The Pie Is Shrinking so Much the 99% Are Beginning to Starve

Social movements arise to solve problems of inequality, injustice, exploitation and oppression. In other words, they are solutions to society-wide problems plaguing the many but not the few (i.e. the elites at the top of the wealth-power pyramid).

The basic assumption of social movements is that Utopia is within reach, if only the sources of the problems can be identified and remedied.  Since inequality, injustice, exploitation and oppression arise from the asymmetry of power between the few (the financial and political elites) and the many, the solution is a reduction of the asymmetry; that is a tectonic realignment of the social structure that shifts some power—economic and/or political—from the few to the many.

In some instances, the power asymmetry is between ethnic or gender classes, or economic classes (for example, labor and the owners of capital).

Social movements are characterized by profound conflict because the beneficiaries of the power asymmetry resist the demands for a fairer share of the power and privileges, while those who’ve held the short end of the stick have tired of the asymmetry and refuse to back down.

Two dynamics assist a social, political and economic resolution that transfers power from those with too much power to those with too little power: 1) the engines of the economy have shifted productive capacity definitively in favor of those demanding their fair share of power, and 2) the elites recognize that their resistance to power-sharing invites a less predictable and thus far more dangerous open conflict with forces that have much less to lose and much more to gain.

In other words, ceding 40% of their wealth-power still conserves 60%, while stubborn resistance might trigger a revolution that takes 100% of their wealth-power.

History provides numerous examples of these dynamics.  Once the primary sources of wealth-generation shifted from elite feudal landowners to merchants and industrialists, the wealth (and thus the political power) of the landed elites declined. As the industrialists hired vast numbers of laborers drawn from small farms and workshops, this mass industrialized labor became the source of the wealth generation; after decades of conflict, this labor class gained a significant share of the wealth and political power.

The civil rights and women’s liberation movements realigned the political and economic power of minorities and females more in line with their productive output, reducing the asymmetries of ethnic and gender privileges.

In broad-brush, progressive social movements seek to broaden opportunities and level the playing field by reducing the asymmetric privileges of dominant classes defined by power and privilege.  The core mechanism of this transition is the recognition and granting of universal human rights: the right to vote, the right to equal opportunity, and rights to economic security, i.e. entitlements that are extended universally to all citizens for education, healthcare, old-age pensions and income security.

Again in broad-brush, these movements have largely been categorized as politically Left, though many institutions deemed conservative (for example, various churches) have often provided bedrock support for progressive movements.

Social movements which seek to limit the excesses of state power tend to be categorized as conservative or politically Right, as they seek to realign the asymmetry of power held by the state in favor of the individual, family and the traditional social order.

The Expanding Pie Fueled Expanding Entitlements

Writer Ugo Bardi recently drew another distinction between Left and Right social movements: “Traditionally, the Left has emphasized rights while the Right has emphasized duties.

As rights manifested as economic entitlements rather than political (civil liberty) entitlements, rights accrue economic costs. As Bardi observes: “Having rights is nicer than having duties, but the problem is that human rights have a cost and that this cost was paid, so far, by fossil fuels. Now that fossil fuels are on their way out, who's going to pay?”

I would argue that the cost was also paid by higher productivity enabled by the technological, financial and social innovations of the Third Industrial Revolution, roughly speaking the interconnected advances of the second half of the 20th century.

These advances can be characterized as expanding the economic pie; that is, generating more energy, credit, technological tools, opportunities, security and capital (which includes financial, infrastructural, intellectual and social capital) for all to share in a socio-political-financial allocation broad enough to make everyone feel like they were making some forward progress.

This long-term, secular expansion of the pie naturally generated more demands for additional entitlements and rights, as the economy could clearly support the extra costs of allocating additional wealth and resources to the many.  From the point of view of the few (the elites), their own wealth continued expanding, so there was little resistance to expanding retirement, education and healthcare entitlements.

But in the 21st century, the expansion of the pie stagnated, and for many, it reversed. Adjusted for real-world inflation many households have seen their net incomes and wealth decline in the past decade.

Despite the endless media rah-rah about “growth” and “recovery,” it is self-evident to anyone who bothers to look beneath the surface of this facile PR that the pie is now shrinking. This dynamic is increasing inequality rather than reducing it.

The Shrinking Pie And Stagnant Productivity

It is a truism of economics that widespread increases in productivity are required to generate equally widespread increases in income and capital, i.e. productive wealth. To the consternation of many, productivity has stagnated since 2010; no wonder household income for all but the upper crust has gone nowhere.

