On Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a new release detailing the “real earnings summary” through May 2018.
The true revelation was tucked away at the bottom of the release, in the “Production and nonsupervisory employees” section: “From May 2017 to May 2018, real average hourly earnings decreased 0.1 percent, seasonally adjusted,” it read.
In today’s dollars, that’s a change from making an average of $22.62 per hour last May to making $22.59 per hour this May.
The 15 Warnings Signs of Impending Tyranny
MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017
As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically:
1. Exaggerate their mandate to govern – claiming, for example, that they won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.
2. Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.
3. Call anyone who opposes them “enemies.”
4. Turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize them, calling them “deceitful” and “scum.”
5. Hold few if any press conferences, preferring to communicate with the public directly through mass rallies and unfiltered statements.
6. Tell the public big lies, causing them to doubt the truth and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.
7. Blame economic stresses on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias and even violence against them.
8. Attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.
9. Threaten mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees.
10. Seek to eliminate or reduce the influence of competing centers of power, such as labor unions and opposition parties.
11. Appoint family members to high positions of authority
12. Surround themselves with their own personal security force rather than a security detail accountable to the public.
13. Put generals into top civilian posts
14. Make personal alliances with foreign dictators.
15. Draw no distinction between personal property and public property, profiteering from their public office.
Consider yourself warned.
6. Stacking the Supreme Court.
Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?
For the first, the model is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But FDR was repeatedly blocked by the courts, as Trump would surely be if he sought to exercise dictatorial power. With the Senate on his side, however, he could appoint Trumpian judges and justices; he could even beat the Supreme Court into submission by threatening to pack it as Roosevelt did. Still, I think none of this will come to pass. Even if Trump is elected, he will not have FDR’s majorities in Congress, or last as long as FDR, or command as much popular support. Working with congressional support, he could do some of the things he says he wants to do—end Obamacare and build a Mexican Wall (assuming that he really wants to do these things, which I doubt). But then by definition he is not acting as a dictator. The possibility that a president Trump uses a temporary political majority to strengthen executive power and demolish the remnants of the opposition, in the manner of Hugo Chávez, is a possibility but not one that is (yet) worth considering.
In 1980, Robert Mugabe was democratically elected to be the president of Zimbabwe. When a ruler is elected democratically, it’s usually difficult to imagine the word dictator next to their name just a few years later. What makes that concept even more difficult to believe is Mugabe has been reelected several times and still maintains his station as ruler of his country. However, he has edged himself into the category of tyrant with his policies, both attempted and actualized, and with violent war efforts that have killed tens of thousands.
In the year 2000, for instance, Mugabe tried to expand his presidential power to absolute power by altering the Zimbabwean constitution. He also famously had 20,000–30,000 Ndebele people killed as part of a campaign to destroy any remaining opposition to Zimbabwean independence. As The Independent puts it, “He interfered in the economy, and, when the money ran out, tried to pay for his rash promises to ‘war veterans’ (some born after the liberation struggle) by stealing white farmers’ land.” All of these facts certainly don’t seem like the kind of behavior one would expect from a democratic president, but these events did indeed happen. As a result, Mugabe’s rule serves to point out perhaps one of the most dangerous characteristics of a dictator—their ability to turn democratic power into totalitarian power and abuse their own and other countries for personal purposes.