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So, where are we?

Thanks for stopping by. It's been an interesting few days don't you think? We are a week into the new administration and I was a little puzzled at the last press briefing. I realise the press has been cast at sea for 4 years, left with nothing but an empty press briefing room and a blizzard of disinformation. However, to feel the almost sense of disappointment in the room, that Joe hasn’t managed to fix America in a week, is twisting my mind. What’s going on? Outrageous transparency, guest experts in their field, provided in press briefings to answer questions. A daily in person briefing from the president himself to explain the road ahead. WTF more do you need? These are demanding times. A nation has been torn apart by a homicidal maniac, almost 500,000 Americans are dead and we’re asking about Marjorie Maniac Green? REALLY? It’s not the president’s job to sort out the fact that Republicans can’t organise a primary.

One thing that has impressed me about Joe, is his unflappability nature. He’s

focused on a path, he’s assembled a team, he’s appointed a top drawer Press Secretary and he is able to articulate his actions with conviction. Of course there will be missteps, of course mistakes will be made, but I think you’ll find he’ll own them, because that’s who he is. A week in and a federal plan is coming together for vaccination. A mask mandate has been implemented across federal facilities and services. Private prisons have been halted, the wheels are in motion to reunite immigrant children cruelly separated from their parents. The US is back in the WHO and is rejoining Paris Climate Agreement. The START treaty has been extended, transgender and LGBTQ Americans can serve openly in the military. Changes have been ordered to move to electric vehicles across federal agencies and I could go on. Oh and not a single game of golf. Come on guys, you should be on your feet applauding. Now the tricky bit of Republican obstruction begins, but ‘here’s the deal folks’, it’s going to be OK.

Nobody likes bad news and the honest delivery of Covid information, specifically that not everyone who wants a vaccination will be able to get one, until late spring or maybe early summer, should not be a surprise. This is not the fault of the current administration, it certainly stems back to poor planning of the previous administration. Having said that, the fact that there is massive global demand for vaccines, means that manufacturers are struggling to keep up. There are new vaccines reaching the final stages of testing and these will only improve the situation. The new administration is on the case and has the best possible minds working on the problems. In the meantime, guess what? It's down to us, we the people, to take some personal responsibility while the vaccination program ramps up and reaches the ability to vaccinate everyone. So wear a mask, use social distancing and be kind to each other. I am astounded that seems for some people to be too much to ask.

As we know, a federal response can only go so far, the logistics involved beyond that point can be complex and add delays to delivering vaccinations. So with that in mind, lets give a big shout out to West Virginia for their decentralised approached to vaccination. In its careful considered approach, it seems to be very a successful model for reaching as many people as possible, as fast as possible. Take look at this report on what they are doing. It would be wise in my view, to replicate this model in other states, adjusting as required.

Yesterday we spoke of economic development and the road ahead for the US. It would also be remiss of me not to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Pete Buttigieg who has advanced through the Senate nomination process and is now all but confirmed. He will be a pivotal player in the delivery of infrastructure plans, to get America back on its feet and sprinting forward. Amidst all this doom and gloom, there is actually good reason to be optimistic. The question is, will you be swayed by what will shortly be a fear campaign that will be waged by the Republicans speaking of huge job losses and the mid west becoming a wasteland blah blah blah. If you step back a moment, you will see that Republican fiscal ideology, is based around a real narrow 'bird in the hand' outlook. We've always had coal and oil and that's the way it's always going to be. It's a bit like I ride a horse, so why do I need a car?

Wake up! The future is NOT in fossil fuels, it's in new green technologies and before you scream too expensive, think again. It is simply not true. Putting aside the comparable costs of power generation, the cost to the US of climate change damage is humongous. Every year the cost to clean up the mess grows and grows. John Kerry, he da man. Take it from me, if anyone knows how to create an environment ready for government to embrace climate change, it's John Kerry. Have a listen to him in the above clip.

The advantage of MAGA to Republicans, is that it prevents Americans looking outside at the real world. It focuses on a nationalist inward looking 'we are the greatest' message. The reality is, sadly you 'ain't the greatest. Yes you have the greatest military force the world has ever seen. The awesome power that can be brought to bear on an enemy is designed to be a deterrent. The harsh truth is, that against an insurgent terrorist enemy, that power is virtually impotent. A young woman can walk up to a checkpoint with a concealed IED and BOOM, a handful of US soldiers are dead. Of course she's vaporised, but she and those who sent her really don't care. It's a win for them. The point I'm trying to make, is that you have to question the spending of trillions of dollars on a military that is almost ineffectual against a modern day insurgent force. Buying a few plane tickets and flying planes into a building and key strategic assets costs less that a set of tyres on a troop carrier and yet it is devastatingly effective.

