From Your Mouth…

My grandmother used to have a favorite response to rosy predictions: “From your mouth to God’s ears.” In other words, “I sure hope so, but whether God is listening remains to be seen.”

That was my reaction to a recent column by David Brooks in the New York Times.In a very real way, Brooks column–titled “The American Renaissance Has Begun “–  put flesh on President Biden’s frequent assertion that “America is back.”

He began the analysis by harkening back to the post-World War Two period, when West Germany and Japan emerged from widespread devastation to experience “miraculous” economic growth, while Britain, with its institutions more intact, entered a period of slow economic growth.

Brooks cited a 1982 book by Mancur Olson, which offered an explanation:

“The Rise and Decline of Nations,” Olson concluded that Germany and Japan enjoyed explosive growth precisely because their old arrangements had been disrupted. The devastation itself, and the forces of American occupation and reconstruction, dislodged the interest groups that had held back innovation. The old patterns that stifled experimentation were swept away. The disruption opened space for something new.

Brooks hypothesizes that the pandemic may have ushered in similar disruption, and he bolsters that argument with a number of data points: the 4.4 million new businesses that were started in 2020 represent a modern record.  The 38 percent of workers who took some additional training during 2020 was a substantial increase from the 14 percent who did so in 2019. U.S. start-ups raised $69 billion dollars, which was a 41 percent increase over the previous record, set in 2018. Productivity is up. Perennially low savings rates increased.

After decades in which consumption took preference over savings, Americans socked away trillions of dollars in 2020, reducing their debt burdens to lows not seen since 1980 and putting themselves in a position to spend lavishly as things open up.

Brooks says these and other data points are signs of three major shifts–growing worker power, a “rebalancing” of population between urban and suburban America, and a similar rebalancing of work and domestic life. I think the latter two predictions are “iffy”–it remains to be seen how many businesses will institutionalize remote work and how, and those decisions will affect workers’ need–and willingness–to relocate and commute.

If population dispersal does occur, our political polarization might ease; Brooks quotes a professor of urban studies who predicts such movement and as a result, forecasts a decline in the economic and cultural gaps between coastal cities and inland communities.

It remains to be seen whether these predicted population movements and changes in the culture of work will materialize, but the shift of power from employers to workers is clearly underway, and just as clearly overdue.

Power has begun shifting from employers to workers. In March, U.S. manufacturing, for example, expanded at the fastest pace in nearly four decades. Companies are desperate for new workers. Between April 2020 and March 2021, the number of unemployed people per opening plummeted to 1.2 from 5.

Workers are in the driver’s seat, for now, and they know it. The “quit rate” — the number of workers who quit their jobs because they are confident they can get a better one — is at the highest in two decades. Employers are raising wages and benefits to try to lure workers back.

This is a “rebalancing” that matters. Unions were formed originally to counter the disproportionate power of employers. Over time, in some industries, unions then became dominant–more powerful than employers. Over the past decades, however, as technology and gig work and successful corporate lobbying eviscerated union power, employers once again gained the upper hand–and a number happily exploited both their regained advantage and their workforces.

The operation of supply and demand, referenced by Brooks, is returning a measure of power to workers. (The recent Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare will also help with that “rebalancing.” Employers’ positions were substantially strengthened by America’s insistence on tying health insurance to employment –workers with pre-existing conditions were effectively precluded from quitting and losing their coverage.)

The next few years will tell the economic story. But we also need to recognize that America  won’t truly be “back,” let alone “better,” unless we repair our infrastructure–physical and social–and protect our democracy.

If there’s a God, I hope she’s listening…..


  1. But first we MUST have voter rights protected at the national level –
    The crazy voter restrictions must be stopped.

  2. I’m not sure I’d base my assertion on a book written in 1982. Still, David is the ultimate cheerleader for the Democratic Party, which so far hasn’t passed a single piece of progressive legislation. At the same time, his party waits for the Republican Party to revise his deals to claim “bipartisanship” is back.

