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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

[Mar 22, 2019] Boeing Receives $4 Bln Military Contract Despite Global 737 MAX Grounding

Mar 22, 2019 | sputniknews.com

The American aviation company has recently been immersed in a scandal after the crash of two 737 MAX 8 airliners in a span of less than six months. An official investigation into the catastrophes is ongoing, but some reports suggest that Boeing's automatic anti-stall system and a faulty sensor could be behind them. Boeing has won a three-year contract with the US Navy according to which it will upgrade 78 F/A-18 Super Hornets from Block II modifications to Block III, a company statement reads. The upgrades will include an enhanced network capability, longer range, reduced radar signature, an advanced cockpit system, and an enhanced communication system for the bomber jets. It will also extend the jets' service life from 6,000 hours to 10,000 hours.

Canadian, European Regulators to Hold Independent Reviews of Boeing 737 MAX

The aviation company will commence work on meeting the orders in the $4 billion contract "early in the next decade". The company noted that the contract saves some $395 million in taxpayer money, as it is a multi-year contract and thus the price for the work carried out during this period is fixed and will not be determined on a year-by-year basis.

The signing of the contract comes at a difficult time for Boeing, as its popular 737 MAX planes have wound up at the centre of an investigation after two aircraft in the series crashed in a span of less than six months. The crashes led to a global grounding of the planes, with the US being one of the last countries to do so. Although a probe into the reasons behind crashes is still ongoing, investigators have said that after seeing data from the black boxes, there are certain similarities between the two cases.

READ MORE: Captain on Boeing 737 Max: Pilots Were Fighting Against Aircraft System

The crashes have also forced the US military to start reviewing the training procedures for its pilots of large cargo and transport planes, including the president's Air Force One, citing the need to make sure they can handle emergency situations.

[Mar 22, 2019] Responding to some of the critiques of our paper on secular stagnation and fiscal policy

Mar 22, 2019 | larrysummers.com

My paper with Lukasz Rachel on secular stagnation and fiscal policy summarized here has attracted a number of interesting responses including from Martin Wolf , David Leonhardt , Martin Sandbu and Brad DeLong and also many participants at the Brookings conference.

I'm gratified that there seems to be general acceptance of the core secular stagnation argument. "Normal" policy settings of real interest rates in the 2 percent range, balanced primary budgets and stable financial markets are a prescription for stagnation and underemployment. Such economic success as the industrial world has enjoyed in recent decades has reflected a combination of very low real rates, big budget deficits, private leveraging up and asset bubbles.

No one from whom I have heard doubts the key conclusion that a combination of meaningfully positive real interest rates and balanced budgets would likely be a prescription for sustained recession if not depression in the industrial world.

Notice that this is a much more fundamental argument than the suggestion that the some effective lower bound on interest rates may impede stabilizing the economy. The argument is that because of chronic private sector tendency towards oversaving, economies may be prone to underemployment and financial stability absent policy responses which are themselves problematic.

This is an argument much more in the spirit of Keynes, the early Keynesians, and today's Post-Keynesians than the New Keynesians who have set the terms for much of contemporary macroeconomic discourse both in academia and in the world's central banks.

The central feature of New Keynesian models is an idea that economies have an equilibrium to which they naturally revert independent of policies pursued. Good central bank policy achieves a desired inflation target (assumed to be feasible) while minimizing the amplitude of fluctuations around that equilibrium.

In contrast contemporary experience, where inflation has been below target almost throughout the industrial world for a decade and is expected by markets to remain below target for decades, and where output is sustained only by large budget deficits or extraordinary monetary policies, suggest that central banks acting alone cannot necessarily attain inflation targets and that misguided policy could easily not just raise the volatility of output but also reduce its average level.

While there seems to be little doubt that real interest rates–short and long, ex ante and ex post -- have declined very substantially even as (other things equal) budget deficits and expanded social security programs should have increased them, there remains debate about how to analyze these trends. Lukasz and I argue that adjustment to balance saving and investment is the best way understand declining real rates. DeLong wonders about changing risk premiums and Wolf cites BIS work arguing that low rates reflect the monetary policy regime. There is no reason why there needs to be only one cause of low real rates so these factors may enter. But as I expect we will illustrate in the revised version of the paper, the largest part of the low frequency variation in ex ante real returns is accounted for by a downward trending factor common to all asset prices. This is illustrated for the US in the figure below. So risk premiums or factors specific to Treasuries are likely not high order.

Figure: Decline in US real asset returns

Granting that secular stagnation is a problem, there is the question of policy response. The right policy response will be the one that assures that full employment is maintained with a minimum of collateral problems. Sandbu argues against the notion of secular stagnation in part because he thinks it may lead in unconstructive directions like protectionism and because he believes that stagnation issues can be feasibly and relatively easily addressed by lowering rates. Wolf, relying on the BIS, is alarmed by the toxic effects of very low rates on financial stability in the short run and economic performance in the long run, and prefers fiscal stimulus. Leonhardt prefers a broad menu of measures to absorb saving and promote investment.

I am not certain of the right approach and I wish there was more evidence to bring to bear on the question. I can certain see the logic of the "zero is just another number" view, that holds that the current environment poses no new fundamental issues but just may require technical changes to make more negative interest rates possible. I am skeptical because (i) I am not sure how large the stimulus effect of rates going more negative is because of damage to banks, reduced interest income for consumers, and because capital cost is already not the barrier to investment; (ii) I wonder about the quality of any investment that was not made at a zero rate but was made at a negative rate; and (iii) I suspect that a world of significantly negative nominal rates if sustained will be a world of leveraging, risk seeking and bubbles. I have trouble thinking about behavior in situations where people and firms are paid to borrow!

