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Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

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Introduction

Previously education was mostly about "finding yourself" -- developing understanding of the world and yourself, as well as developing those set of abilities that you was gifted most. And deciding what you want to do in the future, within contins of job market and your abilities.  Neoliberalism has changed that dramatically. Education now is just in "investment" into your "entrepreneurial self" to increase your value as "human capital" holder and this your value in the "labout market." (Symptomatic Redness -Philip Mirowski - YouTube).  That's bullsh*t, but people already brainwashed by neoliberals from the middle school buy it uncritically.

Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves…. Neoliberalism  is the philosophy of the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign…. They are pretend to belong to so called "creative vlass", but in reality are self-interested, parasitical, and predatory. Common people are not admissible to this new aristocracy even if they have two university educations.

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, it designed to propagate the current status of parents and at least in some cases, became more of a social trap converting poorer or more reckless (as in specializing in areas were job market is not existent) graduates into debt slaves without chances to repay the loans. All this is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk.

Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was the hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and persistent tales of graduates working as bartenders) to pay inflated tuition fees. Foreigners somewhat compensates for this , but with current high prices Canada, UK and Europe are more attractive for all but the most rich parents.   That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit after  dot-com boom, when the number of students who want to be programmers decines several times.   Expensive private colleges start hunting for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces).  The elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners fared better but were also hit. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

University bureaucracy and presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollars -- the salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Job market situation and hidden financial rip offs

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the job market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change your specialization late in the education cycle. But too early choice entails typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump, as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008.

That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: large debt after graduation put you in situation like "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in the chosen specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet , you became a debt slave for considerable period of your life.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities became appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery, then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first student should not assume that the university is functioning for  their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such salaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sense parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial resource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

The really cruel world of a neoliberal university

Of course bad things that happened to you during your university years are soon forgotten and nostalgia colors everything in role tones, but the truth is that the modern university is a very cruel world. Now more then ever. Here are some random observations of the subject (See also my Diploma Mills page about high education sharks for which sucking you dry financially is the main goal ):

Lysenkoism and petty, greedy pseudo-scientific scum as professors and teachers

Most teachers and Professors in the university are good, honest people who are trying to make some contribution to science and teach students (difficult things to mix). But not all. One of the most dangerous feature of neoliberal university are influx of people who represent a toxic mix of teacher, snake oil seller, careerist and cult follower. They are not teachers but brainwashers, hired guns -- propagandists masquerading as University professors. That is why we have witnessed such a corruption and politicization of science and rising proportion of research and theories taught at the universities that are fraudulent.

Previously teacher was a person somewhat similar to a monk. A person who consciously traded the ability to work in science to the possibility of acquiring material wealth, at least excessive material wealth. As Ernest Rutherford once reminded Pyotr Kapitsa "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

But in neoliberal university way too many teachers/researchers took Faustian bargain when one trades the academic independence for above average personal wealth, influence, for the power grab. And despite popular image of scientists and university professors they proved to be as corruptible by money as Wall Street traders ;-). This is because the sponsors of their research such as big business, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government vie to publish reports and results that put the sponsors in the best light. Good example is relations of pharmaceutical industry and academia

“The answer to that question is at once both predictable and shocking: For the past two decades, medical research has been quietly corrupted by cash from private industry. Most doctors and academic researchers aren't corrupt in the sense of intending to defraud the public or harm patients, but rather, more insidiously, guilty of allowing the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to manipulate medical science through financial relationships, in effect tainting the system that is supposed to further the understanding of disease and protect patients from ineffective or dangerous drugs. More than 60 percent of clinical studies--those involving human subjects--are now funded not by the federal government, but by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. That means that the studies published in scientific journals like Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine--those critical reference points for thousands of clinicians deciding what drugs to prescribe patients, as well as for individuals trying to educate themselves about conditions and science reporters from the popular media who will publicize the findings--are increasingly likely to be designed, controlled, and sometimes even ghost-written by marketing departments, rather than academic scientists. Companies routinely delay or prevent the publication of data that show their drugs are ineffective.

...

“ Novartis, stepped in and provided additional funding for development. In 1984, private companies contributed a mere $26 million to university research budgets. By 2000, they were ponying up $2.3 billion, an increase of 9000 percent that provided much needed funds to universities at a time when the cost of doing medical research was skyrocketing.”

Historically the scientific community is held together through its joint acceptance of the same fundamental principles of conducting research (and teaching those results) and ethics. Scientific research is best practiced in a voluntary, honest and free atmosphere. But this idyllic arrangement as well as scientific ethics now belongs to the past ( The Corruption of Science )

“It’s a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research.

...There is immense pressure on scientists to produce results, to publish, to seek glory, or just to get tenure. Scientists are human beings, after all, and sometimes they approach their field with preconceptions or biases. Politics certainly comes into play; consider eugenics in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, or eugenics in Nazi Germany.

Now we can talk only about the level of political and economical pressure and corresponding level of corruption on professors and scientists, not so much about presence or absence of corruption in science and education. What really matters for students is that when they feel that a professor is a scum, they nevertheless try to imitate. See for example Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia.

Historically the situation started to change even before neoliberal university became a dominant educational institution. Previously, despite the fact that money for science were in short supply, scientists maintained a self-discipline. That changed after WWII. Prior to World War II there was little government financial support for science. A graduate student working on a Ph.D. degree was expected to make a new discovery to earn that degree. And if somebody else came first he needed to find a new theme and to restart his work.

But with the advent of NSF scientists started to "propose" directions of research to get funding. And be sure this instill atmosphere of sycophantism and political correctness. This process accelerated dramatically since 1980th with the ascendance of neoliberalism as a dominant USA ideology, when greed became playing significant role in US universities. It should be understood that now the university professor is no longer is a teacher and a scientist, but predominantly "grants provider" for the university and that means that he/she is in the first place a political agent, a manipulator on a mission from the external agent (typically the state via NSF or other agency, see The Corruption of Science in America -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net)

For the unwashed masses University professor career still represents the ultimate carrier of truth for a given discipline, so his opinion have a distinct political weight. And the architects of our neoliberal world fully use this "superstition". Like we can see with neoclassical economics, economists have turned into an instrument of cognitive manipulation, when under the guise of science financial oligarchy promote beneficial to itself but false and simplistic picture of the world, using University professors to brainwash the masses into "correct" thinking.

Professors literally became a religious figures, and cult members or even cult leaders. The first sign of this dangerous disease of the modern university was probably Lysenkoism in the USSR. In this sense one can say that Lysenkoism represented a natural side effect of shrinking of freedom of the scientific community and growing influence of political power on science. As by Frederick Seitz noted in his The Present Danger To Science and Society

Everyone knows that the scientific community faces financial problems at the present time. If that were its only problem, some form of restructuring and allocation of funds, perhaps along lines well tested in Europe and modified in characteristic American ways, might provide solutions that would lead to stability and balance well into the next century. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex, made so by the fact that the scientific establishment has become the object of controversy from both outside and inside its special domain. The most important aspects of the controversy are of a new kind and direct attention away from matters that are sufficiently urgent to be the focus of a great deal of the community's attention.

The assaults on science from the outside arise from such movements as the ugly form of "political correctness" that has taken root in important portions of our academic community. There are to be found, in addition, certain tendencies toward a home-grown variant of the anti-intellectual Lysenkoism that afflicted science in the Stalinist Soviet Union. So-called fraud cases are being dealt with in new, bureaucratic ways that cut across the traditional methods of arriving at truth in science. From inside the scientific community, meanwhile, there are challenges that go far beyond those that arise from the intense competition for the limited funds that are available to nourish the country's scientific endeavor.

The critical issue of arriving at a balanced approach to funding for science is being subordinated to issues made to seem urgent by unhealthy alliances of scientists and bureaucrats. Science and the integrity of its practitioners are under attack and, increasingly, legislators and bureaucrats shape the decisions that determine which paths scientific research should take. There is, in addition, a sinister tendency, especially in environmental affairs, toward considering the undertaking of expensive projects that are proposed by some scientists to remedy worst-case formulations of problems before the radical and expensive remedies are proven to be needed. They are viewed seriously though they are based on the advice of opportunistic alarmists in science who leap ahead of what is learned from solid research to encourage support for the expensive remedies they perceive to be necessary. The potential for very great damage to science and society is real.

Textbook racket is a part of neoliberal transformation of university education

Unfortunately a large part of the textbook market in the USA has all signs of corrupted monopoly infested with cronyism and incompetence to the extent that Standard Oil practices looks pretty benign in comparison. As the site MakeTextbooksAffordable.com states on its font page:

The report found that even though students already pay $900 year for textbooks, textbook publishers artificially inflate the price of textbooks by adding bells and whistles to the current texts, and forcing cheaper used books off the market by producing expensive new editions of textbooks that are barely different from the previous edition.

And some university professors are part of these scheme. Congressmen David Wu sites the opinion of the publisher in his letter "If a student is paying hundreds of dollars for a book, it's because the professor has ordered the Cadillac edition". But that might be true only for CS where any professor can easily find a cheaper high quality substitute from publishers like O'Reilly (and students can do this too, see Softpanorama Bookshelf actually about finding the best CS book (and some other) at reasonable prices. In other disciplines like mathematics situation is a real racket: The cost of a common calculus textbook is over $100 in the USA. This is a blatant, open rip-off. Economics is probably even worse with some useless junk selling for almost $300 per book.

In the meantime, enterprising students have many ways to cut the cost of buying textbooks.

But here one needs to see a bigger picture: low quality of recommended textbooks and, especially, the quality of university instruction makes it necessary buying additional textbooks. Also the ownership of best textbooks often makes the difference between success and failure in the particular course. In this sense additional $100 spending for books for each course makes economic sense as the common alternative is to drop the course, which often means $1K of more loss.

There are several ways to save on additional textbooks that hopefully can somewhat compensate for the low quality of tuition in a typical university. With some effort a student can often save approximately 50% of the cover price. Again my Links2bookstores page contains more information.

At the same time if the instructor is weak, or, worse, belongs to "fundamentalists", a category of instructors that does not distinguish between important and unimportant things and overloads the course with "useless overcomplexity" additional books are one of few countermeasures against this typical university-style rip-off. Dropping the course is a difficult maneuver that requires perfect timing and problems with instructor and the course content usually do not surface during the first month of the study when you can still do it for free or with minimal damage.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

Tim Taylor on why textbooks cost so much:

Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks: High textbook prices are a pebble in the shoe of many college students. Sure, it's not the biggest financial issue they face, But it's a real and nagging annoyance that for hinders performance for many students. ...
David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein at National Public Radio took up this question recently on one of their "Planet Money" podcasts. ... For economists, a highlight is that they converse with Greg Mankiw, author of what is currently the best-selling introductory economics textbook, which as they point out is selling for $286 on Amazon. Maybe this is a good place to point out that I am not a neutral observer in this argument: The third edition of my own Principles of Economics textbook is available through Textbook Media. The pricing varies from $25 for online access to the book, up through $60 for both a paper copy (soft-cover, black and white) and online access.

Several explanations for high textbook prices are on offer. The standard arguments are that textbook companies are marketing selling to professors, not to students, and professors are not necessarily very sensitive to textbook prices. (Indeed, one can argue that before the rapid rise in textbook prices in the last couple of decades, it made sense for professors not to focus too much on textbook prices.) Competition in the textbook market is limited, and the big publishers load up their books with features that might appeal to professors: multi-colored hardcover books, with DVDs and online access, together with test banks that allow professors to give quizzes and tests that can be machine-graded. At many colleges and universities, the intro econ class is taught in a large lecture format, which can include hundreds or even several thousand students, as well as a flock of teaching assistants, so some form of computerized grading and feedback is almost a necessity. Some of the marketing by textbook companies involves paying professors for reviewing chapters--of course in the hope that such reviewers will adopt the book.

The NPR show casts much of this dynamic as a "principal-agent problem," the name for a situation in which one person (the "principal") wants another person (the "agent") to act on their behalf, but lacks the ability to observe or evaluate the actions of the agent in a complete way. Principal-agent analysis is often used, for example, to think about the problem of a manager motivating employees. But it can also be used to consider the issue of students (the "principals") wanting the professor (the "agent") to choose the book that will best suit the needs of the students, with all factors of price and quality duly taken into account. The NPR reporters quote one expert saying that the profit margin for high school textbooks is 5-10%, because those books decisions are made by school districts and states that negotiate hard. However, profit margins on college textbooks--where the textbook choice is often made by a professor who may not even know the price that students will pay--are more like 20%.

The NPR report suggests this principal-agent framework to Greg Mankiw, author of the top-selling $286 economic textbook. Mankiw points out that principal-agent problems are in no way nefarious, but come up in many contexts. For example, when you get an operation, you rely on the doctor to make choices that involve costs; when you get your car fixed, you rely on a mechanic to make choices that involve costs; when you are having home repairs done, you rely on a repair person or a contractor to make choices that involve costs. Mankiw argues that professors, acting as the agents of students, have legitimate reason to be concerned about tradeoffs of time and money. As he notes, a high quality book is more important "than saving them a few dollars"--and he suggests that saving $30 isn't worth it for a low-quality book.

But of course, in the real world there are more choices than a high-quality $286 book and a low-quality $256 book. The PIRG student surveys suggest that up to two-thirds of students are avoiding buying textbooks at all, even though they fear it will hurt their grade, or are shifting to other classes with lower textbook costs. If a student is working 10 hours a week at a part-time job, making $8/hour after taxes, then the difference between $286 book and a $60 book is 28.25 hours--nearly three weeks of part-time work. I am unaware of any evidence in which students were randomly assigned different textbooks but otherwise taught and evaluated in the same way, and kept time diaries, which would show that higher-priced books save time or improve academic performance. It is by no means obvious that a lower-cost book (yes, like my own) works less well for students than a higher-cost book from a big publisher. Some would put that point more strongly.

A final dynamic that may be contributing to higher-prices textbooks is a sort of vicious circle related to the textbook resale market. The NPR report says that when selling a textbook over a three-year edition, a typical pattern was that sales fell by half after the first year and again by half after the second year, as students who had bought the first edition resold the book to later students. Of course, this dynamic also means that many students who bought the book new are not really paying full-price, but instead paying the original price minus the resale price. The argument is that as textbooks have increased in price, the resale market has become ever-more active, so that sales of a textbook in later years have dwindled much more quickly. Textbook companies react to this process by charging more for the new textbook, which of course only spurs more activity in the resale market.

A big question for the future of textbooks is how and in what ways they migrate to electronic forms. On one side, the hope is that electronic textbooks will offer expanded functionality, as well as being cheaper. But this future is not foreordained. At least at present, my sense is that the functionality of reading and taking notes in online textbooks hasn't yet caught up to the ease of reading on paper. Technology and better screens may well shift this balance over time. But even setting aside questions of reading for long periods of time on screen, or taking notes on screen, at present it remains harder to skip around in a computerized text between what you are currently reading and the earlier text that you need to be checking, as well as skipping to various graphs, tables, and definitions. To say it more simply, in a number of subjects it may still be harder to study an on-line text than to study a paper text.

Moreover, as textbook manufacturers shift to an on-line world, they will bring with them their full bag of tricks for getting paid. The Senack report notes:

Today’s marketplace offers more digital textbook options to the student consumer than ever. “Etextbooks” are digitized texts that students read on a laptop or tablet. Similar to PDF documents, e-textbooks enable students to annotate, highlight and search. The cost may be 40-50 percent of the print retail price, and access expires after 180 days. Publishers have introduced e-textbooks for nearly all their traditional textbook offerings. In addition, the emergence of the ereader like the Kindle and iPad, as well as the emergence of many e-textbook rental programs, all seemed to indicate that the e-textbook will alter the college textbook landscape for the better.

However, despite this shift, users of e-textbooks are subject to expiration dates, on-line codes that only work once, page printing limits, and other tactics that only serve to restrict use and increase cost.

Unfortunately for students, the publishing companies’ venture into e-textbooks is a continuation of the practices they use to monopolize the print market.

JohnH:

My understanding is that there are cases where the professor requires the textbook he wrote and for which he receives royalties...

In such cases, the publisher and the professor's interests align against the student, who pays through the teeth.

djb:

good article but i have a real problem with introductory texts on economics

they are completely biased, mostly towards supply side of the debate

meaning, of course, they are wrong

if they just contained that which is undeniably true then ok, or if they presented it as this school of thought says this and that school of thought says the other, ok,

The Raven:

A general rule of thumb: half the selling price of a book is spent before the first impression is made on paper. Speaking as a very small publisher, I think the main problem is that the texts are expensive to produce.

They take a lot of editorial and design effort, so the fixed costs of textbook production are high, the production costs are often high, and textbook bestsellers are not common, so they don't usually make it up on volume.

Now, one could, for standard freshman and sophomore texts, aim at lower costs and higher volumes, but that's not academic publishing, and nothing is going to help with upper-level texts; the market is just not that big.

pgl -> to The Raven...

Excellent! With a high elasticity of demand, the increase in quantity beats the drop in price. Unless the marginal cost of printing books is higher than I suspect it is, Mankiw's publisher is not a profit maximizing monopolist. I'm telling you the best economics is right here and we don't charge $286!

The Raven -> to pgl...

Thanks.

You'd have to market a book *hard* to get that increase in demand, though. It's not a student-by-student sale decision; the professors have to be marketed. The other thing about publishing economics that people outside the industry don't realize: most books don't make much money, so publishers rely on the good-sellers and the best-sellers for much of their profits. If you've got something you're pretty sure is going to be in demand, *you mark it up,* because in William Golding's immortal phrase, "Nobody knows anything."

Over the past 25 or so years, the consolidation of publishing has put the money types more and more in control of the business. And the money types always want to only market best sellers. This is sort of like Germany saying that everyone should make money exporting. "That trick never works."

Now, if anyone wanted to bring the price of an Econ 101 book down, one could do a no-frills book, small, soft-covered, and strictly monochrome, or perhaps an ebook. (But watch out—only some ebook readers support mathematics well.) It might cost $50 or so (I'm guessing—I'm not a textbook publisher.) It would not look impressive, and this might make a problem for marketing, but students could still learn from it. And—who knows?—it might even sell.

T.J.:

The issue is that textbook publishers release new editions every couple of years. For many subjects, including economics, this is absurd. Sciences don't change that quickly.

For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200.

Has principles of microeconomics changed that much over the course of 6 years? No, but textbook companies make a few changes on the margin and charge you hundreds of dollars for a new edition. Many times, professors require online access codes to supplement their lecture. Therefore, the student is forced into the newer edition, in which often there is no substantial differences or major improvements in presenting the material.

When you have that sort of market power, it is easy to achieve economic rents.

pgl -> to T.J....

"Sciences don't change that quickly". One would hope those freshwater books changed after their utter failures to predict the most recent recession. But they likely haven't.

cm -> to T.J....

There are errata, and some content that the author has in mind doesn't make it into the first edition, or not at the intended quality/depth. Most people who have never published something substantial have no idea how much work it is to get non-fiction scientific/technical stuff publication ready. Not only on the author's part but also editing and proofreading/giving feedback at a collegial level. (Not meaning to knock down fiction, that's a different set of challenges.)

Bill Ellis:

Two Ideas I would like to see combined. A period of Universal public service that earns a free higher and or tech education. Something like the GI bill for all.

I think making universal public service a right of passage could help us be a more unified society. If we have kids from inner city Detroit, rural West Virginia, suburban San Francisco and the oil fields of Oklahoma working side by side it would open their eyes to each other in ways that are never experienced by most American kids who are living in communities of institutional self-segregation.

Having said that.. free education is a no brainer no matter what.
To cover everyone's tuition it would only cost us about forty billion more than the feds already spend on higher ed. That's a rounding error in terms of our total budget.

We subsidize big oil and gas to the tune of about 50 billion a year.

The maddening thing is that the national debate is not even close to taking Free Ed seriously. Instead Liz Warren is portrayed some kind of wild eyed radical for proposing a modest cut in interest rates on student loans and some narrow way to get some forgiveness of debt.

John Cummings:

It is part of the educational industrial complex (which include vouchers and government backed private school industrial complex)

Educational industrial complex
Military industrial complex
Medical industrial complex
Prison industrial complex

Fred C. Dobbs:

(Evidently, 'It’s Economics 101'.)

Higher education: Why textbooks cost so much http://econ.st/1yzDU5Z via @TheEconomist - Aug 16th 2014

Students can learn a lot about economics when they buy Greg Mankiw’s “Principles of Economics”—even if they don’t read it. Like many popular textbooks, it is horribly expensive: $292.17 on Amazon. Indeed, the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation (see chart, at link).

Like doctors prescribing drugs, professors assigning textbooks do not pay for the products themselves, so they have little incentive to pick cheap ones. Some assign books they have written themselves. The 20m post-secondary students in America often have little choice in the matter. Small wonder textbooks generate megabucks.

But hope is not lost for poor scholars. Foreign editions are easy to find online and often cheaper—sometimes by over 90%. Publishers can be litigious about this, but in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to buy and resell copyrighted material obtained legally. Many university bookstores now let students rent books and return them. Publishers have begun to offer digital textbooks, which are cheaper but can’t be resold. And if all else fails, there is always the library.

Related: How Your Textbook Dollars Are Divvied Up http://t.usnews.com/a2B567 via @usnews - Aug 28, 2012

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(A bunch of experts discuss the matter.)

Room for Debate: The Real Cost of College Textbooks http://nyti.ms/1qEHasX - July 2010

(Including a couple of economists!)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half -- or More-Kiplinger http://po.st/nCZsxY - August 2014

(By renting e-books, donchaknow.)

(Turns out Mankiw's Econ textbook, which
currently costs $289 in hardcover from
Amazon, can be rented in Kindle format
for a mere $173 - for 180 days.)

(Hardcover rental is $70, however.)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(Wait a second. The Federales fixed
this problem back in 2008...)

Advocates say a new set of federal provisions, aimed at driving down the cost of college textbooks, should help students this fall. On July 1, (2010) these rules took effect:

Publishers must give professors detailed information about textbook prices, revision histories and a list of alternate formats.

Publishers have to sell materials typically bundled with textbooks -- such as CDs, DVDs and workbooks -- separately so students don't have to buy them.

Colleges have to include in-course schedules with required textbooks for each class, including the book's price and International Standard Book Number, an identifying tool.

The protections, included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, are an attempt to lessen student debt, said U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday.

"The cost of education is of concern not only to students and families but to the nation," Durbin said, explaining why the government got involved in textbook prices. "Students are emerging with more and more debt."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/22/97931_new-federal-rules-take-aim-at.html?rh=1

Charles Peterson:

A $289 econ text is only marked up 20% ???

I'm not sure how to account for this, but I believe a full account of markup should include royalties if they have become outrageous economic rent.

Jim Harrison:

Textbooks have been outrageously expensive for a long time, though some of the prices quoted in this article were astonishing to me and I used to be in the business. Nothing much has changed. The complaints and the defenses sound very familiar. Even in the 70s and 80s, publishers groused about how the used trade hurt their sales and the suggestion was repeatedly made that one way around the trap was to produce much cheaper texts and make up the difference on volume. Unfortunately, the numbers never add up for that business plan since the major textbook publishers have huge sunk costs in the big sales forces needed to support the current model. Anyhow, good cheap books have long been available for many big undergrad courses if profs want to assign them and don't mind producing their own tests and other teaching aids. A handful of profs do just that and were already doing it thirty years ago, but they are a distinct minority.

About the revision racket: the funny thing is that old editions of textbooks are often better than more recent editions. Market research makes good books worse in much the same way that it eventually screws up software by the relentless addition of bells and whistles. I'm a technical writer these days and keep copies of several old classics at hand when I need to brush up: Feynman's lectures on physics; the first edition of Freeman, Pisani, and Purves on Statistics; the 2nd edition of Linus Pauling's Intro Chem text; Goldstein on Thermo; and a real museum piece, Sylvaner Thomas' Calculus Made Easy. Many of these books have been reprinted by Dover and are available for peanuts.

To be fair, the high price for textbooks makes more sense in some fields than in others. The three or four year revision cycle is absurd for math books since the math remains the same decade after decade, but texts in areas like molecular biology really do have to be revised frequently and substantively, a very labor-intensive task. Which is why I give a pass to the Biology editors and the folks who struggle to update the Intermediate Accounting books with the latest FASB standards.

cm -> to Jim Harrison...

Can you elaborate on the revision "paradox"? Surely not only in very new fields, the state of the art progresses, or textbook authors see a need or opportunity to include new material (I suspect somebody setting out to write a comprehensive text has more ideas what to write about than can be finished at the required quality in the required time, for the first edition).

How would the subsequent editions be worse, if the new content is driven by the author and not by external marketing considerations, unless the new material is at the expense of older material (e.g. #pages limit)?

From my very limited experience, authors who are not in it for making a profit, and who write for a small market (selling up to a few thousand copies per year is a small market) run into substantial overhead costs for editing, marketing (i.e. making the existence of the book known to the target audience), and distribution, and basically have to do the work for free. Some, and perhaps most, certainly academic, publishers have "charity" programs where they publish small editions where they at best break even or even cross-subsidize them out of "full rate" publications. Then people complain about excessive prices for the latter.

Leading Edge Boomer:

Jeebus, $286 for a textbook, from an author who is often wrong lately? I co-authored a graduate computer science text (low volume = higher cost) that retailed in the low two digits.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I will not comment on the author's merit or lack thereof, but $286 is really in "WTF" territory, for any textbook.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I once contributed to a book, and the authors/editors decided to collectively waive their royalties to hit an affordable price (and I suspect it was still a charity deal on the part of the largely academic publisher). But I got my free copy.

Jim Harrison:

At least for big market textbooks, the motive for revisions is generally financial and that's as true for the authors as the publishers. In fact, the authors are often the ones who push for new editions as their royalty checks steadily diminish. In cases where it's the authors who are reluctant to revise for whatever reason, publishers often sweeten the deal with advances, grants, or other goodies.

I don't mean to be completely cynical. Authors and editors certainly try to produce a better product when they put out new editions, and it very often happens that the second edition is better than the first. Especially in later cycles, however, the changes are usually pretty cosmetic. The editor in charge of the project solicits advice from users and potential users and comes up with a list of "improvements" in a process not entirely different than what happens when various interests in Washington get their pet provisions put in a bill. If you think that professor X is likely to adopt the text if you go along with his ideas and plug his contributions in the acknowledgements, the idea is very likely to be irresistible.

The sales force also weighs in. They want feature they can tout; but since real improvements are hard to come by, that usually means more and more pedagogy: boxes, pictures, computer programs, and umpteen forms of emphasis. Let me assure you it takes desperate ingenuity to come up with something new to add to an Intermediate Algebra textbook. "Now with a new way to factor trinomials" isn't exactly a memorable pitch. Meanwhile, after three or four editions, the author, who presumably would be the best source of serious innovation for a new edition, is generally bored to death with the project.

As I said above, there are textbooks that really do need perpetually revision for substantive reasons; but in most fields what Freshmen and Sophomores need to learn has been known for a long time. My remarks on revisions also don't apply very well to upper level texts in smaller markets, in part because students tend to hang on to serious books in their majors so the companies have less incentive to beat the used book market with new editions.

reason:

From what I remember of my university days (in the long distant past), we didn't have text books (that was for school kids). We had lectures and lists of reading materials (that if we were lucky we could find in the library and photocopy relvant sections). I did have a copy of Samualson (relatively cheap). But the emphasis was on a reading a variety of sources. What has changed, and why?

reason:

P.S. Not have text books would have the advantage of ensuring that the students attended lectures and stayed awake during them.

Jay:

No mention of the cost for this textbook...

http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Paul-Krugman/dp/1429251638/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413545846&sr=8-2&keywords=krugman+wells

grizzled:

My own biggest peeve concerns calculus textbooks, especially introductory calculus textbooks. The material hasn't changed in at least 60 years, if not longer. If it weren't for the current ridiculously long copyright terms people could just use old ones.

The last time I took the subject our professor went to some lengths to let us use the previous edition, which was available used. The only real change in the next edition was in the problems. That is, if a student was assigned "problem 8 in section xxx" having the most recent edition was the only way to know what the problem was.

I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Bloix:

My son took an intro geology course a few years ago. The textbook price at the school bookstore was about $125. He purchased the gray market (legal) "international edition" - word for word, page for page the same, but with a different picture on the cover - over the internet for about $50.

It's my understanding that this sort of price-differential is common. Mankiw's book appears to be available in the "international edition" for $60 (soft cover).

http://www.abebooks.com/9781285165875/Principles-Economics-7th-Edition-Mankiw-128516587X/plp

Please don't tell me that publishers and authors are not making money when they sell their books for US$50 or 60 in Australia.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Nov 07, 2018] The Populist Moment A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America by Lawrence Goodwyn

Nov 07, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Gary Moreau, Author TOP 500 REVIEWER 5.0 out of 5 stars Why the poor still lose March 13, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Populism. The word is used a lot today by political journalists in reference to both President Trump supporters and the Brexit movement. And, historically speaking, it is generally used inaccurately, a fact that I, too, was unaware of until I read another reader's review of a separate title. That reviewer recommended this book, written by Duke professor of history, Lawrence Goodwyn, and published in 1979.

While the title refers to the book as 'short', it is a very thorough review of the populist political movement that rose out of the National Farmers Alliance, which went under a series of different names and platforms that ultimately had everything to do with the coinage of silver and relatively little to do with the original populist reforms.

What is most fascinating to me is not the acquisition of historical accuracy regarding the populist label as it is the revelation of the degree to which the 1896 presidential election, between Republican William McKinley and Democrat (and presumed populist) William Jennings Bryant, ultimately cast the shape of American economics and politics that survives yet today. While that election appeared to turn on gold (McKinley) versus silver (Bryant), the outcome would ultimately define no less than what it means to be an American in the 21st Century.

It all began with the American Civil War, not surprisingly. And, more specifically, who was going to pay the enormous debt incurred to fight it. And that, ultimately, came down to the question of currency. The creation of a hard currency, which is ultimately the position that won out, protected the bankers and other owners of corporate capital, but at the expense of laborers and farmers.

The hard currency ultimately exaggerated the worst abuses of the crop lien system then prevalent in the South, forcing farmers (land-owners and tenants alike) into a cycle of increasing debt and falling commodity prices that they could not escape. It is, in many ways, the same inescapable cycle that entraps the urban and rural poor today.

But that's where the populist analogy ends, as the populist agrarian movement pursued a political agenda that would be the antithesis of Trump's MAGA agenda of today. It was, in fact, the antitheses of both the modern conservative and progressive agendas, both of which only appear to offer a real distinction and choice.

Both agendas presume the economic supremacy of capital and the political supremacy of the corporate and banking classes that control it. Among other things, it is the supremacy of capital that has fueled the rapid and unbridled consolidation of both industry and agriculture in the US, permanently planting the corporation at the top of the political food chain. (In 1870, the average US factory had only 8 workers.)

Before the Civil War, about 80% of all free white men owned property. By 1890, however, the richest 9% of all Americans (still white men) owned three-fourths of all wealth and within a decade one in eight Americans were living in abject poverty. With the exception of a historically brief period following World War II, in which unions managed to give laborers a political voice, now lost, it is a trend that continues to this day.

What was most amazing to me, in reading this book, was how little things have really changed. Our political parties are built on regional alliances far more than differences of ideological substance. Both accept the supremacy of corporate consolidation and the benefit of economies of scale, even though there is little actual evidence to support the premise. Consolidation has done nothing quite so effectively as it has promoted political, social, and financial inequality. (Republicans and Democrats both blamed the farmers themselves for their economic plight in the 1890s, much as politicians frequently blame the poor themselves for their plight today.)

The solutions proposed by the populists of the National Agrarian Federation were decidedly collective in nature and built from the success of the cooperative movement that had provided some relief from corporate anarchy. It called for the abolition of private banks, a new dynamic currency, the nationalization of the railroads, and the formation of government cooperatives to handle crop financing, insurance, and post-harvest handling and storage. It was, in other words, quite the ideological opposite of Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-regulatory, pro-corporate agenda.

The author makes two other important contributions to the current political dialogue. The first is to refute the illusion promoted by both political parties that American history is a timeline of uninterrupted progress and advancement. It is, more than we care to admit, a history of exploitation and the dominance of minority interests under the guise of personal and economic freedom that, for most, does not exist.

And because it is a myth that is almost universally accepted, the author notes, real political reform in the US is virtually impossible to achieve, in short because we refuse to see the world the way it really is. We have, as a result, neither the confidence nor the persistence to force the owners of capital, which control the political agenda, to give up the advantages they have enshrined into American politics and business.

In short, this is a fascinating book that everyone should have the courage to read. You may not agree with the author's conclusions, and there will surely be other historians who will take exception with his interpretation. Each of us, however, should have a commitment to defend that which we believe in the face of inconvenient facts, including those presented in this book.

Martin S. Harris Jr. 5.0 out of 5 stars required reading for understanding of today's "Populism" October 4, 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Most likely (amateur historian opinion) the single best account of the Populist phenomenon I have ever read. If I have to find fault somewhere, It would be the absence of much coverage of earlier Populist themes in American politics, particularly as seen in the Jeffersonian sovereign-yeoman theme and in the Jacksonian anti-big-banking theme.

SK Figler 5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting Big Banks and Corporations---the beginning in America April 28, 2012 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Usually histories of economics put me to sleep. But Lawrence Goodwyn's "The Populist Movement" is an enthralling gem that will give you numerous "Aha!" moments as it shows how and why populist movements, particularly that of the post-Civil War era (with its inception in Texas), began, grew, and failed in competing with big banks and business. There are many surprises to someone like me, who is not an economist but has been led (or pushed) to care about it from what has happened in and to America these past 30 years. Goodwyn shows clearly why the small farmers of southern and Plains America were driven to do something about the crushing control of big banks, growing commercial interests, and Wall Street. Ultimately, they failed because all power and control was in the hands of men like Gould and Morgan and the other Robber Barons. There is, however, a lesson to be taken from "The Populist Movement," that knowing and anticipating what massive blockages stand in the way of economic and political change can help people work around them. No one who reads Goodwyn's book can claim, "Well, I just didn't know."

[Nov 06, 2018] US-British Threats Against Russia Have a Long History by T.J. Coles – Matthew Alford

Notable quotes:
"... Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You About British Foreign Policy ..."
"... There seems to be a consensus that we need a strong military because Russia is on the rise. What do you think about that rationale? ..."
"... What about military threats? ..."
"... So we've extended NATO to pretty much the Russian border? But there's a hard border there. Everyone knows we're never going to attack Russia, both for reasons of morality and self-preservation. So maybe this situation is safer than you imply. ..."
"... Brexit White Paper ..."
"... T. J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University's Cognition Institute and the author of several books. ..."
"... Matthew Alford teaches at Bath University in the UK and has also written several books. Their latest is ..."
"... The Rise and Fall of the British Empire ..."
"... Bolshevism and Imperial Sedition ..."
"... Power without Responsibility ..."
"... Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot ..."
"... Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community ..."
"... Vision for 2020 ..."
"... Russian Nuclear Weapons: Past, Present, and Future ..."
"... The New Atlanticist ..."
"... The United Kingdom's relations with Russia ..."
Nov 06, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

In their new book Union Jackboot: What Your Media and Professors Don't Tell You About British Foreign Policy (Até Books), doctors T.J. Coles and Matthew Alford debate the rationale of Anglo-American policy towards Russia.

Alford: There seems to be a consensus that we need a strong military because Russia is on the rise. What do you think about that rationale?

Coles: There's no consensus, except among European and American elites. Europe and America are not the world.

There are a lot of issues to consider with regards to Russia. Is it a threat? If so to whom? What kind of threat is Russia? So let's consider these questions carefully. As far as the British establishment is concerned, Russia is an ideological threat because it is a major power with a substantial population. It's also self-reliant where oil and gas is concerned, unlike Britain. So there's lots of potential for Russian political ideology to undermine Britain's status. In fact, there are European Council on Foreign Relations papers saying that Putin's Russia presents an "ideological alternative" to the EU. [i] And that's dangerous.

Britain, or more accurately its policymaking elites, have considered Russia a significant enemy for over a century. Under the Tsar, the so-called Great Game was a battle for strategic resources, trading routes, and so on. The historian Lawrence James calls this period the first Cold War, which went "hot" with the Crimean War (1853-56). [ii] Britain had a mixed relationship with the Tsars because, on the one hand, theirs' were repressive regimes and Britain tended to favour repressive regimes, hence their brief alliance with Russia's enemy, the Ottomans. On the other hand, Russia was a strategic threat to Britain's imperial interests, and thus the Crimean War (1853-56).

When the Bolsheviks took over Russia, beginning 1917, the relationship became much less ambiguous – Russians, and especially Bolsheviks, were clearly the enemy. Their ideology posed a threat internally. So Winston Churchill, who began as a Liberal and became a Conservative, considered the Labour Party, which was formed in 1900, as basically a front for Bolsheviks. [iii] That shows the level of paranoia among elites. The Labour Party, at least at the beginning, was a genuine, working man's political organisation – women couldn't vote then, remember. So by associating this progressive, grassroots party representing the working classes as an ideological ally or even puppet of the brutal Bolshevik regime, the Tories had an excuse to undermine the power of organised, working people. So you had the Zinoviev letter in 1924, which we now know was a literal conspiracy between the secret services and elements of the Tory party to fabricate a link between Labour and Moscow. And it famously cost Labour the general election, since the right-wing, privately-owned media ran with the story as though it was real. It's an early example of fake news. [iv]

That's the ideological threat that Russia has posed, historically. But where there's a threat, there's an opportunity. The British elites exploited the "threat" then and as they do today by associating organised labour with evil Bolshevism and, in doing so, alienate the lower classes from their own political interests. Suddenly, we've all got to be scared of Russia, just like in 1917. And let's not forget that Britain used chemical weapons – M-Devices, which induced vomiting – against the Bolsheviks. Chemical weapons were "the right medicine for the Bolshevist," in Churchill's words. This was in 1919, as part of the Allied invasion of Russia in support of the White Army. [v]

So if we're talking about the historical balance of forces and cause and effect, Britain not Russia initiated the use of chemical weapons against others. But this history is typically inverted to say that Russia poses a threat to the West, hence all the talk about Novichok, the Skripals, and Dawn Sturgess, the civilian who supposedly came into contact with Novichok and died in hospital a few days later.

The next question: What sort of threat is Russia? According to the US Army War College, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and since pro-US, pro-"free market" President Boris Yeltsin resigned in 1999, Russia has pursued so-called economic nationalism. And the US doesn't like this because markets suddenly get closed and taxes are raised against US corporations. [vi] That's the real threat. But you can't tell the public that: that we hate Russia because they aren't doing what we say. If you look through the military documents, you can find almost nothing about security threats against the US in terms of Russian expansion, except in the sense that "security" means operational freedom. You can find references to Russia's nuclear weapons, though, which are described as defensive, designed "to counter US forces and weapons systems." [vii] Try finding that on the BBC. I should mention that even "defensive" nukes can be launched accidentally.

The real goal with regards to Russia is maintaining US economic hegemony and the culture of open "free markets" that goes with it, while at the same time being protectionist in real life. (US protectionism didn't start under Trump, by the way.) Liberal media like the New York Times run sarcastic articles about Russian state oil and gas being a front for Putin and his cronies. And yes, that may be true. But what threat is Russia to the US if it has a corrupt government? The threat is closing its markets to the US. The US is committed to what its military calls Full Spectrum Dominance. So the world needs to be run in a US-led neoliberal order, in the words of the US military, "to protect US interests and investment." [viii] But this cannot be done if you have "economic nationalism," like China had until the "reforms" of the '70s and '80s, and still has today to some extent. Russia and China aren't military threats. The global population on the whole knows this, even though the domestic US and British media say the opposite.

Alford: What about military threats?

Coles: The best sources you can get are the US military records. Straight from the horse's mouth. The military plans for war and defence. They have contingencies for when political situations change. So they know what they're talking about. There's a massive divide between reality, as understood from the military records, and media and political rhetoric. Assessments by the US Army War College, for instance, said years ago that any moves by NATO to support a Western-backed government in Ukraine would provoke Russia into annexing Crimea. They don't talk about Russia spontaneously invading Ukraine and annexing it, which is the image we get from the media. The documents talk about Russia reacting to NATO provocation. [ix]

If you look at a map, you see Russia surrounded by hostile NATO forces. The media don't discuss this dangerous and provocative situation, except the occasional mention of, say, US-British-Polish war-gaming on the border with Russia. When they do mention it, they say it's for "containment," the containment of Russia. But to contain something, the given thing has to be expanding. But the US military – like the annual threat assessments to Congress – say that Russia's not expanding, except when provoked. So at the moment as part of its NATO mission, the UK is training Polish and Ukrainian armed forces, has deployed troops in Poland and Estonia, and is conducting military exercises with them. [x]

Imagine if Scotland ceded from the UK and the Russians were on our border conducting military exercises, supposedly to deter a British invasion of Scotland. That's what we're doing in Ukraine. Britain's moves are extremely dangerous. In the 1980s, the UK as part of NATO conducted the exercise, Operation Able Archer, which envisaged troop build-ups between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries. Now-declassified records show that the Russians briefly mistook this exercise for a real-world scenario. That could have escalated into nuclear war. This is very serious. [xi]

But the biggest player is the USA. It's using the threat of force and a global architecture of hi-tech militarism to shape a neoliberal order. Britain is slavishly following its lead. I doubt that Britain would position forces near Russia were it not for the USA. Successive US administrations have or are building a missile system in Europe and Turkey. They say it's to deter Iran from firing Scud missiles at Europe. But it's pointed at Russia. It's a radar system based in Romania and Turkey, with a battery of Patriot missiles based in Poland. The stationing of missiles there provoked Russia into moving its mobile nuclear weapons up to the border in its Kaliningrad exclave, as it warned it would do in 2008. [xii] Try to find any coverage of that in the media, except for a few articles in the print media here or there. If Western media were interested in survival, there would be regular headlines: "NATO provoking Russia."

But the situation in Ukraine is really the tipping point. Consider the equivalent. Imagine if Russia was conducting military exercises with Canada or Mexico, and building bases there. How would the US react? It would be considered an extreme threat, a violation of the UN Charter, which prohibits threats against sovereign states.

Alford: So we've extended NATO to pretty much the Russian border? But there's a hard border there. Everyone knows we're never going to attack Russia, both for reasons of morality and self-preservation. So maybe this situation is safer than you imply.

Coles: There's no morality involved. States are abstract, amorphous entities comprised of dominant minorities and subjugated majorities who are conditioned to believe that they are relatively free and prosperous. The elites of those states act both in their self-interests – career, peer-pressure, kickbacks, and so on – and in the interests of their class, which is of course tied to international relations because their class thrives on profiting from resource exploitation. So you can't talk about morality in this context. Only individuals can behave morally. The state is made up of individuals, of course, but they're acting against the interests of the majority. As we speak, they are acting immorally – or at least amorally – but creating the geopolitical conditions that imperil each and every one of us.

As for invasion, we're not going to invade Russia. This isn't 1918. Russia has nuclear weapons and can deter an invasion. But that's not the point. Do we want to de-escalate an already tense geopolitical situation or make it worse to the point where an accident happens? So while it's not about invading Russia directly, the issue is about attacking what are called Russia's "national interests." Russia's "national interests" are the same as the elites' of the UK. National interest doesn't mean the interests of the public. It means the interests of the policymaking establishment and the corporations. For example, the Theresa May government sacrificed its own credibility to ensure that its Brexit White Paper (2018) appeased both the interests of the food and manufacturing industries that want a soft Brexit – easy trade with the EU – and the financial services sector which wants a hard Brexit – freedom from EU regulation. Everyone else be damned. That's the "national interest."

So for its real "national interest," Russia wants to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence because its oil and gas to Europe pass through Ukraine. About 80% of Russia's export economy is in the oil and gas sector. It's already had serious political tensions with Ukraine, which on several occasions hasn't paid its energy bills, so Russia has cut supplies. If Europe can bump Ukraine into its own sphere of influence it has more leverage over Russia. This is practically admitted in Parliamentary discussions by Foreign Office ministers, and so forth. [xiii] Again, omitted by the media. Also, remember that plenty of ethnic Russians live in eastern Ukraine. In addition, Russia has a naval base in Crimea. That's not to excuse its illegal action in annexing Ukraine, it's to highlight the realpolitik missing in the media's coverage of the situation.

T. J. Coles is a postdoctoral researcher at Plymouth University's Cognition Institute and the author of several books.

Matthew Alford teaches at Bath University in the UK and has also written several books. Their latest is Union Jackboot (Até Books).

SOURCES

[i] Mark Leonard and Nicu Popescu (2007) 'A Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations' European Council on Foreign Relations, Policy Paper, p. 1 http://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR-02_A_POWER_AUDIT_OF_EU-RUSSIA_RELATIONS.pdf .

[ii] 'Anglo-Russian relations were severely strained; what was in effect a cold war lasted from the late 1820s to the beginning of the next century'. The Crimean War seems to have set a precedent for today. James writes:

[It] was an imperial war, the only one fought by Britain against a European power during the nineteenth century, although some would have regarded Russia as essentially an Asiatic power. No territory was at stake; the war was undertaken solely to guarantee British naval supremacy in the Mediterranean and, indirectly, to forestall any threat to India which might have followed Russia replacing Britain as the dominant power in the Middle East.

Lawrence James (1997) The Rise and Fall of the British Empire London: Abacus, pp. 180-82.

[iii] Churchill said in 1920:

All these strikes and rumours of strikes and threats of strikes and loss and suffering caused by them; all this talk of revolution and "direct action" have deeply offended most of the British people. There is a growing feeling that a considerable section of organized Labour is trying to tyrannize over the whole public and to bully them into submission, not by argument, not by recognized political measures, but by brute force

But if we can do little for Russia [under the Bolsheviks], we can do much for Britain. We do not want any of these experiments here

Whether it is the Irish murder gang or the Egyptian vengeance society, or the seditious extremists in India, or the arch-traitors we have at home, they will feel the weight of the British arm.

Winston Churchill (1920) Bolshevism and Imperial Sedition . Speech to United Wards Club. London: The International Churchill Society https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/1915-1929-nadir-and-recovery/bolshevism-and-imperial-sedition/ .

[iv] The fake letter says:

A settlement of relations between the two countries [UK and Russia] will assist in the revolutionising of the international and British proletariat, [and] make it possible for us to extend and develop the propaganda and ideas of Leninism in England and the colonies.

It also says that 'British workmen' have 'inclinations to compromise' and that rapprochement will eventually lead to domestic '[a]rmed warfare'. It was leaked by the services to the Conservative party and then to the media. Richard Norton-Taylor (1999) 'Zinoviev letter was dirty trick by MI6' Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/politics/1999/feb/04/uk.politicalnews6 and Louise Jury (1999) 'Official Zinoviev letter was forged' Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/official-zinoviev-letter-was-forged-1068600.html . For media coverage at the time, see James Curran and Jean Seaton (1997) Power without Responsibility London: Routledge, p. 52.

[v] Paul F. Walker (2017) 'A Century of Chemical Warfare: Building a World Free of Chemical Weapons' Conference: One Hundred Years of Chemical Warfare: Research, Deployment, Consequences pp. 379-400 and Giles Milton (2013) Russian Roulette: A Deadly Game: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot London: Hodder, eBook.

[vi] 'The Russian Federation has shown repeatedly that common values play almost no role in its consideration of its trading partners', meaning the US and EU. 'It often builds relationships with countries that most openly thwart Western values of free markets and democracy', notably Iran and Venezuela. 'In this regard, the Russian Federation behaves like "Russia Incorporated." It uses its re-nationalized industries to further its wealth and influence, the latter often at the expense of the EU and the U.S.'. Colonel Richard J. Anderson (2008) 'A History of President Putin's Campaign to Re-Nationalize Industry and the Implications for Russian Reform and Foreign Policy' Senior Service College, US Army War College, Pennsylvania: Carlisle Barracks, p. 52.