    Bipartisanship isn’t even a word meaning status quo, considering how far to the right this country has shifted since 1982. As evidenced on this site, many conservative Republicans are now finding their home in the Democratic Party claiming Rachel Maddow as their Leftist Queen. LOL

    The media has been putting forth a tremendous amount of propaganda lately as we pivot toward competition with China, but it seems to be all bluster and shine.

    We just had many workers quit, and more are coming as increased savings were intentional since the young set wants to add more life into their work/life balance. I know the progressives in Congress are getting restless as we move toward the all-important mid-terms.

    The Oligarchs will be looking to shift the country further right to protect Joe who so far has done nothing for progressives except add more layers of censorship to control the messaging. Even The Young Turks just imploded as corporate tools and they’ve been a go-to for young progressives.

  3. The data presented near the top of the blog validates Keynesian economics: When consumers have money, they consume by spending it. Parsimony is only for the rich, i.e., hoarding. Virtually every individual who earns less than $40,000 per year spends every penny just to pay the bills and eat. The rich were paying 78% tax rates before the horror show that was Ronald Reagan showed up. Since then, we’ve been spiraling into a self-imposed third-world status (“Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third-World Status” –

    Okay, if there is going to be a major overhaul, the Republican party will be left holding their empty bag of lies and broken promises. They are the crumbling buildings that must be hauled away to be replaced with people who actually intend to govern. WHAT A CONCEPT!

    No, Todd, Brooks is NOT a cheerleader for Democrats. He is a disillusioned conservative who now sees that conservatism doesn’t work. You’re right though… except that Democrats HAVE passed progressive bills. It’s the Republicans who are stamping their feet like little children and saying, “NO”.

  4. Hmmmm … power shift to workers? I read we are in the eye of the storm of the Information New Technology Age. Power shift to workers? Should we ask, before drawing conclusions, who controls the switch?

  5. The American Renaissance?

    LOL, exactly what is that?

    The only sort of renaissance in the United States took place after the great depression and during that depression. The length of that devastation and the realization that food and shelter, health and well-being, just was not relegated to one echelon of society, it’s something that everyone desired, and most did not have.

    White folks knocking on doors of black farmers for something to eat while they did chores for that food, in the South! This is not to say that every white person had an issue with black folks, but, it showed and was known widely, that some of the biggest bigots eagerly devoured dinners made by those who they despised and railed against on a daily basis just years before.

    In Germany and Japan, yes, the devastation was great! The infrastructure of society was obliterated. The pain was universal! Much worse than our great depression, much of the infrastructure was completely destroyed, cities destroyed, hospitals destroyed, educational institutions destroyed, places of worship destroyed! This never happened in the United States even during the Great Depression Renaissance!

    Renaissance means a renewed interest in something, or a revival of past lifestyle and conduct, business and or social conduct!

    The United States was not a panacea except for the white, wealthy, males, and was a symbol of abuse concerning Africans, Chinese, and indigenous natives!

    So, Renaissance back to what? What point in time?

    The mass murders of American citizens is off the charts! And there is no sign of it slowing down! Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked the federal government to step in, especially after the latest mass shooting where house full of women were shot to death execution style! And they left a lot of orphans!

    We tend to get so consumed concerning left and right, that we don’t pay attention to how Americans are murdering each other with no end in sight! Or how, certain groups are stoking the hatred by their hunting incursions/excursions into neighborhoods for the simple act of murder!

    This has nothing to do with jobs or education, this is a call for the American Marshall plan! The time for talking has passed a long time ago, the time for action is now! But that won’t happen. Because, the will is not present for it. And, if you can keep the murders across the street, and not in your own home, then, what’s the big deal?

    God’s word says; “‘You must love your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” ( Matthew 22:37-39.)

    Christ said on his sermon on the Mount of olives, ““You heard that it was said: ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

    Christ was actually paraphrasing Moses concerning the Mosaic law in Matthew 5 and Matthew 22!

    Have we ever seen this type of universal conduct in the United States? We’ve seen repression, regression, and manipulation of the conception that’s listed above!