I am inclined to prefer more reliance on reasonably managed fiscal policies as a response to secular stagnation: government borrowing at negative real rates and investing seems very attractive in a world where there are many projects with high social returns. Moreover, we are accustomed to thinking in terms of debt levels but it may be more appropriate to think in terms of sustained debt service levels. With near zero rates these are below average in most industrial countries. The content of fiscal policies is crucial. Measures which run up government debt without stimulating demand like large parts of the Trump tax cut are ill advised. In contrast measures which promote investment and raise the tax base down the road are much more attractive.

There are of course other measures beyond stabilization policies like fighting monopolies, promoting a more equal income distribution, and strengthening retirement security for which the desire to maintain macroeconomic stability provides an additional rationale.

[Mar 21, 2019] Boeing 737 MAX- The Latest Example of a Passive DOT - WSJ

Mar 21, 2019 | www.wsj.com

Thirty-five Congressional mandates sit unanswered, on everything from minimum seat space to secondary barriers protecting cockpits. The top job at the Federal Aviation Administration has been open for 14 months. Enforcement fines against major U.S. airlines have dropped 88% in the past two years, even as three-hour tarmac delays have more than doubled.

The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao has seemingly been delayed on a number of issues important to travelers. Even with airlines begging for rules on emotional-support animals , and both Republicans and Democrats expressing concerns about swollen fees, shrunken seating and punitive airline policies, the DOT has been loath to issue new regulations.

Airlines asked the department in late 2017 to kill a bunch of consumer-protection rules -- nothing on that so far, either.

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.287.0_en.html#goog_1907499810

Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crash: Three Things to Know Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crash: Three Things to Know An investigation has been launched after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday, killing all on board. WSJ aerospace reporter Robert Wall discusses the possible focus of the investigation, and more. Photo: Getty Images

Now Ms. Chao's department, which includes the FAA, faces its toughest regulatory challenge: safety concerns on the Boeing 737 MAX. Two fatal crashes of the new airplane in the past five months have led several nations and some airlines to ground the jet.

So far, the FAA, siding with Boeing and U.S. airlines, says the plane is safe and a software fix is coming by the end of April. Sales of Boeing planes have been important to President Trump's trade and employment objectives. But pressure is mounting, and if investigators find the same system is responsible for both crashes, it will be increasingly difficult for the FAA and Ms. Chao to leave a plane with a fatal flaw in the air.

Consumer advocates say the Transportation Department has been invisible.

THE MIDDLE SEAT

"There doesn't seem to be any meaningful enforcement going on," says John Breyault, vice president at the National Consumers League. "The DOT under Sec. Chao seems to be even less willing to engage in serious consumer protection efforts than it did under President Obama's watch, which is a pretty low bar."

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The DOT declined to answer specific questions for this story. It offered a general statement saying it has improved its website in the past year and is giving consumers more information by including performance of regional partners with big-airline operating statistics. A DOT spokeswoman says it plans to issue rules on service animals later this year and plans to allow airlines to use electronic payment methods when compensating travelers for bumping them involuntarily from flights.

With its response, the department included a list of seven accomplishments under Ms. Chao, who also oversees surface transportation. None dealt with airline travel.

Airlines and many travelers applaud the Trump administration's aversion to regulation and willingness to let consumer choice discipline unpopular business decisions. Deregulating fares and schedules in 1978, after all, led to a boom in affordable, convenient travel .

In keeping with the push to reduce regulation, Ms. Chao's DOT stopped a number of rule-making efforts in progress at the end of the Obama administration. Among them: imposing requirements on disclosure of baggage and other fees at ticket purchase, as well as a review of how fees in the airline industry were affecting competition.

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao lists seven accomplishments during her administration, none of which deal with air travel. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao lists seven accomplishments during her administration, none of which deal with air travel. PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Airlines applauded those moves. "There is a reluctance to regulate unless there's a market failure or some other type of safety or real unfair and deceptive practice that's going on," says Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy at Airlines for America, the industry's Washington, D.C., lobbying group.

"We're thankful for that, frankly," she added, "that their philosophy isn't to regulate every little thing."

The Transportation Department is the only stop for passenger rights since Congress exempted air travel in 1978 from any state or local regulation.

Recent changes in air travel have led to a host of new issues:

* Airlines have repeatedly asked DOT to adopt the definition of service animals in the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires specific training for support animals. Cabins are full of untrained pets wearing service-animal vests to avoid high airline fees or shipping in crates in baggage compartments.

"We just think there should be one rule for the entire country," says Ms. Pinkerton of A4A. "There's no reason to have a more lenient approach to emotional-service animals in an environment like an airplane."

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* Congress passed a law sponsored by Democrats and Republicans that requires DOT to establish minimum standards for seat size and legroom on planes and make each carrier post the amount of space available for each passenger on its website. The deadline is in October. Airlines and advocates say they've seen no action so far.

* Last year Congress also required that DOT hire a consumer advocate to help travelers resolve service complaints, report on how DOT is handling complaints and recommend improvements to enforce aviation consumer protection rules. The position remains open.

* DOT hasn't conducted compliance inspections at airline headquarters in more than two years, the Government Accountability Office reported in November . Compliance inspections, done routinely in past years, involve checking airline customer-service policies and passenger complaints received by airlines. They also make sure airlines are reporting data properly to DOT.

In its response to the GAO, the department said it has a "robust and multifaceted program" to investigate airlines and enforce consumer protection requirements.