[vii] Daniel R. Coats (2017) Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington, DC: Office of the Director of

National Intelligence, pp. 18-19 https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Testimonies/SSCI%20Unclassified%20SFR%20-%20Final.pdf .

[viii] US Space Command (1997) Vision for 2020 Colorado: Peterson Air Force Base https://ia802705.us.archive.org/10/items/pdfy-j6U3MFw1cGmC-yob/U.S.%20Space%20Command%20Vision%20For%202020.pdf .

[ix] The document also says: 'a replay of the West-sponsored coup against pro-Russian elites could result in a split, or indeed multiple splits, of the failed Ukraine, which would open a door for NATO intervention'.Pavel K. Baev (2011) 'Russia's security relations with the United States: Futures planned and unplanned' in Stephen J. Blank (ed.) Russian Nuclear Weapons: Past, Present, and Future Strategic Studies Institute Pennsylvania: Carlisle Barracks, p. 170, www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1087.pdf.

[x] Forces Network (2016) 'British troops to deploy to Poland' https://www.forces.net/news/tri-service/british-troops-deploy-poland .

[xi] For example, Nate Jones, Thomas Blanton and Christian F. Ostermann (2016) 'Able Archer 83: The Secret History' Nuclear Proliferation International History Project Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/able-archer-83-the-secret-history .

[xii] It was reported in the ultra-right, neo-con press at the time that:

[Russian] President Dmitri Medvedev announced in his first state-of-the-nation address plans to deploy the short-range SS-26 ("Iskander") missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad if the U.S. goes ahead with its European Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Medvedev told parliament that the deployment would "neutralize" U.S. plans for a missile defense shield based in Poland and the Czech Republic [now in Romania), which the U.S. claims as vital in defending against missile attacks from 'rogue states' such as Iran.

Neil Leslie (2008) 'The Kaliningrad Missile Crisis' The New Atlanticist , available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-kaliningrad-missile-crisis.

[xiii] For example, a Parliamentary inquiry into British-Russian relations says of the newly-imposed US-British ally in Ukraine:

President Poroshenko's Government is more openly committed to economic reform and anti-corruption than any previous Ukrainian Administration. The reform agenda has made considerable progress and has enjoyed some successes including police reform, liberalisation of the energy market and the launch of an online platform for government procurement

The annexation of Crimea also resulted in a ban on importing products from Crimea, on investing in or providing services linked to tourism and on exporting certain goods for use in the transport, telecoms and energy sectors.

House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (2017) The United Kingdom's relations with Russia Seventh report of session 2016-17, HC 120 London: Stationary Office, pp. 28, 31 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmfaff/120/120.pdf

[Nov 05, 2018] Neoliberalism's Demons On the Political Theology of Late Capital

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

By both its supporters and detractors, neoliberalism is usually considered an economic policy agenda. Neoliberalism's Demons argues that it is much more than that: a complete worldview, neoliberalism presents the competitive marketplace as the model for true human flourishing. And it has enjoyed great success: from the struggle for "global competitiveness" on the world stage down to our individual practices of self-branding and social networking, neoliberalism has transformed every aspect of our shared social life. The book explores the sources of neoliberalism's remarkable success and the roots of its current decline. Neoliberalism's appeal is its promise of freedom in the form of unfettered free choice. But that freedom is a trap: we have just enough freedom to be accountable for our failings, but not enough to create genuine change. If we choose rightly, we ratify our own exploitation. And if we choose wrongly, we are consigned to the outer darkness -- and then demonized as the cause of social ills. By tracing the political and theological roots of the neoliberal concept of freedom, Adam Kotsko offers a fresh perspective, one that emphasizes the dynamics of race, gender, and sexuality. More than that, he accounts for the rise of right-wing populism, arguing that, far from breaking with the neoliberal model, it actually doubles down on neoliberalism's most destructive features.

skeptic

This book tried to integrate the results of previous research of neoliberalism by such scholars as David Harvey, Philip Mirowski, and Wendy Brown into a more coherent framework. He has some brilliant insights about neoliberalism as secular religion scattered within the book. For example "I have claimed that the political-theological root of neoliberalism is freedom and have characterized its vision of freedom as hollow." His theological notion of "neoliberalism demons" ( the dark forces unleashed by neoliberalism) also represents a very valuable insight as neoliberalism explicitly violates Christian morality postulates ("greed is good").

"Liberal democracy under neoliberalism represents a forced choice between two fundamentally similar options, betraying its promise to provide a mechanism for rational and self-reflective human agency. The market similarly mobilizes free choice only to subdue and subvert it, "responsibilizing" every individual for the outcomes of the system while radically foreclosing any form of collective responsibility for the shape of society. And any attempt to exercise human judgment and free choice over social institutions and outcomes is rejected as a step down the slippery' slope to totalitarianism. To choose in any strong sense is always necessarily to choose wrongly, to fall into sin."
In the introduction, he correctly states that the academic workforce is now deeply affected by neoliberalization.
Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must, therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day.

The author explains his use of the term "theology" instead of "ideology in such a way: " theology' has always been about much more than God. Even the simplest theological systems have a lot to say about the world we live in, how it came to be the way it is, and how it should be. Those ideals are neither true nor false in an empirical sense, nor is it fair to say that believers accept them blindly. "

He justifies the use of this term in the following way:

Here the term theology is likely to present the primary difficulty, as it seems to presuppose some reference to God. Familiarity with political theology as it has conventionally been practiced would reinforce that association. Schmitt's Political Theology and Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies both focused on the parallels between God and the earthly ruler,3 and much subsequent work in the field has concentrated on the theological roots of political concepts of state sovereignty'. Hence the reader may justly ask whether I am claiming that neoliberalism presupposes a concept of God.

The short answer is no. I am not arguing, for example, that neoliberalism "worships" the invisible hand, the market, money, wealthy entrepreneurs, or any other supposed "false idol," nor indeed that it is somehow secretly "religious" in the sense of being fanatical and unreasoning. Such claims presuppose a strong distinction between the religious and the secular, a distinction that proved foundational for the self-legitimation of the modern secular order but that has now devolved into a stale cliché. As I will discuss in the chapters that follow, one of the things that most appeals to me about political theology as a discipline is the way that it rejects the religious/secular binary.

The author correctly point s out that "Neoliberalism likes to hide", Like Philip Mirowski he views neoliberalism as a reaction on the USSR socialism which in my view integrates much of Trotskyism. Replacing the slogan "Proletarians of all countries, unite!", with the slogan "financial elites of all countries unite."

While most authors consider that neoliberalism became the dominant political force with the election of Reagan, the author argues that it happened under Nixon: " Nixon's decision in 1971 to go off the gold standard, which broke with the Bretton Woods settlement that had governed international finance throughout the postwar era and inadvertently cleared the space for the fluctuating exchange rates that proved so central to the rise of contemporary finance capitalism. "

He contrasts approaches of Harvey, Mirowski and Brown pointing out that real origin of neoliberalism and Trotskyism style "thought collective" – intellectual vanguard that drives everybody else, often using deception to final victory of neoliberalism.

It is this group that Mirowski highlights with his notion of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. One could walk away from Harvey's account viewing the major figures of neoliberalism as dispensable figureheads for impersonal political and economic forces. By contrast, the most compact possible summary of Mirowski s book would be: "It's people! Neoliberalism is made out of people!" In this reading, there was nothing inevitable about neoliberalism's rise, which depended on the vision and organization of particular nameable individuals.

Brown portrays neoliberalism as an attempt to extinguish the political -- here represented by the liberal democratic tradition of popular sovereignty and self-rule -- and consign humanity to a purely economic existence. In the end Brown calls us to take up a strange kind of metapolitical struggle against the economic enemy, in defense of politics as such. Meanwhile, Jodi Dean, who agrees that neoliberalism has a depoliticizing tendency, argues that this depoliticization actually depends on the notion of democracy and that appeals to democracy against neoliberalism arc therefore doomed in advance.9

He also points out neoliberalism tendency to create markets using the power of the state:

"Obamacare effectively created a market in individual health insurance plans, an area where the market was previously so dysfunctional as to be essentially nonexistent. The example of Obamacare also highlights the peculiar nature of neoliberal freedom. One of its most controversial provisions was a mandate that all Americans must have health insurance coverage. From a purely libertarian perspective, this is an impermissible infringement on economic freedom -- surely if i am free to make my own economic decisions, I am also free to choose not to purchase health insurance. Yet the mandate fits perfectly with the overall ethos of neoliberalism.

Overall, then, in neoliberalism an account of human nature where economic competition is the highest value leads to a political theory where the prime duty of the state is to enable, and indeed mandate, such competition, and the result is a world wherein individuals, firms, and states are all continually constrained to express themselves via economic competition. This means that neoliberalism tends to create a world in which neoliberalism is "true." A more coherent and self-reinforcing political theology can scarcely be imagined -- but that, I will argue, is precisely what any attempt to create an alternative to neoliberalism must do.

He points out on weaknesses of Marxist analysts and by Harvey's own "recognition of the fact that classes have been profoundly changed during the process of neo-liberalization" -- meaning that the beneficiaries cannot have planned the neoliberal push in any straightforward way. More than that, an economic-reductionist account ignores the decisive role of the state in the development of the neoliberal order: "To believe that 'financial markets' one fine day eluded the grasp of politics is nothing but a fairy tale. It was states, and global economic organizations, in close collusion with private actors, that fashioned rules conducive to the expansion of market finance."'' In other words, neoliberalism is an example where, contrary to Marxism, political forces directly transform economic structures.

He also points out that Polanyi views on the subject supports this thesis:

Polanyi famously characterized the interplay between market forces and society as a "double movement": when market relations threaten to undermine the basic foundations of social reproduction, society (most often represented by state institutions) intervenes to prevent or at least delay the trend set in motion by the market. Compared with Aristotle's distribution of categories between the political and economic realms, Polanyi's account is itself a "great transformation" on the conceptual level. Where Aristotle distinguished state and household and placed both legitimate economic management and unrestrained accumulation in the latter, Polanyi's "society" combines the household and the state, leaving only out-of-control acquisition in the purely economic realm. And in this schema, the society represents the spontaneous and natural, while the economic force of the market is what is constructed and deliberate.

The legacy of Polanyi should already be familiar to us in the many analyses of neoliberalism that see the state, nationalism, and other similar forces as extrinsic "leftovers" that precede or exceed neoliberal logic. Normally such interpretations first point out the supposed irony or hypocrisy that neoliberalism comes to require these exogenous elements for its functioning while claiming that those same "leftover" institutions can be sites of resistance. Hence, for instance, one often hears that the left needs to restore confidence in state power over against the market, that socialism can only be viable if a given country isolates itself from the forces of the global market, or in Wendy Brown's more abstract terms, that the left must reclaim the political to combat the hegemony of the economic.

He makes an important point that "neoliberalism does not simply destroy some preexisting entity known as "the family," but creates its own version of the family, one that fits its political-economic agenda, just as Fordism created the white suburban nuclear family that underwrote its political-economic goals."

Following Wendy Brown he views victimization of poor as an immanent feature of neoliberalism:

"The psychic life of neoliberalism, as so memorably characterized by Mark Fisher in Capitalist Realism, is shot through with anxiety and shame. We have to be in a constant state of high alert, always "hustling" for opportunities and connections, always planning for every contingency (including the inherently unpredictable vagaries of health and longevity). This dynamic of "responsibilization," as Wendy Brown calls it, requires us to fritter away our life with worry and paperwork and supplication, "pitching"ourselves over and over again, building our "personal brand" -- all for ever-lowering wages or a smattering of piece-work, which barely covers increasingly exorbitant rent, much less student loan payments."

He also points out that under neoliberalism "Under normative neoliberalism "neoclassical economics becomes a soft constitution for government or 'governance' in its devolved forms" the point that Philip Mirowski completely misses.

While correctly pointing out that neoliberalism is in decline and its ideology collapsed after 2008 (" Neoliberalism has lost its aura of inevitability"), it is unclear which forces will dismantle neoliberalism. And when it will be sent to the dustbin of the history. The chapter of the book devoted to "After Neoliberalism" theme is much weaker than the chapters devoted to its analysis.

For example, the author thinks that Trump election signifies a new stage of neoliberalism which he calls "punitive neoliberalism." I would call Trumpism instead "national neoliberalism" with all associated historical allusions.

[Nov 05, 2018] A superb new book on the duty of resistance

Notable quotes:
"... A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil ..."
"... The Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil ..."
Nov 05, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

by Chris Bertram on October 31, 2018 Candice Delmas, A Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Political obligation has always been a somewhat unsatisfactory topic in political philosophy, as has, relatedly, civil disobedience. The "standard view" of civil disobedience, to be found in Rawls, presupposes that we live in a nearly just society in which some serious violations of the basic liberties yet occur and conceives of civil disobedience as a deliberate act of public lawbreaking, nonviolent in character, which aims to communicate a sense of grave wrong to our fellow citizens. To demonstrate their fidelity to law, civil disobedients are willing to accept the consequences of their actions and to take their punishment. When Rawls first wrote about civil disobedience, in 1964, parts of the US were openly and flagrantly engaged in the violent subordination of their black population, so it was quite a stretch for him to think of that society as "nearly just". But perhaps its injustice impinged less obviously on a white professor at an elite university in Massachusetts than it did on poor blacks in the deep South.

The problems with the standard account hardly stop there. Civil disobedience thus conceived is awfully narrow. In truth, the range of actions which amount to resistance to the state and to unjust societies is extremely broad, running from ordinary political opposition, through civil disobedience to disobedience that is rather uncivil, through sabotage, hacktivism, leaking, whistle-blowing, carrying out Samaritan assistance in defiance of laws that prohibit it, striking, occupation, violent resistance, violent revolution, and, ultimately, terrorism. For the non-ideal world in which we actually live and where we are nowhere close to a "nearly just" society, we need a better theory, one which tells us whether Black Lives Matter activists are justified or whether antifa can punch Richard Spencer. Moreover, we need a theory that tells us not only what we may do but also what we are obliged to do: when is standing by in the face of injustice simply not morally permissible.

Step forward Candice Delmas with her superb and challenging book The Duty to Resist: When Disobedience Should Be Uncivil (Oxford University Press). Delmas points out the manifold shortcomings of the standard account and how it is often derived from taking the particular tactics of the civil rights movement and turning pragmatic choices into moral principles. Lots of acts of resistance against unjust societies, in order to be effective, far from being communicative, need to be covert. Non-violence may be an effective strategy, but sometimes those resisting state injustice have a right to defend themselves. [click to continue ]


Hidari 10.31.18 at 3:41 pm (no link)

Strangely enough, the link I was looking at immediately before I clicked on the OP, was this:

https://www.thecanary.co/opinion/2018/10/30/our-time-is-up-weve-got-nothing-left-but-rebellion/

It would be interesting to see a philosopher's view on whether or not civil disobedience was necessary, and to what extent, to prevent actions that will lead to the end of our species.

Ebenezer Scrooge 10.31.18 at 4:52 pm (no link)
Two points:
As far as the Nazi-punching goes, it is important to remember that we hung Julius Streicher for nothing but speech acts.
I have no idea who Candice Delmas is, but "Delmas" is a French name. The French have a very different attitude toward civil disobedience than we do.
Moz of Yarramulla 10.31.18 at 11:23 pm (no link)

civil disobedience as a deliberate act of public lawbreaking, nonviolent in character, which aims to communicate a sense of grave wrong to our fellow citizens.

I think that's a pretty narrow view of civil disobedience even if you just count the actions of the protesters. Often NVDA is aimed at or merely accepts that a violent response is inevitable. The resistance at Parihaka, for example, was in no doubt that the response would be military and probably lethal. And Animal Liberation are often classified as terrorists by the US and UK governments while murderers against abortion are not.

Which is to say that the definition of "nonviolent" is itself an area of conflict, with some taking the Buddhist extremist position that any harm or even inconvenience to any living thing makes an action violent, and others saying that anything short of genocide can be nonviolent (and then there are the "intention is all" clowns). Likewise terrorism, most obviously of late the Afghani mujahideen when they transitioned from being revolutionaries to terrorists when the invader changed.

In Australia we have the actual government taking the view that any action taken by a worker or protester that inconveniences a company is a criminal act and the criminal must both compensate the company (including consequential damages) as well as facing jail time. tasmania and NSW and of course the anti-union laws . The penalties suggest they're considered crimes of violence, as does the rhetoric.

Moz of Yarramulla 11.01.18 at 12:13 am (no link)
Jeff@11

one should never legitimize any means toward social change that you would not object to seeing used by your mortal enemies.

Are you using an unusual definition of "mortal enemy" here? Viz, other than "enemy that wants to kill you"? Even US law has theoretical prohibitions on expressing that intention.

It's especially odd since we're right now in the middle of a great deal of bad-faith use of protest techniques by mortal enemies. "free speech" used to protect Nazi rallies, "academic freedom" to defend anti-science activists, "non-violent protest" used to describe violent attacks, "freedom of religion" used to excuse terrorism, the list goes on.

In Australia we have a 'proud boys' leader coming to Australia who has somehow managed to pass the character test imposed by our government. He's the leader of a gang that requires an arrest for violence as a condition of membership and regularly says his goal is to incite others to commit murder. It seems odd that our immigration minister has found those things to be not disqualifying while deporting someone for merely associating with a vaguely similar gang , but we live in weird times.

J-D 11.01.18 at 12:50 am ( 18 )
Ebenezer Scrooge

As far as the Nazi-punching goes, it is important to remember that we hung Julius Streicher for nothing but speech acts.

I do remember that*, but it's not clear to me why you think it's important to remember it in this context. If somebody who had fatally punched a Nazi speaker were prosecuted for murder, I doubt that 'he was a Nazi speaker' would be accepted as a defence on the basis of the Streicher precedent.

*Strictly speaking, I don't remember it as something that 'we' did: I wasn't born at the time, and it's not clear to me who you mean by 'we'. (Streicher himself probably would have said that it was the Jews, or possibly the Jews and the Bolsheviks, who were hanging him, but I don't suppose that would be your view.) However, I'm aware of the events you're referring to, which is the real point.

engels 11.01.18 at 12:51 am ( 19 )
Rawls presupposes that we live in a nearly just society in which some serious violations of the basic liberties yet occur For the non-ideal world in which we actually live and where we are nowhere close to a "nearly just" society, we need a better theory
Brandon Watson 11.01.18 at 12:02 pm (no link)
People need to stop spreading this misinterpretation about Rawls on civil disobedience, which I've seen several places in the past few years. Rawls focuses on the case of a nearly just society not because he thinks it's the only case in which you can engage in civil disobedience but because he thinks it's the only case in which there are difficulties with justifying it. He states this very clearly in A Theory of Justice : in cases where the society is not nearly just, there are no difficulties in justifying civil disobedience or even sometimes armed resistance. His natural duty account is not put forward as a general theory of civil disobedience but to argue that civil disobedience can admit of justification even in the case in which it is hardest to justify.

I'm not a fan of Rawls myself, but I don't know how he could possibly have been more clear on this, since he makes all these points explicitly.

LFC 11.02.18 at 12:45 am (no link)
J-D @18

The Nuremberg tribunal was set up and staffed by the U.S., Britain, USSR, and France; so whether Ebenezer's "we" was intended to refer to the four countries collectively or just to the U.S., it's clear who hanged Streicher et al., and the tone of your comment on this point is rather odd.

anon 11.02.18 at 4:23 pm (no link)
Resisting by protesting is OK.

However, here in the USA, actual legislation creating laws is done by our elected representatives.

So if you're an Amaerican and really want Social Change and aren't just posturing or 'virtue signaling' make sure you vote in the upcoming election.

I'm afraid too many will think that their individual vote won't 'matter' or the polls show it isn't needed or some other excuse to justify not voting. Please do not be that person.

Don Berinati 11.02.18 at 5:06 pm (no link)
Recently re-reading '1968' by Kurlansky and he repeatedly made this point about protests – that to be effective they had to get on television (major networks, not like our youtube, I think, so it would be seen by the masses in order to sway them) and to do that the acts had to be outlandish because they were competing for network time. This increasingly led to violent acts, which almost always worked in getting on the news, but flew in the face of King's and others peaceful methods.
So, maybe punching out a Nazi is the way to change people's minds or at least get them to think about stuff.

[Nov 05, 2018] The Linux Philosophy for SysAdmins And Everyone Who Wants To Be One eBook by David Both

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Elegance is one of those things that can be difficult to define. I know it when I see it, but putting what I see into a terse definition is a challenge. Using the Linux diet
command, Wordnet provides one definition of elegance as, "a quality of neatness and ingenious simplicity in the solution of a problem (especially in science or mathematics); 'the simplicity and elegance of his invention.'"

In the context of this book, I think that elegance is a state of beauty and simplicity in the design and working of both hardware and software. When a design is elegant,
software and hardware work better and are more efficient. The user is aided by simple, efficient, and understandable tools.

Creating elegance in a technological environment is hard. It is also necessary. Elegant solutions produce elegant results and are easy to maintain and fix. Elegance does not happen by accident; you must work for it.

The quality of simplicity is a large part of technical elegance. So large, in fact that it deserves a chapter of its own, Chapter 18, "Find the Simplicity," but we do not ignore it here. This chapter discusses what it means for hardware and software to be elegant.

Hardware Elegance

Yes, hardware can be elegant -- even beautiful, pleasing to the eye. Hardware that is well designed is more reliable as well. Elegant hardware solutions improve reliability'.

[Nov 05, 2018] Understanding the Past

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

I find it both fun and informative to learn about the history' of Unix and Linux. Earlier in this book, I have referred to two books in particular that I have found helpful in my understating of Linux and its philosophy'.

Linux and the Unix Philosophy 1 by' Mike Ganearz has been particularly' interesting in terms of the philosophy'. The second book, The Art of Unix Programming - by' Eric S. Raymond, provides fascinating insider historical perspective on Unix and Linux programming and history'. This second book is also available in its entirety' at no charge on the Internet. 3

I recommend reading both of these books if you have not already. They' provide a historical and philosophical basis for much of what I have written in this book.

The SysAdmin Context

Context is important and this tenet, "Always use shell scripts," should be considered in the context of our jobs as SysAdmins.

The SysAdmin's job differs significantly from those of developers and testers. In addition to resolving both hardware and software problems, we manage the day-to-day operation of the systems under our care. We monitor those systems for potential problems and make all possible efforts to prevent those problems before they impact our users. We install updates and perform full release level upgrades to the operating system. We resolve problems caused by our users.

SysAdmins develop code to do all of those tilings and more; then we test that code; and then we support that code in a production environment.

Many of us also manage and maintain the networks to which our systems are connected. In other cases we tell the network guys where the problems are located and how to fix them because we find and diagnose them first.

We SysAdmins have been devops far longer than that term has been around. In fact, the SysAdmin job is more like dev-test-ops-net than just devops. Our knowledge and daily task lists cover all of those areas of expertise.

In this context the requirements for creating shell scripts are complex, interrelated, and many times contradictory'. Let's look at some of the typical factors SysAdmins must consider when writing shell scripts.

[Nov 05, 2018] How neoliberals destroyed University education and then a large part of the US middle class and the US postwar social order by Edward Qualtrough

Notable quotes:
"... Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day. ..."
"... Whereas classical liberalism insisted that capitalism had to be allowed free rein within its sphere, under neoliberalism capitalism no longer has a set sphere. We are always "on the clock," always accruing (or squandering) various forms of financial and social capital. ..."
Aug 24, 2016 | www.amazon.com

From: Amazon.com Neoliberalism's Demons On the Political Theology of Late Capital (9781503607125) Adam Kotsko Books

Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day.

... ... ...

On a more personal level it reflects my upbringing in the suburbs of Flint, Michigan, a city that has been utterly devastated by the transition to neoliberalism. As I lived through the slow-motion disaster of the gradual withdrawal of the auto industry, I often heard Henry Ford s dictum that a company could make more money if the workers were paid enough to be customers as well, a principle that the major US automakers were inexplicably abandoning. Hence I find it [Fordism -- NNB] to be an elegant way of capturing the postwar model's promise of creating broadly shared prosperity by retooling capitalism to produce a consumer society characterized by a growing middle class -- and of emphasizing the fact that that promise was ultimately broken.

By the mid-1970s, the postwar Fordist order had begun to breakdown to varying degrees in the major Western countries. While many powerful groups advocated a response to the crisis that would strengthen the welfare state, the agenda that wound up carrying the day was neoliberalism, which was most forcefully implemented in the United Kingdom by Margaret Thatcher and in the United States by Ronald Reagan. And although this transformation was begun by the conservative part)', in both countries the left-of-centcr or (in American usage) "liberal"party wound up embracing neoliberal tenets under Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, ostensibly for the purpose of directing them toward progressive ends.

With the context of current debates within the US Democratic Party, this means that Clinton acolytes are correct to claim that "neoliberalism" just is liberalism but only to the extent that, in the contemporary United States, the term liberalism is little more than a word for whatever the policy agenda of the Democratic Party happens to be at any given time. Though politicians of all stripes at times used libertarian rhetoric to sell their policies, the most clear-eyed advocates of neoliberalism realized that there could be no simple question of a "return" to the laissez-faire model.

Rather than simply getting the state "out of the way," they both deployed and transformed state power, including the institutions of the welfare state, to reshape society in accordance with market models. In some cases creating markets where none had previously existed, as in the privatization of education and other public services. In others it took the form of a more general spread of a competitive market ethos into ever more areas of life -- so that we are encouraged to think of our reputation as a "brand," for instance, or our social contacts as fodder for "networking." Whereas classical liberalism insisted that capitalism had to be allowed free rein within its sphere, under neoliberalism capitalism no longer has a set sphere. We are always "on the clock," always accruing (or squandering) various forms of financial and social capital.

[Nov 05, 2018] The Limits of Neoliberalism (Theory, Culture Society) by William Davies

Notable quotes:
"... In this book, I provide a somewhat cumbersome definition of neoliberalism and a pithier one, both of which inform the argument running throughout this book. The cumbersome one is as follows: 'the elevation of marked-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms'. ..."
Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

In this book, I provide a somewhat cumbersome definition of neoliberalism and a pithier one, both of which inform the argument running throughout this book. The cumbersome one is as follows: 'the elevation of marked-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms'.

What this intends to capture is that, while neoliberal states have extended and liberated markets in certain areas (for instance, via privatisation and anti-union legislation), the neoliberal era has been marked just as much by the reform of non-market institutions, so as to render them market-like or business-like. Consider how competition is deliberately injected into socialised healthcare systems or universities. Alternatively, how protection of the environment is pursued by calculating a proxy price for natural public goods, in the expectation that businesses will then value them appropriately (Fourcade, 2011). It is economic calculation that spreads into all walks of life under neoliberalism, and not markets as such. This in turn provides the pithier version: neoliberalism is 'the disenchantment of politics by economics'.

The crisis of neoliberalism has reversed this ordering. 2008 was an implosion of technical capabilities on the part of banks and financial regulators, which was largely unaccompanied by any major political or civic eruption, at least until the consequences were felt in terms of public sector cuts that accelerated after 2010, especially in Southern Europe. The economic crisis was spookily isolated from any accompanying political crisis, at least in the beginning. The eruptions of 2016 therefore represented the long-awaited politicization and publicisation of a crisis that, until then, had been largely dealt with by the same cadre of experts whose errors had caused it in the first place.

Faced with these largely unexpected events and the threat of more, politicians and media pundits have declared that we now need to listen to those people 'left behind by globalization'. Following the Brexit referendum, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May made a vow to the less prosperous members of society, 'we will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you.' This awakening to the demands and voices of marginalized demographics may represent a new recognition that economic policy cannot be wholly geared around the pursuit of 'national competitiveness' in the 'global race', a pursuit that in practice meant seeking to prioritise the interests of financial services and mobile capital. It signals mainstream political acceptance that inequality cannot keep rising forever. But it is still rooted in a somewhat economistic vision of politics, as if those people 'left behind by globalisation' simply want more material wealth and opportunity', plus fewer immigrants competing for jobs. What this doesn't do is engage with the distinctive political and cultural sociology of events such as Brexit and Trump, which are fuelled by a spirit of rage, punishment and self-punishment, and not simply by a desire to get a slightly larger slice of the pie.

This is where, 1 think, we need to pay close attention to a key dimension of neoliberalism, which 1 focus on at length in this book, namely competition. One of my central arguments here is that neoliberalism is not simply reducible to 'market fundamentalism', even if there are areas (such as financial markets) where markets have manifestly attained greater reach and power since the mid1970s. Instead, the neoliberal state takes the principle of competition and the ethos of competitiveness (which historically have been found in and around markets), and seeks to reorganise society around them. Quite how competition and competitiveness are defined and politically instituted is a matter for historical and theoretical exploration, which is partly what The Limits of Neoliberalism seeks to do. But at the bare minimum, organising social relations in terms of 'competition' means that individuals, organisations, cities, regions and nations are to be tested in terms of their capacity to out-do each other. Not only that, but the tests must be considered fair in some way, if the resulting inequalities are to be recognised as legitimate. When applied to individuals, this ideology is often known as 'meritocracy''.

The appeal of this as a political template for society is that, according to its advocates, it involves the discovery of brilliant ideas, more efficient business models, naturally talented individuals, new urban visions, successful national strategies, potent entrepreneurs and so on. Even if this is correct (and the work of Thomas Piketty on how wealth begets wealth is enough to cast considerable doubt on it) there is a major defect: it consigns the majority of people, places, businesses and institutions to the status of'losers'. The normative and existential conventions of a neoliberal society stipulate that success and prowess are things that are earned through desire, effort and innate ability, so long as social and economic institutions are designed in such a way as to facilitate this. But the corollary of this is that failure and weakness are also earned: when individuals and communities fail to succeed, this is a reflection of inadequate talent or energy on their part.

This has been critically noted in how 'dependency' and 'welfare' have become matters of shame since the conservative political ascendency of the 1980s. But this is just one example of how a culture of obligatory competitiveness exerts a damaging moral psychology, not only in how people look down on others, but in how they look down on themselves. A culture which valorises 'winning' and 'competitiveness' above all else provides few sources of security or comfort, even to those doing reasonably well. Everyone could be doing better, and if they're not, they have themselves to blame. The vision of society as a competitive game also suggests that anyone could very quickly be doing worse.

Under these neoliberal conditions, remorse becomes directed inwards, producing the depressive psychological effect (or what Freud termed 'melancholia') whereby people search inside themselves for the source of their own unhappiness and imperfect lives (Davies, 2015). Viewed from within the cultural logic of neoliberalism, uncompetitive regions, individuals or communities are not just 'left behind by globalisation', but are discovered to be inferior in comparison to their rivals, just like the contestants ejected from a talent show. Rising household indebtedness compounds this process for those living in financial precarity, by forcing individuals to pay for their own past errors, illness or sheer bad luck (Davies, Montgomerie & Wallin, 2015).

In order to understand political upheavals such as Brexit, we need to perform some sociological interpretation. We need to consider that our socio-economic pathologies do not simply consist in the fact that opportunity and wealth are hoarded by certain industries (such as finance) or locales (such as London) or individuals (such as the children of the wealthy), although all of these things are true. We need also to reflect on the cultural and psychological implications of how this hoarding has been represented and justified over the past four decades, namely that it reflects something about the underlying moral worth of different populations and individuals.

One psychological effect of this is authoritarian attitudes towards social deviance: Brexit and Trump supporters both have an above-average tendency to support the death penalty, combined with a belief that political authorities are too weak to enforce justice (Kaufman, 2016). However, it is also clear that psychological and physical pain have become far more widespread in neoliberal societies than has been noticed by most people. Statistical studies have shown how societies such as Britain and the United States have become afflicted by often inexplicable rising mortality rates amongst the white working class, connected partly to rising suicide rates, alcohol and drug abuse (Dorling, 2016). The Washington Post identified close geographic correlations between this trend and support for Donald Trump (Guo, 2016). In sum, a moral-economic system aimed at identifying and empowering the most competitive people, institutions and places has become targeted, rationally or otherwise, by the vast number of people, institutions and places that have suffered not only the pain of defeat but the punishment of defeat for far too long.

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

The question inevitably arises, is thus thing called 'neoliberalism' now over? And if not, when might it be and how would we know? In the UK, the prospect of Brexit combined with the political priority of reducing immigration means that the efficient movement of capital (together with that of labour) is being consciously impeded in a way that would have been unthinkable during the 1990s and early 2000s. 1'he re-emergence of national borders as obstacles to the flow of goods, finance, services and above all people, represents at least an interruption in the vision of globalisation that accompanied the heyday of neoliberal policy making between 1989-2008. If events such as Brexit signal the first step towards greater national mercantilism and protectionism, then we may be witnessing far more profound transformations in our model of political economy, the consequences of which could become very ugly.

Before we reach that point, it is already possible to identify a reorientation of national economic policy making away from some core tenets of neoliberal doctrine. One of the main case studies of this book is antitrust law and policy, which has been a preoccupation for neoliberal intellectuals, reformers and lawyers ever since the 1930s. The rise of the Chicago School view of competition (which effectively granted far greater legal rights to monopolists, while also being tougher on cartels) in the American legal establishment from the 1970s onwards, later repeated in the European Commission, meant that market commitments to neoliberal policy goals is still less than likely. Free trade areas such as NAETA, policies designed to attract and please mobile capital, the search for global hegemony surrounding international markets (as opposed to naked, mercantilist self-interest) may then continue for a few more years. But the collapse of legitimacy or popularity of these agendas will not be reversed.

Meanwhile, the inability of the Republican Party to defend these policies any longer signals the ultimate divorce between the political and economic wings of neoliberalism: the conservative coalition that came into being as Keynesianism declined post-1968, and which got Ronald Reagan to power, no longer functions in its role of rationalising and de-politicising economic policy making. If neoliberalism is the 'disenchantment of politics by economics', then economics is no longer performing its role in rationalising public life. Politics is being re-enchanted, by images of nationhood, of cultural tradition, of'friends' against enemies, ot race ana religion, une ot me many political miscalculations mat lea to Brexit was to under-estimate how many UK citizens would vote for the first time in their lives, enthralled by the sudden sovereign power that they had been granted in the polling booth, which was entirely unlike the ritual of representative democracy with a first-past-the-post voting system that renders most votes irrelevant. The intoxication of popular power and of demagoguery is being experienced in visceral ways for the first time since 1968, or possibly longer. Wendy Brown argues that neoliberalism is a 'political rationality'' that was born in direct response to Fascism during the 1930s and '40s (Brown, 2015). While it would be an exaggeration to say that the end of neoliberalism represents the re-birth of Fascism, clearly there were a number of existential dimensions of'the political' that the neoliberals were right to fear, and which we should now fear once more.

While there is plenty of evidence to suggest that 2016 is a historic turning point indeed as I've argued here, possibly the second 'book-mark' in the crisis of neoliberalism we need also to recognise how the seeds of this recent political rupture were sown over time. Indeed, we can learn a lot about policy paradigms from the way they' go into decline, for they always contain, tolerate and even celebrate the very activities that later overwhelm or undermine them. Clearly, the 2008 financial crisis was triggered by activities in the banking sector that were not fundamentally different from those which had been viewed as laudable for the previous 20 years. Equally, as we witness the return of mercantilism, protectionism, nationalism and charismatic populism, we need to remember the extent to which neoliberalism accommodated some of this, up to a point.

The second major case study in this book, in addition to anti-trust policy, is of strategies for 'national competitiveness'. The executive branch of government has traditionally been viewed as a problem from the perspective of economic liberalism, seeing as powerful politicians will instinctively seek to privilege their own territories vis-a-vis others. This is the threat of mercantilism, which can spin into resolutely anti-liberal policies such as trade tariffs and the subsidisation of indigenous industries and 'national champions'. These forms of mercantilism may now be returning, however, the logic of neoliberalism was never quite as antipathetic to them as orthodox market liberals might have been. Instead, I suggest in Chapter 4, rather than simply seek to thwart or transcend nationalist politics, neoliberalism seizes and reimagines the nation as one competitive actor amongst many, in a global contest for 'competitiveness', as evaluated by business gurus such as Michael Porter and think tanks such as the World Economic Eorum. To be sure, these gurus and think tanks have never been anything but hostile to protectionism; but nevertheless, they have encouraged a form of mild nationalism as the basis for strategic thinking in economic policy. As David Harvey has argued, 'the neoliberal state needs nationalism of a certain sort to survive': it draws on aspects of executive power and nationalist sentiment, in order to steer economic activity towards certain types of competitive strategies, culture and behaviours and away from others (Harvey, 2005: 85).

There is therefore a deep-lying tension within the politics of neoliberalism between a 'liberal' logic, which seeks to transcend geography, culture and political difference, and a more contingent, 'violent' logic that seeks to draw on the energies of nationhood and combat, in the hope of diverting them towards competitive, entrepreneurial production. These two logics are in conflict with each other, but the story I tell in this book is of how the latter gradually won out over the long history of neoliberal thought and policy making. Where the neoliberal intellectuals of the 1930s had a deep commitment to liberal ideals, which they believed the market could protect, the rise of the post-war Chicago School of economics and the co-option of neoliberal ideas by business lobbies and conservatives, meant that (what 1 term) the 'liberal spirit' was gradually lost. There is thus a continuity at work here, in the way that the crisis of neoliberalism has played out.

Written in 2012-13, the book suggests that neoliberalism has now entered a 'contingent' state, in which various failures of economic rationality are dealt with through incorporating an ever broader range of cultural and political resources. The rise of behavioural economics, for example, represents an attempt to preserve a form of market rationality in the face of crisis, by incorporating expertise provided by psychologists and neuroscientists. A form of 'neo-communitarianism' emerges, which takes seriously the role of relationships, environmental conditioning and empathy in the construction of independent, responsible subjects. This remains an economistic logic, inasmuch as it prepares people to live efficient, productive, competitive lives. But by bringing culture, community and contingency within the bounds of neoliberal rationality, one might see things like behavioural economics or 'social neuroscience' and so on as early symptoms of a genuinely post-liberal politics. Once governments (and publics) no longer view economics as the best test of optimal policies, then opportunities for post-liberal experimentation expand rapidly, with unpredictable and potentially frightening consequences. It was telling that, when the British Home Secretary, Amber Kudd, suggested in October 2016 that companies be compelled to publicly list their foreign workers, she defended this policy as a 'nudge'.

The Limits of Neoliberalism is a piece of interpretive sociology. It starts from the recognition that neoliberalism rests on claims to legitimacy, which it is possible to imagine as valid, even for critics of this system. Inspired by Luc Boltanski, the book assumes that political-economic systems typically need to offer certain limited forms of hope, excitement and fairness in order to survive, and cannot operate via domination and exploitation alone. For similar reasons, we might soon find that we miss some of the normative and political dimensions of neoliberalism, for example the internationalism that the IiU was founded to promote and the cosmopolitanism that competitive markets sometimes inculcate. There may be some elements of neoliberalism that critics and activists need to grasp, refashion and defend, rather than to simply denounce: this book's Afterword offers some ideas of what this might mean. But if the book is to be read in a truly post-neoliberal world, 1 hope that in its Interpretive aspirations, it helps to explain what was internally and normalively coherent about the political economy known as 'neoliberalism', but also why the system really had no account of its own preconditions or how to preserve them adequately. The attempt to reduce all of human life to economic calculation runs up against limits. A political rationality that fails to recognise politics as a distinctive sphere of human existence was always going to be dumbfounded, once that sphere took on its own extra-economic life. As Bob Dylan sang to Mr Jones, so one might now say to neoliberal intellectuals or technocrats: 'something is happening here, but you don't know what it is'.

... ... ...

Most analyses of neoliberalism have focused on its commitment to 'free markets, deregulation and trade. I shan't discuss the validity of these portrayals here, although some have undoubtedly exaggerated the similarities between 'classical' nineteenth-century liberalism and twentieth-century neoliberalism. The topic addressed here is a different one the character of neoliberal authority, on what basis does the neoliberal state demand the right to be obeyed, if not on substantive political grounds? To a large extent, it is on the basis of particular economic claims and rationalities, constructed and propagated by economic experts. The state does not necessarily (or at least, not always) cede power to markets, but comes to justify its decisions, policies and rules in terms that are commensurable with the logic of markets. Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms (Davies, 2013: 37). The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of economics (and economists) to dictate legitimate courses of action. Understanding that authority and its present crisis requires us to look at economics, economic policy experts and advisors as critical components of state institutions.

Since the banking crisis of 2007-09, public denunciations of 'inequality' have increased markedly. These draw on a diverse range of moral, critical, theoretical, methodological and empirical resources. Marxist analyses have highlighted growing inequalities as a symptom of class conflict, which neoliberal policies have greatly exacerbated (Harvey, 2011; Therborn, 2012). Statistical analyses have highlighted correlations between different spheres of inequality', demonstrating how economic inequality influences social and psychological wellbeing (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009). Data showing extreme concentrations of wealth have led political scientists to examine the US political system, as a tool through which inequality is actively increased (Hacker & Pierson, 2010). Emergent social movements, such as Occupy, draw a political dividing line between the '99%' and the '1%' who exploit them. Political leaders and public intellectuals have adopted the language of'fairness' in their efforts to justify and criticize the various policy interventions which influence the distribution of economic goods (e.g. Hutton, 2010).

It is important to recognize that these critiques have two quite separate targets, although the distinction is often blurred. Firstly, there is inequality that exists within reasonably delineated and separate spheres of society. This means that there are multiple inequalities, with multiple, potentially incommensurable measures. The inequality that occurs within the market sphere is separate from the inequality that occurs within the cultural sphere, which is separate from the inequality' that occurs within the political sphere, and so on. Each sphere can either unwelcome politically, or impractical (Davies, 2013). Hayek's support for the welfare state, Simons' commitment to the nationalization of key industries, the ordo-liberal enthusiasm for the 'social market' demonstrate that the early neoliberals were offering a justification for what Walzer terms 'monopoly' (separate inequalities in separate spheres) and not 'dominance' (the power of one sphere over all others).

As the next chapter explores, it was Coasian economics (in tandem with the Chicago School) that altered this profoundly. The objective perspective of the economist implicitly working for a university or state regulator would provide the common standard against which activity could be judged. Of course economics does not replace the price system, indeed economics is very often entangled with the price system (Callon, 1998; Caliskan, 2010), but the a priori equality of competitors becomes presumed, as a matter of economic methodology, which stipulates that all agents are endowed with equal psychological capacities of calculation. It is because this assumption is maintained when evaluating all institutions and actions that it massively broadens the terrain of legitimate competition, and opens up vast, new possibilities for legitimate inequality and legitimate restraint. Walzerian dominance is sanctioned, and not simply monopoly. The Coasian vision of fair competition rests on an entirely unrealistic premise, namely that individuals share a common capacity' to calculate and negotiate, rendering intervention by public authorities typically unnecessary: the social reality of lawyers' fees is alone enough to undermine this fantasy. Yet in one sense, this is a mode of economic critique that is imbued with the 'liberal spirit' described earlier. It seeks to evaluate the efficiency of activities, on the basis of the assumed equal rationality of all, and the neutrality of the empirical observer.

Like Coase, Schumpeter facilitates a great expansion of the space and time in which the competitive process takes place. Various 'social' and 'cultural' resources become drawn into the domain of competition, with the goal being to define the rules that all others must play by. Monopoly is undoubtedly the goal of competitiveness. But unlike Coase's economics, Schumpeter's makes no methodological assumption regarding the common rationality' of all actors. Instead, it makes a romantic assumption regarding the inventive power of some actors (entrepreneurs), and the restrictive routines of most others. Any objective judgements regarding valid or invalid actions will be rooted in static methodologies or rules. Entrepreneurs have no rules, and respect no restraint. They seek no authority or validation for what they do, but are driven by a pure desire to dominate. In this sense their own immanent authority comes with a 'violent threat', which is endorsed by the neoliberal state as Chapter 4 discusses.

These theories of competition are not 'ideological' and nor are they secretive. They are not ideological because they do not seek to disguise how reality is actually constituted or to distract people from their objective conditions. They have contributed to the construction and constitution of economic reality, inasmuch as they provide objective and acceptable reports on what is going on, that succeed in coordinating various actors. Moreover, they are sometimes performative, not least because of how they inform and format modes of policy, regulation and governance. Inequality has not arisen by accident or due to the chaos of capitalism or 'globalization'. Theories and methodologies, which validate certain types of dominating and monopolistic activity, have provided the conventions within which large numbers of academics, business people and policy makers have operated. They make a shared world possible in the first place. But nor are any of these theories secret either. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, spread via policy papers and universities. Without shared, public rationalities and methodologies, neoliberalism would have remained a private conspiracy. Inequality can be denounced by critics of neoliberalism, but it cannot be argued that in an era that privileges not only market competition but competitiveness in general inequality is not publicly acceptable.

These theories of competition are not 'ideological' and nor are they secretive. They are not ideological because they do not seek to disguise how reality is actually constituted or to distract people from their objective conditions. They have contributed to the construction and constitution of economic reality, inasmuch as they provide objective and acceptable reports on what is going on, that succeed in coordinating various actors. Moreover, they are sometimes performative, not least because of how they inform and format modes of policy, regulation and governance. Inequality has not arisen by accident or due to the chaos of capitalism or 'globalization'. Theories and methodologies, which validate certain types of dominating and monopolistic activity, have provided the conventions within which large numbers of academics, business people and policy makers have operated. They make a shared world possible in the first place. But nor are any of these theories secret either. They have been published in peer-reviewed journals, spread via policy papers and universities. Without shared, public rationalities and methodologies, neoliberalism would have remained a private conspiracy. Inequality can be denounced by critics of neoliberalism, but it cannot be argued that in an era that privileges not only market competition but competitiveness in general inequality is not publicly acceptable.

The contingent neoliberalism that we currently live with is in a literal sense unjustified. It is propagated without the forms of justification (be they moral or empirical) that either the early neoliberals or the technical practitioners of neoliberal policy had employed, in order to produce a reality that 'holds together', as pragmatist sociologists like to say. The economized social and political reality now only just about 'holds together', because it is constantly propped up, bailed out, nudged, monitored, adjusted, data-mincd, and altered by those responsible for rescuing it. It does not survive as a consensual reality: economic judgements regarding 'what is going on' are no longer 'objective' or 'neutral', to the extent that they once were. The justice of inequality can no longer be explained with reference to a competition or to competitiveness, let alone to a market. Thus, power may be exercised along the very same tramlines that it was during the golden neoliberal years of the 1990s and early millennium, and the same experts, policies and agencies may continue to speak to the same public audiences. But the sudden reappearance of those two unruly uneconomic actors, the Hobbesian sovereign state and the psychological unconscious, suggests that that the project of disenchanting politics by economics has reached its limit. And yet crisis and critique have been strategically deferred or accommodated. What resources are there available for this to change, and to what extent are these distinguishable from neoliberalism's own critical capacities?

