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Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy

There is no economics, only political economy, stupid

News Casino Capitalism Recommended Links Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Number racket Efficient Market Hypothesis Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics
Supply Side or Trickle down economics Invisible Hand Hypothesys Twelve apostles of deregulation Monetarism fiasco Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Samuelson's bastard Keynesianism Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo
Libertarian Philosophy Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Deep State
Free Market Fundamentalism Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Lawrence Summers Corruption of Regulators Glass-Steagall repeal Rational expectations scam Free Markets Newspeak
In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers Mathiness GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Introduction to Lysenkoism Republican Economic Policy Think Tanks Enablers  Small government smoke screen
Hyman Minsky John Kenneth Galbraith  Bookshelf History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Humor Etc
Is it really necessary for every economist to be brain-dead apologist for the rich and powerful and predatory, in every damn breath?

Bruce Wilder in comments to Clash of Autonomy and Interdependence

Smith briskly takes a sledgehammer to any number of plaster saints cluttering up the edifice of modern economics:

"assumptions that are patently ridiculous: that individuals are rational and utility-maximizing (which has become such a slippery notion as to be meaningless), that buyers and sellers have perfect information, that there are no transaction costs, that capital flows freely"

And then...papers with cooked figures, economists oblivious to speculative factors driving oil prices, travesty versions of Keynes's ideas that airbrush out its most characteristic features in the name of mathematical tractability.

And then...any number of grand-sounding theoretical constructs: the Arrow-Debreu theorem, the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium model, the Black-Scholes option model, Value at Risk, CAPM, the Gaussian copula, that only work under blatantly unrealistic assumptions that go by high falutin' names - equilibrium, ergodicity, and so on.

The outcome of this pseudo-scientific botching is an imposing corpus of pretentious quackery that somehow elevates unregulated "free markets" into the sole mechanism for distribution of the spoils of economic activity. We are supposed to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum indulgence of human greed results in maximum prosperity for all. That's unfair to alchemy: compared with the threadbare scientific underpinnings of this economic dogma, alchemy is a model of rigor.

How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism

How many others are being paid for punditry? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?

PAUL KRUGMAN, NYT, December 19, 2005

"MIT and Wharton and University of Chicago created the financial engineering instruments which, like Samson and Delilah, blinded every CEO. They didn't realize the kind of leverage they were doing and they didn't understand when they were really creating a real profit or a fictitious one."

Paul Samuelson


Introduction

When you see this "neoclassical" gallery of expensive intellectual prostitutes (sorry, respectable priests of a dominant religion) that pretend to be professors of economics in various prominent universities, it is difficult not to say "It's political economy stupid". Those lackeys of ruling elite are just handing microphone bought by financial oligarchy.  Here is am Amazon.com review of  ECONned How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism eBook Yves Smith that  states this position well:

kievite:
Neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy

There are many good reviews of the book published already and I don't want to repeat them. But I think there is one aspect of the book that was not well covered in the published reviews and which I think is tremendously important and makes the book a class of its own: the use of neoclassical economics as a universal door opener for financial oligarchy. I hope that the term "econned" will became a new word in English language.

Neoclassical economics has become the modern religion with its own priests, sacred texts and a scheme of salvation. It was a successful attempt to legitimize the unlimited rule of financial oligarchy by using quasi-mathematical, oversimplified and detached for reality models. The net result is a new brand of theology, which proved to be pretty powerful in influencing people and capturing governments("cognitive regulatory capture"). Like Marxism, neoclassical economics is a triumph of ideology over science. It was much more profitable though: those who were the most successful in driving this Trojan horse into the gates were remunerated on the level of Wall Street traders.

Economics is essentially a political science. And politics is about perception. Neo-classical economics is all about manipulating the perception in such a way as to untie hands of banking elite to plunder the country (and get some cramps from the table for themselves). Yves contributed to our understanding how "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, economics professors from Chicago, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and some other places warmed by flow of money from banks for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping Wall Street to plunder the country. The rhetorical question that a special counsel to the U.S. Army, Joseph Welch, asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" applies.

The main effect of neoclassical economics is elevating unregulated ( "free" in neoclassic economics speak) markets into the key mechanism for distribution of the results of economic activity with banks as all-powerful middlemen and sedating any opposition with pseudo-mathematical mumbo-jumbo. Complexity was used as a powerful smoke screen to conceal greed and incompetence. As a result financial giants were able to loot almost all sectors of economics with impunity and without any remorse, not unlike the brutal conquerors in Middle Ages.

The key to the success of this nationwide looting is that people should be brainwashed/indoctrinated to believe that by some alchemical process, maximum level of greed results in maximum prosperity for all. Collapse of the USSR helped in this respect driving the message home: look how the alternative ended, when in reality the USSR was a neo-feudal society. But the exquisite irony here is that Bolsheviks-style ideological brainwashing was applied very successfully to the large part of the US population (especially student population) using neo-classical economics instead of Marxism (which by-and-large was also a pseudo-religious economic theory with slightly different priests and the plan of salvation ;-). The application of badly constructed mathematical models proved to be a powerful tool for distorting reality in a certain, desirable for financial elite direction. One of the many definitions of Ponzi Scheme is "transfer liabilities to unwilling others." The use of detached from reality mathematical models fits this definition pretty well.

The key idea here is that neoclassical economists are not and never have been scientists: much like Marxist economists they always were just high priests of a dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the benefit of the sect (and indirectly to their own benefit). All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: state support was and still is here, it is just working more subtly via ostracism, without open repressions. Look at Shiller story on p.9.

I think that one of lasting insights provided by Econned is the demonstration how the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the neoclassical economic school that has dominated the field at least for 30 or may be even 50 years. And that this ideological coup d'état was initiated and financed by banking establishment who was a puppeteer behind the curtain. This is not unlike the capture of Russia by Bolsheviks supported by German intelligence services (and Bolshevics rule lasted slightly longer -- 65 years). Bolsheviks were just adherents of similar wrapped in the mantle of economic theory religious cult, abeit more dangerous and destructive for the people of Russia then neoclassical economics is for the people of the USA. Quoting Marx we can say "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce".

That also means that there is no easy way out of the current situation. Ideologies are sticky and can lead to the collapse of society rather then peaceful evolution.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

So it's no surprise that there is a strong evidence that neo-classical economics is not a science, it's a political ideology of financial oligarchy masquerading as science. Or a religious cult, if you wish.

The cult which served as a Trojan horse for bankers to grab power and wealth by robbing fellow Americans. In a way this is a classic story of a parasite killing the host. The powers that be in academia put their imprimatur on economic ‘theory,’ select and indoctrinate its high priests to teach it, and with a host of media players grinding out arguments pro and con this and that, provide legitimacy sufficient for cover of bankers objectives. Which control the disposition and annuity streams of pension fund assets and related financial services. In his new documentary Inside Job, filmmaker Charles Ferguson provides strong evidence of a systematic mass corruption of economic profession (Yahoo! Finance):

Ferguson points to 20 years of deregulation, rampant greed (a la Gordon Gekko) and cronyism. This cronyism is in large part due to a revolving door between not only Wall Street and Washington, but also the incestuous relationship between Wall Street, Washington and academia.

The conflicts of interest that arise when academics take on roles outside of education are largely unspoken, but a very big problem. “The academic economics discipline has been very heavily penetrated by the financial services industry,” Ferguson tells Aaron in the accompanying clip. “Many prominent academics now actually make the majority of their money from the financial services industry, not from teaching or research. [This fact] has definitely compromised the research work and the policy advice that we get from academia.”

... ... ...

Feguson is astonished by the lack of regulation demanding financial disclosure of all academics and is now pushing for it. “At a minimum, federal law should require public disclosure of all outside income that is in any way related to professors’ publishing and policy advocacy,” he writes. “It may be desirable to go even further, and to limit the total size of outside income that potentially generates conflicts of interest.”

The dismantling of economic schools that favor financial oligarchy interests over real research (and prosecuting academic criminals -- many prominent professors in Chicago, Harvard, Columbia and other prominent members of neo-classical economic church) require a new funding model. As neoliberalism itself, the neoclassical economy is very sticky. Chances for success of any reform in the current environment are slim to non existent.

Here is one apt quote from Zero Hedge discussion of Gonzalo Lira article On The Identity Of The False Religion Behind The Mask Of Economic Science zero hedge

"They analyze data for Christ sakes"

Just like Mishkin analyzed Iceland for $120k? a huge proportion in US [are] on Fed payroll, or beneficiaries of corporate thinktank cash; they are coverup lipstick and makeup; hacks for hire.

Like truth-trashing mortgage pushers, credit raters, CDO CDS market manipulators and bribe-fueled fraud enablers of all stripes -- they do it for the dough -- and because everybody else is doing it.

It's now a common understanding that "These F#@king Guys" as Jon Steward defined them, professors  of neoclassical economics from Chicago, Harvard and some other places are warmed by flow of money from financial services industries for specific services provided managed to serve as a fifth column helping financial oligarchy to destroy the country. This role of neo-classical economists as the fifth column of financial oligarchy is an interesting research topic. Just don't expect any grants for it ;-).

As Reinhold Niebuhr aptly noted in his classic Moral Man and Immoral Society
Since inequalities of privilege are greater than could possibly be defended rationally, the intelligence of privileged groups is usually applied to the task of inventing specious proofs for the theory that universal values spring from, and that general interests are served by, the special privileges which they hold.

I would like to stress it again: they are not and never have been scientists: they are just high priests of dangerous cult -- neoliberalism -- and they are more then eager to stretch the truth for the sect (and that means their own) benefits. Fifth column of financial oligarchy. All-in-all this is not unlike Lysenkoism: at some point state support became obvious as financial oligarchy gained significant share of government power (as Glass-Steagall repeal signified). It is just more subtle working via ostracism and flow of funding, without open repressions. See also Politicization of science and The Republican War on Science

Like Russia with Bolsheviks, the US society was taken hostage by the ideological views of the Chicago economic school that has dominated the field for approximately 50 years ( as minimum over 30 years). Actually the situation not unlike the situation with Lysenkoism is the USSR. It's pretty notable that the USA suffered 30 years of this farce, actually approximately the same amount of time the USSR scientific community suffered from Lysenkoism (1934-1965)

Rules of disclosure of sources of financing for economic research are non-existent


"Over the past 30 years, the economics profession—in economics departments, and in business, public policy, and law schools—has become so compromised by conflicts of interest that it now functions almost as a support group for financial services and other industries whose profits depend heavily on government policy.

The route to the 2008 financial crisis, and the economic problems that still plague us, runs straight through the economics discipline. And it's due not just to ideology; it's also about straightforward, old-fashioned money."

Peter Dormat noticed amazing similarity between medical researchers taking money from drug companies and economists. In case of medical researchers widespread corruption can at least be partially kept in check by rules of disclosure. Universities are being called out for their failure to disclose to public agencies the other, private grants researchers are pulling in. This is not perfect policing as the universities themselves get a cut of the proceeds, so that the conflict of interest exists but at least this is theirs too.

But there is no corresponding policy for economics. So for them there are not even rules to be broken. And this is not a bug, this is  feature.  In a sense corruption is officially institualized and expected in economics. Being a paid shill is the typical career of many professional economists. Some foundations require an acknowledgment in the published research they support, but that's all about “thank you”, not disclaimer about the level of influence of those who pay for the music exert on the selection of the tune. Any disclosure of other, privately-interested funding sources by economists is strictly voluntary, and in practice seldom occurs. Trade researchers can be funded by foreign governments or business associations and so on and so forth.

In this atmosphere pseudo-theories have currency and are attractive to economists who want to enrich themselves. That situation is rarely reflected in mainstream press. For example, there some superficial critiques of neo-classical economics as a new form of Lysenkoism (it enjoyed the support of the state) but MSM usually frame the meltdown of neo-classical economic theory something like "To all you corrupt jerks out there: shake off the old camouflage as it became too visible and find a new way misleading the masses...". At the same time it's a real shocker, what a bunch of toxic theories and ideologies starting from Reagan have done to the US economy.

That suggests that neo-economics such as Milton Friedman (and lower level patsies like Eugene Fama ) were just paid propagandists of a superficial, uninformed, and simplistic view of the world that was convenient to the ruling elite. While this is somewhat simplistic explanation, it's by-and-large true and that was one of the factors led the USA very close to the cliff... Most of their theories is not only just nonsense for any trained Ph.D level mathematician or computer scientist, they look like nonsense to any person with a college degree, who looks at them with a fresh, unprejudiced mind. There are several economic myths, popularized by well paid propagandists over the last thirty years, that are falling hard in the recent series of financial crises: the efficient market hypothesis, the inherent benefits of globalization from the natural equilibrium of national competitive advantages, and the infallibility of unfettered greed as a ideal method of managing and organizing human social behavior and maximizing national production.

I would suggest that and economic theory has a strong political-economic dimension. The cult of markets, ideological subservience and manipulation, etc. certainly are part of neo-classical economics that was influenced by underling political agenda this pseudo-theory promotes. As pdavidsonutk wrote: July 16, 2009 16:14

Keynes noted that "classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight --as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions. Yet in truth there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. SOMETHING SIMILAR IS REQUIRED IN ECONOMICS TODAY. " [Emphasis added]

As I pointed out in my 2007 book JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (Mentioned in this ECONOMIST article as a biography "of the master") Keynes threw over three classical axioms: (1) the neutral money axiom (2) the gross substitution axiom, and (3) the ergodic axiom.

The latter is most important for understanding why modern macroeconomics is dwelling in an Euclidean economics world rather than the non-Euclidean economics Keynes set forth.

The Ergodic axiom asserts that the future is merely the statistical shadow of the past so that if one develops a probability distribution using historical data, the same probability distribution will govern all future events till the end of time!! Thus in this Euclidean economics there is no uncertainty about the future only probabilistic risk that can reduce the future to actuarial certainty! In such a world rational people and firms know (with actuarial certainty) their intertemporal budget constrains and optimize -- so that there can never be an loan defaults, insolvencies, or bankruptcies.

Keynes argued that important economic decisions involved nonergodic processes, so that the future could NOT be forecasted on the basis of past statistical probability results -- and therefore certain human institutions had to be develop0ed as part of the law of contracts to permit people to make crucial decisions regarding a future that they "knew" they could not know and still sleep at night. When the future seems very uncertain, then rational people in a nonergodic world would decide not to make any decisions to commit their real resources -- but instead save via liquid assets so they could make decisions another day when the future seemed to them less uncertain.

All this is developed and the policy implications derived in my JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (2007) book. Furthermore this nonergodic model is applied to the current financial and economic crisis and its solution in my 2009 book THE KEYNES SOLUTION: THE PATH TO GLOBAL PROSPERITY (Palgrave/Macmillan) where I tell the reader what Keynes would have written regarding today's domestic crisis in each nation and its international aspects.

Paul Davidson ghaliban wrote:

July 16, 2009 15:34

I think you could have written a shorter article to make your point about the dismal state of economics theory and practice, and saved space to think more imaginatively about ways to reform.

A bit like biology, economics must become econology - a study of real economic systems. It must give up its physics-envy. This on its own will lead its practitioners closer to the truth.

Like biological systems, economic systems are complex, and often exhibit emergent properties that cannot be predicted from the analysis of component parts. The best way to deal with this is (as in biology) to start with the basic organizational unit of analysis - the individual, and then study how the individual makes economic decisions in larger and larger groups (family/community), and how groups take economic decisions within larger and larger forms of economic organization. From this, econologists should determine whether there are any enduring patterns in how aggregate economic decisions are taken. If there are no easily discernable patterns, and aggregate decisions cannot be predicted from a knowledge of individual decision-making preferences, then the theory must rely (as it does in biology) on computer simulations with the economy replicated in as much detail as possible to limit the scope for modeling error. This path will illuminate the "physiology" of different economies.

A second area of development must look into "anatomy" - the connections between actors within the financial system, the connections between economic actors within the real economy, and the connections between the real and financial economies. What are the precise links demand and supply links between these groups, and how does money really flow through the economic system? A finer knowledge of economic anatomy will make it easier to produce better computer simulations of the economy, which will make it a bit easier to study economic physiology.

"Markets uber alles" or more correctly "Financial oligarchy uber alles"

In her interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  Wendy Brown advanced some Professor Wolin ideas to a new level and provide explanation why "neoclassical crooks" like Professor  Frederic Mishkin (of Financial Stability in Iceland fame) still rule the economics departments of the USA. They are instrumental in giving legitimacy to the neoliberal rule favoured by the financial oligarchy:

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."

"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."

"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."

"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."

"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."

"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."

"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

 


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I find an attempt to elevate academic finance and economics to sciences by using the word "scientism" to be bizarre. Finance models like CAPM, Black-Scholes and VAR all rest on assumptions that are demonstrably false, such as rational investors and continuous markets.

May 11, 2012 at 1-40 pm

[Jul 22, 2019] When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated

Jul 22, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing,"

Chuck Prince, CEO Citigroup, July 9, 2007

[Jul 22, 2019] A baited banker

Jul 22, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"A baited banker thus desponds,
From his own hand foresees his fall,
They have his soul, who have his bonds;
'Tis like the writing on the wall.

How will the caitiff wretch be scared,
When first he finds himself awake
At the last trumpet, unprepared,
And all his grand account to make!

For in that universal call,
Few bankers will to heaven be mounters;
They'll cry, 'Ye shops, upon us fall!
Conceal and cover us, ye counters!'

When other hands the scales shall hold,
And they, in men's and angels' sight
Produced with all their bills and gold,
'Weigh'd in the balance and found light!'

Jonathan Swift, A Run Upon the Bankers

[Jul 18, 2019] People hate it . Neoliberalism's sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised efficiency and flexibility to communities, but discomfort and misery by Van Badham

Notable quotes:
"... People hate it . Neoliberalism's sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised "efficiency" and "flexibility" to communities, but discomfort and misery. The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered vulgar yet the philosophy's entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources that one of its megaphones once declared its triumph "the end of history". ..."
Dec 25, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

For 40 years, the ideology popularly known as "neoliberalism" has dominated political decision-making in the English-speaking west.

People hate it . Neoliberalism's sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised "efficiency" and "flexibility" to communities, but discomfort and misery. The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered vulgar yet the philosophy's entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources that one of its megaphones once declared its triumph "the end of history".

It wasn't, as even he admitted later . And given some of the events of the contemporary political moment, it's possible to conclude from auguries like smoke rising from a garbage fire and patterns of political blood upon the floor that history may be hastening neoliberalism towards an end that its advocates did not forecast.

Three years ago, I remarked that comedian Russell Brand may have stumbled onto a stirring spirit of the times when his "capitalism sucks" contemplations drew stadium-sized crowds. Beyond Brand – politically and materially – the crowds have only been growing.

Is the political zeitgeist an old spectre up for some new haunting? Or are the times more like a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "the combination of inequality and low wage growth is fuelling discontent. Time to sing a new song."

In days gone past, they used to slice open an animal's belly and study the shape of its spilled entrails to find out. But we could just keep an eye on the news.

Here are my seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse:

... ... ...

5. The reds are back under the beds

... ... ...

6. Tony Abbott becomes a fan of nationalising assets

... How else to explain the earthquake-like paradigm shift represented by the sixth sign? Since when do neoliberal conservatives argue for the renationalisation of infrastructure, as is the push of Tony Abbott's gang to nationalise the coal-fired Liddell power station?

It may be a cynical stunt to take an unscientific stand against climate action, but seizing the means of production remains seizing the means of production, um, comrade.

"You know, nationalising assets is what the Liberal party was founded to stop governments doing," said Turnbull, even as he hid in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains to weather – strange coincidence – yet another Newspoll loss.

... ... ...

• Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

[Jul 17, 2019] A major problem with US neoliberalism: unbelievably shallow people run for the highest office in the US

Degeneration of the USA elite really is getting speed.
Notable quotes:
"... I've been watching in complete dismay for more than two decades now how many unbelievably empty people run for the highest office in the US. These people are empty. No substance, no soul, no brain or heart. Nothing. ..."
Jul 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Hrant , 3 days ago

I've been watching in complete dismay for more than two decades now how many unbelievably empty people run for the highest office in the US. These people are empty. No substance, no soul, no brain or heart. Nothing.

[Jul 14, 2019] Putin as an old fashioned liberal who opposes neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net ..."
Jul 14, 2019 | www.unz.com

If you have ever traveled in Russia outside of Moscow, you certainly have some horrible stories to tell about its atrocious roads, food and lodging or rather lack thereof. Things have changed greatly, and they keep changing. Now there are modern highways, plenty of cafés and restaurants, a lot of small hotels; plumbing has risen to Western standards; the old pearls of architecture have been lavishly restored; people live better than they ever did. They still complain a lot, but that is human nature. Young and middle-aged Russians own or charter motor boats and sail their plentiful rivers; they own country houses ("dachas") more than anywhere else. They travel abroad for their vacations, pay enormous sums of money for concerts of visiting celebrities, ride bikes in the cities – in short, Russia has become as prosperous as any European country.

This hard-earned prosperity and political longevity allows President Putin to hold his own in the international affairs. He is one of a few experienced leaders on the planet with twenty years at the top job. He has met with three Popes of Rome, four US Presidents, and many other rulers. This is important: 93-years old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who ruled his Malaysia for 40 years and has been elected again said the first ten years of a ruler are usually wasted in learning the ropes, and only after first twenty does he becomes proficient in the art of government. The first enemy a ruler must fight is his own establishment: media, army, intelligence and judges. While Trump is still losing in this conflict, Putin is doing fine – by his Judoka evasive action.

Recently a small tempest has risen in the Russian media, when a young journalist was detained by police, and a small quantity of drugs was allegedly discovered on his body. The police made many mistakes in handling the case. Perhaps they planted the evidence to frame the young man; perhaps they had made the obvious mistakes to frame the government. The response has been tremendous, as if the whole case had been prepared well in advance by the opposition hell-bent to annoy and wake up the people's ire against the police and administration. Instead of supporting the police, as Putin usually does, in this case he had the journalist released and senior police officers arrested. This prompt evasive action undid the opposition's build-up by one masterly stroke.

Recently he openly declared his distaste for liberalism in the interview for the FT . This is a major heresy, like Luther's Ninety-five Theses. "The liberals cannot dictate Their diktat can be seen everywhere: both in the media and in real life. It is deemed unbecoming even to mention some topics The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population." Putin condemned liberals' drive for more immigration. He called Angela Merkel's decision to admit millions of immigrants a "cardinal mistake"; he "understood" Trump's attempt to stop the flow of migrants and drugs from Mexico.

Putin is not an enemy of liberalism. He is rather an old-fashionable liberal of the 19 th century style. Not a current 'liberal', but a true liberal, rejecting totalitarian dogma of gender, immigration, multiculturalism and R2P wars. "The liberal idea cannot be destroyed; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But it has no right to be the absolute dominating factor."

In Putin's Russia liberalism is non-exclusive, but presents just one possible line of development. Homosexuals are not discriminated against nor promoted. There are no gay parades, no persecution of gays, either. Russian children aren't being brainwashed to hate their fathers, taken away from their families and given to same-sex maniacs, as it happened in the recent Italian case . Kids aren't being introduced to joys of sex in primary schools. People are not requested to swear love to transgenders and immigrants. You can do whatever you wish, just do not force others to follow you – this is Putin's first rule, and this is true liberalism in my book.

There is very little immigration into Russia despite millions of requests: foreigners can come in as guest workers, but this does not lead to permanent residency or citizenship. The Police frequently check foreign-looking people and rapidly deport them if found in breach of visa rules. Russian nationalists would want even more action, but Putin is a true liberal.

... ... ...

Why does Putin care about the US? Why can't he just stop taking dollars? This means he is an American stooge! – an eager-for-action hothead zealot would exclaim. The answer is, the US has gained a lot of power; much more than it had in 1988, when Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev. The years of being the sole superpower weren't wasted. American might is not to be trifled with.

New York Times insinuated.

True, Russia is big enough to survive even that treatment, but Russians have got used to a good life, and they won't cherish being returned to the year 1956. They took action to prevent these worst-case scenarios; for instance, they sold much of their US debt and moved out of Microsoft , but these things are time-consuming and expensive. Putin hopes that eventually the US will abandon its quest for dominance and assume a live-and-let-live attitude as demanded by the international law. Until it happens, he is forced to play by Washington rules and try to limit antagonism.

An experienced broker came in, promising to deliver the deal. It is the Jewish state, claiming to have the means to navigate the US in the desired direction. This is a traditional Jewish claim, used in the days of the WWI to convince the UK to enter the deal: you give us Palestine; we shall bring the US into the European war on your side. Then it worked: the Brits and their Aussie allies stormed Gaza, eventually took over the Holy Land, issued the Balfour declaration promising to pass Palestine to the Jews, and in return, fresh American troops poured into the European theatre of war, causing German surrender.

This time, the Jewish state proposed that Putin should give up his ties with Iran; in return, they promised to assist in general warming of Russo-American relations. Putin had a bigger counter-proposal: Let the US lift its Iran sanctions and withdraw its armed forces from Syria, and Russia will try to usher Iranian armed forces out of Syria, too. The ensuing negotiations around Iran-Syria deal would lead to recognition of the US and Israel interests in Syria, and further on it could lead to negotiations in other spheres.

This was a clear win-win proposal. Iran would emerge free of sanctions; Israel and the US would have their interests recognised in Syria; the much-needed dialogue between Russia and the US will get a jump-start. But Israel does not like win-win proposals. The Jewish state wants clear victories, preferably with their enemy defeated, humiliated, hanged. Israel rejected the proposal, for it wanted Iran to suffer under sanctions.

... ... ...

Russia certainly wants to live in peace with the US, but not at the price Mr Netanyahu suggested. Mr Patrushev condemned the US sanctions against Iran. He said that Iran shot down the giant American drone RQ-4A Global Hawk worth more than a hundred million dollars over Iranian territory, not in the international airspace as the Pentagon claimed. He stated that American "evidence" that Iran had sabotaged tankers in the Persian Gulf was inconclusive. Russia demanded that the United States stop its economic war against Iran, recognize the legitimate authorities of Syria, led by President Bashar Assad, and withdraw its troops from Syria. Russia expressed its support for the legitimate government in Venezuela. Thus, Russia showed itself at this difficult moment as a reliable ally and partner, and at the same time assured the staggering Israeli leadership of its friendship.

The problem is that the drive for war with Iran is not gone. A few days ago, the Brits seized an Iranian super-tanker in the Straits of Gibraltar. The tanker was on its way to deliver oil to Syria. Before that, the United States had almost launched a missile attack on Iran. At the last moment, when the planes were already in the air, Trump stopped the operation. It is particularly disturbing that he himself unambiguously hinted that the operation was launched without his knowledge . That is, the chain of commands in the US is now torn, and it is not clear who can start a war. This has to be taken into account both in Moscow and in Tehran.

... ... ...

Russia wants to help Iran, not out of sheer love to the Islamic Republic, but as a part of its struggle for multi-polar world, where independent states carry on the way they like. Iran, North Korea, Venezuela – their fight for survival is a part and parcel of Russia's struggle. If these states will be taken over, Russia can become the next victim, Putin feels.

... ... ...

In this situation, Putin tries to build bridges to the new forces in Europe and the US, to work with nationalist right. It is not the most obvious partner for this old-fashioned liberal, but they fit into his idea of multi-polarity, of supremacy of national sovereignty and of resistance to the world hegemony of Atlantic powers. His recent visit to Italy, a country with strong nationalist political forces, had been successful; so was his meeting with the Pope.

In the aftermath of the audience with the Pope, Putin strongly defended the Catholic Church, saying that "There are problems, but they cannot be over-exaggerated and used for destroying the Roman Catholic Church itself. I get the feeling that these liberal circles are beginning to use certain problems of the Catholic Church as a tool for destroying the Church itself. This is what I consider to be incorrect and dangerous. After all, we live in a world based on Biblical values and traditional values are more stable and more important for millions of people than this liberal idea, which, in my opinion, is really ceasing to exist". For years, the Europeans haven't heard this message. Perhaps this is the right time to listen.

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net


anonymous [340] Disclaimer , says: July 6, 2019 at 1:16 pm GMT

"President Trump seems to have some positive ideas, but his hands are tied up."

Pitifully naive.

Al Moanee , says: July 6, 2019 at 8:27 pm GMT
@Per/Norway

The author is referring to WWI and the Balfour Declaration of Nov 1917 which indeed was drafted on behalf of Jewish Zionist interests who in return did their level best in bringing Wilson, who was long backed by NYC banking interests (hence the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 enacted on his watch), into the war which materially changed its dynamics and outcome.

A123 , says: July 6, 2019 at 10:32 pm GMT

The Ukraine in all this? I would think it a far bigger concern for Russia in any trilateral meeting.

Do not expect anything on the Ukraine in the near future. Trump wants the DNC to nominate guaranteed loser Biden. Then he can beat him senseless using 'Ukrainian tampering with U.S. elections' via Biden's family business interests (1).
_____

Now that the Mueller exoneration is complete, the door is open to improved U.S. – Russia relations. The important thing is looking at Putin's and Trump's actions , more so than their words.

Trump's words sound 'officially concerned' about Crimea. However, this is primarily for EU consumption. What actions has the Trump administration taken about Crimea? Little or nothing depending on how you score the matter. So tacit acknowledgement pending a quid pro quo .

Putin administration words (but not Putin himself) have said strong sounding things about Iran. However, there are no actions that support a deep relationship.
-- Russia sells munitions to Iran on a 'cash & carry' basis along with many other nations including Turkey. Russia and Israel have much stronger ties on the military equipment basis. Look at their recent joint sale of AWACS to India (2).
-- Russia continues to let the Israeli air force freely strike Iranian al'Hezbollah and al'Quds targets in Syria.

It looks like the quid pro quo arrangement will be Crimea for an Iranian exit from Syria. It's a deal that would help peace throughout the region.

PEACE
______

(1) https://www.thenation.com/article/joe-biden-ukraine-burisma-holdings/

(2) https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-to-buy-2-more-awacs-worth-rs-5-7k-crore-from-israel/articleshow/67765253.cms

Priss Factor , says: July 6, 2019 at 10:33 pm GMT

Was Pat Robertson right about World War I?

https://israelpalestinenews.org/rothschild-reveals-crucial-role-ancestors-played-balfour-declaration-creation-israel/

A123 , says: July 6, 2019 at 11:08 pm GMT

But he is hampered by his "deep state", by Pompeo and Bolton; about the latter, Trump himself said that he wants to fight with the whole world. Presidents can't always remove the ministers from whom they want to get rid of – even the absolute monarchs of the past did not always succeed.

Actually, Trump is using Bolton against the deep state.

First and foremost, it is and advanced and skillful form of ' Good Cop – Bad Cop '. When Bolton says something and Trump openly disagrees, it places the Fake Steam Media complex in an untenable position. If they treat the story fairly, they embrace the anathema of saying positive things about Trump. But they do not have any options to twist the facts into their desired anti-American propaganda.

Secondarily, it also cleverly drives a wedge between two DNC factions:

-1- The true Clintonista believer, stricken by Trump Derangement Syndrome [TDS], will not accept anything less than Impeachment. Preferably followed by turning him over to the Fascist Stormtroopers of Antifa.
-2- Those with a less deranged view realise that a successful Impeachment process would generate President Pence. And, he would be much more likely to accept Bolton's advice. Perhaps Pence would pick Bolton to be Vice President.

Look at the circular firing squad that is forming up in the DNC nomination process to see how Trump's deliberate agitation of various factions is working in his favor. The TDS faction is winning and as a result the eventual DNC candidate will be unelectable.

PEACE

Rabbitnexus , says: July 7, 2019 at 2:49 am GMT
@AghaHussain sts plans have failed to materialise in Syria. The author here does a very good job of explaining Russia's position and between his and Saker's analyses your argument is kaput and only fools would buy it.

The Zionists went away empty handed with their visits to Russia and President Putin and if anything Russia's resistance to the Zionists has hardened lately.

People who have two dimensional thinking and a limited box of clues seem to think it is as simple as just saying no and digging their heels in but that way makes wars. Russia does not have the sort of power nor an insane leadership that it would take for that.

A123 , says: July 7, 2019 at 2:39 pm GMT
@animalogic to be rebuilt.

The best hope for an internal Iranian solution is IRGC enlightened self interest. A fairly bloodless replacement of Khameni with a general from the IRGC. It worked in Egypt and the world welcomed that military solution. One can be 99% certain that replacing Khameni would be just as welcome.

The new 'General Ayatollah in Chief' would have a free hand to disengage from Khameni's extremism. The economic recovery from ending sanctions would guarantee internal popularity. Think of it as MIGA, Make Iran Great Again , though they are unlikely to use that exact phrase.

PEACE

iendly Neighbourhood Terrorist , says: Website July 13, 2019 at 1:48 pm GMT

It's ludicrous to imagine that Russians are so wedded to the good life that they do not dare antagonise Amerikastan. What "good life" is this? Ask the pensioners struggling on a few thousand rubles a month how the hell they are supposed to manage. The luxuries enjoyed by the yuppies in Moscow (most of whom, fluently English speaking and firmly pro-Amerikastani, are a fifth column of Quislings) are not the life that the factory worker in Volgograd or the farmer outside St Petersburg will recognise.

Che Guava , says: July 13, 2019 at 3:42 pm GMT

Pres. Putin seems to be a pretty good person.

I want to sidetrack the thread to the matter of Edward Snowden.

Putin made a comment early on 'a strange young man'.

I understand exactly what he was saying. I am the same. No leaks. ht is a matter of honour.

OTOH, confronted by wall-to-wal evil bullshit as he was, I think he was not in the wrong (but have a little internal conflict on that, since the secrets 4 have to keep now are ooly technical and at times commercial, such a dilemna never arises.

In no situation would such be ethical.

he was sorry for Sowden's girlfriend, he dumped her. but, not long after, she was with him. Very romantic. Doubtless, Russian secret services had some role.

I like the happy ending there, it is very romantic.

Would make a great movie, but not possible from Hollywood, perhaps Russia could revive its moribund film industry?

Republic , says: July 13, 2019 at 3:44 pm GMT
@Malacaay

http://www.unz.com/akarlin/10-ways-russia-better-than-usa/

Anatoly Karlin published this two years ago:

10 ways Russia is better than the US

Agent76 , says: July 13, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT

Oct 20, 2018 Putin: Russia Getting Rid Of US Dollar Matter Of National Security

Russian president Vladimir Putin: "That's what our American friends are doing. They're undermining trust in the dollar as a universal payment instrument and the main reserve currency."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/4fECrSQ9ifM?feature=oembed

Jun 8, 2018 Putin hints at end of dollar system – Direct Line 2018

Vladimir Putin has held his 16th Direct Line Q&A on June 7th.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/z01S7lOq-qI?feature=oembed

AnonFromTN , says: July 13, 2019 at 6:28 pm GMT
@AmRusDebate t in 2014, and had gone so deep that there is no light at the end of the tunnel now. It is still used by the Empire as an annoying sore right next to Russia, but that's all it can be. It did not and could not deliver what the Empire was hoping for. The imperial planners never take into account the critical condition for their "color revolutions" to bring US-friendly compradores to power anywhere: the country in question must be rotten through and through. Thus, instead of useful sharp tools they get worthless pieces of shit. They are still trying to use an inevitable stink for their purposes, but that's the only use shit is good for.
AnonFromTN , says: July 13, 2019 at 6:56 pm GMT
@Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist

It's not just Moscow yuppies. Visit any provincial city in Russia today and you'd see that it looks way better than it ever did in the USSR. There are cafes everywhere and lots of people in them spending serious money, because they can afford that. Drive on any road, in or between the cities, and you can see that the roads are in a better shape than they ever were, and there are lots of gas stations, cafes, and hotels along them, all doing brisk business. Russians have ten times more cars now than they had in the USSR, and they drive a lot.

RadicalCenter , says: July 13, 2019 at 7:04 pm GMT
@A123 be deployed right on Russia's border on yet another side. Russia would be readily bottled up and be denied the freedom to navigate through the surrounding waters. And it would be more vulnerable to land invasion from more points.

Russia should continue disentangling itself from US and US-Controller financial systems and institutions. Keep becoming more able to sustain its people without so many imports of foodstuffs and manufactured goods alike.

Far from giving up Crimea, Russia should bide its time and wait to retake the Donbass region or more when Ukraine collapses, breaks up, and/or is outright occupied by the US.

Ace , says: July 13, 2019 at 7:19 pm GMT
@A123

I rather doubt you're in any position to judge whether Khameni is a sociopath.

And your fixation on regime change is noted. The ultimate expression of Western arrogance: You, you benighted, retrograde, sociopathic worm, are not a fit chief executive of your nation so we have decided you must go. If we have to kill hundreds of thousands of your people that's just an unavoidable cost of our being the excellent people we are.

RadicalCenter , says: July 13, 2019 at 7:25 pm GMT
@Twodees Partain

Trump should put the warmongering establishment on the back foot by firing Bolton and hiring Tulsi Gabbard.

Watch the media contort itself deciding how to slander and attack a partly nonwhite "progressive" "pro-choice" woman who is also a veteran, LOL.

What if trump did this a month BEFORE the election?

Beefcake the Mighty , says: July 13, 2019 at 9:55 pm GMT
@Harbinger

Liberalism in the West today is similar to communism in the SU in the late 80's: a decrepit ideology that offers nothing to ordinary people and whose adherents are incapable of anything but mouthing the same rubbish over and over. It will similarly die a well-deserved death.

[Jul 13, 2019] The return of Weimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors , we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers ..."
"... this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election. ..."
"... the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there ..."
"... We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies. ..."
"... We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us. ..."
"... It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"He drew near and saw the city, and he wept for it saying, 'If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now you are blinded to them. Truly, the days will come when your enemies will set up barriers to surround you, and hem you in on every side. Then they will crush you into the earth, you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the way to your salvation.'"

Luke 19:41-44

"You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers.'"

Matthew 23:29-30

...the results of the Senate GOP finding no evidence of 'collusion' with Russia by the Trump Administration to influence the results of the presidential election..

This last item is not surprising, because this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election.

Too bad though, because the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there. And by there we mean on both sides of the fence -- which is why it had to take a back seat to a manufactured boogeyman.

... ... ...

There is a long road ahead before we see anything like a resolution to this troubling period in American political history.