    “If your enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Job 31:29; Proverbs. 24:17; 25:21)

    Under the Mosaic law, it was stated; ” “If you come upon your enemy’s bull or his donkey straying, you must return it to him. 5 If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has fallen under its load, you must not ignore it and leave. You must help him release the animal.” (Exodus 23:4, 5)

    And lest we forget, this idea was brought forth in Christs parable of what we all call “The Good Samaritan.”

    So, again, go back to what? History shows that equality and compassion are in short supply in man’s society! The few that actually practice the compassion and promote the equality, are not enough to change the cycles of history. And, until that changes, mankind will continue to rush towards the precipice of Chaos, Anarchy, Civil unrest, Persecution, and collapse by self-inflicted mortal wounds that lead to Suicide of society and most likely all living in it!

    Proverbs 2:10-15
    10 When wisdom enters your heart And knowledge becomes pleasant to your soul, 11 Thinking ability will keep watch over you, And discernment will safeguard you,12 To save you from the bad course, From the man speaking perverse things,13 From those leaving the upright paths To walk in the ways of darkness,14 From those who rejoice in wrongdoing, Who find joy in the perverseness of evil,15 Those whose paths are crooked And whose entire course is devious.

    There really is no critical thinking, there is no discernment, there is no pining for knowledge, but the embracing of ignorance has always been the case. Not only were governments destroyed in Germany and Japan, the houses of worship and those promoted the deception and allowed it to fester and control the politics were destroyed. But, those issues in those countries of your are making a grandiose come back! Mankind lacks the ability to cure himself!

  6. John,

    I love your lessons. The thing is, what is it about humanity that drives them to torture and kill one another? Even before the invention of money, humans were exploiting other humans for… take your pick. In Chris Harman’s “A People’s History of the World” we see that humans have behaved badly and very much anti-Christlike. Add to that those who talk-the-talk of Jesus’ instructions end up walking-the-walk of greed, avarice, hate and bigotry. How is that reconciled?

    Humans have invented the means by which they can destroy every living thing (Almost. Cockroaches and blue-green algae will probably survive a nuclear holocaust.) on Earth. What god promotes that. The Taliban are taking back Afghanistan and will undoubtedly visit untold horrors on who they judge to be non-believers. How does that work with the “books”?

    Yes, mankind indeed lacks the ability to cure itself of these inherent, self-destroying “instincts”. Isn’t it ironic that the survival instinct still lives even after we’ve destroyed our traditional mortal enemies, i.e., predatory animals, disease (mostly) and starvation (not mostly at all)? All the prayers and all the pearl clutching has done nothing to improve the divisiveness of the tribes. There are close to 8 billion humans, the most populous mammalian species on Earth. Too many mouths screaming for revenge, hate, tribalism, food, shelter and… anything else they don’t have.

    In a similar vein: The new Delta variant of COVID is now running rampant through the un-vaccinated. Hmm. Anti-vaxxers seem destined to fulfill the Darwin/Wallace tenet about adapting to survive. Look for India’s pandemic to greatly reduce their population before the West can get enough vaccines to them. Corporate America will ask, “Who is going to pay for it?”

  7. Dr. Kennedy, my friend, what have ya been smokin’? Rabbi Brooks has snookered your lifelong optimism with his sparkling vision. Our democracy is on the edge of abyss; our planet is corroding; our values are increasingly only about ourselves. We put our earphones in and are mesmerized by our screens…

    Selective data? New businesses in 2020 – how many went out of business? How many got sucked up by large businesses/private equity? Productivity is NOT up – check the data – it is flat at best. Power to workers?? Union votes at Amazon…

  8. Yes, John, please tell us why the conquerors, after murdering and raping their victims, steal their lands, thrust a Bible at them, and tell them to love one another or perish in Hell for eternity.

    Mankind has duality; part spirit, part matter. Or, in some of the ancient texts, the duality is male and female energy.

    Einstein told us in the 1940s that man; mainly the western democracies had to move past our predatory phase of being, but we haven’t even moved the needle. We have a collective ego that feels far superior to others when reality says quite the opposite. We are like addicts who kill themselves for more of what they must have to exist. The family looks upon the addict and says just quit before you kill yourself but the addict goes on to the bitter end mostly.