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, as this book has sought to demonstrate, is replete with its own internal modes of criticism, judgement, measurement and evaluation, which enable actors to reach agreements about what is going on. These are especially provided by certain traditions of economics and business strategy, which privilege competitive processes, on the basis that those processes are uniquely able to preserve an element of uncertainty in social and economic life. The role of the expert be it in the state, the think tank or university within this programme is to produce quantitative facts about the current state of competitive reality, such that actors, firms or whole nations can be judged, compared and ranked. For Hayek and many of the early neoliberals, markets would do this job instead of expert authorities, with prices the only facts that were entirely necessary. But increasingly, under the influence of the later Chicago School and business strategists, the 'winners' and the 'losers' were to be judged through the evaluations of economics (and associated techniques and measures), rather than of markets as such. Certain forms of authority are therefore necessary for this game' to be playable. Economized law is used to test the validity of certain forms of competitive conduct; audits derived from business strategy are used to test and enthuse the entrepreneurial energies of rival communities. But the neoliberal programme initially operated such that these forms of authority could be exercised in a primarily technical sense, without metaphysical appeals to the common good, individual autonomy or the sovereignty of the state that employed them. As the previous chapter argued, various crises (primarily, but not exclusively, the 2007-09 financial crisis) have exposed neoliberalism's tacit dependence on both executive sovereignty and on certain moral-psychological equipment on the part of individuals. A close reading of neoliberal texts and policies would have exposed this anyway. In which case, the recent 'discovery' that neoliberalism depends on and justifies power inequalities, and not markets as such, may be superficial in nature. Witnessing the exceptional measures that states have taken to rescue the status quo simply confirms the state-centric nature of neolibcralism, as an anti-political mode of politics. As Zizek argued in relation to the Wikileaks' exposures of 2011, 'the real disturbance was at the level of appearances: we can no longer pretend we don't know what everyone knows we know' (Zizek, 2011b). Most dramatically, neoliberalism now appears naked and shorn of any pretence to liberalism, that is, it no longer operates with manifest a priori principles of equivalence, against which all contestants should be judged. Chapter 2 identified the 'liberal spirit' of neoliberalism with a Rawlsian assumption that contestants are formally equal before they enter the economic 'game'. Within the Kantian or 'deontological' tradition of liberalism, this is the critical issue, and it played a part in internal debates within the early neoliberal movement. For those such as the ordoliberals, who feared the rationalizing potential of capitalist monopoly, the task was to build an economy around such an a priori liberal logic. Ensuring some equality of access to the economic game', via the active regulation of large firms and 'equality of opportunity' for individuals, is how neoliberalism's liberalism has most commonly been presented politically. As Chapter 3 discussed, the American tradition of neoliberalism as manifest in Chicago Law and Economics abandoned this sort of normative liberalism, in favour of a Benthamite utilitarianism, in which efficiency claims trumped formal arguments. The philosophical and normative elements of neoliberalism have, in truth, been in decline since the 1950s.

The 'liberal spirit' of neoliberalism was kept faintly alive by the authority that was bestowed upon methodologies, audits and measures of efficiency analysis. The liberal a priori just about survived in the purported neutrality of economic method (of various forms), to judge all contestants equally, even while the empirical results of these judgements have increasingly benefited alreadydominant competitors. This notion relied on a fundamental epistemological inconsistency of neoliberalism, between the Hayekian argument that there can be no stable or objective scientific perspective on economic activity, and the more positivist argument that economics offers a final and definitive judgement. American neoliberalism broadens the 'arena' in which competition is understood to take place, beyond definable markets, and beyond the sphere of the 'economy', enabling cultural, social and political resources to be legitimately dragged into the economic 'game', and a clustering of various forms of advantage in the same hands. Monopoly, in Walter's terms, becomes translated into dominance.

The loss of neoliberalisms pretence to liberalism transforms the type of authority that can be claimed by and on behalf of power, be it business, financial or state power. It means the abandonment of the globalizing, universalizing, transcendental branch of neoliberalism, in which certain economic techniques and measures (including, but not only, prices) would provide a common framework through which all human difference could be mediated and represented. Instead, cultural and national difference potentially leading to conflict now animates neoliberalism, but without a commonly recognized principle against which to convert this into competitive inequality. What I have characterized as the 'violent threat' of neoliberalism has come to the fore, whereby authority in economic decision making is increasingly predicated upon the claim that 'we' must beat 'them'. This fracturing of universalism, in favour of political and cultural particularism, may be a symptom of how capitalist crises often play out (Gamble, 2009). One reason why neoliberalism has survived as well as it has since 2007 is that it has always managed to operate within two rhetorical registers simultaneously, satisfying both the demand for liberal universalism and that for political particularism, so when the former falls apart, a neoliberal discourse of competitive nationalism and the authority of executive decision is already present and available.

One lesson to be taken from neoliberalism, for political movements which seek to challenge it, is that both individual agency and collective institutions need to be criticized and invented simultaneously. Political reform does not have to build on any 'natural' account of human beings, but can also invent new visions of individual agency. The design and transformation of institutions, such as markets, regulators and firms, do not need to take place separately from this project, but in tandem and in dialogue with it. A productive focus of critical economic enquiry would be those institutions which neolibcral thought has tended to be entirely silent on. These are the institutions and mechanisms of capitalism which coerce and coordinate individuals, thereby removing choices from economic situations. The era of applied neoliberal policy making has recently started to appear as one of rampant 'financialisation' (Krippner, 2012). So it is therefore peculiar how little attention is paid within neoliberal discourse to institutions of credit and equity, other than that they should be priced and distributed via markets. Likewise, the rising power of corporations has been sanctioned by theories that actually say very little about firms, management, work or organization, but focus all their attention on the incentives and choices confronting a few 'agents' and 'leaders' at the very top. Despite having permeated our cultural lives with visions of competition, and also permeated political institutions with certain economic rationalities, the dominant discourse of neoliberalism actually contains very little which represents the day-to-day lives and experiences of those who live with it. This represents a major empirical and analytical shortcoming of the economic theories that are at work in governing us, and ultimately a serious vulnerability.

A further lesson to be taken from neoliberalism, for the purposes of a critique of neoliberalism, is that restrictive economic practices need to be strategically and inventively targeted and replaced. In the 1930s and 1940s, 'restrictive economic practices' would have implied planning, labour organization and socialism. Today our economic freedoms are restricted in very different ways, which strike at the individual in an intimate way, rather than at individuals collectively. In the twenty-first century, the experience of being an employee or a consumer or a debtor is often one of being ensnared, not one of exercising any choice or strategy. Amidst all of the uncertainty of dynamic capitalism, this sense of being trapped into certain relations seems eminently certain. Releasing individuals from these constraints is a constructive project, as much as a critical one: this is what the example of the early neoliberals demonstrates.

Lawyers willing to rewrite the rules of exchange, employment and finance (as, for instance the ordo-liberals redrafted the rules of the market) could be one of the great forces for social progress, if they were ever to mobilize in a concerted w'ay. A form of collective entrepreneurship, which like individual entrepreneurs saw' economic nonnativity as fluid and changeable, could produce new forms of political economy, with alternative valuation systems.

The reorganization of state, society, institutions and individuals in terms of competitive dynamics and rules, succeeded to the extent that it did because it offered both a vision of the collective and a vision of individual agency simultaneously. It can appear impermeable to critique or political transformation, if only challenged on one of these terms. For instance, if a different vision of collective organization is proposed, the neoliberal rejoinder is that this must involve abandoning individual 'choice' or freedom. Or if a different vision of the individual is proposed, the neoliberal rejoinder is that this is unrealistic given the competitive global context. Dispensing with competition, as the template for all politics and political metaphysics, is therefore only possible if theory proceeds anew, with a political-economic idea of individual agency and collective organization, at the same time. What this might allow is a different basis from which to speak of human beings as paradoxically the same yet different. The problem of politics is that individuals are both private, isolated actors, with tastes and choices, and part of a collectivity, with rules and authorities. An alternative answer to this riddle needs to be identified, other than simply more competition and more competitiveness, in which isolated actors take no responsibility for the collective, and the collective is immune to the protestations of those isolated actors.

[Nov 05, 2018] Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Chosen by Pankaj Mishra as one of the Best Books of the Summer

Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, Quinn Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.

Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions―the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law―to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.

Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it.

One half of a decent book May 14, 2018 Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop. He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism. His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s. And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars.

Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline. It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press.

[Nov 05, 2018] Neoliberalism's Demons On the Political Theology of Late Capital by Adam Kotsko Books

Nov 05, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Skeptic:

This book tried to integrate the results of previous research of neoliberalism by such scholars as David Harvey, Philip Mirowski, and Wendy Brown into a more coherent framework. He has some brilliant insights about neoliberalism scattered within the book. For example "I have claimed that the political-theological root of neoliberalism is freedom and have characterized its vision of freedom as hollow." His notion of "neoliberalism demons"(dark forces unleashed by neoliberalism) is also very valuable insight:

"Liberal democracy under neoliberalism represents a forced choice between two fundamentally similar options, betraying its promise to provide a mechanism for rational and self-reflective human agency. The market similarly mobilizes free choice only to subdue and subvert it, "responsibilizing" every individual for the outcomes of the system while radically foreclosing any form of collective responsibility for the shape of society. And any attempt to exercise human judgment and free choice over social institutions and outcomes is rejected as a step down the slippery' slope to totalitarianism. To choose in any strong sense is always necessarily to choose wrongly, to fall into sin."
In the introduction, he correctly states that the academic workforce is now deeply affected by neoliberalization.
Every academic critique of neoliberalism is an unacknowledged memoir. We academics occupy a crucial node in the neoliberal system. Our institutions are foundational to neoliberalism's claim to be a meritocracy, insofar as we are tasked with discerning and certifying the merit that leads to the most powerful and desirable jobs. Yet at the same time, colleges and universities have suffered the fate of all public goods under the neoliberal order. We must, therefore "do more with less," cutting costs while meeting ever-greater demands. The academic workforce faces increasing precarity and shrinking wages even as it is called on to teach and assess more students than ever before in human history -- and to demonstrate that we are doing so better than ever, via newly devised regimes of outcome-based assessment. In short, we academics live out the contradictions of neoliberalism every day.
The author explains his use of the term "theology" instead of "ideology in such a way: " theology' has always been about much more than God. Even the simplest theological systems have a lot to say about the world we live in, how it came to be the way it is, and how it should be. Those ideals are neither true nor false in an empirical sense, nor is it fair to say that believers accept them blindly. "

He justifies the use of this term in the following way:

Here the term theology is likely to present the primary difficulty, as it seems to presuppose some reference to God. Familiarity with political theology as it has conventionally been practiced would reinforce that association. Schmitt's Political Theology and Kantorowicz's The King's Two Bodies both focused on the parallels between God and the earthly ruler,3 and much subsequent work in the field has concentrated on the theological roots of political concepts of state sovereignty'. Hence the reader may justly ask whether I am claiming that neoliberalism presupposes a concept of God.

The short answer is no. I am not arguing, for example, that neoliberalism "worships" the invisible hand, the market, money, wealthy entrepreneurs, or any other supposed "false idol," nor indeed that it is somehow secretly "religious" in the sense of being fanatical and unreasoning. Such claims presuppose a strong distinction between the religious and the secular, a distinction that proved foundational for the self-legitimation of the modern secular order but that has now devolved into a stale cliché. As I will discuss in the chapters that follow, one of the things that most appeals to me about political theology as a discipline is the way that it rejects the religious/secular binary.

The author correctly point s out that "Neoliberalism likes to hide." Like Philip Mirowski he views neoliberalism as a reaction on the USSR socialism which in my view integrates much of Trotskyism. Replacing the slogan "Proletarians of all countries, unite!", with the slogan "financial elites of all countries unite."

While most authors consider that neoliberalism became the dominant political force with the election of Reagan, the author argues that it happened under Nixon: " Nixon's decision in 1971 to go off the gold standard, which broke with the Bretton Woods settlement that had governed international finance throughout the postwar era and inadvertently cleared the space for the fluctuating exchange rates that proved so central to the rise of contemporary finance capitalism. "

He contrasts approaches of Harvey, Mirovsky and Brown pointing out that real origin of neoliberalism and Trotskyism style "thought collective" – intellectual vanguard that drives everybody else, often using deception to final victory of neoliberalism.

It is this group that Mirowski highlights with his notion of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. One could walk away from Harvey's account viewing the major figures of neoliberalism as dispensable figureheads for impersonal political and economic forces. By contrast, the most compact possible summary of Mirowski s book would be: "It's people! Neoliberalism is made out of people!" In this reading, there was nothing inevitable about neoliberalism's rise, which depended on the vision and organization of particular nameable individuals.

Brown portrays neoliberalism as an attempt to extinguish the political -- here represented by the liberal democratic tradition of popular sovereignty and self-rule -- and consign humanity to a purely economic existence. In the end Brown calls us to take up a strange kind of metapolitical struggle against the economic enemy, in defense of politics as such. Meanwhile, Jodi Dean, who agrees that neoliberalism has a depoliticizing tendency, argues that this depoliticization actually depends on the notion of democracy and that appeals to democracy against neoliberalism arc therefore doomed in advance.9


He also points out neoliberalism tendency to create markets using the power of the state:
"Obamacare effectively created a market in individual health insurance plans, an area where the market was previously so dysfunctional as to be essentially nonexistent. The example of Obamacare also highlights the peculiar nature of neoliberal freedom. One of its most controversial provisions was a mandate that all Americans must have health insurance coverage. From a purely libertarian perspective, this is an impermissible infringement on economic freedom -- surely if i am free to make my own economic decisions, I am also free to choose not to purchase health insurance. Yet the mandate fits perfectly with the overall ethos of neoliberalism.

Overall, then, in neoliberalism an account of human nature where economic competition is the highest value leads to a political theory where the prime duty of the state is to enable, and indeed mandate, such competition, and the result is a world wherein individuals, firms, and states are all continually constrained to express themselves via economic competition. This means that neoliberalism tends to create a world in which neoliberalism is "true." A more coherent and self-reinforcing political theology can scarcely be imagined -- but that, I will argue, is precisely what any attempt to create an alternative to neoliberalism must do.

He points out on weaknesses of Marxist analysts and by Harvey's own "recognition of the fact that classes have been profoundly changed during the process of neo-liberalization" -- meaning that the beneficiaries cannot have planned the neoliberal push in any straightforward way. More than that, an economic-reductionist account ignores the decisive role of the state in the development of the neoliberal order: "To believe that 'financial markets' one fine day eluded the grasp of politics is nothing but a fairy tale. It was states, and global economic organizations, in close collusion with private actors, that fashioned rules conducive to the expansion of market finance."'' In other words, neoliberalism is an example where, contrary to Marxism, political forces directly transform economic structures.

He also points out that Polanyi views on the subject supports this thesis.

Polanyi famously characterized the interplay between market forces and society as a "double movement": when market relations threaten to undermine the basic foundations of social reproduction, society (most often represented by state institutions) intervenes to prevent or at least delay the trend set in motion by the market. Compared with Aristotle's distribution of categories between the political and economic realms, Polanyi's account is itself a "great transformation" on the conceptual level. Where Aristotle distinguished state and household and placed both legitimate economic management and unrestrained accumulation in the latter, Polanyi's "society" combines the household and the state, leaving only out-of-control acquisition in the purely economic realm. And in this schema, the society represents the spontaneous and natural, while the economic force of the market is what is constructed and deliberate.

The legacy of Polanyi should already be familiar to us in the many analyses of neoliberalism that see the state, nationalism, and other similar forces as extrinsic "leftovers" that precede or exceed neoliberal logic. Normally such interpretations first point out the supposed irony or hypocrisy that neoliberalism comes to require these exogenous elements for its functioning while claiming that those same "leftover" institutions can be sites of resistance. Hence, for instance, one often hears that the left needs to restore confidence in state power over against the market, that socialism can only be viable if a given country isolates itself from the forces of the global market, or in Wendy Brown's more abstract terms, that the left must reclaim the political to combat the hegemony of the economic.

He makes an important point that "neoliberalism does not simply destroy some preexisting entity known as "the family," but creates its own version of the family, one that fits its political-economic agenda, just as Fordism created the white suburban nuclear family that underwrote its political-economic goals."

Following Wendy Brown he views victimization of poor as an immanent feature of neoliberalism:

"The psychic life of neoliberalism, as so memorably characterized by Mark Fisher in Capitalist Realism, is shot through with anxiety and shame. We have to be in a constant state of high alert, always "hustling" for opportunities and connections, always planning for every contingency (including the inherently unpredictable vagaries of health and longevity). This dynamic of "responsibilization," as Wendy Brown calls it, requires us to fritter away our life with worry and paperwork and supplication, "pitching"ourselves over and over again, building our "personal brand" -- all for ever-lowering wages or a smattering of piece-work, which barely covers increasingly exorbitant rent, much less student loan payments."
He also points out that under neoliberalism "Under normative neoliberalism "neoclassical economics becomes a soft constitution for government or 'governance' in its devolved forms" the point that Philip Mirovski completely misses.

While correctly pointing out that neoliberalism is in decline (" Neoliberalism has lost its aura of inevitability"), and will eventually be sent to the dustbin of the history the part of the book devoted to "After Neoliberalism" theme is much weaker than the part devoted to its analysis.

He thinks that Trump election signifies a new stage of neoliberalism which he calls "punitive neoliberalism." I would call Trumpism instead "national neoliberalism" with all associated historical allusions.

[Nov 03, 2018] The Linux Philosophy for SysAdmins And Everyone Who Wants To Be One David Both 9781484237298 Amazon.com Books

See also his Working with data streams on the Linux command line Opensource.com
Nov 02, 2018 | www.amazon.com

kievite, November 2, 2018 4.0 out of 5 stars

Some valuble tips. Can serve as fuel for your own thoughts.

This book is most interesting probably for people who can definitely do well without it – seasoned sysadmins and educators.

Please ignore the word "philosophy" in the title. Most sysadmins do not want to deal with "philosophy";-). And this book does not rise to the level of philosophy in any case. It is just collection of valuable (and not so valuable) tips from the author career as a sysadmin of a small lab, thinly dispersed in 500 pages. Each chapter can serve as a fuel for your own thoughts. The author instincts on sysadmin related issues are mostly right: he is suspicious about systemd and another perversion in modern Linuxes, he argues for simplicity in software, and he warns us about PHBs problem in IT departments. In some cases, I disagreed with the author, or view his treatment of the topic as somewhat superficial, but still, his points created the kind of "virtual discussion" that has a value of its own. And maybe it is the set of topics that the author discusses is the main value of the book.

I would classify this book as "tips" book when the author shares his approach to this or that problem (sometimes IMHO wrong, but still interesting ;-), distinct from the more numerous and often boring, but much better-selling class of "how to" books. The latter explains in gory details how to deal with a particular complex Unix/Linux subsystem, or a particular role (for example system administrator of Linux servers). But in many cases, the right solution is to avoid those subsystems or software packages like the plague and use something simpler. Recently, avoiding Linux flavors with systemd also can qualify as a solution ;-)

This book is different. It is mostly about how to approach some typical system tasks, which arise on the level of a small lab (that the lab is small is clear from the coverage of backups). The author advances an important idea of experimentation as a way of solving the problem and optimizing your existing setup and work habits. As well a very overview of good practices of using some essential sysadmin tools such as screen and sudo. In the last chapter, the author even briefly mentions (just mentions) a very important social problem -- the problem micromanagers. The latter is real cancer in Unix departments of large corporations (and not only in Unix departments)

All chapters contain "webliography" at the end adding to the value of the book. While Kindle version of the book is badly formatted (and I subtracted one star for that), the references in Kindle version are clickable, and I would recommend reading some them along with reading the book, including the author articles at opensource.com For example, among others, the author references a rare and underappreciated, but a very important book "Putt's Law and the Successful Technocrat: How to Win in the Information Age by Archibald Putt (2006-04-28)". From which famous Putt's Law "Technology is dominated by two types of people, those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand," and Putt's Corollary: "Every technical hierarchy, in time, develop a competence inversion" were originated. This reference alone is probably worth half-price of the book for sysadmins, who never heard about Putt's Law.

Seasoned sysadmins can probably just skim Part I-III (IMHO those chapters are somewhat simplistic. ) For example, you can skip Introduction to author's Linux philosophy, his views on contribution to open source, and similar chapters that contain trivial information ). I would start reading the book from Part IV (Becoming Zen ), which consist of almost a dozen interesting topics. Each of them is covered very briefly (which is a drawback). But they can serve as starters for your own thought process and own research. The selection of topics is very good and IMHO constitutes the main value of the book.

For example, the author raises a very important issue in his chapter 20: Document Everything, but unfortunately, this chapter is too brief, and he does not address the most important thing: sysadmin should work on some way to organize your personal knowledge. For example as a private website. Maintenances of such a private knowledgebase is a crucial instrument of any Linux sysadmin worth his/her salary and part of daily tasks worth probably 10% of sysadmin time. The quote "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" has a very menacing meaning in sysadmin world.

Linux (as of monstrous RHEL 7 with systemd, network manager and other perversions, which raised the complexity of the OS at least twice) became a way to complex for a human brain. It is impossible to remember all the important details and lessons learned from Internet browsing, your SNAFU and important tickets. Unless converted into documentation, most of such valuable knowledge disappears say in six months or so. And the idea of using corporate helpdesk as a knowledge database is in most cases a joke.

The negative part of the book is that the author spreads himself too thin and try to cover too much ground. That means that treatment of most topics became superficial. Also provided examples of shell scripts is more of a classic shell style, not Bash 4.x type of code. That helps portability (if you need it) but does not allow to understand new features of bash 4.x. Bash is available now on most Unixes, such as Solaris and HP-UX and that solves portability issues in a different, and more productive, way. Portability was killed by systemd anyway unless you want to write wrappers for systemctl related functions ;-)

For an example of author writing, please search for his recent (Oct 30, 2018) article "Working with data streams on the Linux command line" That might give you a better idea of what to expect.

In my view, the book contains enough wisdom to pay $32 for it (Kindle edition price), especially if you can do it at company expense. The books is also valuable for educators. Again, the most interesting part is part IV:

Part IV: Becoming Zen 325

Chapter 17: Strive for Elegance 327

  • Hardware Elegance 327
  • ThePC8 328
  • Motherboards 328
  • Computers 329
  • Data Centers 329
  • Power and Grounding 330
  • Software Elegance 331
  • Fixing My Web Site 336
  • Removing Crutt 338
  • Old or Unused Programs 338
  • Old Code In Scripts 342
  • Old Files 343
  • A Final Word 350

Chapter 18: Find the Simplicity 353

  • Complexity in Numbers 353
  • Simplicity In Basics 355
  • The Never-Ending Process of Simplification 356
  • Simple Programs Do One Thing 356
  • Simple Programs Are Small 359
  • Simplicity and the Philosophy 361
  • Simplifying My Own Programs 361
  • Simplifying Others' Programs 362
  • Uncommented Code 362
  • Hardware 367
  • Linux and Hardware 368
  • The Quandary. 369
  • The Last Word

... ... ...

Chapter 20: Document Everything 381

  • The Red Baron 382
  • My Documentation Philosophy 383
  • The Help Option 383
  • Comment Code Liberally 384
  • My Code Documentation Process 387
  • Man Pages 388
  • Systems Documentation 388
  • System Documentation Template 389
  • Document Existing Code 392
  • Keep Docs Updated 393
  • File Compatibility 393
  • A Few Thoughts 394

Chapter 21: Back Up Everything - Frequently 395

  • Data Loss 395
  • Backups to the Rescue 397
  • The Problem 397
  • Recovery 404
  • Doing It My Way 405
  • Backup Options 405
  • Off-Site Backups 413
  • Disaster Recovery Services 414
  • Other Options 415
  • What About the "Frequently" Part? 415
  • Summary 415

... ... ...

Chapter 26: Reality Bytes 485

  • People 485
  • The Micromanager 486
  • More Is Less 487
  • Tech Support Terror 488
  • You Should Do It My Way 489
  • It's OK to Say No 490
  • The Scientific Method 490
  • Understanding the Past 491
  • Final Thoughts 492

[Nov 03, 2018] Crashed How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World Adam Tooze 9780670024933 Amazon.com Books

Nov 03, 2018 | www.amazon.com

"An intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it...One of the great strengths of Tooze's book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems." -- The New York Times Book Review

wsmrer 5.0 out of 5 stars 2008 Neoliberalism crashes the state rushes back-- just in time August 10, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"Whereas since the 1970s the incessant mantra of the spokespeople of the financial industry had been free markets and light touch regulation, what they were now demanding was the mobilization of all of the resources of the state to save society's financial infrastructure from a threat of systemic implosion, a threat they likened to a military emergency." (Loc. 3172-3174)

Adam Tooze takes the well know Financial Crisis of 2007-08 through its full history of international ramifications and brings it up to the present with the question of whether the large organizations, structures and processes on the one hand; decision, debate, argument and action on the other that managed to fall into place in that crisis period in this and many other countries will develop if needed again. "The political in "political economy" demands to be taken seriously." (Loc. 11694). That he does.

Tooze is an Economic Historian and Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World is a wonderfully rich enquiry into causes and effects of the Financial Crisis and how the failing of poorly managed greed motivated practices of a few financial institutions, and their subprime mortgagees, tumbled economies in the developed and developing world, causing events that matched the Great Depression's dislocation and could have matched its duration, springing from world wide money markets "interlocking matrix" of corporate balance sheets -- bank to bank."

A warning he is not kind to existing political beings, the Republican Party in particular " to judge by the record of the last ten years, it is incapable of legislating or cooperating effectively in government." (Loc.11704)
His criticism is, in fairness, based on technical management grounds, and he does find fault as well with the inner core of the Obama advisors and their primary concerns for the financial sectors well being, rather than nationwide happenings where homes and incomes disappeared.

This reviewer's favorite (not mentioned by Tooze) is the early 2009 comment of Larry Sumners when Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers and leading authority on the Great Depression saw a need for $1.8 trillion stimulus package, "What have you been smoking?"
Sumners, Geithner, and Orszag, who favored transferring $700 billion to the banks to offset possible bank failures and such -- became policy. Tooze mentions that by 2012 Sumners was concerned by the slowness of the U.S. economy's recovery taking, as it did, 8 years to reach 2008 levels of employment.

Can an Economic History be an exciting read? Tooze gives us over 700 pages of just that, but much will be familiar as reported news and may be skimmed, and some of the Fed's expanded international roles very dense in content. His strength is the knowledge of what could have happened, had solutions not been found, and how agreements were reached out of public sight.
" the world economy is not run by medium-sized entrepreneurs but by a few thousand massive corporations, with interlocking shareholdings controlled by a tiny group of asset managers. (Loc.418-419).
Add wily politicians and hard driven bankers EU Ukraine and China you have an adventure.

Corporate control is not new -- rich descriptions of its inner connections are.
Adam Tooze does this well a reference work for years to come.
5 stars

David Shulman 5.0 out of 5 stars The World in Crisis August 22, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Columbia history professor Adam Tooze, an authority on the inter-war years, has offered up an authoritative history of the financial crises and their aftermath that have beset the world since 2008. He integrates economics, the plumbing of the interbank financial system and the politics of the major players in how and why the financial crisis of 2008 developed and the course of the very uneven recovery that followed. I must note that Tooze has some very clear biases in that he views the history through a social democratic prism and is very critical of the congressional Republican caucus and the go slow policies of the European Central Bank under Trichet. To him the banks got bailed out while millions of people suffered as collateral damage from a crisis that was largely made by the financial system. His view may very well be correct, but many readers might differ. Simply put, to save the economy policy makers had to stop the bleeding.

He starts off with the hot topic of 2005; the need for fiscal consolidation in the United States. Aside from a few dissidents, most economists saw the need for the U.S. to close its fiscal deficit and did not see the structural crisis that was developing underneath them. Although he does mention Hyman Minsky a few times in the book, he leaves out Minsky's most important insight that "stability leads to instability" as market participants are lulled into a false sense of security. It therefore was against the backdrop of the "great moderation" that the crisis began. And it was the seemingly calm environment that lulled all too many regulators to sleep.

The underbelly of the financial system was and still is in many respects is the wholesale funding system where too many banks are largely funded in repo and commercial paper markets. This mismatch was exacerbated by the use of asset-backed commercial paper to fund long term mortgage securities. It was problems in that market that triggered the crisis in August 2007.

The crisis explodes when Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy in September 2008. In Tooze's view the decision to let Lehman fail was political, not economic. After that the gates of hell are opened causing the Bush Administration and the Federal Reserve to ask for $750 billion dollar TARP bailout of the major banks. It was in the Congressional fight over this appropriation where Tooze believes the split in the Republican Party between the business conservative and social populist wing hardens. We are living with that through this day. The TARP program passes with Democratic votes. Tooze also notes that there was great continuity between the Bush and early Obama policies with respect to the banks and auto bailout. Recall that in late 2008 and early 2009 nationalization of the banks was on the table. Tooze also correctly notes that the major beneficiary of the TARP program was Citicorp, the most exposed U.S. bank to the wholesale funding system.

Concurrent with TARP the Bernanke Fed embarks on its first quantitative easing program where it buys up not only treasuries, but mortgage backed securities as well. It was with the latter Europe's banks were bailed out. Half of the first QE went to bail out Europe's troubled banks. When combined the dollar swap lines with QE, Europe's central banks essentially became branches of the Fed. Now here is a problem. Where in the Federal Reserve Act does it say that the Fed is the central bank to the world? To some it maybe a stretch.

Tooze applauds Obama's stimulus policy but rightly says it was too small. There should have been more infrastructure in it. To my view there could have been more infrastructure if only Obama was willing to deal with the Republicans by offering to waive environmental reviews and prevailing wage rules. He never tried for fear of offending his labor and environmental constituencies. Tooze also gives great credit to China with it all out monetary and fiscal policies. That triggered a revival in the energy and natural resource economies of Australia and Brazil thereby helping global recovery.

He then turns to the slow responses in Europe and the political wrangling over the tragedy that was to befall Greece. It came down to the power of Angela Merkel and her unwillingness to have the frugal German taxpayer subsidize the profligate Greeks. As they say "all politics is local". The logjam in Europe doesn't really break until Mario Draghi makes an off-the-cuff remark at a London speech in July 2012 by saying the ECB will do "whatever it takes" to engender European recovery.

As a byproduct of bailing out the banks and failing to directly help the average citizen a rash of populism, mostly of the rightwing variety, breaks out all over leading to Brexit, Orban in Hungary, a stronger rightwing in Germany and, of course, Donald Trump. But to me it wasn't only banking policy that created this. The huge surge in immigration into Europe has a lot more to do with it. Tooze under-rates this factor. He also under-rates the risk of having a monetary policy that is too easy and too long. The same type of Minsky risk discussed earlier is now present in the global economy: witness Turkey, for example. Thus it is too early to tell whether or not the all-out monetary policy of the past decade will be judged a success from the vantage point of 2030.

Adam Tooze has written an important book and I view it as must read for a serious lay reader to get a better understanding of the economic and political policies of the past decade.

[Nov 02, 2018] The Linux Philosophy for SysAdmins And Everyone Who Wants To Be One David Both 9781484237298 Amazon.com Books

See also his Working with data streams on the Linux command line Opensource.com
Nov 02, 2018 | www.amazon.com

This book is most interesting probably for people who can definitely do well without it – seasoned sysadmins and educators.

Please ignore the word "philosophy" in the title. Most sysadmins do not want to deal with "philosophy";-). And this book does not rise to the level of philosophy in any case. It is just collection of valuable (and not so valuable) tips from the author career as a sysadmin of a small lab, thinly dispersed in 500 pages. Each chapter can serve as a fuel for your own thoughts. In many cases, I disagreed with the author, but still, his points created the kind of "virtual discussion" that has a value of its own.

I would classify this book as "tips" book when the author shares his approach to this or that problem (often IMHO wrong, but still interesting;-), distinct from the more numerous and often boring, but much better-selling class of "how to" books. The latter explains in gory details how to deal with a particular Unix/Linux subsystem or a particular role (for example system administrator of Linux servers). But in many cases, the right solution is to avoid those subsystems or software packages like plague, and use something simpler ;-)

This book is different. It is mostly about tips on how to approach this or that typical system task, which arises of the level of a small research lab (that is clear from his coverage of backups). As well a very brief overview of good practices of using some tools. In the last chapter, the author even briefly mentions (just mentions) a very important social problem -- the problem micromanagers. The latter is real cancer in Unix departments of large corporations (and not only in Unix departments ;-)

All chapters contain "webliography" at the end adding to the value of the book. While Kindle version of the book is formatted (and I subtracted one start for that), they are clickable.

The books provide authors views (not always right, but still interesting) on why this or that particular feature should be used and how it can be combined with other. Seasoned sysadmins can probably skip Part I-III (IMHO those chapters are simplistic ( for example you can skip Introduction to the Linux philosophy, contribution to open source, and similar weak chapters ) and start with Part IV ( Becoming Zen ) , which consist of almost a dozen interesting topics. They are covered very briefly, just to serve as a starter for your own thought process. But the selection of topics is very good.

He raises a very important issue in his chapter 20: Document Everything, but unfortunately, this chapter is too brief and does not address the way to organize your personal "knowledgebase" which now should be a crucial instrument of any Linux sysadmin worth his/her salary. Linux (as of monstrous RHEL 7 with systemd and other perversions, which raised the complexity of the OS at least twice) became a way to complex for your brain to remember all the important details and lessons learned from Internet browsing, your SNAFU and important tickets.

The negative part of the book is that the author spreads himself too thin and try to cover too much ground. That means that treatment of some topics became superficial. Also provided examples of shell scripts is more of a classic shell style, not Bash 4.x type of code. That helps portability (if you need it) but does not allow to understand new features of bash 4.x. Bash is available now on most Unixes, such as Solaris and HP-UX and that solves portability issues in a different, and more productive, way. Portability was killed by systemd anyway unless you want to write wrappers for systemctl related functions ;-)

For an example of author writing, please search for his recent (Oct 30, 2018) article "Working with data streams on the Linux command line" That might give you a better idea of what to expect.

In my view, the book contains enough wisdom to pay $32 for it (Kindle edition price). Especially for educators.

Full contst is at The Linux Philosophy for SysAdmins And Everyone Who Wants To Be One

Again, the most interesting part is part IV:

Part IV: Becoming Zen 325

Chapter 17: Strive for Elegance 327

Chapter 18: Find the Simplicity 353

... ... ...

Chapter 20: Document Everything 381

Chapter 21: Back Up Everything - Frequently 395

... ... ...

Chapter 26: Reality Bytes 485

[Nov 01, 2018] The 2018 Globie Crashed by Joseph Joyce

Notable quotes:
"... Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World ..."
"... Grave New World: The End of Globalization, the Return of History ..."
"... Global Inequality ..."
"... Currency Power: Understanding Monetary Rivalry ..."
"... The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned–and Have Still to Learn–from the Financial Crisis ..."
Nov 01, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

Each year I choose a book to be the Globalization Book of the Year, i.e., the "Globie". The prize is strictly honorific and does not come with a check. But I do like to single out books that are particularly insightful about some aspect of globalization. Previous winners are listed at the bottom.

This year's choice is Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze of Yale University . Tooze, an historian, traces the events leading up to the crisis and the subsequent ten years. He points out in the introduction that this account is different from one he may have written several years ago. At that time Barak Obama had won re-election in 2012 on the basis of a slow but steady recovery in the U.S. Europe was further behind, but the emerging markets were growing rapidly, due to the demand for their commodities from a steadily-growing China as well as capital inflows searching for higher returns than those available in the advanced economies.

But the economic recovery has brought new challenges, which have swept aside established politicians and parties. Obama was succeeded by Donald Trump, who promised to restore America to some form of past greatness. His policy agenda includes trade disputes with a broad range of countries, and he is particularly eager to impose trade tariffs on China. The current meltdown in stock prices follows a rise in interest rates normal at this stage of the business cycle but also is based on fears of the consequences of the trade measures.

Europe has its own discontents. In the United Kingdom, voters have approved leaving the European Union. The European Commission has expressed its disapproval of the Italian government's fiscal plans. Several east European governments have voiced opposition to the governance norms of the West European nations. Angela Merkel's decision to step down as head of her party leaves Europe without its most respected leader.

All these events are outcomes of the crisis, which Tooze emphasizes was a trans-Atlantic event. European banks had purchased held large amounts of U.S. mortgage-backed securities that they financed with borrowed dollars. When liquidity in the markets disappeared, the European banks faced the challenge of financing their obligations. Tooze explains how the Federal Reserve supported the European banks using swap lines with the European Central Bank and other central banks, as well as including the domestic subsidiaries of the foreign banks in their liquidity support operations in the U.S. As a result, Tooze claims:

"What happened in the fall of 2008 was not the relativization of the dollar, but the reverse, a dramatic reassertion of the pivotal role of America's central bank. Far from withering away, the Fed's response gave an entirely new dimension to the global dollar" (Tooze, p. 219)

The focused policies of U.S. policymakers stood in sharp contrast to those of their European counterparts. Ireland and Spain had to deal with their own banking crises following the collapse of their housing bubbles, and Portugal suffered from anemic growth. But Greece's sovereign debt posed the largest challenge, and exposed the fault line in the Eurozone between those who believed that such crises required a national response and those who looked for a broader European resolution. As a result, Greece lurched from one lending program to another. The IMF was treated as a junior partner by the European governments that sought to evade facing the consequences of Greek insolvency, and the Fund's reputation suffered new blows due to its involvement with the various rescue operations.The ECB only demonstrated a firm commitment to its stabilizing role in July 2012, when its President Mario Draghi announced that "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro."

China followed another route. The government there engaged in a surge of stimulus spending combined with expansionary monetary policies. The result was continued growth that allowed the Chinese government to demonstrate its leadership capabilities at a time when the U.S. was abandoning its obligations. But the ensuing credit boom was accompanied by a rise in private (mainly corporate) lending that has left China with a total debt to GDP ratio of over 250%, a level usually followed by some form of financial collapse. Chinese officials are well aware of the domestic challenge they face at the same time as their dispute with the U.S. intensifies.

Tooze demonstrates that the crisis has let loose a range of responses that continue to play out. He ends the book by pointing to a similarity of recent events and those of 1914. He raises several questions: "How does a great moderation end? How do huge risks build up that are little understood and barely controllable? How do great tectonic shifts in the global world order unload in sudden earthquakes?" Ten years after a truly global crisis, we are still seeking answers to these questions.

Previous Globie Winners:

[Oct 31, 2018] Over 50% Of College Students Afraid To Disagree With Peers, Professors

Social pressure to conform is natural in any organization. And universities are not exception. Various people positioned differently on confiormism-independent_thinking spectrum, so we should not generalize that social pressure makes any students a conformist, who is afraid to voice his/her opinion. Some small percentage of student can withstand significant social pressure. But the fact that around 50% can't withstand significant social pressure sounds right.
Oct 31, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
As more and more college professors express their social and political views in classrooms, students across the country are feeling increasingly afraid to disagree according to a survey of 800 full-time undergraduate college students, reported by the Wall Street Journal ' s James Freeman.

When students were asked if they've had "any professors or course instructors that have used class time to express their own social or political beliefs that are completely unrelated to the subject of the course," 52% of respondents said that this occurs "often," while 47% responded, "not often."

A majority -- 53% -- also reported that they often "felt intimidated" in sharing their ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different from those of the professors. - WSJ

What's more, 54% of students say they are intimidated expressing themselves when their views conflict with those of their classmates.

The survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of Yale's William F. Buckley, Jr. Program (which counts Freeman among its directors), was undertaken between October 8th and 18th, and included students at both public and private four-year universities across the country.

This is a problem, suggests Freeman - as unbiased teachers who formerly filled universities have been replaced by activists who "unfortunately appear to be just as political and overbearing as one would expect," and that " perhaps the actual parents who write checks can someday find some way to encourage more responsible behavior. "

Read the rest below via the Wall Street Journal :

***

As for the students, there's at least a mixed message in the latest survey results. On the downside, the fact that so many students are afraid of disagreeing with their peers does not suggest a healthy intellectual atmosphere even outside the classroom. There's more disappointing news in the answers to other survey questions. For example, 59% of respondents agreed with this statement:

My college or university should forbid people from speaking on campus who have a history of engaging in hate speech.

This column does not favor hatred, nor the subjective definition of "hate speech" by college administrators seeking to regulate it. In perhaps the most disturbing finding in the poll results, 33% of U.S. college students participating in the survey agreed with this statement:

If someone is using hate speech or making racially charged comments, physical violence can be justified to prevent this person from espousing their hateful views.

An optimist desperately searching for a silver lining would perhaps note that 60% of respondents did not agree that physical violence is justified to silence people speaking what someone has defined as "hate speech" or "racially charged" comments. But the fact that a third of college students at least theoretically endorse violence as a response to offensive speech underlines the threat to free expression on American campuses.

Perhaps more encouraging are the responses to this question:

Generally speaking, do you think the First Amendment, which deals with freedom of speech, is an outdated amendment that can no longer be applied in today's society and should be changed or an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in today's society?

A full 79% of respondents opted for respecting the First Amendment, while 17% backed a rewrite.

On a more specific question, free speech isn't winning by the same landslide. When asked if they would favor or oppose their schools having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty, 54% of U.S. college kids opposed such codes while 38% were in favor.

The free exchange of ideas is in danger on American campuses. And given the unprofessional behavior of American faculty suggested by this survey, education reformers should perhaps focus on encouraging free-speech advocates within the student body while adopting a campus slogan from an earlier era: Don't trust anyone over 30.


keep the bastards honest , 26 minutes ago link

this tyranny applies not only to politics and weirdo social world view, it runs thru everything. Group think is powerful and those not following get excluded, defunded of resources and ridicule and other punishment.

... ... ...

PGR88 , 39 minutes ago link

The education-industrial complex is a massive spending and debt-fed bubble, that has created a massive political organizing force and teflon monoculture. They are parasites feeding off government and the debt of students

... ... ...

keep the bastards honest , 55 minutes ago link

It's always been like this, at school as a 5 year old ....my little kid was sent to the headmaster for objecting to making a key ring thing in craft as not one kid had a key. He spoke a well reasoned argument and of course is at the Supreme Court now. But gained no respect or nurturing from that school. I also copped it, made career decision to be a scientist because of the stupidity of an english teacher not knowing same issues prevailed there. Was thrown out of english honours course so did the exam on my own knowledge and got first class honours in the state.

At University we all know you feed back what they want if you want to pass. Some want intelligence and best true understanding others want their crippled stuff. This also applies if you are a science, physiology researcher. Cutting edge work if not mainstream does not get published, you have to be part of a recognised institution to be published so no independent researcher,

There are set ideas and marketing there of eg antioxidants fallacies, need for estrogen, and until recently How stupid was Lamarck because he espoused the passing down of response to environment to subsequent generations...Darwin thought this too but idea was suppressed. Then epigenetics got the new hot thing for grants. Fck them all.

My child and I discussed a version with the principal when he was doing the bacceaulureate, as from 5 onwards teachers rejected correct answers and wanted their answers. The excellent advice was to view it all like a driving exam, learn the road rules and give them back.

students always know the tyranny of the teacher and evaluator. At 6 my kid was sat with the slow learners and forced to give 30answers a day ' correct' . Ie lies and untruths.

Infinity as answer to how many corners has a cylinder was not only mad bad but ridiculed.

Charlie_Martel , 2 hours ago link

Because its an indoctrination not an education.

Duc888 , 2 hours ago link

It's impossible to actually debate someone who has NO FACTS on either side of the argument....

it winds up like this....

"not even WRONG"

The phrase " not even wrong " describes an argument or explanation that purports to be scientific but is based on invalid reasoning or speculative premises that can neither be proven correct nor falsified .

Hence, it refers to statements that cannot be discussed in a rigorous, scientific sense . [1] For a meaningful discussion on whether a certain statement is true or false, the statement must satisfy the criterion called "falsifiability" -- the inherent possibility for the statement to be tested and found false. In this sense, the phrase "not even wrong" is synonymous to "nonfalsifiable". [1]

The phrase is generally attributed to theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli , who was known for his colorful objections to incorrect or careless thinking. [2] [3] Rudolf Peierls documents an instance in which "a friend showed Pauli the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong' ." [4] This is also often quoted as "That is not only not right; it is not even wrong", or in Pauli's native German , " Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig; es ist nicht einmal falsch!". Peierls remarks that quite a few apocryphal stories of this kind have been circulated and mentions that he listed only the ones personally vouched for by him. He also quotes another example when Pauli replied to Lev Landau , "What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not. " [4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

JimmyJones , 2 hours ago link

Chemical engineering, engineering structural (optional), basic electrical engineering and C++ programing and he can make any machine to automatically preform any chemical process out of his garage. You could probably watch a butt ton of YouTube and a library card and also learn those skills.

LetThemEatRand , 2 hours ago link

The homogenized culture of colleges today is very similar to what I imagine it was like in the 1950's, but with a different set of "values" obviously. The 1950's led to the 1960's, and a complete rejection by many young people of establishment mono-culture. Maybe the young people eventually will figure out that what they see as SJW counter-culture is actually new establishment culture, and they will rebel against it in a few years. Probably not, though.

TeethVillage88s , 2 hours ago link

Thanks. I'm older than others probably think. But I generalizae or estimate more than others my age due to the life I chose or led.

culture of colleges today is very similar to what I imagine it was like in the 1950's,

TeethVillage88s , 2 hours ago link

Thanks. I'm older than others probably think. But I generalizae or estimate more than others my age due to the life I chose or led.

culture of colleges today is very similar to what I imagine it was like in the 1950's,

dcmbuffy , 2 hours ago link

and going into debt for their prison term. bunch of punk bullies!!!

DuckDog , 2 hours ago link

When I was in the army and got sentence to 2 years less a day in Military prison in Edmonton, I paid $1.70 a day, which the military were so kind to ring up a tab for me, when I got released from prison they handed me my bill and made me work it off before I got my dishonorable discharge

Sort of like college today

[Oct 28, 2018] America The Farewell Tour Chris Hedges

The sad and shocking obituary for American Neoliberalism. Might not be slightly excaggerated account. Qnd neoliberalism will probably stay with the USA for long time, at least a the next decade or two until real end of "cheap oil",
Oct 28, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Chris Hedges's profound and provocative examination of America in crisis is "an exceedingly provocative book, certain to arouse controversy, but offering a point of view that needs to be heard" ( Booklist ), about how bitter hopelessness and malaise have resulted in a culture of sadism and hate.

America, says Pulitzer Prize­–winning reporter Chris Hedges, is convulsed by an array of pathologies that have arisen out of profound hopelessness, a bitter despair, and a civil society that has ceased to function. The opioid crisis; the retreat into gambling to cope with economic distress; the pornification of culture; the rise of magical thinking; the celebration of sadism, hate, and plagues of suicides are the physical manifestations of a society that is being ravaged by corporate pillage and a failed democracy. As our society unravels, we also face global upheaval caused by catastrophic climate change. All these ills presage a frightening reconfiguration of the nation and the planet.

Donald Trump rode this disenchantment to power. In his "forceful and direct" ( Publishers Weekly ) America: The Farewell Tour , Hedges argues that neither political party, now captured by corporate power, addresses the systemic problem. Until our corporate coup d'état is reversed these diseases will grow and ravage the country. "With a trademark blend of sharply observed detail, Hedges writes a requiem for the American dream" ( Kirkus Reviews ) and seeks to jolt us out of our complacency while there is still time.

September 5, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Washington is fiddling but it is the capitalist collective that is setting the fires

Throughout history, all great civilizations have ultimately decayed. And America will not be an exception, according to former journalist and war correspondent, Chris Hedges. And while Hedges doesn't offer a date, he maintains we are in the final throes of implosion -- and it won't be pretty.

The book is thoroughly researched and the author knows his history. And despite some of the reviews it is not so much a political treatise as it is an exploration of the American underbelly -- drugs, suicide, sadism, hate, gambling, etc. And it's pretty dark; although he supports the picture he paints with ample statistics and first person accounts.

There is politics, but the politics provides the context for the decay. And it's not as one-dimensional as other reviewers seemed to perceive. Yes, he is no fan of Trump or the Republican leadership. But he is no fan of the Democratic shift to identity politics, or antifa, either.

One reviewer thought he was undermining Christianity but I didn't get that. He does not support "prosperity gospel" theology, but I didn't see any attempt to undermine fundamental religious doctrine. He is, after all, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and an ordained Presbyterian minister.