If we glance at a chart of productivity, we see a strong correlation with speculative investment bubbles (the dot-com and housing bubbles 1995-2005) and speculative spikes fueled by central bank monetary stimulus (2009-10).  Absent bubbles and monumental excesses of central bank stimulus, productivity quickly sinks to its secular trend line: downwards.

This next chart depicts the long-term trend line of productivity through all four industrial revolutions. Note the decline concurrent with the 4th Industrial Revolution (mobile telephony, the Internet, AI, robotics, peer-to-peer networks, etc.) and the depletion of cheap-to-access-and-refine oil:

The unwelcome reality is that the economy is changing in fundamental ways that cannot be reversed with policy tweaks, protests or wishful thinking.

Consider the percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) that goes to employee compensation (wages and salaried). Labor’s share of the GDP has been in a downtrend since 1970, which not coincidentally was the peak of secular productivity:

In this below chart of the distribution of wealth in the U.S., we find the same correlation to the downtrends in productivity and labor’s share of the economy.  The bottom 90% of households' (the many) share of the wealth pie topped out in the early 1980s and has declined precipitously since, while the wealth of the top 0.1% (the few) has more than tripled since the late 1970s:

This next chart depicts the remarkable (and recent) spike income growth the few have recently enjoyed, at the expense of everyone else:

The increase in wealth and income inequality and the decline of productivity and labor’s share of GDP are the result of structural changes in the economy, changes with far-reaching consequences.

While it’s appealing to identify policies endorsed by self-serving insiders and elites as the source of these changes, that is far from the whole story. Much of this growing asymmetry stems from profound changes in the global economy that depreciate labor (as conventional labor is no longer scarce) and increase the gains of the top few in a “winner take most” allocation that benefits speculation, leverage and new ways of organizing labor and capital that reward the organizers far more than the users/participants.

In this new era of a steadily shrinking pie, the sources of inequality and related social problems have also shifted.  As a result, the social movements that were effective in the past are no longer effective today. Attempts to address rising inequality with the old tools are fueling frustration rather than actual solutions.

In Part 2 — Social Unrest: The Boiling-Over Point, we examine why our existing models for social change have slipped into ineffectual symbolic gestures that fuel fragmentation and frustration -- and why that will lead to a dangerous boiling over of the 99% against the elites controlling the system.

When that happens (and it seems inevitable at our current trajectory), the rending of our social fabric will happen stunningly fast. The ensuing social disunity and disruption will be of the sort many alive today have never seen.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is under fire for questioning President Joe Biden's nominee for an assistant health secretary position, Dr. Rachel Levine, about her alleged support for giving children puberty blockers and sex-change surgeries.

During a confirmation hearing Thursday, Paul pointedly asked Levine, who is a transgender woman, about her support for allowing children to change their sex, and whether she believes children are capable of making such life-altering decisions.

Levine evaded the question, answering instead with a vague statement about the complexities of transgender medicine, which she would again reiterate for Paul's subsequent questions.

Watch a video clip of the confirmation hearing here.

Predictably, Paul has been labeled "transphobic" and accused of trying to derail Levine with "transphobic misinformation" by the leftist media.

On the Glenn Beck Radio Program Friday, Paul said his questioning Levine had nothing to do with who she is or the fact that she is a transgender adult, but was about the question of gender changes for children.

"The interesting thing is, none of it was directed towards her personally or who she is. It was directed towards the question of whether children can consent. And this is an intellectual question. It's not an inflammatory question. It's a question of serious consequences," he explained. "Most people would argue that children can't really make an informed consent. You know, we have laws against a man having sex with a 12-year-old, even if the 12-year-old says 'yes', because we don't think a 12-year-old is capable of consenting. They just aren't old enough to make the decision."

Paul went on to add, "I guess the danger is, you have to have some chutzpah. You have to have some guts, some courage to stand up because it is a culture out there where ... everybody is saying I made transphobic comments yesterday. All I did was ask whether a minor could consent to this kind of dramatic surgery. Nothing I ever said was hateful. I said nothing hateful about these people. I said nothing hateful about adults who choose to do this. But the culture is out there is so strong that so many in office are afraid to speak out. And it's getting worse.

"There's a handful of us that will speak out in the Senate. There's a handful in the House, and we just have to grow our ranks. But we have to resist or it just will roll over us. And we'll live in this terrible cancel culture world where nobody speaks out, and everybody is afraid to say anything."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Far away fields are always greener.