We look back at other troubled periods and places, and either see them as discrete and fictional, a very different world apart, or through some rosy lenses of good old times which were largely benign and peaceful. We fail to see the continuity, the similarity, and the commonality of a dangerous path with ourselves. As they did with their own times gone by. Madness blinds its acolytes, because they wish it so. They embrace it to hide their shame.

We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies.

People want to hear these reassuring words of comfort and embrace it like a 'religion,' because they do not wish to draw the conclusions that the genuine principles of faith suggest (dare we say command in this day and age) in their daily lives. They blind themselves by adopting a kind of a schizoid approach to life, where 'religion' occupies a discrete, rarefied space, and 'political or economic philosophy' dictates another set of everyday 'practical' observances and behaviors which are more pliable, and pleasing to our hardened and prideful hearts.

We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us.

And so we trot on into the abyss, one exception and excuse and rationalization for ourselves at a time. And we blind ourselves with false prophets and their profane theories and philosophies.

As for truth, the truth that brings life, we would interrupt the sermon on the mount itself, saying that this sentiment was all very well and good, but what stocks should we buy for our portfolio, and what horse is going to win the fifth at Belmont? Tell us something useful, practical! Oh, and can you please fix this twinge in my left shoulder? It is ruining my golf game.

"Those among the rich who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; they cannot understand destitution. Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus's sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them. They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman's beautiful throat."

Léon Bloy

No surprise in this. It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction.

Are you not entertained?

[Jul 12, 2019] The British welfare state, the war on poverty/great society policy era, and the Scandinavian social model are not replacements for capitalism. They are forms of capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... There are two problems with storming the Winter Palace. First, you won't have a decisive majority of Americans behind you. Second, you have no idea what you'd do if somehow did seize the Winter Palace. You could conceivably solve the first problem by going balls out demagogue a la Hugo Chavez; but, like Chavez, you'd have to dispense with democracy to keep power because you have no solution to the second problem. For my money, a decent social democracy-universal healthy care, more progressive taxes, a higher minimum wage, more affordable college education, etc.- is plenty hard enough to secure. ..."
"... Before the long-decline began in the 70s, a large fraction of the UK's economic activity was chartered, regulated, and/or managed for the people. That's not capitalism, by definition. ..."
Feb 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
yuan -> Jim Harrison ... , February 10, 2017 at 12:34 PM
"Does anybody around here have anything useful to suggest"

both demonstration and general strikes are powerful ways to express popular outrage. one is planned on for the 17th (too soon) and another more organized one is being planned for march.

http://f17strike.com/

"but you have no more of an idea of a global replacement for capitalism"

so the British welfare state, the war on poverty/great society policy era, and the Scandinavian social model are impossible pipe dreams because...

Jim Harrison -> yuan... , February 10, 2017 at 01:46 PM
"the British welfare state, the war on poverty/great society policy era, and the Scandinavian social model are" not replacements for capitalism. They are forms of capitalism. And the sorts of policies that go with these versions of conventional social democracy are...pretty much the platform articles that Clinton ran on. Which is the serious reason the American right despised Hillary. They, at least, didn't have any trouble telling the candidates apart.

There are two problems with storming the Winter Palace. First, you won't have a decisive majority of Americans behind you. Second, you have no idea what you'd do if somehow did seize the Winter Palace. You could conceivably solve the first problem by going balls out demagogue a la Hugo Chavez; but, like Chavez, you'd have to dispense with democracy to keep power because you have no solution to the second problem. For my money, a decent social democracy-universal healthy care, more progressive taxes, a higher minimum wage, more affordable college education, etc.- is plenty hard enough to secure.

yuan -> Jim Harrison ... , February 10, 2017 at 04:50 PM
"They are forms of capitalism."

Before the long-decline began in the 70s, a large fraction of the UK's economic activity was chartered, regulated, and/or managed for the people. That's not capitalism, by definition. (Socialism was a market/trade-based system at its inception. The tendencies with alternative economic models came later.)

Some history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clause_IV

And Corbyn has returned labor to its socialist roots: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-to-bring-back-clause-four-contender-pledges-to-bury-new-labour-with-commitment-to-10446982.html


"And the sorts of policies that go with these versions of conventional social democracy are...pretty much the platform articles that Clinton ran on."

I guess I missed Clinton advocating for the nationalization of health care, education, energy production, and transportation.

And the "welfare state" has little to do with "social democracy" (whatever that recent nonsense phrase means), all of them were developed by socialist movements.

[Jul 06, 2019] It wasn't just free trade that the white working class voters of the rust belt states were angry about, it was also high immigration

Notable quotes:
"... government for the centre ground has been about management- the days when the US New Deal funded by taxing the rich and which built the wealth Americans now miss, and the Labour post war government that built the NHS [and taxed the rich] is part of history. Instead we have no new innovation but a little bit of tweaking with banks and global business. ..."
"... In return the gutted communities become less smart and given bread and circuses but their privilege and lack of mobility means they don't travel to pick fruit elsewhere- yet they still demand food on the table and the only ones prepared to travel and work hard are the even greater poor. ..."
Nov 10, 2016 | discussion.theguardian.com

CosmoCrawley, 10 Nov 2016 10:44

It wasn't just free trade that the white working class voters of the rust belt states were angry about, it was also high immigration. Naomi doesn't mention this, probably because fluid borders is one policy which the Davos class and left-liberals like herself agree on.

Such a[n intersection left] coalition is possible. In Canada, we have begun to cobble it together under the banner of a people's agenda called The Leap Manifesto, endorsed by more than 220 organisations from Greenpeace Canada to Black Lives Matter Toronto, and some of our largest trade unions.

And if such a coalition of the usual suspects got off the ground in the USA it would just about seal a second term for Donald.

Cuniform -> CosmoCrawley 0 1

Would this be a movement that would see us being turned from supine consumers back into citizens who actively care about more than a new TV?

Otherwise, look to see a recurrence, here and elsewhere, of the riots we saw in England in 2011.

JulesBywaterLees -> CosmoCrawley

government for the centre ground has been about management- the days when the US New Deal funded by taxing the rich and which built the wealth Americans now miss, and the Labour post war government that built the NHS [and taxed the rich] is part of history. Instead we have no new innovation but a little bit of tweaking with banks and global business.

No government wants to upset the powers that run the economy- so a multinational can move its workforce to a country with lower pay, lower environmental regulation- it can use the inequality to move not only manufacturing but people.

In return the gutted communities become less smart and given bread and circuses but their privilege and lack of mobility means they don't travel to pick fruit elsewhere- yet they still demand food on the table and the only ones prepared to travel and work hard are the even greater poor.

And the right simply blames the immigrants, the others and you believe them.

nollafgm -> Cuniform

don't stop at 2011, the precedent started in 1934 in Nuremberg Germany. Trump used the same how to manual written by Goebbels, he got the idea from the Romans.

[Jul 06, 2019] It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.

Notable quotes:
"... The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs. ..."
"... It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

zephirine -> josephinireland

The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs.

This view has taken hold in the UK too, where the tabloids peddle the view that anyone who claims state benefits must be a fraud. But at least, people here and in mainland Europe have the direct experience of war within living memory and we understand that you can lose everything through no fault of your own. In the US, even when there's a natural disaster like Katrina it seems to be the poor people's fault for not having their own transport and money to go and stay somewhere else.

It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.

[Jul 06, 2019] Neoliberalism start collapsing as soon as considerable part of the electorate has lost hope that thier standard of living will improve

Pretty superficial article, but some points are interesting. Especially the fact that the collapse of neoliberalism like collapse of Bolshevism is connected with its inability to raise the standard of living of population in major Western countries, despite looting of the USSR and Middle eastern countries since 1991. Spoils of victory in the Cold War never got to common people. All was appropriated by greedy "New Class" of neoliberal oligarchs.
The same was true with Bolshevism in the USSR. The communist ideology was dead after WWII when it became clear that "proletariat" is not a new class destined to take over and the "iron law of oligarchy" was discovered. Collapse happened in 45 years since the end of WWII. Neoliberal ideology was dead in 2008. It would be interesting to see if neoliberalism as a social system survives past 2050.
The level of degeneration of the USA elite probably exceeds the level of degeneration of Nomenklatura even now.
Notable quotes:
"... A big reason why liberal democracies in Europe have remained relatively stable since WWII is that most Europeans have had hope that their lives will improve. A big reason why the radical vote has recently been on the rise in several European countries is that part of the electorate has lost this hope. People are increasingly worried that not only their own lives but also the lives of their children will not improve and that the playing field is not level. ..."
"... As a result, the traditional liberal package of external liberalisation and internal redistribution has lost its appeal with the electorate, conceding ground to the alternative package of the radical right that consists of external protectionism and internal liberalisation ..."
"... Mr Mody said the bottom half of German society has not seen any increase in real incomes in a generation. ..."
"... The reforms pushed seven million people into part-time 'mini-jobs' paying €450 (£399) a month. It lead to corrosive "pauperisation". This remains the case even though the economy is humming and surging exports have pushed the current account surplus to 8.5pc of GDP." ..."
"... "British referendum on EU membership can be explained to a remarkable extent as a vote against globalisation much more than immigration " ..."
"... As an FYI to the author immigration is just the flip side of the same coin. Why were immigrants migrating? Often it's because they can no longer make a living where they left. Why? Often globalization impacts. ..."
"... The laws of biology and physics and whatever else say that the host that is being parasitised upon, cannot support the endless growth of the parasites attached upon it. The unfortunate host will eventually die. ..."
"... "negative effects of globalisation: foreign competition, factory closures, persistent unemployment, stagnating purchasing power, deteriorating infrastructures and public services" ..."
"... he ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people. ..."
"... One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future. ..."
"... "If you're not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek's free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom." ~ Michael Hudson ..."
"... I'm surprised more people don't vote for neo-fascist parties like the Golden Dawn. Ordinary liberal politics has completely failed them. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The more a local economy has been negatively affected by the two shocks, the more its electors have shifted towards the radical right and its policy packages. These packages typically combine the retrenchment against international openness and the liberalisation of the internal market and more convincingly address the demand for protection by an electorate that, after the austerity following the Crisis, no longer trusts alternatives based on more liberal stances on foreign relations and the parallel promise of a stronger welfare state.

A big reason why liberal democracies in Europe have remained relatively stable since WWII is that most Europeans have had hope that their lives will improve. A big reason why the radical vote has recently been on the rise in several European countries is that part of the electorate has lost this hope. People are increasingly worried that not only their own lives but also the lives of their children will not improve and that the playing field is not level.

On the one hand, despite some progress in curtailing 'tax havens' in recent years, there has never been as much wealth in tax havens as there is today (Zucman 2015). This is seen as unfair because, if public goods and services (including those required to help the transition to a 'green economy') have to be provided in the regions where such hidden wealth comes from, lost tax revenues have to be compensated for by higher taxes on law-abiding households.

On the other hand, fairness is also undermined by dwindling social mobility. In the last decades, social mobility has slowed down across large parts of the industrialised world (OECD 2018), both within and between generations. Social mobility varies greatly across regions within countries, correlates positively with economic activity, education, and social capital, and negatively with inequality (Güell at al. 2018). Renewed migration from the South to the North of Europe after the Crisis (Van Mol and de Valk 2016) is a testimony of the widening relative lack of opportunities in the places that have suffered the most from competition from low-wage countries.

Concluding Remarks

Globalisation has come accompanied by the Great Convergence between countries around the world but also the Great Divergence between regions within several industrialised countries. The same holds within the EU. In recent years, redistributive policies have had only a very limited impact in terms of reversing growing regional inequality.

As a result, the traditional liberal package of external liberalisation and internal redistribution has lost its appeal with the electorate, conceding ground to the alternative package of the radical right that consists of external protectionism and internal liberalisation.

This is both inefficient and unlikely to lead to more regional convergence. What the political and policy debate in Europe is arguably missing is a clearer focus on two of the main underlying causes of peoples' growing distrust in national and international institutions: fiscal fairness and social mobility.

See original post for references


Jesper , July 3, 2019 at 12:37 pm

When did this traditional liberal package mentioned in the concluding remarks ever happen?

the traditional liberal package of external liberalisation and internal redistribution has lost its appeal with the electorate

Maybe if it was clear who got it, what it was, when it was done, how it happened then people might find this liberal package appealing.

flora , July 3, 2019 at 11:26 pm

Right. It would be better to say "the traditional New Deal liberal package " has not lost its appeal, it was killed off bit by bit starting with NAFTA. From a 2016 Thomas Frank essay in Salon:

That appeal to [educated credentialed] class unity gives a hint of what Clintonism was all about. To owners and shareholders, who would see labor costs go down as they took advantage of unorganized Mexican labor and lax Mexican environmental enforcement, NAFTA held fantastic promise. To American workers, it threatened to send their power, and hence their wages, straight down the chute. To the mass of the professional-managerial class, people who weren't directly threatened by the treaty, holding an opinion on NAFTA was a matter of deferring to the correct experts -- economists in this case, 283 of whom had signed a statement declaring the treaty "will be a net positive for the United States, both in terms of employment creation and overall economic growth."

The predictions of people who opposed the agreement turned out to be far closer to what eventually came to pass than did the rosy scenarios of those 283 economists and the victorious President Clinton. NAFTA was supposed to encourage U.S. exports to Mexico; the opposite is what happened, and in a huge way. NAFTA was supposed to increase employment in the U.S.; a study from 2010 counts almost 700,000 jobs lost in America thanks to the treaty. And, as feared, the agreement gave one class in America enormous leverage over the other: employers now routinely threaten to move their operations to Mexico if their workers organize. A surprisingly large number of them -- far more than in the pre-NAFTA days -- have actually made good on the threat.

Twenty years later, the broader class divide over the subject persists as well. According to a 2014 survey of attitudes toward NAFTA after two decades, public opinion remains split. But among people with professional degrees -- which is to say, the liberal class -- the positive view remains the default. Knowing that free-trade treaties are always for the best -- even when they empirically are not -- seems to have become for the well-graduated a badge of belonging.

https://www.salon.com/2016/03/14/bill_clintons_odious_presidency_thomas_frank_on_the_real_history_of_the_90s/

The only internal redistribution that's happened in the past 25 – 30 yearsis from the bottom 80% to the top 10% and especially to the top 1/10th of 1 %.

Not hard to imagine why the current internal redistribution model has lost its appeal with the electorate.

Sound of the Suburbs, , July 3, 2019 at 1:50 pm

UK policymakers had a great plan for globalisation.

Everyone needs to specialise in something and we will specialise in finance based in London.

That was it.

rd , , July 3, 2019 at 1:58 pm

I think there are two different globalizations that people are responding to.

1. Their jobs go away to somewhere in the globe that has lower wages, lower labor protections, and lower environmental protections. So their community largely stays the same but with dwindling job prospects and people slowly moving away.

2. The world comes to their community where they see immigrants (legal, illegal, refugees) coming in and are willing to work harder for less, as well as having different appearance, languages, religion, and customs. North America has always had this as we are built on immigration. Europe is much more focused on terroire. If somebody or something has only been there for a century, they are new.

If you combine both in a community, you have lit a stick of dynamite as the locals feel trapped with no way out. Then you get Brexit and Trump. In the US, many jobs were sent overseas and so new people coming in are viewed as competitors and agents of change instead of just new hired help. The same happened in Britain. In mainland Europe with less inequality and more job protection, it is more of just being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of newcomers in a society that does not prize that at all.

Sound of the Suburbs, , July 3, 2019 at 2:04 pm

I saw the warning signs when Golden Dawn appeared in Greece

The liberals said it was just a one off, as they always do, until it isn't.

How did successful Germany turn into a country where extremism would flourish?
The Hartz IV reforms created the economic hardship that causes extremism to flourish.

"Germany is turning to soft nationalism. People on low incomes are voting against authority because the consensus on equality and justice has broken down. It is the same pattern across Europe," said Ashoka Mody, a former bail-out chief for the International Monetary Fund in Europe.

Mr Mody said the bottom half of German society has not seen any increase in real incomes in a generation. The Hartz IV reforms in 2003 and 2004 made it easier to fire workers, leading to wage compression as companies threatened to move plants to Eastern Europe.

The reforms pushed seven million people into part-time 'mini-jobs' paying €450 (£399) a month. It lead to corrosive "pauperisation". This remains the case even though the economy is humming and surging exports have pushed the current account surplus to 8.5pc of GDP."

This is a successful European country, imagine what the others look like.

Adam1 , July 3, 2019 at 2:20 pm

"British referendum on EU membership can be explained to a remarkable extent as a vote against globalisation much more than immigration "

As an FYI to the author immigration is just the flip side of the same coin. Why were immigrants migrating? Often it's because they can no longer make a living where they left. Why? Often globalization impacts.

Summer , July 3, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Another recap about that really just mourns the lack of trust in the establishment, with no answers. More "I can't believe people are sick to death of experts of dubious skills but networking "

What it is just admitted that a system that can only work great for 20% of any given population if they are born in the right region with the right last name just simply not work except as an exercise in extraction?

And about the EU as if it could never be taken over by bigger authoritatians than the ones already populating it. Then see how much those who think it is some forever bastion of liberalism over sovereignity likes it .

Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , July 4, 2019 at 7:21 am

"Another recap about that really just mourns the lack of trust in the establishment, with no answers."

Usually it involves replacing the establishment or creating an internal threat to reinstate compliance in the establish (Strauss and Howe).

Strategies for initiate the former may be impossible in this era where the deep state can read your thoughts through digital media so you would like it would trend to the latter.

stan6565 , July 3, 2019 at 4:35 pm

Mmmmm, yes, migration, globalisation and such like.

But, unregulated migration into an established environment, say a country, say, UK, on one hand furthers profits to those benefiting from low labour wages (mainly, friends of people working for governments), but on the other leads to creation of parallel societies, where the incoming population brings along the society they strived to escape from. The Don calls these sh***hole societies. Why bring the f***ing thing here, why not leave it where you escaped from.

But the real betrayal of the native population happens when all those unregulated migrants are afforded immediate right to social security, full access to NHS and other aspects of state support, services that they have not paid one penny in support before accessing that particular government funded trough. And then the parasitic growth of their "family and extended family" comes along under the banner of "human rights".

This is the damnation of the whole of Western Civilisation which had been hollowed out from within by the most devious layer of parasitic growth, the government apparatus. The people we pay for under the auspices that they are doing some work for us, are enforcing things that treat the income generators, the tax paying society as serfs whose primary function in life is to support the parasites (immigrants) and parasite enablers (government).

The laws of biology and physics and whatever else say that the host that is being parasitised upon, cannot support the endless growth of the parasites attached upon it. The unfortunate host will eventually die.

Understanding of this concept is most certainly within mental capabilities of all those employed as the "governing classes " that we are paying for through our taxes.

Until such time when legislation is enacted that each and every individual member of "government classes " is made to pay, on an indemnity basis, through financial damages, forced labour, organs stripping or custodial penalties, for every penny (or cent, sorry, yanks), of damage they inflict on us taxpayers, we are all just barking.

Skip Intro , July 3, 2019 at 4:49 pm

This piece does an admirable job conflating globalisation and the ills caused by the neoliberal capture of social democratic parties/leaders. Did people just happen to lose hope, or were they actively betrayed? We are left to guess.

"negative effects of globalisation: foreign competition, factory closures, persistent unemployment, stagnating purchasing power, deteriorating infrastructures and public services"

Note that these ills could also be laid at the feet of the austerity movement, and the elimination/privatisation of National Industrial Policy, both cornerstones of the neoliberal infestation.

Summer , July 3, 2019 at 5:56 pm

Not only is globalization not new, all of the issues that come with it are old news.
All of it.

Part of the problem is that the global economic order is still in service to the same old same old. They have to rebrand every so often to keep the comfortable even more comfortable.

Those tasked with keeping the comfortable more comfortable have to present this crap as "new ideas" for their own careerism or actually do not realize they haven't espoused a new idea in 500 years.

K Lee , July 5, 2019 at 9:12 am

Putin's recent interview with Financial Times editor offers a clear-eyed perspective on our changing global structure:

"What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the US? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people.

Of course, we must always bear this in mind. One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future.

You know, it seems to me that purely liberal or purely traditional ideas have never existed. Probably, they did once exist in the history of humankind, but everything very quickly ends in a deadlock if there is no diversity. Everything starts to become extreme one way or another.

Various ideas and various opinions should have a chance to exist and manifest themselves, but at the same time interests of the general public, those millions of people and their lives, should never be forgotten. This is something that should not be overlooked.

Then, it seems to me, we would be able to avoid major political upheavals and troubles. This applies to the liberal idea as well. It does not mean (I think, this is ceasing to be a dominating factor) that it must be immediately destroyed. This point of view, this position should also be treated with respect.

They cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades. Diktat can be seen everywhere: both in the media and in real life. It is deemed unbecoming even to mention some topics. But why?

For this reason, I am not a fan of quickly shutting, tying, closing, disbanding everything, arresting everybody or dispersing everybody. Of course, not. The liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor. That is the point. Please." ~ Vladmir Putin

https://www.ft.com/content/878d2344-98f0-11e9-9573-ee5cbb98ed36

He's talking about the end of neoliberalism, the economic fascism that has gripped the world for over 40 years:

"If you're not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek's free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom." ~ Michael Hudson

Let's get back to using fiscal policy for public purpose again, to granting nations their right to self-determination and stopping the latest desperate neoliberal attempt to change international norms by installing fascist dictators (while pretending they are different) in order to move the world backwards to a time when "efforts to institutionalize standards of human and civil rights were seen as impingements on sovereignty, back to the days when no one gave a second thought to oppressed peoples."

http://tothepointanalyses.com/making-progressives-the-enemy/?fbclid=IwAR0ebXAngJpSZY0-WdB-zOgfqWnGsmYzqkYMP4A69kqbHrTI6WqjSpWM4Ow

kristiina , July 4, 2019 at 2:47 am

Very interesting article, and even more interesting conversation! There is a type of argument that very accurately points out some ills that need addressing, and then goes on to spout venom on the only system that might be able to address those ills.

It may be that the governing classes are making life easy for themselves. How to address that is the hard and difficult issue. Most of the protection of the small people comes from government. Healthcare, schools, roads, water etc.(I'm in scandinavia).

If the government crumbles, the small people have to leave. The most dreadful tyranny is better than a failed state with warring factions.

The only viable way forward is to somehow improve the system while it is (still) running. But this discussion I do not see anywhere.

If the discussion does not happen, there will not be any suggestions for improvement, so everything stays the same. Change is inevitable – it what state it will catch us is the important thing. A cashier at a Catalonian family vineyard told me the future is local and global: the next level from Catalonia will be EU. What are the steps needed to go there?

SteveB , July 4, 2019 at 5:54 am

Same old, Same old. Government is self-corrupting and is loath to change. People had enough July fourth 1776.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

FWIW: The fireworks we watch every Fourth of July holiday are symbolic!!!!

John , July 4, 2019 at 5:43 pm

The cashier seems to be envisioning a neoliberal paradise where the nation-state no longer exists. But who, then, collects the taxes that will pay for infrastructure, healthcare, education, public housing, and unemployment insurance? The European Parliament?

Will Germans and Finns be willing to pay high taxes in order to pay for those services for Greeks and Spaniards?

Look at the unemployment rate in Greece the Germans would simply say that the Greeks are lazy parasites and don't want to work (rather than understand that the economic conditions don't allow for job creation), and they would vote for MEPs that vote to cut taxes and welfare programs.

But maybe this was the plan all along you create this neoliberal paradise, and slowly but surely, people will dismantle all but the bare bones of the welfare state.

John , July 4, 2019 at 5:35 pm

I believe that one of the fundamental flaws in the logic behind the EU is this assumption of mobility. Proponents of the EU imagine society to be how it is described in economics textbooks: a bunch of individual actors seeking to maximize their incomes that don't seem to exist in any geographic context. The reality is that people are born into families and communities that speak a language. Most of them probably don't want to just pack up all of their things, relocate, and leave their family and home behind every time they get a new job. People throughout history have always had a very strong connection to the land on which they were raised and the society into which they were brought up; more accurately, for most of human history, this formed the entire existence, the entire universe, of most people (excluding certain oppressed groups, such as slaves or the conquered).

Human beings are not able to move as freely as capital. While euros in Greece can be sent to and used instantly in Germany, it is not so easy for a Greek person to leave the society that their ancestors have lived in for thousands of years and move to a new country with a new culture and language. For privileged people that get to travel, this doesn't sound so bad, but for someone whose family has lived in the same place for centuries and never learned to speak another language, this experience would be extremely difficult. For many people over the age of 25, it might not even be a life worth living.

In the past, economic difficulties would lead to a depreciation of a nation's currency and inflation. But within the current structure of the Eurozone, it results in deflation as euros escape to the core countries (mainly Germany) and unemployment. Southern Europeans are expected to leave everything they have ever known behind and move to the countries where there is work, like Germany or Holland. Maybe for a well-educated worldly 18 year old, that's not so bad, but what about a newly laid-off working class 35 year-old with a wife and kids and no college degree? He's supposed to just pick up his family and leave his parents and relatives behind, learn German, and spend the rest of his life and Germany? His kids now have to be German? Would he even be able to get a job there, anyway? Doing what? And how is he supposed to stop this from happening, how is he supposed to organize politically to keep jobs at home? The Greek government can hardly do anything because the IMF, ECB, and European Commission (all unelected officials) call the shots and don't give them any fiscal breathing room (and we saw what happened the last time voters tried to assert their autonomy in the bailout deal referendum), and the European Parliament doesn't have a serious budget to actually do anything.

I'm surprised more people don't vote for neo-fascist parties like the Golden Dawn. Ordinary liberal politics has completely failed them.

[Jul 06, 2019] Neoliberalism has had its day. So what happens next- - Martin Jacques - Opinion - The Guardian

Notable quotes:
"... “‘Populism’ is the label that political elites attach to policies supported by ordinary citizens that they don’t like.” Populism is a movement against the status quo. It represents the beginnings of something new, though it is generally much clearer about what it is against than what it is for. It can be progressive or reactionary, but more usually both. ..."
Aug 21, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

... ... ...

The neoliberal era is being undermined from two directions. First, if its record of economic growth has never been particularly strong, it is now dismal. Europe is barely larger than it was on the eve of the financial crisis in 2007; the United States has done better but even its growth has been anaemic. Economists such as Larry Summers believe that the prospect for the future is most likely one of secular stagnation .

Worse, because the recovery has been so weak and fragile, there is a widespread belief that another financial crisis may well beckon. In other words, the neoliberal era has delivered the west back into the kind of crisis-ridden world that we last experienced in the 1930s. With this background, it is hardly surprising that a majority in the west now believe their children will be worse off than they were. Second, those who have lost out in the neoliberal era are no longer prepared to acquiesce in their fate – they are increasingly in open revolt. We are witnessing the end of the neoliberal era. It is not dead, but it is in its early death throes, just as the social-democratic era was during the 1970s.

A sure sign of the declining influence of neoliberalism is the rising chorus of intellectual voices raised against it. From the mid-70s through the 80s, the economic debate was increasingly dominated by monetarists and free marketeers. But since the western financial crisis, the centre of gravity of the intellectual debate has shifted profoundly. This is most obvious in the United States, with economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Dani Rodrik and Jeffrey Sachs becoming increasingly influential. Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been a massive seller. His work and that of Tony Atkinson and Angus Deaton have pushed the question of the inequality to the top of the political agenda. In the UK, Ha-Joon Chang , for long isolated within the economics profession, has gained a following far greater than those who think economics is a branch of mathematics.

Meanwhile, some of those who were previously strong advocates of a neoliberal approach, such as Larry Summers and the Financial Times 's Martin Wolf, have become extremely critical. The wind is in the sails of the critics of neoliberalism; the neoliberals and monetarists are in retreat. In the UK, the media and political worlds are well behind the curve. Few recognise that we are at the end of an era. Old attitudes and assumptions still predominate, whether on the BBC's Today programme, in the rightwing press or the parliamentary Labour party.

As Thomas Piketty has shown, in the absence of countervailing pressures, capitalism naturally gravitates towards increasing inequality. In the period between 1945 and the late 70s, Cold War competition was arguably the biggest such constraint. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there have been none. As the popular backlash grows increasingly irresistible, however, such a winner-takes-all regime becomes politically unsustainable.

Large sections of the population in both the US and the UK are now in revolt against their lot, as graphically illustrated by the support for Trump and Sanders in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK. This popular revolt is often described, in a somewhat denigratory and dismissive fashion, as populism. Or, as Francis Fukuyama writes in a recent excellent essay in Foreign Affairs: “‘Populism’ is the label that political elites attach to policies supported by ordinary citizens that they don’t like.” Populism is a movement against the status quo. It represents the beginnings of something new, though it is generally much clearer about what it is against than what it is for. It can be progressive or reactionary, but more usually both.

[Jul 06, 2019] >Neoliberal economics and other fairytales about money by Peter McKenna

Notable quotes:
"... Aditya Chakrabortty ( It's reckless. But a Tory cash splurge could win an election , 3 July) is right to point out the hypocrisy of the political right about public expenditure. While progressive proposals for public spending are decried as burdening the hard-pressed taxpayer, the right is happy to use public money to rescue the banks or boost their electoral chances. ..."
"... As I explain in my book Money: Myths, Truths and Alternatives, neoliberal economics is built on a fairytale about money that distorts our view of how a contemporary public money system operates. It is assumed that public spending depends on extracting money from the market and that money (like gold) is always in short supply. Neither is true. Both the market and the state generate money – the market through bank lending and the state through public spending. Both increase the money supply, while bank loan repayments and taxation reduce it. There is no natural shortage of money – which today mainly exists only as data. ..."
Jul 04, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Neoliberal economics and other fairytales about money Politics is not about a struggle over a fixed pot of money, says Mary Mellor, and the best way to end austerity is to reject it as an ideology, says Peter McKenna

Aditya Chakrabortty ( It's reckless. But a Tory cash splurge could win an election , 3 July) is right to point out the hypocrisy of the political right about public expenditure. While progressive proposals for public spending are decried as burdening the hard-pressed taxpayer, the right is happy to use public money to rescue the banks or boost their electoral chances.

As I explain in my book Money: Myths, Truths and Alternatives, neoliberal economics is built on a fairytale about money that distorts our view of how a contemporary public money system operates. It is assumed that public spending depends on extracting money from the market and that money (like gold) is always in short supply. Neither is true. Both the market and the state generate money – the market through bank lending and the state through public spending. Both increase the money supply, while bank loan repayments and taxation reduce it. There is no natural shortage of money – which today mainly exists only as data.

ss="rich-link tone-news--item rich-link--pillar-news"> Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news Read more

The case for austerity missed the point. Politics is not about a struggle over a fixed pot of money. What is limited are resources (particularly the environment) and human capacity. How these are best used should be a matter of democratic debate. The allocation of money should depend on the priorities identified. In this the market has no more claim than the public economy to be the source of sustainable human welfare.
Professor Mary Mellor
Newcastle upon Tyne

• Over the years Aditya Chakrabortty has provided us with powerful critiques of austerity. His message now – that EU membership "is the best way to end austerity" – overlooks the fact that the UK was in the EU all that time.

Moreover, the EU's stability and growth pact requires that budget deficits and public debt be pegged below 3% and 60% of GDP respectively.

Such notions are the beating heart of austerity, and the European commission's excessive deficit procedure taken against errant states has almost universally resulted in swingeing austerity programmes. These were approved and monitored by the commission and council, with the UK only taken off the naughty step in 2017 after years of crippling austerity finally reduced the deficit to 2.3% of GDP.

The best way to end austerity – and to sway voters – is to reject austerity as an ideology regardless of remain or leave, and rehabilitate the concept of public investment in a people's economy.
Peter McKenna

[Jul 06, 2019] US is a Classic Empire and Is Becoming a Repressive Police State at Home by DAVE LINDORFF

Notable quotes:
"... The US today is a global empire. Our country's military, ballooning to some 2.1 million in uniform at a time that there is really no significant war underway. US military spending, greater in constant dollars than at any time since WWII, represents 34% of all global military spending, and the US military budget, depending on how one counts it, is larger than the next largest eight-to-ten countries' military budgets combined. ..."
"... And remember -- US empire and militarism is and has always been supported by both political parties. ..."
"... only 32% of Americans say they are "proud" (forget "extremely proud"!) of America's vaunted political system. In a close second for popular disgust, only 37% said they are "proud" of the US health care system. ..."
"... In my view, my country has become the world's leading "rogue" nation, dismissive of all international laws and codes of conduct, actively attacking many countries on its own authority, without the support of UN Security Council resolutions, exonerating war crimes committed by its soldiers, and committed to the first use of nuclear weapons, both as a first strike against major power rivals like Russia and China, and against non-nuclear nations like Iran, and equally dismissive of all efforts, large and small, to respond to the crisis of catastrophic global heating. ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

... ... ...

The US today is a global empire. Our country's military, ballooning to some 2.1 million in uniform at a time that there is really no significant war underway. US military spending, greater in constant dollars than at any time since WWII, represents 34% of all global military spending, and the US military budget, depending on how one counts it, is larger than the next largest eight-to-ten countries' military budgets combined.

To show how ridiculously huge the US military is, consider that at $220 billion for fiscal year 2020, the US budget for Veterans Affairs alone (that's the agency that provides assistance of all kinds, including medical, to those who served in the military, not counting career soldiers who receive a pension that is counted separately) this one military budget line item is larger than the entire military budget of China, and is more than three times as large as the entire military budget of Russia, considered by many to be our primary "adversary"!

And remember -- US empire and militarism is and has always been supported by both political parties.

... ... ...

I read that a recent Gallup Organization poll shows a significant drop in the percentage of US Americans who are "extremely proud" of their country. True, 45% still say they are "proud" of America, but normally that is how many say they are "extremely proud" to be Americans. That's a significant fall-off. Even among normally super-patriotic Republicans the percentage of those saying they are "extremely proud" this July 4 of this country was down to 76%, a 10% drop from 2003, and close to the 68% low point reached at one point during the Obama administration.

The main cause of the loss of patriotic ardor appears to be dismay or disgust with the US political system. According to the poll, only 32% of Americans say they are "proud" (forget "extremely proud"!) of America's vaunted political system. In a close second for popular disgust, only 37% said they are "proud" of the US health care system.

So I guess I'm in pretty good company. I won't be oohing and aaahing at the local fireworks display this year. It's basically a glorification of US war-making anyhow, and there's nothing at all to be proud of in that regard, particularly with the US in the midst of a $1.5-trillion upgrade of its nuclear arsenal, threatening war with Iran, pulling out of a Reagan-era treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and embarking in a new arms race both in space and in virtually unstoppable hypersonic cruise missiles.

In my view, my country has become the world's leading "rogue" nation, dismissive of all international laws and codes of conduct, actively attacking many countries on its own authority, without the support of UN Security Council resolutions, exonerating war crimes committed by its soldiers, and committed to the first use of nuclear weapons, both as a first strike against major power rivals like Russia and China, and against non-nuclear nations like Iran, and equally dismissive of all efforts, large and small, to respond to the crisis of catastrophic global heating. [

At home, the US legal system has become a supine supporter of virtually unlimited executive power, of unchecked police power, and of repressive actions against the supposedly constitutionally protected free press.

It's tempting to hope that the decline noted by Gallup in the percent of Americans expressing "extreme pride" and even of "pride" in the US, but support for the US among the country's citizens still remains shamefully high in the face of all these negatives.

Anyhow, count me among those who won't be celebrating today's July 4 national holiday.

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: DAVE LINDORFF

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening! , an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

[Jul 05, 2019] The UK public finally realized that the Globalist/Open Frontiers/ Neoliberal crowd are not their friends

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The key point, is that this happened in the 1980's – 90's. Vast profit possibilities were opening up through digitalization, corporate outsourcing, globalization and the internet. The globalists urgently wanted that money, and had to have political compliance. They found it in Neoliberalism and hijacked both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, creating "New Labour" (leader Tony Blair) through classless "modernization" following Margaret Thatcher's lead. ..."
"... Great blast by Jonathan Cook – I feel as if he has read my thoughts about the political system keeping the proles in an Orwellian state of serfdom for plunder and abuse under the guise of “democracy” and “freedom”. ..."
"... But the ideas of the Chicago School in cohorts with the Frankfurters and Tavistockers were already undermining our hopeful vision of the world while the think tanks at the foundations, councils and institutes were flooding the academies with the doctrines of hardhead uncompromising Capitalism to suck the blood off the proles into anaemic immiseration and apathetic insouciance. ..."
"... With the working class defeated and gone, where is the spirit of resistance to spring from? Not from the selfishness of the new generation of smartphone addicts whose world has shrunk to the atomic MEism and who refuse to open their eyes to what is staring in their face: debt slavery, for life. Maybe the French can do it again. Allez Gilets Jaunes! ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.unz.com

Miro23 says: July 5, 2019 at 11:09 am GMT 400 Words

This is a very good article on UK politics, but I would have put more emphasis on the background. Where we are today has everything to do with how we got here.

The UK has this basic left/right split (Labour/Conservative) reaching far back into its class based history. Sad to say, but within 5 seconds a British person can determine the class of the person they are dealing with (working/ middle/ upper) and act accordingly – referencing their own social background.

Margaret Thatcher was a lower middle class grocer's daughter who gained a rare place at Oxford University (on her own high intellectual merits), and took on the industrial wreckers of the radical left (Arthur Scargill etc.). She consolidated her power with the failure of the 1984-85 Miner's Strike. She introduced a new kind of Conservatism that was more classless and open to the talents, adopting free market Neoliberalism along with Ronald Reagan. A large section of the aspirational working class went for this (many already had middle class salaries) and wanted that at least their children could join the middle class through the university system.

The key point, is that this happened in the 1980's – 90's. Vast profit possibilities were opening up through digitalization, corporate outsourcing, globalization and the internet. The globalists urgently wanted that money, and had to have political compliance. They found it in Neoliberalism and hijacked both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, creating "New Labour" (leader Tony Blair) through classless "modernization" following Margaret Thatcher's lead.

The story now, is that the UK public realize that the Globalist/Zionist/SJW/Open Frontiers/ Neoliberal crowd are not their friends . So they (the public) are backtracking fast to find solid ground. In practice this means 1) Leave the Neoliberal/Globalist EU (which has also been hijacked) using Brexit 2) Recover the traditional Socialist Labour Party of working people through Jeremy Corbyn 3) Recover the traditional Conservative Party ( Britain First) through Nigel Farage and his Brexit movement.

Hence the current and growing gulf that is separating the British public from its Zio-Globalist elite + their media propagandists (BBC, Guardian etc.).