He puts the bulk of the blame for the current state of decay, in fact, where few other writers do -- squarely on the back of capitalist America and the super-companies who now dominate nearly every industry. The social and political division we are now witnessing, in other words, has been orchestrated by the capital class; the class of investors, banks, and hedge fund managers who don't create value so much as they transfer it to themselves from others with less power. And I think he's spot on right.

We have seen a complete merger of corporate and political America. Politicians on both sides of the aisle serve at the pleasure of the capitalist elite because they need their money to stay in power. Corporations enjoy all the rights of citizenship save voting, but who needs to actually cast a ballot when you can buy the election.

And what the corpocracy, as I call it, is doing with all that power is continuing to reshuffle the deck of economic opportunity to insure that wealth and income continue to polarize. It's a process they undertake in the name of tax cuts for the middle class (which aren't), deregulation (which hurts society as a whole), and the outright transfer of wealth and property (including millions of acres of taxpayer-owned land) from taxpayers to shareholders (the 1%).

I know because I was part of it. As a former CEO and member of four corporate boards I had a front row seat from the 1970s on. The simplest analogy is that the gamblers rose up and took control of the casinos and the government had their backs in a kind of quid pro quo, all having to do with money.

They made it stick because they turned corporate management into the ultimate capitalists. The people who used to manage companies and employees are now laser focused on managing the companies' stock price and enhancing their own wealth. Corporate executives, in a word, became capitalists, not businessmen and women, giving the foxes unfettered control of the hen house.

They got to that position through a combination of greed -- both corporate management's and that of shareholder activists -- but were enabled and empowered by Washington. Beginning in the 1970s the Justice Department antitrust division, the Labor Department, the EPA, and other institutions assigned the responsibility to avoid the concentration of power that Adam Smith warned us about, and to protect labor and the environment, were all gutted and stripped of power.

They blamed it on globalism, but that was the result, not the cause. Gone are the days of any corporate sense of responsibility to the employees, the collective good, or the communities in which they operate and whose many services they enjoy. It is the corporate and financial elite, and they are now one and the same, who have defined the "me" world in which we now live.

And the process continues: "The ruling corporate kleptocrats are political arsonists. They are carting cans of gasoline into government agencies, the courts, the White House, and Congress to burn down any structure or program that promotes the common good." And he's right. And Trump is carrying those cans.

Ironically, Trump's base, who have been most marginalized by the corpocracy, are the ones who put him there to continue the gutting. But Hedges has an explanation for that. "In short, when you are marginalized and rejected by society, life often has little meaning. There arises a yearning among the disempowered to become as omnipotent as the gods. The impossibility of omnipotence leads to its dark alternative -- destroying like the gods." (Reference to Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death.)

The economic history and understanding of economic theory here is rich and detailed. Capitalism, as Marx and others pointed out, creates great wealth in the beginning but is doomed to failure due to its inability to continue to find sources of growth and to manage inequities in wealth creation. And you don't have to be a socialist to see that this is true. Capitalism must be managed. And our government is currently making no attempt to do so. It is, in fact, dynamiting the institutions responsible for doing so.

All told, this is a very good book. If you don't like reading about underbellies (I found the chapter devoted to sadism personally unsettling, being the father of two daughters.) you will find some of it pretty dark. Having said that, however, the writing is very good and Hedges never wallows in the darkness. He's clearly not selling the underbelly; he's trying to give it definition.

I did think that some of the chapters might have been broken down into different sub-chapters and there is a lack of continuity in some places. All told, however, I do recommend the book. There is no denying the fundamental thesis.

The problem is, however, we're all blaming it on the proverbial 'other guy.' Perhaps this book will help us to understand the real culprit -- the capitalist collective. "The merging of the self with the capitalist collective has robbed us of our agency, creativity, capacity for self-reflection, and moral autonomy." True, indeed.

September 15, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition
Find Hedges on YouTube For a Quicker Summary of His Book

The man is clearly brilliant and I agree with most of his conclusions, but I found the book very tough to get through, which was a huge disappointment. Instead, I found several long YouTube videos where Mr Hedges succinctly describes his theories and how the US got where it is.

[Oct 25, 2018] For-profit college chain files (for receivership)

Notable quotes:
"... While I am generally not in favor of bankruptcy discrimination, the ineligibility of bankrupt colleges for taxpayer funding is eminently sensible ..."
Oct 25, 2018 | www.creditslips.org

The Bezzle: "For-profit college chain files (for receivership)" [ Credit Slips ].

"While I am generally not in favor of bankruptcy discrimination, the ineligibility of bankrupt colleges for taxpayer funding is eminently sensible.

Given the weakness of institutional gatekeeping and the political challenges to shutting down predatory schools, and the for-profit college business model in which taxpayer grants and loans are used to prepay tuitions for students who are frequently misled about career chances, we don't need bankruptcy to give these failing schools a new lease on life." • Ouch.

[Oct 21, 2018] Which is why popular anger and resentment must constantly be directed outward, at an external enemy. Wake up, Americans Russia and China are robbing you of your American Dream!! It's their fault, not that of your own elites and/or the political system that assures their place!!

Oct 21, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Reply


Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 9:13 am

I understand that you may not be a fan of the Unz website but this is a pertinent article from said website:

http://www.unz.com/runz/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

Mark Chapman October 20, 2018 at 9:35 am
Which is why popular anger and resentment must constantly be directed outward, at an external enemy. Wake up, Americans – Russia and China are robbing you of your American Dream!! It's their fault, not that of your own elites and/or the political system that assures their place!!

In at least one area, though, Unz is full of it.

This perhaps explains why so many sons and daughters of top Chinese leaders attend college in the West: enrolling them at a third-rate Chinese university would be a tremendous humiliation, while our own corrupt admissions practices get them an easy spot at Harvard or Stanford, sitting side by side with the children of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George W. Bush.

It is not as easy as he makes out, as a timely lawsuit suggests – Asian-Americans often have to tiptoe through an admissions minefield whose process is exquisitely designed to discover their ethnic background, so that Asian admissions can be limited. According to this reference, basing its conclusions on an internal study conducted by Harvard itself, if that institution looked only at academic standards when filling its admissions, Asians and Asian-Americans would make up 43% of its student body. Instead, it's maybe half that.

https://abovethelaw.com/2018/10/asian-american-affirmative-action-lawsuit-against-harvard-has-always-been-on-behalf-of-mediocre-white-people/

It is uniquely-American irony that the driving force behind the initiative is Ed Blum, about as far from a populist as you could get, who is pushing the lawsuit as a means of wrecking any correction of the system; it's designed to lose.

Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 10:06 am
Unz did indicate that the Ivy league schools found ways to throttle Asian enrollment to about 15% after some initial fine tuning.
Mark Chapman October 20, 2018 at 11:31 am
I must have missed that bit, but if so, how does he reconcile that with children of the Chinese leadership just coasting into the Ivy League as if the admissions process were a slide?
Jen October 20, 2018 at 12:43 pm
In Australia here anyway, some universities have very large international student intakes to the extent that in some institutions, overseas students (mostly from China and India) constitute as much as or more than 40% of the entire student population.
http://www.universityrankings.com.au/international-student-numbers.html

A major part of the reason must be that as government funding to universities here continues to decrease, universities are forced to make up the shortfall by relying on full fee-paying students and international students and their families can be exploited in this way by being forced to pay upfront for their education.

No doubt, being private educational institutions, Ivy League universities view the children of Chinese political elites as similar gold mines and the admission standards required of such potential students are likely to be very different from what is applied to students coming out of American high schools.

yalensis October 20, 2018 at 2:42 pm
Dear Patient Observer: I try to give credit where credit is due; so any sociological theory that is factual and based on mathematics deserves to be aired in public.
My beef with Unz is their overall fascist slant. Some of the articles are so viciously anti-Jewish, that one is simply forced to ask: "What is your end game? A second Holocaust?" (which the more Nazi of the commenters are forced into Zugzwang, because they deny the first one even happened, and yet call for a second one )
Having said that, I call upon people to perform a simple thought experiment: Imagine it were actually proved scientifically factual (beyond a statistical doubt) that certain ethnic groups were intellectual "smarter" in the arena of, say, college success. (For example, Jews or "Asians".) Then what should be the policy ensuing? Should governments institute quotas to make sure the "dumber" ethnos get their share of the college degrees? Or just let nature take its course?
I reckon the answer would depend on the government in question, and the whole damn history. When the Soviet Union decided (in the late 70's and 1980's) to limit Jews to certain quotas in university admissions, they were raked over the coals by Westies. And yet when Westie institutions attempt to set ethnic quotas, then it might be reasonable.

Where do I stand on this issue? I honestly don't know but I admit that I don't have the answers

Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm
I told this story before but will do so again as it has relevancy. My 2nd term calculus graduate assistance was a young woman; perhaps 18 years old. Her name was Stern or Sternberg. She was socially awkward, clearly uncomfortable in the classroom and not good at teaching

A few years later, I read a story in a regional newspaper about her. The headline was something like "Is this Perfection?". Anyway, the story indicated that she graduated from the University at the age of 16. She was the product of an experiment by her parents. From conception onward, she was exposed to every sort of stimulation to build her intellectual development – classical music played while in the womb, every sort of pre-school educational stimulation and constant urging to excel in academics.

My take is most "ethnic" intellectual achievement is the product of sociological factors. Overbearing Jewish moms or Asian tiger moms are likely a major factor in such academic achievements. In my value system, that behavior is destructive to the kids psychological well-being. Not worth it in the long run I believe.

Mark Chapman October 20, 2018 at 11:09 pm
Asians I personally know tell me that Asian kids are not genetically smarter than anyone else. Their parents value education, and make them work harder than most western kids do. Got spare time? Study. Already mastered the subject? Take up another. When you're good at all of them, then you can take a break.

A friend of mine who was a junior officer in the Navy is Chinese. She consented to be interviewed by a Chinese magazine, because of her position as a military officer, but it was clear to her that her interviewers were a little disappointed that she was not fluent in Mandarin. When they proceeded with the interview in English, they wanted to know, "Why you no doctor? Why you no Rawyer?"

moscowexile October 20, 2018 at 9:21 pm
But isn't the selection of African or Asian students who may study in Europe or the USA based more on class? Surely, if you are a Chinese or African – black, brown, sky-blue-with-pink-polka-dots or whatever, you must be bourgeois if you have been allowed to study at Yale or Oxford etc.

In the UK, the working class is becoming increasingly uneducated, and class is not ethnicity.

[Oct 20, 2018] Creating A-Plus Conformists The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Our US students have been taught since at least grade 6, but mostly since school began, that there are only certain acceptable ideas, and genuflecting to those ideas is what makes you the Top Student, the Front Row kid, the one who checks all the boxes to get into Brown or Oberlin or Yale. ..."
"... My brother is a biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest. He uses no pronouns with his students, as the demands escalate and change daily. A whole cluster of young female students in the physics department have suddenly declared themselves trans. ..."
"... He says that it is impossible -- absolutely impossible -- to question what is happening in society concerning the abandonment of human biological facts or to have a rational debate about any of this on campus, either among the faculty or with the students. ..."
"... This is 100% correct and also the result of our K-12 education system doing what it was designed to do: engineer certain social outcomes. ..."
"... I grew in a period of suffocating conformity, the dregs of the Cold War hysteria that communists are hiding under your bed and in your anxiety closet to burst out and turn your local church into a museum pretending that a Russian invented the telephone. ..."
"... Somehow, quite a few of us found the means to stand up, to challenge, to question, to dismiss, to lampoon, and most of all, to turn back mindless adjectives accusing us of Thining The Wrong Way. I doubt that any generation coming up now is so mindlessly conformist as the writer insinuates. ..."
"... I also find it ironic that a piece called "Creating A-Plus Conformists" is published by the author of "The Benedict Option". I can't think of a greater force for creating conformity than religious orthodoxy. ..."
"... I have no idea who Alice is. But as a college professor, I find this to be (and this is being charitable) exaggerated nonsense. Has Alice actually ever stood in front of and talked to class of college freshman? ..."
Oct 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Creating A-Plus Conformists By Rod DreherOctober 19, 2018, 12:20 PM

Reader Alice comments on the hyperpoliticization of college students:

Understand: they *arrive at universities thinking this way*.

Our US students have been taught since at least grade 6, but mostly since school began, that there are only certain acceptable ideas, and genuflecting to those ideas is what makes you the Top Student, the Front Row kid, the one who checks all the boxes to get into Brown or Oberlin or Yale.

The "best and brightest" accepted to these schools are kids who, consciously or unconsciously, have learned to excel in places by accepting as true the acceptable ideas and never bringing up the unacceptable. Some thoughts are just too dangerous to have. Trajectories that are good for one's future to the Ivies don't allow you to engage these unacceptable ideas. So in school and in other places where one deals with adults, these front row kids learn to believe, or at least be comfortable with parroting, these acceptable ideas. Just as there's a correct answer to a calculus question, there's a correct answer to questions such as why one country is more successful than another, why there are measurable differences in incarceration rates by race (even as there's also a contradictory answer to the question of what is a race), what a nation owes non-citizens vs. citizens, how much training can alter [ ], are sex differences on average innate, are there two sexes, etc.

Meanwhile, if you hear something unacceptable, you've also been equipped with the trump card to demolish the argument: arguer is racist, sexist, bigot. So the Overton window is big for trans rights and little for the role of, say, duty to ones' elders, big for microaggression but little for the personality differences of men and women.

Whether they believe it or not at the beginning is irrelevant. They make the appropriate verbal gestures, they get a reward. After 6-12 years of doing so, they're not capable of engaging in debate or rhetoric, argument from evidence, even following a line of reasoning or recognizing a fallacy. They've never done it, and anyone who tried was actively shut down either calls of "my truth".

On the past, ignorance and obnoxious self regard were demolished by profs rather quickly. What's changed is college profs no longer push back on this crap. They no longer demand argument, reason, and counter argument. They simply are stunned that they share no overlap of consciousness with the students they bequeathed to themselves. They are afraid of them and afraid to stand up to the students or spineless weasel administrators.

MrsDK , says: October 20, 2018 at 10:19 am
I live on the east coast and can only tell you what we see. The public schools teach gender identity ideology, starting in elementary. I didn't even know what that is until our autistic daughter suddenly decided that she's "really a guy", along with a cluster of her school friends, when she was 16. They are 19 now, and two of her friends have had irreversible surgery which has made them sterile.

My brother is a biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest. He uses no pronouns with his students, as the demands escalate and change daily. A whole cluster of young female students in the physics department have suddenly declared themselves trans. The mantra of "supporting women in physics!" swiftly changed to "supporting transgender people in physics!"

He says that it is impossible -- absolutely impossible -- to question what is happening in society concerning the abandonment of human biological facts or to have a rational debate about any of this on campus, either among the faculty or with the students.

The unthinkable has happened. An ideology which would have been laughed at as ridiculous on college campuses in the 1980s is now driving social, legal, and medical practice throughout our entire country. If you haven't been affected by this yet, then you will be. Soon.

Chris - the other one , says: October 19, 2018 at 12:51 pm
This is 100% correct and also the result of our K-12 education system doing what it was designed to do: engineer certain social outcomes.

Conservative calls to "de-fund college" over this are misplaced.

Also, the reason that college professors don't stand up to this is because they know that the administration won't have their back if a student accuses them of being racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic. And the administrator won't have their back due to the desire to avoid bad press and students protesting on campus. Give the (vocal) students what they want so everyone stays happy.

Ted Rose , says: October 19, 2018 at 12:54 pm
You could correlate this to the rise of the NPC meme, too, and why the left is so upset by it: they know it's true.
Shelley , says: October 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm
I could not disagree with this more strongly. This is the false argument of broad generalization. The vast majority of schools are not en masses teaching radical SJW thought control. They are doing their best to teach AT ALL given the federal over reach into state public education and the excessive focus on testing and scores and the impact that has on funding.

And certainly anecdote does not equal accumulative data but our personal experience of high school

For our children is that there is zero indoctrination of SJW values coming from the teachers of the institution. Certainly the peer group has SJW people and activities but I'm here to declare that not one teacher or one principal in my district has for e fed my children any SJW dogma. In fact I can list multiple examples of Tim's when I've wondered how teachers got away with things like singing Christian or Jewish music at a choir concert or teaching the Our Father prayer in German or studying the great schism and having my kids present the Orthodox side of the story in World History.

Who knows. Maybe I live in an anomaly. But I wonder if the hyping of crazy SJW stories of abuse in schools has created an image in people's minds that ALL schools are crazy SJW hotbeds.

It's just not true. Public education IS in crisis due to ridiculous over testing and funding that is abysmal. And the majority of people who work in public ed are really just hanging on by their fingernails trying to do their best and make rent!!!

Sure there's a crazy teacher, waka-doodle principal or spineless superintendent that makes the news. And certainly the NEA is an bastion of left leaning ideas, but to make this huge sweep that the kids arriving at University were indoctrinated by their 1st grade teacher and on up through their childhood is just absolutely not true.

It is fear monger it.

Blake , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:02 pm
It's the NPC meme.
Retired debater , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm
A hundred years or so ago, I was in high school debate. One of the good things about that is we had to learn how to argue either for or against the same thing with equal conviction. Because we were young and inexperienced, i.e. stupid, most of us were pretty liberal, but the idea that there was only one way to think about a problem was completely foreign.
Siarlys Jenkins , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:10 pm
Well, the writer of that comment paints a picture. But that assumes facts not in evidence. I don't have a statistical overview of all the high schools in the country, but I know enough about enough students at enough of them to question whether the above description is The Truth About The Meaning Of Life And Everything.

I grew in a period of suffocating conformity, the dregs of the Cold War hysteria that communists are hiding under your bed and in your anxiety closet to burst out and turn your local church into a museum pretending that a Russian invented the telephone.

Somehow, quite a few of us found the means to stand up, to challenge, to question, to dismiss, to lampoon, and most of all, to turn back mindless adjectives accusing us of Thining The Wrong Way. I doubt that any generation coming up now is so mindlessly conformist as the writer insinuates.

There are two answers to being reflexively called "racist, sexist, bigot."

1) So what?

2) Prove it.

I prefer the second option, but there are other adjectival nouns I would respond to with the first.

Andrew in MD , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:17 pm
This situation will not last. The Social Justice canon is too clearly false and modern people are too rebellious to shoulder it for long. One of the characteristics of liquid modernity is that the pendulum swings more freely than it ever has before. It will be interesting to see, when the Social Justice narrative finally collapses, how much of our foundational mythology goes along with it.

As far as I can tell, our modern dysfunction is a very consistent and rational result of one simple foundational lie: "All men are created equal." The intent of this lie may have been noble but it is self-evidently false. And the Social Justice narrative rests very comfortably upon it. I can't see how it survives the collapse of Social Justice no matter how badly we desire to maintain it.

P.S. I understand the reflexive anger and distrust that most readers will feel upon reading this post. This is certainly a painful idea to grapple with. It is embedded deeply into our many intersecting identities. But what would you say to someone claiming that all pots are created equal? Would you posit that anyone denying this claim is a wok supremacist? No. If two things are not interchangeable, then they are not equal. But this does not mean that one is ultimately superior to the other. Human equality is a comfortable illusion. But we can find better reasons to treat one another with the proper respect and kindness. And in the process we might build a more perfect civilization.

Ready for the Apocalypse , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:25 pm
I don't know if it's deliberate on your part, but the picture on your post reminds me of the new "NPC meme" that is causing outrage among liberals:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/us/politics/npc-twitter-ban.html

SammyF , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Andrew-

The natural follow up for those in power to saying "Some men are more equal than others" is to say "therefore the better men are the ones in power."

No. Being born poor makes it much, much harder to succeed. Having connections puts incompetents and immoral people in power. We need to understand that the rich and powerful *are* usually born with silver spoons in their mouths. Injustice is real. Face it.

joel , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:35 pm
College students today are the first generation in US history to have grown up with openly gay friends and neighbors. They know, from lived experience, that there is nothing wrong with gay people. They know it in their bones.
So, yah, they think differently than we do on sexual issues, and they tune us out when we say things they know to be false.
Mccormick47 , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:41 pm
"Kids, I don't know what's wrong with the kids these days".

So a reader send this in without citing any Support for her conclusions and you tack on a headline about conformism and print it.

One could easily write a companion piece about homeschooled kids going off to some evangelical college where they set aside all reason and accept creationism and the Bible as the sole arbiter of truth. But those kids aren't going to get into "Brown or Oberlin or Yale".

That's where Alice tips her hand. This has nothing to do with the brainwashing or indoctrination of our youth, but that the Brown, Oberlin and Yale graduates are going to end up running this country, while Alice doesn't get, and isn't in anyway entitled too, tell them what to think.

TA , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:55 pm
Our US students have been taught since at least grade 6, but mostly since school began, that there are only certain acceptable ideas, and genuflecting to those ideas is what makes you the Top Student, the Front Row kid, the one who checks all the boxes to get into Brown or Oberlin or Yale.

There has never been a time in history that this hasn't been true.

S , says: October 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Rod, the comment is okay, but seems to lack an actual article written around it. Looks quite incomplete both from a literary perspective and from the perspective of the idea.
Pogonip , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm
I differ with Andrew. Modern people seem much more submissive than when I graduated in 1977.
Matt in VA , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:31 pm
This may sound mawkish, and it's based on just a few years teaching undergrads when I was in grad school, but I think there are a lot of college students who want to be able to say or write something more than the party line, but often they don't know how and have managed to go through high school without having read anything. My students, of both sexes and all races, included a good number of kids who, once I made it clear enough that I didn't want to hear any canned "diversity is excellence" crap or whatever, seemed pretty happy that they could try writing about something else for a change.

There are always the sycophantic apple-polishers whose whole shtick is regurgitating the conventional wisdom at every opportunity, but people hate that kind of person (see Hillary Clinton).

Raskolnik , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm
Public education IS in crisis due to ridiculous over testing and funding that is abysmal.

Found the NPC

anon_parent , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:37 pm
"Maybe I live in an anomaly"

You could spend some time reading your kids' AP World History and AP US History textbooks to discover the "analytical" grid that everything is rammed through. Good for you/your kids if your local teachers don't teach it in that manner, but trust me, the AP test questions are geared toward certain ideological answers.

Also, when Alice mentioned "My truth" I wondered if she has also had a kid in an elite college prep school. If so, it sure sounds like she and I have come to the same conclusions from experience.

LFC , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm
Working in IT I get to talk to a lot of young people coming out of college with a variety of degrees. Most have no idea what Alice is talking about. Perhaps if you go for something like a sociology or general liberal arts degree at the most liberal schools in the nation this is true but real students are worried about their fields of study (business, software, UX design, etc.) and the courses that might teach these types of things are fluff electives they skate through and ignore as much as possible.

I also find it ironic that a piece called "Creating A-Plus Conformists" is published by the author of "The Benedict Option". I can't think of a greater force for creating conformity than religious orthodoxy.

TOS , says: October 19, 2018 at 2:59 pm
This post is one big exercise in confirmation bias. There are no facts, just assertions stated firmly enough to convince the already-convinced. I expect better from The American Conservative.

The fact that it's supposedly an example of other peoples' conformity is just the ironic icing on the non-self-aware cake.

Some Wag , says: October 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Andrew in MD:

"But what would you say to someone claiming that all pots are created equal?"
That pots are objects with objective value and none inherent, while people are subjects who invest value in objects and possessed of inherent worth that is not objectively comparable, so we shorthand render it "equality". You know, the reason conservatives are supposed to hate 'borshun.

lee , says: October 19, 2018 at 3:14 pm
How can this be true when the be all and end all of our culture is radical individualism?
Jesse , says: October 19, 2018 at 3:41 pm
Actual studies shows actually, what happens in college is professors move left-wing students slightly to the right and right-wing students slightly to the left.
Alice , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Hi Rod, sorry about the typos in the original! Thanks for the raising the comment. I hope it's fruitful.

To some folks saying 'this is an overgeneralization', my comments were in the post re: what's happening at the elite institutions, and so were directed to the set of kids on k-12 that intend to get to such institutions. Those elite univs are more likely to select students with this SJW profile on the first place, yes. But again, the kids intending to go to such places know this is the profile.

To those questioning whether every k-12 school is like this, I ask you to look at the required courses in teaching colleges and master's programs that credential teachers. It's SJWism everywhere all the time, in every single discipline. Math class is about racial equity. Reading class is about gender equity. There's no other lens through which teachers are taught, so this is the lens through which they teach. Read the journals in teaching and see the articles.

To those questioning whether every college is like this, I suggest you look more closely at your community college's bookstore.

I'm in a southern state that voted for Trump. The big city cc offers this required English class,

ENG-111: Writing and Inquiry

'This course is designed to develop the ability to produce clear writing in a variety of genres and formats using a recursive process. Emphasis includes inquiry, analysis, effective use of rhetorical strategies, thesis development, audience awareness, and revision. Upon completion, students should be able to produce unified, coherent, well-developed essays using standard written English. This course will also introduce students to the skills needed to produce a college-level research essay.'

Seems a reasonable course, right? Freshman English.

The Reader for the course in 2017:

Again, you can claim I'm cherry picking, but you will find this in every city in every state.

I'd suggest spending some time reading Haidt and Lukianoff (Coddling of the American Mind) and some of Haidt's blog posts about his talks at high schools. This one is rather an object lesson:
https://heterodoxacademy.org/the-yale-problem-begins-in-high-school/#comment-104

Or read about Edina, MN. https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/07/left-wing-indoctrination-in-the-schools-its-worse-than-you-think.php

Or just listen to vacuous comments of middle school admins. Look at when districts give days off to kids to bus them to anti Trump rallies, and ask yourself if such a place is real pushing a socratic discussion about these points of view.

If you listen closely, you will understand this is everywhere.

Brian in Brooklyn , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm
Andrew in MD: "If two things are not interchangeable, then they are not equal." Is interchangeability the sole criteron of equality? Could a person argue that since all people are sinners/fallen, they are, therefore, equal? Or are some more sinning or fallen?

The Buddha demonstrated that all people are empty of self – why cannot that suffice for the establishment of equality?

MikeS , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Andrew in MD: some great American (John Randolph?) once said "I do not believe that all men are equal, for the simple reason that it isn't true". So, nothing anger-producing in your post. If giving up this noble lie is what is needed to consign SJWism to the ideological trash bin along with other totalitarian ideologies like Maoism, then out it goes.
Sid Finster , says: October 19, 2018 at 4:36 pm
When I was, in my late college years through my first ten or so years in The Real World, I was a doctrinaire conservative Republican, although not a member of any church or religion.

In a way, this did me some good, because I was attending some elite, some not-so-elite, and all very leftish educational institutions. Often my grades suffered, but I had to learn to marshal facts and formulate arguments that people did not want to hear. Often this was pretty easy, because the people I was arguing with had never really thought about what they believed or why, much less the unspoken assumptions underlying those beliefs, and they had never heard them challenged.

Usually the response was sputtering outrage, but that's a poor substitute for logical argument, especially when I am almost autistic in how little I care what other people think of me. In fact, if you react by being even calmer and more logical, the other person will dissolve into a spitting mad Donald Duck meltdown.

If I had simply gone with the flow, all that was necessary was to recite the correct dogmas and platitudes with adequate conviction and I would have been greeted with hosannas.

They say that a person becomes more conservative as they get older, but the opposite happened to me. I suppose because I enjoy challenging my own beliefs, finding facts that don't fit my own theories and then trying to make sense of them.

I learned that theory didn't always apply in real world conditions and pat answers don't always translate into solutions. (Apply "markets in all the things" to healthcare, for instance.)

They also say that a person becomes more conservative as they become more successful, but that wasn't the case for me either. I suppose to a certain extent, I am successful because I was lucky.

Whatever.

cka2nd , says: October 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm
Honestly, what Shelley wrote sounds more accurate than what Alice did, although I think there is at least a grain of truth in Alice's post, too. And the poster at another one of Rod's pieces who put more of the blame on the Internet than on schools and teachers at any level made sense, too.
G , says: October 19, 2018 at 5:35 pm
Count me skeptical

As much as I find the content on AmCon to be generally thought provoking, the complaint expressed by "Alice" is a recurring sentiment that I think "conservatives" use to cover up shoddy arguments

"I have all these really great ideas and deep insights about race and gender, but every time I try to express them, I get called a bigot, and I'm totally not a bigot, but those dastardly liberals won't even let me make my argument because they are always shouting me down and calling me a bigot, so me and the vast majority of ordinary folks who also agree with me are effectively silenced a shrill few elites, which is totally unfair! Anyone else feel this way? Sad!"

Point #1

Something doesn't jive about the general premise. Summarizing Alice's post as "All the kids today are totally brainwashed by SJWs, and everyone mindlessly goes along with whatever the PC police say". On a related note, last week's major news item was essentially "ordinary Americans were recently polled and 92% of them don't support political correctness and they are totally sick of identity politics and fed up with SJWs -- #WalkAway #RedWave #MAGA"

Am I missing something? Because those don't seem to make sense to be occurring in the same place at the same time. "The kids are totally brainwashed by identity politics and are just a bunch of useful idiots for the Left", BUT "they also see right through it, see that it's a sham, and they thoroughly reject it". Also, "The ordinary folks are cowering in fear, there's nothing they can do about it, the situation is beyond hopeless because the SJWs have effectively silenced all dissent", BUT "there's a revolution about to burst forth because so many ordinary people are mad as hell and not going to take it any more and in November they are going to vote hardcore against all this identity stuff and kick these knuckleheads out of power."

Doesn't make sense. It's one or the other, not both.

Point #2

I don't instinctively believe that all Republicans and Conservatives are bigots. I'm a Conservative. I don't think I'm a bigot. But I do get a little skeptical of a particular handful of my fellow conservatives who always seem to be running around complaining "everyone's always calling me a bigot, everyone's always calling me a bigot, I'm totally not a bigot, but everyone's always calling me a bigot when I express my ideas".

Well, okay, what exactly are these wonderful, totally not bigoted ideas that you have? Would you like to share them with us?

For example, Alice (or anyone else), please illuminate us with the answer to one of the questions that you raised in your post, one of those off-limits questions where people are always unfairly saying that your answer is racist: why there are measurable differences in incarceration rates by race?

Help me to understand, in your own, totally not-bigoted words, what is the answer that we all need the hear, the answer that the SJWs won't let us hear? I promise, promise, promise that I will not call you a racist. This is a safe space for you.

KevinS , says: October 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm
I have no idea who Alice is. But as a college professor, I find this to be (and this is being charitable) exaggerated nonsense. Has Alice actually ever stood in front of and talked to class of college freshman?
John , says: October 19, 2018 at 6:04 pm
The upside is that all the good little Maoists will starve, come some real crises in our society. Good for them that they can make up micro aggressions out of nothing, not so good for them that they won't be able to feed their soy faces when things begin to break down in this nation.

I figured we'd already gone around the useless bend with these people years ago when I was trapped someplace and MTV was playing. Some yoyo on the TV was talking about a show he was producing and soooooo scared that it wasn't going to go right and freaking out and all this, basically over nothing. I then noticed more and more of this type of behavior once I started looking for it. Lots of younger and younger people living in fear of absolutely nothing just fear for its own sake.

Learned fear and helplessness, nothing less or more. You have an increasingly large number of kids who are raised up as sheltered as possible and who have no real will or ability to take care of themselves. Couple that with the ideological vampires that roam higher education these days and you wind up with people who don't really care about whatever cause they're promoting, or what they're protesting, but it becomes all abut trying to drive out any dissenting sound from a basis of fear.

The soy boys are wretched creatures at best, and the harpies who lead them about by the nose are just as pitiful. Kinda dangerous, but only to a point, because all of them value their own skin more than real confrontation or principles (this is kinda true of the alt-right, too, which is why the media always suffers meltdowns at violence that wouldn't even merit a mention in Freikorps-riddled Germany, where the Browns and Reds duke it out regularly and Hitler brandished a pistol, not a Twitter hissy fit).

There's really no upside, just the irritation of living with these people on a daily basis and trying to tune out their BS. Maybe the social credit system will get rolling here and some point, which will be a clue to move to the sticks and learn how to raise organic produce and enjoy the simpler things. Lord knows, none of them are going to want to risk getting mud on their hipster work boots by being in the real country.

Ray Woodcock , says: October 19, 2018 at 6:07 pm
I'm sure Reader Alice is identifying a real phenomenon, but it's funny to see a traditional Christian publishing it. Are we saying the other side is a haven of consistently rational debate ?
Cato , says: October 19, 2018 at 6:57 pm
I teach high school kids for a living. My school is in a high income area and nearly 100% of the kids are college bound, many of them to very selective universities. My experience is that our stronger students take challenging and reasonably balanced courses – they do not arrive to college as leftist zombies. Our weaker students sometimes find a home with the leftists and realize that they can be praised by adults and sometimes even given high grades in politicized but low level classes. These are the ones I worry about. I have a good view of the next generation, and from where I sit the most capable 17 year olds are for more influenced by Lin Manuel Miranda than by Ta Nehisi Coates – and I find that fairly encouraging.
Bob Loblaw , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:13 pm
I taught high school English in the California Bay Area and even there, I encountered only a couple teachers who could be said to have any kind of liberal agenda and to have included it in the classroom. My 3 kids have gone to California public schools (2 of them are currently in high school), in the Bay Area and the Sacramento regions, and we haven't experienced any of what the writer of this post describes. It's been my experience that kids get their political leanings these days mostly from their peers, their media heroes and social media.

Now, college is another matter entirely, but I don't need to tell anyone here that.

charles cosimano , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:17 pm
Ah the joys of high school.

I remember well the time I made the perfectly wise and rational statement in history class that "might makes right," which of course it does. My poor teacher, at his usual loss for words in dealing with my divine wisdom sputtered some foolishness to the effect that, "Hitler had might. Was he right?'

To which I responded, as the Young Voice of God, "Hitler lost."

The look on the poor man's face was worth the price of admission for he had chosen exactly the wrong example to use. He slumped back, defeated, for he had proven me right.

Fear not. The young will grow up and, as their compatriots in Christian schools will, learn to see past the platitudes, knowing that the very idea of justice is a vile thing, incompatible with their personal freedom, and they will end up despising it from their very bones.

That is why the future is Cosimanian Orthodox.

Old West , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:20 pm
Jonathan Haidt has pointed out a key reason why we get such mixed messages about what is really happening.

Millennials get blamed for a lot of this, but most of this stuff is actually the arrival of the first of the immediate post-millennial generation at college, just within the last couple of years.

He points out that this is the first generation to have gone through formative late childhood/early adolescent years experiencing the destructive impact social media throughout their development. (Previous generations encountered it after they were just that bit older and more emotionally stable.)

I can look back at my kids, who were born smack-dab in the middle of the millennial generation, and their high school experience wasn't remotely like anything described above. Granted, they grew up in Old West country, but it was at a very large high school–and as this blog repeatedly points out, nowhere is sheltered from the modern diseases. Their teachers were certainly overwhelmingly liberal, as is true pretty much everywhere these days, no matter how red the state.

If Haidt is right, the experience my millennial kids had (and the experiences that many readers of this blog will be appealing to) is *completely* irrelevant. There is something brand-new just arrived on the scene, and only in the last 2-3 years.

We can argue about whether teachers caused it, culture caused it, social media caused it, parents caused it The question is what we are going to do about it.

RATMDC , says: October 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm
I find this really, really hard to believe. Also, I think I can state (with some degree of confidence) that Alice does, in fact, believe that there is only one answer to her questions about incarceration, national success, etc.

The "best and brightest" come in a few different flavors. A lot of them are the kids who do everything absolutely right, don't seem to rock any particular boats, and are often pretty conservative in various ways, including politically.

Others are those fueled by a desire for justice and reforms, because they've been on the receiving end of injustice, or they've witnessed it and felt sympathy/empathy. These are the ones who often clash with administrators and/or the more entitled demographics among their peers. They're the ones standing by their controversial school newspaper articles, the ones organizing the gay-straight (etc.) alliances in the face of often serious threat, and so on. This isn't happening because they've been indoctrinated, though they may have been inspired by that one English or History teacher.

I know what you think of them.

Seoulite , says: October 19, 2018 at 9:41 pm
As others have said Rod, you've stumbled across the NPC meme. No doubt someone will be along to tell you about how you are dehumanizing people, because having an NPC avatar will get you banned from twitter but calling white people dogs will get you on the editorial board of the NYT.

For those unfamiliar with it, NPC means Non-Player-Character. It comes from video games, although I've read that it appeared in DnD before that. In any case it is mostly relevant to RPG games here. In an RPG game, the player will encounter many NPCs who have a few scripted responses that they will repeat whenever the player talks to them. The meme is that SJWs do not think for themselves, and simply respond to everything with a few scripted responses to any political debate, usually some variation of an 'ist' or an 'ism' or white privilege or lived experience. It has been an effective meme for mocking the left, which is why twitter moved so quickly to shut it down.

So the Overton window is big for trans rights and little for the role of, say, duty to ones' elders, big for microaggression but little for the personality differences of men and women.

This is exactly right, and is actually the reason why the experience of becoming "red-pilled" can be so exhilarating and freeing for many people. Suddenly there are huge areas of discussion and debate that you can explore. It is especially potent because often these areas were once filed under "common sense" or "fairness". Examples include the differences between men and women which are evident to most toddlers, or the intrinsic unfairness of judging people guilty for crimes that were committed hundreds of years before they were born.

The euphoria of this rediscovered freedom can lead people to over-correct, and go very far into conspiracy theories in search of more "truths" which have been considered off-limits. I've seen this in an acquaintance who went far down the rabbit-hole of holocaust denial theories and neo-nazism. I think it became a rush for him to go where others fear to tread, and I think it is somehow connected to the red-pill experience.

[NFR: I found the graphic when I typed "conformity" into Shutterstock's search engine. -- RD]

JimDandy , says: October 19, 2018 at 9:44 pm
Shelley, I don't mean this as an insult, but you are 100% completely out of touch on this issue. My sense is that you don't want to know the truth. This is evidenced by statements like this:

"For our children is that there is zero indoctrination of SJW values coming from the teachers of the institution. Certainly the peer group has SJW people and activities but I'm here to declare that not one teacher or one principal in my district has for e fed my children any SJW dogma."

First of all, this is anecdotal. Secondly, I can ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE you that your absolutist statement is wrong. Your assertion that you know every single thing that teachers/administrators have "fed" to your children shows how unserious you are about soberly assessing/investigating the situation. You are operating on selective evidence and faith.

We are living in a time where our schools, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, high ed, and The Democratic party are united in a vitriolic, hysterical insistence that citizens of all ages support The Narrative, OR ELSE.

I think your mindset is shared by many who simply can't accept the fact that what should be the fringe rantings of the occasional "waka-doodle" has become the norm in the leftist controlled institutions I listed above. I hope you all wake up, and see the extremist agenda and actual violence that the left is supporting. If you don't, we will descend into actual civil war. That probably sounds crazy to you, too. I wish you were right.

redbrick , says: October 19, 2018 at 10:58 pm
Andrew in MD

"This situation will not last. The Social Justice canon is too clearly false and modern people are too rebellious to shoulder it for long."

Agree ..I would call it the social justice Koran though ..but unlike the Islamic Koran (Qu'ran) it keeps changing all the time.

One day you're an "ally" the next day you find yourself a "nazi"

Seriously ..just go around campus today saying lines from Obama speeches back in 2008 ."I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" and "immigration must be controlled and the violence on the southern border must be stopped"

Thats now "hate speech"

At least the wahhabis tend to stick to one set of rules.

Selvar , says: October 20, 2018 at 12:01 am
As someone who has spent most of my life in education and higher education, it is not my experience that there is some sort of universal SJW indoctrination. In reality what basically happens is this:
  1. Certain professions at the commanding heights of the culture (journalism, entertainment, academia etc ) are inherently cosmopolitan and tend to disproportionately appeal to liberals/leftists.
  2. Therefore, most college profs, students, and academic types end up being Nice Moderate Liberals. Most are not dogmatic or hateful, and are willing to entertain rational argumentation (to a point). Many–especially the students–are apolitical.
  3. However, centrist liberal hegemony is largely defenseless against radical SJWs, especially if they are ethnic minorities/women making accusations of racism/sexism, and the Nice Moderate Liberals get bullied (sometimes quite literally) into going along with the SJW agenda.

So, for instance, during the big SJW freakouts in places like Yale and Evergreen State, the SJWs were not protesting and shutting down conservatives (too few of them to really matter). They were protesting/assaulting/shutting down moderate liberals.

Seoulite , says: October 20, 2018 at 2:55 am
[NFR: I found the graphic when I typed "conformity" into Shutterstock's search engine. -- RD]

I was referring more to the content of the post than the picture, although the picture itself is not dissimilar from the meme.

Laurie Wolpert , says: October 20, 2018 at 7:10 am
I was and still am a teacher (worked in public schools). Some teachers are liberal, some are conservative. Personal politics does not come into the classroom unless a teacher brings it in. However, standardized testing, funding, and infrastructure spending are all political realities that affect teachers.

The idea that there are teachers indoctrinating your children is a conservative boogeyman. There are a few bad teachers, but they are usually apathetic, not passionate. There are also a few doctors who have sexually abused their clients, but that doesn't demonize the whole health profession.

If parents are so concerned about transmitting values, they are free to homeschool, but it would involve living on one income and re-prioritizing their finances. Many people are not really that concerned about it, but it's easy to decry the fictional bad teachers they imagine are stalking the schools. If public schools did not exist, all of these parents would be forced to educate their own children, and they would realize a small sampling of what teachers contend with on a daily basis.

Please stop painting a false picture of the profession. Public education is a genuine good of democracy. If it disappears completely, people will one day realize what they have lost.

Mark VA , says: October 20, 2018 at 7:22 am
Alice:

I would like to echo reader G's sentiment – paraphrasing G, you've stated your arguments in a detached way, without giving any samples of your own thinking. It's as if you seek some implied consensus on conclusions you are, for some reason, unwilling to share. Your arguments seem to be:

(a) Grade and high school age students are being indoctrinated into "certain acceptable ideas", which they carry to the university;

(b) Universities confirm and deepen this indoctrination: "Some thoughts are just too dangerous to have";

(c) Science and engineering fields lead to objectively correct, singular solutions to given questions. The humanities try to mimic them, by insisting that there are singular solutions to more complex questions as well;

(d) Here you do give us a few hints of these complex questions: some countries are more successful than others, incarceration rates vary by race, what is the correct treatment of non-citizens, the number of sexes, and possibly, a question on IQ;

If I've misunderstood any of your arguments, please correct me. I would also like to echo G's invitation for you to provide a sample of your own thinking on any of these questions. Should you respond, I too promise not to engage in polemics. To encourage you, Alice, for what it's worth, these are my early thoughts on why "one country is more successful than another":

At an individual's level, the basic idea of "success" is biological survival and procreation. At the level of a country (and by that, I mean a nation which embodies a certain culture), it is cultural survival, and handing down of its culture to succeeding generations for preservation and improvement. Thus, at this basic level, the most successful countries are those that faced adversity, even dissolution as states (some for several generations), and still managed to preserve, improve, and pass on their culture till more favorable times. This is one proof, perhaps the strongest, of cultural resilience;

Other measures of "success" are more ephemeral. All countries, if they survive long enough, experience cycles of economic and military ups and downs, cultural rots and regenerations, and demographic changes, to list a few examples. Thus, history decrees that in these matters, no country can expect to be "number one" in perpetuity. In my mind, such passing things are not good indicators of "success". For countries, success depends on those cultural factors that are transmittable and willingly accepted (even embraced and cherished) by succeeding generations. It also depends of each generation to have the wherewithal to continuously adapt and improve them. The next question would be, what are these factors?

JonF , says: October 20, 2018 at 8:11 am
Has anyone considered that these kids (who are certainly no where close to a majority) might be picking up these values at home? Leftwing people also have kids.
Raskolnik , says: October 20, 2018 at 9:11 am

from where I sit the most capable 17 year olds are far more influenced by Lin Manuel Miranda than by Ta Nehisi Coates – and I find that fairly encouraging.

That's supposed to be REASSURING???

RATMDC , says: October 20, 2018 at 9:40 am
You know the way Leah Anthony Libresco first (I think) appeared in the prominent headlines, right?

https://www.democracynow.org/2007/7/3/we_do_not_want_america_to

Publicly standing up against the Bush administration was not the sort of thing that was an unthinking default at the time. I don't think it was the way to get into the best universities. I don't think it was a path prescribed by teachers and the corporate media (though lots of conservatives claimed otherwise).

It represented a struggle for social justice, and an unpopular one at that.

[Oct 19, 2018] Win for Students Having Loans From For-Profit Educational Institutions

Notable quotes:
"... The federal student loan system creates perverse incentives that enable bad actors to prey on students. Without adequate protections for students, these predatory corporations will continue to base their business models on the availability of these loans, with little commitment to providing quality education. ..."
"... These Obama-era protections and remedies were being blocked by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss rejected a request by for-profit college representatives to halt the regulations. Even with the win, the answer from the Department of Education is arrogant in response. Student loan servicers do not hesitate a moment to penalize a borrower with penalties and fees if the are late. ..."
"... DeVos and conservatives have said the Obama-era policies are unfair to colleges and too costly for taxpayers. She has proposed creating a stricter standard for fraud claims and eliminating the ban on mandatory arbitration agreements ..."
Oct 19, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

run75441 | October 18, 2018 10:50 am

A Federal Court cleared the way for students who have been defrauded by for-profit institutions (I hesitate to call them schools).

"This court ruling is a major victory for thousands of students across the country who were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges taking advantage of our broken student loan system. We commend Attorney General Maura Healey for her leadership fighting for students who were left with thousands of dollars in debt after their for-profit colleges collapsed.

The federal student loan system creates perverse incentives that enable bad actors to prey on students. Without adequate protections for students, these predatory corporations will continue to base their business models on the availability of these loans, with little commitment to providing quality education. "

These Obama-era protections and remedies were being blocked by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss rejected a request by for-profit college representatives to halt the regulations. Even with the win, the answer from the Department of Education is arrogant in response. Student loan servicers do not hesitate a moment to penalize a borrower with penalties and fees if the are late.

"DeVos and conservatives have said the Obama-era policies are unfair to colleges and too costly for taxpayers. She has proposed creating a stricter standard for fraud claims and eliminating the ban on mandatory arbitration agreements.

But DeVos' push to finalize those revised regulations has hit an unexpected snag that will delay having a replacement policy on the books by another year. The Education Department said it won't meet a key Nov. 1 regulatory deadline, meaning that the replacement regulations aren't likely to take effect until July 2020 at the earliest."

Hopefully the State Attorneys and others can convince the Judge to hold Betsy DeVos in contempt for not activating the court's requirements in a reasonable amount of time less than 2 years.

likbez , October 19, 2018 1:15 pm

Under neoliberalism any such victory is temporary and will be eventually rolled back

[Oct 19, 2018] These kids all had 4.0 GPAs when they got into our school, here they were barely passing in my class.

Oct 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anton Worter , Oct 18, 2018 6:46:17 PM | link

47

Adding to what you just said, let me just put this out there as a teacher, and not trying to wag a Big White Triumphal Exceptionalist Stick, our US kids are dumb as rocks too, but this is based on actual experience, and documented records:

My East Asian students showed up to class with no textbooks. They can't afford them in their eyes. $75USD is 1,000,000 rupiahs! When I sighed and said, 'OK, I'll add one more prep to my 16-hour day, and print copies in the teacher's lounge for $25 apiece, if anyone wants one, see me after class.'

