I talk about in Why Democrats Lose Elections and Lower Taxes, less Government, and Deregulation.


Now I donít know if Sanders can do this, but Iím pretty sure Hillary canít.  She has already promised not to raise taxes on incomes under $250,000 which means that if Hillary is elected we will be getting more of the same kind of thing we have been getting for over 40 years now with the same kinds of dismal results.  And if this happens I fear the 2020 election will probably bring to the fore someone who is even worse than Trump. 


I suspect the reason pundits have been writing off Sanders and Trump from the beginning as advocating things that are politically impractical is that the pundits just donít get how angry people are out there and the extent to which desperation and anger forces ordinary people to turn to populists or demagogues like Trump. 


Once the electorate has reached the boiling point political practicality is no longer relevant.  What's relevant is the ability to change what is politically practical before it's too late to avoid a disaster. 


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