It is easy to look at someone else's life or another country and wish you were more like them.

Americans can be guilty of this. It could be Bernie Sanders wishing America was politically more like Sweden or other European socialist countries. It could be an American who finds out I'm Irish, been trying to move to America for over 17 years, and thinks, "Oh Jonathon, Ireland is a lovely free country - stay there. America has problems right now. You would not like it here."

Today, I want to take you on a journey and compare our nations' attitudes toward Coronavirus and the policies currently in place for "our protection."

I would also ask you to imagine you were in my shoes. Ask yourself which country you would want to live in.

Role of Government

Before discussing restrictions, it is critical to understand the very different governmental systems within our two countries. America is blessed to have a federalist system where states have considerable control over what happens in their states. DC, in theory, holds very little power.

Ireland is the exact opposite. We are a democracy with a big centralized government. The vast majority of power lies with our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and his cabinet. Local states have no control, as our restrictions are countrywide.

America
  • America's restrictions vary from state to state. You will find the majority of businesses are open but operating with some restrictions.
  • Churches, malls, retail, gyms, cinemas are mostly all open.
  • Bars and restaurants are open but usually at a reduced capacity.
  • Schools have moved to online learning.
  • No travel limits.
  • Travel between states is allowed, but some states like Alaska require a negative Covid test.
  • Guests are allowed in homes, but some states have a limit (but not enforced).
  • Masks are either advised or mandatory in different states.
  • Social distancing is required.

When researching this article, the most prominent complaints were restrictions on visiting loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes. These restrictions have upset many people because you have a proud history of believing in individual freedoms. The government is not your parent and does not have a right to tell you how to live.

Now let me introduce you to Ireland.

Ireland

Ireland is currently on the highest level of lockdown possible and has been since Christmas Eve. We are officially on lockdown until March 5th, and our lockdown is getting more severe. Our government has already confirmed lockdown will be extended until After Easter.

Ireland has a stay-at-home order in place, and you are to work from home where possible.

  • "Essential" retail is open but with stupid rules. Some of our shops are half-open and half-closed. Imagine a Walmart that is allowed to sell food, but large parts of the clothing section are closed because they are not deemed essential.
  • Non-essential retail is now fully closed. At the start of lockdown, outlets were allowed to offer a click-and-collect service – but that has now been banned.
  • Gyms and cinemas are all closed. Ø Bars and restaurants are closed and unlikely to re-open until mid-summer.
  • Schools have moved to online learning.
  • No guests are allowed in homes or gardens.
  • Masks are mandatory and with fines.
  • Social distancing is required.
  • Churches are allowed to open for private prayer, but the mass is strictly online. This has caused a lot of distress for families. Ireland is a Catholic country. I know many older people who have not received communion since last March. My mother is a funeral director and has witnessed the pain caused to families, as only ten people are allowed to attend a funeral, regardless of the Church's size. Imagine a large family deciding what ten people can attend? How do you choose that? Sadly, the Irish Church is spineless and accepts every rule the government passes.
Additional Tyranny

Very few businesses are open right now, but that is not the end of the restrictions. There are limits on how far you can travel. I am currently off my work because of Coronavirus restrictions. There are two legal reasons I can leave my house: personal exercise/walk the dog and to purchase food/essential items from the store. These activities must be completed within three miles of my house.

My human right to privacy has also been crushed. If I decided to get in my car tomorrow and just drive, I would encounter several police checkpoints where I would have to disclose where I live, where I am going, and the purpose of my trip. If the trip is not essential, I will be told to return home and likely given a fine.

Tyranny North Korea Style!

Most countries have border controls, all with similar intent: control who enters the nation, set how long they can stay, and mandate what they can do.

The one exception to this rule is North Korea. Their intent is not to control who enters. Instead, they seek to ensure no one leaves and defects to the South.

As you can imagine, life in Ireland is not exactly pleasurable with the above restrictions. This is especially the case for people like me who suffer from severe depression and are desperate to escape.

If tomorrow I woke up and decided I want out (which I very much do) and found a country I could enter legally, I AM NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE.

The Irish government has deemed all international travel is not essential and has placed police at all our ports and our airports. If I attempt to go to the airport, I would be greeted at a police checkpoint outside the airport, told my journey is not essential, and sent home with a fine. Currently, the fine is €500 ($600). New legislation is being discussed in parliament to increase the penalty to €2,000.