    Our economic system demands more and more and more and even though it is destroying the planet and mankind, it must have more.

    Tell me I’m wrong…

  9. There is only one way to fix what’s wrong and that is to replace as many Republicans in the House as possible and at least 13 Republicans in the Senate. In other words, we need a blue tsunami.

  10. Also, what Peggy says.
    I have difficulty with the optimism, at this point. If we can’t get beyond Manchin we are in deep doo doo!
    If we get S1 passed, and the John Lewis Voting rights bill passed, I expect we will, then, be on the road back.

  11. What is discouraging about all of this is that David Brooks said it. I can no longer bring myself to even read his screeds about how America needs to find its moral center, and if we’d only listen to David Brooks teach us about all that is good and true, we’d all be better off. Your mileage may vary, but I don’t think David Brooks, who is a walking conflict of interest with the plutocracy (see his recent resignation from the Aspen Institute after he got called out on this) is in a position to lecture on morality. And I wouldn’t bring it up if he hasn’t already put himself on such a high horse, but this is a guy who ditched his wife for an intern.

  12. I can understand why people would be distrustful of changes to voting procedures whose impetus was the big lie. But back in the real world, the voting changes that have been made are actually modest and won’t make a dime’s bit of difference in actual turnout. Democrats are engaging in hyperbolic protests to the legislation not because they actually believe the changes will “suppress” their vote, but because they hope to spark a backlash that gins up their turnout. I think Dems are going to succeed in doing that and these changes to voting procedures (and not all of them were bad) will actually hurt Republicans at the polls. The optics of Republicans appearing to want to make it harder to vote are dreadful.

    You have two things – the casting of ballots and the counting of those ballots. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…Democrats need to be a lot more focused on the mechanics of how the votes are counted and who does the counting. That’s where the real danger for American democracy is.

  13. One of my neighbors is an electrician. He says he is working 16 hours/day due to a shortage of electricians. One of my friends lives in a 4 story retirement community. The management has told the residents they can’t find someone to take a maintenance job.

    It would be interesting to learn more specifics about the worker shortage. Is it electricians, plumbers, carpenters, manufacturing? I would hope that the shortages would force employers to increase wages and benefits. For too long, the employees have been underserved. The Republicans denounce a corporate culture that really cares about its employess as social welfare and ignore their morally egregious corporate welfare. For me the question is simply will corporations move toward caring about their workers as much as they do their shareholders? I doubt that will happen unless the workers become a significant portion of shareholders. In the past some companies have allowed workers to buy company stock. This seems to increase productivity and the sharing of innovative ideas in their workers. Imagine that.

    And would it not be great if people moved to smaller communities because they can now work remotely from home? This might help decrease the rural/urban divisiveness. And I would love to see a renaissance of the family farm and a lively business sector in small towns.

    As a retired nurse, I have become fascinated with what neuroscientists are discovering about the brain. I remain of the opinion that our old animal brain still dominates many people in overt and covert ways leading to violence, tribalism, greed, etc. COVID 19 has stimulated the lizard brain in many people. It has also created many acts of compassion and caring for one’s neighbor. We humans are simply a mixed bag of animal instinct , fear, love, and compassion.

    I can only hope and pray that the Mother of all creation is listening and is helping many of us overcome our fear. As the say in Dune, “Fear is the mind killer.” It also tends to kill compassion.

    If you watch “The Professor and the Madman”, you will see a very human struggle between moving from fear or moving from compassion. Even the doctor lacks compassion.

  14. Brooks cherry-picked his data, hooked it to a 1982 theory of ruined institutions and what arose from the debris, and ran from there. I will believe we have arrived at his wordy nirvana when Amazon is not only unionized but has union members sitting on its corporate board, when poverty is in our wake, and when representatives of the people legislate for the people they represent rather than those who send them bribes, er, campaign contributions.