An East Asian kid came up to me with a $20, and I'm like, what? He says, and I quote, "Does this mean I'll get an A?"
I always try to learn the local lingo, and be non-judgmental, but I am a teacher and grading is part of the job and you have to hold the line. So I said, 'No!' He got rather upset, thinking I was raising my asking price! $20 always worked for him to get an A before, back in East Asia.

So now I'm getting perturbed. These kids all had 4.0 GPAs when they got into our school, here they were barely passing in my class. Is it ESL language? Is it my presentation? So I got hold of an East Asian teacher and got the East Asian grading rubric: >70% is an A, >80% is an A+! That's nuts! In the USA, 70% is just barely passing, and you need 95% for an A+! So there was zero parity between rubrics. They're passing them through as 4.0's for bribes and H-2B student visa fees!

So I mention this to my Dean, he smiles, and says, 'You're job is just to make sure they all pass." H-2Bs is a big, big money maker for US colleges. I had to give them the final exam three times, dumbing it down each time. The last time, we read the exam questions and the answers out loud together, then I gave them the test. Two of them STILL did not pass, and I got called in and got my ass chewed!

That's why you see so many smiling East Asian students everywhere. Half of the classes, at least, are East Asian. So when an East Asian 'college' (sic) graduate claiming an A+ East Asian GPA, their East Asian colleges even docent the after-graduation testing for graduate school! They don't have independent SAT or GRE exam boards, their colleges do the grading!

But let's drill down one more layer. I got to meet the now-a-Green Card mother of one of my students, and we had a little Asian food buffet and then she's asking me how her kid is doing, and you know, what do you say? Then she tells me, they paid $20,000USD to get the visas! Their whole family back in East Asia is in hock to the human-trafficker mafiyas, and that's why the "A+" schtick and why the 'just make sure they pass' pipeline, is to get them over here so they can do IT coding or pluck chickens or drive for Uber or whatever , to keep their family in East Asia from being bludgeoned.

So let's build a $TRILLION wall, for East Asians to fly over by the jumbo-jet load, 10 plane flights every day, and we'll call it MAGA! and WINNING! and 'lowest unemployment on record' ... because all the new jobs are going to East Asians.
E pluribus now get back to work. Oh, and remember to vote! Really get high-fever pitched! DRINK THE RED AND BLUE KOOLAID!

[Oct 18, 2018] Student Debt Bondage Becoming More Widespread naked capitalism

Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A fresh story at Bloomberg, which includes new analysis, shows the ugly student debt picture is getting uglier. The driver is that higher education costs keep rising, often in excess of the likely wages for graduates. The article's grim conclusion: "The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay."

Student debt is now the second biggest type of consumer debt in the US. At $1.5 trillion, is is second only to the mortgage market, and is also bigger than the subprime market before the crisis, which was generally pegged at $1.3 trillion. 1 Bloomberg also points out that unlike other categories of personal debt, student debt balances has shown consistent, or one might say persistent, growth since the crisis.

From the article:

Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education . But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs , while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying . (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

The last sentence is alarming. As graduates of the class of 2009 like UserFriendly can attest, the job market was desperate. And for the next few years, the unemployment rate of new college graduates was higher than that of recent high school graduates. One of the corollaries of that is that more college graduates than before were taking work that didn't require a college degree; this is still a significant trend today. And on top of that, studies have found that early career earnings have a significant impact on lifetime earnings. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, pay levels key off one's earlier compensation, so starting out at a lower income level is likely to crimp future compensation.

And on top of that, interest costs are rising. The rate for direct undergraduate loans is 5% and for graduate and professional schools, 6.6%. So student debt costs will also go up even before factoring in inflating school costs. So the ugly picture of delinquencies and defaults is destined to get worse.

Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.

Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. "Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn't ultimately obtain a degree," she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.

Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who've incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace -- such as post-graduate law or medical degrees -- usually see a good return on their investment.

I'm a little leery of cheerful generalizations like "big ticket borrowers for professional degrees do better." "Better" may still not be that good. Recall that law school and in the last year, business school enrollments have fallen because candidates question whether the hard costs and loss of income while in school will pay off. And there are some degrees, like veterinary medicine, that are so pricey it's hard to see how they could possibly make economic sense.

What is distressing about this ugly picture is the lack of effective activism by the victims. I am sure some are trying, but in addition to the burden of being so overwhelmed by the debt burden as to lack the time and energy to do anything beyond cope, is the fact that being in debt is stigmatized in our society, and borrowers may not want to deal with condescension and criticism. Another obstacle to organizing is that most of the victims are lower income and/or from minority groups, which means Team Dem can ignore them on the usual assumption that they have nowhere else to go. It is also harder to create an effective coalition across disparate economic, geographic, and age groups

But the experience of the post-Civil War South says things could get a lot worse. From Matt Stoller in 2010:

A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.

It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.

They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.

Sanders has made an issue of student debt, but politicians who want big bucks from financiers and members of the higher education complex pointedly ignore this issue. As we've pointed out, top bankruptcy scholar Elizabeth Warren won't even endorse a basic reform, that of making student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. So it may take student debtors becoming a bigger percentage of voters for this issue to get the political traction it warrants.

______

1 Higher estimates typically included near subprime mortgages then called "Alt A".

Geo , October 18, 2018 at 5:02 am

There are many, many passages in this obscure old book called The Bible speaking of usury as a grave sin. So many it is actually one of the most clear and condemned sins in the entire book. Maybe we could see if any of our Congress persons have ever heard of it? They could learn something from it regarding this topic.
That said, it's passages on gender equality and family structures are pretty outdated and abhorrent so I wouldn't want them to get any bad ideas from this book on those subjects.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/usury

Neujack , October 18, 2018 at 5:56 am

Indeed, all of the old "Iron Age religions" (Judaism, Early Christianity, and Islam) explicitly denounce usury.

The great irony of the Deep South in te USA is that they've been frequently banning Sharia law, even when Sharia law is one of the few types of law in the world which explicitly bans charging interest.

L , October 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

It is always intriguing how many politicians are so eager to endorse a literalist fealty to the social structures of the bible but ignore, or even vehemently rail against, the more balanced social restrictions on things like usury or the old idea of a debt jubilee. But then Jesus himself railed (physically) against embedding money in religion and now we have "entrepreneurial churches" who preach a "doctrine of prosperity" so I guess times have changed.

xformbykr , October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

Michael Hudson wrote about the history of 'debt jubilees' and debt cancellation today.

https://michael-hudson.com/2018/01/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

Pete , October 18, 2018 at 5:46 am

I graduated 10 years ago and the most frustrating part was everyone telling me it would be alright and ignoring thw whole you never recover thing. I am still unable to find worthwhile employment and probably never will be able to.

kurtismayfield , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

You really can't listen to many of us over 40.. we really lived in complete my different conditions. When I got out of college in the 90's they were basically hiring everyone with a pulse in tech. From what I have seen from recent graduates it's getting easier, as I am seeing a lot more intershops turn into job offers. But for the generation that you are part of, it's an economic hole that may never be recovered from simply because you were born at the wrong time.

Looking at that graph, notice how the only debt that is backstopped completely by the federal government is growing the fastest. The no default on student loans rules have to be rescinded.

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

I graduated in the 1990s, and if you were not in tech, the job market was just as lousy as it is now.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 6:13 am

Extrapolating from these trends, then in a few years the only young people that would be able to afford higher education in the United States would the the children of the ten per cent – plus a smattering of scholarships to talented individuals found worthy of supporting. It follows then that as these educated people entered the workforce, that over time that the people that would be running the country would be children of the elite in a sort of inbred system. It sounds a lot like 19th century class-based Britain that if you ask me.
As for the country itself it would be disastrous. Going by present population levels, it would mean that instead of recruiting the leaders and thinkers of the country from the present population of 325 million, that at most you would be recruiting them from a base level of about 30-40 million. It is to be hoped that these people are not from the shallow end of the gene pool. You can forget about any idea of an even-handed meritocracy and America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out.

Brooklin Bridge , October 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

You could put that whole paragraph in the present tense quite nicely.

Eclair , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

"I wonder how that might work out." Ummm . the Monty Pythons had an idea in the 1970's.

The "Upper Class Twit of the Year" competition. Gotta love the "Kick a Beggar" event.

Henry Moon Pie , October 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

"America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out"

Would the performance of U. S. men in international soccer competition be a similar situation?

eg , October 18, 2018 at 6:40 am

Why is America so determined to reconstruct an aristocracy its founders abhorred?

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 8:41 am

They only abhorred the British aristocracy, they framed to Constitution to create a home grown one; and, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.

Matthew , October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

Because they think it will help them stay rich?

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

an aristocracy its founders abhorred

Alexander Hamilton liked the idea very much. It's why the musical is SO popular among the neoliberal set.

KYrocky , October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am

The concept of student debt as it exists today would be repulsive to our Founders. Not just for the larger issue of our country being on the trajectory of becoming an economic aristocracy, but specifically because the Federal government is profiting tremendously from this crushing usury being applied to majority and the least among us.
Our Founders had no problem with the conquest and seizure of Native Americans land, and they fully respected the rights and claims of other European countries to do the same. One of their strongest repudiations of the aristocracy was the expansion of private property rights beyond what was known under any monarchy on the planet to that point in history. In the pre-industrial world the vast majority of people lived in an agrarian society and economy. Owning land secured you with your livelihood, your living, and much of your resources; it fully supported most families.

For its founding and for generation after generation the United States government gave land to countless men for military service, government service, homesteds, etc. Expansions by the Louisiana Purchase and war and treaties with other European nations, quickly resulting in making these lands available for settlement to our citizens and to immigrants.

The point is that for well over 100 years the government provided to its citizens a huge amount of what our citizens needed to live their lifetimes through these grants of land. These land grants were then passed from generation to generation and formed the economic foundations for millions of people, their children and their next generations.

Our Government did this.

The United States ceased to be a predominantly agrarian country in the mid 20th century. But they did not stop aiding our people and their economic needs. Our government (Federal and states) did continue to provide to our population through public education (very affordable college), the GI Bill that served millions with income, housing and educational benefits, Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Since our country's very founding our government has recognized the benefit and need to facilitate the support of its citizens. The American economy became the greatest on earth because of our land conquest heritage and our collective investments as a nation. No one did it all on their own, and no one pretended they did.

Reagan killed this legacy. Reagan claimed that our nations success and our heritage was built on our history of rugged individualism and that our government was the obstacle to returning to these roots. It was a lie; nothing could have been further from the truth.

Student debt, as it exists to day, is crippling the economic futures of the millions who have accrued this debt and the millions to come, year after year, who will do the same. The student is debt is robbing our nation of the economic activity that historically matriculated out from those passing from college to the world. That has come almost to an end. Worse yet, our government has positioned itself to also profit off this debt, and to prevent the indebted from escaping this type of debt through the legal means available for virtually all other forms of debt.

Our student debt is un-American. It is a cancer on our economy. It exists for the vast short term profit of the few at the expense of our nations future.

Avalon Sparks , October 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Amazing essay, thank you!

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Admirable and well thought-out post.

I hope people keep in mind it was the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, who made student debt even more crippling and heartless by changing the bankruptcy laws so that creditors can garnish your Social Security benefits (assuming Mitch McConnell doesn't gut them first).

Republicans are open about what they hope to accomplish, you have to clear the verbal BS that clouds what Democrats are after, but at the end of the day they are both about enslavement and debt bondage over unwashed masses.

Mobee , October 18, 2018 at 7:32 am

I'm sure it's often the parents that end up paying the debt, as my sister is doing. Parents have deep pockets and are desperate to help their loved ones get a good start in life.

In my sister's case, they sent their girls to private high school, where they spent the money that could have paid for college. Not a smart decision. But they love their children and really wanted to do give them the best.

Now the girls are struggling to make a living and my sister cannot afford to retire.

Musicismath , October 18, 2018 at 8:18 am

There are so many feedback loops, multipliers, and perverse incentives driving forward this bubble (and its calamitous social and cultural effects) that it's hard to know where to begin.

As Goldman Sachs have pointed out , student-loan-based securities are increasingly "attractive" investments for speculators:

Although the "bubble" is getting bigger, it's not a risk to overall financial stability, Goldman's Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui said in a recent note. In fact, there's one segment of the market that's emerging as an attractive investment.

It's the $190 billion of outstanding [student] loans that are held within asset-backed securities (ABS) refinanced by private lenders such as SoFi.

With these securities, lenders pool loans that have similar risk profiles and sell them as instruments in the public markets. Investors profit as graduates pay back their principal and interest.

So the more student debt there is, and the higher the interest rates are, the better, from that perspective.

It's undeniable, too, that high student loan burdens mean graduates are slower to form households and will probably have fewer children than they would otherwise. Their diminished spending power, meanwhile, adds to the ongoing erosion of the "real economy," in favour of the financial one. Student loans therefore disrupt the basic means of social reproduction. The resulting declines in fertility then demand high rates of immigration to compensate. A fact cheered on, inevitably, by the open borders crowd (a substantial number of whom, oddly or not, seem to work in or for universities).

So we see yet another instance in which "right" neoliberalism and "left" identitarianism go hand in hand–forming, indeed, two heads of the same beast. Student loans have enabled the enormous inflation in tuition costs that have plagued the Anglosphere over the last couple of decades. This fees income feeds the academic beast (or at least its administrators and senior managers), while driving the one economic and social crisis (mass migration and the resulting populist backlash) that "left neoliberals," centrists, and Clinton/Progress types appear to care about. It's a self-licking ice cream of catastrophic size and reach.

Petunia , October 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

One specific example: hospital chaplains are facing a big retirement crisis. And yet the job requires (to be hoard certified): an undergraduate degree & then a Master's of Divinity degree, plus a year-long residency. For a job that pays around $60,000 to $70,000. At least one school, Princeton, funds almost all of their divinity students. But I don't think it's the norm. And then you throw in the fact that such person ideally would be emotionally & spiritually mature, with enough life experience to meet with a wide range of people, who are often facing financial hardship due to being sick (as well as existential concerns). I don't even know how to begin reframing the job or the qualifications or the salary to fit America in 2020. There are a lot of other angles, such as: what about well-qualified people who can't afford seminary? I know there needs to be a way to screen-out and screen-in the best people (who won't proselytize), but is a Master's degree the right hurdle? But, I must say, the need for access to interfaith Spiritual Care is only increasing, as times get tougher & other hospital staff (RNs) don't have time to sit and listen. People are in pain, not only in their bodies. One thought leader in the field has speculated that the job will just go away due to lack of advocacy & inability to evolve into a profit center.

redleg , October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am

It would be interesting to see that student loan debt chart superimposed over %adjuncts and number of administrators. Its pretty easy to guess what that would look like, but seeing that would be decisive.

Fiddler Hill , October 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I think a little delineation is in order. I've been an adjunct professor and believe the increasing use of adjuncts at universities has been very beneficial overall -- in terms of the quality of education students are getting. Unfortunately, as we know, that's not why universities are hiring so many more adjuncts; they're being hired because schools can get away with paying them abysmally.

The situation is so embarrassing that, at the university where I was teaching five years ago, the full-time faculty passed a resolution asking the administration to give the entire projected increase in teaching salaries entirely to the adjuncts, an amazing act of selflessness.

The relevance to our discussion here, of course, is the insupportable increase in the annual cost of attending college even as the schools radically reduce their overall expenditures on faculty salaries.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , October 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

So how long before this leads to a mass "We Won't Pay" movement? I'm stuck on the dumb treadmill myself, but I wouldn't begrudge an entire generation for just saying no. Sure, they can garnish wages and the like, but if 30 million people simultaneously say 'eff this', it's more than just a wrench in the works it's drastic enough to force action.

DolleyMadison , October 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

Why DO they keep paying? The debts are always bought by debt collectors who don't even have COPIES promissory notes. Let them sue you and show up for the hearing and demand proof. They can still ruin your "credit" but if student loans haven't taught you to eschew credit nothing will. If EVERYONE "walked away" what could they do?

Tangled up in Texas , October 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

Unfortunately that is never going to happen. This society has been trained to worship at the altar of the FICO score, and most job seekers cannot afford to have a low score. Said score will be examined and potentially held against you when pursuing employment.

Also, employers frown upon employees who do not pay their bills and then have their wages garnished – at least the smaller emlpoyers do. This creates extra work for the employer and makes the employee suspect, as in irresponsible.

This problem was created by the political class and is going to require a political solution, i.e. legislation to assist the student loan borrower or a debt jubilee. Unfortunately, there's too much money being made off the student borrower – even if the practice is killing the host. And the "I got mine" crowd will not allow a jubilee even if it is for the greater good of society. Lastly, student loan borrowers coming from a different era (who have paid off their loans) will begrudge the forgiving of the loans and consider them undeserved. In this case, perhaps the best resolution is to give everyone money toward their student loans – whether they are currently paid or unpaid.

I cannot jeopardize my employment by joining in a "eff this" movement as much as I would like to. Instead, I will continue on this treadmill called life, pay my bills and hope to escape as unscathed as possible.

Harrison Bergeron , October 18, 2018 at 1:42 pm

I work for a company that contracts with department of Ed to get student loan borrowers out if default and back into the hands of loan servicers. The amount of money sloshing around is stunning. I'm sure they've got well paid lobbyists telling legislators that people will be unemployed if student loans are reformed. I owe well over six figures so the irony is not lost on me. Hiring one half of the working class to debt collect from the other.

Tomonthebeach , October 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Who pays for diploma-mill educations, and why? I have always assumed that people attended cash-n-carry schools because they did not qualify aptitude/grade-wise for entrance to a state school, OR a 3rd party like DOD or VA was footing the tab. Both assumptions appear to be supported by data. Given the far-above-average drop/flunkout rate of diploma mills. I know from my military career that enlisted members sign up for courses (local or online) at diploma mills to get extra points toward promotions – at Navy expense. Personally, I would not pay to send my dog to such institutions to learn how to sit up and beg.

One thing is certain, collich kidz do not appear to spend nearly as much time researching where they go to $chool as they do buying the car they drive.

Democrita , October 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Jumping into the conversation a little late, but my alma mater recently embarked on a major rethink of the college business model, and cut tuition from around 50k to around 30k. We even got a writeup from Frank Bruni for it .

College officials (I'm relatively active as a fundraiser for my class) describe it as a shift to a "philanthropy model" of funding. Which worries me for lots of reasons. But at least it's a conversation-starter.

It's also very much a school that is not for people looking to buy a future income flow, but rather an education.

[Oct 16, 2018] How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley

From the book How Fascism Works The Politics of Us and Them Jason Stanley Amazon.com Hardcover: 240 pages Publisher: Random House (September 4, 2018)
Fascism is always eclectic and its doctrine is composed of several sometimes contradicting each other ideas. "Ideologically speaking, [the program] was a wooly, eclectic mixture of political, social, racist, national-imperialist wishful thinking..." (Ideologically speaking, [the program] was a wooly, eclectic mixture of political, social, racist, national-imperialist wishful thinking..." )
Some ideas are "sound bite only" and never are implemented and are present only to attract sheeple (looks National Socialist Program ). he program championed the right to employment , and called for the institution of profit sharing , confiscation of war profits , prosecution of usurers and profiteers, nationalization of trusts , communalization of department stores, extension of the old-age pension system, creation of a national education program of all classes, prohibition of child labor , and an end to the dominance of investment capital "
There is also "bait and switch" element in any fascism movement. Original fascism was strongly anti-capitalist, militaristic and "national greatness and purity" movement ("Make Germany great again"). It was directed against financial oligarchy and anti-semantic element in it was strong partially because it associated Jews with bankers and financial industry in general. In a way "Jews" were codeword for investment bankers.
For example " Arbeit Macht Frei " can be viewed as a neoliberal slogan. Then does not mean that neoliberalism. with its cult of productivity, is equal to fascism, but that neoliberal doctrine does encompass elements of the fascist doctrine including strong state, "law and order" mentality and relentless propaganda.
The word "fascist" is hurled at political / ideological opponents so often that it lost its meaning. The Nazi Party (NSDAP) originated as a working-class political party . This is not true about Trump whom many assume of having fascist leanings. His pro white working class rhetoric was a fig leaf used for duration or elections. After that he rules as a typical Republican president favoring big business. And as a typical neocon in foreign policy.
From this point of view Trump can't be viewed even as pro-fascist leader because first of all he does not have his own political movement, ideology and political program. And the second he does not strive for implementing uniparty state and abolishing the elections which is essential for fascism political platform, as fascist despise corrupt democracy and have a cult of strong leader.
All he can be called is neo-fascist s his some of his views do encompass ideas taken from fascist ideology (including "law and order"; which also is a cornerstone element of Republican ideology) as well as idealization and mystification of the US past. But with Bannon gone he also can't even pretend that he represents some coherent political movement like "economic nationalism" -- kind of enhanced mercantilism.
Of course, that does not mean that previous fascist leaders were bound by the fascism political program, but at least they had one. Historian Karl Dietrich Bracher writes that, "To [Hitler, the program] was little more than an effective, persuasive propaganda weapon for mobilizing and manipulating the masses. Once it had brought him to power, it became pure decoration: 'unalterable', yet unrealized in its demands for nationalization and expropriation, for land reform and 'breaking the shackles of finance capital'. Yet it nonetheless fulfilled its role as backdrop and pseudo-theory, against which the future dictator could unfold his rhetorical and dramatic talents."
Notable quotes:
"... Fascist politics invokes a pure mythic past tragically destroyed. Depending on how the nation is defined, the mythic past may be religiously pure, racially pure, culturally pure, or all of the above. But there is a common structure to all fascist mythologizing. In all fascist mythic pasts, an extreme version of the patriarchal family reigns supreme, even just a few generations ago. ..."
"... Further back in time, the mythic past was a time of glory of the nation, with wars of conquest led by patriotic generals, its armies filled with its countrymen, able-bodied, loyal warriors whose wives were at home raising the next generation. In the present, these myths become the basis of the nation's identity under fascist politics. ..."
"... In the rhetoric of extreme nationalists, such a glorious past has been lost by the humiliation brought on by globalism, liberal cosmopolitanism, and respect for "universal values" such as equality. These values are supposed to have made the nation weak in the face of real and threatening challenges to the nation's existence. ..."
"... fascist myths distinguish themselves with the creation of a glorious national history in which the members of the chosen nation ruled over others, the result of conquests and civilization-building achievements. ..."
"... The function of the mythic past, in fascist politics, is to harness the emotion of ­nostalgia to the central tenets of fascist ideology -- authoritarianism, hierarchy, purity, and struggle. ..."
Oct 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Chapter 1: The Mythic Past

It's in the name of tradition that the anti-Semites base their "point of view." It's in the name of tradition, the long, historical past and the blood ties with Pascal and Descartes, that the Jews are told, you will never belong here.

-- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1952)

It is only natural to begin this book where fascist politics invariably claims to discover its genesis: in the past. Fascist politics invokes a pure mythic past tragically destroyed. Depending on how the nation is defined, the mythic past may be religiously pure, racially pure, culturally pure, or all of the above. But there is a common structure to all fascist mythologizing. In all fascist mythic pasts, an extreme version of the patriarchal family reigns supreme, even just a few generations ago.

Further back in time, the mythic past was a time of glory of the nation, with wars of conquest led by patriotic generals, its armies filled with its countrymen, able-bodied, loyal warriors whose wives were at home raising the next generation. In the present, these myths become the basis of the nation's identity under fascist politics.

In the rhetoric of extreme nationalists, such a glorious past has been lost by the humiliation brought on by globalism, liberal cosmopolitanism, and respect for "universal values" such as equality. These values are supposed to have made the nation weak in the face of real and threatening challenges to the nation's existence.

These myths are generally based on fantasies of a nonexistent past uniformity, which survives in the traditions of the small towns and countrysides that remain relatively unpolluted by the liberal decadence of the cities. This uniformity -- linguistic, religious, geographical, or ­ethnic -- ​can be perfectly ordinary in some nationalist movements, but fascist myths distinguish themselves with the creation of a glorious national history in which the members of the chosen nation ruled over others, the result of conquests and civilization-building achievements. For example, in the fascist imagination, the past invariably involves traditional, patriarchal gender roles. The fascist mythic past has a particular structure, which supports its authoritarian, hierarchical ideology. That past societies were rarely as patriarchal -- or indeed as glorious -- as fascist ideology represents them as being is beside the point. This imagined history provides proof to support the imposition of hierarchy in the present, and it dictates how contemporary society should look and behave.

In a 1922 speech at the Fascist Congress in Naples, Benito Mussolini declared:

We have created our myth. The myth is a faith, a passion. It is not necessary for it to be a reality. . . . Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation! And to this myth, this greatness, which we want to translate into a total reality, we subordinate everything.

The patriarchal family is one ideal that fascist politicians intend to create in society -- or return to, as they claim. The patriarchal family is always represented as a central part of the nation's traditions, diminished, even recently, by the advent of liberalism and cosmopolitanism. But why is patriarchy so strategically central to fascist politics?

In a fascist society, the leader of the nation is analogous to the father in the traditional patriarchal family. The leader is the father of his nation, and his strength and power are the source of his legal authority, just as the strength and power of the father of the family in patri­archy are supposed to be the source of his ultimate moral authority over his children and wife. The leader provides for his nation, just as in the traditional family the father is the provider. The patriarchal father's authority derives from his strength, and strength is the chief authoritarian value. By representing the nation's past as one with a patriarchal family structure, fascist politics connects nostalgia to a central organizing hierarchal authoritarian structure, one that finds its purest representation in these norms.

Gregor Strasser was the National Socialist -- Nazi -- Reich propaganda chief in the 1920s, before the post was taken over by Joseph Goebbels. According to Strasser, "for a man, military service is the most profound and valuable form of participation -- for the woman it is motherhood!" Paula Siber, the acting head of the Association of German Women, in a 1933 document meant to reflect official National Socialist state policy on women, declares that "to be a woman means to be a mother, means affirming with the whole conscious force of one's soul the value of being a mother and making it a law of life . . . ​the highest calling of the National Socialist woman is not just to bear children, but consciously and out of total devotion to her role and duty as mother to raise children for her people." Richard Grunberger, a British historian of National Socialism, sums up "the kernel of Nazi thinking on the women's question" as "a dogma of inequality between the sexes as immutable as that between the races." The historian Charu Gupta, in her 1991 article "Politics of Gender: Women in Nazi Germany," goes as far as to argue that "oppression of women in Nazi Germany in fact furnishes the most extreme case of anti-feminism in the 20th century."

Here, Mussolini makes clear that the fascist mythic past is intentionally mythical. The function of the mythic past, in fascist politics, is to harness the emotion of ­nostalgia to the central tenets of fascist ideology -- authoritarianism, hierarchy, purity, and struggle.

With the creation of a mythic past, fascist politics creates a link between nostalgia and the realization of fascist ideals. German fascists also clearly and explicitly appreciated this point about the strategic use of a mythological past. The leading Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, editor of the prominent Nazi newspaper the Völkischer Beobachter, writes in 1924, "the understanding of and the respect for our own mythological past and our own history will form the first condition for more firmly anchoring the coming generation in the soil of Europe's original homeland." The fascist mythic past exists to aid in changing the present.

Jason Stanley is the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. Before coming to Yale in 2013, he was Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Stanley is the author of Know How; Languages in Context; More about Jason Stanley

5.0 out of 5 stars

July 17, 2018 Format: Hardcover Vine

Highly readable

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By Joel E. Mitchell on September 13, 2018
Massive Partisan Bias

This could have been such a helpful, insightful book. The word "fascist" is hurled at political / ideological opponents so often that it has started to lose its meaning. I hoped that this book would provide a historical perspective on fascism by examining actual fascist governments and drawing some parallels to the more egregious / worrisome trends in US & European politics. The chapter titles in the table of contents were promising:

- The Mythic Past
- Propaganda
- Anti-Intellectual
- Unreality
- Hierarchy
- Victimhood
- Law & Order
- Sexual Anxiety
- Sodom & Gomorrah
- Arbeit Macht Frei

Ironically (given the book's subtitle) the author used his book divisively: to laud his left-wing political views and demonize virtually all distinctively right-wing views. He uses the term "liberal democracy" inconsistently throughout, disengenuously equivocating between the meaning of "representative democracy as opposed to autocratic or oligarchic government" (which most readers would agree is a good thing) and "American left-wing political views" (which he treats as equally self-evidently superior if you are a right-thinking person). Virtually all American right-wing political views are presented in straw-man form, defined in such a way that they fit his definition of fascist politics.

I was expecting there to be a pretty heavy smear-job on President Trump and his cronies (much of it richly deserved...the man's demagoguery and autocratic tendencies are frightening), but for this to turn into "let's find a way to define virtually everything the Republicans are and do as fascist politics" was massively disappointing. The absurdly biased portrayal of all things conservative and constant hymns of praise to all things and all people left-wing buried some good historical research and valid parallels under an avalanche of partisanism.

If you want a more historical, less partisan view of the rise of fascist politics, I would highly recommend Darkness Over Germany by E. Amy Buller (Review Here). It was written during World War II (based on interviews with Germans before WWII), so you will have to draw your own contemporary parallels...but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

[Oct 08, 2018] Red Hat RHCSA-RHCE 7 Cert Guide Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (EX200 and EX300) (Certification Guide) Sander van Vugt

Oct 08, 2018 | www.amazon.com
5.0 out of 5 stars

By kievite on October 8, 2018

This is a better primary book for self-study then Michael Jang and Alessandro Orsaria

This book is a better primary book for self-study then Michael Jang and Alessandro Orsaria's book. The material is more logically organized and explained and is easier to follow. The author provides a few valuable tips, which I did not find in any other book.

RHEL 7 looks like a different flavor of Linux, not a continuation of RHEL 6 in many respects, and first of all due to addition of systemd and replacement of many previously used daemons (NTP daemon, firewall daemon, etc) as well as inclusion into the exam new topics such as built-in virtualization capabilities.

That means that the amount of material in RHEL 7 exam is much larger than in RHEL 6 exam and different topics are stressed (systemd, virtual machines, more complex networking staff including setting up kickstart, etc.). Michael Jang book is an adaptation of RHEL 6 book. This book is written for RHEL 7 from the ground up, and this is an important advantage.

As for which book to use, either-or is a naïve approach. You need to use both, especially, if the exam is paid from your own pocket, as a failure will cost you $400. Just don't take the failure too seriously -- the table is stacked against self-study folk like you -- and the second time you will do much better.

I just recommend you to use this one as the primary book. You should use Jang book too, as some information in it is missing in this book but, for example, I like better how such an important topic as how to recover root password is explained in this book.

I like his recommendation to use CentOS instead od RHEL for the preparation for the exam. This is a reasonable approach although there are some low-cost RHEL subscriptions as well. Using a plain vanilla RHEL without subscription makes the installation of software difficult as you do not have access to repositories. This is an important plus of this book.

I also noticed the attention to details that can be acquired only by actually working of RHEL for years, not just writing books -- for example the author mentions -A and -B options in grep, while Jang does not. Unfortunately, the differences between grep and egrep and when you need to use egrep (or grep -E) are not explained well in both books.

There are some reviews which concentrate on typos (yes, for example, the option -E typeset as -e in some examples) but this is a pretty naïve criteria to judge the book on such a complex topic. Of course, there will be multiple typos, but fixing them is a part of training and they do not diminish the value of the book, as those readers who can't fix are not ready to take the exam anyway. And if the person who supposedly passed RHEL 6 exam complains about such trivial staff, there is something fishy if his/her approach to the topic.

Generally breaking the configuration and then fixing it should be an important part of training and this book at least gives some hints of how to deal with booting problems (which are multiplied in RHEL 7 due to systemd craziness)

More important is an implicit level of the author who writes the book. A4nd my impression is that the level of Sander van Vugt is higher.

Red Hat exam stresses many Red Hat specific topics and as such taking it plunges you into priorities of Red Hat that were unknown to you. You can expect that some of those priorities/topics are peripheral to that you are doing at your job, and you will be taken by surprise the first time you take the exam, even if you deligently stidied the book and did all exercises. In this sense, it is better to pay for exam twice then to attend more expensive "Fast track" course, if you are paying money from your own pocket.

There are a lot of posts on the Internet about how easy is to pass this exam -- I do not trust them. While all materials are entry level and the resulting qualification is also entry level the mere amount of material is overwhelming and presents substantial difficulties even for people who administer RHEL and/or CentOS/Oracle Linux/Academic linux for many years.

[Oct 08, 2018] What an Audacious Hoax Reveals About Academia

Notable quotes:
"... Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. ..."
"... This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem." ..."
"... We spent that time writing academic papers and publishing them in respected peer-reviewed journals associated with fields of scholarship loosely known as "cultural studies" or "identity studies" (for example, gender studies) or "critical theory" because it is rooted in that postmodern brand of "theory" which arose in the late sixties. ..."
Oct 08, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Dr. Buddy Tubside , Oct 8, 2018 3:41:22 AM | link

What an Audacious Hoax Reveals About Academia

Three scholars wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions.

Harvard University's Yascha Mounk writing for The Atlantic:

"Over the past 12 months, three scholars -- James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian -- wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions, and tried to get them placed in high-profile journals in fields including gender studies, queer studies, and fat studies. Their success rate was remarkable


Sokal Squared doesn't just expose the low standards of the journals that publish this kind of dreck, though. It also demonstrates the extent to which many of them are willing to license discrimination if it serves ostensibly progressive goals.

This tendency becomes most evident in an article that advocates extreme measures to redress the "privilege" of white students.

Exhorting college professors to enact forms of "experiential reparations," the paper suggests telling privileged students to stay silent, or even BINDING THEM TO THE FLOOR IN CHAINS

If students protest, educators are told to "take considerable care not to validate privilege, sympathize with, or reinforce it and in so doing, recenter the needs of privileged groups at the expense of marginalized ones. The reactionary verbal protestations of those who oppose the progressive stack are verbal behaviors and defensive mechanisms that mask the fragility inherent to those inculcated in privilege."

In an article for Areo magazine, the authors of the hoax explain their motivation: "Something has gone wrong in the university -- especially in certain fields within the humanities.

Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview.

This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem."

We spent that time writing academic papers and publishing them in respected peer-reviewed journals associated with fields of scholarship loosely known as "cultural studies" or "identity studies" (for example, gender studies) or "critical theory" because it is rooted in that postmodern brand of "theory" which arose in the late sixties.

As a result of this work, we have come to call these fields "grievance studies" in shorthand because of their common goal of problematizing aspects of culture in minute detail in order to attempt diagnoses of power imbalances and oppression rooted in identity.

We undertook this project to study, understand, and expose the reality of grievance studies, which is corrupting academic research.

Because open, good-faith conversation around topics of identity such as gender, race, and sexuality (and the scholarship that works with them) is nearly impossible, our aim has been to reboot these conversations.''

To read more, see Areo magazine + "academic grievance studies and the corruption of scholarship"

[Sep 21, 2018] Bannon comes off surprisingly well in this book. I suspect he is a source for much of the info.

Sep 21, 2018 | www.amazon.com

3.0 out of 5 stars

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Fear: Trump in the White House

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By Jason on September 19, 2018
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

First, let me say I voted for Trump as a "Disrupter" and to that end he has exceeded expectations.

The book starts out great through the first 5 or 6 chapters, but then becomes a bit convoluted. The bottom line of the book and reality is that Trump is surrounded by apprentice scoundrels, and that he is the boss scoundrel.

He demands loyalty but gives none. As a Former Marine I would not follow him into battle; I would never have the opportunity because he and his sons would never go into harm's way.

The best of the book was the hinted forthcoming bombshells, that never exploded. Woodward dropped the ball on this one, and as an author myself, it's nice to see even the big boys, Simon & Schuster, have editing issues.

Jay Fitzpatrick author of "The Patsy".

[Sep 16, 2018] After the iron curtain fell, there was a big demand for Russian-trained programmers because they could program in a very efficient and light manner that didn't demand too much of the hardware, if I remember correctly

Notable quotes:
"... It's a bit of chicken-and-egg problem, though. Russia, throughout 20th century, had problem with developing small, effective hardware, so their programmers learned how to code to take maximum advantage of what they had, with their technological deficiency in one field giving rise to superiority in another. ..."
"... Russian tech ppl should always be viewed with certain amount of awe and respect...although they are hardly good on everything. ..."
"... Soviet university training in "cybernetics" as it was called in the late 1980s involved two years of programming on blackboards before the students even touched an actual computer. ..."
"... I recall flowcharting entirely on paper before committing a program to punched cards. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Bill Herschel 2 days ago ,

Very, very slightly off-topic.

Much has been made, including in this post, of the excellent organization of Russian forces and Russian military technology.

I have been re-investigating an open-source relational database system known as PosgreSQL (variously), and I remember finding perhaps a decade ago a very useful whole text search feature of this system which I vaguely remember was written by a Russian and, for that reason, mildly distrusted by me.

Come to find out that the principle developers and maintainers of PostgreSQL are Russian. OMG. Double OMG, because the reason I chose it in the first place is that it is the best non-proprietary RDBS out there and today is supported on Google Cloud, AWS, etc.

The US has met an equal or conceivably a superior, case closed. Trump's thoroughly odd behavior with Putin is just one but a very obvious one example of this.

Of course, Trump's nationalistic blather is creating a "base" of people who believe in the godliness of the US. They are in for a very serious disappointment.

kao_hsien_chih Bill Herschel a day ago ,

After the iron curtain fell, there was a big demand for Russian-trained programmers because they could program in a very efficient and "light" manner that didn't demand too much of the hardware, if I remember correctly.

It's a bit of chicken-and-egg problem, though. Russia, throughout 20th century, had problem with developing small, effective hardware, so their programmers learned how to code to take maximum advantage of what they had, with their technological deficiency in one field giving rise to superiority in another.

Russia has plenty of very skilled, very well-trained folks and their science and math education is, in a way, more fundamentally and soundly grounded on the foundational stuff than US (based on my personal interactions anyways).

Russian tech ppl should always be viewed with certain amount of awe and respect...although they are hardly good on everything.

TTG kao_hsien_chih a day ago ,

Well said. Soviet university training in "cybernetics" as it was called in the late 1980s involved two years of programming on blackboards before the students even touched an actual computer.

It gave the students an understanding of how computers works down to the bit flipping level. Imagine trying to fuzz code in your head.

FarNorthSolitude TTG a day ago ,

I recall flowcharting entirely on paper before committing a program to punched cards. I used to do hex and octal math in my head as part of debugging core dumps. Ah, the glory days.

Honeywell once made a military computer that was 10 bit. That stumped me for a while, as everything was 8 or 16 bit back then.

kao_hsien_chih FarNorthSolitude 10 hours ago ,

That used to be fairly common in the civilian sector (in US) too: computing time was expensive, so you had to make sure that the stuff worked flawlessly before it was committed.

No opportunity to seeing things go wrong and do things over like much of how things happen nowadays. Russians, with their hardware limitations/shortages, I imagine must have been much more thorough than US programmers were back in the old days, and you could only get there by being very thoroughly grounded n the basics.

[Sep 16, 2018] Challenging Freedom: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democratic Education by Robert Karaba

"Teaching to the test" is a perversion of education. Excessive quantification is bad. Both are primary features of neoliberal education.
Notable quotes:
"... If we care about the prospects of democratic education, we must take neoliberalism's success seriously, for it is a philosophical framework in which freedom and democratic education are mutually exclusive. ..."
"... We must intentionally challenge the neoliberal notion of the value freedom and the usefulness of its associated philosophical assumptions. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | democracyeducationjournal.org

Goodlad, et al. (2002) rightly point out that a culture can either resist or support change. Schein's (2010) model of culture indicates observable behaviors of a culture can be explained by exposing underlying shared values and basic assumptions that give meaning to the performance. Yet culture is many-faceted and complex. So Schein advised a clinical approach to cultural analysis that calls for identifying a problem in order to focus the analysis on relevant values and assumptions. This project starts with two assumptions:

  1. The erosion of democratic education is a visible overt behavior of the current U.S. macro-culture, and
  2. This is a problem.

I intend to use this problem of the erosion of democratic education as a basis for a cultural analysis. My essential question is: What are the deeper, collective, competing value commitments and shared basic assumptions that hinder efforts for democratic education? The purpose of this paper is to start a conversation about particular cultural limitations and barriers we are working with as we move toward recapturing the civic mission of education.

... ... ...

Neoliberalism's success in infiltrating the national discourse shuts out alternative discourses and appears to render them irrelevant in everyday American culture (R. Quantz, personal communication, Summer 2006). If we care about the prospects of democratic education, we must take neoliberalism's success seriously, for it is a philosophical framework in which freedom and democratic education are mutually exclusive. Dewey (1993), in all his wisdom, warned:

And let those who are struggling to replace the present economic system by a cooperative one also remember that in struggling for a new system of social restraints and controls they are also struggling for a more equal and equitable balance of powers that will enhance and multiply the effective liberties of the mass of individuals. Let them not be jockeyed into the position of supporting social control at the expense of liberty [emphasis added]. (p. 160)

Yet, that is exactly the situation in which we find ourselves today. Democratic education is viewed as a social control policy, as an infringement on the supremacy of the [neoliberal] freedom. We witness a lack of democratic citizenship, moral, and character education in our schools. We see a lack of redistributing resources for equality of educational opportunity. We observe a lack of talk about education's civic mission, roles, and goals. Democratic education is viewed as tangential, secondary, and mutually exclusive from the prioritized value of "liberty." How can we foster alternative notions of freedom, such as Lincoln's republican sense of liberty as collectively inquiring and deciding how we rule ourselves?

We must intentionally challenge the neoliberal notion of the value freedom and the usefulness of its associated philosophical assumptions.

[Sep 16, 2018] Challenging Freedom: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democratic Education

Sep 16, 2018 | democracyeducationjournal.org

Goodlad, et al. (2002) rightly point out that a culture can either resist or support change. Schein's (2010) model of culture indicates observable behaviors of a culture can be explained by exposing underlying shared values and basic assumptions that give meaning to the performance. Yet culture is many-faceted and complex. So Schein advised a clinical approach to cultural analysis that calls for identifying a problem in order to focus the analysis on relevant values and assumptions. This project starts with two assumptions:

(1) The erosion of democratic education is a visible overt behavior of the current U.S. macro-culture, and

(2) this is a problem.

I intend to use this problem of the erosion of democratic education as a basis for a cultural analysis. My essential question is: What are the deeper, collective, competing value commitments and shared basic assumptions that hinder efforts for democratic education? The purpose of this paper is to start a conversation about particular cultural limitations and barriers we are working with as we move toward recapturing the civic mission of education.

[Sep 16, 2018] Ending the Secrecy of the Student Debt Crisis

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes.
Notable quotes:
"... Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage . ..."
"... By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine ..."
"... Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills. ..."
"... Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew. ..."
"... With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances. ..."
"... When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems. ..."
"... Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization." ..."
"... "Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost." ..."
"... A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains. ..."
"... Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article describes how the stigma of struggling to pay student debt is a burden in and of itself. I wish this article had explained how little it take to trigger an escalation into default interest rates and how punitive they are. The piece also stresses the value of activism as a form of psychological relief, by connecting stressed student debt borrowers with people similarly afflicted.

But the bigger issue is the way indebtedness is demonized in a society that makes it pretty much impossible to avoid borrowing. One reader recounted how many (as in how few) weeks of after tax wages it took to buy a car in the 1960s versus now. Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase. And if you don't have installment credit or a mortgage, the consumer credit agencies ding you!

It goes without saying that the sense of shame is harder to endure due to how shallow most people's social networks are, which is another product of neoliberalism.

In keeping, the New York Times today ran an op-ed by one of its editors on how student debtors are also victims of the crisis, reprinted from a longer piece in The Baffler (hat tip Dan K). Key sections :

Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage .

Many people have and will continue to condemn me personally for my tremendous but unexceptional student debt, and the ways in which it has made the recession's effects linger for my family. I've spent quite a lot of time in the past decade accepting this blame. The recession may have compounded my family's economic insecurity, but I also made the conscious decision to take out loans for a college I couldn't afford in order to become a journalist, a profession with minimal financial returns. The amount of debt I owe in student loans -- about $100,000 -- is more than I make in a given year. I am ashamed and embarrassed by this, but as I grow older, I think it is time that those profiting from this country's broken economic system share some of my guilt

[At my commencement in 2009] Mrs. Clinton then echoed a fantasy of boundless opportunity that had helped guide the country into economic collapse, deceiving many of the parents in attendance, including my own, into borrowing toward a future that they couldn't work hard enough to afford. "There is no problem we face here in America or around the world that will not yield to human effort," she said. "Our challenges are ones that summon the best of us, and we will make the world better tomorrow than it is today." At the time, I wondered if this was accurate. I now know how wrong she was.

By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine

Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills.

Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew.

With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances.

When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems.

"If I shared this with anyone they will look down upon me as some kind of fool," explains a North Carolina psychologist who is now beyond retirement age. He explains that his student debt balance soared after losing a well-paying position during the financial crisis, and that he is struggling to pay it back.

Financial shame alienates struggling borrowers. Debtors blame themselves and self-loathe when they can't make their payments, explains Colette Simone, a Michigan psychologist. "There is so much fear of sharing the reality of their financial situation and the devastation it is causing in every facet of their lives," she says. "The consequences of coming forward can result in social pushback and possible job -- related complications, which only deepen their suffering."

Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization."

With an average debt of just over $37,000 per borrower for the class of 2016 , and given that incomes have been flat since the 1970s , it's not surprising that borrowers are struggling to pay. Student loans have a squeaky-clean reputation, and society tends to view them as a noble symbol of the taxpayers' generosity to the working poor. Fear of facing society's ostracism for failure to pay them back has left borrowers alienated and trapped in a lending system that is engulfing them in debt bondage.

"Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost."

Student debtors can counter despair by fighting back through activism and political engagement, she says. "Connection is the antidote to alienation, and engaging in activism, along with therapy, is a way to recovery."

Despite the fear of coming forward, some activists are building a social movement in which meaningful connections among borrowers can counter the taboo of openly admitting financial ruin.

Student Loan Justice, a national grassroots lobby group, is attempting to build this movement by pushing for robust legislation to return bankruptcy protections to borrowers. The group has active chapters in almost every state, with members directly lobbying their local representatives to sign on as co-sponsors to HR 2366. Activists are building a supportive community for struggling borrowers through political agitation, local engagement, storytelling, and by spreading a courageous message of hope that may embolden traumatized borrowers to come forward and unite.

Julie Margetaa Morgan , a fellow at The Roosevelt Institute, recently noted that student debt servicers like Navient have a powerful influence on lawmakers. "Student loan borrowers may not have millions to spend on lobbying, but they have something equally, if not more, powerful: millions of voices," she says.

A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change. In a recent interview he explained that the conditions for borrowers are so bad already that debtors may not join the boycott willingly. Instead, participation may simply happen by default given the lack of proper work opportunities that lead to borrowers' inability to pay.

While a large-scale default may not happen through willful and supportive collective action, ending the secrecy of the crisis through massive national attention may destigmatize the shame of financial defeat and finally bring debtors out of the isolation that causes them so much despair.

Activists are calling for a significant conversation about the commodification of educating our youth, shifting our focus toward investing into the promise of the young and able, rather than the guarantee of their perpetual debt bondage. In calling for collective action they soothe the hurt of so many alienated debtors, breaking the taboos that allow them to say, "Me, too" and admit openly that in this financial climate we all need each other to move forward.


Jane , September 16, 2018 at 4:15 am

How much are the interest rates on student loans there in the USA? Here in India its 11.5% if you want to finance studies abroad. 8.5 for some select institutions.

JVR , September 16, 2018 at 5:36 am

I wonder if the media's obsession with "millenials" isn't primarily a way to try to divide people with shared interests, above all around the topics of student debt and the job market and to make the problems seem like they have shallower roots than they really do. The individuals mentioned here are older than that 24-37 age cohort, one of them much older.