* An aviation consumer-protection advisory committee that is supposed to have one passenger advocate among four members has no one with any consumer aviation experience. The designated consumer advocate appointed by the Trump administration comes from a think tank favoring free markets over regulation, where she works on agriculture and trade issues.

A Fine Distinction Airlines have seen far fewer Transportation Department fines in the first two years of the Trump Administration. They've also experienced more long domestic tarmac delays over that time.

DOT enforcement fines against U.S. major airlines

million

$5

4

3

2

1

$560,000

0

2017

2016

2018

Domestic three-hour tarmac delays

200

181

150

100

50

0

2018

2016

2017

*2018 tarmac delays are through November only

Sources: WSJ compilation of DOT filings (fines); Bureau of Transportation Statistics (delays)

The tarmac delay rule is an example of one public policy that actually worked. Flights stranded at airports with passengers held on board with no food, water and in some cases limited working bathrooms became a major issue. In 2007, more than 1,600 domestic U.S. flights had tarmac delays of more than three hours, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Some stretched to 10 hours or more . In 2010, the Transportation Department enacted a rule to levy heavy fines on airlines for tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and four hours on international flights.

Airlines adjusted , investing in better tracking of flights on the ground and more resources to get people off stranded planes. Though airlines warned of massive cancellations if the rule was imposed, cancellations went down. So did tarmac delays: From 2011 to 2016, there were fewer than 100 a year on domestic flights.

But 2017 and 2018 saw three-hour tarmac delays more than double. At the same time, DOT enforcement against U.S. major airlines declined sharply.

In 2016, DOT levied a total of $4.7 million in fines against U.S. major carriers for all issues, not just tarmac delays. In 2017, that number dropped to $2.7 million, then to $560,000 in 2018. Only one fine, $1.5 million against Frontier Airlines in 2017, was for domestic tarmac delays. DOT did fine several foreign airlines for delays longer than four hours. And it hit American and Delta with tarmac delay fines last month, picking up the pace a bit.

Airlines say the increase in tarmac delays in 2017 and 2018 was a result of an increase in severe weather the past two years, not lax DOT enforcement.

[Mar 20, 2019] What Republicans and Billionaires Really Mean When They Talk About 'Freedom' by Thom Hartman

Mar 20, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. This post focuses on an important slice of history in what "freedom" has meant in political discourse in the US. But I wish it had at least mentioned how a well-funded, then extreme right wing effort launched an open-ended campaign to render US values more friendly to business. They explicitly sought to undo New Deal programs and weaken or end other social safety nets. Nixon Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell codified the strategy for this initiative in the so-called Powell Memo of 1971.

One of the most effective spokesmen for this libertarian program was Milton Friedman, whose bestseller Free to Choose became the foundation for a ten-part TV series.

By Thom Hartman, a talk-show host and author of more than 25 books in print . He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute . Produced by the Independent Media Institute

America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism . We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom .

The Oregonian reported last week that fully 156,000 families are on the edge of homelessness in our small-population state. Every one of those households is now paying more than 50 percent of its monthly income on rent, and none of them has any savings; one medical bill, major car repair or job loss, and they're on the streets.

While socialism may or may not solve their problem, the more pressing issue we have is an entire political party and a huge sector of the billionaire class who see homelessness not as a problem, but as a symptom of a "free" society.

The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding.

The irony -- of the nation founded on the world's greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves -- is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans.

But what do those words mean?

If you ask the Koch brothers and their buddies -- who slap those words on pretty much everything they do -- you'd get a definition that largely has to do with being "free" from taxation and regulation. And, truth be told, if you're morbidly rich, that makes a certain amount of sense, particularly if your main goal is to get richer and richer, regardless of your behavior's impact on working-class people, the environment, or the ability of government to function.

On the other hand, the definition of freedom and liberty that's been embraced by so-called "democratic socialist" countries -- from Canada to almost all of Europe to Japan and Australia -- you'd hear a definition that's closer to that articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proposed, in January 1944, a " second Bill of Rights " to be added to our Constitution.

FDR's proposed amendments included the right to a job, and the right to be paid enough to live comfortably; the right to "adequate food and clothing and recreation"; the right to start a business and run it without worrying about "unfair competition and domination by monopolies"; the right "of every family to a decent home"; the right to "adequate medical care to achieve and enjoy good health"; the right to government-based "protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment"; and the right "to a good education."

Roosevelt pointed out that, "All of these rights spell security." He added, "America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world."

The other nations mentioned earlier took President Roosevelt's advice to heart. Progressive "social democracy" has kept Europe, Canada, and the developed nations of the East and South Pacific free of war for almost a century -- a mind-boggling feat when considering the history of the developed world since the 1500s.

Just prior to FDR winning the White House in the election of 1932, the nation had been treated to 12 years of a bizarre Republican administration that was the model for today's GOP. In 1920, Warren Harding won the presidency on a campaign of "more industry in government, less government in industry" -- privatize and deregulate -- and a promise to drop the top tax rate of 91 percent down to 25 percent.

He kept both promises, putting the nation into a sugar-high spin called the Roaring '20s, where the rich got fabulously rich and working-class people were being beaten and murdered by industrialists when they tried to unionize. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (the three Republican presidents from 1920 to 1932) all cheered on the assaults, using phrases like "the right to work" to describe a union-free nation.

In the end, the result of the " horses and sparrows " economics advocated by Harding ("feed more oats to the horses and there'll be more oats in the horse poop to fatten the sparrows" -- that generation's version of trickle-down economics) was the Republican Great Depression (yes, they called it that until after World War II).