Digital Samizdat , says: July 5, 2019 at 12:43 pm GMT

@Miro23

She introduced a new kind of Conservatism that was more classless …

Or just plain anti-working class.

It was actually Thatcher who started the neo-liberal revolution in Britain. To the extent that she refused to finish it, the elites had Tony Blair in the wings waiting to go.

Parfois1 , says: July 5, 2019 at 1:18 pm GMT

Great blast by Jonathan Cook – I feel as if he has read my thoughts about the political system keeping the proles in an Orwellian state of serfdom for plunder and abuse under the guise of “democracy” and “freedom”. Under this system if anyone steps out of line is indeed sidelined for the “anti-semitic” treatment, demonized, vilified and, virtually hanged and quartered on the public square of the mendacious media.

In the good old days, when there was a militant working class and revolting (!) unionism, we would get together at meetings, organize protests and strikes and confront bosses and officialdom. There was camaraderie, solidarity, loyalty and confident defiance that we were fighting for a better world for ourselves and our children – and also for people less fortunate than us in other countries.

But the ideas of the Chicago School in cohorts with the Frankfurters and Tavistockers were already undermining our hopeful vision of the world while the think tanks at the foundations, councils and institutes were flooding the academies with the doctrines of hardhead uncompromising Capitalism to suck the blood off the proles into anaemic immiseration and apathetic insouciance.

... ... ... .

With the working class defeated and gone, where is the spirit of resistance to spring from? Not from the selfishness of the new generation of smartphone addicts whose world has shrunk to the atomic MEism and who refuse to open their eyes to what is staring in their face: debt slavery, for life. Maybe the French can do it again. Allez Gilets Jaunes!

Harbinger , says: July 5, 2019 at 1:47 pm GMT
@Miro23 ic get pissed off and vote in the conservatives who then privatise everything. And this game continues on and on. The British public are literally headless chickens running around not knowing what on earth is going on. They’re not interested in getting to the bottom of why society is the way it is. They’re all too comfortable with their mortgages, cars, holidays twice a year, mobile phones, TV shows and football.

When all of this disappears, then certainly, they will start asking questions, but when that time comes they will be utterly powerless to do anything, as a minority in their own land. Greater Israel will be built when that time comes.

Miro23 , says: July 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm GMT
@Digital Samizdat itants and win – which she did.

No one at the time had much idea about Neoliberalism and none at all about Globalization. This was all in the future.

And it was the British working class who were really cutting their own throats, by wrecking British industry (their future employment), with constant political radicalism and strikes.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Goodbye-Great-Britain-1976-Crisis/dp/0300057288

[Jul 05, 2019] The neoliberal elites the policymaking business and financial elites are increasingly hated by common people

Notable quotes:
"... That distrust of the establishment has had highly visible political consequences: Farage, Trump, and Le Pen on the right; but also in new parties on the left ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

In the years that followed, the crash, the crisis of the eurozone and the worldwide drop in the price of oil and other commodities combined to put a huge dent in global trade. Since 2012, the IMF reported in its World Economic Outlook for October 2016 , trade was growing at 3% a year – less than half the average of the previous three decades. That month, Martin Wolf argued in a column that globalisation had "lost dynamism", due to a slackening of the world economy, the "exhaustion" of new markets to exploit and a rise in protectionist policies around the world. In an interview earlier this year, Wolf suggested to me that, though he remained convinced globalisation had not been the decisive factor in rising inequality, he had nonetheless not fully foreseen when he was writing Why Globalization Works how "radical the implications" of worsening inequality "might be for the US, and therefore the world".

Among these implications appears to be a rising distrust of the establishment that is blamed for the inequality. "We have a very big political problem in many of our countries," he said. "The elites – the policymaking business and financial elites – are increasingly disliked . You need to make policy which brings people to think again that their societies are run in a decent and civilised way."

That distrust of the establishment has had highly visible political consequences: Farage, Trump, and Le Pen on the right; but also in new parties on the left, such as Spain's Podemos, and curious populist hybrids, such as Italy's Five Star Movement . As in 1997, but to an even greater degree, the volatile political scene reflects public anxiety over "the process that has come to be called 'globalisation'".

If the critics of globalisation could be dismissed before because of their lack of economics training, or ignored because they were in distant countries, or kept out of sight by a wall of police, their sudden political ascendancy in the rich countries of the west cannot be so easily discounted today.

[Jul 02, 2019] Yep! The neolib scum hate poor people and have superiority complex>

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Both neoliberal-driven governments and authoritarian societies share one important factor: They care more about consolidating power in the hands of the political, corporate and financial elite than they do about investing in the future of young people and expanding the benefits of the social contract and common good. ..."
"... Michael Yates (economist) points out throughout his book 'The Great Inequality', capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. As power becomes global and politics remains local, ruling elites no longer make political concessions to workers or any other group that they either exploit or consider disposable. ..."
"... At bottom, neoliberals believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labor they depend on to make their fortunes. ..."
"... The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. "Corporate lords" have a harder time kicking them around. ..."
Apr 10, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Originally from: Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse - Van Badham - Opinion - The Guardian

slorter, 27 Apr 2018 01:37

Both neoliberal-driven governments and authoritarian societies share one important factor: They care more about consolidating power in the hands of the political, corporate and financial elite than they do about investing in the future of young people and expanding the benefits of the social contract and common good.

Michael Yates (economist) points out throughout his book 'The Great Inequality', capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. As power becomes global and politics remains local, ruling elites no longer make political concessions to workers or any other group that they either exploit or consider disposable.

At bottom, neoliberals believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labor they depend on to make their fortunes.

The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. "Corporate lords" have a harder time kicking them around.

Once you understand this about the cheap-labor conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labour conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits those who work for an hourly wage.

You also need to remember that voting the coalition out, which you need to do, will not necessarily give you a neoliberal free zone; Labor needs to shed some the dogma as well.

bryonyed -> slorter , 27 Apr 2018 01:41

Yep! The neolib scum hate poor people and have complexes of deservedness.

[Jun 28, 2019] How Russia's President Putin Explains The End Of The '[neo]liberal' Order

You can read the transcript without firewall at: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60836
From Unz comment: "Tangentially related, but check out this great interview with Putin: https://www.ft.com/content/878d2344-98f0-11e9-9573-ee5cbb98ed36 The man's intelligence and seriousness is always impressive. The contrast with the nauseating rubbish that comes out of Western politicians could not be more striking, no wonder they hate the guy."
Notable quotes:
"... "One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future ." ..."
"... Putin has recognized the influence of our "regime change" wars on the immigrant problem in Europe. He addressed it forcefully in his UN General Assembly speech in 2015 where he asks NATO "Do you know what you've done?" with regards to creating the immigration problems in Europe. Watch here https://youtu.be/q13yzl6k6w0. ..."
"... From Putin's 2007 Munich speech to this 2015 UN speech and many interviews along the way, I've learned to pay attention to what Putin says. He seems to have an extremely good handle on world events and where they are leading. ..."
"... The neoliberal economic plan is to suck the wealth out of the working class and funnel it up to the top 10%, especially the 1%. How to keep the working class from noticing the theft? ..."
"... neo-liberalism (aka "crony capitalism") is about compromising the state and the society that it protects in favor of wealthy, powerful interests. Thus, at it's core, it's against the people. ..."
"... Look at the whine ass, crying, warmongering. narcissist psychopathic bullies we get. I am envious of the Russians having a leader they can be proud of. ..."
"... Been about 60 years since I have had a president to be proud of, back when America WAS great,,, and they killed him. ..."
Jun 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

How Russia's President Putin Explains The End Of The '[neo]Liberal' Order

Today the Financial Times published a long and wide ranging interview with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

A full transcript is currently available through this link .

The talk is making some waves:

From the last link:

Putin said in an interview with the Financial Times Friday that the "[neo]liberal idea has become obsolete," and referred to Germany's decision to welcome more than one million refugees -- many fleeing savage urban warfare in Syria -- as a "cardinal mistake."

It is only the last part of the very long interview, where Putin indeed speaks of the 'obsolesce' of the '[neo]liberal idea', that seems to be of interest to the media. Most of the interview is in fact about other issues. The media also do not capture how his 'obsolete' argument is ingrained in the worldview Putin developed, and how it reflects in many of his answers.

Here are excerpts that show that the gist of Putin's 'obsolete' argument is not against the '[neo]liberal idea', but against what may be best called 'international (neo-)[liberalism'.

Putin explains why U.S. President Donald Trump was elected:

Has anyone ever given a thought to who actually benefited and what benefits were gained from globalisation, the development of which we have been observing and participating in over the past 25 years, since the 1990s?

China has made use of globalisation, in particular, to pull millions of Chinese out of poverty.

What happened in the US, and how did it happen? In the US, the leading US companies -- the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners -- made use of these benefits. [..] The middle class in the US has not benefited from globalisation; it was left out when this pie was divided up.

The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump's victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference.

On Syria:

Primarily, this concerns Syria, we have managed to preserve Syrian statehood, no matter what, and we have prevented Libya-style chaos there. And a worst-case scenario would spell out negative consequences for Russia.
...
I believe that the Syrian people should be free to choose their own future.
...
When we discussed this matter only recently with the previous US administration, we said, suppose Assad steps down today, what will happen tomorrow?

Your colleague did well to laugh, because the answer we got was very amusing. You cannot even imagine how funny it was. They said, "We don't know." But when you do not know what happens tomorrow, why shoot from the hip today? This may sound primitive, but this is how it is.

On 'western' interventionism and 'democracy promotion':

Incidentally, the president of France said recently that the American democratic model differs greatly from the European model. So there are no common democratic standards. And do you, well, not you, but our Western partners, want a region such as Libya to have the same democratic standards as Europe and the US? The region has only monarchies or countries with a system similar to the one that existed in Libya.

But I am sure that, as a historian, you will agree with me at heart. I do not know whether you will publicly agree with this or not, but it is impossible to impose current and viable French or Swiss democratic standards on North African residents who have never lived in conditions of French or Swiss democratic institutions. Impossible, isn't it? And they tried to impose something like that on them. Or they tried to impose something that they had never known or even heard of. All this led to conflict and intertribal discord. In fact, a war continues in Libya.

So why should we do the same in Venezuela? ...

Asked about the turn towards nationalism and more rightwing policies in the U.S. and many European countries, Putin names immigration as the primary problem:

What is happening in the West? What is the reason for the Trump phenomenon, as you said, in the US? What is happening in Europe as well? The ruling elites have broken away from the people. The obvious problem is the gap between the interests of the elites and the overwhelming majority of the people .

Of course, we must always bear this in mind. One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future.

There is also the so-called [neo]liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the [neo]liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable.

When the migration problem came to a head, many people admitted that the policy of multiculturalism is not effective and that the interests of the core population should be considered. Although those who have run into difficulties because of political problems in their home countries need our assistance as well. That is great, but what about the interests of their own population when the number of migrants heading to Western Europe is not just a handful of people but thousands or hundreds of thousands?
...
What am I driving at? Those who are concerned about this, ordinary Americans, they look at this and say, Good for [Trump], at least he is doing something, suggesting ideas and looking for a solution.

As for the [neo]liberal idea, its proponents are not doing anything. They say that all is well, that everything is as it should be. But is it? They are sitting in their cosy offices, while those who are facing the problem every day in Texas or Florida are not happy, they will soon have problems of their own. Does anyone think about them?

The same is happening in Europe. I discussed this with many of my colleagues, but nobody has the answer. The say they cannot pursue a hardline policy for various reasons. Why exactly? Just because. We have the law, they say. Well, then change the law!

We have quite a few problems of our own in this sphere as well.
...
In other words, the situation is not simple in Russia either, but we have started working to improve it. Whereas the [neo]liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected. What rights are these? Every crime must have its punishment.

So, the [neo]liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population. Or take the traditional values. I am not trying to insult anyone, because we have been condemned for our alleged homophobia as it is. But we have no problems with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us.

They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles. I cannot even say exactly what genders these are, I have no notion. Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.

While Putin says that [neo]liberalism is 'obsolete' he does not declare it dead. He sees it as part of a spectrum, but says that it should not have a leading role:

You know, it seems to me that purely [neo]liberal or purely traditional ideas have never existed. Probably, they did once exist in the history of humankind, but everything very quickly ends in a deadlock if there is no diversity. Everything starts to become extreme one way or another.

Various ideas and various opinions should have a chance to exist and manifest themselves, but at the same time interests of the general public, those millions of people and their lives, should never be forgotten. This is something that should not be overlooked.

Then, it seems to me, we would be able to avoid major political upheavals and troubles. This applies to the [neo]liberal idea as well. It does not mean (I think, this is ceasing to be a dominating factor) that it must be immediately destroyed. This point of view, this position should also be treated with respect.

They cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades. Diktat can be seen everywhere: both in the media and in real life. It is deemed unbecoming even to mention some topics. But why?

For this reason, I am not a fan of quickly shutting, tying, closing, disbanding everything, arresting everybody or dispersing everybody. Of course, not. The [neo]liberal idea cannot be destroyed either; it has the right to exist and it should even be supported in some things. But you should not think that it has the right to be the absolute dominating factor. That is the point. Please.

There is much more in the interview - about Russia's relations with China, North Korea, the Skripal incident, the Russian economy, orthodoxy and the [neo]liberal attack on the Catholic church, multilateralism, arms control and the G-20 summit happening today.

But most '[neo]liberal' media will only point to the 'obsolete' part and condemn Putin for his rallying against immigration. They will paint him as being in an alt-right corner. But even the Dalai Lama, held up as an icon by many [neo]liberals, says that "Europe is for Europeans" and that immigrants should go back to their own countries.

Moreover, as Leonid Bershidsky points out , Putin himself is, with regards to the economy and immigration, a staunch [neo]liberal:

Putin's cultural conservatism is consistent and sincere.
...
On immigration, however, Putin is, in practice, more [neo]liberal than most European leaders. He has consistently resisted calls to impose visa requirements on Central Asian countries, an important source of migrant labor. Given Russia's shrinking working-age population and shortage of manual workers, Putin isn't about to stem that flow, even though Central Asians are Muslims – the kind of immigrants Merkel's opponents, including Trump, distrust and fear the most.

What Putin is aiming at, says Bershidsky, is the larger picture:

[W]hat Putin believes has outlived its usefulness isn't the [neo]liberal approach to migration or gender, nor is it [neo]liberal economics – even though Russia has, in recent months, seen something of a shift toward central planning. It is the [neo]liberal world order. Putin wants to keep any talk of values out of international politics and forge pragmatic relationships based on specific interests.
...
Putin's drive to put global politics on a more transactional basis isn't easy to defeat; it's a siren song, and the anti-immigrant, culturally conservative rhetoric is merely part of the music.

There is in my view no 'siren-song' there and nothing that has to be defeated. It is just that Putin is more willing to listen to the people than most of the western wannabe 'elite'.

The people's interest is simply not served well by globalization, [neo]liberal internationalism and interventionism. A transactional approach to international policies, with respect for basic human decency, is in almost every case better for them.

Politicians who want the people's votes should listen to them, and to Vladimir Putin.

Posted by b on June 28, 2019 at 01:50 PM | Permalink


pretzelattack , Jun 28, 2019 2:05:48 PM | 1

he makes a lot of sense on neo]liberalism. i guess this makes me a Russian agent.
ROBERT SYKES , Jun 28, 2019 2:15:18 PM | 2
It is hard to exaggerate Putin's accomplishments. He almost single-handedly saved Russia from the chaos of the Yeltsin era and near collapse. He has reestablished Russia as a major power. In the face of the American world rampage, he has helped stabilize MENA. By merging Russia's Eurasian Union with China's OBOR, he has helped to set Eurasia on a road to peaceful economic development. He has even managed to get China, India, and Pakistan talking to one another and cooperating in a variety of Eurasian projects.

I doubt he has more than 10 years left as a Russian leader, and maybe not even that. When he finally passes, he will be remembered as another Churchill or Bismarck.

Barovsky , Jun 28, 2019 2:16:21 PM | 3
Hmmm... Putin says the problem is 'multi-culturalism', 'migrants'? What kind of bullshit is this?

Putin doesn't mention that the migrant crisis was caused by Western resource wars, in Syria, Libya and elsewhere. That neoliberalism's impact on the poor countries has led to the vast exodus into Europe and N. America.

I have a feeling that Putin is playing the 'RT game', targeting those disaffected people, who have, in turn been the target of racist, islamaphobic propaganda by Western states, states that for obvious reasons (self-incrimination) won't state the real reasons for the exodus.

Alexander P , Jun 28, 2019 2:17:47 PM | 4
The page on [neo]liberalism in the classic sense the way it was envisioned in the late 18th and 19th century has long been passed. [neo]liberalism as in nurturing the human soul and intellect and allowing each individual to draw on their qualities and contribute to society with their fullest potential has been supplanted by material and physical liberties alone (Gender, Sexuality, Free Trade, Free Migration aka Free Movement of Slave Labor etc). What today is called [neo]liberalism, which I like to equate with neo-[neo]liberalism and social 'progressivism', are both parts of post-modernism, a societal model that is falling and failing under its own weight of hubris and inconsistencies.

The 'Do as thou wilt' mindset pushed on the people by the elites is deliberate with the only end goal of creating their 'ideal' world. A world not based on morality, spirituality and absolute truths, but relativism, materialism, loss of basic notions such as gender, family, belonging, in short loss of identity and purpose for mankind to obtain ever greater control over the masses. People are beginning to notice it, however, even if only subconsciously and start to push back against it. Putin knows this, and that is what he is laying out in his interview.

robjira , Jun 28, 2019 2:20:55 PM | 5
It is just that Putin is more willing to listen to the people than most of the western wannabe 'elite'.
Right on target, b; many thanks again. I'll be sure to read the entire transcript.
Joe Nobody , Jun 28, 2019 2:23:07 PM | 6
"They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles. I cannot even say exactly what genders these are, I have no notion. Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.'

It has become la la land in the West in regards to gender...if a person wants to be gay, be gay, but let's not force everyone else to pretend reality is not reality..nature choose (dichotomy) for you to be male or female, sucks if that doesn't match your preferences but better luck next life...accept the reality you are in and let's not force everyone one else to pander to your delusions..

See also:

'Sex change' is biologically impossible," said McHugh. "People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder."

https://newspunch.com/john-hopkins-transgenderism-mental-illness/

karlof1 , Jun 28, 2019 2:27:19 PM | 7
I'm reading the Kremlin's transcript I linked to at the Gabbard thread where I posted a very short excerpt. I continue to read it but stopped to post another very short excerpt IMO is very important:

"One of the things we must do in Russia is never to forget that the purpose of the operation and existence of any government is to create a stable, normal, safe and predictable life for the people and to work towards a better future ." [My Emphasis]

Back to reading!

pretzelattack , Jun 28, 2019 2:27:47 PM | 8
@ 3--remind me who was fighting the west in syria, again?
vk , Jun 28, 2019 2:30:47 PM | 9
Here are excerpts that show that the gist of Putin's 'obsolete' argument is not against the '[neo]liberal idea', but against what may be best called 'international (neo-)liberalism'.

Just a matter of academic rigour: liberalism is extinct; neoliberalism is literally the "new liberalism", it's successor doctrine. Therefore, when we speak of "liberalism" after 1945, we're automatically referring to neoliberalism.

neoliberalism was created at Mont Pelerin in the 1930s, and its founding narrative states that everything that happened between/since the death of liberalism (1914-1918) and their own hegemony (1974-75) was an abortion of History and should've never happened. Hence the name "neoliberalism": the new liberalism (adapted to the system of fiat currency instead of the gold standard); the revival of liberalism; the return of liberalism (the [neo]liberals).

It's also important to highlight that neoliberalism is not an ideology, but a doctrine (which encompass mainly policies, but may also encompass ideals). It is wrong, for example, to compare socialism with neoliberalism (socialism as anti-neoliberalism): socialism is a scientific theory, and, as a social theory, encompasses a new socioeconomic system, a new set of ideologies, a new set of cultures and a new set of political doctrines.

Neoliberalism, therefore, is just one aspect with which the capitalist elites engage against socialism historically (in the doctrinal "front").

Zachary Smith , Jun 28, 2019 2:40:29 PM | 10
Generic question: How many of the 2020 candidates for US President could hold up their end of an interview with such knowledge and style?

Personally I was impressed by Putin's bluntness in stating Merkel had made a "cardinal mistake" when she opened the borders to the hundreds of thousands of illegals. And also this:

And we set ourselves a goal, a task -- which, I am certain, will be achieved -- to adjust pensions by a percentage that is above the inflation rate.

Compare that to the deliberate US policy if doing the exact opposite.

Alan McLemore , Jun 28, 2019 2:44:48 PM | 11
Can you imagine Trump writing like this? Or Obama, for that matter? Or Bush the Dimmer, or Clinton, or Bush the Spook, or Reagan, or Carter...Hell, you'd have to go back to JFK to find this sort of skill with language and deep analysis. And maybe not then. "They" say you get the leaders you deserve. In that case the Russians have been nice and we Americans have been very, very naughty.
dh , Jun 28, 2019 2:45:31 PM | 12
So now we wait for MSM 'analysts' to accuse Putin of disrupting the status quo and fomenting revolution.
lgfocus , Jun 28, 2019 2:47:56 PM | 13
Barovsky @3

Putin has recognized the influence of our "regime change" wars on the immigrant problem in Europe. He addressed it forcefully in his UN General Assembly speech in 2015 where he asks NATO "Do you know what you've done?" with regards to creating the immigration problems in Europe. Watch here https://youtu.be/q13yzl6k6w0.

From Putin's 2007 Munich speech to this 2015 UN speech and many interviews along the way, I've learned to pay attention to what Putin says. He seems to have an extremely good handle on world events and where they are leading.

Sally Snyder , Jun 28, 2019 2:48:51 PM | 14
If we really want to know who is interfering in the world's politics, particularly in Russia, we need look no further than this:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-national-endowment-for-democracy.html

American-style bought-and-paid-for democracy is not what the world needs.

JDL , Jun 28, 2019 2:53:21 PM | 15
In the west our governments call Mr Putin a thug, a gangster. But, I've never seen any of our politicians sit down and frankly and comprehensively lay out there views, goals, thoughts and musings. To be a good leader or politician you have do have vision, but in the west here i just see talking heads and soundbites, no soul.
wagelaborer , Jun 28, 2019 3:00:50 PM | 16
Oh, yeah, the "[neo]liberals" are indignant over his pointing out that mass migration causes social disruption.

He racist!

The neoliberal economic plan is to suck the wealth out of the working class and funnel it up to the top 10%, especially the 1%. How to keep the working class from noticing the theft?

How about divide and conquer? That seems to work. Take the native working class and divide it any way that works in that society. In the US, traditionally, it was race, but they added sex a couple of decades ago, then opened the doors to immigration and threw in national origin, and now, just for kicks and giggles, everybody gets to define their own gender and sexual preferences. Awesome. The US is now divided into 243,000,000 separate categories of specialness. And if you don't accept everything someone else tells you as gospel, you are a bigot of some sort (depending on their self identification. It varies.)

They divided up Yemen and Libya by tribes, Iraq and Yugoslavia by religion, it works the same in every country. When the US blows, it's going to be spectacular.

Norbert Salamon , Jun 28, 2019 3:03:51 PM | 17
You can read the transcript without firewall at: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60836
karlof1 , Jun 28, 2019 3:08:13 PM | 18
I'm always impressed with Putin's grasp and breadth a la Chirac, whom he admires and emulates.

I posted a few excerpts I felt very important to this and the Gabbard threads; and at the latter I now insist this interview be read, not just suggested. That BigLie Media chose to pounce on Putin's critique of the [neo]liberal Idea displays its agenda and its extremely sorry attempt to discredit/smear Putin yet again. IMO, such media smeared itself. The give-and-take was very productive and informative, containing many lessons, a few of which I pointed to.

Putin's now at the G-20 and has already had one bilateral meeting with TrumpCo.

Sputnik offers this recap that includes links to its additional articles published during the day. Much has occurred, and Trump has yet to storm out. Some of the photos are priceless, the May/Putin handshake perhaps being the most telling.

AriusArmenian , Jun 28, 2019 3:10:18 PM | 19
That there is a Putin that today leads a great country like Russia seems like a miracle and he appeared at the very moment that Russia needed him.

Part of the West elite hate of Putin is that compared to them he gives off an aura of honesty and truthfulness that is absent from leaders in the West.

anon , Jun 28, 2019 3:17:57 PM | 20
The "multi-cultural" issue, to the extent that it is an issue, is only an issue as an effect of the actual problem. It is effectively a scapegoat. No one would care about "multiculturalism" if there was a fair economic order in which living standards were increasing.

The problem is that western capitalism wants it both ways, it sees the demographic problem it faces and it wants the labor of migrants but it does not want to improve society, it wants to keep its slice of the pie. Hence things will get economically worse while migrants will be an easy "cause" at which to point for the unthinking person. In that sense it becomes a problem insofar as it contributes to fascism, nothing else changing.

Putin is right about China utilizing globalization to the benefit of society while the west is only interested in globalization insofar as it opens markets and creates profit for those who own social production. But of course Marx predicted this all long ago, so it is not perhaps surprising that the Chinese Communist Party would be more intelligent here. There is nothing more symptomatic or demonstrative here than the fact that, while western countries debate over a few tens of thousands of immigrants being "too many", China is capable of such feats as eradicating poverty and building incredible and modern infrastructure while being a land of over a billion people.

wagelaborer , Jun 28, 2019 3:18:53 PM | 21
Reading over the Gabbard comments, I was reminded of another big divide in the US by party. Americans treat their parties like their tribes and viciously attack heretics of other tribes. The media fans the flames and keeps the "elections" going for years, without a break.

Meanwhile, our ruling overlords pick their next puppet, let us all "vote" on computerized machines, and then the talking heads announce the "winner".
And it all starts over.

Jackrabbit , Jun 28, 2019 3:26:44 PM | 22
neo-liberalism (aka "crony capitalism") is about compromising the state and the society that it protects in favor of wealthy, powerful interests. Thus, at it's core, it's against the people.

To compensate and distract from this corruption, the people are presented with the 'fruits' of a [neo]liberal society: quasi"-freedoms" like gender rights, civil rights, and human rights. I say "quasi-" because these rights are abridged by the powerful elite as they see fit (witness rendition and torture, pervasive surveillance, and Assange).

We fight among ourselves about walls and bathrooms as elites destroy the Commons. In this way, they pick our pockets and kneecap our ability to fight back at the same time.

DM , Jun 28, 2019 3:28:20 PM | 23
Generic question: How many of the 2020 candidates for US President could hold up their end of an interview with such knowledge and style?

You beat me to the punch. And the answer to your rhetorical question is, of course, NONE! Luckily for Americans, Ignorance is Bliss.

ken , Jun 28, 2019 3:31:05 PM | 24
Boy did Russia luck out. Yeltsin was smart picking this man.... Look at the whine ass, crying, warmongering. narcissist psychopathic bullies we get. I am envious of the Russians having a leader they can be proud of.

Been about 60 years since I have had a president to be proud of, back when America WAS great,,, and they killed him.

[Jun 27, 2019] Putin Eviscerates [neo]liberalism, Calling It Obsolete, In Wide-Ranging Interview Ahead Of G-20

Notable quotes:
"... Putin said: "[neo]liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades." ..."
"... Putin said: "What happened in the US, and how did it happen? In the US, the leading US companies -- the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners -- made use of these benefits. The middle class hardly benefited from globalization. The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump's victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference." ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

In an exclusive interview with FT on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin touted the growth of national populism in Europe and America while saying that [neo]liberalism is "spent" as an ideology. He spoke on numerous issues at length, which we have broken down here by topic.

[neo]liberal Governments

On the eve of the G20 summit, Putin said that the "[neo]liberal idea" had "outlived its purpose" as the public has turned against immigration and multiculturalism. His push back on [neo]liberalism aligns Putin with leaders like US president Donald Trump, Hungary's Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and the Brexit insurgency in the UK.

Putin said: "[neo]liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades."

Immigration and Refugees

He said that Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to admit over 1 million refugees to German was a "cardinal mistake" and praised President Trump for trying to stop migrants and drugs from Mexico.

Putin said: "This [neo]liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. That migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected. Every crime must have its punishment. The [neo]liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population."

On Election Interference

While Putin has been targeted in the U.S., namely for attempting to intervene in the country's elections, Putin denied it and called the idea "mythical interference".

Putin said: "What happened in the US, and how did it happen? In the US, the leading US companies -- the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners -- made use of these benefits. The middle class hardly benefited from globalization. The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump's victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference."

The China/U.S. Trade War

With regard to the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, Putin called the situation "explosive", blaming the issue on American unilateralism.

"Our relations with China are not motivated by timeserving political or any other considerations. China is showing loyalty and flexibility to both its partners and opponents. Maybe this is related to the historical features of Chinese philosophy, their approach to building relations," Putin said.

A New Nuclear Arms Race

He also expressed concern about a new nuclear arms race.

"The cold war was a bad thing . . . but there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow. Now, it seems that there are no rules at all," Putin said.

... ... ...

The Russian Economy

Speaking about his own country, Putin said: "Real wages are not in decline in Russia. On the contrary, they are starting to pick up. The macroeconomic situation in the country is stable. As for the central bank, yes, it is engaged in a gradual improvement of our financial system: inefficient and small-capacity companies, as well as semi-criminal financial organizations are leaving the market, and this is large-scale and complicated work."

... ...

[Jun 27, 2019] The Ongoing Restructuring of the Greater Middle East by C.J. Hopkins

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... If I were a particularly cynical analyst, it might look to me like global capitalism, starting right around 1990, freed by the collapse of the U.S.S.R. to do whatever the hell it wanted, more or less immediately started dismantling uncooperative power structures throughout the Greater Middle East. My cynical theory would kind of make sense of the "catastrophic policy blunders" that the United States has supposedly made in Iraq, Libya, and throughout the region, not to mention the whole "Global War on Terror," and what it is currently doing to Syria, and Iran. ..."
"... Take a look at that map again. What you're looking at is global capitalism cleaning up after winning the Cold War. And yes, I do mean global capitalism, not the United States of America (i.e., the "nation" most Americans think they live in, despite all evidence to the contrary). I know it hurts to accept the fact that "America" is nothing but a simulation projected onto an enormous marketplace but seriously, do you honestly believe that the U.S. government and its military serve the interests of the American people? If so, go ahead, review the history of their activities since the Second World War, and explain to me how they have benefited Americans not the corporatist ruling classes, regular working class Americans, many of whom can't afford to see a doctor, or buy a house, or educate their kids, not without assuming a lifetime of debt to some global financial institution. ..."
"... OK, so I digressed a little. The point is, "America" is not at war with Iran. Global capitalism is at war with Iran. The supranational corporatist empire. Yes, it wears an American face, and waves a big American flag, but it is no more "American" than the corporations it comprises, or the governments those corporations own, or the military forces those governments control, or the transnational banks that keep the whole show running. ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.unz.com

... ... ...

If I were a particularly cynical analyst, it might look to me like global capitalism, starting right around 1990, freed by the collapse of the U.S.S.R. to do whatever the hell it wanted, more or less immediately started dismantling uncooperative power structures throughout the Greater Middle East. My cynical theory would kind of make sense of the "catastrophic policy blunders" that the United States has supposedly made in Iraq, Libya, and throughout the region, not to mention the whole "Global War on Terror," and what it is currently doing to Syria, and Iran.

Take a good look at this Smithsonian map of where the U.S.A. is "combating terrorism." Note how the U.S. military (i.e., global capitalism's unofficial "enforcer") has catastrophically blundered its way into more or less every nation depicted. Or ask our "allies" in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and so on. OK, you might have to reach them in New York or London, or in the South of France this time of year, but, go ahead, ask them about the horrors they've been suffering on account of our "catastrophic blunders."

See, according to this crackpot conspiracy theory that I would put forth if I were a geopolitical analyst instead of just a political satirist, there have been no "catastrophic policy blunders," not for global capitalism. The Restructuring of the Greater Middle East is proceeding exactly according to plan. The regional ruling classes are playing ball, and those who wouldn't have been regime-changed, or are being regime-changed, or are scheduled for regime change.

Sure, for the actual people of the region, and for regular Americans, the last thirty years of wars, "strategic" bombings, sanctions, fomented coups, and other such shenanigans have been a pointless waste of lives and money but global capitalism doesn't care about people or the "sovereign nations" they believe they live in, except to the extent they are useful. Global capitalism has no nations. All it has are market territories, which are either open for business or not.

Take a look at that map again. What you're looking at is global capitalism cleaning up after winning the Cold War. And yes, I do mean global capitalism, not the United States of America (i.e., the "nation" most Americans think they live in, despite all evidence to the contrary). I know it hurts to accept the fact that "America" is nothing but a simulation projected onto an enormous marketplace but seriously, do you honestly believe that the U.S. government and its military serve the interests of the American people? If so, go ahead, review the history of their activities since the Second World War, and explain to me how they have benefited Americans not the corporatist ruling classes, regular working class Americans, many of whom can't afford to see a doctor, or buy a house, or educate their kids, not without assuming a lifetime of debt to some global financial institution.

OK, so I digressed a little. The point is, "America" is not at war with Iran. Global capitalism is at war with Iran. The supranational corporatist empire. Yes, it wears an American face, and waves a big American flag, but it is no more "American" than the corporations it comprises, or the governments those corporations own, or the military forces those governments control, or the transnational banks that keep the whole show running.

This is what Iran and Syria are up against. This is what Russia is up against. Global capitalism doesn't want to nuke them, or occupy them. It wants to privatize them, like it is privatizing the rest of the world, like it has already privatized America according to my crackpot theory, of course.


peterAUS , says: June 25, 2019 at 10:08 pm GMT

if I were a geopolitical analyst, I might be able to discern a pattern there, and possibly even some sort of strategy.

Sounds good.
Some other people did it before, wrote it down etc. but it's always good to see that stuff.

it might look to me like global capitalism, starting right around 1990, freed by the collapse of the U.S.S.R. to do whatever the hell it wanted, more or less immediately started dismantling uncooperative power structures throughout the Greater Middle East.
.there have been no "catastrophic policy blunders," not for global capitalism. The Restructuring of the Greater Middle East is proceeding exactly according to plan. The regional ruling classes are playing ball, and those who wouldn't have been regime-changed, or are being regime-changed, or are scheduled for regime change.
Sure, for the actual people of the region, and for regular Americans, the last thirty years of wars, "strategic" bombings, sanctions, fomented coups, and other such shenanigans have been a pointless waste of lives and money but global capitalism doesn't care about people or the "sovereign nations" they believe they live in, except to the extent they are useful. Global capitalism has no nations. All it has are market territories, which are either open for business or not.

Spot on.

Now .there IS a bit of oversight in the article re competing groups of people on top of that "Global capitalist" bunch.
It's a bit more complicated than "Global capitalism".

Jewish heavily influenced, perhaps even controlled, Anglo-Saxon "setup" .. or Russian "setup" or Chinese "setup".
Only one of them can be on the top, and they don't like each other much.
And they all have nuclear weapons.

"Global capitalism" idea is optimistic. The global overwhelming force against little players. No chance of MAD there so not that bad.NOPE IMHO.
There is a chance of MAD.

That is the problem . Well, at least for some people.

WorkingClass , says: June 26, 2019 at 12:46 am GMT
Globalists are not Capitalists. There is no competition. Just a hand full of monopolies. These stateless corporate monopolists are better understood as Feudalists. They would have everything. We would have nothing. That's what privatization is. It's the Lords ripping off the proles.

I was a union man in my youth. We liked Capitalism. We just wanted our fair share of the loot. The working class today knows nothing about organizing. They don't even know they are working class. They think they are black or white. Woke or Deplorable.

ALL OF US non billionaires are coming up on serious hard times. Serious enough that we might have to put aside our differences. The government is corrupt. It will not save us. Instead it will continue to work to divide us.

Reparations anyone?

animalogic , says: June 26, 2019 at 10:06 am GMT
Another great article by C J Hopkins.
Hopkins (correctly) posits that behind US actions, wars etc lies the global capitalist class.
"Global capitalism has no nations. All it has are market territories, which are either open for business or not"
This is correct -- but requires an important caveat.
Intrinsic to capitalism is imperialism. They are the head & tail of the same coin.
Global capitalists may unite in their rapacious attacks on average citizens the world over. However, they will disunite when it comes to beating a competitor to a market.
The "West" has no (real) ideological differences with China, Russia & Iran. This is a fight between an existing hegemon & it's allies & a rising hegemon (China) & it's allies.
In many ways it's similar to the WW I situation: an established imperial country, the UK, & it's allies against a country with imperial pretensions -- Germany (& it's allies)
To put it in a nice little homily: the Capitalist wolves prefer to eat sheep (us) -- but, will happily eat each other should they perceive a sufficient interest in doing so.
Digital Samizdat , says: June 26, 2019 at 11:49 am GMT
@WorkingClass

Globalists are not Capitalists. There is no competition. Just a hand full of monopolies.

In most key sectors, competition ends up producing monopolies or their near-equivalent, oligopolies. The many are weeded out (or swallowed up) by the few . The situation is roughly the same with democracy, which historically has always resulted in oligarchy, as occurred in ancient Rome and Athens.

Parfois1 , says: June 27, 2019 at 11:01 am GMT
@WorkingClass

Globalists are not Capitalists. There is no competition. Just a hand full of monopolies. These stateless corporate monopolists are better understood as Feudalists. They would have everything. We would have nothing. That's what privatization is. It's the Lords ripping off the proles.

You are right in expecting that in Capitalism there would be competition – the traditional view that prices would remain low because of competition, the less competitive removed from the field, and so on. But that was primitive laisser-faire Capitalism on a fair playing field that hardly existed but in theory. Occasionally there were some "good" capitalists – say the mill-owner in a Lancashire town who gave employment to the locals, built houses, donated to charity and went to the Sunday church service with his workers. But even that "good" capitalist was in it for the profit, which comes from taking possession for himself of the value added by his workers to a commodity.

But modern Capitalism does not function that way. There are no mill-owners, just absentee investor playing in, usually rigged, stock market casinos. Industrial capitalism has been changed into financial Capitalism without borders and loyalty to worker or country. In fact, it has gone global to play country against country for more profit.