Epistrophy , September 16, 2018 at 6:42 am

Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase.

Yes Yes. Car manufacturers are actually finance houses selling products manufactured by subcontractors – such is the state of American industry – but their dream is to move to a SaaS model where ownership, of anything, becomes a relic of the past (except for the overlords and oligarchs).

This could not be possible without government corruption and revolving-door regulation. Maybe these PAYG vehicles will contain built-in body scanners too; for our own security, of course.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change.

Default, or radical change, would bring the economy to it's knees. But when there is another economic downturn, this is going to happen anyway. Terrible situation; negative real interest rates destroying the pensions of the elderly, student loan servitude destroying the youth and the middle class being squeezed to oblivion. What can be done to fix it, I ask?

Yet they are doing God's work, are they? Well, this is not a God I choose to worship.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

Well good for you. How many cars, of what age, have you bought, for your anecdote to rate as anything vaguely resembling the wide reality, and how does your personal financial situation let you just write checks for $30 or $70,000?

Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely.

And one wonders what the investment is in trying to impeach the points of this report, wth such an unlikely and atypical claim.

UserFriendly , September 16, 2018 at 6:57 am

NYT ran the same story , interesting they edited out his total debt and major though.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:39 am

Maybe a little traction, then, for the notion, and increasingly the inescapable reality, of #juststoppaying on those "remember Joe Biden" virtually non-dischargeable, often fraudulently induced, "student loan" debt shackles?

[Sep 16, 2018] Essentially, this book is just Michael Wolfe or Omarosa's stories, only drier and with more footnotes

Notable quotes:
"... Rather than being a revelatory, shocking look behind the curtain of an administration run by the single dumbest man to ever hold his office, the book just confirms the stories we've already heard, mixing in additional commentary from people in or close to the White House, mostly former employees who clearly still agree with Trump's agenda, even if they could no longer stand the man himself. ..."
"... Woodward presents anecdotes from these individuals--people like Sen. Lindsay Graham, a renown proponent of endless wars in the Middle East, and Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist, an out-and-proud xenophobe and fascist--without commentary or context, which has the odd effect of presenting these people only in contrast and comparison to Trump himself. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Edward Novak on September 15, 2018

A frustratingly neutral collection of accounts from morally questionable people.

Trump is really, really bad at being President. This isn't news to anyone who has been following the leaks, rumors, announcements, policies, and tweets coming out of the White House for the last nineteen months.

Rather than being a revelatory, shocking look behind the curtain of an administration run by the single dumbest man to ever hold his office, the book just confirms the stories we've already heard, mixing in additional commentary from people in or close to the White House, mostly former employees who clearly still agree with Trump's agenda, even if they could no longer stand the man himself.

Woodward presents anecdotes from these individuals--people like Sen. Lindsay Graham, a renown proponent of endless wars in the Middle East, and Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist, an out-and-proud xenophobe and fascist--without commentary or context, which has the odd effect of presenting these people only in contrast and comparison to Trump himself.

One unfamiliar with Bannon, for example, could come away from the book thinking that he was a fairly reasonable person (rather than a racist, white nationalist) because he is only ever shown as a foil to the ongoing circus of incompetence that is the Trump administration.

This is Woodward's style, of course; he presents himself as an almost entirely neutral presence, merely transcribing the things he learned, but when discussing such dangerous and reprehensible people, a paragraph here and there dedicated to reminding readers what, exactly, these people claim to believe would have been appreciated additional context.

Essentially, this book is just Michael Wolfe or Omarosa's stories, only drier and with more footnotes.

[Sep 14, 2018] The book Journalists for Hire How the CIA Buys the News Dr. Udo Ulfkotte was "privished"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Anyone who claims there are no conspiracies, that there are no behind-the-scenes efforts by powerful people to suppress information that would expose their efforts at global domination, is full of crap. ..."
"... How many CIA-paid journalists do you have on staff at the Washington Post? ..."
"... The author who was a deputy editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine and worked there for 17 years turns whistleblower and spills the beans on the corruption of German media by US lobby agencies which have CIA backing. ..."
"... The news is always given a pro American slant and journalists can look forward to rewards for their efforts. Should they not collude then their career is over. Corrupted German journalists are named and shamed. The EU is also revealed to be equally corrupt . ..."
"... German journalists assigned to EU reporting have to sign a document stating that they will never write anything negative about the EU. The level of manipulation by the EU is also frightening. ..."
"... This situation reeks of Stasi or Asian plutocratic realms. We want our freedom back! What are you people (including colluding Amazon) trying to cover up? Shame on you! ..."
"... The collussion of corporate media and Western intelligence is a taboo subject one must surmise. It suggests that our power structure realizes it has a rather fragile hold on the popular mind when the CIA morphs into the former KGB to simply suppress and disappear unacceptable reporting. ..."
"... I would suggest that the absolute silence by MSM about this book and its censorship validates the authors contentions that much of MSM reporting is right out of the Western intelligence agencies and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality on the ground. ..."
Sep 14, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Steven Yates 5.0 out of 5 stars August 7, 2017 Format: Hardcover

This book was "privished"

No, I haven't read the book, because it is priced completely out of my reach. I am giving it five stars anyway because of what I've read *about* it, as I've followed its author's saga -- the blackout by German media of the original German edition Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) for a couple of years now, raids by German police on the author's house, his noting how he feared for his life, and his finally being found dead on January 13 of this year "from a heart attack" (he was only 56, and because it is possible to kill someone in ways that look like a heart attack, some people believe he was murdered).

The fate of a whistleblower against one of the world's most powerful organizations in a controlled society being passed off as a democracy?

Two things are abundantly clear:

(1) The English translation of this book has been "privished." There are a couple of good recent discussions of what it means to "privish" a book, but Amazon will not allow me to link to them. So let's just say: the purpose of "privishing" is make a book with an unwanted message disappear without a trace by limiting information about it, destroying its marketability by printing too few copies, and refusing reprint rights, so that the copies available are too expensive for readers of ordinary means (which is nearly all of us).

(2) Anyone who claims there are no conspiracies, that there are no behind-the-scenes efforts by powerful people to suppress information that would expose their efforts at global domination, is full of crap.

XXX, September 30, 2017 Format: Paperback
Sell this book so we can buy it!

Amazon, you are a tool of the State. This book is available in English at a market competitive price. Why do you refuse to make it available to your customers?

How many CIA-paid journalists do you have on staff at the Washington Post? To the reviewer who asked how much money the author will see from the exhorbotant price of the book, he won't see any because he is dead.

He died of hearth issues shortly after the publication of the book. He did have a history of heart ailments so I am not implying a sinister act. You can find an good interview with him on YouTube if they haven't removed it.

XXX, November 11, 2017 Format: Paperback
Dynamite

Have read this book in German but as far as I know it is no longer available in bookshops in Germany either. The author who was a deputy editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine and worked there for 17 years turns whistleblower and spills the beans on the corruption of German media by US lobby agencies which have CIA backing.

The news is always given a pro American slant and journalists can look forward to rewards for their efforts. Should they not collude then their career is over. Corrupted German journalists are named and shamed. The EU is also revealed to be equally corrupt .

German journalists assigned to EU reporting have to sign a document stating that they will never write anything negative about the EU. The level of manipulation by the EU is also frightening. The author himself was part of the set up and even received a prestigious reward for his pro America efforts but eventually became disgusted by the system and his collusion in it.

I pre ordered the book last year in English on Amazon as my son wanted to read it but I kept receiving emails from Amazon changing publication dates and eventually they informed me that they were unable to access the book. There is no doubt that the book is dynamite and has been suppressed because of this.

XXX, July 31, 2017 Format: Hardcover
Tyranny in America Writ Large In A Super-Large Price

Somebody has set the price of this book -- available in English though it is -- so high as to make it unavailable. I wonder, if some rich or extremely extravagant person were to bye this book at the $1300 price it's offered at, would the author ever see a dime of that?

This situation reeks of Stasi or Asian plutocratic realms. We want our freedom back! What are you people (including colluding Amazon) trying to cover up? Shame on you!

XXX, August 16, 2017 Format: Paperback
Second book I've wanted that's been banned

Second book I've wanted that's been banned by Amazon. Shame on you, Mr. Bezos. Unfortunately for you, more people are waking up to this. The cracks are starting to show.

bossaboy on November 19, 2017
The suppression of the English language version of this book is censorship of the most Orwellian kind.

I have been awaiting the English version of this book for several years now, watching with interest while the publishing date was delayed multiple times. As a best seller in Germany one had to wonder why it would take years to translate the book to English unless there were forces working against publication. Well, low and behold it is finally set to publish in May 2017 when it again doesn't and finally disappears from sight. The obvious suppression of this book is censorship of the press and of course speaks volumes about Western "freedom of the press" as a fantasy.

The collussion of corporate media and Western intelligence is a taboo subject one must surmise. It suggests that our power structure realizes it has a rather fragile hold on the popular mind when the CIA morphs into the former KGB to simply suppress and disappear unacceptable reporting.

I would suggest that the absolute silence by MSM about this book and its censorship validates the authors contentions that much of MSM reporting is right out of the Western intelligence agencies and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality on the ground.

Somewhere in the great beyond Orwell is smiling and thinking "I told you so."

[Sep 13, 2018] Today we live in a world of predatory educators

Notable quotes:
"... Interesting article on and comments by Thomas Frank, touching on the cognitive elite as a unified class and war on the middle class (my words not his) ..."
"... "Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education......." ..."
Sep 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Sep 13, 2018 2:38:42 AM | link

Interesting article on and comments by Thomas Frank, touching on the cognitive elite as a unified class and war on the middle class (my words not his)

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/09/read-book-itll-make-radical-conversation-thomas-frank.html

".....the ongoing dissolving and crumblingand sinking -- all his metaphors -- of our society. And with such metaphors Frank describes the "one essential story" he is telling in Rendezvous with Oblivion: "This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate" "

And this

"Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education......."

[Sep 07, 2018] How Can We Fix The Broken Economics of Open Source?

Notable quotes:
"... [with some subset of features behind a paywall] ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

If we take consulting, services, and support off the table as an option for high-growth revenue generation (the only thing VCs care about), we are left with open core [with some subset of features behind a paywall] , software as a service, or some blurring of the two... Everyone wants infrastructure software to be free and continuously developed by highly skilled professional developers (who in turn expect to make substantial salaries), but no one wants to pay for it. The economics of this situation are unsustainable and broken ...

[W]e now come to what I have recently called "loose" open core and SaaS. In the future, I believe the most successful OSS projects will be primarily monetized via this method. What is it? The idea behind "loose" open core and SaaS is that a popular OSS project can be developed as a completely community driven project (this avoids the conflicts of interest inherent in "pure" open core), while value added proprietary services and software can be sold in an ecosystem that forms around the OSS...

Unfortunately, there is an inflection point at which in some sense an OSS project becomes too popular for its own good, and outgrows its ability to generate enough revenue via either "pure" open core or services and support... [B]uilding a vibrant community and then enabling an ecosystem of "loose" open core and SaaS businesses on top appears to me to be the only viable path forward for modern VC-backed OSS startups.
Klein also suggests OSS foundations start providing fellowships to key maintainers, who currently "operate under an almost feudal system of patronage, hopping from company to company, trying to earn a living, keep the community vibrant, and all the while stay impartial..."

"[A]s an industry, we are going to have to come to terms with the economic reality: nothing is free, including OSS. If we want vibrant OSS projects maintained by engineers that are well compensated and not conflicted, we are going to have to decide that this is something worth paying for. In my opinion, fellowships provided by OSS foundations and funded by companies generating revenue off of the OSS is a great way to start down this path."

[Sep 07, 2018] 30% of America's Student Loan Borrowers Can't Keep Up After Six Years

Sep 07, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

recently ruled that under some circumstances employers can link their 401(k) matching contributions to the amount of an employee's student loan repayments -- making it easier for recent graduates to take advantage of this employer benefit. But that's one spot of good news in a sea of bad, according to one anonymous Slashdot reader: Two new articles criticize America's student loan policies (under both the Obama and Trump administrations). CNBC cites reports that within six years, more than 15% of student borrowers had officially defaulted , while 10% more had stopped making payments and another 4.8% were at least 90 days late. And for-profit colleges fared even worse, where nearly 25% of graduates defaulted, and a total of 44% faced "some form of loan distress."

These trends were masked by Department of Education reports which stopped tracking repayment rates after just three years (reporting defaults rates of just 10%), according to Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "Official statistics present a relatively rosy picture of student debt. But looking at outcomes over more time and in greater detail shows that hundreds of thousands more borrowers from each cohort face troubles repaying."

[Sep 04, 2018] Kunstler Warns -Some Kind Of Epic National Restructuring Is In The Works

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ). ..."
"... As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale. ..."
"... Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods. ..."
"... Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. ..."
"... A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up) ..."
"... The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens. ..."
"... It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries. ..."
"... As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. ..."
Sep 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

And so the sun seems to stand still this last day before the resumption of business-as-usual, and whatever remains of labor in this sclerotic republic takes its ease in the ominous late summer heat, and the people across this land marinate in anxious uncertainty.

What can be done?

Some kind of epic national restructuring is in the works. It will either happen consciously and deliberately or it will be forced on us by circumstance. One side wants to magically reenact the 1950s; the other wants a Gnostic transhuman utopia. Neither of these is a plausible outcome.

Most of the arguments ranging around them are what Jordan Peterson calls "pseudo issues." Let's try to take stock of what the real issues might be.

Energy

The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ).

For all that, the shale oil producers still couldn't make money at it. If interest rates go up, the industry will choke on the debt it has already accumulated and lose access to new loans. If the Fed reverses its current course - say, to rescue the stock and bond markets - then the shale oil industry has perhaps three more years before it collapses on a geological basis, maybe less. After that, we're out of tricks. It will affect everything.

The perceived solution is to run all our stuff on electricity, with the electricity produced by other means than fossil fuels , so-called alt energy. This will only happen on the most limited basis and perhaps not at all. (And it is apart from the question of the decrepit electric grid itself.) What's required is a political conversation about how we inhabit the landscape, how we do business, and what kind of business we do. The prospect of dismantling suburbia -- or at least moving out of it -- is evidently unthinkable. But it's going to happen whether we make plans and policies, or we're dragged kicking and screaming away from it.

Corporate tyranny

The nation is groaning under despotic corporate rule. The fragility of these operations is moving toward criticality. As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale.

Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods.

The implosion of national chain retail is already underway. Amazon is not the answer, because each Amazon sales item requires a separate truck trip to its destination, and that just doesn't square with our energy predicament. We've got to rebuild main street economies and the layers of local and regional distribution that support them. That's where many jobs and careers are.

Climate change is most immediately affecting farming. 2018 will be a year of bad harvests in many parts of the world. Agri-biz style farming, based on oil-and-gas plus bank loans is a ruinous practice, and will not continue in any case. Can we make choices and policies to promote a return to smaller scale farming with intelligent methods rather than just brute industrial force plus debt? If we don't, a lot of people will starve to death. By the way, here is the useful work for a large number of citizens currently regarded as unemployable for one reason or another.

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. Both are destined to be severely downscaled.

A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up).

We need millions of small farmers more than we need millions of communications majors with a public relations minor. It may be too late for a single-payer medical system. A collapsing oil-based industrial economy means a lack of capital, and fiscal hocus-pocus is just another form of racketeering. Medicine will have to get smaller and less complex and that means local clinic-based health care. Lots of careers there, and that is where things are going, so get ready.

Government over-reach

The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens.

It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries.

As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. It's happening already, whether we like it or not, as geopolitical relations shift drastically and the other nations on the planet scramble for survival in a post-industrial world that will be a good deal harsher than the robotic paradise of digitally "creative" economies that the credulous expect.

This country has enough to do within its own boundaries to prepare for survival without making extra trouble for itself and other people around the world. As a practical matter, this means close as many overseas bases as possible, as soon as possible.

As we get back to business tomorrow, ask yourself where you stand in the blather-storm of false issues and foolish ideas, in contrast to the things that actually matter.

[Aug 24, 2018] My father, who was a professor, used to say: "Jesus was a great teacher, but he didn't publish enough to get tenure."

Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

YALENSIS August 23, 2018 at 1:56 pm

My father, who was a professor, used to say: "Jesus was a great teacher, but he didn't publish enough to get tenure."
JEN August 23, 2018 at 2:18 pm
Jesus would not stay very long on Twitter. People would take his tweets all too literally and he would get tired of having to explain for the umpteenth time that he didn't believe that a camel really could walk through the eye of a needle.

[Aug 15, 2018] Most US graduates won't be debt-free until they're in their 40s.

Aug 15, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

This fall, more than 20 million college students will begin a new academic year. To help cover rising tuition rates that continue to outpace inflation , they'll rely on one or more of the federal government's six low-interest loan programs, adding to the $1.5 trillion of student debt already owed in the United States. Despite nine repayment plans, eight forgiveness programs, and almost three dozen deferment options offered by the government, most won't be debt-free until they're in their 40s.

[Aug 08, 2018] Zone23 is sort of a cross between 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but with better, much funnier, dialogue. It also introduces the corporate-state-hybrid as a menacing enemy.

Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

BillDakota , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 6:28 am GMT

Zone 23 was one of the best novels I've ever read. I'm a big reader, and Zone 23 stands out as one of the better fiction books in my lifetime. It is sort of a cross between 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but with better, much funnier, dialogue. It also introduces the corporate-state-hybrid as a menacing enemy.

[Aug 08, 2018] Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People

Notable quotes:
"... please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war. ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [207] Disclaimer , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 7:08 am GMT

After observing Skynet's coordinated attack on Alex Jone's Infowars yesterday, we can hardly wait to implement Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People, and eagerly await the God-Emperor's word.

Second, please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war.

No one else may have been paying attention to the unintended consequences of that, but many folks on our side of the present divide were. Food for thought. A reminder about the shape of the battlefield (legal and otherwise) and Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement.

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2010/03/man-bites-dog-dogs-get-pissed-off.html

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to navigation Jump to search "Ministry of Love" redirects here. For other uses, see Ministry of Love (disambiguation) .

The Ministries of Love , Peace , Plenty , and Truth are ministries in George Orwell 's futuristic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four , set in Oceania . [1] Despite the name, no actual "ministers" are mentioned in the book, and all public attention is focused on the idealized figurehead Big Brother .

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink .

--   Part II, Chapter IX
Contents Ministry of Love [ edit ]

The Ministry of Love ( Newspeak : Miniluv ) serves as Oceania's interior ministry . It enforces loyalty to Big Brother through fear, buttressed through a massive apparatus of security and repression, as well as systematic brainwashing . The Ministry of Love building has no windows and is surrounded by barbed wire entanglements, steel doors, hidden machine-gun nests , and guards armed with "jointed truncheons ". Referred to as "the place where there is no darkness", its interior lights are never turned off. It is arguably the most powerful ministry, controlling the will of the population. The Thought Police are a part of Miniluv.

The Ministry of Love, like the other ministries, is misnamed, since it is largely responsible for the practice and infliction of misery, fear, suffering and torture . In a sense, however, the name is apt, since its ultimate purpose is to instill love of Big Brother -- the only form of love permitted in Oceania -- in the minds of thoughtcriminals as part of the process of reverting them to orthodox thought. This is typical of the language of Newspeak , in which words and names frequently contain both an idea and its opposite; the orthodox party member is nonetheless able to resolve these contradictions through the disciplined use of doublethink .

Room 101 [ edit ] "Room 101" redirects here. For other uses, see Room 101 (disambiguation) .

Room 101 , introduced in the climax of the novel, is the basement torture chamber in the Ministry of Love, in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare , fear or phobia , with the object of breaking down their resistance.

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.

--   O'Brien , Part III, Chapter V

Such is the purported omniscience of the state in the society of Nineteen Eighty-Four that even a citizen's nightmares are known to the Party. The nightmare, and therefore the threatened punishment, of the protagonist Winston Smith is to be attacked by rats . This is manifested in Room 101 by confronting Smith with a wire cage that contains two large rats. The front of the cage is shaped so that it can fit over a person's face. A trap-door is then opened, allowing the rats to devour the victim's face. This cage is fitted over Smith's face, but he saves himself by begging the authorities to let his lover, Julia , suffer this torture instead of him. The threatened torture, and what Winston does to escape it, breaks his last promise to himself and to Julia: never to betray her. The book suggests that Julia is likewise subjected to her own worst fear (although it is not revealed what that fear is), and when she and Winston later meet in a park, he notices a scar on her forehead. The intent of threatening Winston with the rats was to force him into betraying the only person he loved and therefore to break his spirit.

Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room at Broadcasting House where he used to sit through tedious meetings. [2] When the original room 101 at the BBC was due to be demolished, a plaster cast of it was made by artist Rachel Whiteread and displayed in the cast courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum from November 2003 until June 2004. [3] [4]

Ministry of Peace [ edit ]

The Ministry of Peace ( Newspeak : Minipax ) serves as the war ministry of Oceania's government, and is in charge of the armed forces , mostly the navy and army . The Ministry of Peace may be the most vital organ of Oceania, seeing as the nation is supposedly at an ongoing genocidal war with either Eurasia or Eastasia and requires the right amount of force not to win the war, but keep it in a state of equilibrium.

As explained in Emmanuel Goldstein 's book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism , the Ministry of Peace revolves around the principle of perpetual war . Perpetual war uses up all surplus resources, keeping most citizens in lives of constant hardship – and thus preventing them from learning enough to comprehend the true nature of their society. Perpetual warfare also "helps preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs." Since that means the balance of the country rests in the war, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of fighting the war (mostly centered around Africa and India), but making sure to never tip the scales, in case the war should become one-sided. Oceanic telescreens usually broadcast news reports about how Oceania is continually winning every battle it fights, though these reports have little to no credibility.

As with all the other Nineteen Eighty-Four ministries, the Ministry of Peace is named the exact opposite of what it does, since the Ministry of Peace is in charge of maintaining a state of war. The meaning of peace has been equated with the meaning of war in the slogan of the party, "War is Peace". Like the names of other ministries, it also has a literal application. Perpetual war is what keeps the "peace" (the status quo) in Oceania and the balance of power in the world.

Ministry of Plenty [ edit ]

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

Ministry of Truth [ edit ] Senate House, London , where Orwell's wife worked at the Ministry of Information , was his model for the Ministry of Truth

The Ministry of Truth ( Newspeak : Minitrue ) is the ministry of propaganda . As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.

As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak , in which, for example, "truth" is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.

Description [ edit ]

Winston Smith , the main character of Nineteen Eighty-Four , works at the Ministry of Truth. [5] It is an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete rising 300 metres (980 ft) into the air, containing over 3000 rooms above ground. On the outside wall are the three slogans of the Party: "WAR IS PEACE," "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY," "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." There is also a large part underground, probably containing huge incinerators where documents are destroyed after they are put down memory holes . For his description, Orwell was inspired by the Senate House at the University of London . [6]

Role in information [ edit ]

The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth correct the record to make it accurate. This is the "how" of the Ministry of Truth's existence. Within the novel, Orwell elaborates that the deeper reason for its existence, the "why", is to maintain the illusion that the Party is absolute. It cannot ever seem to change its mind (if, for instance, they perform one of their constant changes regarding enemies during war) or make a mistake (firing an official or making a grossly misjudged supply prediction), for that would imply weakness and to maintain power the Party must seem eternally right and strong.

Minitrue plays a role as the news media by changing history, and changing the words in articles about events current and past, so that Big Brother and his government are always seen in a good light and can never do any wrong. The content is more propaganda than actual news.

Departments [ edit ]

The following are the sections or departments of the ministry mentioned in the text:

Cultural impact [ edit ]

The novel's popularity has resulted in the term "Room 101" being used to represent a place where unpleasant things are done.

In fiction [ edit ]

In The Ricky Gervais Show , Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant play a game called "Room 102", based on the concept of "Room 101", in which Karl Pilkington has to decide what things he dislikes enough to put in Room 102. This would result, according to their game, in these things being erased from existence. [ citation needed ]

The name "Ministry of Peace", and shorthand "Minipax", appear in the US science fiction TV series Babylon 5 . The Ministry of Peace first appears in the episode " In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum ". It is a sinister organisation, created to instill loyalty to the government of Earth and root out dissent; one of its senior staff is a "Mr Welles". In its role it more closely resembles the novel's § Ministry of Love (which is responsible for the Thought Police and the interrogation of dissidents) than it does the Ministry of Peace depicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four . [ citation needed ]

In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier , set in Britain after the fall of the Big Brother government , the Ministry of Love is actually MI5 and its physical location is given as the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross , noted by a young spy named Jimmy (a thinly veiled James Bond ). [ citation needed ]

In the 2011 Doctor Who episode " The God Complex ", The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a hotel full of their own personal Room 101s, each with their greatest fear in it. [8]

One sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Sound involved the hapless residents of room 102, the telescreen repair centre, who could not ignore the things happening in the next room. [ citation needed ]

In the 2002 game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind there is a floating rock known as "The Ministry of Truth".

References [ edit ]
  1. Jump up ^ Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four . Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-452-28423-6 .
  2. Jump up ^ "The Real Room 101" . BBC. Archived from the original on 5 January 2007.
    Meyers, Jeffery. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation . W.W.Norton. 2000. ISBN 0-393-32263-7 , p. 214.
  3. Jump up ^ "BBC Broadcasting House – Public Art Programme 2002–2008" . Archived from the original on 2009-05-19 . Retrieved 2009-05-18 .
  4. Jump up ^ Brooks, Richard (23 March 2003). "Orwell's room 101 to be work of art" . The Sunday Times . London . Retrieved 2009-05-18 .
  5. Jump up ^ "Literature Network, George Orwell, 1984, Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 4" . Retrieved 2008-08-27 .
  6. Jump up ^ Stansky, Peter (1994). London's Burning . Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-8047-2340-0 .
    Tames, Richard (2006). London . Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-19-530953-7 .
    Humphreys, Rob (2003). The Rough Guide to London . Rough Guides Limited. p. 146. ISBN 1-84353-093-7 .
    "Orwell Today, Ministry of Truth" . Retrieved 2008-08-27 .
  7. Jump up ^ Byrnes, Sholto; Tonkin, Boyd (18 June 2004). "Anna Funder: Inside the real Room 101" . The Independent . London . Retrieved 2008-02-02 . (Profile of Funder and her book, Stasiland )
  8. Jump up ^ Risely, Matt (18 September 2011). "Doctor Who: "The God Complex" Review" . IGN . Retrieved 31 March 2012 .

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministry of Plenty

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

[Aug 06, 2018] For Many College Students, Hunger Can 'Make It Hard To Focus In Class' naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... "The USHA was empowered to advance loans amounting to 90% of project costs, at low-interest and on 60-year terms. By the end of 1940, over 500 USHA projects were in progress or had been completed, with loan contracts of $691 million. The goal was to make the program self-sustainable through the collection of rents: one-half of rent from the tenants themselves, one-third paid by contributions from the Federal government; and one-sixth paid by annual contributions made by the localities themselves." ..."
Aug 06, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Charles Leseau , August 5, 2018 at 7:06 am

The first thing that popped into my head for whatever reason was a little bit in Roald Dahl's Dickensian little childhood autobiography, Boy .

"At Prep School in those days, a parcel of tuck was sent once a week by anxious mothers to their ravenous little sons, and an average tuck-box would probably contain, at almost any time, half a home-made currant cake, a packet of squashed-fly biscuits, a couple of oranges, an apple, a banana, a pot of strawberry jam or Marmite, a bar of chocolate, a bag of Liquorice Allsorts, and a tin of Bassett's lemonade powder. An English school in those days was purely a money-making business owned and operated by the Headmaster. It suited him, therefore, to give the boys as little food as possible himself and to encourage the parents in various cunning ways to feed their offspring by parcel post from home.
'By all means, my dear Mrs Dahl, do send your boy some little treats now and again,' he would say. 'Perhaps a few oranges and apples once a week' – fruit was very expensive – 'and a nice currant cake, a large currant cake perhaps because small boys have large appetites, do they not, ha-ha-ha Yes, yes, as often as you like. More than once a week if you wish Of course he'll be getting plenty of good food here, the best there is, but it never tastes quite the same as home cooking, does it? I'm sure you wouldn't want him to be the only one who doesn't get a lovely parcel from home every week."

Lindsay Berge , August 5, 2018 at 8:09 am

This reminds me of the old joke.
Q. What is the difference between graduate students and galley slaves?
A. They fed galley slaves.

Grumpy Engineer , August 5, 2018 at 9:37 am

Today's "Pearls Before Swine" touched on the same theme:

https://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2018/08/05

Alas, it was a little too on-target for me to chuckle today.

jrs , August 5, 2018 at 1:12 pm

It won't fix homelessness. 1 in 5 Los Angeles community college students is homeless and 1 in 10 Cal State students are homeless.

The thing is though not necessarily free community college is cheap anyway about $200 a class, and Cal State about 7k a year. One might be able to afford housing if they didn't have this expense? ONLY if they could pay for housing with student loans. In other words Houston we might have much bigger problems.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , August 5, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Here's my question: When?
When will the overworked, distracted, and misinformed denizens of this great nation declare they have had enough?
That the richest society on Earth adds to the coffers of its billionaires, let's its corporations run offshore and tax-free, supplies unlimited munificence on its military death machine while its students starve, its populace moves further and further to financial precarity, its water and highway systems grind to a halt, its health care system generates infant mortality worse than Bulgaria.
What exactly is the tipping point?

ChrisAtRU , August 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

Say hello to my little friend, "United States Housing Authority" ??? ;-)

All I'm saying is that we have the power to fix everything , and we can look back to many things that were part of FDR's New Deal as guide posts to bigger and better solutions that are desperately needed today.

From the FDR & Housing Legislation site (fdrlibrary.org):

"The USHA was empowered to advance loans amounting to 90% of project costs, at low-interest and on 60-year terms. By the end of 1940, over 500 USHA projects were in progress or had been completed, with loan contracts of $691 million. The goal was to make the program self-sustainable through the collection of rents: one-half of rent from the tenants themselves, one-third paid by contributions from the Federal government; and one-sixth paid by annual contributions made by the localities themselves."

This where I believe Basic Income in tandem with a JG could provide a symbiotic relationship. You can give students a BI to (help) cover expenses beyond free tuition so they (and/or their families) could get affordable housing or subsidized university housing.

#WeCanDoBoldThings

Daniel F. , August 5, 2018 at 1:52 pm

I'd call this person* a "raging regressive leftist" instead of a centrist: the latter tends to do excessive navel-gazing while the former blames those racist white people for anything and everything.
Then again, I was born in Europe, live in Europe, engage in live "politicking" in Europe, so my experiences with American politics come mostly from the internet.

On topic: getting your first degree in my country is mostly free in state-funded colleges and universities. Mostly, because 1: the applicant needs to meet a minimum point** threshold, 2: the applicant needs to meet the institutions's own threshold*** for that given department, 3: the applicant needs to rank high enough compared to the rest, because admissions are limited by nature, 4: the applicant needs to maintain a high enough GPA to stay in a state funded slot for their given department, and lastly, 5: there are some departments that receive no funding at all, and choosing one of those means paying by default.

During my university years, I've never met anyone who had to starve, not even the poorest students. There were, and are, several different scholarship programs aside from the usual "get a real high GPA and you'll receive a free price if you're lucky" ones. Students can usually get a student job in our larger cities, and depending on the department, there are some other ways to earn some money: engineering and IT students often get picked by larger firms in their sophomore or senior year, and even if they don't, there's always someone in need of some help with those killer assignments.

The problem here is housing. Dorm spaces are limited, and renting a room is relatively expensive costing somewhere around $500 USD per month in a country with a $22000 USD yearly median income (estimate by OECD). Getting a degree was widely regarded as a means of upward mobility by my father's generation, but the years after the destruction of the Iron Curtain proved them wrong. And of course, they knew nothing about the Free Western States.

*While I see a woman, these are the people who'd bite my face off for misgendering them. No such thing in continental Europe, for now.
**There's a minimum threshold of 260 points. Base points are calculated from high school grades, third and fourth year, and the high school diploma's grades. Bonus points are awarded for state accredited language certificates, high placements on certain students' competitions, and other degrees.
***Institutions apply their own thresholds based on the quantity and quality of their applicants.

ChrisAtRU , August 5, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Thanks for the insights from the other side of the Atlantic!

Alex Cox , August 5, 2018 at 11:03 am

When I was a graduate student at UCLA the food on campus was pretty cheap and the salads were sold by the size of the bowl, not by weight. We all became expert at piling those bowls high.

When I taught at CU Boulder, the food on campus was expensive and the salads were weighed. A healthy salad could easily cost you eleven bucks, so I stopped eating campus food and took sandwiches to work instead.

The increase in food prices seems to have parallelled the increase in fees over those forty years.

However, I would make another observation: many young people, in my experience, when they are stressed or working hard, tend to forget to eat – irrespective of how well-off they are. And many of the students I taught had been addicted at high school to "attention deficit" drugs like Ritalin and Adderol, which, being forms of speed, are appetite-suppressants.

Eureka Springs , August 5, 2018 at 11:48 am

Ah yes. When splurging meant buying a dozen eggs to drop in ramen noodles and still miraculously paying one seventh of the phone bill before cutoff.

Frobn , August 5, 2018 at 5:28 pm

One of our local charities has setting up a pantry with food from Feeding America for a state college in a rural area of Florida.

wilroncanada , August 5, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Two of my daughters graduated from a university in a university town in Nova Scotia in the late1990s. That university set up its own food bank many years ago, to supplement the food banks set up by two churches and the town and county. Housing was still available (small town, student, faculty and school money spent locally), from shared apartments to rooming houses. In any sizable city in Canada or the US, those options for students may not now be available at all, because of greedy landlords, gentrification, and Air B'nb.

On the other hand, during the 1930s, my father-in-law was living in Vancouver, a teenager. He frequently told us stories of the many poor students who lived on or just off the beaches in the western part of the city, in shanties of driftwood and scraps while attending university. Try that now, in any city.

So, you see, today's undergraduates are in many ways even worse off than "great depression" students. Their possible makeshift accommodations have been legislated away.

Tyronius , August 6, 2018 at 1:27 am

Robbing the future of our nation to pay the fatcats. What a wonderful way to run a country! If We the People- loosely defined as the other 90%- don't step up and take our country back, we won't have one to speak of in another decade.

[Aug 04, 2018] When the daily newspapers are brimming with lurid tales of hideous demons walking among us and attacking people on every street corner, but you yourself have never actually seen one, you may gradually grow suspicious.

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
Aug 04, 2018 | www.unz.com

All of us obtain our knowledge of the world by two different channels. Some things we discover from our own personal experiences and the direct evidence of our senses, but most information comes to us via external sources such as books and the media, and a crisis may develop when we discover that these two pathways are in sharp conflict. The official media of the old USSR used to endlessly trumpet the tremendous achievements of its collectivized agricultural system, but when citizens noticed that there was never any meat in their shops, "Pravda" became a watchword for "Lies" rather than "Truth."

Now consider the notion of "anti-Semitism." Google searches for that word and its close variants reveal over 24 million hits, and over the years I'm sure I've seen that term tens of thousands of times in my books and newspapers, and heard it endlessly reported in my electronic media and entertainment. But thinking it over, I'm not sure that I can ever recall a single real-life instance I've personally encountered, nor have I heard of almost any such cases from my friends or acquaintances. Indeed, the only persons I've ever come across making such claims were individuals who bore unmistakable signs of serious psychological imbalance.

When the daily newspapers are brimming with lurid tales of hideous demons walking among us and attacking people on every street corner, but you yourself have never actually seen one, you may gradually grow suspicious.

Indeed, over the years some of my own research has uncovered a sharp contrast between image and reality. As recently as the late 1990s, leading mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times were still denouncing a top Ivy League school such as Princeton for the supposed anti-Semitism of its college admissions policy, but a few years ago when I carefully investigated that issue in quantitative terms for my lengthy Meritocracy analysis I was very surprised to reach a polar-opposite conclusion. According to the best available evidence, white Gentiles were over 90% less likely to be enrolled at Harvard and the other Ivies than were Jews of similar academic performance, a truly remarkable finding. If the situation had been reversed and Jews were 90% less likely to be found at Harvard than seemed warranted by their test scores, surely that fact would be endlessly cited as the absolute smoking-gun proof of horrendous anti-Semitism in present-day America.

[Jul 23, 2018] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Jul 23, 2018] The Prophecy of Orwell's 1984. Totalitarian Control and the Entertainment Culture that Takes Over by Edward Curtin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity. ..."
"... The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought. ..."
"... As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more. ..."
"... This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult. ..."
"... But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth. ..."
"... Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Sexual Passion of Orwell's Winston Smith

"Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice." – Frederick Nietzsche , Beyond Good and Evil

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." – D. H. Lawrence , Lady Chatterley's Lover

"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological' need." – Herbert Marcuse , One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought.

And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images. One's sex becomes one's gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back.

Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. "Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread." Such garbage would be funny if it weren't so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images .Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother's language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms ,

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene "

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult.

... ... ...

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today , "seemed" is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. "Repressive de-sublimation" Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free. This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in "the electronic life," the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a "stressed" society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother's mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can't save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world. Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like "The Party," "seeks power entirely for its own sake" and "are not interested in the good of others," all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don't really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In "Defence of Poetry," Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let's imagine a way out.

Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there.

This is true for the schooled and unschooled. In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called "elite" universities. I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they "earn their living." Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their "life-styles" and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times , Harvard, The New Yorker , Martha's Vineyard, The Washington Post , Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition. Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak, "a heretical thought should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express." The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of "doublethink" wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this "Party" world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink . For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

... ... ...

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely; he is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/ .

[Jun 10, 2018] It might well be that among the skilles to gain entrance in the Ivy colleges one is the acceptance of neoliberal ideology. Stray too far from the Clinton/Bush/Obama's neoliberalism and identity politics and your application goes into the garbage can and with it your chance of joining our governing elite

Notable quotes:
"... Perhaps, Lin, by voluntarily entering an establishment in order to alter one's consciousness- whether in Vietnam or America- you are signaling your surrender and defeat in the war on the "true nature of reality." ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

unit472 , June 3, 2018 at 11:57 am GMT

I would agree that the America of the neighborhood tavern is dying but would not characterize our political leadership as a 'rootless, criminal cabal. Criminal they maybe but they are rooted in the Ivy League, principally Yale and Harvard, and the ideology to gain admission to those schools. I would say skills to gain entrance but, today, it is more a matter of ideology. Stray too far from the Clinton/Bush crony capitalist model or Obama's identity politics and your application goes into the garbage can and with it your chance of joining our governing elite.
TG , June 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm GMT
Indeed. I would say this from a slightly different angle: forget about the details of politics: constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy, a republic, democratic socialism, even marxism, checks and balances, an independent judiciary, an independent central bank, a written constitution all of these can be made to work, more or less, if the elites care about the nation as whole. And none of these will matter if the elites no longer care, if they value their own short-term profit over the long-term stability and strength of their nation.

Back under FDR etc., the elites of this nation were worried about communists, and anarchists, and then Nazis. That made them care about this nation, they feared that if the nation went down they would go down as well. So they cared about the working class. I am old enough to remember when we used to celebrate that we had the highest wages in the world – that was considered a magnificent joint accomplishment and proof of the greatness of this nation. Now high American wages are routinely derided as evil, as proof that Americans are selfish and lazy and they need to be replaced by all those wonderful third-world refugees who have no alternative but to work for sub-poverty wages

I think the core of this rot is that the elites are no longer afraid. They no longer have reason to care. They live in gated estates, they fly from private airports (even first class in a public airport is not good enough/removed enough from the masses for them!), and if things fall apart they will just sail away in their yachts, tut-tutting about how Americans no longer deserve their presence

Stonehands , June 3, 2018 at 10:21 pm GMT
Perhaps, Lin, by voluntarily entering an establishment in order to alter one's consciousness- whether in Vietnam or America- you are signaling your surrender and defeat in the war on the "true nature of reality."

The alcohol delusion amplifies greed hatred bondage.

And is anathema to wholesome higher insights.

Whether alcohol or heroin these self- ingrained defilements are an obstruction to the complete repose to the human spirit.

Dan , June 4, 2018 at 3:07 am GMT
@TG

Everything is financialized and the elites are supranational. End of story. Enjoy the little things.

JohnnyWalker123 , June 6, 2018 at 5:25 am GMT
@TG

Exactly. America's leaders behave criminally because they're not scared of the population. So there's nothing to constrain our leaders from behaving like grifters and conmen.

At some point, however, this will come to an end. Our massively skyrocketing national debt is totally unpayable, so investors will eventually stop buying our bonds. When that happens, our national economy and standard of living will collapse dramatically.

It's at that point when our leaders are either put in jail or flee the country.

Swan Knight , Website June 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm GMT
@unit472

Rootless criminal cabal sounds right to me. I would add psychopathic

m___ , June 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm GMT
@TG

Elites are global, Americans are locals.

m___ , June 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm GMT
@Dan

elites are supranational

Indeed so.

So is capital, when the dollar will have only limited reserve currency status to the rest of the world, the American locals will be proportionately ruled by Russian oligarchs and Chinese priviledge.

American locals are just bulk humanity to these supranationals, they are defined by global consumerism of the same crap the elites despise. They sweat corn syrup and palm oil and seem to look "Pinker Steve" happy when digitally masturbating and being chemically subdued, encased in concrete scenarios.

Now after consumerism, since it is offset by limited resources of our planet, it will be real misery, as in plowing concrete. That must be mostly indifferent to our supranationals. Bulk humanity is basically obsolete, and extra-ordinary lucky. If it were for the supranational nuclei to have a long term policy, we the deplorables would be wiped away, say three quarters of us.

They are though eagerly observing, if we not, as always, will do it ourselves to us. The problem would die on itself. The ethnic White middle class down to the street is pointing the way.

[Jun 06, 2018] The Privilege of an Education

Notable quotes:
"... At this point, I'm wondering whether life was easier in the old days, when you could buy a spot in the elite university of your choice with cold cash. Then I remind myself that Grandfather lasted only one year at Yale. In those days, the Ivies kicked you out if you weren't ready for action. Today, you have to self-combust in a newsworthy way before they show you the door. ..."
"... Excellent Sheep ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... In the United States, the premium that college graduates earn over their non-college-educated peers in young adulthood exceeds 70 percent. ..."
"... All of this comes before considering the all-consuming difference between "good" schools and the rest. Ten years after starting college, according to data from the Department of Education, the top decile of earners from all schools had a median salary of $68,000 . But the top decile from the 10 highest-earning colleges raked in $220,000 -- make that $250,000 for No. 1, Harvard -- and the top decile at the next 30 colleges took home $157,000. (Not surprisingly, the top 10 had an average acceptance rate of 9 percent, and the next 30 were at 19 percent.) ..."
"... But the fact is that degree holders earn so much more than the rest not primarily because they are better at their job, but because they mostly take different categories of jobs. Well over half of Ivy League graduates, for instance, typically go straight into one of four career tracks that are generally reserved for the well educated: finance, management consulting, medicine, or law. To keep it simple, let's just say that there are two types of occupations in the world: those whose members have collective influence in setting their own pay, and those whose members must face the music on their own. It's better to be a member of the first group. Not surprisingly, that is where you will find the college crowd. ..."
"... The candy-hurling godfather of today's meritocratic class, of course, is the financial-services industry. Americans now turn over $1 of every $12 in GDP to the financial sector; in the 1950s, the bankers were content to keep only $1 out of $40. ..."
"... It isn't a coincidence that the education premium surged during the same years that membership in trade unions collapsed. In 1954, 28 percent of all workers were members of trade unions, but by 2017 that figure was down to 11 percent. ..."
"... Education -- the thing itself , not the degree -- is always good. A genuine education opens minds and makes good citizens. It ought to be pursued for the sake of society . In our unbalanced system, however, education has been reduced to a private good, justifiable only by the increments in graduates' paychecks. Instead of uniting and enriching us, it divides and impoverishes. ..."
"... If the system can be gamed, well then, our ability to game the system has become the new test of merit. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | newrepublic.com

My 16-year-old daughter is sitting on a couch, talking with a stranger about her dreams for the future. We're here, ominously enough, because, she says, "all my friends are doing it." For a moment, I wonder whether we have unintentionally signed up for some kind of therapy. The professional woman in the smart-casual suit throws me a pointed glance and says, "It's normal to be anxious at a time like this." She really does see herself as a therapist of sorts. But she does not yet seem to know that the source of my anxiety is the idea of shelling out for a $12,000 "base package" of college-counseling services whose chief purpose is apparently to reduce my anxiety. Determined to get something out of this trial counseling session, I push for recommendations on summer activities. We leave with a tip on a 10-day "cultural tour" of France for high schoolers. In the college-application business, that's what's known as an "enrichment experience." When we get home, I look it up. The price of enrichment: $11,000 for the 10 days.

That's when I hear the legend of the SAT whisperer. If you happen to ride through the yellow-brown valleys of the California coast, past the designer homes that sprout wherever tech unicorns sprinkle their golden stock offerings, you might come across him. His high-school classmates still remember him, almost four decades later, as one of the child wonders of the age. Back then, he and his equally precocious siblings showed off their preternatural verbal and musical talents on a local television program. Now his clients fly him around the state for test-prep sessions with their 16-year-olds. You can hire him for $750, plus transportation, per two-hour weekend session. (There is a weekday discount.) Some of his clients book him every week for a year.

Affirmative-action programs are to some degree an extension of the system of wealth preservation. They indulge rich people in the belief that their college is open to all.

At this point, I'm wondering whether life was easier in the old days, when you could buy a spot in the elite university of your choice with cold cash. Then I remind myself that Grandfather lasted only one year at Yale. In those days, the Ivies kicked you out if you weren't ready for action. Today, you have to self-combust in a newsworthy way before they show you the door.

Inevitably, I begin rehearsing the speech for my daughter. It's perfectly possible to lead a meaningful life without passing through a name-brand college, I'm going to say. We love you for who you are. We're not like those tacky strivers who want a back-windshield sticker to testify to our superior parenting skills. And why would you want to be an investment banker or a corporate lawyer anyway? But I refrain from giving the speech, knowing full well that it will light up her parental-bullshit detector like a pair of khakis on fire.

The skin colors of the nation's elite student bodies are more varied now, as are their genders, but their financial bones have calcified over the past 30 years. In 1985, 54 percent of students at the 250 most selective colleges came from families in the bottom three quartiles of the income distribution. A similar review of the class of 2010 put that figure at just 33 percent. According to a 2017 study, 38 elite colleges -- among them five of the Ivies -- had more students from the top 1 percent than from the bottom 60 percent . In his 2014 book, Excellent Sheep , William Deresiewicz, a former English professor at Yale, summed up the situation nicely: "Our new multiracial, gender-neutral meritocracy has figured out a way to make itself hereditary."

The wealthy can also draw on a variety of affirmative-action programs designed just for them. As Daniel Golden points out in The Price of Admission , legacy-admissions policies reward those applicants with the foresight to choose parents who attended the university in question. Athletic recruiting, on balance and contrary to the popular wisdom, also favors the wealthy, whose children pursue lacrosse, squash, fencing, and the other cost-intensive sports at which private schools and elite public schools excel. And, at least among members of the 0.1 percent, the old-school method of simply handing over some of Daddy's cash has been making a comeback. ( Witness Jared Kushner, Harvard graduate .)

The mother lode of all affirmative-action programs for the wealthy, of course, remains the private school. Only 2.2 percent of the nation's students graduate from nonsectarian private high schools, and yet these graduates account for 26 percent of students at Harvard and 28 percent of students at Princeton. The other affirmative-action programs, the kind aimed at diversifying the look of the student body, are no doubt well intended. But they are to some degree merely an extension of this system of wealth preservation. Their function, at least in part, is to indulge rich people in the belief that their college is open to all on the basis of merit.