Even though Roosevelt was fabulously popular -- the only president to be elected four times -- the right-wingers of his day were loud and outspoken in their protests of what they called "socialist" programs like Social Security, the right to unionize, and government-guaranteed job programs including the WPA, REA, CCC, and others.

The Klan and American Nazis were assembling by the hundreds of thousands nationwide -- nearly 30,000 in Madison Square Garden alone -- encouraged by wealthy and powerful "economic royalists" preaching "freedom" and " liberty ." Like the Kochs' Freedomworks , that generation's huge and well-funded (principally by the DuPonts' chemical fortune) organization was the Liberty League .

Roosevelt's generation had seen the results of this kind of hard-right "freedom" rhetoric in Italy, Spain, Japan and Germany, the very nations with which we were then at war.

Speaking of "the grave dangers of 'rightist reaction' in this Nation," Roosevelt told America in that same speech that: "[I]f history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called 'normalcy' of the 1920s -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home."

Although right-wingers are still working hard to disassemble FDR's New Deal -- the GOP budget for 2019 contains massive cuts to Social Security, as well as to Medicare and Medicaid -- we got halfway toward his notion of freedom and liberty here in the United States:

You're not free if you're old and deep in poverty, so we have Social Security (although the GOP wants to gut it). You're not free if you're hungry, so we have food stamps/SNAP (although the GOP wants to gut them). You're not free if you're homeless, so we have housing assistance and homeless shelters (although the GOP fights every effort to help homeless people). You're not free if you're sick and can't get medical care, so we have Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare (although the GOP wants to gut them all). You're not free if you're working more than 40 hours a week and still can't meet basic expenses, so we have minimum wage laws and the right to unionize (although the GOP wants to gut both). You're not free if you can't read, so we have free public schools (although the GOP is actively working to gut them). You're not free if you can't vote, so we've passed numerous laws to guarantee the right to vote (although the GOP is doing everything it can to keep tens of millions of Americans from voting).

The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that "freedom" means the government doesn't provide any of the things listed above.

Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we're broke and sick, we're "free" to die like a feral dog in the gutter.

Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.

Poverty, lack of education, no access to health care, poor-paying jobs, and barriers to voting are all proof of a free society, they tell us, which is why America's lowest life expectancy, highest maternal and childhood death rates, lowest levels of education, and lowest pay are almost all in GOP-controlled states .

America -- particularly the Democratic Party -- is engaged in a debate right now about the meaning of socialism . It would be a big help for all of us if we were, instead, to have an honest debate about the meaning of the words freedom and liberty .



cuibono , , March 20, 2019 at 2:53 am

Know Your Rights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfInFVPkQs

WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm

I have been informed by Fox that knowing your rights is un-American

everydayjoe , , March 20, 2019 at 4:26 am

Let us not forget the other propaganda arm of Republican party and big money- Fox news. They spew the freedom nonsense while not adhering to any definition of the word.

I worked in the midwest as an Engineer in the 90s to early 2000s and saw plants being gutted/shifted overseas, Union influence curtailed and mid level and bottom pay stay flat for decades; all in the name of free market.

Sadly the same families that are the worst affected vote Republican! But we know all this and have known it for a while. What will change?

lyman alpha blob , , March 20, 2019 at 8:00 am

They want freedom -- for the wolves to eat the sheep.

PKMKII , , March 20, 2019 at 1:08 pm

And then act like it's fair because they don't have laws against the sheep eating the wolves.

Norb , , March 20, 2019 at 8:39 am

The intro to this post is spot on. The Powell memo outlined a strategy for a corporate coup d'eta. Is was completely successful. Now that the business class rules America, their only vision is to continue the quest and cannibalize the country and enslave its people by any means possible. What tools do they use to achieve these ends? -- debt, fear, violence and pandering to human vanity as a motivator. Again, very successful.

Instead of honest public debate- which is impossible when undertaken with liars and thieves, a good old manifesto or pamphlet like Common Sense is in order. Something calling out concrete action that can be taken by commoners to regain their social respect and power. That should scare the living daylights out of the complacent and smug elite.

Its that, or a lot of public infrastructure is gong to be broken up by the mob- which doesn't work out in the long run. The nations that learn to work with and inspire their populations will prosper- the rest will have a hard time of it. Look no further than America's fall.

Carla , , March 20, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Thank you, Norb. You've inspired me to start by reading Common Sense.

Jamie S , , March 20, 2019 at 9:13 am

This piece raises some important points, but aims too narrowly at one political party, when the D-party has also been complicit in sharing the framing of "freedom" as less government/regulation/taxation. After all, it was the Clinton administration that did welfare "reform", deregulation of finance, and declared the end of the era of "big government", and both Clinton and Obama showed willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare in a "grand bargain".

WJ , , March 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm

+100

If in place of "the GOP," the author had written, "The national Democratic and Republican parties over the past fifty years," his claim would be much more accurate. To believe what he says about "the GOP," you have to pretend that Clinton, and Obama, and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Feinstein simply don't exist and never did. The author's implicit valorization of Obamacare is even more disheartening.

But perhaps this is the *point* of the piece after all? If I were a consultant to the DNC (and I make less than $100,000/yr so I am clearly not), I would advocate that they commission, underscore, and reward pieces exactly like this one. For the smartest ones surely grasp that the rightist oligarchic policy takeover has in fact happened, and that it has left in its wake millions of disaffected, indebted, uneducated, uninsured Americans.