Anyway, the USA has evolved into a Fascist state (an advanced state of capitalism, a.k.a. corporatocracy) as Chomsky stated many years ago. Seen from abroad here's a view from the horse's mouth ( The Guardian is official organ of Globalist Fascism).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/apr/24/usa.comment

[Jun 26, 2019] Neoliberalism Has Tricked Us Into Believing a Fairytale About Where Money Comes From by Mary MELLOR

Jun 26, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

There is nothing natural about money. There is no link to some scarce essential form of money that sets a limit to its creation. It can be composed of base metal, paper or electronic data – none of which is in short supply. Similarly – despite what you may have heard about the need for austerity and a lack of certain cash-generating trees – there is no "natural" level of public expenditure. The size and reach of the public sector is a matter of political choice.

Which puts austerity, the culling of expenditure in the public economy, under some question. For some countries, such as Greece , the impact of austerity has been devastating. Austerity policies still persist despite numerous studies arguing that they were entirely misconceived, based on political choice rather than economic logic. But the economic case for austerity is equally mistaken: it is based on what can best be described as fairytale economics.

So what were the justifications? Britain, for example, has lived under an austerity regime since 2010, when the incoming Tory-Liberal Democrat government reversed the Labour policy of raising the level of public expenditure in response to the 2007-8 financial crisis. The crisis had created a perfect storm: bank rescue required high levels of public spending while economic contraction reduced tax income. The case for austerity was that the higher level of public expenditure could not be afforded by the taxpayer. This was supported by " handbag economics ", which adopts the analogy of states as being like households, dependent on a (private sector) breadwinner.

Under handbag economics, states are required to restrict their expenditure to what the taxpayer is deemed to be able to afford. States must not try to increase their spending by borrowing from the (private) financial sector or by "printing money" (although the banks were rescued by doing so by another name – quantitative easing , the creation of electronic money).

The ideology of handbag economics claims that money is to be generated only through market activity and that it is always in short supply. Request for increased public expenditure is almost invariably met with the response "where's the money to come from?" When confronted by low pay in the NHS, the British prime minister, Theresa May, famously declared, "there is no magic money tree".

So where does money come from? And what is money anyway? What is money?

Until the last 50 years or so the answer seemed to be obvious: money was represented by cash (notes and coin). When money was tangible, there seemed no question about its origin, or its value. Coins were minted, banknotes were printed. Both were authorised by governments or central banks. But what is money today? In richer economies the use of cash is declining rapidly . Most monetary transactions are based on transfers between accounts: no physical money is involved.

In the run up to the financial crisis, the state's role in relation to money held in bank accounts was ambiguous. Banking was a monitored and licensed activity with some level of state guarantee of bank deposits, but the actual act of creating bank accounts was, and is, seen as a private matter. There may be regulations and limitations, but there is no detailed scrutiny of bank accounts and bank lending.

Yet, as the 2007-8 financial crisis showed, when bank accounts came under threat as banks teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, states and central banks had to step in and guarantee the security of all deposit accounts. The viability of money in non-investment bank accounts was demonstrated to be as much a public responsibility as cash.

The magic money tree. © Kate Mc , Author provided

This raises fundamental questions about money as a social institution. Is it right that money can be generated by a private choice to take on debt, which then becomes a liability of the state to guarantee in a crisis?

But far from seeing money as a public resource, under neoliberal handbag economics, money creation and circulation has increasingly been seen as a function of the market. Money is "made" solely in the private sector. Public spending is seen as a drain on that money, justifying austerity to make the public sector as small as possible.

This stance, however, is based on a complete misunderstanding of the nature of money, sustained by a series of deeply embedded myths.

Myths about money

Neoliberal handbag economics is derived from two key myths about the origin and nature of money. The first is that money emerged from a previous market economy based on barter. The second is that money was originally made from precious metal.

It is claimed that bartering proved to be very inefficient as each buyer-seller needed to find another person who exactly matched their requirements. A hat maker might barter a hat for some shoes she needs – but what if the shoe maker is in no need of a hat? The solution to this problem, so the story goes, was to choose one commodity that everyone desired, to act as a medium of exchange. Precious metal (gold and silver) was the obvious choice because it had its own value and could be easily divided and carried. This view of the origin of money goes back to at least the 18th century: the time of economist Adam Smith .

The 'father of capitalism' Adam Smith, 1723-1790. Matt Ledwinka/Shutterstock.com

These myths led to two assumptions about money that are still current today. First, that money is essentially connected to, and generated by, the marketplace. Second that modern money, like its original and ideal form, is always in short supply. Hence the neoliberal claim that public spending is a drain on the wealth-creating capacity of the market and that public spending must always be as limited as possible. Money is seen as a commercial instrument, serving a basic, market, technical, transactional function with no social or political force.

But the real story of money is very different. Evidence from anthropology and history shows that there was no widespread barter before markets based on money developed, and precious metal coinage emerged long before market economies. There are also many forms of money other than precious metal coins.

Money as custom

Something that acts as money has existed in most, if not all, human societies. Stones, shells, beads, cloths, brass rods and many other forms have been the means of comparing and acknowledging comparative value. But this was rarely used in a market context. Most early human communities lived directly off the land – hunting, fishing, gathering and gardening. The customary money in such communities was used mainly to celebrate auspicious social events or serve as a way of resolving social conflict.

For example, the Lele people, who lived in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1950s, calculated value in woven raffia cloths . The number of cloths required for different occasions was fixed by custom. Twenty cloths should be given to a father by a son on achieving adulthood and a similar amount given to a wife on the birth of a child. The anthropologist Mary Douglas, who studied the Lele, found they were resistant to using the cloths in transactions with outsiders, indicating that the cloths had a specific cultural relevance.

Even stranger is the large stone money of the Yap people of Micronesia. Huge circular discs of stone could weigh up to four metric tons . Not something to put in your pocket for a trip to the shops.

Try lugging that to the market. Evenfh/Shutterstock.com

There is plenty of other anthropological evidence such as this all over the world, all pointing to the fact that money, in its earliest form, served a social rather than market-based purpose.

Money as power

For most traditional societies, the origin of the particular money form has been lost in the mist of time. But the origin and adoption of money as an institution became much more obvious with the emergence of states. Money did not originate as precious metal coinage with the development of markets. In fact, the new invention of precious metal coinage in around 600BC was adopted and controlled by imperial rulers to build their empires by waging war.

Most notable was Alexander the Great, who ruled from 336–323BC. He is said to have used half a ton of silver a day to fund his largely mercenary army rather than a share of the spoils (the traditional payment). He had more than 20 mints producing coins, which had images of gods and heroes and the word Alexandrou (of Alexander). From that time, new ruling regimes have tended to herald their arrival by a new coinage.

Alexandrou. Alex Coan/Shutterstock.com

More than a thousand years after the invention of coinage, the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742-814), who ruled most of western and central Europe, developed what became the basis of the British pre-decimal money system: pounds, shillings and pence. Charlemagne set up a currency system based on 240 pennies minted from a pound of silver. The pennies became established as the denier in France, the pfennig in Germany, the dinero in Spain, the denari in Italy and the penny in Britain.

So the real story of money as coinage was not one of barterers and traders: it emerged instead from a long history of politics, war and conflict. Money was an active agent in state and empire building, not a passive representation of price in the market. Control of the money supply was a major power of rulers: a sovereign power. Money was created and spent into circulation by rulers either directly, like Alexander, or through taxation or seizure of private holdings of precious metal.

Nor was early money necessarily based on precious metal. In fact, precious metal was relatively useless for building empires, because it was in short supply. Even in the Roman era, base metal was used, and Charlemagne's new money eventually became debased. In China, gold and silver did not feature and paper money was being used as early as the 9th century.

A coin from the time of Charlemagne, 768-814 AD. Classical Numismatic Group, CC BY-SA

What the market economy did introduce was a new form of money: money as debt.

Money as debt

If you look at a £20 banknote you will see it says: "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds." This is a promise originally made by the Bank of England to exchange notes for the sovereign currency. The banknote was a new form of money. Unlike sovereign money it was not a statement of value, but a promise of value. A coin, even if made of base metal, was exchangeable in its own right: it did not represent another, superior, form of money. But when banknotes were first invented, they did.

The new invention of promissory notes emerged through the needs of trade in the 16th and 17th centuries. Promissory notes were used to acknowledge receipt of loans or investments and the obligation to repay them through the fruits of future transactions. A major task of the emerging profession of banking was to periodically set all these promises against each other and see who owed what to whom. This process of "clearing" meant that a great amount of paper commitments was reduced to relatively less actual transfer of money. Final settlement was either by payment with sovereign money (coins) or another promissory note (banknote).

Eventually, the banknotes became so trusted that they were treated as money in their own right. In Britain they became equivalent to the coinage, particularly when they were united under the banner of the Bank of England. Today, if you took a banknote to the Bank of England, it would merely exchange your note for one that is exactly the same. Banknotes are no longer promises, they are the currency. There is no other "real" money behind them.

What promissory notes became. Wara1982/Shutterstock.com

What modern money does retain is its association with debt. Unlike sovereign money, which was created and spent directly into circulation, modern money is largely borrowed into circulation through the banking system. This process shelters behind another myth, that banks merely act as a link between savers and borrowers. In fact, banks create money. And it is only in the last decade that this powerful myth has been finally put to rest by banking and monetary authorities.

It is now acknowledged by monetary authorities such as the IMF, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, that banks are creating new money when they make loans. They don't lend the money of other account holders to those who want to borrow.

Bank loans consist of money conjured out of thin air, whereby new money is credited to the borrowers account with the agreement that the amount will eventually be repaid with interest.

The policy implications of the public currency being created out of nowhere and lent to borrowers on a purely commercial basis have still not been taken on board. Nor has basing a public currency on debt as opposed to the sovereign power to create and directly circulate money free of debt.

The result is that rather than using their own sovereign power over money creation, as Alexander the Great did, states have become borrowers from the private sector. Where there are public spending deficits or the need for large scale future expenditure, there is an expectation that the state will borrow the money or increase taxation, rather than create the money itself.

Creators of cash. Creative Lab/Shutterstock.com

Dilemmas of debt

But basing a money supply on debt is ecologically, socially and economically problematic.

Ecologically, there is a problem because the need to pay off debt could drive potentially damaging growth : money creation based on repaying debt with interest must imply constant growth in the money supply. If this is achieved through increasing productive capacity, there will inevitably be pressure on natural resources.

Basing the money supply on debt is also socially discriminatory because not all citizens are in a position to take on debt. The pattern of the money supply will tend to favour the already rich or the most speculative risk-taker. Recent decades, for example, have seen a huge amount of borrowing by the financial sector to enhance their investments.

The economic problem is that the money supply depends on the capacity of the various elements of the economy (public and private) to take on more debt. And so as countries have become more dependent upon bank-created money, debt bubbles and credit crunches have become more frequent.

This is because handbag economics creates an impossible task for the private sector. It has to create all new money through bank-issued debt and repay it all with interest. It has to completely fund the public sector and generate a profit for investors.

But when the privatised bank-led money supply flounders, the money creating powers of the state come back into clear focus. This was particularly plain in the 2007-8 crisis, when central banks created new money in the process known as quantitative easing. Central banks used the sovereign power to create money free of debt to spend directly into the economy (by buying up existing government debt and other financial assets, for example).

The question then becomes: if the state as represented by the central bank can create money out of thin air to save the banks – why can't it create money to save the people?

It's a mistake to think of the state as a piggybank or handbag. ColorMaker/Shutterstock.com

Money for the people

The myths about money have led us to look at public spending and taxation the wrong way around. Taxation and spending, like bank lending and repayment, is in a constant flow. Handbag economics assumes that it is taxation (of the private sector) that is raising the money to fund the public sector. That taxation takes money out of the taxpayer's pocket.

But the long political history of sovereign power over money would indicate that the flow of money can be in the opposite direction. In the same way that banks can conjure money out of thin air to make loans, states can conjure money out of thin air to fund public spending. Banks create money by setting up bank accounts, states create money by allocating budgets.

When governments set budgets they do not see how much money they have in a pre-existing taxation piggybank. The budget allocates spending commitments that may, or may not, match the amount of money coming in through taxation. Through its accounts in the treasury and the central bank, the state is constantly spending out and taking in money. If it spends more money than it takes in, it leaves more money in people's pockets. This creates a budget deficit and what is effectively an overdraft at the central bank.

Is this a problem? Yes, if the state is treated as if it was any other bank account holder – the dependent household of handbag economics. No, if it is seen as an independent source of money. States do not need to wait for handouts from the commercial sector. States are the authority behind the money system. The power exercised by the banks to create the public currency out of thin air is a sovereign power.

It is no longer necessary to mint coins like Alexander, money can be created by keystrokes. There is no reason why this should be monopolised by the banking sector to create new public money as debt. Deeming public spending as being equivalent to bank borrowing denies the public, the sovereign people in a democracy, the right to access its own money free of debt.

Money should be designed for the many, not the few. Varavin88/Shutterstock.com

Redefining money

This foray into the historical and anthropological stories about money shows that long-held conceptions – that money emerged from a previous market economy based on barter, and that it was originally made from precious metal – are fairytales. We need to recognise this. And we need to capitalise on the public ability to create money.

But it is also important to recognise that the sovereign power to create money is not a solution in itself. Both the state and bank capacity to create money have advantages and disadvantages. Both can be abused. The reckless lending of the banking sector, for example, led to the near meltdown of the American and European monetary and financial system. On the other hand, where countries do not have a developed banking sector, the money supply remains in the hands of the state, with massive room for corruption and mismanagement.

The answer must be to subject both forms of money creation – bank and state – to democratic accountability. Far from being a technical, commercial instrument, money can be seen as a social and political construct that has immense radical potential. Our ability to harness this is hampered if we do not understand what money is and how it works . Money must become our servant, rather than our master.

theconversation.com The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: Capitalism Neoliberalism Print this article June 24, 2019 | Editor's Сhoice Neoliberalism Has Tricked Us Into Believing a Fairytale About Where Money Comes From Mary MELLOR

There is nothing natural about money. There is no link to some scarce essential form of money that sets a limit to its creation. It can be composed of base metal, paper or electronic data – none of which is in short supply. Similarly – despite what you may have heard about the need for austerity and a lack of certain cash-generating trees – there is no "natural" level of public expenditure. The size and reach of the public sector is a matter of political choice.

Which puts austerity, the culling of expenditure in the public economy, under some question. For some countries, such as Greece , the impact of austerity has been devastating. Austerity policies still persist despite numerous studies arguing that they were entirely misconceived, based on political choice rather than economic logic. But the economic case for austerity is equally mistaken: it is based on what can best be described as fairytale economics.

So what were the justifications? Britain, for example, has lived under an austerity regime since 2010, when the incoming Tory-Liberal Democrat government reversed the Labour policy of raising the level of public expenditure in response to the 2007-8 financial crisis. The crisis had created a perfect storm: bank rescue required high levels of public spending while economic contraction reduced tax income. The case for austerity was that the higher level of public expenditure could not be afforded by the taxpayer. This was supported by " handbag economics ", which adopts the analogy of states as being like households, dependent on a (private sector) breadwinner.

Under handbag economics, states are required to restrict their expenditure to what the taxpayer is deemed to be able to afford. States must not try to increase their spending by borrowing from the (private) financial sector or by "printing money" (although the banks were rescued by doing so by another name – quantitative easing , the creation of electronic money).

The ideology of handbag economics claims that money is to be generated only through market activity and that it is always in short supply. Request for increased public expenditure is almost invariably met with the response "where's the money to come from?" When confronted by low pay in the NHS, the British prime minister, Theresa May, famously declared, "there is no magic money tree".

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So where does money come from? And what is money anyway? What is money?

Until the last 50 years or so the answer seemed to be obvious: money was represented by cash (notes and coin). When money was tangible, there seemed no question about its origin, or its value. Coins were minted, banknotes were printed. Both were authorised by governments or central banks. But what is money today? In richer economies the use of cash is declining rapidly . Most monetary transactions are based on transfers between accounts: no physical money is involved.

In the run up to the financial crisis, the state's role in relation to money held in bank accounts was ambiguous. Banking was a monitored and licensed activity with some level of state guarantee of bank deposits, but the actual act of creating bank accounts was, and is, seen as a private matter. There may be regulations and limitations, but there is no detailed scrutiny of bank accounts and bank lending.

Yet, as the 2007-8 financial crisis showed, when bank accounts came under threat as banks teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, states and central banks had to step in and guarantee the security of all deposit accounts. The viability of money in non-investment bank accounts was demonstrated to be as much a public responsibility as cash.

The magic money tree. © Kate Mc , Author provided

This raises fundamental questions about money as a social institution. Is it right that money can be generated by a private choice to take on debt, which then becomes a liability of the state to guarantee in a crisis?

But far from seeing money as a public resource, under neoliberal handbag economics, money creation and circulation has increasingly been seen as a function of the market. Money is "made" solely in the private sector. Public spending is seen as a drain on that money, justifying austerity to make the public sector as small as possible.

This stance, however, is based on a complete misunderstanding of the nature of money, sustained by a series of deeply embedded myths.

Myths about money

Neoliberal handbag economics is derived from two key myths about the origin and nature of money. The first is that money emerged from a previous market economy based on barter. The second is that money was originally made from precious metal.

It is claimed that bartering proved to be very inefficient as each buyer-seller needed to find another person who exactly matched their requirements. A hat maker might barter a hat for some shoes she needs – but what if the shoe maker is in no need of a hat? The solution to this problem, so the story goes, was to choose one commodity that everyone desired, to act as a medium of exchange. Precious metal (gold and silver) was the obvious choice because it had its own value and could be easily divided and carried. This view of the origin of money goes back to at least the 18th century: the time of economist Adam Smith .

The 'father of capitalism' Adam Smith, 1723-1790. Matt Ledwinka/Shutterstock.com

These myths led to two assumptions about money that are still current today. First, that money is essentially connected to, and generated by, the marketplace. Second that modern money, like its original and ideal form, is always in short supply. Hence the neoliberal claim that public spending is a drain on the wealth-creating capacity of the market and that public spending must always be as limited as possible. Money is seen as a commercial instrument, serving a basic, market, technical, transactional function with no social or political force.

But the real story of money is very different. Evidence from anthropology and history shows that there was no widespread barter before markets based on money developed, and precious metal coinage emerged long before market economies. There are also many forms of money other than precious metal coins.

Money as custom

Something that acts as money has existed in most, if not all, human societies. Stones, shells, beads, cloths, brass rods and many other forms have been the means of comparing and acknowledging comparative value. But this was rarely used in a market context. Most early human communities lived directly off the land – hunting, fishing, gathering and gardening. The customary money in such communities was used mainly to celebrate auspicious social events or serve as a way of resolving social conflict.

For example, the Lele people, who lived in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1950s, calculated value in woven raffia cloths . The number of cloths required for different occasions was fixed by custom. Twenty cloths should be given to a father by a son on achieving adulthood and a similar amount given to a wife on the birth of a child. The anthropologist Mary Douglas, who studied the Lele, found they were resistant to using the cloths in transactions with outsiders, indicating that the cloths had a specific cultural relevance.

Even stranger is the large stone money of the Yap people of Micronesia. Huge circular discs of stone could weigh up to four metric tons . Not something to put in your pocket for a trip to the shops.

Try lugging that to the market. Evenfh/Shutterstock.com

There is plenty of other anthropological evidence such as this all over the world, all pointing to the fact that money, in its earliest form, served a social rather than market-based purpose.

Money as power

For most traditional societies, the origin of the particular money form has been lost in the mist of time. But the origin and adoption of money as an institution became much more obvious with the emergence of states. Money did not originate as precious metal coinage with the development of markets. In fact, the new invention of precious metal coinage in around 600BC was adopted and controlled by imperial rulers to build their empires by waging war.

Most notable was Alexander the Great, who ruled from 336–323BC. He is said to have used half a ton of silver a day to fund his largely mercenary army rather than a share of the spoils (the traditional payment). He had more than 20 mints producing coins, which had images of gods and heroes and the word Alexandrou (of Alexander). From that time, new ruling regimes have tended to herald their arrival by a new coinage.

Alexandrou. Alex Coan/Shutterstock.com

More than a thousand years after the invention of coinage, the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742-814), who ruled most of western and central Europe, developed what became the basis of the British pre-decimal money system: pounds, shillings and pence. Charlemagne set up a currency system based on 240 pennies minted from a pound of silver. The pennies became established as the denier in France, the pfennig in Germany, the dinero in Spain, the denari in Italy and the penny in Britain.

So the real story of money as coinage was not one of barterers and traders: it emerged instead from a long history of politics, war and conflict. Money was an active agent in state and empire building, not a passive representation of price in the market. Control of the money supply was a major power of rulers: a sovereign power. Money was created and spent into circulation by rulers either directly, like Alexander, or through taxation or seizure of private holdings of precious metal.

Nor was early money necessarily based on precious metal. In fact, precious metal was relatively useless for building empires, because it was in short supply. Even in the Roman era, base metal was used, and Charlemagne's new money eventually became debased. In China, gold and silver did not feature and paper money was being used as early as the 9th century.

A coin from the time of Charlemagne, 768-814 AD. Classical Numismatic Group, CC BY-SA

What the market economy did introduce was a new form of money: money as debt.

Money as debt

If you look at a £20 banknote you will see it says: "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds." This is a promise originally made by the Bank of England to exchange notes for the sovereign currency. The banknote was a new form of money. Unlike sovereign money it was not a statement of value, but a promise of value. A coin, even if made of base metal, was exchangeable in its own right: it did not represent another, superior, form of money. But when banknotes were first invented, they did.

The new invention of promissory notes emerged through the needs of trade in the 16th and 17th centuries. Promissory notes were used to acknowledge receipt of loans or investments and the obligation to repay them through the fruits of future transactions. A major task of the emerging profession of banking was to periodically set all these promises against each other and see who owed what to whom. This process of "clearing" meant that a great amount of paper commitments was reduced to relatively less actual transfer of money. Final settlement was either by payment with sovereign money (coins) or another promissory note (banknote).

Eventually, the banknotes became so trusted that they were treated as money in their own right. In Britain they became equivalent to the coinage, particularly when they were united under the banner of the Bank of England. Today, if you took a banknote to the Bank of England, it would merely exchange your note for one that is exactly the same. Banknotes are no longer promises, they are the currency. There is no other "real" money behind them.

What promissory notes became. Wara1982/Shutterstock.com

What modern money does retain is its association with debt. Unlike sovereign money, which was created and spent directly into circulation, modern money is largely borrowed into circulation through the banking system. This process shelters behind another myth, that banks merely act as a link between savers and borrowers. In fact, banks create money. And it is only in the last decade that this powerful myth has been finally put to rest by banking and monetary authorities.

It is now acknowledged by monetary authorities such as the IMF, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England, that banks are creating new money when they make loans. They don't lend the money of other account holders to those who want to borrow.

Bank loans consist of money conjured out of thin air, whereby new money is credited to the borrowers account with the agreement that the amount will eventually be repaid with interest.

The policy implications of the public currency being created out of nowhere and lent to borrowers on a purely commercial basis have still not been taken on board. Nor has basing a public currency on debt as opposed to the sovereign power to create and directly circulate money free of debt.

The result is that rather than using their own sovereign power over money creation, as Alexander the Great did, states have become borrowers from the private sector. Where there are public spending deficits or the need for large scale future expenditure, there is an expectation that the state will borrow the money or increase taxation, rather than create the money itself.

Creators of cash. Creative Lab/Shutterstock.com

Dilemmas of debt

But basing a money supply on debt is ecologically, socially and economically problematic.

Ecologically, there is a problem because the need to pay off debt could drive potentially damaging growth : money creation based on repaying debt with interest must imply constant growth in the money supply. If this is achieved through increasing productive capacity, there will inevitably be pressure on natural resources.

Basing the money supply on debt is also socially discriminatory because not all citizens are in a position to take on debt. The pattern of the money supply will tend to favour the already rich or the most speculative risk-taker. Recent decades, for example, have seen a huge amount of borrowing by the financial sector to enhance their investments.

The economic problem is that the money supply depends on the capacity of the various elements of the economy (public and private) to take on more debt. And so as countries have become more dependent upon bank-created money, debt bubbles and credit crunches have become more frequent.

This is because handbag economics creates an impossible task for the private sector. It has to create all new money through bank-issued debt and repay it all with interest. It has to completely fund the public sector and generate a profit for investors.

But when the privatised bank-led money supply flounders, the money creating powers of the state come back into clear focus. This was particularly plain in the 2007-8 crisis, when central banks created new money in the process known as quantitative easing. Central banks used the sovereign power to create money free of debt to spend directly into the economy (by buying up existing government debt and other financial assets, for example).

The question then becomes: if the state as represented by the central bank can create money out of thin air to save the banks – why can't it create money to save the people?

It's a mistake to think of the state as a piggybank or handbag. ColorMaker/Shutterstock.com

Money for the people

The myths about money have led us to look at public spending and taxation the wrong way around. Taxation and spending, like bank lending and repayment, is in a constant flow. Handbag economics assumes that it is taxation (of the private sector) that is raising the money to fund the public sector. That taxation takes money out of the taxpayer's pocket.

But the long political history of sovereign power over money would indicate that the flow of money can be in the opposite direction. In the same way that banks can conjure money out of thin air to make loans, states can conjure money out of thin air to fund public spending. Banks create money by setting up bank accounts, states create money by allocating budgets.

When governments set budgets they do not see how much money they have in a pre-existing taxation piggybank. The budget allocates spending commitments that may, or may not, match the amount of money coming in through taxation. Through its accounts in the treasury and the central bank, the state is constantly spending out and taking in money. If it spends more money than it takes in, it leaves more money in people's pockets. This creates a budget deficit and what is effectively an overdraft at the central bank.

Is this a problem? Yes, if the state is treated as if it was any other bank account holder – the dependent household of handbag economics. No, if it is seen as an independent source of money. States do not need to wait for handouts from the commercial sector. States are the authority behind the money system. The power exercised by the banks to create the public currency out of thin air is a sovereign power.

It is no longer necessary to mint coins like Alexander, money can be created by keystrokes. There is no reason why this should be monopolised by the banking sector to create new public money as debt. Deeming public spending as being equivalent to bank borrowing denies the public, the sovereign people in a democracy, the right to access its own money free of debt.

Money should be designed for the many, not the few. Varavin88/Shutterstock.com

Redefining money

This foray into the historical and anthropological stories about money shows that long-held conceptions – that money emerged from a previous market economy based on barter, and that it was originally made from precious metal – are fairytales. We need to recognise this. And we need to capitalise on the public ability to create money.

But it is also important to recognise that the sovereign power to create money is not a solution in itself. Both the state and bank capacity to create money have advantages and disadvantages. Both can be abused. The reckless lending of the banking sector, for example, led to the near meltdown of the American and European monetary and financial system. On the other hand, where countries do not have a developed banking sector, the money supply remains in the hands of the state, with massive room for corruption and mismanagement.

The answer must be to subject both forms of money creation – bank and state – to democratic accountability. Far from being a technical, commercial instrument, money can be seen as a social and political construct that has immense radical potential. Our ability to harness this is hampered if we do not understand what money is and how it works . Money must become our servant, rather than our master.

[Jun 25, 2019] Menu

Jun 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power Recent Items The Sham of Shareholder Capitalism Posted on June 24, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. While Richard Murphy makes some important points in his post, he unwittingly implies that shareholder capitalism could work as advertised absent the way investors lose ownership rights when they acquire stock through pooled vehicles.

In fact, the choice that legislators and regulators made to promote liquidity in stock markets inevitably resulted in weak governance. From a 2013 post :

Amar Bhide, now a professor at the Fletcher School and a former McKinsey consultant and later proprietary trader, questions the policy bias towards more liquidity in financial markets. Officials (and of course intermediaries) favor it because they lower funding costs. Isn't cheaper money always better? Bhide argues that it can come with hidden costs, and those costs are sometime substantial.

He first took up the argument in a 1993 Harvard Business Review article, "Efficient Markets, Deficient Governance." Its assessment was pretty much ignored because it was too far from orthodox thinking. He started with some straightforward observations:

US rules protecting investors are the most comprehensive and well enforced in the world .Prior to the 1930s, the traditional response to panics had been to let investors bear the consequences The new legislation was based on a different premise: the acts [the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934] sought to protect investors before they incurred losses.

He then explained at some length that extensive regulations are needed to trade a promise as ambiguous as an equity on an arm's length, anonymous basis. Historically, equity investors had had venture-capital-like relationships with the owner/managers: they knew them personally (and thus could assess their character), were kept informed of how the businesses was doing. At a minimum, they were privy to its strategy and plans; they might play a more active role in helping the business succeed.

By contrast, investors in equities that are traded impersonally can't know all that much. A company can't share competitively sensitive information with transient owners. Stocks are also more liquid if ownership is diffuse, which makes it harder for any investor or even group of investors to discipline underperforming managers. It's much easier for them to sell their stock and move on rather than force changes. And an incompetent leadership group can still ignore the message of a low stock price, not just because they are rarely replaced, but also because they can rationalize the price as not reflecting the true state of the company compared to its competitors, which is simply not available to the public.

Bhide's concern is hardly theoretical. The short term orientation of the executives of public companies, their ability to pay themselves egregious amounts of money, too often independent of actual performance, their underinvestment in their businesses and relentless emphasis on labor cost reduction and headcount cutting are the direct result of anonymous, impersonal equity markets. Many small businessmen and serial entrepreneurs hold the opposite attitude of that favored by the executives of public companies: they do their best to hang on to workers and will preserve their pay even if it hurts their own pay. Stagnant worker wages and underemployment are a direct result of companies' refusal to share productiivty gains with workers, and that dates to trying to improve the governance problems Bhide discussed by linking executive pay to stock market performance. That did not fix the governance weaknesses and created new problems of its own.

An issue that we've also discussed regularly is that the idea that companies are to be operated for the benefit of shareholders is an idea made up by economists with no legal foundation. Equity is a weak and ambiguous claim: you get a vote on some matters, you get dividends if we make money and even then if we feel like it, and we can dilute your interest at any time. Equity is a residual claim, the last in line after everything else is taken care of.

By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an "anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert". He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics . He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK

The FT published a report last week that commented on an important issue. That is the collapse of shareholder capitalism.

The issue is a simple one to summarise. Apparently about two thirds of all private owners of quoted shares in the UK now own their shares through nominee pooled funds. As such they are not recorded as the legal owners of these shares. They have no voting rights. And no right to attend shareholder meetings. They don't even have the right to accounts. And they have given an institution, who does not own the shares in reality, the right to exercise their vote in the company.

This matters for a number of reasons.

First, this makes a mockery of shareholder capitalism. The company has no idea who its shareholders are. And it is wholly unaccountable to them. The idea that somehow shareholders are at the centre of corporate concern is shown to be a sham, yet again, by this.

Second, this undermines audit. Bizarrely, audit reports are still addressed to shareholders. What is apparent is that many do not get them. No wonder auditing is becoming so removed from reality.

Third, this breaks down any pretence that there is effective corporate governance. There cannot be when many company members are disenfranchised.

Fourth, the concentration of power in the hands of passive nominee owners reinforces the control of a small ruling elite in quoted businesses, who are insulated by this arrangement from any real accountability whilst being able to pretend that it exists.

Fifth, this means tax fraud can be much more easily disguised.

And lastly, it shows the owners of shares just don't care and so are not the custodians for business that we need.

In essence, we have a form of capitalism that claims to be for shareholders and yet that is clearly a sham. No wonder it is not working.


Tomonthebeach , June 24, 2019 at 3:13 am

Most shareholders lack the savvy to fuss over board member actions. So, today we have mutual fund manager capitalism . It might work better. If I own 100 shares, who cares? If I own 1,000,000 shares, board's better listen. Now if we can only get our mutual funds to kick ass about abuses like bonuses for failure, worker abuse, etc.

Phacops , June 24, 2019 at 8:15 am

Activist fund managers? Nope. Several years ago, and despite pointing out that high executive compensation injures shareholder value, I was told that there is no interest in voting shares to limit compensation of executives.

Off The Street , June 24, 2019 at 9:58 am

Fourth, the concentration of power in the hands of passive nominee owners reinforces the control of a small ruling elite in quoted businesses, who are insulated by this arrangement from any real accountability whilst being able to pretend that it exists.

Those nominee owners don't seem all that passive. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

John Wright , June 24, 2019 at 10:55 am

Note, Warren Buffet disagreed with a Coca Cola pay package, but he could not actually vote against it (he abstained).

See https://www.businessinsider.com/warren-buffet-v-coca-cola-plan-to-pay-executives-13-billion-2014-10

"Warren Buffett is the largest shareholder in Coke with a 9.1% stake in the business. He had abstained from voting through the original pay guidelines, saying at the time "I could never vote against Coca-Cola, but I couldn't vote for the plan either."

So much for investor activism on Buffett's part.

The article is titled "Warren Buffett Wins A Battle Against Coca-Cola's Plan To Pay Its Bosses $13 Billion" even though Buffett could not find his way to actually vote AGAINST the pay package and abstaining simply means one's vote isn't counted.

If independently wealthy Buffett cannot find the courage to vote against a pay package he finds egregious, one wonders if other fund managers, of lower independence and wealth will show much activism in bucking corporate management.

Ape , June 24, 2019 at 7:13 am

Coase's theorem isn't a theorem -- and it's not even right! Worshipping liquidity so that equilibrium models fit (which is backwards, right?) is insane. Coase is a religion, not a scientific model (and definitely not a theorem).

And these kind of things show how bad an equilibrium analysis is of economic systems. Even the tiniest bump in the manifold, and you get turbulence which can lead to storms. Dumping liquidity into a turbulent system and you get more turbulence (which eventually becomes self-sustaining structures in the face of the very even flow you were trying to create )

Steve Ruis , June 24, 2019 at 8:37 am

I mis-read the lead as "The Sham e of Shareholder Capitalism". Whatever happened to corporations that had responsibilities/commitments to anything besides shareholders? Since said shareholders are, in effect, absentee landlords, executives are running the game for what? Their own benefit? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

Oh , June 24, 2019 at 9:26 am

The major shareholders, mostly the CEO, CEO et al, are there to feather their own nest. While the right wingers repeat that the corporation should take care of shareholder interest, they actually mean these majority shareholders, who loot the corporation for their own benefit.

Arizona Slim , June 24, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Yet another example of control fraud.

caloba , June 24, 2019 at 10:11 am

I've always been struck by one contradiction inherent in the pooled fund model, with its customary emphasis on performance relative to indices or comparable funds. If an extremely large mutual fund goes underweight a listed stock (relative to its target benchmark index or the competition) you could easily end up with the largest holder of that stock having a financial interest in the stock's underperformance.

Norm , June 24, 2019 at 10:14 am

A theoretical economic justification for almost any aspect of large scale capitalism is prima facie ridiculous. Like everything else, capitalism is a game of power and although it's pleasant to dream about countervailing power being held by consumers, investors, competitors and employees, the only enduring form of resistance to CEO governance is government. Unfortunately, the part of government that has been charged with controlling the corporation has been AWOL for a long, long time. The Democrats, the supposed champion of everyone who is not a CEO have long ago crossed the line and serve the other side (hopefully, prayerfully, with some exceptions).

Just as an exercise that might shed light on the effectiveness of the funds (hedge & mutual) ability/willingness to constrain the CEOs, it would be interesting to know how frequently these funds put forth any resistance to debt funded stock buy backs, which, at least temporarily, enhance the funds' holdings.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , June 24, 2019 at 11:14 am

When you examine the deep structure, isn't Wall Street really just an American version of GOSPLAN?

Susan the other` , June 24, 2019 at 11:19 am

Liquidity. Without it the system doesn't work and is prone to freezing up. So naturally, shareholders looked like liquidity incarnate in 1990. Liquidity made more urgent by all the mismanagement of the economy and the inability to understand and control inflation; Paul Volker's rate hike. And to make those nominee funds look like honest business Milton Friedman began to tout shareholder rights and values. It makes sense – how it all happened. I remember thinking, What happened to good old fashioned capitalism? more than once. This went hand in hand with the new and improved MBA, preferably from Harvard and the valuation of efficiencies that were short sighted and superficial. How many corporations got rid of their excess baggage, fired all their old hands, hired new managers, etc? Then off-shoring. It amounted to decimation in order to free up liquidity – sounds like an oxymoron now. It was based on nothing more than optimism. Which to my thinking runs sorta parallel to ponzi. It was inevitable that shareholder capitalism was used as an excuse for tax loops and fraud. Agents, "nominee funds", are happily removed from reality. It became open season for private equity, money laundering, whatever. Liquidity became synonymous with profit taking. All those equities were "ambiguous promises " which were nothing more than "residual claims" offered by nominee proxies offering no good corporate governance. So the question pops up, What happens now that liquidity has blown itself up? Its fitting that all the central banks are infusing money into the system as fast as they can because they must balance out the massive inequality that occurred – even though that money isn't getting to the right party. It's so beyond nuts. How do we make things work again? And so to the point – what does a share really mean – does it carry both rights and obligations?, what does it mean to be a shareholder and what are the corporate obligations to shareholders and to society? -to labor (therefore to management and good corporate governance). All those questions just got left in the dust.

readerOfTeaLeaves , June 24, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Sincerely appreciate this post.
I hadn't connected several dots in quite this way before.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , June 24, 2019 at 5:29 pm

Until 1982 it was illegal for a company to borrow money in order to buy back their own shares. Il-Le-Gal. Because it was so obviously share price manipulation by insiders.

Just reinstate that, and clean up shareholder options issuance while you're at it.

Result? Share prices would more accurately reflect the company's financial performance. You remember that stuff: things like earnings per share, market share, new product launches, cost containment. Good governance would follow.

Instead what we have today is just one big casino, run for the benefit of insiders.

RBHoughton , June 24, 2019 at 9:08 pm

Very grateful for this bit of rare clarity about financial intermediaries and the games they play.

Back in the beginning of joint-stock companies everyone knew they were dodgy investments run by dodgy people. You put only a small amount of your capital in them and the bulk in government stock.

Now they have bought the protection they need, secured limited liability for their acts and got a corrupt Treasury to enact that a company is a person. Speaks volumes about our political representatives.

Tom Bradford , June 24, 2019 at 9:57 pm

A sensible article from the viewpoint of one outside looking in. But as I see it Murphy is still living in the 19th Century.

Me? I'm retired and have $100,000 to invest for an income to sustain me. I can invest that $100,000 in one company, pore over its accounts, watch its director's every move and snap at their heels if I don't think I'm getting the return I should be. Of course if it's a $1billion company my snapping isn't going to have much effect. And if the Company goes under I've lost my retirement savings.

