What is going on in Washington, why are the Republicans in Congress acting in what would appear to be such a suicidal fashion?

I think I have found the answer in Mark Leibovich’s This Town, a book which I have mentioned repeatedly in recent posts.

This Town cover

A book that illuminates Washington behavior

Cutting directly to the chase: what Leibovich makes clear is that being a senator or congressman, instead of being the high point of person’s career, is merely the necessary qualification, or apprenticeship, for moving up to become a millionaire lobbyist. Really it is that simple. It is called the “revolving door.”

In short, not to worry, if any elected representative should happen to commit political “suicide” in a way that pleases the money, he will soon reincarnate as a successful lobbyist.

Why should the money want to paralyze the American Res Publica?

Because they want to corrupt and intimidate the democratic system in such a way as to put off, or preferably, avoid permanently, a series of changes which could cost them a lot of money and entangle them in endless re-regulation and permanently cramp their style no end.

To get a handle on what is coming down the pipe that could cause the elected representatives of the people to intervene on behalf of the voters that elected them, I’m afraid gentle reader that you are going to have to take a deep breath and read carefully the following excerpts from an article in the MIT Technology Review:

The pattern is clear: as businesses generated more value from their workers, the country as a whole became richer, which fueled more economic activity and created even more jobs. Then, beginning in 2000, the lines diverge; productivity continues to rise robustly, but employment suddenly wilts. By 2011, a significant gap appears between the two lines, showing economic growth with no parallel increase in job creation.(…) the same technologies making many jobs safer, easier, and more productive were also reducing the demand for many types of human workers. (…)

A less dramatic change, but one with a potentially far larger impact on employment, is taking place in clerical work and professional services. Technologies like the Web, artificial intelligence, big data, and improved analytics—all made possible by the ever increasing availability of cheap computing power and storage capacity—are automating many routine tasks. Countless traditional white-collar jobs, such as many in the post office and in customer service, have disappeared. W. Brian Arthur, a visiting researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center’s intelligence systems lab and a former economics professor at Stanford University, calls it the “autonomous economy.” It’s far more subtle than the idea of robots and automation doing human jobs, he says: it involves “digital processes talking to other digital processes and creating new processes,” enabling us to do many things with fewer people and making yet other human jobs obsolete. It is this onslaught of digital processes, says Arthur, that primarily explains how productivity has grown without a significant increase in human labor. And, he says, “digital versions of human intelligence” are increasingly replacing even those jobs once thought to require people. “It will change every profession in ways we have barely seen yet,” he warns.

McAfee, associate director of the MIT Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management, (…) despite his obvious enthusiasm for the technologies,  doesn’t see the recently vanished jobs coming back. The pressure on employment and the resulting inequality will only get worse, he suggests, as digital technologies—fueled with “enough computing power, data, and geeks”—continue their exponential advances over the next several decades. “I would like to be wrong,” he says, “but when all these science-fiction technologies are deployed, what will we need all the people for?” (emphasis mine) MIT Technology Review Magazine

In short, in the foreseeable future, or the United States of America is going to turn into a nightmare of human misery something like Calcutta, or a universal Detroit, or the elected representatives of the millions of “unneeded human beings” are going to have to fund the  massive government expenditures that are going to have to be made in public education, social support, socialized medicine, day care centers and public “make work” projects of all kinds. The money is cool with the nightmare scenario and like a boxer tying up his opponent in a clinch, will happily finance every nutcase and corrupt politician they can find to avoid this future sacrifice of their power, wealth and privilege.

That simple.

Cross posted from: http://seaton-newslinks.blogspot.com