The plummeting admission rates of the very top schools nonetheless leave many of the children of the 9.9 percent facing long odds. But not to worry, junior 9.9 percenters! We've created a new range of elite colleges just for you. Thanks to ambitious university administrators and the ever-expanding rankings machine at U.S. News & World Report , 50 colleges are now as selective as Princeton was in 1980, when I applied. The colleges seem to think that piling up rejections makes them special. In fact, it just means that they have collectively opted to deploy their massive, tax-subsidized endowments to replicate privilege rather than fulfill their duty to produce an educated public.

The only thing going up as fast as the rejection rates at selective colleges is the astounding price of tuition. Measured relative to the national median salary, tuition and fees at top colleges more than tripled from 1963 to 2013. Throw in the counselors, the whisperers, the violin lessons, the private schools, and the cost of arranging for Junior to save a village in Micronesia, and it adds up. To be fair, financial aid closes the gap for many families and keeps the average cost of college from growing as fast as the sticker price. But that still leaves a question: Why are the wealthy so keen to buy their way in?

The short answer, of course, is that it's worth it.

In the United States, the premium that college graduates earn over their non-college-educated peers in young adulthood exceeds 70 percent. The return on education is 50 percent higher than what it was in 1950, and is significantly higher than the rate in every other developed country. In Norway and Denmark, the college premium is less than 20 percent; in Japan, it is less than 30 percent; in France and Germany, it's about 40 percent.

All of this comes before considering the all-consuming difference between "good" schools and the rest. Ten years after starting college, according to data from the Department of Education, the top decile of earners from all schools had a median salary of $68,000 . But the top decile from the 10 highest-earning colleges raked in $220,000 -- make that $250,000 for No. 1, Harvard -- and the top decile at the next 30 colleges took home $157,000. (Not surprisingly, the top 10 had an average acceptance rate of 9 percent, and the next 30 were at 19 percent.)

It is entirely possible to get a good education at the many schools that don't count as "good" in our brand-obsessed system. But the "bad" ones really are bad for you. For those who made the mistake of being born to the wrong parents, our society offers a kind of virtual education system. It has places that look like colleges -- but aren't really. It has debt -- and that, unfortunately, is real. The people who enter into this class hologram do not collect a college premium; they wind up in something more like indentured servitude.

So what is the real source of this premium for a "good education" that we all seem to crave?

One of the stories we tell ourselves is that the premium is the reward for the knowledge and skills the education provides us. Another, usually unfurled after a round of drinks, is that the premium is a reward for the superior cranial endowments we possessed before setting foot on campus. We are, as some sociologists have delicately put it, a "cognitive elite."

Behind both of these stories lies one of the founding myths of our meritocracy. One way or the other, we tell ourselves, the rising education premium is a direct function of the rising value of meritorious people in a modern economy. That is, not only do the meritorious get ahead, but the rewards we receive are in direct proportion to our merit.

But the fact is that degree holders earn so much more than the rest not primarily because they are better at their job, but because they mostly take different categories of jobs. Well over half of Ivy League graduates, for instance, typically go straight into one of four career tracks that are generally reserved for the well educated: finance, management consulting, medicine, or law. To keep it simple, let's just say that there are two types of occupations in the world: those whose members have collective influence in setting their own pay, and those whose members must face the music on their own. It's better to be a member of the first group. Not surprisingly, that is where you will find the college crowd.

why do America's doctors make twice as much as those of other wealthy countries? Given that the United States has placed dead last five times running in the Commonwealth Fund's ranking of health-care systems in high-income countries, it's hard to argue that they are twice as gifted at saving lives. Dean Baker, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has a more plausible suggestion : "When economists like me look at medicine in America -- whether we lean left or right politically -- we see something that looks an awful lot like a cartel." Through their influence on the number of slots at medical schools, the availability of residencies, the licensing of foreign-trained doctors, and the role of nurse practitioners, physicians' organizations can effectively limit the competition their own members face -- and that is exactly what they do.

Lawyers (or at least a certain elite subset of them) have apparently learned to play the same game. Even after the collapse of the so-called law-school bubble, America's lawyers are No. 1 in international salary rankings and earn more than twice as much, on average, as their wig-toting British colleagues. The University of Chicago law professor Todd Henderson, writing for Forbes in 2016, offered a blunt assessment : "The American Bar Association operates a state-approved cartel."

Similar occupational licensing schemes provide shelter for the meritorious in a variety of other sectors. The policy researchers Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles detail the mechanisms in The Captured Economy . Dentists' offices, for example, have a glass ceiling that limits what dental hygienists can do without supervision, keeping their bosses in the 9.9 percent. Copyright and patent laws prop up profits and salaries in the education-heavy pharmaceutical, software, and entertainment sectors. These arrangements are trifles, however, compared with what's on offer in tech and finance, two of the most powerful sectors of the economy.

By now we're thankfully done with the tech-sector fairy tales in which whip-smart cowboys innovate the heck out of a stodgy status quo. The reality is that five monster companies -- you know the names -- are worth about $3.5 trillion combined, and represent more than 40 percent of the market capital on the nasdaq stock exchange. Much of the rest of the technology sector consists of virtual entities waiting patiently to feed themselves to these beasts.

Let's face it: This is Monopoly money with a smiley emoji. Our society figured out some time ago how to deal with companies that attempt to corner the market on viscous substances like oil. We don't yet know what to do with the monopolies that arise out of networks and scale effects in the information marketplace. Until we do, the excess profits will stick to those who manage to get closest to the information honeypot. You can be sure that these people will have a great deal of merit.

The candy-hurling godfather of today's meritocratic class, of course, is the financial-services industry. Americans now turn over $1 of every $12 in GDP to the financial sector; in the 1950s, the bankers were content to keep only $1 out of $40. The game is more sophisticated than a two-fisted money grab, but its essence was made obvious during the 2008 financial crisis. The public underwrites the risks; the financial gurus take a seat at the casino; and it's heads they win, tails we lose. The financial system we now have is not a product of nature. It has been engineered, over decades, by powerful bankers, for their own benefit and for that of their posterity.

Who is not in on the game? Auto workers, for example. Caregivers. Retail workers. Furniture makers. Food workers. The wages of American manufacturing and service workers consistently hover in the middle of international rankings. The exceptionalism of American compensation rates comes to an end in the kinds of work that do not require a college degree.

You see, when educated people with excellent credentials band together to advance their collective interest, it's all part of serving the public good by ensuring a high quality of service, establishing fair working conditions, and giving merit its due. That's why we do it through "associations," and with the assistance of fellow professionals wearing white shoes. When working-class people do it -- through unions -- it's a violation of the sacred principles of the free market. It's thuggish and anti-modern. Imagine if workers hired consultants and "compensation committees," consisting of their peers at other companies, to recommend how much they should be paid. The result would be -- well, we know what it would be, because that's what CEOs do.

It isn't a coincidence that the education premium surged during the same years that membership in trade unions collapsed. In 1954, 28 percent of all workers were members of trade unions, but by 2017 that figure was down to 11 percent.

Education -- the thing itself , not the degree -- is always good. A genuine education opens minds and makes good citizens. It ought to be pursued for the sake of society . In our unbalanced system, however, education has been reduced to a private good, justifiable only by the increments in graduates' paychecks. Instead of uniting and enriching us, it divides and impoverishes. Which is really just a way of saying that our worthy ideals of educational opportunity are ultimately no match for the tidal force of the Gatsby Curve. The metric that has tracked the rising college premium with the greatest precision is -- that's right -- intergenerational earnings elasticity, or IGE. Across countries, the same correlation obtains: the higher the college premium, the lower the social mobility.

As I'm angling all the angles for my daughter's college applications -- the counselor is out, and the SAT whisperer was never going to happen -- I realize why this delusion of merit is so hard to shake. If I -- I mean, she -- can pull this off, well, there's the proof that we deserve it! If the system can be gamed, well then, our ability to game the system has become the new test of merit.

So go ahead and replace the SATs with shuffleboard on the high seas, or whatever you want. Who can doubt that we'd master that game, too? How quickly would we convince ourselves of our absolute entitlement to the riches that flow directly and tangibly from our shuffling talent? How soon before we perfected the art of raising shuffleboard wizards? Would any of us notice or care which way the ship was heading?

Let's suppose that some of us do look up. We see the iceberg. Will that induce us to diminish our exertions in supreme child-rearing? The grim truth is that, as long as good parenting and good citizenship are in conflict, we're just going to pack a few more violins for the trip.

[May 16, 2018] How university economic theories are failing us all RT -- Renegade Inc.

Notable quotes:
"... "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" ..."
May 14, 2018 | www.rt.com

The economist John Maynard Keynes said "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" But many students continue to be deceived by their professors who, even after the great financial crisis, refuse to change their mind and continue to actively peddle theories that are plain wrong. So on the show we ask if the academics are failing us, how do we begin to reverse such a heavily entrenched education system? Host Ross Ashcroft is joined by Professor Steve Keen and the author and economist Steven Payson.

[Apr 30, 2018] New Book Describes Bluffing Programmers in Silicon Valley

Notable quotes:
"... Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley ..."
"... Older generations called this kind of fraud "fake it 'til you make it." ..."
"... Nowadays I work 9:30-4:30 for a very good, consistent paycheck and let some other "smart person" put in 75 hours a week dealing with hiring ..."
"... It's not a "kids these days" sort of issue, it's *always* been the case that shameless, baseless self-promotion wins out over sincere skill without the self-promotion, because the people who control the money generally understand boasting more than they understand the technology. ..."
"... In the bad old days we had a hell of a lot of ridiculous restriction We must somehow made our programs to run successfully inside a RAM that was 48KB in size (yes, 48KB, not 48MB or 48GB), on a CPU with a clock speed of 1.023 MHz ..."
"... So what are the uses for that? I am curious what things people have put these to use for. ..."
"... Also, Oracle, SAP, IBM... I would never buy from them, nor use their products. I have used plenty of IBM products and they suck big time. They make software development 100 times harder than it could be. ..."
"... I have a theory that 10% of people are good at what they do. It doesn't really matter what they do, they will still be good at it, because of their nature. These are the people who invent new things, who fix things that others didn't even see as broken and who automate routine tasks or simply question and erase tasks that are not necessary. ..."
"... 10% are just causing damage. I'm not talking about terrorists and criminals. ..."
"... Programming is statistically a dead-end job. Why should anyone hone a dead-end skill that you won't be able to use for long? For whatever reason, the industry doesn't want old programmers. ..."
Apr 30, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

Long-time Slashdot reader Martin S. pointed us to this an excerpt from the new book Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Portland-based investigator reporter Corey Pein.

The author shares what he realized at a job recruitment fair seeking Java Legends, Python Badasses, Hadoop Heroes, "and other gratingly childish classifications describing various programming specialities.

" I wasn't the only one bluffing my way through the tech scene. Everyone was doing it, even the much-sought-after engineering talent.

I was struck by how many developers were, like myself, not really programmers , but rather this, that and the other. A great number of tech ninjas were not exactly black belts when it came to the actual onerous work of computer programming. So many of the complex, discrete tasks involved in the creation of a website or an app had been automated that it was no longer necessary to possess knowledge of software mechanics. The coder's work was rarely a craft. The apps ran on an assembly line, built with "open-source", off-the-shelf components. The most important computer commands for the ninja to master were copy and paste...

[M]any programmers who had "made it" in Silicon Valley were scrambling to promote themselves from coder to "founder". There wasn't necessarily more money to be had running a startup, and the increase in status was marginal unless one's startup attracted major investment and the right kind of press coverage. It's because the programmers knew that their own ladder to prosperity was on fire and disintegrating fast. They knew that well-paid programming jobs would also soon turn to smoke and ash, as the proliferation of learn-to-code courses around the world lowered the market value of their skills, and as advances in artificial intelligence allowed for computers to take over more of the mundane work of producing software. The programmers also knew that the fastest way to win that promotion to founder was to find some new domain that hadn't yet been automated. Every tech industry campaign designed to spur investment in the Next Big Thing -- at that time, it was the "sharing economy" -- concealed a larger programme for the transformation of society, always in a direction that favoured the investor and executive classes.

"I wasn't just changing careers and jumping on the 'learn to code' bandwagon," he writes at one point. "I was being steadily indoctrinated in a specious ideology."


Anonymous Coward , Saturday April 28, 2018 @11:40PM ( #56522045 )

older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

Older generations called this kind of fraud "fake it 'til you make it."

raymorris ( 2726007 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @02:05AM ( #56522343 ) Journal
The people who are smarter won't ( Score: 5 , Informative)

> The people can do both are smart enough to build their own company and compete with you.

Been there, done that. Learned a few lessons. Nowadays I work 9:30-4:30 for a very good, consistent paycheck and let some other "smart person" put in 75 hours a week dealing with hiring, managing people, corporate strategy, staying up on the competition, figuring out tax changes each year and getting taxes filed six times each year, the various state and local requirements, legal changes, contract hassles, etc, while hoping the company makes money this month so they can take a paycheck and lay their rent.

I learned that I'm good at creating software systems and I enjoy it. I don't enjoy all-nighters, partners being dickheads trying to pull out of a contract, or any of a thousand other things related to running a start-up business. I really enjoy a consistent, six-figure compensation package too.

brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

* getting taxes filled eighteen times a year.

I pay monthly gross receipts tax (12), quarterly withholdings (4) and a corporate (1) and individual (1) returns. The gross receipts can vary based on the state, so I can see how six times a year would be the minimum.

Cederic ( 9623 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Fuck no. Cost of full automation: $4m Cost of manual entry: $0 Opportunity cost of manual entry: $800/year

At worse, pay for an accountant, if you can get one that cheaply. Bear in mind talking to them incurs most of that opportunity cost anyway.

serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Nowadays I work 9:30-4:30 for a very good, consistent paycheck and let some other "smart person" put in 75 hours a week dealing with hiring

There's nothing wrong with not wnting to run your own business, it's not for most people, and even if it was, the numbers don't add up. But putting the scare qoutes in like that makes it sound like you have huge chip on your shoulder. Those things re just as essential to the business as your work and without them you wouldn't have the steady 9:30-4:30 with good paycheck.

raymorris ( 2726007 ) writes:
Important, and dumb. ( Score: 3 , Informative)

Of course they are important. I wouldn't have done those things if they weren't important!

I frequently have friends say things like "I love baking. I can't get enough of baking. I'm going to open a bakery.". I ask them "do you love dealing with taxes, every month? Do you love contract law? Employment law? Marketing? Accounting?" If you LOVE baking, the smart thing to do is to spend your time baking. Running a start-up business, you're not going to do much baking.

If you love marketing, employment law, taxes

raymorris ( 2726007 ) writes:
Four tips for a better job. Who has more? ( Score: 3 )

I can tell you a few things that have worked for me. I'll go in chronological order rather than priority order.

Make friends in the industry you want to be in. Referrals are a major way people get jobs.

Look at the job listings for jobs you'd like to have and see which skills a lot of companies want, but you're missing. For me that's Java. A lot companies list Java skills and I'm not particularly good with Java. Then consider learning the skills you lack, the ones a lot of job postings are looking for.

Certifi

goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @02:34PM ( #56524475 ) Journal
Re: older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 5 , Insightful)
You don't understand the point of an ORM do you? I'd suggest reading why they exist

They exist because programmers value code design more than data design. ORMs are the poster-child for square-peg-round-hole solutions, which is why all ORMs choose one of three different ways of squashing hierarchical data into a relational form, all of which are crappy.

If the devs of the system (the ones choosing to use an ORM) had any competence at all they'd design their database first because in any application that uses a database the database is the most important bit, not the OO-ness or Functional-ness of the design.

Over the last few decades I've seen programs in a system come and go; a component here gets rewritten, a component there gets rewritten, but you know what? They all have to work with the same damn data.

You can more easily switch out your code for new code with new design in a new language, than you can switch change the database structure. So explain to me why it is that you think the database should be mangled to fit your OO code rather than mangling your OO code to fit the database?

cheekyboy ( 598084 ) writes:
im sick of reinventors and new frameworks ( Score: 3 )

Stick to the one thing for 10-15years. Often all this new shit doesn't do jack different to the old shit, its not faster, its not better. Every dick wants to be famous so make another damn library/tool with his own fancy name and feature, instead of enhancing an existing product.

gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

amen to that.

Or kids who can't hack the main stuff, suddenly discover the cool new, and then they can pretend they're "learning" it, and when the going gets tough (as it always does) they can declare the tech to be pants and move to another.

hence we had so many people on the bandwagon for functional programming, then dumped it for ruby on rails, then dumped that for Node.js, not sure what they're on at currently, probably back to asp.net.

Greyfox ( 87712 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

How much code do you have to reuse before you're not really programming anymore? When I started in this business, it was reasonably possible that you could end up on a project that didn't particularly have much (or any) of an operating system. They taught you assembly language and the process by which the system boots up, but I think if I were to ask most of the programmers where I work, they wouldn't be able to explain how all that works...

djinn6 ( 1868030 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
It really feels like if you know what you're doing it should be possible to build a team of actually good programmers and put everyone else out of business by actually meeting your deliverables, but no one has yet. I wonder why that is.

You mean Amazon, Google, Facebook and the like? People may not always like what they do, but they manage to get things done and make plenty of money in the process. The problem for a lot of other businesses is not having a way to identify and promote actually good programmers. In your example, you could've spent 10 minutes fixing their query and saved them days of headache, but how much recognition will you actually get? Where is your motivation to help them?

Junta ( 36770 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

It's not a "kids these days" sort of issue, it's *always* been the case that shameless, baseless self-promotion wins out over sincere skill without the self-promotion, because the people who control the money generally understand boasting more than they understand the technology. Yes it can happen that baseless boasts can be called out over time by a large enough mass of feedback from competent peers, but it takes a *lot* to overcome the tendency for them to have faith in the boasts.

It does correlate stron

cheekyboy ( 598084 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

And all these modern coders forget old lessons, and make shit stuff, just look at instagram windows app, what a load of garbage shit, that us old fuckers could code in 2-3 weeks.

Instagram - your app sucks, cookie cutter coders suck, no refinement, coolness. Just cheap ass shit, with limited usefulness.

Just like most of commercial software that's new - quick shit.

Oh and its obvious if your an Indian faking it, you haven't worked in 100 companies at the age of 29.

Junta ( 36770 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Here's another problem, if faced with a skilled team that says "this will take 6 months to do right" and a more naive team that says "oh, we can slap that together in a month", management goes with the latter. Then the security compromises occur, then the application fails due to pulling in an unvetted dependency update live into production. When the project grows to handling thousands instead of dozens of users and it starts mysteriously folding over and the dev team is at a loss, well the choice has be

molarmass192 ( 608071 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @02:15AM ( #56522359 ) Homepage Journal
Re:older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

These restrictions is a large part of what makes Arduino programming "fun". If you don't plan out your memory usage, you're gonna run out of it. I cringe when I see 8MB web pages of bloated "throw in everything including the kitchen sink and the neighbor's car". Unfortunately, the careful and cautious way is a dying in favor of the throw 3rd party code at it until it does something. Of course, I don't have time to review it but I'm sure everybody else has peer reviewed it for flaws and exploits line by line.

AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) writes: < mojo@@@world3...net > on Sunday April 29, 2018 @05:15AM ( #56522597 ) Homepage Journal
Re:older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 4 , Informative)
Unfortunately, the careful and cautious way is a dying in favor of the throw 3rd party code at it until it does something.

Of course. What is the business case for making it efficient? Those massive frameworks are cached by the browser and run on the client's system, so cost you nothing and save you time to market. Efficient costs money with no real benefit to the business.

If we want to fix this, we need to make bloat have an associated cost somehow.

locketine ( 1101453 ) writes:
Re: older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 2 )

My company is dealing with the result of this mentality right now. We released the web app to the customer without performance testing and doing several majorly inefficient things to meet deadlines. Once real load was put on the application by users with non-ideal hardware and browsers, the app was infuriatingly slow. Suddenly our standard sub-40 hour workweek became a 50+ hour workweek for months while we fixed all the inefficient code and design issues.

So, while you're right that getting to market and opt

serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

In the bad old days we had a hell of a lot of ridiculous restriction We must somehow made our programs to run successfully inside a RAM that was 48KB in size (yes, 48KB, not 48MB or 48GB), on a CPU with a clock speed of 1.023 MHz

We still have them. In fact some of the systems I've programmed have been more resource limited than the gloriously spacious 32KiB memory of the BBC model B. Take the PIC12F or 10F series. A glorious 64 bytes of RAM, max clock speed of 16MHz, but not unusual to run it 32kHz.

serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

So what are the uses for that? I am curious what things people have put these to use for.

It's hard to determine because people don't advertise use of them at all. However, I know that my electric toothbrush uses an Epson 4 bit MCU of some description. It's got a status LED, basic NiMH batteryb charger and a PWM controller for an H Bridge. Braun sell a *lot* of electric toothbrushes. Any gadget that's smarter than a simple switch will probably have some sort of basic MCU in it. Alarm system components, sensor

tlhIngan ( 30335 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Insightful)
b) No computer ever ran at 1.023 MHz. It was either a nice multiple of 1Mhz or maybe a multiple of 3.579545Mhz (ie. using the TV output circuit's color clock crystal to drive the CPU).

Well, it could be used to drive the TV output circuit, OR, it was used because it's a stupidly cheap high speed crystal. You have to remember except for a few frequencies, most crystals would have to be specially cut for the desired frequency. This occurs even today, where most oscillators are either 32.768kHz (real time clock

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Interesting)

Yeah, nice talk. You could have stopped after the first sentence. The other AC is referring to the Commodore C64 [wikipedia.org]. The frequency has nothing to do with crystal availability but with the simple fact that everything in the C64 is synced to the TV. One clock cycle equals 8 pixels. The graphics chip and the CPU take turns accessing the RAM. The different frequencies dictated by the TV standards are the reason why the CPU in the NTSC version of the C64 runs at 1.023MHz and the PAL version at 0.985MHz.

Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

LOL what exactly is so special about 16K RAM? https://yourlogicalfallacyis.c... [yourlogicalfallacyis.com]

I cut my teeth on a VIC20 (5K RAM), then later a C64 (which ran at 1.023MHz...)

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Interesting)

Commodore 64 for the win. I worked for a company that made detection devices for the railroad, things like monitoring axle temperatures, reading the rail car ID tags. The original devices were made using Commodore 64 boards using software written by an employee at the one rail road company working with them.

The company then hired some electrical engineers to design custom boards using the 68000 chips and I was hired as the only programmer. Had to rewrite all of the code which was fine...

wierd_w ( 1375923 ) , Saturday April 28, 2018 @11:58PM ( #56522075 )
... A job fair can easily test this competency. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)

Many of these languages have an interactive interpreter. I know for a fact that Python does.

So, since job-fairs are an all day thing, and setup is already a thing for them -- set up a booth with like 4 computers at it, and an admin station. The 4 terminals have an interactive session with the interpreter of choice. Every 20min or so, have a challenge for "Solve this problem" (needs to be easy and already solved in general. Programmers hate being pimped without pay. They don't mind tests of skill, but hate being pimped. Something like "sort this array, while picking out all the prime numbers" or something.) and see who steps up. The ones that step up have confidence they can solve the problem, and you can quickly see who can do the work and who can't.

The ones that solve it, and solve it to your satisfaction, you offer a nice gig to.

ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:50AM ( #56522321 )
Re:... A job fair can easily test this competency. ( Score: 5 , Informative)
Then you get someone good at sorting arrays while picking out prime numbers, but potentially not much else.

The point of the test is not to identify the perfect candidate, but to filter out the clearly incompetent. If you can't sort an array and write a function to identify a prime number, I certainly would not hire you. Passing the test doesn't get you a job, but it may get you an interview ... where there will be other tests.

wierd_w ( 1375923 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

BINGO!

(I am not even a professional programmer, but I can totally perform such a trivially easy task. The example tests basic understanding of loop construction, function construction, variable use, efficient sorting, and error correction-- especially with mixed type arrays. All of these are things any programmer SHOULD now how to do, without being overly complicated, or clearly a disguised occupational problem trying to get a free solution. Like I said, programmers hate being pimped, and will be turned off

wierd_w ( 1375923 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @04:02AM ( #56522443 )
Re: ... A job fair can easily test this competency ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Again, the quality applicant and the code monkey both have something the fakers do not-- Actual comprehension of what a program is, and how to create one.

As Bill points out, this is not the final exam. This is the "Oh, I see you do actually know how to program-- show me more" portion of the process. This is the part that HR drones are not capable of performing, due to Dunning-Krueger. Those that are actually, REALLY competent will do more than just satisfy the requirements of the challenge, they will provide actually working solutions to the challenge that properly validate their input, and return proper error states if the input is invalid, etc-- You can learn a LOT about a potential hire by observing their work. *THAT* is what this is really about. The triviality of the problem is a necessity, because you ***DON'T*** try to get free solutions out of people.

I realize that may be difficult for you to comprehend, but you *DON'T* do that. The job fair is to let people know that you have a position available, and try to curry interest in people to apply. A successful pre-screening is confidence building, and helps the potential hire to feel that your company is actually interested in actually hiring somebody, and not just fucking off in the booth, to cover for "failing to find somebody" and then "Getting yet another H1B". It gives them a chance to show you what they can do. That is what it is for, and what it does. It also excludes the fakers that this article is about-- The ones that can talk a good talk, but could not program a simple boolean check condition if their life depended on it.

If it were not for the time constraints of a job fair (usually only 2 days, and in that time you need to try and pre-screen as many as possible), I would suggest a tiered challenge, with progressively harder challenges, where you hand out resumes to the ones that make it to the top 3 brackets, but that is not the way the world works.

luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
This in my opinion is really a waste of time. Challenges like this have to be so simple they can be done walking up to a booth are not likely to filter the "all talks" any better than a few interview questions could (imperson so the candidate can't just google it).

Tougher more involved stuff isn't good either it gives a huge advantage to the full time job hunter, the guy or gal that already has a 9-5 and a family that wants to seem them has not got time for games. We have been struggling with hiring where I work ( I do a lot of the interviews ) and these are the conclusions we have reached

You would be surprised at the number of people with impeccable-looking resumes failing at something as simple as the FizzBuzz test [codinghorror.com]

PaulRivers10 ( 4110595 ) writes:
Re: ... A job fair can easily test this competenc ( Score: 2 )

The only thing fuzzbuzz tests is "have you done fizzbuzz before"? It's a short question filled with every petty trick the author could think ti throw in there. If you haven't seen the tricks they trip you up for no reason related to your actual coding skills. Once you have seen them they're trivial and again unrelated to real work. Fizzbuzz is best passed by someone aiming to game the interview system. It passes people gaming it and trips up people who spent their time doing on the job real work.

Hognoxious ( 631665 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
they trip you up for no reason related to your actual codung skills.

Bullshit!

luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @07:49AM ( #56522861 ) Homepage
filter the lame code monkeys ( Score: 4 , Informative)
Lame monkey tests select for lame monkeys.

A good programmer first and foremost has a clean mind. Experience suggests puzzle geeks, who excel at contrived tests, are usually sloppy thinkers.

No. Good programmers can trivially knock out any of these so-called lame monkey tests. It's lame code monkeys who can't do it. And I've seen their work. Many night shifts and weekends I've burned trying to fix their shit because they couldn't actually do any of the things behind what you call "lame monkey tests", like:

    pulling expensive invariant calculations out of loops using for loops to scan a fucking table to pull rows or calculate an aggregate when they could let the database do what it does best with a simple SQL statement systems crashing under actual load because their shitty code was never stress tested ( but it worked on my dev box! .) again with databases, having to redo their schemas because they were fattened up so much with columns like VALUE1, VALUE2, ... VALUE20 (normalize you assholes!) chatting remote APIs - because these code monkeys cannot think about the need for bulk operations in increasingly distributed systems. storing dates in unsortable strings because the idiots do not know most modern programming languages have a date data type.

Oh and the most important, off-by-one looping errors. I see this all the time, the type of thing a good programmer can spot on quickly because he or she can do the so-called "lame monkey tests" that involve arrays and sorting.

I've seen the type: "I don't need to do this shit because I have business knowledge and I code for business and IT not google", and then they go and code and fuck it up... and then the rest of us have to go clean up their shit at 1AM or on weekends.

If you work as an hourly paid contractor cleaning that crap, it can be quite lucrative. But sooner or later it truly sucks the energy out of your soul.

So yeah, we need more lame monkey tests ... to filter the lame code monkeys.

ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )
Someone could Google the problem with the phone then step up and solve the challenge.

If given a spec, someone can consistently cobble together working code by Googling, then I would love to hire them. That is the most productive way to get things done.

There is nothing wrong with using external references. When I am coding, I have three windows open: an editor, a testing window, and a browser with a Stackoverflow tab open.

Junta ( 36770 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Yeah, when we do tech interviews, we ask questions that we are certain they won't be able to answer, but want to see how they would think about the problem and what questions they ask to get more data and that they don't just fold up and say "well that's not the sort of problem I'd be thinking of" The examples aren't made up or anything, they are generally selection of real problems that were incredibly difficult that our company had faced before, that one may not think at first glance such a position would

bobstreo ( 1320787 ) writes:
Nothing worse ( Score: 2 )

than spending weeks interviewing "good" candidates for an opening, selecting a couple and hiring them as contractors, then finding out they are less than unqualified to do the job they were hired for.

I've seen it a few times, Java "experts", Microsoft "experts" with years of experience on their resumes, but completely useless in coding, deployment or anything other than buying stuff from the break room vending machines.

That being said, I've also seen projects costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, with y

Anonymous Coward , Sunday April 29, 2018 @12:34AM ( #56522157 )
Re:Nothing worse ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

The moment you said "contractors", and you have lost any sane developer. Keep swimming, its not a fish.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Informative)

I agree with this. I consider myself to be a good programmer and I would never go into contractor game. I also wonder, how does it take you weeks to interview someone and you still can't figure out if the person can't code? I could probably see that in 15 minutes in a pair coding session.

Also, Oracle, SAP, IBM... I would never buy from them, nor use their products. I have used plenty of IBM products and they suck big time. They make software development 100 times harder than it could be. Their technical supp

Lanthanide ( 4982283 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

It's weeks to interview multiple different candidates before deciding on 1 or 2 of them. Not weeks per person.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Insightful)
That being said, I've also seen projects costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, with years of delays from companies like Oracle, Sun, SAP, and many other "vendors"

Software development is a hard thing to do well, despite the general thinking of technology becoming cheaper over time, and like health care the quality of the goods and services received can sometimes be difficult to ascertain. However, people who don't respect developers and the problems we solve are very often the same ones who continually frustrate themselves by trying to cheap out, hiring outsourced contractors, and then tearing their hair out when sub par results are delivered, if anything is even del

pauljlucas ( 529435 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

As part of your interview process, don't you have candidates code a solution to a problem on a whiteboard? I've interviewed lots of "good" candidates (on paper) too, but they crashed and burned when challenged with a coding exercise. As a result, we didn't make them job offers.

VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) writes:
I do the opposite ( Score: 2 )

I'm not a great coder but good enough to get done what clients want done. If I'm not sure or don't think I can do it, I tell them. I think they appreciate the honesty. I don't work in a tech-hub, startups or anything like that so I'm not under the same expectations and pressures that others may be.

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Bigger building blocks ( Score: 2 )

OK, so yes, I know plenty of programmers who do fake it. But stitching together components isn't "fake" programming.

Back in the day, we had to write our own code to loop through an XML file, looking for nuggets. Now, we just use an XML serializer. Back then, we had to write our own routines to send TCP/IP messages back and forth. Now we just use a library.

I love it! I hated having to make my own bricks before I could build a house. Now, I can get down to the business of writing the functionality I want, ins

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Insightful)

But, I suspect you could write the component if you had to. That makes you a very different user of that component than someone who just knows it as a magic black box.

Because of this, you understand the component better and have real knowledge of its strengths and limitations. People blindly using components with only a cursory idea of their internal operation often cause major performance problems. They rarely recognize when it is time to write their own to overcome a limitation (or even that it is possibl

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

You're right on all counts. A person who knows how the innards work, is better than someone who doesn't, all else being equal. Still, today's world is so specialized that no one can possibly learn it all. I've never built a processor, as you have, but I still have been able to build a DNA matching algorithm for a major DNA lab.

I would argue that anyone who can skillfully use off-the-shelf components can also learn how to build components, if they are required to.

thesupraman ( 179040 ) writes:
Ummm. ( Score: 2 )

1, 'Back in the Day' there was no XML, XMl was not very long ago.
2, its a parser, a serialiser is pretty much the opposite (unless this weeks fashion has redefined that.. anything is possible).
3, 'Back then' we didnt have TCP stacks...

But, actually I agree with you. I can only assume the author thinks there are lots of fake plumbers because they dont cast their own toilet bowels from raw clay, and use pre-build fittings and pipes! That car mechanics start from raw steel scrap and a file.. And that you need

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

For the record, XML was invented in 1997, you know, in the last century! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
And we had a WinSock library in 1992. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Yes, I agree with you on the "middle ground." My reaction was to the author's point that "not knowing how to build the components" was the same as being a "fake programmer."

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:46AM ( #56522313 ) Homepage
Re:Bigger building blocks ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

If I'm a plumber, and I don't know anything about the engineering behind the construction of PVC pipe, I can still be a good plumber. If I'm an electrician, and I don't understand the role of a blast furnace in the making of the metal components, I can still be a good electrician.

The analogy fits. If I'm a programmer, and I don't know how to make an LZW compression library, I can still be a good programmer. It's a matter of layers. These days, we specialize. You've got your low-level programmers that make the components, the high level programmers that put together the components, the graphics guys who do HTML/CSS, and the SQL programmers that just know about databases. Every person has their specialty. It's no longer necessary to be a low-level programmer, or jack-of-all-trades, to be "good."

If I don't know the layout of the IP header, I can still write quality networking software, and if I know XSLT, I can still do cool stuff with XML, even if I don't know how to write a good parser.

frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )

I was with you until you said " I can still do cool stuff with XML".

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

LOL yeah I know it's all JSON now. I've been around long enough to see these fads come and go. Frankly, I don't see a whole lot of advantage of JSON over XML. It's not even that much more compact, about 10% or so. But the point is that the author laments the "bad old days" when you had to create all your own building blocks, and you didn't have a team of specialists. I for one don't want to go back to those days!

careysub ( 976506 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )

The main advantage is that JSON is that it is consistent. XML has attributes, embedded optional stuff within tags. That was derived from the original SGML ancestor where is was thought to be a convenience for the human authors who were supposed to be making the mark-up manually. Programmatically it is a PITA.

Cederic ( 9623 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )

I got shit for decrying XML back when it was the trendy thing. I've had people apologise to me months later because they've realized I was right, even though at the time they did their best to fuck over my career because XML was the new big thing and I wasn't fully on board.

XML has its strengths and its place, but fuck me it taught me how little some people really fucking understand shit.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Silicon Valley is Only Part of the Tech Business ( Score: 2 , Informative)

And a rather small part at that, albeit a very visible and vocal one full of the proverbial prima donas. However, much of the rest of the tech business, or at least the people working in it, are not like that. It's small groups of developers working in other industries that would not typically be considered technology. There are software developers working for insurance companies, banks, hedge funds, oil and gas exploration or extraction firms, national defense and many hundreds and thousands of other small

phantomfive ( 622387 ) writes:
bonfire of fakers ( Score: 2 )

This is the reason I wish programming didn't pay so much....the field is better when it's mostly populated by people who enjoy programming.

Njovich ( 553857 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @05:35AM ( #56522641 )
Learn to code courses ( Score: 5 , Insightful)
They knew that well-paid programming jobs would also soon turn to smoke and ash, as the proliferation of learn-to-code courses around the world lowered the market value of their skills, and as advances in artificial intelligence allowed for computers to take over more of the mundane work of producing software.

Kind of hard to take this article serious after saying gibberish like this. I would say most good programmers know that neither learn-to-code courses nor AI are going to make a dent in their income any time soon.

AndyKron ( 937105 ) writes:
Me? No ( Score: 2 )

As a non-programmer Arduino and libraries are my friends

Escogido ( 884359 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @06:59AM ( #56522777 )
in the silly cone valley ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

There is a huge shortage of decent programmers. I have personally witnessed more than one phone "interview" that went like "have you done this? what about this? do you know what this is? um, can you start Monday?" (120K-ish salary range)

Partly because there are way more people who got their stupid ideas funded than good coders willing to stain their resume with that. partly because if you are funded, and cannot do all the required coding solo, here's your conundrum:

  • top level hackers can afford to be really picky, so on one hand it's hard to get them interested, and if you could get that, they often want some ownership of the project. the plus side is that they are happy to work for lots of equity if they have faith in the idea, but that can be a huge "if".
  • "good but not exceptional" senior engineers aren't usually going to be super happy, as they often have spouses and children and mortgages, so they'd favor job security over exciting ideas and startup lottery.
  • that leaves you with fresh-out-of-college folks, which are really really a mixed bunch. some are actually already senior level of understanding without the experience, some are absolutely useless, with varying degrees in between, and there's no easy way to tell which is which early.

so the not-so-scrupulous folks realized what's going on, and launched multiple coding boot camps programmes, to essentially trick both the students into believing they can become a coder in a month or two, and also the prospective employers that said students are useful. so far it's been working, to a degree, in part because in such companies coding skill evaluation process is broken. but one can only hide their lack of value add for so long, even if they do manage to bluff their way into a job.

quonset ( 4839537 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @07:20AM ( #56522817 )
Duh! ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

All one had to do was look at the lousy state of software and web sites today to see this is true. It's quite obvious little to no thought is given on how to make something work such that one doesn't have to jump through hoops.

I have many times said the most perfect word processing program ever developed was WordPefect 5.1 for DOS. Ones productivity was astonishing. It just worked.

Now we have the bloated behemoth Word which does its utmost to get in the way of you doing your work. The only way to get it to function is to turn large portions of its "features" off, and even then it still insists on doing something other than what you told it to do.

Then we have the abomination of Windows 10, which is nothing but Clippy on 10X steroids. It is patently obvious the people who program this steaming pile have never heard of simplicity. Who in their right mind would think having to "search" for something is more efficient than going directly to it? I would ask the question if these people wander around stores "searching" for what they're looking for, but then I realize that's how their entire life is run. They search for everything online rather than going directly to the source. It's no wonder they complain about not having time to things. They're always searching.

Web sites are another area where these people have no clue what they're doing. Anything that might be useful is hidden behind dropdown menus, flyouts, popup bubbles and intriately designed mazes of clicks needed to get to where you want to go. When someone clicks on a line of products, they shouldn't be harassed about what part of the product line they want to look at. Give them the information and let the user go where they want.

This rant could go on, but this article explains clearly why we have regressed when it comes to software and web design. Instead of making things simple and easy to use, using the one or two brain cells they have, programmers and web designers let the software do what it wants without considering, should it be done like this?

swb ( 14022 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @07:48AM ( #56522857 )
Tech industry churn ( Score: 3 )

The tech industry has a ton of churn -- there's some technological advancement, but there's an awful lot of new products turned out simply to keep customers buying new licenses and paying for upgrades.

This relentless and mostly phony newness means a lot of people have little experience with current products. People fake because they have no choice. The good ones understand the general technologies and problems they're meant to solve and can generally get up to speed quickly, while the bad ones are good at faking it but don't really know what they're doing. Telling the difference from the outside is impossible.

Sales people make it worse, promoting people as "experts" in specific products or implementations because the people have experience with a related product and "they're all the same". This burns out the people with good adaption skills.

DaMattster ( 977781 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @08:39AM ( #56522979 )
Interesting ( Score: 3 )

From the summary, it sounds like a lot of programmers and software engineers are trying to develop the next big thing so that they can literally beg for money from the elite class and one day, hopefully, become a member of the aforementioned. It's sad how the middle class has been utterly decimated in the United States that some of us are willing to beg for scraps from the wealthy. I used to work in IT but I've aged out and am now back in school to learn automotive technology so that I can do something other than being a security guard. Currently, the only work I have been able to find has been in the unglamorous security field.

I am learning some really good new skills in the automotive program that I am in but I hate this one class called "Professionalism in the Shop." I can summarize the entire class in one succinct phrase, "Learn how to appeal to, and communicate with, Mr. Doctor, Mr. Lawyer, or Mr. Wealthy-man." Basically, the class says that we are supposed to kiss their ass so they keep coming back to the Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, or Cadillac dealership. It feels a lot like begging for money on behalf of my employer (of which very little of it I will see) and nothing like professionalism. Professionalism is doing the job right the first time, not jerking the customer off. Professionalism is not begging for a 5 star review for a few measly extra bucks but doing absolute top quality work. I guess the upshot is that this class will be the easiest 4.0 that I've ever seen.

There is something fundamentally wrong when the wealthy elite have basically demanded that we beg them for every little scrap. I can understand the importance of polite and professional interaction but this prevalent expectation that we bend over backwards for them crosses a line with me. I still suck it up because I have to but it chafes my ass to basically validate the wealthy man.

ElitistWhiner ( 79961 ) writes:
Natural talent... ( Score: 2 )

In 70's I worked with two people who had a natural talent for computer science algorithms .vs. coding syntax. In the 90's while at COLUMBIA I worked with only a couple of true computer scientists out of 30 students. I've met 1 genius who programmed, spoke 13 languages, ex-CIA, wrote SWIFT and spoke fluent assembly complete with animated characters.

According to the Bluff Book, everyone else without natural talent fakes it. In the undiluted definition of computer science, genetics roulette and intellectual d

fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) writes:
Other book sells better and is more interesting ( Score: 2 )
New Book Describes 'Bluffing' Programmers in Silicon Valley

It's not as interesting as the one about "fluffing" [urbandictionary.com] programmers.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Funny)

Ah yes, the good old 80:20 rule, except it's recursive for programmers.

80% are shit, so you fire them. Soon you realize that 80% of the remaining 20% are also shit, so you fire them too. Eventually you realize that 80% of the 4% remaining after sacking the 80% of the 20% are also shit, so you fire them!

...

The cycle repeats until there's just one programmer left: the person telling the joke.

---

tl;dr: All programmers suck. Just ask them to review their own code from more than 3 years ago: they'll tell you that

luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )
Who gives a fuck about lines? If someone gave me JavaScript, and someone gave me minified JavaScript, which one would I want to maintain?

I donâ(TM)t care about your line savings, less isnâ(TM)t always better.

Because the world of programming is not centered about JavasScript and reduction of lines is not the same as minification. If the first thing that came to your mind was about minified JavaScript when you saw this conversation, you are certainly not the type of programmer I would want to inherit code from.

See, there's a lot of shit out there that is overtly redundant and unnecessarily complex. This is specially true when copy-n-paste code monkeys are left to their own devices for whom code formatting seems

Anonymous Coward , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:17AM ( #56522241 )
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)

I have a theory that 10% of people are good at what they do. It doesn't really matter what they do, they will still be good at it, because of their nature. These are the people who invent new things, who fix things that others didn't even see as broken and who automate routine tasks or simply question and erase tasks that are not necessary. If you have a software team that contain 5 of these, you can easily beat a team of 100 average people, not only in cost but also in schedule, quality and features. In theory they are worth 20 times more than average employees, but in practise they are usually paid the same amount of money with few exceptions.

80% of people are the average. They can follow instructions and they can get the work done, but they don't see that something is broken and needs fixing if it works the way it has always worked. While it might seem so, these people are not worthless. There are a lot of tasks that these people are happily doing which the 10% don't want to do. E.g. simple maintenance work, implementing simple features, automating test cases etc. But if you let the top 10% lead the project, you most likely won't be needed that much of these people. Most work done by these people is caused by themselves, by writing bad software due to lack of good leader.

10% are just causing damage. I'm not talking about terrorists and criminals. I have seen software developers who have tried (their best?), but still end up causing just damage to the code that someone else needs to fix, costing much more than their own wasted time. You really must use code reviews if you don't know your team members, to find these people early.

Anonymous Coward , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:40AM ( #56522299 )
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 5 , Funny)
to find these people early

and promote them to management where they belong.

raymorris ( 2726007 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:51AM ( #56522329 ) Journal
Seems about right. Constantly learning, studying ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

That seems about right to me.

I have a lot of weaknesses. My people skills suck, I'm scrawny, I'm arrogant. I'm also generally known as a really good programmer and people ask me how/why I'm so much better at my job than everyone else in the room. (There are a lot of things I'm not good at, but I'm good at my job, so say everyone I've worked with.)

I think one major difference is that I'm always studying, intentionally working to improve, every day. I've been doing that for twenty years.

I've worked with people who have "20 years of experience"; they've done the same job, in the same way, for 20 years. Their first month on the job they read the first half of "Databases for Dummies" and that's what they've been doing for 20 years. They never read the second half, and use Oracle database 18.0 exactly the same way they used Oracle Database 2.0 - and it was wrong 20 years ago too. So it's not just experience, it's 20 years of learning, getting better, every day. That's 7,305 days of improvement.

gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

I think I can guarantee that they are a lot better at their jobs than you think, and that you are a lot worse at your job than you think too.

m00sh ( 2538182 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
That seems about right to me.

I have a lot of weaknesses. My people skills suck, I'm scrawny, I'm arrogant. I'm also generally known as a really good programmer and people ask me how/why I'm so much better at my job than everyone else in the room. (There are a lot of things I'm not good at, but I'm good at my job, so say everyone I've worked with.)

I think one major difference is that I'm always studying, intentionally working to improve, every day. I've been doing that for twenty years.

I've worked with people who have "20 years of experience"; they've done the same job, in the same way, for 20 years. Their first month on the job they read the first half of "Databases for Dummies" and that's what they've been doing for 20 years. They never read the second half, and use Oracle database 18.0 exactly the same way they used Oracle Database 2.0 - and it was wrong 20 years ago too. So it's not just experience, it's 20 years of learning, getting better, every day. That's 7,305 days of improvement.

If you take this attitude towards other people, people will not ask your for help. At the same time, you'll be also be not able to ask for their help.

You're not interviewing your peers. They are already in your team. You should be working together.

I've seen superstar programmers suck the life out of project by over-complicating things and not working together with others.

raymorris ( 2726007 ) writes:
Which part? Learning makes you better? ( Score: 2 )

You quoted a lot. Is there one part exactly do you have in mind? The thesis of my post is of course "constant learning, on purpose, makes you better"

> you take this attitude towards other people, people will not ask your for help. At the same time, you'll be also be not able to ask for their help.

Are you saying that trying to learn means you can't ask for help, or was there something more specific? For me, trying to learn means asking.

Trying to learn, I've had the opportunity to ask for help from peop

phantomfive ( 622387 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

The difference between a smart programmer who succeeds and a stupid programmer who drops out is that the smart programmer doesn't give up.

complete loony ( 663508 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

In other words;

What is often mistaken for 20 years' experience, is just 1 year's experience repeated 20 times.
serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

10% are just causing damage. I'm not talking about terrorists and criminals.

Terrorists and criminals have nothing on those guys. I know guy who is one of those. Worse, he's both motivated and enthusiastic. He also likes to offer help and advice to other people who don't know the systems well.

asifyoucare ( 302582 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @08:49AM ( #56522999 )
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Good point. To quote Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord:

"I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent -- their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy -- they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief."

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Oops. Good thing I never did anything military. I am definitely in the "clever and lazy" class.

apoc.famine ( 621563 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

I was just thinking the same thing. One of my passions in life is coming up with clever ways to do less work while getting more accomplished.

Software_Dev_GL ( 5377065 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

It's called the Pareto Distribution [wikipedia.org]. The number of competent people (people doing most of the work) in any given organization goes like the square root of the number of employees.