(Suggesting that it hadn't was the worst idiocy of Clinton's 2016 campaign. It would have been much better had she admitted it and blamed it on the Republican Senate while holding dear old Obama up as a hamstrung martyr for the cause. I mean, this is what everybody at DailyKos already believes, and the masses -- being poor and uneducated and desperate -- can be brought around to believe anything, or anyway, enough of them can be.)

I would advocate that the DNC double down on its rightful claims to Roosevelt's inheritance, embrace phrases like "social democracy" and "freedom from economic insecurity," and shift leftward in all its official rhetoric. Admit the evisceration of the Roosevelt tradition, but blame it all on the GOP. Maybe *maybe* even acknowledge that past Democratic leaders were a little naive and idealistic in their pursuit of bipartisanship, and did not understand the truly horrible intentions of the GOP. But today's Democrats are committed to wresting back the rights of the people from the evil clutches of the Koch Republicans. This sort of thing.

Would my advice be followed? Or would the *really* smart ones in the room demure? If so, why do you think they would?

In short, I read this piece as one stage in an ongoing dialectic in the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2020 election wherein party leaders try to determine how leftward its "official" rhetoric is able to sway before becoming *so* unbelievable (in light of historical facts) that it cannot serve as effective propaganda -- even among Americans!

NotTimothyGeithner , , March 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Team Blue elites are the children of Bill Clinton and the Third Way, so the echo chamber was probably terrible. Was Bill Clinton a bad President? He was the greatest Republican President! The perception of this answer is a key. Who rose and joined Team Blue through this run? Many Democrats don't recognize this, or they don't want to rock the boat. This is the structural problem with Team Blue. The "generic Democrat" is AOC, Omar, Sanders, Warren, and a handful of others.

Can the Team Blue elites embrace a Roosevelt identity? The answer is no. Their ideology is so wildly divergent they can't adjust without a whole sale conversion.

More succinctly, the Third Way isn't about helping Democrats win by accepting not every battle can be won. Its about advancing right wing politics and pretending this isn't what its about. If they are too clear about good policy, they will be accused of betrayal.

jefemt , , March 20, 2019 at 9:18 am

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose Kris Kristofferson

shinola , , March 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

"nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free"
;)

Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 9:46 am

The modern GOP has a very brutalist interpretation of Christianity, one where the money changers bring much needed liquidity to the market.

where , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

it's been 2 generations, but we assure you, the wealth will eventually trickle down

Dwight , , March 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Be patient, the horse has to digest your oat.

The Rev Kev , , March 20, 2019 at 10:13 am

This article makes me wonder if the GOP is still a political party anymore. I know, I know, they have the party structure, the candidates, the budget and all the rest of it but when you look at their policies and what they are trying to do, the question does arise. Are they doing it because this is what they believe is their identity as a party or is it that they are simply a vehicle with the billionaires doing the real driving and recruiting? An obvious point is that among billionaires, they see no need to form their own political party which should be telling clue. Certainly the Democrats are no better.

Maybe the question that American should ask themselves is just what does it mean to be an American in the year 2020? People like Norman Rockwell and his Four Freedoms could have said a lot of what it meant some 60 years ago and his work has been updated to reflect the modern era ( https://www.galeriemagazine.com/norman-rockwell-four-freedoms-modern/ ) but the long and the short of it is that things are no longer working for most people anymore -- and not just in America. But a powerful spring can only be pushed back and held in place for so long before there is a rebound effect and I believe that I am seeing signs of this the past few years.

GF , , March 20, 2019 at 11:06 am

And don't forget FRD's Second Bill of Rights:

" a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security."

Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 10:20 am

America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We'd be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom.

I agree, and we should also be having a debate about capitalism as it actually exists. In the US capitalism is always talked about in rosy non-specific terms (e.g. a preference for markets or support for entrepreneurship) while anybody who says they don't necessarily support capitalism has to answer for Stalin's gulag's or the Khmer Rouge. All the inequalities and injustices that have helped people like Howard Schultz or Jeff Bezos become billionaire capitalists somehow aren't part of capitalism, just different problems to be solved somehow but definitely not by questioning capitalism.

Last night I watched the HBO documentary on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I couldn't help but laugh at all these powerful politicians, investors, and legal giants going along with someone who never once demonstrated or even explained how her groundbreaking innovation actually worked. $900 million was poured into that company before people realized something that a Stanford professor interviewed in the documentary saw when she first met Holmes. Fracking companies have been able to consistently raise funding despite consistently losing money and destroying the environment in the process. Bank balance sheets were protected while working people lost everything in the name of preserving American capitalism. I think it's good to debate socialism and capitalism, but there's not really any point if we aren't going to be talking about Actually Existing Capitalism rather than the hypothetical version that's trotted out anytime someone suggests an alternative.

Trick Shroade , , March 20, 2019 at 10:53 am

There was a great comment here on NC a little while ago, something to the effect of "capitalism has the logic of a cancer cell. It's a pile of money whose only goal is to become a bigger pile of money." Of course good things can happen as a side effect of it becoming a bigger pile of money: innovation, efficiencies, improved standard of living, etc. but we need government (not industry) regulation to keep the bad side effects of capitalism in check (like the cancer eventually killing its host).

Carey , , March 20, 2019 at 12:21 pm

"efficiency" is very often not good for the Commons, in the long term.

Frank Little , , March 20, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Shoot, must have missed that comment but it's a good metaphor. Reminds me of Capital vol. 1, which Marx starts with a long and dense treatment of the nature of commodities and commodification in order to capture this process whereby capitalists produce things people really do want or need in order to get at what they really want: return on their investment.

