Eye Opening Year of 2020 – Part Two: Other Events and a Prelude to 2021

in Economics2 months ago (edited)

Hi Everyone,

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This is the second and final part of my ‘Eye Opening Year’ series. In Part 1, I focused entirely on Covid-19. Covid-19 and the responses to it were the most disturbing events of 2020. However, many other things were going on as well. In Part 2 of this series, I would like to discuss several other issues. These include rising racial tensions, the attack on capitalism, rigged elections, censorship, and Brexit.

Racial Tensions


In May 2020, in Minneapolis USA, George Floyd, an African America man, was killed during an arrest. Videos of his arrest and his death were widely circulated on both mainstream media and social media. The killing was presented as a murder committed out of racism. The trial for the accused police officers is scheduled to begin in March 2021 (The Guardian).

The Black Lives Matter Movement responded to the killing by organisation thousands of protests around the world. Several hundred of these protests became violent (ACLED). Black Lives Matter is a political movement claiming to oppose racism against ‘Black’ people while supporting socialist objectives.

Black Lives Matter claim to be an anti-racist movement. According to a poll, published by The Guardian, the UK public does not support that claim. When responding to the question of whether Black Lives Matter has increased racial tensions in the UK, a large majority of people surveyed agreed; see Figure 1.

Figure 1: Perceptions of Black Lives Matter in the UK

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Source: The Guardian

According to this survey, about twice as many people from minority groups agree as disagree that Black Lives Matter are increasing racial tensions. The survey indicates that people that think most favourably of Black Lives Matter are Labour Party voters (i.e. left wing).

In similar surveys conducted in the USA, the greatest support for Black Lives Matter comes from Democratic Party voters (i.e. left wing) and the least support comes from Republican Party voters (i.e. right wing). Support from the African-American community is strong but is still less than from the Democratic Party Voters.

Figure 2: Perceptions of Black Lives Matter in the USA

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Source: Financial Times, accessed January 2021

Black Lives Matter have almost purely focused on what they claim to be White-on-Black racism. They have used tactics such as focusing on historic accounts of racism. They have targeted statutes of historic figures who have or may have links to the slave trade. They have claimed that more right wing leaning Governments are racist (e.g. Republican Party in the USA and Conservative Party in the UK).

Attack on Capitalism


Capitalism was attacked hard in 2020. In Part 1, I discussed how Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Governments has greatly harmed small businesses. However, that was not the only assault capitalism faced.

Black Lives Matter openly opposes capitalism. On the first line of the second paragraph on the Black Lives Matter UK GoFundMe page, it states Black Lives Matter is guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, and white-supremacy. This is repeated in the Black Lives Matter Anniversary Report.

Many of the left wing leaning parties have adopted positions more closely associated with socialism. Both the Democratic Party in the USA (The Walls Street Journal) and Labour Party in the UK (Institute for Fiscal Studies) have pushed for high taxes and greater redistribution of wealth.

According to a 2019 Gallup News Poll, US public opinion of socialism has increased marginally but desire for greater Government influence and control has increased more substantially; see Figure 3 for the responses to the survey.

Figure 3: US Public Opinion about Socialism and Government

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Source: Gallup

The survey may not indicate a trend towards socialism but it does indicate a preference towards increased regulation of capitalism.

In another poll cited by the Cato Institute, favourability of both socialism and capitalism are compared over 10 years (2010 to 2019) based on party voting preference; see responses to poll in Figure 4.

Figure 4: US Public Opinion about Socialism and Capitalism

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Source: Cato Institute

People who vote for the Democratic Party are swaying away from capitalism towards socialism. Whereas, people who vote for the Republican Party are swaying more towards capitalism than socialism.

In the 2020 Presidential race, supporters of Joe Biden (Democrat candidate) have a far more positive view of socialism and socialist policies than supporters of Donald Trump (Republican candidate). See Figure 5 for a comparison between Biden, Trump and undecided voters as of June 2020.

Figure 5: Socialism preferences by vote

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Source: Data for Progress

At the time of the survey, the average undecided voter's opinions regarding socialism more closely aligned to those of Trump supporters. The selection of Joe Biden as the Democratic Party candidate is a logical choice, as his views have been deemed less socialist in comparison to other possible Democratic Party candidates. Therefore, Joe Biden would have a better chance of winning the votes of the undecided voters. See ranking of views in regards to socialism in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Democrat Candidates ranked according to support for socialist ideology

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Source: Yahoo Finance

However, voting for Joe Biden may not necessarily result in a Government that only moderately supports socialist ideology. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s choice for Vice President has some of the strongest socialist views of the Democratic Party candidates. Another issue is that Joe Biden is 78, which makes him the oldest US President in history. There is a higher than normal chance that he will not complete a full term as President. In that event, Kamala Harris would likely take over as President.

This section of the post is titled 'Attack on Capitalism' and not ''The Rise of Socialism'. I believe the promotion of socialist appearing policies is just a means to an end. I discuss this approach in detail in my post 'Is Socialism being used as a path to Fascism?'. The values of socialism are easier to sell to the general public than a totalitarian take over.