The police have new powers for people who get past the checkpoints and continue to travel overseas. When they return to Ireland, they can be sent to jail for a month. They will also have a criminal record – that record would likely disqualify the person traveling to countries like America and Australia.

Irish People

I could talk to you all day long about why America is unique and exceptional. There are so many different reasons. One of the reasons is your people, and I highlight Alexis de Tocqueville's sentiments, who said, "America is great because Americans are good." Americans have this rebellious streak in their soul, and it can be traced all the way back to the Pilgrims on the Mayflower. This great spirit is based on being an independent sovereign individual and wanting to live life to the fullest and not be stopped or controlled by ANY government.

Irish people are good and decent. However, they do not share the same characteristics. They believe and support government control because it is all they have ever known.

If you ask the average Irish person about the current government, he will likely tell you he dislikes one of the parties involved or an individual leader. Yet, ask that same person what he thinks about the restrictions, and he will defend them. I hear some say they believe the government has not done enough.

On the rare occasions that people break restrictions, the most significant backlash will likely come from the community, as they brand those people selfish and irresponsible.

Going Forward

The damage from Covid is going to be around forever. Our actions have caused damage to our mental health and the economy (with businesses closing and jobs lost). This will cause poverty. This is made worse by governments' reckless spending and borrowing of money we simply do not have.

However, I would argue we have a much bigger problem stemming from Covid: social acceptance of governmental control in a "crisis."

When a government is powerful enough to compel someone not to leave their house, define their job as non-essential, or tell someone they can't hug their grandparent, what exactly is off-limits? What control or power is a line government won't cross for the "common good"?

Most importantly, do you think governments worldwide will fix this issue and give back the powers they have taken? Or is it more likely we will just move onto a new crisis – maybe climate change or the Great Reset?

This is why the world needs America. We don't need the American military to intervene and save us.

We NEED America to rediscover why you are an exceptional nation. We NEED you to be the statue of liberty shining out the beacon of light, hope, and freedom for the world where your actions remind all of us what is possible when we unleash the energy and individual genius of mankind. If we work hard to reapply these principles, we can take another 5,000-year leap forward together.

Writers note: The policies listed here are based solely on Ireland. However, you see very similar restrictions in England and throughout Europe.

Jonathon Dunne is a keynote speaker, weekly podcast host on Blaze Media, and published author on major platforms such as The Blaze, Glenn Beck, Libertarian Republic, Western Journalism, and Constitution. Since 2012, he has reached millions with his message of American exceptionalism.

You can find him on social media – Facebook, Twitter, MeWe

Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to discuss the Left's current efforts to rid the U.S. military of "extremism," Democrats' push to separate President Joe Biden from the nuclear codes, and how conservatives can use government to battle the far-left, their policies, and their efforts to control Americans.

Crenshaw called the military's efforts to rid their ranks of extremism, "so obviously and clearly politically motivated," as the entire premise is based on reports that some active service members and veterans participated in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

"Mathematically, that's not a good indication of where active duty military stand or where veterans stand more broadly," Crenshaw said of the generalization that military personnel are extremists. "And I thought we were against that kind of profiling. Right? I thought that was against the liberal values that supposedly the Left stands for."

"But, Glenn, you know very well the Left is not liberal," he added. "The Left is very anti-liberal. And I think as conservatives, we have to say that more often. They have become genuinely authoritarian. Progressivism is not in sync with liberalism. All right? There's a big difference between an Alan Dershowitz liberal and a Democrat Party progressive. They're totally different."

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation with Rep. Dan Crenshaw:

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Glenn Beck: THIS is why Biden nominated Merrick Garland as attorney general

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Many will remember President Biden's attorney general nominee Merrick Garland as the man Republicans refused to hold a Supreme Court confirmation hearing for back in 2016. So, was Garland's AG nomination just meant to be a slap in the face to Republicans? Glenn Beck thinks there's a lot more to it.

Given how focused Democrats are on rooting out vaguely defined "right-wing extremism," Garland's work in supervising the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing suspects gives us a hint, Glenn suggested on radio this week. He said he's "all for" stopping dangerous extremists, but couldn't help noticing how Garland isn't talking about any of the destruction that happened over the summer.

"I am all for justice. I am all for making sure we catch the bad guys, as long as the bad guys are not defined to be on only one side," Glenn said. "Merrick Garland said [Monday] that there was no comparison between what happened on January 6th and what happened over the summer. That is because the Washington elites see themselves as better than somebody who owns a taco stand. I don't. The Constitution doesn't. They are the same crime."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.