Jack Gavin , , March 20, 2019 at 12:36 pm

I also agree but I think we need to have a the same heated debate over what capitalism means. Over the years I have been subjected to (exposed) to more flavors of socialism than I can count. Yet, other than an introductory economics class way back when, no debatable words about what 'capitalism' is seems to get attention. Maybe it's time to do that and hope that some agreeable definition of 'freedom' falls out.

jrs , , March 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

of course maybe socialism is the only thing that ever really could solve homelessness, given that it seems to be at this point a worldwide problem, although better some places than others (like the U.S. and UK).

Stratos , , March 20, 2019 at 11:11 am

This article lets the Dems off the hook. They have actively supported the Billionaire Agenda for decades now; sometimes actively (like when they helped gut welfare) and sometimes by enabling Repubs objectives (like voter suppression).

At this point in time, the Dem leadership is working to deep six Medicare for All.

With 'friends' like the Dems, who needs the Repubs?

WheresOurTeddy , , March 20, 2019 at 12:30 pm

our last democratic president was Carter

thump , , March 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm

1) In the history, a mention of the attempted coup against FDR would be good. See The Plot to Seize the White House by Jules Archer. ( Amazon link )

2) For the contemporary intellectual history, I really appreciated Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains . ( Amazon link ) Look her up on youtube or Democracy Now . Her book got a bit of press and she interviews well.

Bob of Newton , , March 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm

Please refer to these folks as 'rightwingers'. There are Democratic as well as Republicans who believe in this type of 'freedom'.

Jerry B , , March 20, 2019 at 2:38 pm

This post seems heavily slanted against the GOP and does not take into account how pro-business the Democrats have become. I tenuously agree with Yves intro that much of the current pro business value system campaign in the US was started with the political far right and the Lewis Powell Memo. And that campaign kicked into high gear during the Reagan Presidency.

But as that "pro business campaign" gained steam, the Democratic Party, IMO, realized that they could partake in the "riches" as well and sold their political soul for a piece of the action. Hartman's quote about the billionaire class should include their "wholly owned Republicans and Democrat politicians".

As Lambert mentions (paraphrasing), "The left puts the working class first. Both liberals and conservatives put markets first, liberals with many more layers of indirection (e.g., complex eligibility requirements, credentialing) because that creates niches from which their professional base benefits".

As an aside, while the pro-business/capitalism on steroids people have sought more "freedom", they have made the US and the world less free for the rest of us.

Also the over focusing on freedom is not uniquely GOP. As Hartman mentions, "the words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture -- probably more so than with any other nation because they're so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation's founding." US culture has taken the concept of freedom to an extreme version of individualism.

That is not surprising given our history.

The DRD4 gene is a dopamine receptor gene. One stretch of the gene is repeated a variable number of times, and the version with seven repeats (the "7R" form) produces a receptor protein that is relatively unresponsive to dopamine. Being unresponsive to dopamine means that people who have this gene have a host of related traits -- sensation and novelty seeking, risk taking, impulsivity, and, probably most consistently, ADHD. -- -- Seems like the type of people that would value extreme (i.e. non-collective) forms of freedom

The United States is the individualism poster child for at least two reasons. First there's immigration. Currently, 12 percent of Americans are immigrants, another 12 percent are children of immigrants, and everyone else except for the 0.9 percent pure Native Americans descend from people who emigrated within the last five hundred years.

And who were the immigrants?' Those in the settled world who were cranks, malcontents, restless, heretical, black sheep, hyperactive, hypomanic, misanthropic, itchy, unconventional, yearning to be free, yearning to be rich, yearning to be out of their, damn boring repressive little hamlet, yearning. -- -- Again seems like the type of people that would value freedom in all aspects of life and not be interested in collectivism

Couple that with the second reason -- for the majority of its colonial and independent history, America has had a moving frontier luring those whose extreme prickly optimism made merely booking passage to the New World insufficiently, novel -- and you've got America the individualistic.

The 7R variant mentioned above occurs in about 23 percent of Europeans and European Americans. And in East Asians? 1 percent. When East Asians domesticated rice and invented collectivist society, there was massive selection against the 7R variant. Regardless of the cause, East Asian cultural collectivism coevolved with selection against the 7R variant.

So which came first, 7R frequency or cultural style? The 4R and 7R variants, along with the 2R, occur worldwide, implying they already existed when humans radiated out of Africa 60,000 to 130,000 years ago. A high incidence of 7R, associated with impulsivity and novelty seeking, is the legacy of humans who made the greatest migrations in human history.

So it seems that many of the people who immigrated to the US were impulsive, novelty seeking, risk takers. As a counterpoint, many people that migrated to the US did not do so by choice but were forced from their homes and their countries by wars.

The point of this long comment is that for some people the concept of freedom can be taken to extreme -- a lack of gun control laws, financial regulation, extremes of wealth, etc. After a brief period in the 1940's, 1950's, and early 1960's when the US was more collective, we became greedy, consumerist, and consumption oriented, aided by the political and business elites as mentioned in the post.

If we want the US to be a more collective society we have to initially do so in our behaviors i.e. laws and regulations that rein in the people who would take the concept of freedom to an extreme. Then maybe over an evolutionary time period some of the move impulsive, sensation seeking, ADHDness, genes can be altered to a more balance mix of what makes the US great with more of the collective genes.

IMO, if we do not begin to work on becoming a collective culture now, then climate change, water scarcity, food scarcity, and resource scarcity will do it for us the hard way.