Rigged Elections


In a two party political system, I believe every election is rigged in favour of the two major parties. These two parties have the most exposure through media and debates. They have the most money to campaign. The systems are set up so that a majority of seats or votes are required to win, which does not facilitate several popular parties or candidates. This is not new to politics. However, in 2020, election rigging took a step forward.

The US Presidential Election took place on 3 November 2020. Prior to voting, big technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google became involved with the election. These companies have algorithms that can increase or decrease the extent of exposure that content and websites receive. Dr Robert Epstein explained, in his testimony to the US senate in 2019, the extent of influence Google and Facebook can have on people’s perceptions of political candidates. For a candidate they favour, they can increase visibility of information that portrays them in a positive light and reduce visibility of information that portrays them in a negative light and vice versa for a candidate they do not favour. Dr Robert Epstein believes that Google’s algorithm swayed as many as 2.6 million undecided voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

In 2020, social media companies have even taken a direct approach by censoring information that could be harmful to their preferred candidate. For example, Twitter removed a post by the New York Times, which reflected negatively on Joe Biden and his son Hunter (DW). Prior to the election, Google sent reminders to vote in the election to voters they believed would support Joe Biden (Ron Johnson US Senate).

The 2020 Presidential Election was different from most other elections because of the extent of mail-in votes. Almost half of all votes were cast by mail-in ballots (Pew Research Center). The extent of mail-in ballots made counting slower and more tedious. Many mail-in ballots tend to be thrown out because they have not been completed correctly or have missing postmarks or signatures. Mail-in Ballots are also more likely to be fraudulent because of lack of requirements of voter identification (Global Research).

On the night of the election, as the votes were being tallied, it looked like Donald Trump was going to narrowly win the election. In the early hours of the morning, something strange happened. Two of the states Donald Trump was winning by a reasonable margin (i.e. over 5% points) became very close. Michigan and Wisconsin experienced a substantial jump in the number of Joe Biden votes. See Figures 7 and 8 for Michigan and Figure 9 for Wisconsin.

Figure 7: Michigan Vote Jump

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Sources: JoNova and Gateway Pundit

Figure 8: Timing of Michigan Votes

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Sources: Donald Trump Twitter Account (account suspended by Twitter) and Merrilee Beazley

Figure 9: Wisconsin Vote Jump

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Source: Daily Mail, Weed Press and multiple other sources many of which are no longer available.

For the number of recorded counted votes to suddenly jump is common. Counts are often added simultaneously from large batches of votes. These jumps occurred in several other states. Figure 10 shows jumps in vote counts for Iowa, Kansas, Montana, and Ohio.

Figure 10: Vote Jumps in other states

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Source: burgwx Twitter (account suspended by Twitter).

The difference in the jumps in vote totals that occurred in Michigan and Wisconsin from the jumps in vote totals that occurred in other states was that the jumps in Michigan and Wisconsin occurred for just one candidate (Joe Biden). The probability that one batch of votes would contain almost entirely of Joe Biden votes is so slim it should be considered impossible. This is either an error or fraud. It certainly requires investigating.

There have been claims that the vote counting data presented in the Figures 7, 8, and 9 are inaccurate. Detroit Free Press reported an alternative hourly vote total for Michigan; see Figure 11.

Figure 11: Alternative Hourly Vote Totals for Michigan

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Source: Associated Press

Figure 11 only shows the total vote counts on the hour and not as they may have been recorded. Therefore, in one hour, multiple batches of votes would have been counted; these batches would have contained votes for Donald Trump thus a jump in only Joe Biden votes over a one-hour period would be less apparent.

This election also had an extremely high voter turnout. The election had the highest voter turnout in over 100 years (Bloomberg). The swing states in particular had very high voter turnout (i.e. almost all above 70%). Considering the Covid-19 pandemic, lack of campaigning, incorrect mail-in ballots, and age of the candidates, such an incredibly high voter turnout seems unlikely.

Censorship


Before the vote counting had finished, Donald Trump assembled a team of lawyers to challenge the vote counting process. His team had many complaints, which included:

  • vote counting centres restricting access to observers
  • voting machine/s switching votes from Trump to Biden
  • abnormally long delays in counting votes
  • mail-in votes arriving late
  • possible votes from dead people
  • recorded suspicious behaviour of vote counters (i.e. appear to be filling our ballots and bringing out suitcases possibly containing fraudulent votes)

However, the media immediately attempted to discredit all claims as being baseless. The media would even cut away from speeches made by the President’s lawyers as well as even press conferences by Donald Trump. Twitter blocked several Tweets from Donald Trump and labelled many of the remaining Tweets as false or inaccurate. The media continued to mock and belittle any claims or even the possibility of election or voter fraud.

The Trump team’s legal attempts to discredit the election and process were unsuccessful. On 14 December, the Electoral College declared Joe Biden the winner of the election. On 6 January 2021, the US Congress certified Joe Biden as the winner and the next President of the USA.