Or I could invest $10,000 in ten companies. I'd have to choose the ten, of course, on the basis of public information and wouldn't be able to scrutinize them all equally, and my stake would make my snapping at the heels of the directors even less of a consideration. However I have only a 10% chance of a total loss, and a 10% chance of sharing any spectacular success.

Or I could put the $100,000 in a managed – or even a passive – fund. There I'd have less than a 1% loss if the Company goes under and a return that should pretty much reflect what the general economy was doing. I'd only get a tiny slice of any spectacular commercial successes, but that's the consequence of not gambling which is what choosing to invest in one or two companies in fact is.

In short, for someone in retirement, pooled investment makes the best sense. And while I don't know the actual figures I would be prepared to gamble a small amount that a considerable slice the total amount invested in the stock market is 'owned' by the retired, or the sooner or later to be retired.

[Jun 25, 2019] Empire and MIC

Jun 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Charles Peterson , Jun 24, 2019 6:13:09 PM | 87

On the surface, it appears the dying empire must finally grab everything, no matter how historically untouchable, in last ditch claim on total power.

Of course this is bad on every level, it's immoral, unethical, illegal, doomed to fail, and doomed to hasten failure of the entire enterprise.

I'm dreaming here, but the best plan is to fade slowly into the night and put on the make up tomorrow.

But anyway, the fully doomed and immoral path has a bright side for the MIC--it's a lock on anyone who would try to shut it down. We will continue to do stupid things so we must continue to do stupid things.

[Jun 24, 2019] This working paper suggests "Late Capitalism" (i.e. neoliberalism + austerity + outsourcing essential public services) is less efficient than the Soviet centralized system:

Jun 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jun 23, 2019 12:50:36 PM | 34

Working paper suggests "Late Capitalism" (i.e. neoliberalism + austerity + outsourcing essential public services) is less efficient than the Soviet centralized system:

Why public sector outsourcing is less efficient than Soviet central planning

There's a link to the working paper at the end of the article.


---

Inequality in the USA continues to rise:

'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

The Amazon warehouse in Swansea – the company has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements.

Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

[Jun 23, 2019] Theory and practice of neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Friedrich von Hayek, one of the creed's most revered economic gurus, spent his productive years railing against government old age pension and medical insurance schemes. When he became old and infirm, he signed on for both social security and medicare. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 09:40

Friedrich von Hayek, one of the creed's most revered economic gurus, spent his productive years railing against government old age pension and medical insurance schemes. When he became old and infirm, he signed on for both social security and medicare.

Love it. When push comes to shove all those ideologies and beliefs crumble into the dust of practical needs. Another individual who cloaked the self-interest of the rich and powerful into some kind of spurious ideology.

George wrote a rather good article about Von Hayek a few years ago I seem to remember.

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberalism must be pronounced dead and buried. Where next? by Joseph Stiglitz

Stiglitz does not explain us what forces can bring this so called "progressive capitalism". So far I not see social forces that can enact it.
Why financial oligarchy that is the ruling class under the neoliberalism relinquish the power voluntarily, without a fight? After all they control the state and counterattack any changes: look at color revolution (aka Russiagate) launched against Trump, who represent adherents of a different flavor of neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism entered zombie stage as ideology was discredited in 2008, but there is not still a viable alternative to it. Trump is promoting "national neoliberalism" -- neoliberalism without globalization and with trade wars between rival economic blocks. It might be worse then classic neoliberalism for common people.
Notable quotes:
"... By contrast, the third camp advocates what I call progressive capitalism , which prescribes a radically different economic agenda, based on four priorities. The first is to restore the balance between markets, the state and civil society. Slow economic growth, rising inequality, financial instability and environmental degradation are problems born of the market, and thus cannot and will not be overcome by the market on its own. Governments have a duty to limit and shape markets through environmental, health, occupational safety and other types of regulation. It is also the government's job to do what the market cannot or will not do, such as actively investing in basic research, technology, education and the health of its constituents. ..."
"... The rise in corporate market power, combined with the decline in workers' bargaining power, goes a long way toward explaining why inequality is so high and growth so tepid. Unless government takes a more active role than neoliberalism prescribes, these problems will likely become much worse, owing to advances in robotisation and artificial intelligence. ..."
"... There is no magic bullet that can reverse the damage done by decades of neoliberalism. But a comprehensive agenda along the lines sketched above absolutely can. Much will depend on whether reformers are as resolute in combating problems like excessive market power and inequality as the private sector is in creating them. ..."
"... This agenda is eminently affordable; in fact, we cannot afford not to enact it. The alternatives offered by nationalists and neoliberals would guarantee more stagnation, inequality, environmental degradation and political acrimony, potentially leading to outcomes we do not even want to imagine. ..."
"... Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron. Rather, it is the most viable and vibrant alternative to an ideology that has clearly failed. As such, it represents the best chance we have of escaping our current economic and political malaise. ..."
May 30, 2019 | www.theguardian.com
Bill Clinton and Tony Blair represented neoliberalism with a human face but remained beholden to an expired ideology. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP W hat kind of economic system is most conducive to human wellbeing? That question has come to define the current era, because, after 40 years of neoliberalism in the United States and other advanced economies, we know what doesn't work.

The neoliberal experiment – lower taxes on the rich, deregulation of labour and product markets, financialisation, and globalisation – has been a spectacular failure. Growth is lower than it was in the quarter-century after the second world war, and most of it has accrued to the very top of the income scale. After decades of stagnant or even falling incomes for those below them, neoliberalism must be pronounced dead and buried.

Vying to succeed it are at least three major political alternatives: far-right nationalism, centre-left reformism and the progressive left (with the centre-right representing the neoliberal failure). And yet, with the exception of the progressive left, these alternatives remain beholden to some form of the ideology that has (or should have) expired.

The centre-left, for example, represents neoliberalism with a human face. Its goal is to bring the policies of former US president Bill Clinton and former British prime minister Tony Blair into the 21st century, making only slight revisions to the prevailing modes of financialisation and globalisation.

Meanwhile, the nationalist right disowns globalisation, blaming migrants and foreigners for all of today's problems. Yet as Donald Trump's presidency has shown, it is no less committed – at least in its American variant – to tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and shrinking or eliminating social programmes.

By contrast, the third camp advocates what I call progressive capitalism , which prescribes a radically different economic agenda, based on four priorities. The first is to restore the balance between markets, the state and civil society. Slow economic growth, rising inequality, financial instability and environmental degradation are problems born of the market, and thus cannot and will not be overcome by the market on its own. Governments have a duty to limit and shape markets through environmental, health, occupational safety and other types of regulation. It is also the government's job to do what the market cannot or will not do, such as actively investing in basic research, technology, education and the health of its constituents.

The second priority is to recognise that the "wealth of nations" is the result of scientific inquiry – learning about the world around us – and social organisation that allows large groups of people to work together for the common good. Markets still have a crucial role to play in facilitating social cooperation, but they serve this purpose only if they are governed by the rule of law and subject to democratic checks. Otherwise, individuals can get rich by exploiting others, extracting wealth through rent-seeking rather than creating wealth through genuine ingenuity. Many of today's wealthy took the exploitation route to get where they are. They have been well served by Trump's policies, which have encouraged rent-seeking while destroying the underlying sources of wealth creation. Progressive capitalism seeks to do precisely the opposite.

There is no magic bullet that can reverse the damage done by decades of neoliberalism

This brings us to the third priority: addressing the growing problem of concentrated market power . By exploiting information advantages, buying up potential competitors and creating entry barriers, dominant firms are able to engage in large-scale rent-seeking to the detriment of everyone else. The rise in corporate market power, combined with the decline in workers' bargaining power, goes a long way toward explaining why inequality is so high and growth so tepid. Unless government takes a more active role than neoliberalism prescribes, these problems will likely become much worse, owing to advances in robotisation and artificial intelligence.

The fourth key item on the progressive agenda is to sever the link between economic power and political influence. Economic power and political influence are mutually reinforcing and self-perpetuating, especially where, as in the US, wealthy individuals and corporations may spend without limit in elections. As the US moves ever closer to a fundamentally undemocratic system of "one dollar, one vote", the system of checks and balances so necessary for democracy likely cannot hold: nothing will be able to constrain the power of the wealthy. This is not just a moral and political problem: economies with less inequality actually perform better . Progressive-capitalist reforms thus have to begin by curtailing the influence of money in politics and reducing wealth inequality.

There is no magic bullet that can reverse the damage done by decades of neoliberalism. But a comprehensive agenda along the lines sketched above absolutely can. Much will depend on whether reformers are as resolute in combating problems like excessive market power and inequality as the private sector is in creating them.

A comprehensive agenda must focus on education, research and the other true sources of wealth. It must protect the environment and fight climate change with the same vigilance as the Green New Dealers in the US and Extinction Rebellion in the United Kingdom. And it must provide public programmes to ensure that no citizen is denied the basic requisites of a decent life. These include economic security, access to work and a living wage, health care and adequate housing, a secure retirement, and a quality education for one's children.

This agenda is eminently affordable; in fact, we cannot afford not to enact it. The alternatives offered by nationalists and neoliberals would guarantee more stagnation, inequality, environmental degradation and political acrimony, potentially leading to outcomes we do not even want to imagine.

Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron. Rather, it is the most viable and vibrant alternative to an ideology that has clearly failed. As such, it represents the best chance we have of escaping our current economic and political malaise.

Joseph E Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics, university professor at Columbia University and chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute. Project Syndicate

[Jun 23, 2019] It never stops to amaze me how the US neoliberals especially of Republican variety claims to be Christian

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan? ..."
"... Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite. ..."
"... And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there. ..."
"... A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

JohannesL , Mar 6, 2012

It never stops to amaze me how the American Republican Right claims to be Christian. Have you noticed that they NEVER quote the words of Jesus Christ? I don't blame them, Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan?

Dirty words all. Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite.

If Jesus came to the US today, he would not like Republicans and they would not like him. Santorum, Palin, Limbaugh etc. would strap him to the electric chair and pull the lever if they could, no doubt.

And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there.

acorn7817 -> PeaceGrenade , 6 Mar 2012 06:21

The most bizarre aspect of the rights infatuation with Ayn Rand is that she was an ardent Atheist who's beliefs are diametrically opposite to those of Jesus & the Bible.

A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded.

richmanchester -> anindefinitearticle , 6 Mar 2012 05:40

"the only way you're gonna be able to sleep at night (and go to heaven in the afterlife) is to believe that the system has some moral justification based on the laws of nature"

I think this is one of the drivers in the shift from Catholicism to Protestanism, especially in Northern Europe.

For Medieval Catholics everyone was where God had put them, so the rich were rich and the poor poor as part of Gods plan, and anyone trying to change it was going against God.

Which is handy if you are a Baron or Bishop living the high life surrounded my thousands of starving peasants (having armed retainers also helped).

Come the industrial revolution and the rise of the business and trade classes that's not so appealing, so now God rewards the virtuous and hard working, who naturally rise to the top.

[Jun 23, 2019] Argentina s Economic Misery Could Bring Populism Back to the Country by Peter S. Goodman

Notable quotes:
"... Mr. Macri has slashed subsidies for electricity, fuel and transportation, causing prices to skyrocket, and recently prompting Ms. Genovesi, 48, to cut off her gas service, rendering her stove lifeless. Like most of her neighbors, she illegally taps into the power lines that run along the rutted dirt streets. ..."
"... "It's a neoliberal government," she says. "It's a government that does not favor the people." ..."
"... The tribulations playing out under the disintegrating roofs of the poor are a predictable dimension of Mr. Macri's turn away from left-wing populism. He vowed to shrink Argentina's monumental deficits by diminishing the largess of the state. The trouble is that Argentines have yet to collect on the other element the president promised: the economic revival that was supposed to follow the pain. ..."
"... But as Mr. Macri seeks re-election this year, Argentines increasingly lament that they are absorbing all strife and no progress. Even businesses that have benefited from his reforms complain that he has botched the execution, leaving the nation to confront the same concoction of misery that has plagued it for decades. The economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent ..."
"... Poverty afflicts a third of the population, and the figure is climbing. ..."
"... Mr. Macri sold his administration as an evolved form of governance for these times, a crucial dose of market forces tempered by social programs. ..."
"... In the most generous reading, the medicine has yet to take effect. But in the view of beleaguered Argentines, the country has merely slipped back into the rut that has framed national life for as long as most people can remember. ..."
"... "We live patching things up," said Roberto Nicoli, 62, who runs a silverware company outside the capital, Buenos Aires. "We never fix things. I always say, 'Whenever we start doing better, I will start getting ready for the next crisis.'" ..."
"... "When our president Cristina was here, they sent people to help us," she says. "Now, if there's problems, nobody helps us. Poor people feel abandoned." ..."
May 10, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

On the ragged streets of the shantytown across the road, where stinking outhouses sit alongside shacks fashioned from rusted sheets of tin, families have surrendered hopes that sewage lines will ever reach them.

They do not struggle to fashion an explanation for their declining fortunes: Since taking office more than three years ago, President Mauricio Macri has broken with the budget-busting populism that has dominated Argentina for much of the past century, embracing the grim arithmetic of economic orthodoxy.

Mr. Macri has slashed subsidies for electricity, fuel and transportation, causing prices to skyrocket, and recently prompting Ms. Genovesi, 48, to cut off her gas service, rendering her stove lifeless. Like most of her neighbors, she illegally taps into the power lines that run along the rutted dirt streets.

"It's a neoliberal government," she says. "It's a government that does not favor the people."

The tribulations playing out under the disintegrating roofs of the poor are a predictable dimension of Mr. Macri's turn away from left-wing populism. He vowed to shrink Argentina's monumental deficits by diminishing the largess of the state. The trouble is that Argentines have yet to collect on the other element the president promised: the economic revival that was supposed to follow the pain.

Mr. Macri's supporters heralded his 2015 election as a miraculous outbreak of normalcy in a country with a well-earned reputation for histrionics. He would cease the reckless spending that had brought Argentina infamy for defaulting on its debts eight times. Sober-minded austerity would win the trust of international financiers, bringing investment that would yield jobs and fresh opportunities.

But as Mr. Macri seeks re-election this year, Argentines increasingly lament that they are absorbing all strife and no progress. Even businesses that have benefited from his reforms complain that he has botched the execution, leaving the nation to confront the same concoction of misery that has plagued it for decades. The economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent.

Poverty afflicts a third of the population, and the figure is climbing.

Far beyond this country of 44 million people, Mr. Macri's tenure is testing ideas that will shape economic policy in an age of recrimination over widening inequality. His presidency was supposed to offer an escape from the wreckage of profligate spending while laying down an alternative path for countries grappling with the worldwide rise of populism. Now, his presidency threatens to become a gateway back to populism. The Argentine economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent. Poverty afflicts a third of the population. Credit Sarah Pabst for The New York Times

Image
The Argentine economy is contracting. Inflation is running above 50 percent, and joblessness is stuck above 9 percent. Poverty afflicts a third of the population. Credit Sarah Pabst for The New York Times

As the October election approaches, Mr. Macri is contending with the growing prospect of a challenge from the president he succeeded, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who faces a series of criminal indictments for corruption . Her unbridled spending helped deliver the crisis that Mr. Macri inherited. Her return would resonate as a rebuke of his market-oriented reforms while potentially yanking Argentina back to its accustomed preserve: left-wing populism, in uncomfortable proximity to insolvency.

The Argentine peso lost half of its value against the dollar last year, prompting the central bank to lift interest rates to a commerce-suffocating level above 60 percent. Argentina was forced to secure a $57 billion rescue from the International Monetary Fund , a profound indignity given that the fund is widely despised here for the austerity it imposed in the late 1990s, turning an economic downturn into a depression.

For Mr. Macri, time does not appear to be in abundant supply. The spending cuts he delivered hit the populace immediately. The promised benefits of his reforms -- a stable currency, tamer inflation, fresh investment and jobs -- could take years to materialize, leaving Argentines angry and yearning for the past.

In much of South America, left-wing governments have taken power in recent decades as an angry corrective to dogmatic prescriptions from Washington, where the Treasury and the I.M.F. have focused on the confidence of global investors as the key to development.

Left-wing populism has aimed to redistribute the gains from the wealthy to everyone else. It has aided the poor, while generating its own woes -- corruption and depression in Brazil , runaway inflation and financial ruin in Argentina. In Venezuela, uninhibited spending has turned the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves into a land where children starve .

Mr. Macri sold his administration as an evolved form of governance for these times, a crucial dose of market forces tempered by social programs.

In the most generous reading, the medicine has yet to take effect. But in the view of beleaguered Argentines, the country has merely slipped back into the rut that has framed national life for as long as most people can remember.

"We live patching things up," said Roberto Nicoli, 62, who runs a silverware company outside the capital, Buenos Aires. "We never fix things. I always say, 'Whenever we start doing better, I will start getting ready for the next crisis.'"

Cultivating wealth

... ... ...

In the beginning, there was Juan Domingo Perón, the charismatic Army general who was president from 1946 to 1955, and then again from 1973 to 1974. He employed an authoritarian hand and muscular state power to champion the poor. He and his wife, Eva Duarte -- widely known by her nickname, Evita -- would dominate political life long after they died, inspiring politicians across the ideological spectrum to claim their mantle.

Among the most ardent Peronists were Néstor Kirchner, the president from 2003 to 2007, and his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who took office in 2007, remaining until Mr. Macri was elected in 2015.

Their version of Peronism -- what became known as Kirchnerism -- was decidedly left-wing, disdaining global trade as a malevolent force. They expanded cash grants to the poor and imposed taxes on farm exports in a bid to keep Argentine food prices low.

As the country's farmers tell it, Kirchnerism is just a fancy term for the confiscation of their wealth and the scattering of the spoils to the unproductive masses. They point to Ms. Kirchner's 35 percent tax on soybean exports.

"We had a saying," Mr. Tropini says. "'For every three trucks that went to the port, one was for Cristina Kirchner.'"

reduction in export taxes.

"You could breathe finally," Mr. Tropini, the farmer, says.

He was free of the Kirchners, yet stuck with nature. Floods in 2016 wiped out more than half of his crops. A drought last year wreaked even more havoc.

"This harvest, this year," he says, "is a gift from God."

But if the heavens are now cooperating, and if the people running Buenos Aires represent change, Mr. Tropini is critical of Mr. Macri's failure to overcome the economic crisis.

A weaker currency makes Argentine soybeans more competitive, but it also increases the cost of the diesel fuel Mr. Tropini needs to run his machinery. High interest rates make it impossible for him to buy another combine, which would allow him to expand his farm.

In September, faced with a plunge in government revenues, Mr. Macri reinstated some export taxes .

... ... ...

What went wrong?

... ... ...

In the first years of Mr. Macri's administration, the government lifted controls on the value of the peso while relaxing export taxes. The masters of international finance delivered a surge of investment. The economy expanded by nearly 3 percent in 2017, and then accelerated in the first months of last year.

But as investors grew wary of Argentina's deficits, they fled, sending the peso plunging and inflation soaring. As the rout continued last year, the central bank mounted a futile effort to support the currency, selling its stash of dollars to try to halt the peso's descent. As the reserves dwindled, investors absorbed the spectacle of a government failing to restore order. The exodus of money intensified, and another potential default loomed, leading a chastened Mr. Macri to accept a rescue from the dreaded IMF.

Administration officials described the unraveling as akin to a natural disaster: unforeseeable and unavoidable. The drought hurt agriculture. Money was flowing out of developing countries as the Federal Reserve continued to lift interest rates in the United States, making the American dollar a more attractive investment.

But the impact of the Fed's tightening had been widely anticipated. Economists fault the government for mishaps and complacency that left the country especially vulnerable.

.... ... ...

Among the most consequential errors was the government's decision to include Argentina's central bank in a December 2017 announcement that it was raising its inflation target. The markets took that as a signal that the government was surrendering its war on inflation while opting for a traditional gambit: printing money rather than cutting spending.

... ... ...

The government insists that better days are ahead. The spending cuts have dropped the budget deficit to a manageable 3 percent of annual economic output. Argentina is again integrated into the global economy.

"We haven't improved, but the foundations of the economy and society are much healthier," said Miguel Braun, secretary of economic policy at the Treasury Ministry. "Argentina is in a better place to generate a couple of decades of growth."

... ... ...

Their television flashes dire warnings, like "Danger of Hyper Inflation." Throughout the neighborhood, people decry the sense that they have been forsaken by the government.

Trucks used to come to castrate male dogs to control the packs of feral animals running loose. Not anymore. Health programs for children are less accessible than they were before, they said.

Daisy Quiroz, 71, a retired maid, lives in a house that regularly floods in the rainy season.

"When our president Cristina was here, they sent people to help us," she says. "Now, if there's problems, nobody helps us. Poor people feel abandoned."

... ... ...

Daniel Politi contributed reporting from Buenos Aires. Peter S. Goodman is a London-based European economics correspondent. He was previously a national economic correspondent in New York. He has also worked at The Washington Post as a China correspondent, and was global editor in chief of the International Business Times. @ petersgoodman

[Jun 23, 2019] Communism and neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

twiglette , 11 Apr 2019 05:13

Communism and neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

[Jun 23, 2019] The Right have been absolutely brilliant at media control and obfuscation.

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

macfeegal , 6 Mar 2012 03:56

Another very informative article from one of the few writers with any sense of having a 'finger on the pulse.'

It's sad that it's taken over 30 years for the real shaping influences behind the current system to be identified and discussed outside the boundaries of a few university conferences.

The Right have been absolutely brilliant at media control and obfuscation. Their gurus have been camouflaged and the whole process of influencing Reagan and Thatcher's governments from the late 1970's has escaped exactly the kind of scrutiny that George gives Rand.

We might also investigate the influence of John Nash's (A Beautiful Mind) 'Gameplay' experiments in a similar fashion along with the economic gurus who followed Hayek so slavishly.

It has been known for years that the neo liberal project was designed not just to under mine democracy and convert people into passive cloned market junkies, but to put an end to the whole of the Enlightenment Project, which perhaps naively saw human development,. growth and other human qualities totally savaged and defeated by this poisonous evil, which emulates all the worst aspects of Fascism without the flags and theatre.

Sadly, this is not a 'this is happening' phenomenon; it's a 'this has happened phenomenon.' The taint and viral effect of its impact on uk and usa political structures has already caused major damage. All three major political parties in the uk have for 30 years subscribed to its tenets though they were no doubt not presented in such a flagrant form as Rand's writing.

How problematic is it to now look at the polity and rescue it from such a major ideological shift? Certainly, the major parties cannot shuck off the cape of their key beliefs after promoting Right wing ideologies for so long, and the traditional Left is no more.

However, it is good to see some pithy journalism that goes to the heart of the matter - those of us who have been pleading for less x factor celebrity worshipping of politicians can at least feel as though this shifts the spectrum to real and significant issues that have affected the lives of everyone for so long.

Spot on George; one of your best.

[Jun 23, 2019] These submerged policies obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry.

Highly recommended!
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:14

I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and social security.

In case nobody mentioned this book before, which is relevant to the theme:

The Submerged State by Suzanne Mettler

From the Amazon book description:

These submerged policies, Mettler shows, obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry. Neither do they realize that the policies of the submerged state shower their largest benefits on the most affluent Americans, exacerbating inequality.

[Jun 23, 2019] What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26

What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
promisingproper -> Dianeandguy , 11 Apr 2019 08:00
Staff distress? Cleaning ( in another county) was privatised to make profit in Thatcher times.The work of two cleaners became the task of one person. Extra duties were loaded on -serving meals and drinks, fetching blankets and equipment. Wages dropped by a small degree -but important when we ere earning, say, £65 a week. Indemnity/insurance against catching infections was withdrawn. Firstly owned by Jeyes and then sold on to Rentokill ,obviously good for shareholders. A new 'manager' appeared with their own office.
fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

[Jun 23, 2019] The assessment and monitoring are for the little people - teachers and children, as they can't be trusted.

Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

mirotto -> ID7696310

, 10 Apr 2019 17:26
No-one.

They're businesses, therefore by definition efficient and responsible. Haha.

The assessment and monitoring are for the little people - teachers and children, as they can't be trusted.

[Jun 23, 2019] Quantomania -- this is the word I have been needing for some time now!

Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

penelo , 10 Apr 2019 20:43

Quantomania -- this is the word I have been needing for some time now! So much better than having to say "obsession with quantity" all the time.

Would it be useful to add quantism and quantist too? Maybe even quantistic and quantistical ?

[Jun 23, 2019] Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd

Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

izaakwalton , 11 Apr 2019 00:55

As someone who thinks von Mises and Hayek made invaluable contributions to economics I was surprised to see such a ringing endorsement for Mises's ideas in the Guardian:

"Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd."

That is spot on. Yes, Mises thought that workers should no more be allowed to corner a market in labour than companies should be allowed to create monopolies in products, and this is certainly a point where he can be criticized. Using the name "neoliberal" to cover
such very different ideas as Milton's and Hayek's though is absurd - they had completely opposite ideas about vast government spending to recover from recession. Try looking up John James Cowperthwaite, who oversaw post-war development in Hong Kong by getting government out of the way.

He forbade the use of any performance targets of the type Blair brought in, and refused to compile GDP statistics, thinking the government would game them.

Both von Mises and Hayek would be horrified at the money printing of modern central banks, especially since 2008. To ascribe modern policy to their ideas is simply nonsense - they did not (as far as I know) ever suggest central control of interest rates , stock buying by central banks or saving a bank that has failed through fraud and greed.

If "neoliberalism" is our present dominant ideology, then please do not use the word to describe their work.

[Jun 23, 2019] As a matter of semantics, neo-liberalism delivered on the promise of freedom...for capitalists

Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

marshwren , 10 Apr 2019 22:29

As a matter of semantics, neo-liberalism delivered on the promise of freedom...for capitalists to be free of ethical accountability, social responsibility, and government regulation and taxes...

[Jun 23, 2019] Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42

Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.

Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'.

Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid.

Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything.

To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.

[Jun 23, 2019] This is a remarkably similar summation of Rand's worldview of entire classes of people: if you are poor, you deserve it

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

HolyInsurgent -> GeorgeMonbiot , 5 Mar 2012 22:44

But the world didn't work like that, and the people who didn't fit had to be shoved under the wheel of history.

This is a remarkably similar summation of Rand's worldview of entire classes of people: if you are poor, you deserve it. Expect nothing from the State to raise you from the cycle of poverty. The State is evil and should be eliminated. No evil can come from the Business Culture (or more accurately the Business Cult). The U.S. Republican worldview summed up right there.

The only sane response to Ayn Rand is the creation of the Human Values Project , where creating a better world for all is its manifesto and mandate.

Many thanks for the article. The Right keep erecting her on a pedestal and saying her ideas are infallible like the Pope. She can't be pulled down off that pedestal enough times.

[Jun 23, 2019] If Jeff Bezos could hire 1st graders he obviously would

Notable quotes:
"... Your claim is not that people decide rights via participation in political process (social contract), it is that there are universal natural individual rights that cannot be violated based in... something; there is no negotiability like there is with the social contract. Your apparantly foundationless rights cannot be changed by political process - so where do they come from? ..."
"... Your claim is that some quality of people grants immutable rights, not that rights are decided by people. Are you of the strain that thinks we should be allowed to starve our kids (Rothbard)? Or that non-capitalist societies are fair game to be killed and enslaved, to have thier land put to 'better' use (Locke)? Perhaps that latter one underlies the feeling that it would be easy to up sticks and move to some undefined piece of land. ..."
"... You have changed the nice things you listed now, you said maternity leave/pay, weekends, etc. Those were granted by collective potitical action, not the generosity of the capitalists. If Jeff Bezos could hire 1st graders he obviously would. ..."
"... The State is the gun. Always has been, always will be. And yes, there is a place for the gun in society - defence - but not in extorting money from peaceful people. ..."
Apr 12, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

wariquari -> Pushers11 , 12 Apr 2019 16:56

Your claim is not that people decide rights via participation in political process (social contract), it is that there are universal natural individual rights that cannot be violated based in... something; there is no negotiability like there is with the social contract. Your apparantly foundationless rights cannot be changed by political process - so where do they come from?

Your claim is that some quality of people grants immutable rights, not that rights are decided by people. Are you of the strain that thinks we should be allowed to starve our kids (Rothbard)? Or that non-capitalist societies are fair game to be killed and enslaved, to have thier land put to 'better' use (Locke)? Perhaps that latter one underlies the feeling that it would be easy to up sticks and move to some undefined piece of land.

You have changed the nice things you listed now, you said maternity leave/pay, weekends, etc. Those were granted by collective potitical action, not the generosity of the capitalists. If Jeff Bezos could hire 1st graders he obviously would.

So you having to leave because you don't wamt to participate in tax paying is coercion, but people having to leave because they don't want to live under Libertarianism isn't?

Incidentally, which countries at the top of the PISA or OECD rankings do not have massive state education?

As for Hong Kong, its entire existence is predicated on extreme acts of aggression by the British. The opium trade and its profits started the ball rolling after an aggressive war. The Hong Kong authority also owns most of the land, leasing it; they therefore have massive influence on who gets what and what they do with it - more so than most other nations.

Pushers11 -> wariquari , 12 Apr 2019 10:44

"As you are free to leave, no individual state institution is is forcing you to participate under pain of violence. If the fact you have no place to go that does not take tax means that you are coerced, then someone who cannot live but by participation in free-market capitalism would also be coerced into participation"

I think we won't agree on this because we have a fundamentally different understanding of coercion. The way I see it, I should not have a leave the place I live in to not have coercive action taking away my money. I should be able to say, no thanks. It is the difference between my willingly purchasing something and a mugger taking my money at gunpoint. The State is the gun. Always has been, always will be. And yes, there is a place for the gun in society - defence - but not in extorting money from peaceful people.

And people can and do live without being part of the capitalist system. They can live off the land. They can set up communes. They can use a barter system if they want. Capitalism just gives people more opportunities, but they can opt out if they want. Or move to a place that doesn't have capitalism, like many places in Africa or South America or Cuba. Funny who must people try to leave those places though. Millions do not flock there. They do the other way round.

"In your opinion."

Yes, true. In my opinion. But I have backed that opinion up with a well reasoned argument for my position. It didn't just come out of thin air. It comes from recognising the nature of government is force, violence and coercion. Again, it is the gun in society. And in my opinion, I think it is wrong, immoral and will always lead to bad outcomes to use the gun to solve societies more tricky problems. And we can clearly see the bad results of public / State education, socialised healthcare, welfare, government involvement in the economy, etc, etc, etc. All do badly.

"Did I? I didn't sign up before birth to participate, and I have no other options but to participate or die."

You have other options, as previously mentioned. Live off the land, move to a non-capitalist country, set up a commune, etc.

"Still unsure upon what these rights are based. The mere fact that people can reason does not necessarily instill or ground right."

Where else can they come from? If you say "government". Well when does government get its power and decide on your rights? From the people that make up government. So we are back to people again.

"You tell us elsewhere that we don't really have capitalism, the state and other actors dominate and fiddle etc. Now you clam capitalism has provided all these nice things* - pick one."

No. It is not a case of picking one. It is not an "either / or" situation. Economic freedom and economic oppression exist on a sliding scale. You have more free economies, like the US (especially prior to 1913) and you have less free economies, like the USSR or Cuba. The parts of freedom we have, give us the good stuff, gives us innovation and allows society to grow richer and lift more people out of poverty. The more bad stuff that gets involved, the less we have, the more society stagnates. The USSR was a lot poorer and dirtier (environmentally) and had a lot more famine and waste because it was highly centrally controlled.

"So it had nothing to do with quasi-British authorities selling narcotics to mainland China then?"

Not much. There may have been some of that but nowhere near enough to explain the explosion of wealth in HK.

[Jun 23, 2019] T>here has never been free-market capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... And there has never been free-market capitalism. A misnomer if ever there was one. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

PSmd , 6 Mar 2012 09:35

@silverwhistle

We ARE social animals. Which is why I laugh when I hear right-wing opinions compared to the laws of the jungle. As far as I can gather, in the jungle, there are no such things as property laws, inheritance, land enclosure, or indeed money! Humanity's development is as socialised societies, with surpluses, consent, and so on.

And there has never been free-market capitalism. A misnomer if ever there was one.

[Jun 23, 2019] The return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself. ..."
"... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. ..."
"... Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. ..."
"... Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. ..."
"... This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. ..."
"... It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal. ..."
"... However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism.

In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue.

Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy.

The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

Pinkie123 -> economicalternative , 12 Apr 2019 02:57

Yes, the EU is an ordoliberal institution - the state imposing rules on the market from without. Thus, it is not the chief danger. The takeover of 5G, and therefore our entire economy and industry, by Huawei - now that would be a loss of state sovereignty. But because Huawei is nominally a corporation, people do not think about is a form of governmental bureaucracy, but if powerful enough that is exactly what it is.
economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
subtropics , 11 Apr 2019 13:51
Neoliberalism allows with impunity pesticide businesses to apply high risk toxic pesticides everywhere seriously affecting the health of children, everyone as well as poisoning the biosphere and all its biodiversity. This freedom has gone far too far and is totally unacceptable and these chemicals should be banished immediately.
Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives.

Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.

Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'.

Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism.

This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism.

Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

[Jun 23, 2019] "Liberal" originally meant the freedom to trade and do business. Before liberalism trade was controlled by cartels, guilds and gifted by prerogative.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

twiglette -> apacheman , 11 Apr 2019 05:19

"Liberal" originally meant the freedom to trade and do business. Before liberalism trade was controlled by cartels, guilds and gifted by prerogative. The freedom to trade is not the root cause of our problems. The drift to monopoly and the legal enforcement of it is new and should be resisted. But the freedom to do business is a freedom for us all.

[Jun 23, 2019] Two things characterize neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labor.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

mi Griffin , 11 Apr 2019 01:15

2 simple points that epitomize neo liberalism.

1. Hayek's book 'The Road to Serfdom' uses an erroneous metaphor. He argues that if we allow gov regulation, services and spending to continue then we will end up serfs. However, serfs are basically the indentured or slave labourers of private citizens and landowners not of the state. Only in a system of private capital can there be serfs. Neo liberalism creates serfs not a public system.

2. According to Hayek all regulation on business should be eliminated and only labour should be regulated to make it cheap and contain it so that private investors can have their returns guaranteed. Hence the purpose of the state is to pass laws to suppress workers.

These two things illustrate neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labour.

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberalism/'free enterprise' is techno-feudalism.

Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

1000100101 -> sejong , 10 Apr 2019 17:53

Neoliberalism/'free enterprise' is techno-feudalism.

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberalism is not an ideology in its practical application. It is a business model for structuring the economy for rent seeking or wealth extraction

Notable quotes:
"... First, neoliberalism, to those who understand how finance works (no mainstream economist, then) was never an economic theory, but rather a business model: essentially it describes how to structure an economy for rent seeking. ..."
"... Michael Hudson describes it as "pro-finance". His definition of austerity, which is part and parcel of the neoliberal business model, is also worth quoting: "austerity is what a good economic policy looks like to a creditor [rentier]"; in other words, it has nothing to do with the economically meaningless notion of good housekeeping (state finances are radically different from household finances). ..."
"... The term "neoliberal" is misleading. Neoliberals put capital above people. Neoliberals are the next-worst thing to neoconservatives. That said, why would anybody trust a pols promise? ..."
Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Brightdayler -> fakeamoonlanding, 11 Apr 2019 03:15

Neoliberalism is not an ideology in its practical application. It is a business model for structuring the economy for rent seeking or wealth extraction: turning everything into a cash cow to be milked until it's dry and then move on to the next one.
Brightdayler, 11 Apr 2019 03:13
I agree, although a few points need to be added.

First, neoliberalism, to those who understand how finance works (no mainstream economist, then) was never an economic theory, but rather a business model: essentially it describes how to structure an economy for rent seeking.

Michael Hudson describes it as "pro-finance". His definition of austerity, which is part and parcel of the neoliberal business model, is also worth quoting: "austerity is what a good economic policy looks like to a creditor [rentier]"; in other words, it has nothing to do with the economically meaningless notion of good housekeeping (state finances are radically different from household finances).

Second, the freedom that Adam Smith talked about was freedom for the real economy from rent seeking, from wealth extraction - freedom, in modern parlance, from the neoliberal business model.

fakeamoonlanding -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 03:04

I think you are confusing the state with the ideology. Neoliberalism is an ideology that has become embedded in the state. Of course it is the state that privatises public services to private firms. But the ideology behind that policy is what George Monbiot is writing about.

I work for the NHS myself. Take for example, the policy of foundation trusts bidding to run services hundreds of miles from their bases, etc. It may be state policy, but it is a neoliberal nonsense. You would find the NHS littered with bureaucracy that would not be there if the neoliberal ideology of trying to foster "competition" had not become a state policy.

zootsuitbeatnick , 11 Apr 2019 01:58

"Neoliberalism promised freedom – instead it delivers stifling control"

The term "neoliberal" is misleading. Neoliberals put capital above people. Neoliberals are the next-worst thing to neoconservatives. That said, why would anybody trust a pols promise?
imo

[Jun 23, 2019] Only the greedy, selfish, well off, egotistical and share holders believe that Public Services should, could and would benefit from privatisation and deregulation.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

JohnS58 , 11 Apr 2019 06:15

Only the greedy, selfish, well off, egotistical and share holders believe that Public Services should, could and would benefit from privatisation and deregulation.

Education and Health for example are (in theory) a universal right in the UK. As numbers in the population rise and demographics change so do costs ie delivery of the service becomes more expensive.As market force logic is introduced it also becomes less responsive - hence people not able to get the right drugs and treatment and challenging and challenged young people being denied an education that is vital for them in increasing numbers.

Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom.

With the introduction of Tory austerity which punishes the latter to the benefit of the former there is no surprise that this system does not work and has provided a platform for the unscrupulous greedy and corrupt to exploit Brexit and produce conditions which will take 'Neoliberalism' to where logic suggests it would always go - with the powerful rich protected minority exerting their power over an increasingly poor and powerless majority.

[Jun 23, 2019] So neoliberalism stumbles on almost as a reflex action. Ben Fine calls it a 'zombie' but I think the better analogy is cannibalism.