In these days of short attention spans I apologize for the long comment. The rest of my day is busy and I do not have more time to shorten the comment. I wanted to develop an argument for how the evolutionary and dysfunctional forms of freedom have gotten us to this point. And what we need to do to still have some freedom but also "play nice and share in the future sandbox of climate change and post fossil fuel society.

[Mar 19, 2019] "Monopoly" is such an ugly term.

Mar 19, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Glen Tomkins 03.09.19 at 5:25 pm ( 2 )

"Monopoly" is such an ugly term. We prefer to call it "market power" these days, because of course it's a good thing if the job creators and their enterprises have more power to do all the good things they do for us.

It's clearly class warfare, if not racism, to use the term of abuse, "monopoly", when you mean "market power".

[Mar 19, 2019] Richard Wolff Reveals How Empires End

YouTube
Empire disintegrated because of natural tendency to over-expand. This tendency is almost impossible for elite to resist, especially neoliberal elite as among them there is a growing and more and influential strata of "imperial servants".
The collapse of the US empire is intrinsically linked to the collapse of neoliberalism.
The USA has now increasingly dysfunctional political system incapable of wise foreign policy. The current generation of US political leaders are all poisoned by the dream of ruling the globe which was a real possibility after the collapse of the USSR and which they were unable to resist. Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Venezuela in different way way demonstrated the the US empire tend to commit costly blunders. First of all engaging the empire in unwinnable wars with unexpected blowbacks.
Notable quotes:
"... Professor Richard Wolff reveals the unexpected truth about imperialism on the Thom Hartmann program! ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | www.youtube.com

What is Imperialism? How do empires end and what is the economics behind the fall of empires and what does this say about the future of America?

Professor Richard Wolff reveals the unexpected truth about imperialism on the Thom Hartmann program!

Please Subscribe to Our Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/thomhart...

[Mar 19, 2019] Monopoly: too big to ignore

Mar 19, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

by John Quiggin on March 9, 2019

That's the headline given to my latest piece in Inside Story

Here's the opening para

Two hundred years after the birth of Karl Marx and fifty years after the last Western upsurge of revolutionary ferment in 1968, the term "monopoly capitalism" might seem like a relic of outmoded enthusiasms. But economists are increasingly coming to the view that monopolies, and associated market failures, have never been a bigger problem.

and the conclusion

The problems of monopoly and inequality may seem so large as to defy any response. But we faced similar problems when capitalism first emerged, and Western countries came up with the responses that created the broad-based prosperity of the mid twentieth century. The internet, in particular, has the potential to enhance freedom and equality rather than facilitate corporate exploitation. The missing ingredient, so far, has been the political will.

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hix 03.09.19 at 10:14 am ( 1 )

Good read, just one minor complaint, why not just use a random stock screener to get current market cap data instead of 2016 ones:
https://finance.yahoo.com/screener/unsaved/ca63a480-28d8-4809-bd40-fab28b414da2
Glen Tomkins 03.09.19 at 5:25 pm ( 2 )
"Monopoly" is such an ugly term. We prefer to call it "market power" these days, because of course it's a good thing if the job creators and their enterprises have more power to do all the good things they do for us. It's clearly class warfare, if not racism, to use the term of abuse, "monopoly", when you mean "market power".
Dipper 03.09.19 at 8:51 pm ( 3 )
Of all the examples to choose, airlines would seem to be a bad one. They come and go with rapidity, and airlines are now being used as an example of how to reform banks.

Running the modern air industry needs lots of infrastructure and lots of regulations, so would seem to be an obvious place to have monopoly airlines. The critical thing that has happened has been the splitting of the infrastructure from the market-facing entities. So the booking systems, airport handling, and other services are all done by firms who don't directly face the paying customer. Pretty much anyone can set up an airline, and they can become quite big

Banking regulation is going in the direction of the airline industry. The idea being to split up the major systems and financial risk repositories from the market-facing companies. Hence, again, anyone can set up a bank.

One significant issue behind the growth in monopolies is regulation. The debate in the UK over the EU has included much discussion of regulation, much of it from a Remain/pro EU angle being that more regulation is a costless good. But there is an obvious and well-known cost, that regulation acts as a barrier to new entrants, and hence destroys innovation and creates conditions for monopolies, cartels, and oligopolies. It is surely no coincidence that the EU, an organisation that cannot look at any object without trying to regulate it, is sliding into recession and has effectively zero productivity increase this century. If you regulate what you have now, you just make the status quo your future. In the end, you just end up like the CBI, reduced to demanding more and more cheap labour to fuel your dinosaur members' wishes for more profit.

So. Split the resource-heavy stuff from the market-facing stuff, and try to avoid regulating your economy into a coma.

Collin Street 03.09.19 at 9:11 pm ( 4 )
Sure, monopoly's a problem.

But.

A significant fraction of the population can't keep track of their actual cost structures and will, cheerful and unknowing, sell at a loss. Unless you can exclude them from the market -- unless you have some mechanism for excluding people from the market -- the clearing price will be below the cost price: no market that does not have exclusion mechanisms can possibly be profitable.

That is to say: a profitable sector of industry requires exclusion mechanisms and all profit relies on rent .

The question we have to ask is, then: how do we distribute rent opportunities? We used to be able to use transport costs to create rent "naturally", but we can't do that any more: at least with monopoly some things still get made and some people still make money.