While the certification process was taking place, a crowd of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol Building. They were there to demonstrate their displeasure with the election process as well as show support for Congress to overturn the results. Security and police offered minimal resistance as the crowds just walked in. It is very strange that when one of the most important Government buildings in the country has most of its top political leaders present there would be such lax security. What is even stranger is that it was known several days in advance that a large protest was going to take place .

People walking straight past police/security into the Capitol Building

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Source: Christina Bobb (lower quality as taken from mobile phone video)

Several media publications portrayed the event as a coup. There were several violent encounters and 5 people died but the crowd were clearly not attempting to overthrow Government and were definitely not equipped to do so. I am expecting this event to be used to justify legislation to further restrict people’s movement and freedom.

As a result of the events on 6 January, President Donald Trump has been banned from social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It is a clear indication that freedom of speech is in peril when even the man who holds the highest office in the country and possibly the world can be so easily censored. See screenshots from his Twitter account.

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Censorship was been in full force in 2020. Social media has blocked or banned users who:

  • question the results of the US presidential election
  • question information about Covid-19
  • criticise or question the safety of vaccines
  • have opinions considered offensive by minority groups
  • discuss conspiracy theories
  • question actions taken by Government
  • organise or participate in protests
  • any other areas that do not align with the agenda social media giants support

Censorship strategies by big technology companies did not end with just banning people from their own platforms. Parler, a competitor to Twitter, has been removed from Apple’s App Store and Android’s Play Store. This means that a large majority of mobile phone users will not be able to download the app. Amazon Web Services (AWS) are planning to take the Parler website offline. This will force Parler to find a new host. Companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are attempting to monopolise social media and any forms of non-mainstream media.

Brexit

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On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union and the transition period to arrange for a new relationship began. This transition period was set in UK law to end on 31 December 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration regarding the future relation between the UK and EU was signed just prior to the beginning of the transition period.

It is in the interest of both the UK and EU to agree on a formal agreement in regards to how the UK and EU trading bloc interact. Despite multiple claims by the UK Government that reaching a deal/agreement would be very easy, very little progress was made for the most part of the year. The main points of disagreement were:

  • access to UK waters for fishing
  • governance and resolving of disputes
  • level playing field and regulation over matters relating to competition between UK and EU businesses

Source: BBC

Negotiations repeatedly broke down. Over the final months of the year, deadline after deadline were broken. As the year had almost expired, 'No deal' appeared to be the mostly likely outcome. However, on Christmas Eve, a deal was reached. This deal was rushed through UK parliament in just one day. The Bill to action the trade deal passed by a whopping 521 votes to 73 (i.e. majority of 448) (The Guardian). There was no time for anyone to fully scrutinise or debate the contents of the trade deal, yet it passed with almost no opposition from Members of Parliament. Could we be seeing a trend of using delay tactics so as to avoid scrutiny, transparency, and accountability? The Brexit Deal is available online but you will need many hours and probably a law degree to be able to absorb all the information in the deal.

Conclusion

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The year 2020 was an eye-opening year for all the wrong reasons. We had the threat of Covid-19 and the even greater threat of the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19. We had several new vaccines that used new technology, which were rushed to be approved in about 1/10th of the time they would normally be expected to be approved in. We saw the rise of self-proclaimed anti-racism groups, which actually caused and initiated racist behaviour. Capitalism has been under attack by the ‘anti-racism’ groups, Covid-19 restrictions, mainstream media, and left wing politicians. The US Presidential Election results are inaccurate and most likely rigged. Big Technology companies and mainstream media are attempting to censor any information that does not support their narrative or ideology. Governments are rushing through important decisions as an attempt to avoid scrutiny, transparency and accountability.

2020 was a bad year for most people. 2021 is likely to be a very tough year for most people as well. It has not begun well. The biggest positive I can see from the events of 2020 is that corruption is becoming more obvious than ever before. Actions of Government and many of the largest companies can no longer be hidden. The lies and manipulation are not holding up well. Even the attempts at stringent censorship to hide facts and information is just more evidence of rising totalitarianism.

We should not resign ourselves to this bleak future. We have options. We can stop only immersing ourselves in mainstream media. We can move away from large centrally controlled social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. We can do our own research and not rely purely on what is presented in front of us. We can control what goes into our bodies. We can take control of our freedom and help others to do so as well by helping to spread information as best we can through whatever mediums that are still available.

I wish everyone a year of positive change.


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Well 2020 is likely to favour some people and displease some others. Business like zoom thrived while others like Disney faltered it was bound to be like that. And as for the black lives matter campaign, its probably the biggest anti racist campaign ever and sincerity the good side for me was that it raised awareness even if it would not change the racist status of so many people.

@tipu curate

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Most small businesses had a very tough 2020. Most of the hardship was unnecessary. Small businesses are an essential part of the economy. If we lose small businesses, we will all suffer as we have less options and less competition between businesses.

@spectrumecons, Political Chaos is not a new thing, inturn which divides Society. They follow the Hidden Script. Stay blessed.

I agree that it is not new but in 2020 it was more open and extreme than I have seen in my lifetime.

Sounds true.