    People need food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education etc., and when provision by government of such needs is described as “socialism” by terminal capitalists who are profiting from the status quo I feel like going out in the street and screaming, though as I told my daughter, the big guys in white coats would come and take me away when I am the only sane person in the street, the others having surrendered to the status quo. What does any mere description of a government initiative have to do with the substance of the need provided?

    Brooks is on to something, but consider how his conclusions fit with WW I when Germany was defeated but the Treaty of Versailles and impossible reparations demands by the French gave us a Hitler – quite the opposite of the positive result his equation suggests. I think what he suggests may be a part of what happened after WW II but that there are many more complex factors at work for that transformation by our former enemies (e.g., the Marshall Plan etc.).

  15. Vernon,

    I wish I could write as good as you!

    And, I agree with what you say!

    What does Scripture say? God himself was perturbed!

    ‘Never again shall I call down evil upon the ground on man’s account, because the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up; and never again shall I deal every living thing a blow just as I have done [by a flood] . . . . Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.’” ( Genesis 8:14 to 9:1; 10:1.)

    Christ said in John 18:36, “my Kingdom is no part of this world”

    Since man is a free moral agent, the hope was an early Christianity, after the death of Christ and the apostles, that man would choose an appropriate path that was pleasing to God. Now this is part of history! Unfortunately, Emperor Constantine at the Nicene Council of 325 A.D., power and wealth steered the Christian church towards an un-Christlike tach. Everything was about money and power, and dogma was changed during that Nicene Council to promote a hellfire for the bad or a heavenly existence for the good.

    Unfortunately Scriptures don’t teach this dogma, just like Christ told the Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin, that man’s dogma was promoted above the words of the Mosaic law, and later on, the same thing happened with the words of Christ and Christ law.

    So, what people claim to worship or focus on in their religious services, are not words of Scripture but words of men which of course are fallible.

    Romans the fifth chapter focuses on the misuse of man’s free will concerning the Mosaic law and Christ’s law!

    And Todd,

    I’m not sure about what duality you’re talking about, but I do know, that men have manipulated Scripture to promote their own agenda. When they claimed that all dark skinned folks, the brown races or black races were cursed because they were related to Canaan and the curse that was put upon him, if you study Scripture, and you actually focus on what it’s saying, you look at your chronology of who moved where and such, the lighter skin races were descendents of Canaan. The darker skin races were from Kush and Put who were Canaan’s brothers. They settled in Africa!

    So yes, is easy to alleviate one’s conscience when you are told by the powerful church at the time, these civilizations can be looted and enslaved because Scripture allows it! Which it does not.

    As far as heaven and hell, there is nowhere you will find bad people being burned forever in eternity, nor, will you find those who are supposedly perfect and going to heaven! That again requires research and understanding, using discernment. The male and female spirit is not part of Hebrew teaching, nor is it part of Christian or Muslim teachings.

    Theologians claim that every man, woman and child that has ever lived has a soul that leaves the body when the person dies. To accommodate this teaching, they have invented such places as limbo, purgatory and a fiery hell.

    The problem with the above-mentioned, these Christian theologians have eliminated limbo already! So the money that has been extorted from their followers over millennia, just stayed in the church till, rather than being returned to those who were bilked!

    Made up dogma just kept the money flowing into the coffers, and it’s doing the same today! Just existing for more power, and eventually, there will be a reckoning.

    I truly believe that eventually, religion as it’s constructed today is going the way of the dodo bird!

  16. what Patmcc said. Also, Employers get a tax deduction for healthcare premiums. The law need so be change so that anyone who pays healthcare premiums will get a deduction, including individuals. Obamacare tried to do that all in one law. Unfortunately, the bozo supreme court didn’t understand that it was a combined tax bill and healthcare bill. So, we need to pass a new bill to level the playing field. businesses and individuals should get tax deductions for healthcare premiums and for those who are rock bottom income levels there should be a minimum tax credit. That will finally make the tax law equitable. Tax law and and other Federal policies have historically been designed to guarantee the Capitalists cheap labor. That has to stop.

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