Unlike the privatisations of the 80s and 90s there's barely any pretence these days that new sell-offs are anything more than simply part of a quest to find new avenues for profit-making in an economy with tons of liquid capital but not enough places to profitability put it.
Apr 10, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

hartebeest , 10 Apr 2019 18:42

Back in the Thatcher/Reagan years there were at people around who genuinely believed in the superiority of the market, or at least, made the effort to set out an intellectual case for it.

Now we're in a different era. After 2008, hardly anyone really believes in neoliberal ideas anymore, not to the point that they'd openly make the case for them anyway. But while different visions have appeared to some extent on both left and right, most of those in positions of power and influence have so internalised Thatcher's 'there is no alternative' that it's beyond their political horizons to treat any alternatives which do emerge as serious propositions, let alone come up with their own.

So neoliberalism stumbles on almost as a reflex action. Ben Fine calls it a 'zombie' but I think the better analogy is cannibalism. Unlike the privatisations of the 80s and 90s there's barely any pretence these days that new sell-offs are anything more than simply part of a quest to find new avenues for profit-making in an economy with tons of liquid capital but not enough places to profitability put it. Because structurally speaking most of the economy is tapped out.

Privatising public services at this point is just a way to asset strip and/or funnel public revenue streams to a private sector which has been stuck in neoliberal short-term, low skill, low productivity, low wage, high debt mode for so long that it has lost the ability to grow. So now it is eating itself, or at least eating the structures which hold it up and allow it to survive.

[Jun 22, 2019] Use of science by the US politicians

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance. ..."
Jun 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The evidence suggests that foreign policymakers do not seek insight from scholars, but rather support for what they already want to do.

As Desch quotes a World War II U.S. Navy anthropologist, "the administrator uses social science the way the drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination." Scholars' disinclination to be used in this way helps explain more of the distance.

[Jun 22, 2019] China Vows To Fight Trade War To The End As Huawei Sues Commerce Department

It was neoliberalism that moved production to China and created condition for the Chinese own companies to compete. Now Trump goes against neoliberal dogma. So it is not accidental that he was under attack and Russiagate was launched to ensure his resignation.
Notable quotes:
"... in an editorial in the state-run People's Daily, Beijing has warned that China has "the strength and patience to withstand the trade war, and will fight to the end if the U.S. administration persists." ..."
"... China's controversial telecom giant, Huawei, filed a civil lawsuit against the US Commerce Department over the mishandling of telecommunications equipment seized by American officials, demanding its release. ..."
"... However, the equipment was not shipped back to China. It was "purportedly" seized en route and is currently sitting in Alaska, as US officials wanted to investigate whether the shipment required a special license . Such requests are usually processed within 45 days, but nearly two years have already passed since then. ..."
"... "The equipment, to the best of HT USA's knowledge, remains in a bureaucratic limbo in an Alaskan warehouse," Huawei said in its lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in federal court in Washington. ..."
"... Huawei contends that the equipment did not require a license because it did not fall into a controlled category and because it was made outside the United States and was being returned to the same country from which it came. ..."
"... The lawsuit comes amid a bitter row between two world's largest economies, and Washington's crackdown on Huawei. In May, the Trump administration added Huawei to the entity list, barring it from buying needed U.S. parts and components without U.S. government approval. The US alleges that Huawei could be spying for the Chinese government, a claim which the company has repeatedly denied. ..."
"... Of course, Huawei is not the only Chinese tech company that the White House decided to put on its trade blacklist. On Friday, five Chinese organizations – supercomputer maker Sugon, three its affiliates, and the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology – were added to entity list on the grounds that their activities are allegedly contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests. ..."
"... don't expect a breakthrough: as Goldman's trade deal odds index found last week... the probability of a breakthrough between the two nations is roughly one in five. ..."
Jun 22, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
It's the weekend, which means the trade war between the US and China moved to the front page of the local propaganda media (in both the US and China). And while Trump has yet to slam Beijing, focusing this morning on the all time high in the market instead, China has been busy and in an editorial in the state-run People's Daily, Beijing has warned that China has "the strength and patience to withstand the trade war, and will fight to the end if the U.S. administration persists."

Echoing what China's notorious twitter mouthpiece Hu Xijin said yesterday, the editorial said that just days ahead of the much anticipated G-20 summit in Osaka where Trump and Xi are set to meet, " the U.S. must drop all tariffs imposed on China if it wants to negotiate on trade, and only an equal dialogue can resolve the issue and lead to a win-win", according to Bloomberg.

The communist party's official paper also said the US had failed to take into account the interests of its own people, and they are paying higher costs due to the trade dispute. "Wielding a big stick of tariffs" also disregards the condition of the U.S. economy and the international economic order, according to the editorial.

Beijing's official warning to the US ended as follows: if the U.S. chooses to talk, "then it must show some good faith, take account of key concerns from both sides and cancel all tariffs."

And just to prove that China isn't a paper tiger whose threats will be confined to the local newspapers, Reuters reported that overnight China's controversial telecom giant, Huawei, filed a civil lawsuit against the US Commerce Department over the mishandling of telecommunications equipment seized by American officials, demanding its release.

In an almost absurd reversal, the company whose entire existence can be traced to stealing and reverse-engineering foreign technology and trampling over corporate ethics , the complaint alleges that the US government took possession of hardware, including an ethernet switch and computer server, which was transported from China to an independent laboratory in California for testing and certification back in 2017.

However, the equipment was not shipped back to China. It was "purportedly" seized en route and is currently sitting in Alaska, as US officials wanted to investigate whether the shipment required a special license . Such requests are usually processed within 45 days, but nearly two years have already passed since then.

"The equipment, to the best of HT USA's knowledge, remains in a bureaucratic limbo in an Alaskan warehouse," Huawei said in its lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in federal court in Washington.

Huawei contends that the equipment did not require a license because it did not fall into a controlled category and because it was made outside the United States and was being returned to the same country from which it came.

The company is not seeking any financial compensation and is not challenging the seizure itself, but is sending a message to Washington, saying "post-seizure failures to act are unlawful", in effect charging the Trump admin with doing precisely what it, itself has been accused of. Huawei wants to force the Commerce Department to decide whether an export license is really necessary and, if not, release the withheld equipment.

The lawsuit comes amid a bitter row between two world's largest economies, and Washington's crackdown on Huawei. In May, the Trump administration added Huawei to the entity list, barring it from buying needed U.S. parts and components without U.S. government approval. The US alleges that Huawei could be spying for the Chinese government, a claim which the company has repeatedly denied.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the company's founder, has been detained in Canada since December on a U.S. warrant. She is fighting extradition on charges that she misled global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran.

Of course, Huawei is not the only Chinese tech company that the White House decided to put on its trade blacklist. On Friday, five Chinese organizations – supercomputer maker Sugon, three its affiliates, and the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology – were added to entity list on the grounds that their activities are allegedly contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests.

The fresh US blacklisting comes ahead of crucial talks between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, which are intended to ease tensions between the two sides. Still, don't expect a breakthrough: as Goldman's trade deal odds index found last week... the probability of a breakthrough between the two nations is roughly one in five.

[Jun 20, 2019] In the US they never called austerity and militarism to be human rights violations by Ajamu Baraka

Notable quotes:
"... As I have called to attention before , a monumental rip-off is about to take place once again. Both the Democrats and Republicans are united in their commitment to continue to feed the U.S. war machine with dollars extracted -- to the tune of 750 billion dollars -- from the working class and transferred to the pockets of the military/industrial complex. ..."
"... As seen, a state's legitimacy was based on the extent to which it recognized, protected and fulfilled the human rights of all its citizens and residents. Those rights included not only the right to information, assembly, speech and to participation in the national political life of the nation but also the right to food, water, healthcare, education, employment, substantial social security throughout life, and not just as a senior citizen. ..."
"... The counterrevolutionary program of the late 60s and 70s, especially the turn to neoliberalism which began in the 70s, would reject this paradigm and redefine the role of the state. The obligation of the state to recognize, protect and fulfill human rights was eliminated from the role of the state under neoliberalism. ..."
"... Today the consequences of four decades of neoliberalism in the global South and now in the cosmopolitan North have created a crisis of legitimacy that has made state policies more dependent on force and militarism than in any other time, including the civil war and the turmoil of the 1930s. ..."
"... Today, contrary to the claims of capitalism to guarantee the human right to a living wage ensuring "an existence worthy of human dignity," the average worker is making, adjusted for inflation, less than in 1973; i.e., some 46 years-ago. 140 million are either poor or have low-income; 80% living paycheck to paycheck; 34 million are still without health insurance; 40 million live in "official poverty;" and more in unofficial poverty as measured by alternative supplemental poverty (SPM). And more than half of those over 55 years-old have no retirement funds other than Social Security. ..."
Jun 20, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

austerity has been a central component of state policy at every level of government in the U.S. and in Europe for the last four decades. In Europe, as the consequences of neoliberal policies imposed on workers began to be felt and understood, the result was intense opposition. However, in the U.S. the unevenness of how austerity policies were being applied, in particular the elimination or reduction in social services that were perceived to be primarily directed at racialized workers, political opposition was slow to materialize.

Today, however, relatively privileged workers who were silent as the neoliberal "Washington consensus" was imposed on the laboring classes in the global South -- through draconian structural adjustment policies that result in severe cutbacks in state expenditures for education, healthcare, state employment and other vital needs -- have now come to understand that the neoliberal program of labor discipline and intensified extraction of value from workers, did not spare them.

The deregulation of capital, privatization of state functions -- from road construction to prisons, the dramatic reduction in state spending that results in cuts in state supported social services and goods like housing and access to reproductive services for the poor -- represent the politics of austerity and the role of the neoliberal state.

This materialist analysis is vitally important for understanding the dialectical relationship between the general plight of workers in the U.S. and the bipartisan collaboration to raid the Federal budget and to reduce social spending in order to increase spending on the military. This perspective is also important for understanding the imposition of those policies as a violation of the fundamental human rights of workers, the poor and the oppressed.

For the neoliberal state, the concept of human rights does not exist.

As I have called to attention before , a monumental rip-off is about to take place once again. Both the Democrats and Republicans are united in their commitment to continue to feed the U.S. war machine with dollars extracted -- to the tune of 750 billion dollars -- from the working class and transferred to the pockets of the military/industrial complex.

The only point of debate is now whether or not the Pentagon will get the full 750 billion or around 733 billion. But whether it is 750 billion or 733 billion, the one sector that is not part of this debate is the public. The attention of the public has been adroitly diverted by the absurd reality show that is Russiagate. But this week, even though the budget debate has been disappeared by corporate media, Congress is set to begin debate on aspects of the budget and specifically on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Raising the alarm on this issue is especially critical at this moment. As tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf, the corporate media is once again abdicating its public responsibility to bring unbiased, objective information to the public and instead is helping to generate support for war with Iran.

The Democrats, who have led the way with anti-Iran policies over the last few decades, will be under enormous pressure not to appear to be against enhancing military preparedness and are likely to find a way to give Trump and the Pentagon everything they want.

Support for Human Rights and Support for Empire is an Irreconcilable Contradiction

The assumption of post-war capitalist order was that the state would be an instrument to blunt the more contradictory aspects of capitalism. It would regulate the private sector, provide social welfare support to the most marginal elements of working class, and create conditions for full employment. This was the Keynesian logic and approach that informed liberal state policies beginning in the 1930s.

The idea of reforming human rights fits neatly into that paradigm.

As seen, a state's legitimacy was based on the extent to which it recognized, protected and fulfilled the human rights of all its citizens and residents. Those rights included not only the right to information, assembly, speech and to participation in the national political life of the nation but also the right to food, water, healthcare, education, employment, substantial social security throughout life, and not just as a senior citizen.

The counterrevolutionary program of the late 60s and 70s, especially the turn to neoliberalism which began in the 70s, would reject this paradigm and redefine the role of the state. The obligation of the state to recognize, protect and fulfill human rights was eliminated from the role of the state under neoliberalism.

Today the consequences of four decades of neoliberalism in the global South and now in the cosmopolitan North have created a crisis of legitimacy that has made state policies more dependent on force and militarism than in any other time, including the civil war and the turmoil of the 1930s.

The ideological glue provided by the ability of capitalism to deliver the goods to enough of the population which guaranteed loyalty and support has been severely weakened by four decades of stagnant wages, increasing debt, a shrinking middle-class, obscene economic inequality and never-ending wars that have been disproportionately shouldered by the working class.

Today, contrary to the claims of capitalism to guarantee the human right to a living wage ensuring "an existence worthy of human dignity," the average worker is making, adjusted for inflation, less than in 1973; i.e., some 46 years-ago. 140 million are either poor or have low-income; 80% living paycheck to paycheck; 34 million are still without health insurance; 40 million live in "official poverty;" and more in unofficial poverty as measured by alternative supplemental poverty (SPM). And more than half of those over 55 years-old have no retirement funds other than Social Security.

In a report, Philp Alston , the UN's special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, points out that : the US is one of the world's wealthiest countries. It spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined.

However, that choice in public expenditures must be seen in comparison to the other factors he lays out:

For African Americans in particular, neoliberalism has meant, jobs lost, hollowed out communities as industries relocated first to the South and then to Mexico and China, the disappearance of affordable housing, schools and hospital closings, infant and maternal mortality at global South levels, and mass incarceration as the unskilled, low-wage Black labor has become economically redundant.

This is the backdrop and context for the budget "debate" and Trump's call to cut spendings to Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and even the State Department.

The U.S. could find 6 trillion dollars for war since 2003 and 16 trillion to bail out the banks after the financial sector crashed the economy, but it can't find money to secure the human rights of the people.

This is the one-sided class war that we find ourselves in; a war with real deaths and slower, systematic structural violence. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can be depended on to secure our rights or protect the world from the U.S. atrocities. That responsibility falls on the people who reside at the center of the Empire to not only struggle for ourselves but to put a brake on the Empire's ability to spread death and destruction across the planet.

Ajamu Baraka is a board member with Cooperation Jackson, the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He can be reached at www.AjamuBaraka.com Read other articles by Ajamu , or visit Ajamu's website .

[Jun 19, 2019] The decline and fall of neoliberalism in the Democratic Party by Ryan Cooper

Notable quotes:
"... The Obama administration also proved itself largely incapable of enforcing laws against white-collar crime. Department of Justice careerists like Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer were terrified that anything more than gentle wrist-slap fines would undermine the stability of the financial sector . As a result, despite massive fraud carried out during the housing bubble and the ensuing crash , no major bank and none of their top executives were convicted of anything. ..."
"... Most damning of all, neoliberalism under Obama turned in the worst economic performance since the 1930s . Despite the fact that the 2008 crash left obvious excess capacity, there was no catch-up growth -- on the contrary, growth was about two-thirds the 1945-2007 average, with no sign of speeding up on the horizon. Even 10 years after the start of the recession, there is every sign that the economy is still depressed. ..."
"... So despite the confident predictions of the Chicago School, the political economy created by neoliberalism turned out to be identical to 1920s laissez-faire economics in every important respect. The United States is once again a country which functions mostly on behalf of a tiny capitalist elite. It has the same extreme inequality, the same bloated, crisis-prone financial sector, the same corruption, and the same political backlash to the status quo and rising extremist factions. ..."
Jan 08, 2018 | theweek.com

From the late 1980s to 2016, neoliberal ideas held hegemonic sway among the Democratic elite. But the economy created by this ideology -- and the ensuing crises -- is a major reason why Clinton lost to Trump and the party is completely out of power today. This obvious failure has provided an ideological opening that the American left has been eager to fill.

Yet even the left-wing is divided about the best way forward. Should it follow Elizabeth Warren's lead and promise a return to the trust-busting ways of the early 20th century? Or should it emulate the more sweeping, Nordic-style politics of Bernie Sanders? Or perhaps the Democratic Socialists of America are right and something even more extreme is needed.

... ... ...

The Democrats swept to power in a wave election in 2008, as the economy entered free fall. They had every opportunity to abandon neoliberalism and return to the kind of New Deal policy that the Great Recession called for -- and they blew it.

... ... ...

Incredibly, the Democrats responded by doubling down on neoliberalism. Over and over again during the Obama years, the party elite proved itself overly sympathetic to the concerns of the market.

Instead of attacking the concentrated wealth and power of big finance, Democrats took the neoliberal route and passed a blizzard of complicated rules in the Dodd-Frank financial reform package that attempted to reduce specific financial sector risk. Many of those provisions were quite worthy, to be sure, but after the crisis the biggest banks are even larger than they were before the crisis and financial sector profits quickly bounced back to their previous levels.

The Obama administration also proved itself largely incapable of enforcing laws against white-collar crime. Department of Justice careerists like Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer were terrified that anything more than gentle wrist-slap fines would undermine the stability of the financial sector . As a result, despite massive fraud carried out during the housing bubble and the ensuing crash , no major bank and none of their top executives were convicted of anything.

Most damning of all, neoliberalism under Obama turned in the worst economic performance since the 1930s . Despite the fact that the 2008 crash left obvious excess capacity, there was no catch-up growth -- on the contrary, growth was about two-thirds the 1945-2007 average, with no sign of speeding up on the horizon. Even 10 years after the start of the recession, there is every sign that the economy is still depressed.

So despite the confident predictions of the Chicago School, the political economy created by neoliberalism turned out to be identical to 1920s laissez-faire economics in every important respect. The United States is once again a country which functions mostly on behalf of a tiny capitalist elite. It has the same extreme inequality, the same bloated, crisis-prone financial sector, the same corruption, and the same political backlash to the status quo and rising extremist factions.

... ... ...

[Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
"... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
"... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
"... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
"... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
"... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
"... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
"... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
"... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

Worrisome Numbers

Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

The Economics of Stress

This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

The Race Enigma

One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

Trump's Faux Populism

The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"

Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.

The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.


Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am

Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.

JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.

The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.

I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.

sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.

dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?

Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®

https://mobile.twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1140998287933300736
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apxZvpzq4Mw

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.

Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.

David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.

Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."

jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.

Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am

obese cracker

You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?

rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms

Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.

The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".

Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.

In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.

B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.

[Jun 19, 2019] Bias bias the inclination to accuse people of bias by James Thompson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Early in any psychology course, students are taught to be very cautious about accepting people's reports. A simple trick is to stage some sort of interruption to the lecture by confederates, and later ask the students to write down what they witnessed. Typically, they will misremember the events, sequences and even the number of people who staged the tableaux. Don't trust witnesses, is the message. ..."
"... The three assumptions -- lack of rationality, stubbornness, and costs -- imply that there is slim chance that people can ever learn or be educated out of their biases; ..."
"... So, are we as hopeless as some psychologists claim we are? In fact, probably not. Not all the initial claims have been substantiated. For example, it seems we are not as loss averse as previously claimed. Does our susceptibility to printed visual illusions show that we lack judgement in real life? ..."
"... Well the sad fact is that there's nobody in the position to protect "governments" from their own biases, and "scientists" from theirs ..."
"... Long ago a lawyer acquaintance, referring to a specific judge, told me that the judge seemed to "make shit up as he was going along". I have long held psychiatry fits that statement very well. ..."
"... Here we have a real scientist fighting the nonsense spreading from (neoclassical) economics into other realms of science/academia. ..."
"... Behavioral economics is a sideline by-product of neoclassical micro-economic theory. It tries to cope with experimental data that is inconsistent with that theory. ..."
"... Everything in neoclassical economics is a travesty. "Rational choice theory" and its application in "micro economics" is false from the ground up. It basically assumes that people are gobbling up resources without plan, meaning or relevant circumstances. Neoclassical micro economic theory is so false and illogical that I would not know where to start in a comment, so I should like to refer to a whole book about it: Keen, Steve: "Debunking economics". ..."
"... As the theory is totally wrong it is really not surprising that countless experiments show that people do not behave the way neoclassical theory predicts. How do economists react to this? Of course they assume that people are "irrational" because they do not behave according to their studied theory. (Why would you ever change your basic theory because of some tedious facts?) ..."
"... The title of the 1st ed. of Keen's book was "Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences" which was simply a perfect title. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.unz.com

Early in any psychology course, students are taught to be very cautious about accepting people's reports. A simple trick is to stage some sort of interruption to the lecture by confederates, and later ask the students to write down what they witnessed. Typically, they will misremember the events, sequences and even the number of people who staged the tableaux. Don't trust witnesses, is the message.

Another approach is to show visual illusions, such as getting estimates of line lengths in the Muller-Lyer illusion, or studying simple line lengths under social pressure, as in the Asch experiment, or trying to solve the Peter Wason logic problems, or the puzzles set by Kahneman and Tversky. All these appear to show severe limitations of human judgment. Psychology is full of cautionary tales about the foibles of common folk.

As a consequence of this softening up, psychology students come to regard themselves and most people as fallible, malleable, unreliable, biased and generally irrational. No wonder psychologists feel superior to the average citizen, since they understand human limitations and, with their superior training, hope to rise above such lowly superstitions.

However, society still functions, people overcome errors and many things work well most of the time. Have psychologists, for one reason or another, misunderstood people, and been too quick to assume that they are incapable of rational thought?

Gerd Gigerenzer thinks so.

https://www.nowpublishers.com/article/OpenAccessDownload/RBE-0092

He is particularly interested in the economic consequences of apparent irrationality, and whether our presumed biases really result in us making bad economic decisions. If so, some argue we need a benign force, say a government, to protect us from our lack of capacity. Perhaps we need a tattoo on our forehead: Diminished Responsibility.

The argument leading from cognitive biases to governmental paternalism -- in short, the irrationality argument -- consists of three assumptions and one conclusion:

1. Lack of rationality. Experiments have shown that people's intuitions are systematically biased.

2. Stubbornness. Like visual illusions, biases are persistent and hardly corrigible by education.

3. Substantial costs. Biases may incur substantial welfare-relevant costs such as lower wealth, health, or happiness.

4. Biases justify governmental paternalism. To protect people from theirbiases, governments should "nudge" the public toward better behavior.

The three assumptions -- lack of rationality, stubbornness, and costs -- imply that there is slim chance that people can ever learn or be educated out of their biases; instead governments need to step in with a policy called libertarian paternalism (Thaler and Sunstein, 2003).

So, are we as hopeless as some psychologists claim we are? In fact, probably not. Not all the initial claims have been substantiated. For example, it seems we are not as loss averse as previously claimed. Does our susceptibility to printed visual illusions show that we lack judgement in real life?

In Shepard's (1990) words, "to fool a visual system that has a full binocular and freely mobile view of a well-illuminated scene is next to impossible" (p. 122). Thus, in psychology, the visual system is seen more as a genius than a fool in making intelligent inferences, and inferences, after all, are necessary for making sense of the images on the retina.

Most crucially, can people make probability judgements? Let us see. Try solving this one:

A disease has a base rate of .1, and a test is performed that has a hit rate of .9 (the conditional probability of a positive test given disease) and a false positive rate of .1 (the conditional probability of a positive test given no disease). What is the probability that a random person with a positive test result actually has the disease?

Most people fail this test, including 79% of gynaecologists giving breast screening tests. Some researchers have drawn the conclusion that people are fundamentally unable to deal with conditional probabilities. On the contrary, there is a way of laying out the problem such that most people have no difficulty with it. Watch what it looks like when presented as natural frequencies:

Among every 100 people, 10 are expected to have a disease. Among those 10, nine are expected to correctly test positive. Among the 90 people without the disease, nine are expected to falsely test positive. What proportion of those who test positive actually have the disease?

In this format the positive test result gives us 9 people with the disease and 9 people without the disease, so the chance that a positive test result shows a real disease is 50/50. Only 13% of gynaecologists fail this presentation.

Summing up the virtues of natural frequencies, Gigerenzer says:

When college students were given a 2-hour course in natural frequencies, the number of correct Bayesian inferences increased from 10% to 90%; most important, this 90% rate was maintained 3 months after training (Sedlmeier and Gigerenzer, 2001). Meta-analyses have also documented the "de-biasing" effect, and natural frequencies are now a technical term in evidence-based medicine (Akiet al., 2011; McDowell and Jacobs, 2017). These results are consistent with a long literature on techniques for successfully teaching statistical reasoning (e.g., Fonget al., 1986). In sum, humans can learn Bayesian inference quickly if the information is presented in natural frequencies.

If the problem is set out in a simple format, almost all of us can all do conditional probabilities.

I taught my medical students about the base rate screening problem in the late 1970s, based on: Robyn Dawes (1962) "A note on base rates and psychometric efficiency". Decades later, alarmed by the positive scan detection of an unexplained mass, I confided my fears to a psychiatrist friend. He did a quick differential diagnosis on bowel cancer, showing I had no relevant symptoms, and reminded me I had lectured him as a student on base rates decades before, so I ought to relax. Indeed, it was false positive.

Here are the relevant figures, set out in terms of natural frequencies

Every test has a false positive rate (every step is being taken to reduce these), and when screening is used for entire populations many patients have to undergo further investigations, sometimes including surgery.

Setting out frequencies in a logical sequence can often prevent misunderstandings. Say a man on trial for having murdered his spouse has previously physically abused her. Should his previous history of abuse not be raised in Court because only 1 woman in 2500 cases of abuse is murdered by her abuser? Of course, whatever a defence lawyer may argue and a Court may accept, this is back to front. OJ Simpson was not on trial for spousal abuse, but for the murder of his former partner. The relevant question is: what is the probability that a man murdered his partner, given that she has been murdered and that he previously battered her.

Accepting the figures used by the defence lawyer, if 1 in 2500 women are murdered every year by their abusive male partners, how many women are murdered by men who did not previously abuse them? Using government figures that 5 women in 100,000 are murdered every year then putting everything onto the same 100,000 population, the frequencies look like this:

So, 40 to 5, it is 8 times more probable that abused women are murdered by their abuser. A relevant issue to raise in Court about the past history of an accused man.

Are people's presumed biases costly, in the sense of making them vulnerable to exploitation, such that they can be turned into a money pump, or is it a case of "once bitten, twice shy"? In fact, there is no evidence that these apparently persistent logical errors actually result in people continually making costly errors. That presumption turns out to be a bias bias.

Gigerenzer goes on to show that people are in fact correct in their understanding of the randomness of short sequences of coin tosses, and Kahneman and Tversky wrong. Elegantly, he also shows that the "hot hand" of successful players in basketball is a real phenomenon, and not a stubborn illusion as claimed.

With equal elegance he disposes of a result I had depended upon since Slovic (1982), which is that people over-estimate the frequency of rare risks and under-estimate the frequency of common risks. This finding has led to the belief that people are no good at estimating risk. Who could doubt that a TV series about Chernobyl will lead citizens to have an exaggerated fear of nuclear power stations?

The original Slovic study was based on 39 college students, not exactly a fair sample of humanity. The conceit of psychologists knows no bounds. Gigerenzer looks at the data and shows that it is yet another example of regression to the mean. This is an apparent effect which arises whenever the predictor is less than perfect (the most common case), an unsystematic error effect, which is already evident when you calculate the correlation coefficient. Parental height and their children's heights are positively but not perfectly correlated at about r = 0.5. Predictions made in either direction will under-predict in either direction, simply because they are not perfect, and do not capture all the variation. Try drawing out the correlation as an ellipse to see the effect of regression, compared to the perfect case of the straight line of r= 1.0

What diminishes in the presence of noise is the variability of the estimates, both the estimates of the height of the sons based on that of their fathers, and vice versa. Regression toward the mean is a result of unsystematic, not systematic error (Stigler,1999).

Gigerenzer also looks at the supposed finding that people are over-confidence in predictions, and finds that it is another regression to the mean problem.

Gigerenzer then goes on to consider that old favourite, that most people think they are better than average, which supposedly cannot be the case, because average people are average.

Consider the finding that most drivers think they drive better than average. If better driving is interpreted as meaning fewer accidents, then most drivers' beliefs are actually true. The number of accidents per person has a skewed distribution, and an analysis of U.S. accident statistics showed that some 80% of drivers have fewer accidents than the average number of accidents (Mousavi and Gigerenzer, 2011)

Then he looks at the classical demonstration of framing, that is to say, the way people appear to be easily swayed by how the same facts are "framed" or presented to the person who has to make a decision.

A patient suffering from a serious heart disease considers high-risk surgery and asks a doctor about its prospects.

The doctor can frame the answer in two ways:

Positive Frame: Five years after surgery, 90% of patients are alive.
Negative Frame: Five years after surgery, 10% of patients are dead.

Should the patient listen to how the doctor frames the answer? Behavioral economists say no because both frames are logically equivalent (Kahneman, 2011). Nevertheless, people do listen. More are willing to agree to a medical procedure if the doctor uses positive framing (90% alive) than if negative framing is used (10% dead) (Moxeyet al., 2003). Framing effects challenge the assumption of stable preferences, leading to preference reversals. Thaler and Sunstein (2008) who presented the above surgery problem, concluded that "framing works because people tend to be somewhat mindless, passive decisionmakers" (p. 40)

Gigerenzer points out that in this particular example, subjects are having to make their judgements without knowing a key fact: how many survive without surgery. If you know that you have a datum which is more influential. These are the sorts of questions patients will often ask about, and discuss with other patients, or with several doctors. Furthermore, you don't have to spin a statistic. You could simply say: "Five years after surgery, 90% of patients are alive and 10% are dead".

Gigerenzer gives an explanation which is very relevant to current discussions about the meaning of intelligence, and about the power of intelligence tests:

In sum, the principle of logical equivalence or "description invariance" is a poor guide to understanding how human intelligence deals with an uncertain world where not everything is stated explicitly. It misses the very nature of intelligence, the ability to go beyond the information given (Bruner, 1973)

The key is to take uncertainty seriously, take heuristics seriously, and beware of the bias bias.

One important conclusion I draw from this entire paper is that the logical puzzles enjoyed by Kahneman, Tversky, Stanovich and others are rightly rejected by psychometricians as usually being poor indicators of real ability. They fail because they are designed to lead people up the garden path, and depend on idiosyncratic interpretations.

For more detail: http://www.unz.com/jthompson/the-tricky-question-of-rationality/

Critics of examinations of either intellectual ability or scholastic attainment are fond of claiming that the items are "arbitrary". Not really. Scholastic tests have to be close to the curriculum in question, but still need to a have question forms which are simple to understand so that the stress lies in how students formulate the answer, not in how they decipher the structure of the question.

Intellectual tests have to avoid particular curricula and restrict themselves to the common ground of what most people in a community understand. Questions have to be super-simple, so that the correct answer follows easily from the question, with minimal ambiguity. Furthermore, in the case of national scholastic tests, and particularly in the case of intelligence tests, legal authorities will pore over the test, looking at each item for suspected biases of a sexual, racial or socio-economic nature. Designing an intelligence test is a difficult and expensive matter. Many putative new tests of intelligence never even get to the legal hurdle, because they flounder on matters of reliability and validity, and reveal themselves to be little better than the current range of assessments.

In conclusion, both in psychology and behavioural economics, some researchers have probably been too keen to allege bias in cases where there are unsystematic errors, or no errors at all. The corrective is to learn about base rates, and to use natural frequencies as a guide to good decision-making.

Don't bother boosting your IQ. Boost your understanding of natural frequencies.


res , says: June 17, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT

Good concrete advice. Perhaps even more useful for those who need to explain things like this to others than for those seeking to understand for themselves.
ThreeCranes , says: June 17, 2019 at 3:34 pm GMT
"intelligence deals with an uncertain world where not everything is stated explicitly. It misses the very nature of intelligence, the ability to go beyond the information given (Bruner, 1973)"

"The key is to take uncertainty seriously, take heuristics seriously, and beware of the bias bias."

Why I come to Unz.

Tom Welsh , says: June 18, 2019 at 8:36 am GMT
@Cortes Sounds fishy to me.

Actually I think this is an example of an increasingly common genre of malapropism, where the writer gropes for the right word, finds one that is similar, and settles for that. The worst of it is that readers intuitively understand what was intended, and then adopt the marginally incorrect usage themselves. That's perhaps how the world and his dog came to say "literally" when they mean "figuratively". Maybe a topic for a future article?

Biff , says: June 18, 2019 at 10:16 am GMT
In 2009 Google finished engineering a reverse search engine to find out what kind of searches people did most often. Seth Davidowitz and Steven Pinker wrote a very fascinating/entertaining book using the tool called Everybody Lies

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28512671-everybody-lies

Everybody Lies offers fascinating, surprising, and sometimes laugh-out-loud insights into everything from economics to ethics to sports to race to sex, gender, and more, all drawn from the world of big data. What percentage of white voters didn't vote for Barack Obama because he's black? Does where you go to school effect how successful you are in life? Do parents secretly favor boy children over girls? Do violent films affect the crime rate? Can you beat the stock market? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives, and who's more self-conscious about sex, men or women?

Investigating these questions and a host of others, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz offers revelations that can help us understand ourselves and our lives better. Drawing on studies and experiments on how we really live and think, he demonstrates in fascinating and often funny ways the extent to which all the world is indeed a lab. With conclusions ranging from strange-but-true to thought-provoking to disturbing, he explores the power of this digital truth serum and its deeper potential – revealing biases deeply embedded within us, information we can use to change our culture, and the questions we're afraid to ask that might be essential to our health – both emotional and physical. All of us are touched by big data every day, and its influence is multiplying. Everybody Lies challenges us to think differently about how we see it and the world.

dearieme , says: June 18, 2019 at 11:25 am GMT
I shall treat this posting (for which many thanks, doc) as an invitation to sing a much-loved song: everybody should read Gigerenzer's Reckoning with Risk. With great clarity it teaches what everyone ought to know about probability.

(It could also serve as a model for writing in English about technical subjects. Americans and Britons should study the English of this German – he knows how, you know.)

Inspired by "The original Slovic study was based on 39 college students" I shall also sing another favorite song. Much of Psychology is based on what small numbers of American undergraduates report they think they think.

Anon [410] • Disclaimer , says: June 18, 2019 at 3:47 pm GMT
" Gigerenzer points out that in this particular example, subjects are having to make their judgements without knowing a key fact: how many survive without surgery. "

This one reminds of the false dichotomy. The patient has additional options! Like changing diet, and behaviours such as exercise, elimination of occupational stress , etc.

The statistical outcomes for a person change when the person changes their circumstances/conditions.

Cortes , says: June 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm GMT
@Tom Welsh A disposition (conveyance) of an awkwardly shaped chunk out of a vast estate contained reference to "the slither of ground bounded on or towards the north east and extending two hundred and twenty four meters or thereby along a chain link fence " Not poor clients (either side) nor cheap lawyers. And who never erred?

Better than deliberately inserting "errors" to guarantee a stream of tidy up work (not unknown in the "professional" world) in future.

Tom Fix , says: June 18, 2019 at 4:25 pm GMT
Good article. 79% of gynaecologists fail a simple conditional probability test?! Many if not most medical research papers use advanced statistics. Medical doctors must read these papers to fully understand their field. So, if medical doctors don't fully understand them, they are not properly doing their job. Those papers use mathematical expressions, not English. Converting them to another form of English, instead of using the mathematical expressions isn't a solution.
SafeNow , says: June 18, 2019 at 5:49 pm GMT
Regarding witnesses: When that jet crashed into Rockaway several years ago, a high percentage of witnesses said that they saw smoke before the crash. But there was actually no smoke. The witnesses were adjusting what they saw to conform to their past experience of seeing movie and newsreel footage of planes smoking in the air before a crash. Children actually make very good witnesses.

Regarding the chart. Missing, up there in the vicinity of cancer and heart disease. The third-leading cause of death. 250,000 per year, according to a 2016 Hopkins study. Medical negligence.

Anon [724] • Disclaimer , says: June 18, 2019 at 9:48 pm GMT

1. Lack of rationality. Experiments have shown that people's intuitions are systematically biased.

2. Stubbornness. Like visual illusions, biases are persistent and hardly corrigible by education.

3. Substantial costs. Biases may incur substantial welfare-relevant costs such as lower wealth, health, or happiness.

4. Biases justify governmental paternalism. To protect people from theirbiases, governments should "nudge" the public toward better behavior.

Well the sad fact is that there's nobody in the position to protect "governments" from their own biases, and "scientists" from theirs.

So, behind the smoke of all words and rationalisations, the law is unchanged: everyone strives to gain and exert as much power as possible over as many others as possible. Most do that without writing papers to say it is right, others write papers, others books. Anyway, the fundamental law would stay as it is even if all this writing labour was spared, wouldn't it? But then another fundamental law, the law of framing all one's drives as moral and beneffective comes into play the papers and the books are useful, after all.

Curmudgeon , says: June 19, 2019 at 1:42 am GMT
An interesting article. However, I think that the only thing we have to know about how illogical psychiatry is this:

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) asked all members attending its convention to vote on whether they believed homosexuality to be a mental disorder. 5,854 psychiatrists voted to remove homosexuality from the DSM, and 3,810 to retain it.

The APA then compromised, removing homosexuality from the DSM but replacing it, in effect, with "sexual orientation disturbance" for people "in conflict with" their sexual orientation. Not until 1987 did homosexuality completely fall out of the DSM.

(source https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder )

The article makes no mention of the fact that no "new science" was brought to support the resolution.

It appears that the psychiatrists were voting based on feelings rather than science. Since that time, the now 50+ genders have been accepted as "normal" by the APA. My family has had members in multiple generations suffering from mental illness. None were "cured". I know others with the same circumstances.

How does one conclude that being repulsed by the prime directive of every living organism – reproduce yourself – is "normal"? That is not to say these people are horrible or evil, just not normal. How can someone, who thinks (s)he is a cat be mentally ill, but a grown man thinking he is a female child is not?

Long ago a lawyer acquaintance, referring to a specific judge, told me that the judge seemed to "make shit up as he was going along". I have long held psychiatry fits that statement very well.

Paul2 , says: June 19, 2019 at 8:08 am GMT
Thank you for this article. I find the information about the interpretation of statistical data very interesting. My take on the background of the article is this:

Here we have a real scientist fighting the nonsense spreading from (neoclassical) economics into other realms of science/academia.

Behavioral economics is a sideline by-product of neoclassical micro-economic theory. It tries to cope with experimental data that is inconsistent with that theory.

Everything in neoclassical economics is a travesty. "Rational choice theory" and its application in "micro economics" is false from the ground up. It basically assumes that people are gobbling up resources without plan, meaning or relevant circumstances. Neoclassical micro economic theory is so false and illogical that I would not know where to start in a comment, so I should like to refer to a whole book about it:
Keen, Steve: "Debunking economics".

As the theory is totally wrong it is really not surprising that countless experiments show that people do not behave the way neoclassical theory predicts. How do economists react to this? Of course they assume that people are "irrational" because they do not behave according to their studied theory. (Why would you ever change your basic theory because of some tedious facts?)

