Can $5 trillion dollars stop people dying?
Back when Trump first announced that he was running for the Presidency, I was one of the few voices who said he was in with a chance – a good chance.
I copped a bit of flack over that call, I can tell you. People said I was an idiot.
But at the time, I recognised two things.
First, Trump had an incredible skill-stack – and a skill stack well suited to winning the presidency.
That wasn’t a claim about his ability to run the country, only his ability to win an election. They’re different things.
But the second thing I recognised was that there was a lot of anger in certain sections of American society, and the people carrying that anger felt they had been left behind by the mainstream political establishment.
And they had. The off-shoring of industry and jobs that came as the US and China firmed up their economic marriage left many people behind. It saw whole towns gutted.
And what followed was a tragedy.
As I noted at the time, there was an epidemic of deaths of despair – deaths due to suicide, alcohol or drug abuse.
And as a result, if you were working class in America, your life expectancy was actually falling.
That’s where the anger was coming from. And it wasn’t vegans-angry-at-McDonalds anger. It was ‘I’ve-lost-my-husband-and-two-sons-and-no-one-is-listening’ anger.
It was potent, and Trump, the crafty political operator, catalysed it and rode it into the White House.
And so where are we at today?
Well, The Economist magazine published an update on the life expectancy numbers recently. It shows that overall life-expectancy has stabilised. But still, if you’re black or working class (= no BA degree) in America, your life expectancy is still lower than it was in 2010.
That’s a damning statistic.
Those declines in life expectancy are still being driven by deaths of despair. The opioid epidemic is still in full effect, with opioid overdoses still sky-rocketing into 2020:
This is brutal. And it’s a crisis. But it was a crisis shaped by 40 years of globalisation. It’s not something you can turn around in a single Presidential term.
But it does seem that Biden has clocked the challenge and is going to try and do something about it.
And this is why we’ve got Bidenomics – or what some people are calling Oprahnomics – everyone gets a car!
There’s money for everything now, and there’s a deep commitment to get the unemployment rate down and re-shore as much industry as possible.
And yes, that means money for everyone. Look at what’s happened to government payments as a percent of personal income. Boing!
Now, it may be that this is just cynical political calculus. It may just be that the democrats realise they need to win back their traditional base.
But the effect is the same.
Either way, Biden will keep spending until people stop dying.
That’s kind of a win for democracy, right?