Amazon Eats Up Whole Foods as the New Masters of the Universe Plunder America

This article originally appeared at The Daily Beast.

“We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” —Justice Louis Brandeis

With his $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has made clear his determination to dominate every facet of mass retailing, likely at the cost of massive layoffs in the $800 billion supermarket sector.

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Is America Now Second-Rate?

This article first appeared in The Orange County Register.

President Donald Trump’s recent renunciation of the Paris climate change accords has spurred “the international community” to pronounce America’s sudden exit from global leadership. Now you read in the media aspirations to look instead to Europe, Canada, or even China, to dominate the world. Some American intellectuals, viewing Trump, even wish we had lost our struggle for independence.

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California’s Descent to Socialism

Excerpt from an article that first appeared in the OC Register.

California is widely celebrated as the fount of technical, cultural and political innovation. Now we seem primed to outdo even ourselves, creating a new kind of socialism that, in the end, more resembles feudalism than social democracy. Read more

The Coming Democratic Civil War

This article first appeared in the OC Register.

Even before the election of Donald Trump, and more so afterwards, the dysfunction of the GOP has been glaringly obvious. Yet, despite the miserable favorability ratings for both Trump and the Republicans, those of the Democrats, notes Gallup, also have been dropping, and are nearly identical to that of the Republicans.

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The Great Betrayal of Middle America

This article first appeared in The Daily Beast

The people who wanted Donald Trump to halt the rule of their “betters” are having a rude awakening.

America’s vast midsection, a region that has been hammered by globalists of both parties, has been abandoned by the great corporations that grew fat on its labor and resources.

To many from the Appalachians to the Rockies, Donald Trump projected a beacon of hope. Despite the conventional wisdom among the well-heeled of the great coastal cities, these resource and manufacturing hubs elected the new president.

Yet barely six months after his election, Trump is emerging as the latest politician to betray middle America. Read more

What Trump Has Wrought

This article first appeared in the OC Register.

Just a few short months ago, we seemed on the brink of a new political era. Donald Trump improbably was headed to the White House, while the Democratic Party, at near historic lows in statehouse power and without control of either house of Congress, seemed to be facing a lengthy period in political purgatory.

Today some progressive voices still see a “bleak” future, but it is increasingly the Republican Party, and its shattered conservative core, that is reeling. Bitterly divided among themselves, and led by a petulant president with record-low ratings, the Republicans seem to be headed to a major crash just six months after a surprising victory.

Gone from view now are visions of a renewed Republican Party uniting its traditional base with historically Democratic parts of Middle America. Rather than a realignment in the mode of Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, the Trump administration seems to be devolving into a remarkably early interregnum, a pause between alternating progressive eras.

Trump supporters, not Trump, the real losers

Donald Trump’s nationalist agenda started with a natural appeal to much ignored non-cosmopolitan America. Unlike the seemingly diffident and distant Barack Obama, Trump offered a laser-like focus on growing high-wage jobs for the declining middle and working classes. A reform agenda on everything from deregulation and taxes seemed to have the potential to escape the low-growth “new normal” and restore broad-based opportunity across the country.

Read the rest of the article at OC Register

Photo credit: Michael Vadon via Flickr under CC2.0 License

The Globalization Debate is Just Beginning

This article appeared in the OC Register.

The decisive victory of Emmanuel Macron for president of France over Marine Le Pen is being widely hailed as a victory of good over evil, and an affirmation of open migration flows and globalization. Certainly, the defeat of the odious National Front should be considered good news, but the global conflict over trade and immigration has barely begun. Read more

The News Media are Losing Their Search for Truth

This article appeared in the OC Register.

To someone who has spent most of his career in the news business, it’s distressing to confront the current state of the media. Rather than a source of information and varied opinion, the media increasingly act not so such as disseminators of information but as a privileged and separate caste, determined to shape opinion to a certain set of conclusions. Read more

The Arrogance of Blue America

In the wake of the Trumpocalypse, many in the deepest blue cores have turned on those parts of America that supported the president’s election, developing oikophobia—an irrational fear of their fellow citizens. Read more

One tax change that should be made — and certainly won’t be

by George F. Will

Attempting comprehensive tax reform is like trying to tug many bones from the clamped jaws of many mastiffs. Every provision of the code — now approaching 4 million words — was put there to placate a clamorous faction, or to create a grateful group that will fund its congressional defenders. Still, Washington will take another stab at comprehensiveness, undeterred by the misadventures of comprehensive immigration and health-care reforms. Consider just one tax change that should be made and certainly will not be….

Dismayed U.S. homebuilders foresee a 6.4 percent increase; U.S. lumber interests say that is an exaggeration. Even allowing for theatricality on both sides, lumber protectionism will certainly deepen two problems: Because the mortgage interest deduction enables higher housing prices, Americans will continue to pour too much wealth into housing. And inequality will be exacerbated. Homeownership is crucial to the accumulation of wealth. But as social scientist Joel Kotkin writes, millennials are caught in a pincer of low incomes — the Census Bureau estimates that even those with a full-time job earn $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age cohort did in 1980 — and high housing prices. Kotkin says “homeownership rates for people under 35 have dropped 21 percent” since 2004.

Excerpted from the Washington Post. Read the rest of the article here.