Friday, September 16, 2011

Joel Kotkin Unmasks the Power Behind the Throne - "Gentry Progressives"

Demographer and journalist Joel Kotkin has studied Americans with a very clear and unjaundiced jeweler's eye for decades. He has studied and identified the power shifts in post-industrial America and long ago predicted the collapse of State economies under weight of policy programs, pensions and wages paid out to policy wizards shilling for agenda PACS, like Acorn, Planned Parenthood, Alien Rights, and Gay Marriage advocates, as well as public service unions especially SEIU.

Every pothole in Illinois and California was predicted by Joel Kotkin long before President Obama took office.

President Obama campaigned as a 'different sort of Democrat' and he surely is that - he is America's first Gentry President, according Kotkin.

This morning in Politico Joel Kotkin unmasks the Gentry Progressive - the wolf in Democrat clothing.

To be sure, Obama’s ground game relied on organized labor, particularly public-sector unions, African-Americans, Latinos and progressive activists. But these groups have not emerged stronger from his three years in office.

Instead, the major winners of the Obama years have been the big nonprofits, venture capitalists and, most obviously, the financial aristocracy. These have all benefited from the Ben Bernanke-Timothy Geithner — previously the Bernanke-Henry Paulson — policy of cheap money and near zero-interest rates, which have depressed the savings of the middle classes but served as a major boon to Wall Street. This has benefited mostly the wealthiest 1 percent, which owns some 40 percent of equities and 60 percent of financial securities.

This Wall Street-first approach makes Reaganite “trickle down” look like a populist torrent. Glimmers of reality are beginning to dawn on more perceptive progressive analysts, like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, who accuses the Democrats under Obama of abandoning “the middle class in favor of the rich.” The Democrats, grouses the reliably partisan but perceptive Harold Meyerson, should be known as “Bankers R Us.”

Reaction from Tea Party libertarians, Old Timey Democrats like meself, and even the tasseled loafer GOP saw Marxists in the woodpile. They're there, in some small way, but largely the Gentry is all about Lakeview Greystone Urban Power elites: the degree stamped, well-off, childless, venal and secular power-network players. They get into Democratic politics via the backdoor -appointments for favors to come. They are lawyers, connected -professional bankers, fund managers, and agents of every venue that rakes in nickels.

Kotkin presents the power behind the 'mount, shine, evaporate and fall' of the Obama moment in the sun:

To be sure, some parts of the old progressive coalition, such as African-Americans, whose prospects have declined markedly under Obama, will most likely remain loyal to the president. Many other working- and middle-class voters, including Latinos and young people, groups particularly hard hit, may not be ready to bolt en masse for the GOP. But their lessened enthusiasm to participate in either the campaign or to vote could threaten the White House next year.

These developments, as Marxists might put it, reflect the fundamental contradictions of gentry liberalism. Essentially, gentry liberalism reflects the coalescing interests among the financial, technological and academic upper strata. For these people, the Great Recession was brief and ended long ago. All depend heavily on high stock prices to maintain their wealth. Their interest in the overall U.S. economy — particularly the Main Street grass roots — has become ever more tenuous with their increasing ability to shift assets to East Asia and other developing country hot spots.

These prerogatives have been neatly protected under Obama. In the past, administrations let corporate scofflaws, like the savings and loan companies, collapse. Some were sent to jail. . . .
This may have also been good news for Manhattan and San Francisco real estate and luxury retail — Tiffany profits were up 25 percent in the past quarter. Silicon Valley venture capitalists, in particular, have been lavished with access to cheap government loans and incentives — as demonstrated by the recent revelations about solar manufacturer Solyndra — to promote their attempted expansion into the ballyhooed “green economy.”

The essential problem of gentryism, however, is that it fails to address the fundamental economic needs of the vast majority. It is also tied to policy prescriptions that either fail to spur broad-based growth or, in some cases, hinder it.

For one thing, by concentrating wealth at the top, the gentry approach has depressed entrepreneurialism among the vast middle and working classes. In contrast to past “recoveries,” the rate of new start-ups has slowed considerably. The health of existing small business remains feeble, notes the National Federation of Independent Business.

Other initiatives have slowed potential growth, particularly the threat of new draconian environmental regulations. Fossil-fuel development, for example, represents one of the best opportunities for new, high-wage employment for blue- and white-collar workers. In contrast, the massive expenditures of public money on “green jobs” has turned out to be less than effective in creating blue-collar employment.

Joel Kotkin was writing long before Obamas Gentry grabbed power. It is refreshing that people are now reading this prescient man. Click my post title for so much more.

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