11 Comments

I share your hope, but you are too optimisitc. The previous times the gilded age finished , it was after a major disaster. We do not see how the change can start

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Heather Cox Richardson has a strong article*about fascism. Most political discussions seem to assume that fascism, socialism, democracy are easily identifiable;le and separate systems. Maybe we actually live in a blend and the future depends on what blend can best deal with our current crisis ensemble. Maybe that blend will be fascism, democracy, anarchy; welfare state, socialism. If this is true, and I believe it is, we must give up single concept politics and spend time learning about multiple systems and how to manage them.

*link

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Is a glided age always marked by an increase in the effort / reward ratio for workers. Lately I'm obsessed about an old issue -- surveillance at work and a resulting intensity of labor effort. Does the effort to reward have any cyclical or long wave trend? I'm optimistic -- Slouching Towards Utopia have the reader on edge -- but something now isn't right. Workers are getting elated lifetime levels of cortisol and resulting pain after a few decades.

Brad, what's happening to work?

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My guess is increased surveillance of all kinds making people a lot more anxious...

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At least the politics of the First Gilded Age favored growth. Today's "Worthies" oppose immigration, small deficits, freer trade, and Pigou taxation. Even the rise of the challenge from China cannot shake them.

Then too are another set of "Worthies" who insist on permits and studies and reviews to ensure that things are safe and ethical, etc. that add to costs and time of getting anything done if it can be done at all

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I'd settle for a lot less than enlightened self interest regarding inequality. I just want enough taxes from high income people to close the deficit and accept a revenue neutral tax net emissions of on CO2

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"Global warming has become such a crisis precisely because coal and oil interests had enough Gilded Age-provided social power to delay the transition to post-carbon energy."

I will stipulate that the remaining Koch brother is not on the frontlines of positive climate change policy, but Greta Thunberg and Bill McKibben are not hectoring people to adopt a global tax on net CO2 emissions, either.

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I often engage my coworkers who are middle-class or lower about their feelings on tech and AI -- ChatGPT, FSD cars, etc. They usually respond with fear and pessimism. I suspect those at the end of each Guilded Age are fearful of losing their way of life -- both rich and poor. Essentially they are afraid of change. Optimistic people, as your self, look forward to change.

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Notably missing: evidence that ChatGPT and its ilk and Full Self Destruction "beta testing" automobiles are examples of good change, rather than just change that kills the little people and concentrates wealth in the hands of those who already have.

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As always I appreciate your insights.

In regard to copy editing. I'm not sure what this sentence means: "Ethno- and culture-based neofascism threatens democracy, in large part because the Second Gilded Age's upper class finds democracy a threat because of its elective affinity with growth, transformation, and concern about income distribution. attention away from issues of economic, distribution and growth."

There are also a couple of instances of the autocorrect demon stepping in e.g. lessen not lesson.

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Another well-argued post, thanks! Needing a minor edit here, 1st sentence, graph 4: "Global warming now threatens to neutralize much of the technological dividend we would otherwise {missing verb? ~ achieve, receive, benefit from, realize?} over the next two generations." Cheers.

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