We live in a strange world in which such people have control over university faculties, journals, famous prizes. But at least we have some scientists who defend their area of knowledge against the spreading nonsense produced by economists.

The title of the 1st ed. of Keen's book was "Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor of the Social Sciences" which was simply a perfect title.

Dieter Kief , says: June 19, 2019 at 8:22 am GMT
@Curmudgeon Could it be that you expect psychiatrists in the past to be as rational as you are now?

Would the result have been any different, if members of a 1973 convention of physicists or surgeons would have been asked?

[Jun 16, 2019] The Neoliberal Rearguard: The potshot intelligentsia take aim at the far left

Jun 16, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

by Jason Hirthler / June 14th, 2019

Once declared by The New York Times to be, "the most important intellectual alive," a quote it surely regrets, prolific gadfly Noam Chomsky has said that, "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." How true. However, the same dictator might find the sloppy, often incoherent work of that uniform press to be a problem in need of a solution, especially at a time when it finds itself assaulted on all sides by alternative media. The mainstream finds itself desperately waging rearguard actions as it stumbles beyond the shadow of respectability. As it retreats into a shell of reactionary conformity, the mainstream has become a parody of itself. Once, its propaganda was well-crafted and replete with nuance and high-quality dissimulation, such that the average American reader could be duped regardless of his or her preconceived notions.

That is no longer the case. The demise of authority in the mainstream is thanks largely to the relentless round-the-clock news cycle and a deep bias in favor of sound bytes and sensationalism. How ironic that the collapse of faith in western media is caused by its own relentless fealty to profitability. The corporate press has now become, for vast segments of the population, a transparently deceitful congeries of second-rate pseudo-journalists who traffic in base fictions at the behest of elite capital. Meanwhile, ranks of first-rate independent journalists now dot the coarse hide of the staggering beast of the mainstream, more woodpeckers than parasites, slowly penetrating the dense carapace of falsehood that coarsens the consciousness of western citizenry. Only relentless infusions of capital are keeping the beast alive. Quantitative easing for the propaganda class.

If you want a nice index of the abysmal depths to which modern political discourse has sunk, there are dozens of pristine examples on YouTube. In fact, the site is in some sense a junk-strewn wasteland of western cultural debris, each piece of trash boasting thousands of views. I recently watched an episode of the BBC's, "The Daily Politics", now mercifully discontinued after 15 years of spreading disinformation disguised as "in depth" coverage of political events. Last July, just before being shuttered for good,, the show hosted the communist Aaron Bastani. (Perhaps this was another effort to align Labour's Jeremy Corbyn with the fraudulent effigies of Stalin and Mao.)

This show is a particularly good example of what happens when a freethinker is for some reason permitted time on a mainstream network and utters viewpoints that are well outside the Overton Window of acceptable opinion. The airing of such thinkers is not, as most suspect, an example of an open press, but rather a calculated effort to censor unacceptable ideas. On a psychological level, it serves the same purpose of unifying the herd as burning witches did in the medieval epoch. There is some sort of malign catharsis in communal attacks on ideological enemies. Just look at the vicious historical Hindu violence against minority Muslims in India. Communalism, they call it. In any event, this collection of pseudo-journalists, arrayed around a table in comfortable chairs, was an especially nice representation of the idiocy of our current political dialogue. Four neoliberals had to be brought on to collectively mock, browbeat, and quiz the good-natured YouTube host of "The Bastani Factor" on his bizarre communist politics.

Theater of the Absurd

The stage is set by show producers when they cast a giant image of a yellow hammer and sickle against a vast background of red (gulag blood, no doubt). This farcical backdrop covers half the set. The "guest" Bastani is first mocked for handing out a t-shirt that says, "I'm literally a communist." Then he is asked by moderator Jo Coburn, a haughty establishment tool with a penchant for constant interruptions, whether or not Bastani is simply whitewashing "a murderous ideology."

After Bastani finishes describing communism for the panel, Laura Hughes of the highly esteemed Financial Times declares that she felt like she'd just sat through her high school history class all over again, and that what was really needed was, "a new word" other than communism, since the latter was obviously so freighted with capitalist propaganda (she didn't exactly say that). Political pundit and Tory Matthew Parris then jumps in to say he's perfectly comfortable with the current word, and that Marx was perfectly clear about what he meant by it. Hughes gazes at Parris, nodding with a condescending smile, before Coburn leaps in to ask again about the supposedly nine million slaughtered at the hands of Stalin's purges, gulags, and induced famines. Parris laughs uncomfortably and defensively remarks, "Well, I'm not a communist!" But the bloodthirsty Coburn isn't satisfied. Is understanding communism not, in effect, trivializing its crimes? Parris then confirms for all and sundry that the practice of communism will most certainly require mass slaughter.

Coburn jumps back to Bastani, asking whether it requires violence. Rather than say it requires the seizure of property from the ruling class, and that this act might inspire violent resistance, as it did from the kulaks following the Bolshevik revolution, Bastani attempts to smooth it all over with an anecdote from the 14th century, which appeases no one and distracts everyone. Here another conservative journalist, Suzanne Evans, declares, in reference to the disturbing t-shirt, to say, "I'm literally a communist" is tantamount to saying, "I'm literally a fascist." Hughes bounces up and down in her chair and reminds the panel that communism "didn't work!" She then reiterates her call for "a new word." Someone then asks whether Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would wear Bastani's communist t-shirt, prompting Bastani to point out that Corbyn isn't actually a communist. Evans smugly replies, "He's 90 percent a communist" (to guffaws in the gallery).

Parris has by this point recovered from the dreadful insinuation that he was a tankie. He then announces that one of the main problems with communism, aside from the mass slaughter, is that it still has a "student Che Guevara mystique about it." This insight is met with knowing nods and throaty growls from the panel. He then bafflingly adds that free marketers (like himself) "haven't been robust enough in defending what we believe in." Bastani might have noted that a century of nonstop laissez faire propaganda from the business press should surely have squelched a few noisy gangs of undergrads in Che t-shirts. Alas, the show then dribbled to a close, everyone declining the offer of the t-shirt as though it were smallpox-infested blanket from colonial times.

The comments section beneath the YouTube video was largely sympathetic to Bastani, but in places typically descended into an intra-communist debate about what communism actually is, with one ideologue insisting that, "The USSR was not remotely Marxist!" Several naysayers chimed in with the usual boilerplate about how everything we enjoy today is a product of capitalism and how capitalism is "by far" the best system ever conceived for human prosperity, etc. As usual, the capitalists take credit for everything except the death toll.

Punching Back

Unfortunately, this is garden variety stuff on mainstream television. One hardly utters a non-mainstream perspective before opposition pundits have their hackles up and are firing off stock phrases about the glories of the free market. There are numberless responses to this kind of commercial pablum, of which a handful come to mind.

First, no one is saying capitalism isn't a great engine of material production. Even Marx praised it on that count. But we should never tire of pointing out that capitalism isn't about markets; it's the division of resources between capital and labor, the latter of which get brutally exploited by the former. As for markets, there were plenty of slave markets in the ancient world, and plenty of markets under feudalism, and there have been plenty of markets in socialist economies. Second, the numerous social advances made in the US were made in spite of capitalism, not because of it. It's not as though the franchise, the eight-hour work day, or the social safety net were commodities distributed by profit-seeking capitalists in some magically humane laissez faire agora.

Third, the Soviet Union was a demonstrable success, achieving some remarkable industrial gains during just the Thirties alone, before western jackals watched while the Nazi Wehrmacht rolled into Russia, and was finally unraveled by pro-western factions within the Soviet state. The German Democratic Republic is another example of a profoundly different, and generally more humane, kind of social organization, that is continuously given the short shrift by ideologues hurling their "Stasi state" jibes into the bristling ether of social media. Fourth, we'd have never even begun to exit the Great Recession of 2008 without China's command economy, with its various socialist aims and government controlled production.

Fifth, no one bothers to investigate the propaganda surrounding communism, referred to in this awful BBC show as a "murderous ideology". The purge and gulag and famine death figures were popularly disseminated largely by Robert Conquest, a British propagandist, and are suspect at best, and at worst fraudulent. The majority of the left won't even go there for fear of crossing the threshold into pariah status, and being thrust into that burgeoning cultural pen of actual socialists and communists. Sixth, there are thought to be some 20 million people since the end of WWII who have died at the hands of imperial capitalism, and its unquenchable thirst for new markets. Those figures are not likely to be falsified, at least partially because they are not the product of a ferociously anti-Communist propaganda system, but rather independent alternative journalists without a bourgeois mandate to romanticize neoliberalism and demonize communism. Nor are those numbers likely to stall; the implacable drive for hegemony promises much more slaughter, with many more million brown men, women, and children adding to the figures, plenty of them doubtless LGBTQ+ and trans. Seventh, India, for instance, is hardly better off than it was before the capitalist invasion by Britain. Same goes for the Congo or anyplace else capital has reached for market access. Life in the metropole is considerably different than life in the ransacked provinces.

Eighth, when you argue for the current system, you're arguing for a capitalist oligarchy in which 1 percent of humanity controls more than half the world's wealth, and 30 percent control 95 percent of the wealth, leaving 70 percent of the world's population to support itself on 5 percent of the world's resources, access to which are nevertheless being hotly contested by capital. Ninth, recent studies have shown marked rises in suicides as neoliberal austerity takes hold in the metropole itself, while hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have taken their own lives thanks to neoliberal structural reforms in a story that provoked meager interest in western capitals. Tenth, it's been conclusively shown that we are heading into the sixth mass extinction event in history, produced by capitalist industrialization. Yet almost all of us are in denial, either as Republicans hastily summoning their liberal conspiracy talking points, or as neoliberal Democrats who still cling to the meager thread of the Obama era and the Paris Accords, as if Obama and Paris were really going to address climate change the way it needs to be addressed.

Alas, these responses might have short-circuited the hive mind of the BBC panel. Facts, hurled into a pandemonium of deceits, can have that effect. Of course, Bastani was shuttled away before any of these considerations were tabled, the benighted doxies of imperialism happy to have had another go at the far left before decamping for their next bourgeois dinner party, anxious to don their own 'most important intellectual' attire and regale placid peers of the intelligentsia with tales of ideology run amuck.

Jason Hirthler is a writer, political commentator, and veteran of the communications industry. He has written for many political communities. He is the recent author of Imperial Fictions , a collection of essays from between 2015-2017. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com . Read other articles by Jason .

This article was posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019 at 8:23pm and is filed under Capitalism , Communism/Marxism/Maoism , Corporate media , Media , Media Bias , Social media .

[Jun 16, 2019] Economic Growth A Short History of a Controversial Idea naked capitalism

Jun 16, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Economic Growth: A Short History of a Controversial Idea Posted on June 15, 2019 by Yves Smith By Gareth Dale, who teaches at Brunel University. He publishes occasionally in The Ecologist . This article includes passages from previously published texts, including 'The tide is rising, don't rock the boat!' Economic growth and the legitimation of inequality (2018), Seventeenth century origins of the growth paradigm (2017), and The growth paradigm: A critique (2012). Originally published at openDemocracy

The politics of economic growth are complex and contested as never before. In rich countries, rates of GDP growth have declined, decade after decade since the 1960s. The 2008 crash was deep, and the post-crisis recovery has been slow. This poses problems for governments, given that their 'performance legitimacy' requires some degree of popular approval of their perceived success in charting a growth path that satisfies the citizenry's demand for goods and services. Where growth is low and governments choose to respond with austerity programmes, these bring additional misery and hardship -- including tens of thousands of premature deaths in Britain alone .

In the same decades, growth scepticism has thrived. It takes two main forms: one highlights the impact of infinite growth on finite resources and on the natural environment. Recognition of the dangers of climate breakdown has transformed this debate – while mainstream opinion retains the traditional faith in growth, now refashioned as ' green growth ', the heretics are rallying to ' degrowth '.

The other emphasises the disconnect between growth and social well-being. The days are long gone when growth was seen as the fast track to general prosperity, as normal and natural as sunrise. It is well established that the relationship between growth and well-being is partial at best. Such a correlation does exist, but weakens after a certain point -- roughly speaking when per capita GDP exceeds $15,000. At higher levels, the translation of growth into improvements in health and well-being is tenuous. Other variables, notably levels of equality, are critical.

In combination, these developments have motivated the ' Beyond GDP ' agenda. Whether for reasons of growth scepticism or out of concern that if GDP growth remains slack governments' performance legitimacy will suffer too, political leaders, civil servants and academics -- among them Nicolas Sarkozy , Jacinda Ardern , Gus O'Donnell , Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen -- are promoting alternative yardsticks.

To assess these debates it helps to dig into the history and morphology of the 'growth paradigm' -- the belief that economic growth is good, imperative, essentially limitless, and the principal remedy for a litany of social problems – and ask the following: when and how did this paradigm originate?

From Rain Dance to Nasdaq

One response was offered in 1960 by Elias Canetti . In quasi-Nietzschean vein, he invoked a transhistorical 'will to grow'. Humans are always striving for more . Whether the parent monitoring her child's weight or the state official seeking to augment her power, or the community expanding its population, we all want growth. The desire to accumulate goods, the drive for economic growth, the wish for prosperity – they are all innate to human social being. Humans in groups are driven to seek increase: of their numbers, of the conditions of production, and of the products they require and desire. The very earliest homo sapiens sought the enlargement of their "own horde through a plentiful supply of children." And later, in the age of modern industrial production, the growth drive came into its own.

"If there is now one faith, it is faith in production, the modern frenzy of increase; and all the peoples of the world are succumbing to it one after the other. Every factory is a unit serving the same cult. What is new is the acceleration of the process. What in former days was generation and increase of expectancy, directed towards rain or corn, has today become production itself." A straight line runs from the rain dance to the Nasdaq.

But this is to confuse the wiring of our current economy with the wiring of the human brain. Canetti's 'will to grow' doesn't withstand scrutiny. The diverse behaviours he describes can't be reduced to a single logic. The 'will' behind creating babies is quite unlike the will to accumulate acreage or gold. And the latter is relatively recent. For much of the human story, societies were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and organised in immediate-return systems . Stashes of food were set aside to tide the group over for days or weeks, but long-term storage was impractical. The accumulation of possessions would hamper mobility. The measures that such societies used to reduce the risks of scarcity centred not on accumulating stores of goods but on knowledge of the environment, and interpersonal relationships (borrowing, sharing, and so on). The moral economy of sharing necessitates a muscular egalitarianism that is undermined by the accumulation of property.

Logics of accumulation -- and, in the loosest sense, growth -- were not initiated until the Neolithic revolution. Its technological and institutional transformations included settled agriculture and storage, class division, states, warfare and territoriality, and, later, the invention of money. Population growth joined with class exploitation and interstate competition to expand the sway of agrarian empires. Farmers enlarged the ploughlands, scholars penned proposals for improving the organisation of agriculture or trade, merchants amassed wealth, and rulers, seeking to enlarge population and tribute, extended their domains. Only now -- in the post-Neolithic age -- did gold achieve its fetish quality as the source and symbol of power.

Scour the documents from ancient civilisations and you'll find tales of competition for territory and the accumulation of property, but nothing that resembles the modern growth paradigm. No conception of 'an economy' that can grow, still less of one that tends to the infinite. And you'll find little, if any, notion of linear historical progress. Instead, cyclical cosmologies prevailed. A partial exception is the fourteenth century polymath, Ibn Khaldun . He developed a sophisticated analysis of growth dynamics. But his ideas weren't widely adopted, and his theory is cyclical: it describes negative feedback mechanisms that ensure any economic upticks will necessarily hit barriers and retreat.

When, then, did the modern growth paradigm originate -- and why?

Petty's Arithmetic

The evolution of the growth paradigm was integrally connected to the capitalist system and its colonial thrusts. The basic link between the growth drive and capitalism is transparent. The latter is a system of competitive accumulation. The former, in suggesting that the system is natural and brings benefit also to the '99%', provides ideological cover in that growth serves as an idealised and democratised redescription of capital accumulation. But there's more to it than that. The capitalist transition was to a system of generalised commodity production, in which formal 'productive' economic activity takes the shape of commodities interacting through the price mechanism, in a regularised manner. If earlier political-economic thought had construed its subject as the affairs of the royal household, during the capitalist transition a new model emerged, with an interconnected market field posited as essentially outside the state.

In seventeenth-century England, just as the universe was being re-imagined by Newton et al as a machine determined by lawful regularities, the idea that economic behaviour follows natural laws became commonplace. By the close of the following century, Richard Cantillon had presented the market system as self-equilibrating, a machine that functions in a law-like manner; Quesnay's Tableau had depicted the economic system as a unified process of reproduction; Adam Smith had theorised the dynamics of economic growth; and philosophers (such as William Paley) had developed the creed that steady economic growth legitimates the social system and renders system-critical demands unnecessary and dangerous.

The same centuries experienced a revolution in statistics. In the England of 1600, the growth paradigm could scarcely have existed. No one knew the nation's income, or even its territory or population. By 1700 all these had been calculated , at least in some rough measure, and as new data arrived England's 'material progress' could be charted. Simultaneously, the usage of 'growth' had extended from the natural and concrete toward abstract phenomena: the growth of England's colonies in Virginia and Barbados, the ' growth of trade ,' and suchlike.

But the capitalist transition revolutionised much more than the formal economy and economic concepts. As land came to be regarded as a commodity-like object, the idea -- found to some degree in antiquity -- that nature exists to serve the purposes of landowners and is fundamentally external to human beings, gained definition. The early-modern regimes of abstract social labour and abstract social nature (i.e. the constitution of labour and nature as commodities) were sustained by the scientific revolution, and also by the construction of capitalist time . Over centuries, time became flattened into an abstract, infinite and divisible continuum, one that permitted economic life to be re-imagined as subject to continuous growth and cultivation . Morality was upended, too, most significantly in the discarding of the age-old proscriptions against acquisitiveness.

The more that economic activity came to be marshalled behind the imperatives of capital accumulation, the more it became subject to regimes of 'improvement' and quantification. In Jacobean and Cromwellian England, these practices and discourses proliferated. Agrarian-capitalist improvement was fuelled by scientific discoveries. These, in turn, were spurred on by the navigational and martial demands of explorers, freebooters and conquerors. European settlers in the New World not only exterminated and subjugated 'new' peoples, but turned to objectifying and cataloguing them, drawing comparisons with their own kind and 'improving' them. 'Improvement' and its theologically-intoxicated transplantation to colonial locations generated new data and new demands for detailed knowledge. How profitable is this tract of land, and its denizens? How can they be made more profitable ? Answering such questions was enabled by modern accounting techniques, with their sharper definition of such abstractions as profit and capital.

No surprise, then, that the first statistically rigorous accounting of the wealth of a country (as distinct from, say, a royal household) was conducted by a capitalist on a colonial mission . William Petty planted quantification at the heart of scientific economics, crafted to the purposes of English merchants and empire, and gaining ideological force from the sheen of objectivity with which economic statistics -- or 'political arithmetic' as he termed it -- comes coated. In his work the conquest of nature and the idea of nature as a machine, and of the economy as a productive engine, blended to produce a new concept of wealth as " resources and the productive power to harness them " in contrast to the mercantilist concept, centred on the accumulation of bullion.

Colonisation of the New World contributed powerfully to capital accumulation in Western Europe, but it also spurred Europe's philosophers to elaborate a racialised progress ideology . The question of what to make of the peoples encountered in the Americas, and what implications followed from their property arrangements, stimulated a new reading of the human story: a narrative of social progress. From the vantage point of the colonialists, if 'they' were at the primitive stage, had 'we' once occupied it too?

Centred on a mythical ladder that climbs up from barbarism to civilisation, the progress idea hammered the diversity of human populations into a single temporal-economic chain . By indexing the richer and higher-tech nations (and 'races') as history's vanguard, it justified their bossing of the rest. It was a manifesto that drummed out capital's rhythms, and later found new forms as ' modernisation theory ,' 'the development project,' and so forth, articulated through a grammar of 'growth.' Through its marriage to progress and development, in the belief that social advance requires a steady upward ratchet in national income, growth gained its ideological heft.

The Globalisation of an Ideology

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the consolidation and globalisation of capitalist relations was accompanied by the growth paradigm. The first half of the twentieth century saw its definition sharpen. A pronounced shift occurred from a rather vague sense -- long prevalent -- that government should preside over economic 'improvement' and 'material progress' to an urgent conviction that promoting growth is a matter of national priority. Factors behind the shift included intensified geopolitical rivalry, and the increasing 'muscularity' of states, with their expanded bureaucratic apparatuses, surveillance systems and welfare provision, as well as the segue from the age of empires to that of nation states , a shift that helped consolidate the discourse of the 'national economy.' In many countries the expansion of suffrage was an additional factor: rights were extended and an infrastructure and ideology of national belonging was constructed with the aim of incorporating the lower orders as citizens into the body politic. With the Great Depression, restoring growth became an urgent project of states, and provided the context for the national income accounting that eventually led to GDP.

The acme of the growth paradigm was reached in the mid twentieth century. Growth was firmly established everywhere: in the state-capitalist economies of the 'Second World,' the market economies of the West, and the postcolonial world too. It became part of the economic-cultural furniture, and played a decisive part in binding 'civil society' into capitalist hegemonic structures -- with social democratic parties and trade unions crucial binding agents. It came to be seen as the key metric of national progress and as a magic wand to achieve all sorts of goals: to abolish the danger of returning to depression, to sweeten class antagonisms, to reduce the gap between 'developed' and 'developing' countries, to carve a path to international recognition, and so on. There was a military angle too. For the Cold War rivals, growth promised geopolitical success. "If we lack a first-rate growing economy," cautioned JFK on the campaign trail, " we cannot maintain a first-rate defense ." The greater the rate of growth, it was universally supposed, the lesser the economic, social and political challenges, and the more secure the regime.

The growth paradigm, I suggest, is a form of fetishistic consciousness. It functions as commodity fetishism at one remove. Growth, although the result of social relations among people, assumes the veneer of objective necessity. The growth paradigm elides the exploitative process of accumulation, portraying it instead as a process in the general interest. As Mike Kidron and Elana Gluckstein note, as a system of competition "capitalism depends on the growth of capital; as a class system it depends on obscuring the sources of that growth."

For a long time, GDP growth was widely assumed to be the route to prosperity. Since then, cracks have appeared. In the rich world, we are beginning to realise that continuous GDP growth leads not simply to wealth and wellbeing, but to environmental collapse and barbecued grandchildren. But growth is not its own cause. GDP mirrors the power structure and form of value of capitalist society, but it doesn't define the system's core goal. That goal is the competitive accumulation of capital, and the accounting principles that guide it are those at the level of the firm, not the state. Put differently, the relentless increase in global resource throughput and environmental despoliation is not principally the result of states aspiring to a metric – higher GDP – but of industrial and financial firms, driven by market competition to expand turnover, develop new products, and increase profits and interest.

If the above analysis is correct, insofar as critical debates on growth focus solely on GDP while being coy about capital, they are enacting a form of displacement .

Abi , June 15, 2019 at 3:24 am

In writing a dissertation in 2014 I read Alchian's theory of the firm where he said cooperation is what fosters a peaceful condition for growth to occur, where as competition does the opposite. I've lived by that idea since, at least for us here in Lagos we have a chance to build a more cooperative and less competitive society

Sound of the Suburbs , June 15, 2019 at 4:18 am

If we were actually pursuing growth things would be a lot better.

The current goal is making money (capital accumulation).

What is this GDP thing anyway?

In the 1930s, they pondered over where all that wealth had gone to in 1929 and realised inflating asset prices doesn't create real wealth, they came up with the GDP measure to track real wealth creation in the economy.

The transfer of existing assets, like stocks and real estate, doesn't create real wealth and therefore does not add to GDP. The real wealth creation in the economy is measured by GDP.

Inflated asset prices aren't real wealth, and this can disappear almost over-night, as it did in 1929 and 2008.

The economics of globalisation precedes the GDP measure when they thought inflating asset prices created real wealth.

Real wealth creation involves real work, producing new goods and services in the economy.

We need an economics that focuses on GDP to grow GDP.

Neoclassical economics makes you think you are creating real wealth by inflating asset prices and we have been faffing about doing that.

The new scientific economics of globalisation = 1920's neoclassical economics with some complex maths on top.

skippy , June 15, 2019 at 4:30 am

Cambridge Controversy – ?????

Jos Oskam , June 15, 2019 at 4:57 am

" Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between its costs and return, and between the short and the long term. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what "

This is not by me, but by the creator of the GDP formula, Simon Kuznets. GDP is a very poor indicator for many reasons, even apart from those mentioned above. Borrowing money and squandering it adds to GDP while the resulting debt is ignored. Extracting and burning fossil fuels adds to GDP while the future depletion is ignored. Stripmining and deforesting nature adds to GDP while you get my drift. To paraphrase Bastiat, the growth in GDP that is seen tends to mask decline in areas like nature and wellbeing that are not seen.

It is tragic to see politicians and pundits thoughtlessly raving about a few tenths of a percent change in GDP while never seeming to realize how poorly this represents things that are really important to humanity.

When will people stop worshipping at the GDP altar?

Steve Ruis , June 15, 2019 at 8:50 am

I might add that someone said back in the 60's that "growth for growth's sake is the philosophy of a cancer cell."

Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Wonderful!
BrainyQuote attributes it ("Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.") to Edward Abbey, who also came out with "Society is like a stew. If you don't stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top."
Thank you.

John Wright , June 15, 2019 at 11:54 pm

A variation on the theme, from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kenneth_Boulding

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

"Attributed to Kenneth Boulding in: United States. Congress. House (1973) Energy reorganization act of 1973: Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on H.R. 11510. p. 248"

The Rev Kev , June 15, 2019 at 5:46 am

Where the author says 'For much of the human story, societies were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and organized in immediate-return systems.' that is not entirely true that. Here I am thinking of the early Bantu in their expansion in Africa. Their wealth for them were in their cattle herds which being mobile, made possible the expansion of the Bantu down eastern Africa and into Southern Africa. These were long-term investments and Bantu society evolved to take care of these herds as they expanded. Your wealth in that society was in how many cattle you had.
I suppose when you think about it, the paradigm of growth works – to an extent – when there are more lands to discover, more continents to be opened up, more frontiers to be discovered. But all of that ran out a century ago and so with no more new resources to be found to be exploited, we have now reached the point where where we have come up hard against the natural limits of this planet. And yet, our economies still use the same mode of operating when we lived in an ever-expanding world. We are far beyond the point where we should have evolved into a closed-loop economy.

skippy , June 15, 2019 at 5:54 am

Cattle = Status.

The Rev Kev , June 15, 2019 at 6:22 am

More than that. For example. A young man could only really use cattle to be the dowry that he would need to attract a bride so cattle was a sign of his wealth. The status came with it. Cattle shaped their society immensely. Their villages were huge rings where the cattle would be locked in of a night and were called kraals. The people were so familiar with their cattle that a herdsman at a glance of a herd of several hundred cattle would be able to tell straight away if one were missing. It was a fascinating society.

Off The Street , June 15, 2019 at 8:17 am

On Wall Street, people used to ask Where are the client's yachts ?

As a sign of the times, now they can ask Where are the client's cattle, or hats ?

Dan , June 15, 2019 at 9:15 pm

The statement "For much of the human story, societies were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and organized in immediate-return systems" is absolutely true. Please see the book "Limited Wants, Unlimited Means" for a good primer. It includes an excerpt from Marshall Sahlins' "The Original Affluent Society" – a great introduction to hunter-gatherer societies. There is also a wonderful comparison of immediate return and delayed return societies as exemplified in the Hadza people, and the problems that arise once an immediate return society begins to settle, even minimally.

The Bantu evolved later and are agro-pastoralists, not foragers. The Hadza have persisted as foragers even after contact with the Bantu and other groups. They have also repeatedly resisted government and missionary efforts to introduce farming and Christianity. The Hadza are perhaps the best example of how human beings lived on earth for over 99% of our existence, that being in a largely cooperative, egalitarian manner, devoid of concepts such as wealth.

http://web.mnstate.edu/robertsb/307/ANTH%20307/hadzahuntergatherers.pdf

Abi , June 16, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Bantu people were not cattle herders, west central and much of Southern Africa is basically forest, there's no way in this world anyone could move herds this way; it's our northern brothers and sisters that are cattle herders. That being said, culturally we (Bantu) generally moved to set up new families/villages that's how we spread not through some farming technique, that's false

Ignacio , June 15, 2019 at 5:53 am

When I comment with someone, my wife for instance, about the need to get rid of GDP growth as the main political objective and think of small well being objectives I tipically receive commiseration in their eyes: "Yes Nacho, you are right, go and rest for a while"

animalogic , June 15, 2019 at 7:43 am

"I tipically receive commiseration in their eyes"
Its the burden of being right in the world of wrong.

Steven B kurtz , June 15, 2019 at 6:53 am

As usual, scale is ignored. In my (still living) 94 year old mother's lifetime, human population quadrupled. In large mammals, this is sometimes called "plague phase." Add a (minimally) tenfold increase in technological leverage in converting finite resources into infrastructure, food, transportation, consumable goods and services, and the increasingly rapid decline of the ecosphere is hardly a surprise. Dematerialization of the economy is a myth! And don't expect money printing or cyber tokens as solutions. They are simply power tools to access real stuff.

Godfree Roberts , June 15, 2019 at 7:22 am

Except China. Just sayin'

Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 7:40 am

One of the drivers of growth in the UK in the late 18th century that was missing, was money. It reached a crisis stage in 1797.

A chronic shortage of coins, silver specie in particular.

Then, the freebooters came to the rescue!

Silver 8 Reales coins plundered from the Spanish were reworked into being coins of the British realm & many other outposts in the colonies.

The first effort was pretty weak, all that was done was they were counterstamped with a small portrait of King George III upon the countenance of King Charles IIII, which led to this ditty:

"In order to enable the Spanish Dollar to pass, the head of a fool was struck on the neck of an ass."

http://jpkoning.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-ubiquitous-spanish-dollara-photo.html

Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 7:53 am

A couple of drivers of growth showed up both around the same time, the Haber Bosch process that allowed for pretty much unlimited food resources, and worldwide fiat money, which also had no limits to production.

We've quadrupled the world's population since these 2 events.

Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 12:28 pm

The Haber-Bosch process allowed for a vast, but in no way unlimited, expansion of production.
Fiat money can be produced in unlimited amounts, but, according to both common sense and MMT, actual production also has actual limits.

Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 12:38 pm

Setting the world free from first gold and then silver restraints (the last silver coins issued for circulation in the 1st world was in 1969) allowed for a as much as you'd like fiat economy, beyond limits and also risk. (for now, that is)

For what it's worth, there has never been an instance of hyperinflation in the cyber money age.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGOOF_QnhwQ

Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Whoops, my bad. Germany issued silver 5 Mark coins for use in circulation until 1974, forgot about that.

Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 1:10 pm

As much wood, steel and cement, or as many doctors, teachers and entertainers as you'd like, without limits, just because money can be printed without limits?

Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Money is only the lubricant, the ball bearings if you will. It has no agency over where it goes, other than in a tight circle.

Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 1:38 pm

In a tight circle, or into a tight circle – aka the 0.1%?

Oregoncharles , June 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm

It's a fundamental issue: money is an abstraction that can increase without limits; the real world, the real economy, is not. MMT does address that, but I think it's a root source of the persistent inflation that plagued the economy until rather recently. Apparently the Fed, or somebody, can stop it if they wish. However, I think that that history is one reason for the resistance to MMT – it sounds like a formula for more inflation. Since it hasn't actually been tried as a policy (the Pentagon's limitless funds are really just corruption), we won't know for sure until it's tried. There always seems to be a lot that the economists don't know or won't admit.

deplorado , June 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Great comment!
Second that.

Thuto , June 15, 2019 at 8:55 am

Politicians don't have the analytical tools to pick apart the "constant growth" argument so they default to trumpeting it as a cure for all social ills (no doubt with encouragement from mainstream economists). On the other end of the spectrum, the growth story seduces ordinary people because they're told their share of the spoils, courtesy of the trickling down effect, will lead them to a "better life". As such, nothing short of a massive ideological decolonization effort is needed to strip growth of the superhero status it enjoys in contemporary economic discourse.

Norb , June 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm

The only positive hope is that enough people take it upon themselves to rise to the occasion. People who have freed themselves from the tyranny of the current economic system need to be examples for others to follow. Those that can, must change their lifestyles. They indirectly become leaders by example.

There is a spiritual component in this transformation that has not really surfaced yet, but feels like it is stirring under the surface. There is so much denial going on that something will burst forth. What form that takes is anyones guess, but most people are just looking for leadership when pressed.

Instead of the neoliberal message of selfish pursuits lead to a better life, the message of self-sacrifice and service to something greater resonates with most people. Instead of being just lip-service or propaganda, this sentiment must be channeled into concrete policies and actions- beginning with oneself.

Underlying all this is the need for peace. The Big Lie of growth pales in comparison to the Big Lie of perpetual war. Both lies reinforce each other.

How to explain the conflict between capitalists and well, all the rest, other than a spiritual war. Where does one place ones faith? Violent and selfish Nationalism will not suffice.

Strength in humility instead of conquest is the dividing line. The decolonization of the human mind must be followed by an awareness and consciousness that the world is here to live in, not conquer. That is an enormous shift in human action and consciousness- those that live this ideal must be valued and emulated.

The attempt must be made- is being made.

Carolinian , June 15, 2019 at 8:59 am

The growth paradigm, I suggest, is a form of fetishistic consciousness.

Elsewhere today Lambert talks about religion as Marx's "opiate of the people" but there are many versions of that drug and our secular overlords seem to have replaced the Bible with other unquestioned assumptions, many of them economic. Perhaps at some point rationality has its limits and illusions of some kind of are necessary to make the engine go. The problem unfortunately is that the current engineers seem to believe those illusions themselves and follow them blindly. They are addicts too. Is it time to "just say no"?

lyman alpha blob , June 15, 2019 at 10:13 am

Good essay. The author gets the the heart of it with this –

The evolution of the growth paradigm was integrally connected to the capitalist system and its colonial thrusts. The basic link between the growth drive and capitalism is transparent. The latter is a system of competitive accumulation. The former, in suggesting that the system is natural and brings benefit also to the '99%', provides ideological cover in that growth serves as an idealised and democratised redescription of capital accumulation.

– where the theory of growth is an attempt to rationalize the greed of the few who really like playing capitalist at the expense of everyone else. How about they get their jollies playing Monopoly and leave the rest of us alone?

I'll just leave this here, a beautiful tune by one of my favorite bands, Old Crow Medicine Show. Four minutes that will make you feel better after reading of all the nastiness in the world, and very apropos to this article –

Ain't It Enough?

hemeantwell , June 15, 2019 at 12:52 pm

I agree with the thrust of your comment but

is an attempt to rationalize the greed of the few who really like playing capitalist at the expense of everyone else.

As noxious as their displays of wealth are, and as much as it's possible to make a case that pathological narcissism infuses the system, the motive to accumulate to compete with rivals, current and future, is central. It's politically useful to attack the way that this motive draws others into its van, i.e. to make them personally despicable. But it might be worthwhile to consider how much the accumulation motive is embodied as a kind of social contract in the firm's organization. I imagine that individual capitalists say to themselves "I've made my pile, time to sail away in my yacht," but the firm and those who will stay on want to keep things going.

rod , June 15, 2019 at 11:12 am

. The moral economy of sharing necessitates a muscular egalitarianism that is undermined by the accumulation of property.
this really stuck out to me.
and I can't really identify why, however I couldn't stop thinking about the growing proliferation of plastic while reading the article

David J. , June 15, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Back in the early 80s, the professor for whom I was a grad assistant frequently urged me to read Canetti's "Crowds and Power." It's a powerful and useful book. Well-written and accessible and full of thought-provoking ideas. I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to ponder social relations.

In this case, Dale seems to use Canetti's book as a kind of straw-man entry to his real topic:an intro to his discussion of growth/degrowth. I guess you gotta start somewhere? Maybe he should have simply directly referenced Canetti on his notion of "feast crowds" (pg 62 of my edition of Crowds and Power.)

The above comments by Sound of the Suburbs and Joe Oskam are incisive, imo. The essence of the matter boils down to developing a more rigorous distinction (and understanding) of the difference between productive economic activity and non-productive economic activity. Hudson is really good on this.

Wukchumni , June 15, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Go back further and Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd from 1896 ages well, because human motives don't change much

"The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim."

"A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images invoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed facts .Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images."

"We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these, we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of a crowd. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will."

JEHR , June 15, 2019 at 1:16 pm

As I read these quoted words it is hard not to think of the crowds that surround Trump on his so-called "rallies" for his base. One cannot but help ask, Why is anyone listening to this man? Ans: "He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will."

Norb , June 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm

What makes the masses the masses is that they are followers. This is a double edged sword the elite exploit relentlessly- that is what makes them the elite. They hold the power, and desire, to manipulate the masses through narrative and image. These stories and images make the world and human experience comprehensible. When corruption sinks in, that whole group is doomed to eventual failure if a self-correcting mechanism is not present. Leaders/elite and masses both fail.

It is very self-serving for the elite to blame the masses when the "illusions" stop working their magic. Have the elite ever "thirsted after truth" either? Truth meaning a universal truth applicable to all, or the Truth embodied in a personal view as apposed to a public view? Such Truths tend to obfuscate the drive for personal power, which doesn't sit well within groups of people let alone groups of differing cultural or ethnic experiences.

Manipulation of the masses is not the problem, it is manipulation to what end that is the issue. In that respect, the elite leadership should take more responsibility and bear a greater portion of blame for failure- for in fact, they are driving the whole process.

In a nutshell, this is the failure of the current human situation. A greedy elite incapable or unwilling to use the powers at hand to bring about a fair and equatable world. It is just too easy for them to continue their deceitful manipulations and blame hapless or trusting victims.

Another way is for the elite leadership to listen to the people/masses and take their needs and desires into account when molding public opinion. Such an elite will foster the population's wellbeing, not fear them or treat them as a mob. That process makes the elite leadership legitimate.

The most stupid leadership is one that fails to change course when the images and narratives moving its society are failing. The whole society becomes weak and ineffective on multiple levels.

At some point, the factional fighting must stop. It seems inevitable that human society will rebalance itself to manageable levels. The question becomes how violent that transition will be.

hemeantwell , June 15, 2019 at 6:31 pm

LeBon writes of crowds as though there is a complete discontinuity between a person's thought and behavior when they are in a crowd and when they are not. That's nonsense, a cocktail party generalization. I've been in plenty of political crowds and the remarkable transformation he purports was not evident. Le Bon was a rank conservative and his analysis reflected his detestation of the French left, fueled by his experience of the Commune. He's writing in a way that helps justify the massacres that concluded it.