So what's my point? I spoke yesterday about waste in government. This thorny subject has been the source of bitter debate for decades and to be frank, there are so many vested interests in the 'skimming' that goes on. If some serious money was invested in a root and branch review of government contracts, I am convinced the American people would be horrified at what goes on. Take a look at this article from the Foundation for Economic Education. In the last 4 years, under Trump's stewardship, I can almost guarantee you, that this type of behaviour will have been rampant. Trump just can't help himself, he's transactional by nature and that will have manifested itself in fiscal malfeasance.

I see many posts on Twitter, saying stop this outrageous spending on the military and use the money for good. You don't need me to tell you, that the nature of military spending is geared to, yes you guessed it, large military contractors. It's just bankers with a different hat on. The serving soldier, effectively gets the crumbs from the table of huge corporations. Of course these companies do not pay soldiers, well not until they leave the army anyway. The point I'm trying to make, is that pay for soldiers is not the number one priority in military spending. I guarantee you that as soon as you squeeze the spending, contractors won't pay the price, military housing and services will shrink.

No Democratic administration with such a razor thin majority in both Congress and the Senate, has the stomach to take on government waste, dark money and campaign reform. Having said that, once the country starts moving forward again, following gaining control of the pandemic, dark money is definitely where I would start. Yes it will be a fight, even amongst some Democrats, but that along with the filibuster is a door waiting to be kicked open, because behind it lay opportunity for a better America. They say money is the root of all evil, that might be true but without it, nothing is going to happen. If you want an insight as to how insane this capitalist system is, look at Wall Street and GameStock, I'm still on he floor laughing that amateur day traders are making pro traders look idiots. The stock market fell yesterday, yet GameStock was up 134% and AMC theatres was up 301%. The story is, that internet traders have declared war on the big boys shorting (placing bets that the stock value will fall) stocks. The higher these stocks rise, the more money the short sellers lose. Who says the average American can't spank the big boys. Some hedge funds right now are in a whole lot of pain. Elisabeth Warren hit the nail on the head, when she said;

'For years the same hedge funds, private equity firms and wealthy investors dismayed by the GameStop trades, have treated the stock market like their own personal casino, while everyone else pays the price'

Now just before you rush out and buy stock DON'T, it will end BADLY and you don't want to be holding the baby when it does. The only reason I mention it, is that in the crazy world in which we live, everything is a bet. Billionaires are suffering today, but rest assured, that this will make them all the more aggressive in recouping that loss. That said, hats off to the day traders, I salute you. Enjoy the cash you made.

In the last quarter of the Trump administration, GDP grew by 4%. The cost of that I would suggest, is around 200,000 dead Americans. You can work out for yourself if that human cost was worth it. The annual GDP in contrast, contracted by 3.5%. 847,000 first time filings for unemployment are made this week, goes to my point of a contraction in the job market and a number of these jobs simply aren't coming back. So here is living proof that the 'ignore Covid' policy coupled with an unsaid herd immunity ambition, simply HAS NOT WORKED. This should scream at you, that Republican fiscal ideology not only kills, it kills for nothing. What's more, Ron 'no brain' DeSantis, is about to fire up the death chamber again shortly.

One thing all politicians agree on, is that US Infrastructure is in dire need of an update. The previous attempt to get things moving under Trump's administration ended in, well...NOTHING. Infrastructure is the magic bullet that will allow America to flourish again. Just to set the scene, electric cars are nothing new, we could have had them decades ago, but big oil interests just made it impossible for the electric vehicle industry to get off the ground. Republican fear tactics come from corporate donor pressure. Jobs will disappear etc etc etc. An assembly worker really doesn't care if he or she builds a car or a wind turbine, a vehicle assembler doesn't care if they assemble a petrol vehicle of an electric vehicle. Trump shouted from the hilltops about GM instantly repurposing factories to produce ventilators. Put aside the blizzard of disinformation and focus on the end goal. You are in search of a better America that provides a more equitable society, in which everyone has a part to play.

The benefit of infrastructure investment is that it creates huge numbers of jobs. Many big infrastructure projects around the world, have relied on importing cheap labour to maintain the bottom line. In this case, it would defeat the object. You need to employ American labour and wherever possible use American manufactured steel and construction materials. If you create a demand for materails that will span a long period of time, that will stimulate the creation of internal supply chains. Infrastructure by its nature, has a huge price tag and that is what Republicans will attack, but careful targeting and well regulated contracts will deliver handsome returns not only on capital investment, but also in reducing unemployment, effectively putting America back together again, with American labour, for the benefit of every day Americans. Its a slogan waiting to happen. Global bond markets will fall over themselves to provide the money cheaply and you are off and rolling.

I intend to go into more detail tomorrow on the specifics, but the point I am trying to make here, is that America has a bright future. You just have to be bold enough and brave enough to grab it with both hands and run.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe out there.


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