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Matches my observations. 10-15% are smart, can think independently, can verify claims by others and can identify and use rules in whatever they do. They are not fooled by things "everybody knows" and see standard-approaches as first approximations that, of course, need to be verified to work. They do not trust anything blindly, but can identify whether something actually work well and build up a toolbox of such things.

The problem is that in coding, you do not have a "(mass) production step", and that is the

geoskd ( 321194 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

In basic concept I agree with your theory, it fits my own anecdotal experience well, but I find that your numbers are off. The top bracket is actually closer to 20%. The reason it seems so low is that a large portion of the highly competent people are running one programmer shows, so they have no co-workers to appreciate their knowledge and skill. The places they work do a very good job of keeping them well paid and happy (assuming they don't own the company outright), so they rarely if ever switch jobs.

The

Tablizer ( 95088 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:54AM ( #56522331 ) Journal
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)
at least 70, probably 80, maybe even 90 percent of professional programmers should just fuck off and do something else as they are useless at programming.

Programming is statistically a dead-end job. Why should anyone hone a dead-end skill that you won't be able to use for long? For whatever reason, the industry doesn't want old programmers.

Otherwise, I'd suggest longer training and education before they enter the industry. But that just narrows an already narrow window of use.

Cesare Ferrari ( 667973 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Well, it does rather depend on which industry you work in - i've managed to find interesting programming jobs for 25 years, and there's no end in sight for interesting projects and new avenues to explore. However, this isn't for everyone, and if you have good personal skills then moving from programming into some technical management role is a very worthwhile route, and I know plenty of people who have found very interesting work in that direction.

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Insightful)

I think that is a misinterpretation of the facts. Old(er) coders that are incompetent are just much more obvious and usually are also limited to technologies that have gotten old as well. Hence the 90% old coders that can actually not hack it and never really could get sacked at some time and cannot find a new job with their limited and outdated skills. The 10% that are good at it do not need to worry though. Who worries there is their employers when these people approach retirement age.

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

My experience as an IT Security Consultant (I also do some coding, but only at full rates) confirms that. Most are basically helpless and many have negative productivity, because people with a clue need to clean up after them. "Learn to code"? We have far too many coders already.

tomhath ( 637240 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

You can't bluff you way through writing software, but many, many people have bluffed their way into a job and then tried to learn it from the people who are already there. In a marginally functional organization those incompetents are let go pretty quickly, but sometimes they stick around for months or years.

Apparently the author of this book is one of those, probably hired and fired several times before deciding to go back to his liberal arts roots and write a book.

DaMattster ( 977781 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

There are some mechanics that bluff their way through an automotive repair. It's the same damn thing

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

I think you can and this is by far not the first piece describing that. Here is a classic: https://blog.codinghorror.com/... [codinghorror.com]
Yet these people somehow manage to actually have "experience" because they worked in a role they are completely unqualified to fill.

phantomfive ( 622387 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
Fiddling with JavaScript libraries to get a fancy dancy interface that makes PHB's happy is a sought-after skill, for good or bad. Now that we rely more on half-ass libraries, much of "programming" is fiddling with dark-grey boxes until they work good enough.

This drives me crazy, but I'm consoled somewhat by the fact that it will all be thrown out in five years anyway.

[Apr 24, 2018] How neoliberal economics in universities achieve tenure

They achieve it by serving the financial oligarchy...
Few things are as dangerous as economists with physics envy [aeon.co].
Notable quotes:
"... "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning. ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

marku52 , April 20, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Stumbling and Mumbling has a good riff on this topic:
". Economics, for me, is not about armchair theorizing. It should begin with the facts, and especially the big ones. The facts are that share buy-backs do usually matter, so thought experiments that say otherwise are wrong from the off. Similarly, the fact that wage inflation has been low for years (pdf) is much more significant than any theorizing about Phillips curves."

The comments are good as well:
"That's a category error: you don't define "Economics", tenure committees define it, and they award tenure to people who have a long record of publishing "internally consistent" ("armchair theorizing") papers."
"I found myself sitting next to a very likable young middle-aged academic tenured at an elite British university, whom henceforth I will refer to as Doctor X and whose field is closely associated with this blog. Every year I publish papers in the top journals and they're pure shit." Doctor X, who by now had had a glass or two, felt bad about this, not least because "students these days are so idealistic and eager to learn; they're really wonderful." Furthermore Doctor X could and would like "to write serious papers but what would be the point?" "
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2018/04/facts-vs-hand-waving-in-economics.html#comments

hemeantwell , April 20, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Yeah. I'm inclined to think the author needs to curb his enthusiasms and take up dejected drinking.

The nub of his presentation was a model in which consumers, due to cognitive limitations, were unable to fully examine every single product they purchased. The result was that regulations guaranteeing a certain standard of safety, quality and the like could improve competition by giving people more time to shop around instead of having to devote so much time to investigate specific products. Thus, regulation would improve markets and competition

This is Nobel-level work? It amounts to finding a way to pitch a product to anti-regulation dogmatists. I'm sure that you could find similar arguments being made during the Progressive era regulatory push. Only they would have been framed more as "people will have more time to shop around if they're not killed by previous ingestion of the product."

Ape , April 22, 2018 at 3:32 am

Dude – they aren't actually doing fancy math. Linear regression – like it's 1850!

Most of their important proofs are irrelevant crap with wholes. The math is mostly undergraduate math! The emperor has no clothes!

The problem isn't just math trickery – it's not even proper ingenuity.

Just read a Summer or Krugman paper – it's 70 pages of words, 3 graphs of imaginary numbers and stats 2 equations. That's not mathematization.

Larry Motuz , April 22, 2018 at 4:34 pm

What I mean by 'mathemagics' is the misuse of mathematics –even simple mathematics -- to create the illusion that 'utility' or 'indifference curves' actually pertain to real concepts. In reality, they 'mathematize' gobbledygook passed off as coherent concepts. There is nothing so conceptually barren as 'utility' or 'indifference curve' analytics. The notion that one can derive any coherent 'demand' analysis for any one consumer that is individual human being (or life form of any kind) for any product, or that one can aggregate these up is mathematical junk.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 22, 2018 at 9:08 am

The Classical Economists used the broader political economy rather than today's narrow economics.

The Washington Consensus dreamed of a world run by the laws of economics.

The laws of economics worked in China's favour and the Western economies got hollowed out.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Maximising profit required minimising wages.

The minimum wage is set when disposable income equals zero.

The minimum wage = taxes + the cost of living

China had it made and the West had tilted the playing field against itself.

The US eventually woke up the geopolitical consequences of a world governed by the laws of economics that had worked in China's favour.

Trump has just made things worse with his tax cuts.

Theory:
If we reduce taxes on the wealthy they will create more jobs and wages.

Reality:
If we reduce taxes on the wealthy they will create more jobs and wages in Asia where they can make more profit. They can then ship the stuff back here increasing Western trade deficits.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 22, 2018 at 9:09 am

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning. " Warren Buffet, 25 May 2005

Did your class think about the geopolitics?
I don't think so.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 22, 2018 at 9:17 am

William White (BIS, OECD) is on board for the benefits of the broader political economy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s

[Apr 24, 2018] Neoliberal indoctrination at universities

Notable quotes:
"... First, we need to accept that there is no such thing as "value-free" analysis of the economy. As I've explained, neoclassical economics pretends to be ethically neutral while smuggling in an individualistic, anti-social ethos " – Howard Reed ..."
"... Fundamentally, economics is a religion, with priests, high priests, creed, dogma, punishment for heretics, and all the other trappings of a religion. But the pay is good, so Clive's rule for middle class jobs applies. ..."
"... Fooled by Randomness ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Economics conducted a curriculum review of 174 modules at 7 Russell Group universities -- rightly or wrongly considered the 'top' universities in the UK -- and we found that the uncritical acceptance of one type of economics begins with education. Under 10% of modules even mentioned anything other than mainstream or 'neoclassical' economics; in econometrics, over 90% of modules devoted more than two-thirds of their lectures to linear regression. Only 24% of exam questions required critical or independent thinking (i.e. were open-ended); this dropped to 8% if you only counted the compulsory macro and micro modules that form the core of economics education.

We have previously called this 'indoctrination', and while this may seem dramatic the dictionary definition of indoctrination is to "teach a person or set of people to accept a set of beliefs uncritically", which we think adequately characterises the results of the review, as well as our own experience and many widely used economics textbooks. Given this education, it is no wonder that economists remain wedded to the fundamental precepts of choice models and linear regression no matter where they turn their attention. By putting the method first, the implicit assumption becomes that answering a question using this framework is prima facie interesting, and critical evaluation of these tools against others is made unthinkable.


Jim Haygood , , April 20, 2018 at 11:01 am

For nearly thirty years after the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) became received gospel in the mid-1960s, the claim that stock prices exhibited momentum (which shouldn't be true in a perfectly efficient market) was roundly mocked by mainstream economists.

Then in 1993, Jegadeesh and Titman published a paper titled "Returns to Buying Winners and Selling Losers: Implications for Stock Market Efficiency" in the Journal of Finance . Its evidence for a momentum effect was impossible to refute.

So economists bolted en masse to the opposite side of the boat. Today there are thousands of papers on momentum, often presenting some fairly trivial arithmetic that home-based amateurs have long used. But it's formulated into equations with Greek letters, and a [totally boring] statistical panel appears in the Appendix to prove some statistical significance.

A few professors actually exploited their discoveries to get rich. Cliff Asness, a U of Chicago PhD (but a practitioner, not a professor) offers some light-hearted commentary on his mentor Eugene Fama:

Of course the book The Fama Portfolio also contains contributions by other authors (or how the heck did I get in there?) that reflect, directly or indirectly, on Gene's work.

Being able to read Gene's originals and some of the major papers by others that explore his work in one volume is both a treat and incredibly useful (these contributors, unlike John Liew and myself, are themselves serious academic luminaries!).

OK, enough shilling. If you love finance and don't immediately pine for this book, I can't help you any further☺

https://www.aqr.com/Insights/Perspectives/Add-More-Fama-to-Your-Portfolio

skippy , April 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Mr. Haygood

If it was only like the movie THX1138.

Where the police were call off their pursuit, when within a finger nail of – helping – their subject. Because the economic perimeters their models produced, with the help of computational machines, gave a ridged defined view of the operation. Seems the subject was operating outside the econometric perimeters due to mental illness – was a patient whom escaped at the time.

Alas we never get to see what he saw when he popped out on the surface, save a blinding orb.

In retrospect did they do the underground thingy to better control, could nature itself be a threat to the model, hence the need to control every aspect of environment for behavioral reasons.

Anywho I'll just leave this on my way to work:

"If we accept that we need fundamental reform, what should the new economics -- "de-conomics" as I'm calling it -- look like?

First, we need to accept that there is no such thing as "value-free" analysis of the economy. As I've explained, neoclassical economics pretends to be ethically neutral while smuggling in an individualistic, anti-social ethos " – Howard Reed

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/the-case-for-a-new-economics

Synoia , April 20, 2018 at 11:33 am

Linear regression is economists' preferred empirical technique

That's really a powerful tool in a world which is chaotic.

The trouble with embracing chaos and catastrophe theory is the "chaos" part of predicting the future. But economists, being human and liking their paychecks, are not interested in any predictions which do not cater, or pander, to the needs of their bosses or paymasters.

Why, that might suggest the boss is wrong! Such heresy leads to a quick execution!

Fundamentally, economics is a religion, with priests, high priests, creed, dogma, punishment for heretics, and all the other trappings of a religion. But the pay is good, so Clive's rule for middle class jobs applies.

Disclaimer: My view of Religion is similar: Why?
1. You'll get your reward in the afterlife, after you are dead!
2. We know this is true, because we've never had a complaint.

Chris , April 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Linear regression certainly is a powerful tool for examining linear distributions, but it essential to first confirm that the distribution is linear, and to remember that on occasion, samples drawn from random (unrelated) distributions can show a spurious correlation.

Synoia , April 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm

but it essential to first confirm that the distribution is linear

Very true, but how is this proven? In nature and economics are there any linear distributions? If so over what range?

I notice a preponderance of using straight lines instead of growth curves. I also notice chaos, or noise, in behaviors, coupled with a complete non-understanding of entropy.

In nature linear behavior is unlikely. If it were linear we'd see straight branches on trees, rainfall evenly distributed and the wind would always blow at constant speed, with predictable eddies.

I suppose a rock dropped would exhibit linear behaviors until it hits the ground, and at that point in time the "dropping rock" system become decidedly chaotic, from stuck in the mud, to bouncing in a random direction, to bursting into pieces, pieces who's destiny is completely uncertain.

blennylips , April 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

I've debated many economists who claim to specialize in risk and probability: when one takes them slightly outside their narrow focus, but within the discipline of probability, they fall apart, with the disconsolate face of a gym rat in front of a gangster hit man."

Nassim, I think covers all this better than anyone else. Would love to hear of similarly comprehensive works.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/series/INO/incerto

Fooled by Randomness covers problems with assumed linearity and normal distributions.

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves – and look who s buying by Grif Peterson and Yarden Katz

Notable quotes:
"... Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace". ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves and look who's buying

Apr 04, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 02, 2018] For First Time, Tuition Is Public College's Biggest Revenue Source by Sophie Quinton

Notable quotes:
"... In over half of states, the share was higher. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware and Pennsylvania, over 70 percent of higher education funding came from tuition dollars last year. ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.governing.com

State colleges and universities are relying more on tuition dollars to fund their operations even as state funding rises and colleges come under pressure to keep tuition low.

Last fiscal year, for the first time, tuition revenue outpaced government appropriations for higher education in the majority of states, according to the annual higher education finance report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. The association represents chief executives of statewide governing, policy and coordinating boards of postsecondary education.

Tuition dollars are becoming a more important revenue source as more students head to college, tuition prices rise, and state lawmakers struggle to return higher education funding to the per-student levels seen before the Great Recession.

The report looked at net tuition revenue, which it defined as tuition and fees minus medical student tuition, state and institutional financial aid and other waivers and discounts. It found that tuition dollars paid by families -- a figure that includes federal grants and loans -- made up 46 percent of funding for U.S. public colleges and universities in fiscal 2017, almost double tuition's share of higher education funding in 1990.

In over half of states, the share was higher. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware and Pennsylvania, over 70 percent of higher education funding came from tuition dollars last year.

Nationwide, net tuition revenue peaked as a funding source for public higher education in 2013, after the collapsing economy sent a wave of students back to school at the same time as state lawmakers were cutting funding for colleges. Since then, enrollments have fallen and state investments in higher education and financial aid have increased.

RELATED Explaining the Cost of College Tuition in Every State

[Mar 27, 2018] Over One Fifth of Student Borrowers Used Loans to Gamble on Cryptocurrencies

Notable quotes:
"... res ipsa loquitur ..."
"... I doubt you could find 20% of college students who even know where to buy crypto. Maybe, maybe ..."
Mar 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

res ipsa loquitur although as one wag said, this news tidbit does seem to disprove the claim that young people aren't risk takers. But it may establish that they are innumerate or more specifically, bad at statistics. One of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's recommendations about investing boils down to "Be paranoid" and "Don't be greedy" and leveraged cryptocurrency speculation is the opposite of that.

This sort of thing does not help the image of student borrowers, although it does strengthen the case for regulating cryptocurrencies far more strictly. Given the decline in the status of cab drivers, who historically have been indicators of market peaks (when cab drivers talk about their stocks, it's usually sign of a bubble), this finding may also be a proof of Peak Cryptocurrency.

From Investopedia :

According to a study by The Student Loan Report, over one-fifth of current university students with student loan debt indicated that they used their student loan money to invest in digital currency such as bitcoin.

The student loan news and information website found that 21.2% of the 1,000 students they surveyed indicated that they used their borrowed cash to gamble on the highly volatile digital currency market. While school administrators may look down upon the practice of using borrowed funds for non-school expenses, Student Loan Report indicates that there are currently no rules against it. College students are able to use loans for "living expenses," a flexible category that covers a wide range of potential necessities.

Given that 70% of retail investors in futures lose money, there's not a strong reason for thinking that latecomers to the cryptocurrency party would be stellar traders. I wonder how many students who lose so much money on bad cryptocurrency wagers that it undermines their ability to finish their course of study (presumably they really did need at least some of that "living expense" money for bona fide living expenses) will be willing to 'fess up to that fact.


JTMcPhee , March 27, 2018 at 9:40 pm

I guess that means that almost 4/5ths of students did NOT use "loan" proceeds (which are part of the whole Casino enterprise, after all) to gamble invest "expose themselves to market risk" by moving those bits representing "money" into the block chain spurt

And I also guess that means that the Puritans among us, and the mopes who want to make sure everyone else gets as screwed by "the system" as they have been by so diligently paying off those student loans/debt millstones, will now have a new line of argument about why the Banksters and the scum among the legislators and "loan servicers" and kickback-collecting higher-education administrators should be fully armed to go after mope students and graduates-without-portfolios-but-with-lots-of-"credentials" and their parents and other "guarantors" to extract that last full measure of blood from the turnipheads who signed on the dotted line without much of a clue that the "contract" was drafted by some Shylock named "Mephistopheles "

Say it loud, say it clear -- "#juststoppaying. No other way to end the game, is there? And yes, there will be blood, economically speaking, in the Street

djrichard , March 27, 2018 at 11:14 pm

It's not so much the banksters that issued these student loans as it is the Fed Gov. http://www.privatestudentloanfacts.com/the-private-student-loan-market.html

But think how it helped stimulate the economy. Except that unlike other Fed Gov spending, the Fed Gov wants this money back. D'oh! And as we know, it's very difficult to discharge student loans through bankruptcy (which at least gives the economy more slack for other debt to be paid off).

So ultimately it doesn't stimulate the economy. It just feeds various maws: the education industry and its bubble, the corporations and their inflated requirements for hiring for jobs. Edit: And the cryptocurrency bubble who knew? While subtracting from other maws: housing starts, family starts, etc.

As Mosler puts it, still the same amount of dogs chasing down the same amount of bones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vTjLwYCi24

ocop , March 27, 2018 at 11:12 pm

Come on, no way this passes the smell test. Online "mobile-friendly" polling outfit (Pollfish), no additional info even in the actual source article.

https://studentloans.net/financial-aid-funding-cryptocurrency-investments/

I doubt you could find 20% of college students who even know where to buy crypto. Maybe, maybe you could find 20% who are more aware than "heard about it on the news".

[Mar 03, 2018] Strange science, economics. Judging from the titles, much of it consists of neoliberal cheerleading

Neoliberal economists are a new type of clergy. As simple as this. Neoliberal God is great that's what they are preaching to students.
Notable quotes:
"... Bronze Age: Greatest Age EVAH! ..."
"... It's surprising economists feel the need to engage in happy talk, considering that markets are supposed to be natural, just, and efficient. Like clergy preaching to a perpetually backsliding laity about the one true God, Whom only a fool would doubt. If God were so great, there'd be no need to harp on it. In any case, this goes some way toward accounting for Bennet's statement. ..."
"... It takes a half-educated person to say something like that. First you get the ideas by way of a certain education, and then you don't think about them, in part because the educators discourage that kind of thing. ..."
Mar 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Paul Cardan , March 2, 2018 at 3:12 pm

"[Capitalism] has been the greatest engine of, it's been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we've seen."

I can almost smell the economics section of my local bookstore. Strange science, economics. Judging from the titles, much of it consists of cheerleading. Very different from history, anthropology, or sociology.

I never see history titles like Bronze Age: Greatest Age EVAH! It's surprising economists feel the need to engage in happy talk, considering that markets are supposed to be natural, just, and efficient. Like clergy preaching to a perpetually backsliding laity about the one true God, Whom only a fool would doubt. If God were so great, there'd be no need to harp on it. In any case, this goes some way toward accounting for Bennet's statement.

It takes a half-educated person to say something like that. First you get the ideas by way of a certain education, and then you don't think about them, in part because the educators discourage that kind of thing.

[Dec 22, 2017] Beyond Cynicism America Fumbles Towards Kafka s Castle by James Howard Kunstler

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people. ..."
"... They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats. ..."
"... The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot. ..."
"... Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43). ..."
"... This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer. ..."
"... The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth ! ..."
"... Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades. ..."
"... "Wow – is there ever negative!" ..."
"... You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'. ..."
"... My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece ..."
"... "Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor." ..."
"... Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\ ..."
"... It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's! ..."
"... E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop. ..."
"... The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.) ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

On America's 'long emergency' of recession, globalization, and identity politics.

Can a people recover from an excursion into unreality? The USA's sojourn into an alternative universe of the mind accelerated sharply after Wall Street nearly detonated the global financial system in 2008. That debacle was only one manifestation of an array of accumulating threats to the postmodern order, which include the burdens of empire, onerous debt, population overshoot, fracturing globalism, worries about energy, disruptive technologies, ecological havoc, and the specter of climate change.

A sense of gathering crisis, which I call the long emergency , persists. It is systemic and existential. It calls into question our ability to carry on "normal" life much farther into this century, and all the anxiety that attends it is hard for the public to process. It manifested itself first in finance because that was the most abstract and fragile of all the major activities we depend on for daily life, and therefore the one most easily tampered with and shoved into criticality by a cadre of irresponsible opportunists on Wall Street. Indeed, a lot of households were permanently wrecked after the so-called Great Financial Crisis of 2008, despite official trumpet blasts heralding "recovery" and the dishonestly engineered pump-up of capital markets since then.

With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people.

Bad ideas flourish in this nutrient medium of unresolved crisis. Lately, they actually dominate the scene on every side. A species of wishful thinking that resembles a primitive cargo cult grips the technocratic class, awaiting magical rescue remedies that promise to extend the regime of Happy Motoring, consumerism, and suburbia that makes up the armature of "normal" life in the USA. They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats.

The non-technocratic cohort of the thinking class squanders its waking hours on a quixotic campaign to destroy the remnant of an American common culture and, by extension, a reviled Western civilization they blame for the failure in our time to establish a utopia on earth. By the logic of the day, "inclusion" and "diversity" are achieved by forbidding the transmission of ideas, shutting down debate, and creating new racially segregated college dorms. Sexuality is declared to not be biologically determined, yet so-called cis-gendered persons (whose gender identity corresponds with their sex as detected at birth) are vilified by dint of not being "other-gendered" -- thereby thwarting the pursuit of happiness of persons self-identified as other-gendered. Casuistry anyone?

The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot.

In case you haven't been paying attention to the hijinks on campus -- the attacks on reason, fairness, and common decency, the kangaroo courts, diversity tribunals, assaults on public speech and speakers themselves -- here is the key take-away: it's not about ideas or ideologies anymore; it's purely about the pleasures of coercion, of pushing other people around. Coercion is fun and exciting! In fact, it's intoxicating, and rewarded with brownie points and career advancement. It's rather perverse that this passion for tyranny is suddenly so popular on the liberal left.

Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43).

The new and false idea that something labeled "hate speech" -- labeled by whom? -- is equivalent to violence floated out of the graduate schools on a toxic cloud of intellectual hysteria concocted in the laboratory of so-called "post-structuralist" philosophy, where sundry body parts of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Gilles Deleuze were sewn onto a brain comprised of one-third each Thomas Hobbes, Saul Alinsky, and Tupac Shakur to create a perfect Frankenstein monster of thought. It all boiled down to the proposition that the will to power negated all other human drives and values, in particular the search for truth. Under this scheme, all human relations were reduced to a dramatis personae of the oppressed and their oppressors, the former generally "people of color" and women, all subjugated by whites, mostly males. Tactical moves in politics among these self-described "oppressed" and "marginalized" are based on the credo that the ends justify the means (the Alinsky model).

This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer.

I would account for it as the psychological displacement among this political cohort of their shame, disappointment, and despair over the outcome of the civil rights campaign that started in the 1960s and formed the core of progressive ideology. It did not bring about the hoped-for utopia. The racial divide in America is starker now than ever, even after two terms of a black president. Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. The recent flash points of racial conflict -- Ferguson, the Dallas police ambush, the Charleston church massacre, et cetera -- don't have to be rehearsed in detail here to make the point that there is a great deal of ill feeling throughout the land, and quite a bit of acting out on both sides.

The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another. And that is exactly why a black separatism movement arose as an alternative at the time, led initially by such charismatic figures as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Some of that was arguably a product of the same youthful energy that drove the rest of the Sixties counterculture: adolescent rebellion. But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

What follows from these dynamics is the deflection of all ideas that don't feed a narrative of power relations between oppressors and victims, with the self-identified victims ever more eager to exercise their power to coerce, punish, and humiliate their self-identified oppressors, the "privileged," who condescend to be abused to a shockingly masochistic degree. Nobody stands up to this organized ceremonial nonsense. The punishments are too severe, including the loss of livelihood, status, and reputation, especially in the university. Once branded a "racist," you're done. And venturing to join the oft-called-for "honest conversation about race" is certain to invite that fate.

Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor. Hung out to dry economically, this class of whites fell into many of the same behaviors as the poor blacks before them: absent fathers, out-of-wedlock births, drug abuse. Then the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 wiped up the floor with the middle-middle class above them, foreclosing on their homes and futures, and in their desperation many of these people became Trump voters -- though I doubt that Trump himself truly understood how this all worked exactly. However, he did see that the white middle class had come to identify as yet another victim group, allowing him to pose as their champion.

The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth !

Life in this milieu of immersive dishonesty drives citizens beyond cynicism to an even more desperate state of mind. The suffering public ends up having no idea what is really going on, what is actually happening. The toolkit of the Enlightenment -- reason, empiricism -- doesn't work very well in this socioeconomic hall of mirrors, so all that baggage is discarded for the idea that reality is just a social construct, just whatever story you feel like telling about it. On the right, Karl Rove expressed this point of view some years ago when he bragged, of the Bush II White House, that "we make our own reality." The left says nearly the same thing in the post-structuralist malarkey of academia: "you make your own reality." In the end, both sides are left with a lot of bad feelings and the belief that only raw power has meaning.

Erasing psychological boundaries is a dangerous thing. When the rackets finally come to grief -- as they must because their operations don't add up -- and the reckoning with true price discovery commences at the macro scale, the American people will find themselves in even more distress than they've endured so far. This will be the moment when either nobody has any money, or there is plenty of worthless money for everyone. Either way, the functional bankruptcy of the nation will be complete, and nothing will work anymore, including getting enough to eat. That is exactly the moment when Americans on all sides will beg someone to step up and push them around to get their world working again. And even that may not avail.

James Howard Kunstler's many books include The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation , and the World Made by Hand novel series. He blogs on Mondays and Fridays at Kunstler.com .

Whine Merchant December 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Wow – is there ever negative!
Celery , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm
I think I need to go listen to an old-fashioned Christmas song now.

The ability to be financially, or at least resource, sustaining is the goal of many I know since we share a lack of confidence in any of our institutions. We can only hope that God might look down with compassion on us, but He's not in the practical plan of how to feed and sustain ourselves when things play out to their inevitable end. Having come from a better time, we joke about our dystopian preparations, self-conscious about our "overreaction," but preparing all the same.

Merry Christmas!

Fran Macadam , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:55 pm
Look at it this way: Germany had to be leveled and its citizens reduced to abject penury, before Volkswagen could become the world's biggest car company, and autobahns built throughout the world. It will be darkest before the dawn, and hopefully, that light that comes after, won't be the miniature sunrise of a nuclear conflagration.
KD , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:02 am
Eat, Drink, and be Merry, you can charge it on your credit card!
Rock Stehdy , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:38 am
Hard words, but true. Kunstler is always worth reading for his common-sense wisdom.
Helmut , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:04 am
An excellent summary and bleak reminder of what our so-called civilization has become. How do we extricate ourselves from this strange death spiral?
I have long suspected that we humans are creatures of our own personal/group/tribal/national/global fables and mythologies. We are compelled by our genes, marrow, and blood to tell ourselves stories of our purpose and who we are. It is time for new mythologies and stories of "who we are". This bizarre hyper-techno all-for-profit world needs a new story.
Liam , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:38 am
"The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another."

Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades.

Peter , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:34 am
I have some faith that the American people can recover from an excursion into unreality. I base it on my own survival to the end of this silly rant.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:08 am
Re: Whine Merchant, "Wow – is there ever negative!"

Can't argue with the facts

P.S. Merry Christmas.

Dave Wright , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:22 am
Hey Jim, I know you love to blame Wall Street and the Republicans for the GFC. I remember back in '08 you were urging Democrats to blame it all on Republicans to help Obama win. But I have news for you. It wasn't Wall Street that caused the GFC. The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act to pressure banks to relax mortgage underwriting standards. This was done at the behest of left wing activists who claimed (without evidence, of course) that the standards discriminated against minorities. The result was an effective repeal of all underwriting standards and an explosion of real estate speculation with borrowed money. Speculation with borrowed money never ends well.

I have to laugh, too, when you say that it's perverse that the passion for tyranny is popular on the left. Have you ever heard of the French Revolution? How about the USSR? Communist China? North Korea? Et cetera.

Leftism is leftism. Call it Marxism, Communism, socialism, liberalism, progressivism, or what have you. The ideology is the same. Only the tactics and methods change. Destroy the evil institutions of marriage, family, and religion, and Man's innate goodness will shine forth, and the glorious Godless utopia will naturally result.

Of course, the father of lies is ultimately behind it all. "He was a liar and a murderer from the beginning."

When man turns his back on God, nothing good happens. That's the most fundamental problem in Western society today. Not to say that there aren't other issues, but until we return to God, there's not much hope for improvement.

NoahK , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:15 am
It's like somebody just got a bunch of right-wing talking points and mashed them together into one incohesive whole. This is just lazy.
Andrew Imlay , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:36 am
Hmm. I just wandered over here by accident. Being a construction contractor, I don't know enough about globalization, academia, or finance to evaluate your assertions about those realms. But being in a biracial family, and having lived, worked, and worshiped equally in white and black communities, I can evaluate your statements about social justice, race, and civil rights. Long story short, you pick out fringe liberal ideas, misrepresent them as mainstream among liberals, and shoot them down. Casuistry, anyone?

You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'.

I get that this column is a quick toss-off before the holiday, and that your strength is supposed to be in your presentation, not your ideas. For me, it's a helpful way to rehearse debunking common tropes that I'll encounter elsewhere.

But, really, your readers deserve better, and so do the people you misrepresent. We need bad liberal ideas to be critiqued while they're still on the fringe. But by calling fringe ideas mainstream, you discredit yourself, misinform your readers, and contribute to stereotypes both of liberals and of conservatives. I'm looking for serious conservative critiques that help me take a second look at familiar ideas. I won't be back.

peter in boston , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:48 am
Love Kunstler -- and love reading him here -- but he needs a strong editor to get him to turn a formless harangue into clear essay.
Someone in the crowd , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:07 am
I disagree, NoahK, that the whole is incohesive, and I also disagree that these are right-wing talking points.

The theme of this piece is the long crisis in the US, its nature and causes. At no point does this essay, despite it stream of consciousness style, veer away from that theme. Hence it is cohesive.

As for the right wing charge, though it is true, to be sure, that Kunstler's position is in many respects classically conservative -- he believes for example that there should be a national consensus on certain fundamentals, such as whether or not there are two sexes (for the most part), or, instead, an infinite variety of sexes chosen day by day at whim -- you must have noticed that he condemned both the voluntarism of Karl Rove AND the voluntarism of the post-structuralist crowd.

My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece. QED.

Jon , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
This malaise is rooted in human consciousness that when reflecting on itself celebrating its capacity for apperception suffers from the tension that such an inquiry, such an inward glance produces. In a word, the capacity for the human being to be aware of his or herself as an intelligent being capable of reflecting on aspects of reality through the artful manipulation of symbols engenders this tension, this angst.

Some will attempt to extinguish this inner tension through intoxication while others through the thrill of war, and it has been played out since the dawn of man and well documented when the written word emerged.

The malaise which Mr. Kunstler addresses as the problem of our times is rooted in our existence from time immemorial. But the problem is not only existential but ontological. It is rooted in our being as self-aware creatures. Thus no solution avails itself as humanity in and of itself is the problem. Each side (both right and left) seeks its own anodyne whether through profligacy or intolerance, and each side mans the barricades to clash experiencing the adrenaline rush that arises from the perpetual call to arms.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:27 am
"Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor."

And to whom do we hand the tab for this? Globalization is a word. It is a concept, a talking point. Globalization is oligarchy by another name. Unfortunately, under-educated, deplorable, Americans; regardless of party affiliation/ideology have embraced. And the most ironic part?

Russia and China (the eventual surviving oligarchies) will eventually have to duke it out to decide which superpower gets to make the USA it's b*tch (excuse prison reference, but that's where we're headed folks).

And one more irony. Only in American, could Christianity, which was grew from concepts like compassion, generosity, humility, and benevolence; be re-branded and 'weaponized' to further greed, bigotry, misogyny, intolerance, and violence/war. Americans fiddled (over same sex marriage, abortion, who has to bake wedding cakes, and who gets to use which public restroom), while the oligarchs burned the last resources (natural, financial, and even legal).

The scientist 880 , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:48 am
"Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963."

Spoken like a white guy who has zero contact with black people. I mean, even a little bit of research and familiarity would give lie to the idea that blacks are more pessimistic about life today than in the 1960's.

Black millenials are the most optimistic group of Americans about the future. Anyone who has spent any significant time around older black people will notice that you don't hear the rose colored memories of the past. Black people don't miss the 1980's, much less the 1950's. Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\

It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's!

Here is the direct quote;

"In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant -- at least not certain of them. There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges. Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn't even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback. Today, former Bull Michael Jordan isn't just the greatest basketball player of all time -- he owns the team. (Laughter.) When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. (Laughter.) Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world. (Laughter.) We're no longer only entertainers, we're producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners -- we're CEOs, we're mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States. (Applause.)

I am not saying gaps do not persist. Obviously, they do. Racism persists. Inequality persists. Don't worry -- I'm going to get to that. But I wanted to start, Class of 2016, by opening your eyes to the moment that you are in. If you had to choose one moment in history in which you could be born, and you didn't know ahead of time who you were going to be -- what nationality, what gender, what race, whether you'd be rich or poor, gay or straight, what faith you'd be born into -- you wouldn't choose 100 years ago. You wouldn't choose the fifties, or the sixties, or the seventies. You'd choose right now. If you had to choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, "young, gifted, and black" in America, you would choose right now. (Applause.)"

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/obamas-howard-commencement-transcript-222931

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58cf1d9ae4b0ec9d29dcf283/amp

Adam , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:57 am
I love reading about how the Community Reinvestment Act was the catalyst of all that is wrong in the world. As someone in the industry the issue was actually twofold. The Commodities Futures Modernization Act turned the mortgage securities market into a casino with the underlying actual debt instruments multiplied through the use of additional debt instruments tied to the performance but with no actual underlying value. These securities were then sold around the world essentially infecting the entire market. In order that feed the beast, these NON GOVERNMENT loans had their underwriting standards lowered to rediculous levels. If you run out of qualified customers, just lower the qualifications. Government loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA were avoided because it was easier to qualify people with the new stuff. And get paid. The short version is all of the incentives that were in place at the time, starting with the Futures Act, directly led to the actions that culminated in the Crash. So yes, it was the government, just a different piece of legislation.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm
Kunstler itemizing the social and economic pathologies in the United States is not enough. Because there are other models that demonstrate it didn't have to be this way.

E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop.

The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.)

P.S. About the notionally high U.S. GDP. Factor out the TRILLIONS inexplicably hoovered up by the pathological health care system, the metastasized and sanctified National Security State (with its Global Cop shenanigans) and the cronied-up Ponzi scheme of electron-churn financialization ginned up by Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Banksters, and then see how much GDP that reflects the actual wealth of the middle class is left over.

One Guy , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm
Right-Wing Dittoheads and Fox Watchers love to blame the Community Reinvestment Act. It allows them to blame both poor black people AND the government. The truth is that many parties were to blame.
LouB , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm
One of the things I love about this rag is that almost all of the comments are included. You may be sure that similar commenting privilege doesn't exist most anywhere else.

Any disfavor regarding the supposed bleakness with the weak hearted souls aside, Mr K's broadside seems pretty spot on to me.

tzx4 , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm
I think the author overlooks the fact that government over the past 30 to 40 years has been tilting the playing field ever more towards the uppermost classes and against the middle class. The evisceration of the middle class is plain to see.

If the the common man had more money and security, lots of our current intrasocial conflicts would be far less intense.

Jeeves , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Andrew Imlay: You provide a thoughtful corrective to one of Kunstler's more hyperbolic claims. And you should know that his jeremiad doesn't represent usual fare at TAC. So do come back.

Whether or not every one of Kunstler's assertions can withstand a rigorous fact-check, he is a formidable rhetorician. A generous serving of Weltschmerz is just what the season calls for.

Wezz , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm
America is stupefied from propaganda on steroids for, largely from the right wing, 25? years of Limbaugh, Fox, etc etc etc Clinton hate x 10, "weapons of mass destruction", "they hate us because we are free", birtherism, death panels, Jade Helm, pedophile pizza, and more Clinton hate porn.

Americans have been taught to worship the wealthy regardless of how they got there. Americans have been taught they are "Exceptional" (better, smarter, more godly than every one else) in spite of outward appearances. Americans are under educated and encouraged to make decisions based on emotion from constant barrage of extra loud advertising from birth selling illusion.

Americans brain chemistry is most likely as messed up as the rest of their bodies from junk or molested food. Are they even capable of normal thought?

Donald Trump has convinced at least a third of Americans that only he, Fox, Breitbart and one or two other sources are telling the Truth, every one else is lying and that he is their friend.

Is it possible we are just plane doomed and there's no way out?

John Blade Wiederspan , says: December 21, 2017 at 4:26 pm
I loathe the cotton candy clown and his Quislings; however, I must admit, his presence as President of the United States has forced everyone (left, right, religious, non-religious) to look behind the curtain. He has done more to dis-spell the idealism of both liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, rich and poor, than any other elected official in history. The sheer amount of mind-numbing absurdity resulting from a publicity stunt that got out of control ..I am 70 and I have seen a lot. This is beyond anything I could ever imagine. America is not going to improve or even remain the same. It is in a 4 year march into worse, three years to go.
EarlyBird , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm
Sheesh. Should I shoot myself now, or wait until I get home?
dvxprime , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm
Mr. Kuntzler has an honest and fairly accurate assessment of the situation. And as usual, the liberal audience that TAC is trying so hard to reach, is tossing out their usual talking points whilst being in denial of the situation.

The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything.

Slooch , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm
Kunstler must have had a good time writing this, and I had a good time reading it. Skewed perspective, wild overstatement, and obsessive cherry-picking of the rare checkable facts are mixed with a little eye of newt and toe of frog and smothered in a oar and roll of rhetoric that was thrilling to be immersed in. Good work!
jp , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm
aah, same old Kunstler, slightly retailored for the Trump years.

for those of you familiar with him, remember his "peak oil" mania from the late 00s and early 2010s? every blog post was about it. every new year was going to be IT: the long emergency would start, people would be Mad Maxing over oil supplies cos prices at the pump would be $10 a gallon or somesuch.

in this new rant, i did a control-F for "peak oil" and hey, not a mention. I guess even cranks like Kunstler know when to give a tired horse a rest.

c.meyer , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm
So what else is new. Too 'clever', overwritten, no new ideas. Can't anyone move beyond clichés?
Active investor , says: December 22, 2017 at 12:35 am
Kunstler once again waxes eloquent on the American body politic. Every word rings true, except when it doesn't. At times poetic, at other times paranoid, Kunstler does us a great service by pointing a finger at the deepest pain points in America, any one of which could be the geyser that brings on catastrophic failure.

However, as has been pointed out, he definitely does not hang out with black people. For example, the statement:

But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

The notion of a 'national common culture' is interesting but pretty much a fantasy that never existed, save colonial times.

Yet Kunstler's voice is one that must be heard, even if he is mostly tuning in to the widespread radicalism on both ends of the spectrum, albeit in relatively small numbers. Let's face it, people are in the streets marching, yelling, and hating and mass murders keep happening, with the regularity of Old Faithful. And he makes a good point about academia loosing touch with reality much of the time. He's spot on about the false expectations of what technology can do for the economy, which is inflated with fiat currency and God knows how many charlatans and hucksters. And yes, the white working class is feeling increasingly like a 'victim group.'

While Kunstler may be more a poet than a lawyer, more songwriter than historian, my gut feeling is that America had better take notice of him, as The American ship of state is being swept by a ferocious tide and the helmsman is high on Fentanyl (made in China).

JonF , says: December 22, 2017 at 9:52 am
Re: The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act

Here we go again with this rotting zombie which rises from its grave no matter how many times it has been debunked by statisticians and reputable economists (and no, not just those on the left– the ranks include Bruce Bartlett for example, a solid Reaganist). To reiterate again : the CRA played no role in the mortgage boom and bust. Among other facts in the way of that hypothesis is the fact that riskiest loans were being made by non-bank lenders (Countrywide) who were not covered by the CRA which only applied to actual banks– and the banks did not really get into the game full tilt, lowering their lending standards, until late in the game, c. 2005, in response to their loss of business to the non-bank lenders. Ditto for the GSEs, which did not lower their standards until 2005 and even then relied on wall Street to vet the subprime loans they were buying.

To be sure, blaming Wall Street for everything is also wrong-headed, though wall Street certainly did some stupid, greedy and shady things (No, I am not letting them off the hook!) But the cast of miscreants is numbered in the millions and it stretches around the planet. Everyone (for example) who got into the get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme of house flipping, especially if they lied about their income to do so. And everyone who took out a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) and foolishly charged it up on a consumption binge. And shall we talk about the mortgage brokers who coached people into lying, the loan officers who steered customers into the riskiest (and highest earning) loans they could, the sellers who asked palace-prices for crackerbox hovels, the appraisers who rubber-stamped such prices, the regulators who turned a blind eye to all the fraud and malfeasance, the ratings agencies who handed out AAA ratings to securities full of junk, the politicians who rejoiced over the apparent "Bush Boom" well, I could continue, but you get the picture.

We have met the enemy and he was us.

kevin on the left , says: December 22, 2017 at 10:49 am
"The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything."

Pretty sure that calling other people to repent of their sin of disagreeing with you is not quite what the Holy Bible intended.

[Dec 19, 2017] Do not Underestimate the Power of Microfoundations

Highly recommended!
Nice illustration of ideologically based ostrakism as practiced in Academia: "Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders."
Notable quotes:
"... A more probable school of thought is that this game was created as a con and a cover for the status quo capitalist establishment to indulge themselves in their hard money and liquidity fetishes, consequences be damned. ..."
"... The arguments over internal and external consistency of models is just a convenient misdirection from what policy makers are willing to risk and whose interests they are willing to risk policy decisions for ..."
"... Mathematical masturbations are just a smoke screen used to conceal a simple fact that those "economists" are simply banking oligarchy stooges. Hired for the specific purpose to provide a theoretical foundation for revanschism of financial oligarchy after New Deal run into problems. Revanschism that occurred in a form of installing neoliberal ideology in the USA in exactly the same role which Marxism was installed in the USSR. With "iron hand in velvet gloves" type of repressive apparatus to enforce it on each and every university student and thus to ensure the continues, recurrent brainwashing much like with Marxism on the USSR universities. ..."
"... To ensure continuation of power of "nomenklatura" in the first case and banking oligarchy in the second. Connections with reality be damned. Money does not smell. ..."
"... Economic departments fifth column of neoliberal stooges is paid very good money for their service of promoting and sustaining this edifice of neoliberal propaganda. Just look at Greg Mankiw and Rubin's boys. ..."
"... "Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders." ..."
Apr 04, 2015 | Economist's View

Darryl FKA Ron -> pgl...

At the risk of oversimplifying might it not be as simple as stronger leanings towards IS-LM and kind are indicative of a bias towards full employment and stronger leanings towards DSGE, microfoundations, and kind are indicative of a bias towards low inflation?

IN general I consider over-simplification a fault, if and only if, it is a rigidly adhered to final position. This is to say that over-simplification is always a good starting point and never a good ending point. If in the end your problem was simple to begin with, then the simplified answer would not be OVER-simplified anyway. It is just as bad to over-complicate a simple problem as it is to over-simplify a complex problem. It is easier to build complexity on top of a simple foundation than it is to extract simplicity from a complex foundation.

A lot of the Chicago School initiative into microfoundations and DSGE may have been motivated by a desire to bind Keynes in a NAIRU straight-jacket. Even though economic policy making is largely done just one step at a time then that is still one step too much if it might violate rentier interests.

Darryl FKA Ron -> Barry...

There are two possible (but unlikely) schools of (generously attributed to as) thought for which internal consistency might take precedence over external consistency. One such school wants to consider what would be best in a perfect world full of perfect people and then just assume that is best for the real world just to let the chips fall where they may according to the faults and imperfections of the real world. The second such school is the one whose eyes just glaze over mesmerized by how over their heads they are and remain affraid to ask any question lest they appear stupid.

A more probable school of thought is that this game was created as a con and a cover for the status quo capitalist establishment to indulge themselves in their hard money and liquidity fetishes, consequences be damned.

Richard H. Serlin

Consistency sounds so good, Oh, of course we want consistency, who wouldn't?! But consistent in what way? What exactly do you mean? Consistent with reality, or consistent with people all being superhumans? Which concept is usually more useful, or more useful for the task at hand?

Essentially, they want models that are consistent with only certain things, and often because this makes their preferred ideology look far better. They want models, typically, that are consistent with everyone in the world having perfect expertise in every subject there is, from finance to medicine to engineering, perfect public information, and perfect self-discipline, and usually on top, frictionless and perfectly complete markets, often perfectly competitive too.

But a big thing to note is that perfectly consistent people means a level of perfection in expertise, public information, self-discipline, and "rationality", that's extremely at odds with how people actually are. And as a result, this can make the model extremely misleading if it's interpreted very literally (as so often it is, especially by freshwater economists), or taken as The Truth, as Paul Krugman puts it.

You get things like the equity premium "puzzle", which involves why people don't invest more in stocks when the risk-adjusted return appears to usually be so abnormally good, and this "puzzle" can only be answered with "consistency", that people are all perfectly expert in finance, with perfect information, so they must have some mysterious hidden good reason. It can't be at all that it's because 65% of people answered incorrectly when asked how many reindeer would remain if Santa had to lay off 25% of his eight reindeer ( http://richardhserlin.blogspot.com/2013/12/surveys-showing-massive-ignorance-and.html ).

Yes, these perfect optimizer consistency models can give useful insights, and help to see what is best, what we can do better, and they can, in some cases, be good as approximations. But to say they should be used only, and interpreted literally, is, well, inconsistent with optimal, rational behavior -- of the economist using them.

Richard H. Serlin -> Richard H. Serlin...
Of course, unless the economist using them is doing so to mislead people into supporting his libertarian/plutocratic ideology.

dilbert dogbert

As an old broken down mech engineer, I wonder why all the pissing and moaning about micro foundations vs aggregation. In strength of materials equations that aggregate properties work quite well within the boundaries of the questions to be answered. We all know that at the level of crystals, materials have much complexity. Even within crystals there is deeper complexities down to the molecular levels. However, the addition of quantum mechanics adds no usable information about what materials to build a bridge with.

But, when working at the scale of the most advanced computer chips quantum mechanics is required. WTF! I guess in economics there is no quantum mechanics theories or even reliable aggregation theories.

Poor economists, doomed to argue, forever, over how many micro foundations can dance on the head of a pin.

RGC -> dilbert dogbert...

Endless discussions about how quantum effects aggregate to produce a material suitable for bridge building crowd out discussions about where and when to build bridges. And if plutocrats fund the endless discussions, we get the prominent economists we have today.

Darryl FKA Ron -> d