Ian Perkins , June 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I often wondered about this fetishisation of growth in GDP (I'm in my sixties now), when in developed countries it seemed to have as many negatives as positives.
Then I realised that capital, in its most general sense, doesn't invest in the hope of getting its money back, but in the hope of its money back plus some more . The only way that can carry on for very long is through growth.
I'm not an economist, but that explanation really rang true for me.

notabanktoadie , June 15, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Usury based finance REQUIRES growth to pay the interest.

Why then government privileges for private credit creation?

nothing but the truth , June 16, 2019 at 10:36 am

exactly.

by infinite growth they actually mean infinite growth of debt, which is required for the current financial system to survive.

Oregoncharles , June 15, 2019 at 4:37 pm

One answer: CASSE, Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, Herman Daly's legacy. https://steadystate.org/ .

Susan the other` , June 15, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Just Thank You. Thank You tons. I will remember the name Gareth Dale and The Ecologist. And the reference to the (unexplained) runaway condition of human economics as "Capitalist Time" v. (of course) real time. Because as we have learned here at NC "financial time goes much faster than real time." And etc. This essay was wonderful, and now we have an outline of why that is true.

John Wright , June 16, 2019 at 12:08 am

From the text:

"roughly speaking when per capita GDP exceeds $15,000. At higher levels, the translation of growth into improvements in health and well-being is tenuous."

The implications of this statement are large, for it multiplies out to a US GDP of 330E6 x 15E3 = 4.95 Trillion or about ONE FOURTH of the current USA economic output (19.39 trillion in 2017).

Forget the Green New Deal, shrink economic output by 3/4 in the USA while drastically lowering inequality to share the shrunken economic pie and one should observe a large positive effect on future climate change while having a reasonable USA citizen well-being,.

[Jun 14, 2019] Mean Girl Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed by Lisa Duggan

Notable quotes:
"... From the 1980s to 2008, neoliberal politics and policies succeeded in expanding inequality around the world. The political climate Ayn Rand celebrated—the reign of brutal capitalism—intensified. Though Ayn Rand’s popularity took off in the 1940s, her reputation took a dive during the 1960s and ’70s. Then after her death in 1982, during the neoliberal administrations of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, her star rose once more. (See chapter 4 for a full discussion of the rise of neoliberalism.) ..."
"... During the global economic crisis of 2008 it seemed that the neoliberal order might collapse. It lived on, however, in zombie form as discredited political policies and financial practices were restored. ..."
"... We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social, and cultural transition — but we don’t yet know which way we’re headed. The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelical Christians pull strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand. ..."
"... The current Trump administration is stuffed to the gills with Rand acolytes. Trump himself identifies with Fountainhead character Howard Roark; former secretary of state Rex Tillerson listed Adas Shrugged as his favorite book in a Scouting magazine feature; his replacement Mike Pompeo has been inspired by Rand since his youth. Ayn Rand’s influence is ascendant across broad swaths of our dominant political culture — including among public figures who see her as a key to the Zeitgeist, without having read a worth of her writing.’’ ..."
"... Rand biographer Jennifer Burns asserts simply that Ayn Rand's fiction is “the gateway drug” to right-wing politics in the United States — although her influence extends well beyond the right wing ..."
"... The resulting Randian sense of life might be called “optimistic cruelty.” Optimistic cruelty is the sense of life for the age of greed. ..."
"... The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged fabricate history and romanticize violence and domination in ways that reflect, reshape, and reproduce narratives of European superiority' and American virtue. ..."
"... It is not an accident that the novels’ fans, though gender mixed, are overwhelmingly white Americans of the professional, managerial, creative, and business classes." ..."
"... Does the pervasive cruelty of today's ruling classes shock you? Or, at least give you pause from time to time? Are you surprised by the fact that our elected leaders seem to despise people who struggle, people whose lives are not cushioned and shaped by inherited wealth, people who must work hard at many jobs in order to scrape by? If these or any of a number of other questions about the social proclivities of our contemporary ruling class detain you for just two seconds, this is the book for you. ..."
"... As Duggan makes clear, Rand's influence is not just that she offered a programmatic for unregulated capitalism, but that she offered an emotional template for "optimistic cruelty" that has extended far beyond its libertarian confines. Mean Girl is a fun, worthwhile read! ..."
"... Her work circulated endlessly in those circles of the Goldwater-ite right. I have changed over many years, and my own life experiences have led me to reject the casual cruelty and vicious supremacist bent of Rand's beliefs. ..."
"... In fact, though her views are deeply-seated, Rand is, at heart, a confidence artist, appealing only to narrow self-interest at the expense of the well-being of whole societies. ..."
Jun 14, 2019 | www.amazon.com

From the Introduction

... ... ...

Mean Girls, which was based on interviews with high school girls conducted by Rosalind Wiseman for her 2002 book Queen Bees and War/tubes, reflects the emotional atmosphere of the age of the Plastics (as the most popular girls at Actional North Shore High are called), as well as the era of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, whose motto is “Greed is Good.”1 The culture of greed is the hallmark of the neoliberal era, the period beginning in the 1970s when the protections of the U.S. and European welfare states, and the autonomy of postcolonial states around the world, came under attack. Advocates of neoliberalism worked to reshape global capitalism by freeing transnational corporations from restrictive forms of state regulation, stripping away government efforts to redistribute wealth and provide public services, and emphasizing individual responsibility over social concern.

From the 1980s to 2008, neoliberal politics and policies succeeded in expanding inequality around the world. The political climate Ayn Rand celebrated—the reign of brutal capitalism—intensified. Though Ayn Rand’s popularity took off in the 1940s, her reputation took a dive during the 1960s and ’70s. Then after her death in 1982, during the neoliberal administrations of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, her star rose once more. (See chapter 4 for a full discussion of the rise of neoliberalism.)

During the global economic crisis of 2008 it seemed that the neoliberal order might collapse. It lived on, however, in zombie form as discredited political policies and financial practices were restored. But neoliberal capitalism has always been contested, and competing and conflicting political ideas and organizations proliferated and intensified after 2008 as well.

Protest politics blossomed on the left with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in the United States, and with the Arab Spring, and other mobilizations around the world. Anti-neoliberal electoral efforts, like the Bernie Sanders campaign for the U.S. presidency, generated excitement as well.

But protest and organizing also expanded on the political right, with reactionary populist, racial nationalist, and protofascist gains in such countries as India, the Philippines, Russia, Hungary, and the United States rapidly proliferating. Between these far-right formations on the one side and persistent zombie neoliberalism on the other, operating sometimes at odds and sometimes in cahoots, the Season of Mean is truly upon us.

We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social, and cultural transition — but we don’t yet know which way we’re headed. The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelical Christians pull strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand.

Rand’s ideas are not the key to her influence. Her writing does support the corrosive capitalism at the heart of neoliberalism, though few movers and shakers actually read any of her nonfiction. Her two blockbuster novels, 'The Fountainpen and Atlas Shrugged, are at the heart of her incalculable impact. Many politicians and government officials going back decades have cited Rand as a formative influence—particularly finance guru and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who was a member of Rand's inner circle, and Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president most identified with the national embrace of neoliberal policies.

Major figures in business and finance are or have been Rand fans: Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Peter Thiel (Paypal), Steve Jobs (Apple), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Mark Cuban (NBA), John Allison (BB&T Banking Corporation), Travis Kalanik (Uber), Jelf Bezos (Amazon), ad infinitum.

There are also large clusters of enthusiasts for Rand’s novels in the entertainment industry, from the 1940s to the present—from Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and Raquel Welch to Jerry Lewis, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Rob Lowe, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Ashley Judd, Eva Mendes, and many more.

The current Trump administration is stuffed to the gills with Rand acolytes. Trump himself identifies with Fountainhead character Howard Roark; former secretary of state Rex Tillerson listed Adas Shrugged as his favorite book in a Scouting magazine feature; his replacement Mike Pompeo has been inspired by Rand since his youth. Ayn Rand’s influence is ascendant across broad swaths of our dominant political culture — including among public figures who see her as a key to the Zeitgeist, without having read a worth of her writing.’’

But beyond the famous or powerful fans, the novels have had a wide popular impact as bestsellers since publication. Along with Rand’s nonfiction, they form the core texts for a political/ philosophical movement: Objectivism. There are several U.S.- based Objectivist organizations and innumerable clubs, reading groups, and social circles. A 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that only the Bible had influenced readers more than Atlas Shrugged, while a 1998 Modern Library poll listed The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as the two most revered novels in English.

Atlas Shrugged in particular skyrocketed in popularity in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. The U.S. Tea Party movement, founded in 2009, featured numerous Ayn Rand—based signs and slogans, especially the opening line of Atlas Shrugged: “Who is John Galt?” Republican pundit David Frum claimed that the Tea Party was reinventing the GOP as “the party of Ayn Rand.” During 2009 as well, sales of Atlas Shrugged tripled, and GQ_magazine called Rand the year’s most influential author. A 2010 Zogby poll found that 29 percent of respondents had read Atlas Shrugged, and half of those readers said it had affected their political and ethical thinking.

In 2018, a business school teacher writing in Forbes magazine recommended repeat readings: “Recent events — the bizarro circus that is the 2016 election, the disintegration of Venezuela, and so on make me wonder if a lot of this could have been avoided bad we taken Atlas Shrugged's message to heart. It is a book that is worth re-reading every few years.”3

Rand biographer Jennifer Burns asserts simply that Ayn Rand's fiction is “the gateway drug” to right-wing politics in the United States — although her influence extends well beyond the right wing.4

But how can the work of this one novelist (also an essayist, playwright, and philosopher), however influential, be a significant source of insight into the rise of a culture of greed? In a word: sex. Ayn Rand made acquisitive capitalists sexy. She launched thousands of teenage libidos into the world of reactionary politics on a wave of quivering excitement. This sexiness extends beyond romance to infuse the creative aspirations, inventiveness, and determination of her heroes with erotic energy, embedded in what Rand called her “sense of life.” Analogous to what Raymond Williams has called a “structure of feeling,” Rand’s sense of life combines the libido-infused desire for heroic individual achievement with contempt for social inferiors and indifference to their plight.5

Lauren Berlant has called the structure of feeling, or emotional situation, of those who struggle for a good life under neoliberal conditions “cruel optimism”—the complex of feelings necessary to keep plugging away hopefully despite setbacks and losses.'’ Rand's contrasting sense of life applies to those whose fantasies of success and domination include no doubt or guilt. The feelings of aspiration and glee that enliven Rand’s novels combine with contempt for and indifference to others. The resulting Randian sense of life might be called “optimistic cruelty.” Optimistic cruelty is the sense of life for the age of greed.

Ayn Rand’s optimistic cruelty appeals broadly and deeply through its circulation of familiar narratives: the story of “civilizational” progress, die belief in American exceptionalism, and a commitment to capitalist freedom.

Her novels engage fantasies of European imperial domination conceived as technological and cultural advancement, rather than as violent conquest. America is imagined as a clean slate for pure capitalist freedom, with no indigenous people, no slaves, no exploited immigrants or workers in sight. The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged fabricate history and romanticize violence and domination in ways that reflect, reshape, and reproduce narratives of European superiority' and American virtue.

Their logic also depends on a hierarchy of value based on radicalized beauty and physical capacity — perceived ugliness or disability' are equated with pronounced worthlessness and incompetence.

Through the forms of romance and melodrama, Rand novels extrapolate the story of racial capitalism as a story of righteous passion and noble virtue. They retell The Birth of a Ntation through the lens of industrial capitalism (see chapter 2). They solicit positive identification with winners, with dominant historical forces. It is not an accident that the novels’ fans, though gender mixed, are overwhelmingly white Americans of the professional, managerial, creative, and business classes."


aslan , June 1, 2019

devastating account of the ethos that shapes contemporary America

Ayn Rand is a singular influence on American political thought, and this book brilliantly unfolds how Rand gave voice to the ethos that shapes contemporary conservatism. Duggan -- whose equally insightful earlier book Twilight of Equality offered an analysis of neoliberalism and showed how it is both a distortion and continuation of classical liberalism -- here extends the analysis of American market mania by showing how an anti-welfare state ethos took root as a "structure of feeling" in American culture, elevating the individual over the collective and promoting a culture of inequality as itself a moral virtue.

Although reviled by the right-wing press (she should wear this as a badge of honor), Duggan is the most astute guide one could hope for through this devastating history of our recent past, and the book helps explain how we ended up where we are, where far-right, racist nationalism colludes (paradoxically) with libertarianism, an ideology of extreme individualism and (unlikely bed fellows, one might have thought) Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

This short, accessible book is essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the contemporary United States.

Wreck2 , June 1, 2019
contemporary cruelty

Does the pervasive cruelty of today's ruling classes shock you? Or, at least give you pause from time to time? Are you surprised by the fact that our elected leaders seem to despise people who struggle, people whose lives are not cushioned and shaped by inherited wealth, people who must work hard at many jobs in order to scrape by? If these or any of a number of other questions about the social proclivities of our contemporary ruling class detain you for just two seconds, this is the book for you.

Writing with wit, rigor, and vigor, Lisa Duggan explains how Ayn Rand, the "mean girl," has captured the minds and snatched the bodies of so very many, and has rendered them immune to feelings of shared humanity with those whose fortunes are not as rosy as their own. An indispensable work, a short read that leaves a long memory.

kerwynk , June 2, 2019
Valuable and insightful commentary on Rand and Rand's influence on today's world

Mean Girl offers not only a biographical account of Rand (including the fact that she modeled one of her key heroes on a serial killer), but describes Rand's influence on neoliberal thinking more generally.

As Duggan makes clear, Rand's influence is not just that she offered a programmatic for unregulated capitalism, but that she offered an emotional template for "optimistic cruelty" that has extended far beyond its libertarian confines. Mean Girl is a fun, worthwhile read!

Sister, June 3, 2019

Superb poitical and cultural exploration of Rand's influence

Lisa Duggan's concise but substantive look at the political and cultural influence of Ayn Rand is stunning. I feel like I've been waiting most of a lifetime for a book that is as wonderfully readable as it is insightful. Many who write about Rand reduce her to a caricature hero or demon without taking her, and the history and choices that produced her seriously as a subject of cultural inquiry. I am one of those people who first encountered Rand's books - novels, but also some nonfiction and her play, "The Night of January 16th," in which audience members were selected as jurors – as a teenager.

Under the thrall of some right-wing locals, I was so drawn to Rand's larger-than-life themes, the crude polarization of "individualism" and "conformity," the admonition to selfishness as a moral virtue, her reductive dismissal of the public good as "collectivism."

Her work circulated endlessly in those circles of the Goldwater-ite right. I have changed over many years, and my own life experiences have led me to reject the casual cruelty and vicious supremacist bent of Rand's beliefs.

But over those many years, the coterie of Rand true believers has kept the faith and expanded. One of the things I value about Duggan's compelling account is her willingness to take seriously the far reach of Rand's indifference to human suffering even as she strips away the veneer that suggests Rand's beliefs were deep.

In fact, though her views are deeply-seated, Rand is, at heart, a confidence artist, appealing only to narrow self-interest at the expense of the well-being of whole societies.

I learned that the hard way, but I learned it. Now I am recommending Duggan's wise book to others who seek to understand today's cultural and political moment in the United States and the rise of an ethic of indifference to anybody but the already affluent. Duggan is comfortable with complexity; most Randian champions or detractors are not.

[Jun 11, 2019] Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism by Quinn Slobodian

The author is a very fuzzy way comes to the idea that neoliberalism is in essence a Trotskyism for the rich and that neoliberals want to use strong state to enforce the type of markets they want from above. That included free movement of capital goods and people across national borders. All this talk about "small government" is just a smoke screen for naive fools.
Similar to 1930th contemporary right-wing populism in Germany and Austria emerged from within neoliberalism, not in opposition to it. They essentially convert neoliberalism in "national liberalism": Yes to free trade by only on bilateral basis with a strict control of trade deficits. No to free migration, multilateralism
Notable quotes:
"... The second explanation was that neoliberal globalization made a small number of people very rich, and it was in the interest of those people to promote a self-serving ideology using their substantial means by funding think tanks and academic departments, lobbying congress, fighting what the Heritage Foundation calls "the war of ideas." Neoliberalism, then, was a restoration of class power after the odd, anomalous interval of the mid-century welfare state. ..."
"... Neoliberal globalism can be thought of in its own terms as a negative theology, contending that the world economy is sublime and ineffable with a small number of people having special insight and ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, encase the sublime world economy. ..."
"... One of the big goals of my book is to show neoliberalism is one form of regulation among many rather than the big Other of regulation as such. ..."
"... I build here on the work of other historians and show how the demands in the United Nations by African, Asian, and Latin American nations for things like the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, i.e. the right to nationalize foreign-owned companies, often dismissed as merely rhetorical, were actually existentially frightening to global businesspeople. ..."
"... They drafted neoliberal intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave foreign corporations more rights than domestic actors and tried to figure out how to lock in what I call the "human right of capital flight" into binding international codes. I show how we can see the development of the WTO as largely a response to the fear of a planned -- and equal -- planet that many saw in the aspirations of the decolonizing world. ..."
"... The neoliberal insight of the 1930s was that the market would not take care of itself: what Wilhelm Röpke called a market police was an ongoing need in a world where people, whether out of atavistic drives or admirable humanitarian motives, kept trying to make the earth a more equal and just place. ..."
"... The culmination of these processes by the 1990s is a world economy that is less like a laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress, as ever more of the world's resources and ideas are regulated through transnational legal instruments. ..."
Mar 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 16, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0674979524
ISBN-13: 978-0674979529

From introduction

...The second explanation was that neoliberal globalization made a small number of people very rich, and it was in the interest of those people to promote a self-serving ideology using their substantial means by funding think tanks and academic departments, lobbying congress, fighting what the Heritage Foundation calls "the war of ideas." Neoliberalism, then, was a restoration of class power after the odd, anomalous interval of the mid-century welfare state.

There is truth to both of these explanations. Both presuppose a kind of materialist explanation of history with which I have no problem. In my book, though, I take another approach. What I found is that we could not understand the inner logic of something like the WTO without considering the whole history of the twentieth century. What I also discovered is that some of the members of the neoliberal movement from the 1930s onward, including Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, did not use either of the explanations I just mentioned. They actually didn't say that economic growth excuses everything. One of the peculiar things about Hayek, in particular, is that he didn't believe in using aggregates like GDP -- the very measurements that we need to even say what growth is.

What I found is that neoliberalism as a philosophy is less a doctrine of economics than a doctrine of ordering -- of creating the institutions that provide for the reproduction of the totality [of financial elite control of the state]. At the core of the strain I describe is not the idea that we can quantify, count, price, buy and sell every last aspect of human existence. Actually, here it gets quite mystical. The Austrian and German School of neoliberals in particular believe in a kind of invisible world economy that cannot be captured in numbers and figures but always escapes human comprehension.

After all, if you can see something, you can plan it. Because of the very limits to our knowledge, we have to default to ironclad rules and not try to pursue something as radical as social justice, redistribution, or collective transformation. In a globalized world, we must give ourselves over to the forces of the market, or the whole thing will stop working.

So this is quite a different version of neoliberal thought than the one we usually have, premised on the abstract of individual liberty or the freedom to choose. Here one is free to choose but only within a limited range of options left after responding to the global forces of the market.

One of the core arguments of my book is that we can only understand the internal coherence of neoliberalism if we see it as a doctrine as concerned with the whole as the individual. Neoliberal globalism can be thought of in its own terms as a negative theology, contending that the world economy is sublime and ineffable with a small number of people having special insight and ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, encase the sublime world economy.

To me, the metaphor of encasement makes much more sense than the usual idea of markets set free, liberated or unfettered. How can it be that in an era of proliferating third party arbitration courts, international investment law, trade treaties and regulation that we talk about "unfettered markets"? One of the big goals of my book is to show neoliberalism is one form of regulation among many rather than the big Other of regulation as such.

What I explore in Globalists is how we can think of the WTO as the latest in a long series of institutional fixes proposed for the problem of emergent nationalism and what neoliberals see as the confusion between sovereignty -- ruling a country -- and ownership -- owning the property within it.

I build here on the work of other historians and show how the demands in the United Nations by African, Asian, and Latin American nations for things like the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, i.e. the right to nationalize foreign-owned companies, often dismissed as merely rhetorical, were actually existentially frightening to global businesspeople.

They drafted neoliberal intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave foreign corporations more rights than domestic actors and tried to figure out how to lock in what I call the "human right of capital flight" into binding international codes. I show how we can see the development of the WTO as largely a response to the fear of a planned -- and equal -- planet that many saw in the aspirations of the decolonizing world.

Perhaps the lasting image of globalization that the book leaves is that world capitalism has produced a doubled world -- a world of imperium (the world of states) and a world of dominium (the world of property). The best way to understand neoliberal globalism as a project is that it sees its task as the never-ending maintenance of this division. The neoliberal insight of the 1930s was that the market would not take care of itself: what Wilhelm Röpke called a market police was an ongoing need in a world where people, whether out of atavistic drives or admirable humanitarian motives, kept trying to make the earth a more equal and just place.

The culmination of these processes by the 1990s is a world economy that is less like a laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress, as ever more of the world's resources and ideas are regulated through transnational legal instruments. The book acts as a kind of field guide to these institutions and, in the process, hopefully recasts the 20th century that produced them.


Mark bennett

One half of a decent book

3.0 out of 5 stars 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. Read less 69 people found this helpful Helpful Comment Report abuse

Jesper Doepping
A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence

5.0 out of 5 stars A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence November 14, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase Anybody interested in global trade, business, human rights or democracy today should read this book.

The book follow the Austrians from the beginning in the Habsburgischer empire to the beginning rebellion against the WTO. However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition.

What I found most interesting is the turn from economics to law - and the conceptual distinctions between the genes, tradition, reason, which are translated into a quest for a rational and reason based protection of dominium (the rule of property) against the overreach of imperium (the rule of states/people). This distinction speaks directly to the issues that EU is currently facing.

Jackal
A historian with an agenda

3.0 out of 5 stars A historian with an agenda October 22, 2018 Format: Hardcover Author is covering Mises, Hayek, Machlup in Vienna. How to produce order once the Habsburg empire had been broken after 1918? They pioneered data gathering about the economy. However, such data came to be used by the left as well. This forced the people mentioned to become intellectual thinkers as opposed to something else(??). I like how the author is situating the people in a specific era, but he is reading history backwards. The book moves on, but stays in Central Europe. Ordocapitalism followed after Hitler. It was a German attempt to have a both strong state and strong by market, which given Europe's fragmentation required international treaties. This was seen as a way to avoid another Hitler. Later, international organisations like IMF and TWO became the new institutions that embedded the global markets. The book ends in the 90s. So in reading history backwards, the author finds quotations of Mises and Hayek that "prove" that they were aiming to create intellectual cover for the global financial elite of the 2010s.

Nevertheless, the book is interesting if you like the history of ideas. He frames the questions intelligently in the historical context at the time. However a huge question-mark for objectivity. The book is full of lefty dog whistles: the war making state, regulation of capitalism, reproducing the power of elites, the problem [singular] of capitalism. In a podcast the author states point blank "I wanted the left to see what the enemy was up too". I find it pathetic that authors are so blatantly partisan. How can we know whether he is objective when he doesn't even try? He dismissively claims that the neoliberal thinkers gave cover to what has become the globalist world order. So why should we not consider the current book as intellectual cover for some "new left" that is about to materialise? Maybe the book is just intellectual cover for the globalist elite being educated in left-wing private colleges.

[Jun 11, 2019] Open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage.

Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129

@donkeytale

You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "

This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.

[Jun 10, 2019] If ever there were a candidate who might be inclined to rethink our relationship with the Saudis, it's Buttigieg.

Notable quotes:
"... He would be given a lavish reception in Riyadh, where he would deliver a speech thanking our Saudi allies for leading the brave fight against "Iranian homophobia." ..."
Jun 10, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Timothy Hagios , 09 June 2019 at 01:49 PM

On the bright side, if ever there were a candidate who might be inclined to rethink our relationship with the Saudis, it's Buttigieg.

Oh, who am I kidding? He would be given a lavish reception in Riyadh, where he would deliver a speech thanking our Saudi allies for leading the brave fight against "Iranian homophobia."

[Jun 10, 2019] Are Bonds Peaking-Interest Rates Bottoming

Jun 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Bam_Man , 3 hours ago link

One year ago, EVERYBODY was a bond "bear", predicting a long string of rate hikes that would bring Fed Funds up to 4.50%.

They were ALL wrong. VERY wrong.

They are probably just as wrong now that they are bond "bulls".

Greenspazm , 1 hour ago link

No, if you use kimble charting technical analysis you will get very rich.

Bam_Man , 1 hour ago link

Undoubtedly.

[Jun 09, 2019] The looming 100-year US-China conflict by Martin Wolf

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Across-the-board rivalry with China is becoming an organising principle of US economic, foreign and security policies. ..."
"... An effort to halt China's economic and technological rise is almost certain to fail. Worse, it will foment deep hostility in the Chinese people. In the long run, the demands of an increasingly prosperous and well-educated people for control over their lives might still win out. But that is far less likely if China's natural rise is threatened. ..."
"... The tragedy in what is now happening is that the administration is simultaneously launching a conflict between the two powers, attacking its allies and destroying the institutions of the postwar US-led order. ..."
Jun 04, 2019 | archive.fo
The disappearance of the Soviet Union left a big hole. The "war on terror" was an inadequate replacement. But China ticks all boxes. For the US, it can be the ideological, military and economic enemy many need. Here at last is a worthwhile opponent. That was the main conclusion I drew from this year's Bilderberg meetings.

Across-the-board rivalry with China is becoming an organising principle of US economic, foreign and security policies.

Whether it is Donald Trump's organizing principle is less important. The US president has the gut instincts of a nationalist and protectionist. Others provide both framework and details. The aim is US domination. The means is control over China, or separation from China.

Anybody who believes a rules-based multilateral order, our globalised economy, or even harmonious international relations, are likely to survive this conflict is deluded. The astonishing white paper on the trade conflict , published on Sunday by China, is proof. The -- to me, depressing -- fact is that on many points Chinese positions are right.

The US focus on bilateral imbalances is economically illiterate. The view that theft of intellectual property has caused huge damage to the US is questionable . The proposition that China has grossly violated its commitments under its 2001 accession agreement to the World Trade Organization is hugely exaggerated.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

Accusing China of cheating is hypocritical when almost all trade policy actions taken by the Trump administration are in breach of WTO rules, a fact implicitly conceded by its determination to destroy the dispute settlement system .

The US negotiating position vis-à-vis China is that "might makes right". This is particularly true of insisting that the Chinese accept the US role as judge, jury and executioner of the agreement .

A dispute over the terms of market opening or protection of intellectual property might be settled with careful negotiation. Such a settlement might even help China, since it would lighten the heavy hand of the state and promote market-oriented reform.

But the issues are now too vexed for such a resolution. This is partly because of the bitter breakdown in negotiation. It is still more because the US debate is increasingly over whether integration with China's state-led economy is desirable. The fear over Huawei focuses on national security and technological autonomy.

[Neo]liberal commerce is increasingly seen as "trading with the enemy".

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

A framing of relations with China as one of zero-sum conflict is emerging. Recent remarks by Kiron Skinner, the US state department's policy planning director (a job once held by cold war strategist George Kennan) are revealing. Rivalry with Beijing, she suggested at a forum organised by New America , is "a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology, and the United States hasn't had that before".

She added that this would be "the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian". The war with Japan is forgotten.

But the big point is her framing of this as a civilizational and racial war and so as an insoluble conflict. This cannot be accidental. She is also still in her job. Others present the conflict as one over ideology and power.

Those emphasising the former point to President Xi Jinping's Marxist rhetoric and the reinforced role of the Communist party . Those emphasising the latter point to China's rising economic might. Both perspectives suggest perpetual conflict.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

This is the most important geopolitical development of our era. Not least, it will increasingly force everybody else to take sides or fight hard for neutrality. But it is not only important. It is dangerous. It risks turning a manageable, albeit vexed, relationship into all-embracing conflict, for no good reason. China's ideology is not a threat to liberal democracy in the way the Soviet Union's was. Rightwing demagogues are far more dangerous.

An effort to halt China's economic and technological rise is almost certain to fail. Worse, it will foment deep hostility in the Chinese people. In the long run, the demands of an increasingly prosperous and well-educated people for control over their lives might still win out. But that is far less likely if China's natural rise is threatened.

Moreover, the rise of China is not an important cause of western malaise. That reflects far more the indifference and incompetence of domestic elites. What is seen as theft of intellectual property reflects, in large part, the inevitable attempt of a rising economy to master the technologies of the day. Above all, an attempt to preserve the domination of 4 per cent of humanity over the rest is illegitimate.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

This certainly does not mean accepting everything China does or says. On the contrary, the best way for the west to deal with China is to insist on the abiding values of freedom, democracy, rules-based multilateralism and global co-operation. These ideas made many around the globe supporters of the US in the past.

They still captivate many Chinese people today. It is quite possible to uphold these ideas, indeed insist upon them far more strongly, while co-operating with a rising China where that is essential, as over protecting the natural environment, commerce and peace.

Martin Wolf chart on US/China

A blend of competition with co-operation is the right way forward. Such an approach to managing China's rise must include co-operating closely with like-minded allies and treating China with respect.

The tragedy in what is now happening is that the administration is simultaneously launching a conflict between the two powers, attacking its allies and destroying the institutions of the postwar US-led order.

Today's attack on China is the wrong war, fought in the wrong way, on the wrong terrain. Alas, this is where we now are.

martin.wolf@ft.com

[Jun 09, 2019] In America and also much of Europe, the current post-war baby boomer generation will be the first that cannot expect their children to get higher living standards than them

Jun 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jun 9, 2019 4:04:26 PM | 27

Two important posts from Michael Roberts' Facebook.

About the USA:

The end of the American dream (if it ever existed)..

In America and also much of Europe, the current post-war baby boomer generation will be the first that cannot expect their children to get higher living standards than them. The percentage of 30-year olds earning more than their parents is at its lowest level ever recorded.

Inequality of income is at its highest in 100 years, when you compare the share of the top 1% to the bottom 90%.

The economic mobility rate in the US is now one of the worst in the developed world. In the US, people in the bottom income quartile have a 40% chance of having a father in the bottom quartile (in the father's prime earning years) and people in the top quartile have only about an 8% chance of having a father in the bottom quartile, suggesting half of the average probability of moving up and one of the worst probabilities of all the countries analyzed.

About Japan and Germany:

Two key G7 economies continue to show a significant slowdown in economic growth.

German industrial production plunged 1.9 percent from a month earlier in April 2019, much worse than market expectations of a 0.4 percent fall and after a 0.5 percent gain in the previous month.

That was the biggest drop in output since August 2015, amid falls in the production of capital goods (-3.3 percent), intermediate goods (-2.1 percent), energy (-1.1 percent) and consumer goods (-0.8 percent). Year-on-year, industrial production dropped 1.8 percent in April, following a 0.9 percent fall in March. Manufacturing output dropped 3.4% over the year. Both exports and imports fell.

The German Bundesbank cut its GDP growth forecast for this year to just 0.6%, down from 1.6% at the beginning of 2019.

Japanese wages fell for the fourth consecutive month and overall household spending slowed sharply. Unemployment, currently at record lows, is set to rise.

[Jun 05, 2019] A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney -- yes, Mitt s father -- turned down several big annual bonuses. He told his company s board he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today).

Notable quotes:
"... "A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney -- yes, Mitt's father -- turned down several big annual bonuses. He told his company's board he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today). ..."
"... "The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself." John Kenneth Galbraith ..."
"... It is worth remembering just how much the companies of the mega-rich depend on tax paid for services and infrastructure. Where would Amazon be with out the road and US postal service? ..."
"... AOC is a ground-breaker on taxing the rich. I hope she takes on raising the corporate tax, which Bernie has hinted at. ..."
"... Neoliberal capitalism has gutted the American middle and working classes, leaving only gig economy jobs, like Saturn eating his children. Tax 'em and put their money to use on health care, education, the Green New Deal and job creation, affordable daycare, and rebuilding communities. ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

Meredith New York Jan. 6

NYT David Leonhardt "When the Rich Said No To Getting Richer". Quite a contrast. "A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney -- yes, Mitt's father -- turned down several big annual bonuses. He told his company's board he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today).

He worried that "the temptations of success" could distract people from more important matters. This belief seems to have stemmed from both Romney's Mormon faith and a culture of financial restraint that was once commonplace in this country. Romney didn't try to make every dollar he could, or anywhere close to it. The same was true among many of his corporate peers. In the early 1960s, the typical chief executive at a large U.S. company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio. Today, some C.E.O.s make $2 million in a single month. The old culture of restraint had multiple causes. One was the tax code. When Romney was saying no to bonuses, the top marginal tax rate was 91%." That was under GOP Eisenhower. And jobs here, unions strong, state college tuition tax subsidized-- the middle/working class had upward mobility and faith in the future. Now, per the international GINI Index of middle class security and upward economic mobility, the USA ranks behind many other capitalist democracies. What would George Romney say about Trump as president?

Darsan54 Grand Rapids, MI Jan. 5

@Tom: Could it be possible too many loopholes and deductions are written into the system to make it effective? We have been defunding the IRS and building a tax system that favors creative returns for decades. Maybe it's time to go in another direction.

Len Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 5

@Ron Cohen "The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself." John Kenneth Galbraith

Penningtonia princeton Jan. 5

@WPLMMT; You mistunderstand. The 70% applies only to income OVER the threshold. So theoretically, the first 50 thousand (above the standard deduction) could be taxed at ,say 10%, the next 50K at 20%, from 100K - 500K at 30%, from 500k to a million at 50%. So the takehome from a million would be 715K, enough for anyone to live on. The exact details don't matter. It is the idea that only income above a very high number would be taxed at the marginal rate.

Brinton Los Angeles Jan. 5

If the goal is to raise revenue by taxing high earners at a higher rate, it seems to me that a good place to begin would be to raise the effective tax rate on the rich to around 40% by eliminating the 50% discount on capital gains, and the depreciation allowances for real estate investments.

Andrew NY Jan. 6

Income tax rate increases at high income levels would help but they miss the point. The real wealth in this country is from those who own assets, not those who draw a paycheck. The real deal would be to raise taxes on passive income and estate taxes on an ever increasing scale where, say, anything over $1m in annual passive income and $50m in estate value is taxed at 50% or higher. America is the land of opportunity; if those of us lucky enough to make it just leave it all to our heirs, they will have little incentive to work and add value to their own lives as well as to society. Plus the velocity of capital that would occur from heirs being forced to sell companies, real estate and other assets to pay estate taxes will place those assets in the hands of those best able to maximize their value going forward. Paul and AOC, I hope you are reading this and plugging it into your thinking.

fatrexhadswag DC Jan. 6

I only wish the democrats would try to educate what the marginal tax means when they discuss policy in the public sphere. The media is going to go nuts with this 70% rate without taking the time to explain that it's only an additional bracket at the tippy top of the scale. This proposal wouldn't affect 99% of the country.

Jeffrey Bank Baltimore Maryland Jan. 6

Every day I see and hear more about this young woman, I am more impressed. Disclaimer: I am a 68 year old white guy (Jew). She is smart, articulate, talks truth to power, and is also very hot! A tough combination to beat.Her Twitter comebacks against old Republican men are witty and hilarious, and hit home. I say AOC has a great future. She will learn the political ropes quickly. In ten years, stand by to stand by.

LM Jersey Jan. 6

A high percentage of wealthy people inherited their money. There are many examples of highly successful men who marry beautiful, but not necessarily intelligent women. Their children's IQs are somewhere in between their parents IQ numbers. The end result is greed-driven wealth management and less than honorable decisions, including buying politicians. Narcissism runs rampant among this group with POTUS and some of his children as a prime example. Thomas Jefferson strongly felt that large inheritances should be heavily taxed to prevent the harmful activities of the very rich from destroying our democracy. He was right.

Thomas K. Ray Marquette, Michigan Jan. 6

We all benefit from living in this great nation of opportunity. Once you make more than 100K per month you should pay 70% tax. It is OFFENSIVE that our great nation does not provide free education through college, provide health insurance (especially, since there are people making millions ripping off the medical system), provide free daycare, housing and food for those who need support. TAX INCOME OVER 1 million....if this is a disinsentive then there is something seriously wrong with you.

Earl Philadelphia Jan. 7

The U.S. has had a long history of a graduated income tax. In the Reagan era, the tax rate was at 50 percent having come down from 70 percent. We are not funding government spending, and are instead running up substantial deficits. Moreover, as the baby-boom population retires, social security and medicare will become unsustainable. While we can certainly reduce government spending significantly (especially the sacred cow of military spending), we will need to increase tax revenues. Tax increases are inevitable, and the most fair way to distribute the burden of increased taxes is through a graduated income tax. Those with the ability to pay, should pay more. After all, they are certainly enjoying the benefits of a free and stable country more than those at the other end of the income spectrum. While we can argue what the top marginal rate should be, it certainly should be 50 percent or greater. We should also eliminate the special tax preference given to dividends and capital gains, which mainly inure to the wealthy. To those whom much is given, much is expected.

GG New Windsor Jan. 7

@Jason First, no one is talking about taxing businesses at 73%, only individuals who are at extreme high levels of income. Second, why do the rich always seem to think that the "unwashed masses" owe them something? Go to Canada where in addition to a higher tax rate on your business you will also be paying for single payer health care for employees and subject to common sense regulations that businesses here are no subject to. The grass is always greener.

hammond San Francisco Jan. 5

@NR Agreed and same here with our money. How much does anyone really need, beyond a certain point? Wherever that point is, I passed it decades ago. It's so disheartening to see how many people, often quite poor people, fully believe the mantra that taking money from rich people will reduce jobs and growth. Very little of my wealth goes towards growth. It's in index funds and T-bills and other instruments that mostly hold it until it's traded to some other wealthy person, hopefully at a profit to me. About the only way my money leads to growth is through the start-ups I have self-funded over the years. And even these were sold to large corporations (or they failed) by the time they had a few hundred employees. Most exits occurred with just a dozen or so employees. Mostly the wealthy barter and