The Democratic Party has steered itself into an exquisitely neurotic predicament at a peculiar moment of history. Senator Bernie Sanders set the tone for the shift to full-throated socialism, and the primary election win of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a New York congressional district seems to have ratified it. She promised voters free college tuition, single-payer health care, and free housing. Ah, to live in such a utopia!
One can actually understand why New Yorkers especially would fall for that agenda of promises. When I was a child there in the 1950s and 60s, New York was a mostly middle-class city. City College of New York, with a really distinguished faculty, was free. That’s right, stone free. Much of that middle-class was educated there, including most of my high school teachers. In the 1950s and 60s, it cost a few hundred dollars to have a baby in the hospital, and less than that to receive three stitches in the ER. Back then, New York real estate was mostly rental housing and not subject to the deformations of wandering global capital.
You can’t overstate how fortunate this country was after the Second World War. The mid-twentieth century was the apex of American industrial wealth. We produced real goods and lived in extraordinary comfort. Now, of course that has all turned around, the industry is mostly bygone, the magnificent energy supply is getting sketchy, and all that’s left is a false-front financialized economy based on swindling and accounting fraud. Medicine and health care have become unabashed rackets, and good luck finding a place to live for less than half of your monthly income.
The Law of the Jungle:…
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