[honestly? I think uniform tariff barriers coupled with socialism [or socialism-approximating structures like dirigisme among firms with effectively-universally-held shares] are the only real solution.]

bad Jim 03.10.19 at 7:24 am ( 5 )
Um. "Monopoly" triggers thoughts of a scotty dog and a flat iron. Regarding the minimum wage, I'm encouraged to see oligopsony mentioned, not just because I love rare words; it's only recently than in such discussions the more common word "monopsony" was used. But how else to explain how Walmart greeters and burger flippers, despite their disparate productivity and different employers, are paid the same meager wage?

It says something about our common discourse, by which I mean American politics, that people preach as though market power was as unimaginable as ethical conduct, the first of which is tacitly assumed and the second generally acknowledged as nonexistent.

John Quiggin 03.10.19 at 7:36 am ( 6 )
@Dipper I'm sure you'll sympathize when I observe that Australia is different from other places (a point you've often made about Britain), at least with respect to airlines.

We've only had one successful entry on a substantial scale in the history of commercial aviation (when Virgin Blue displaced Ansett in 2001). Against that, there has been a long string of failed attempts to break up the duopoly (now consisting of two full-service airlines each with a low-cost subsidiary).

So, in an Australian publication, airlines are on obvious example.

mpowell 03.11.19 at 3:52 pm ( 7 )
You argue that what has been missing is political will, but at the same time you acknowledge that new versions of the old solutions for these problems must be found. I would focus more on the latter than the former. Yes, the EU is creating stronger privacy protection now, but one of the main impacts will be to strengthen existing large players. Do we really want to move to a regulated monopoly model so quickly? These new markets have been evolving rapidly over the past 15 years and models of the internet economy that made sense even 10 years ago are now out-dated. I think we still need to figure out what people need out of these new provided services and how to get there. It seems a lot harder than simply breaking up the producers and distributers of basic commodities.
hix 03.11.19 at 6:01 pm ( 8 )
And here i was thinking Dipper would try to make his weak case with the strongest arguments- Ryanair or Easyjet*. Virgin Atlantic, really? While airlines in Europe are probably not the most obvious easy to comprehend example for monopoly or oligopoly one could pick, those terms are still quite accurate as a description of the current situation in most submarkets.

*The crux with those two is that there are and were a gazillion other discount carriers, but non of those are sucesfull, Ryanair in particular in contrast produces an insane return on equity.

Ronan 03.12.19 at 12:38 pm ( 9 )
Have you read 'Game of Mates' about cronyism among the elite in Australia ? Kind of interesting and eye opening(at least for an outsider like me) Might be of interest if you havent.

https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/game-of-mates-how-billionaires-get-rich-at-our-expense-20170526-gwe0dp.html

Daniel 03.12.19 at 8:58 pm ( 10 )
Speaking of monopoly, I read one (or more) of your contributors say, "buy my book on Amazon." Amazon is the most dangerous monopolist, stay away.

[Mar 19, 2019] Corporations must be in the service of the nation, not the other way around

Mar 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Carla , , March 18, 2019 at 10:10 am

"Corporations must be in the service of the nation, not the other way around." Bingo! As long as corporations have the constitutional rights of "persons," they will continue to pummel those of us for whom constitutional rights were intended. Please urge your congress critter to sign on to cosponsor the We the People Amendment and implore your senators to introduce companion legislation in the U.S. Senate:

https://legiscan.com/US/bill/HJR48/2019

Note: Tulsi Gabbard and Ilhan Omar are original co-sponsors in the 116th Congress, but not yet AOC, so if anyone from her district is reading, give her office a call !

P.S. For those of you who had concerns about it, a section 3 has been added to the original resolution: "Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press."

Strictly speaking, this was unnecessary: the press has, and has always had, its first amendment rights BECAUSE it is the PRESS, not because of its corporate form. But people's inability to make that distinction caused so much angst that the sentence, redundant as it is, was added to the proposed amendment.

[Mar 18, 2019] Time for both clintons is over: Neoliberals Passing the Baton by Robert Waldmann

Mar 11, 2019 | angrybearblog.com
Healthcare Hot Topics Politics US/Global Economics Brad DeLong got a huge amount of attention by saying it was time for neoliberals such as Brad DeLong to pass the baton to those to their left. Alarmingly, he seems to have written this first on twitter.

Zach Beuchamp rescued it from tawdry twitter to now very respectable blogosphere with an interview.

One interesting aspect is that Brad has very little criticism of 90s era Brad's policy proposals. Basically, the argument is that Democrats must stick together, because Republicans are purely partisan and no compromise with them is possible. I absolutely agree with Brad on this.

But I also want to look at criticisms of Clinton/Obama center left policy as policy.

Brad tries to come up with 2 examples

I could be confident in 2005 that [recession] stabilization should be the responsibility of the Federal Reserve. That you look at something like laser-eye surgery or rapid technological progress in hearing aids, you can kind of think that keeping a market in the most innovative parts of health care would be a good thing. So something like an insurance-plus-exchange system would be a good thing to have in America as a whole.

It's much harder to believe in those things now. That's one part of it. The world appears to be more like what lefties thought it was than what I thought it was for the last 10 or 15 years.

Now monetary vs fiscal policy is only considered right vs left because of the prominence and fanaticism of Milton Friedman. Is see no connection between laser eye surgery, hearing aids, and private health insurance. Medicare for all is not a National Health Service (note I am not conceding that a national health service would be bad for medical innovation). Brad did not advocate insurance/plus/exchange system in 1993. He (and Bentson, Summers and Rubin) advocated a payroll tax financed system not the Clinton-Clinton and Magaziner mess. I think he is stretching to get a second example.

I think the first isn't really left vs right and the second is and always was a bad political calculation. IIRC Obama certainly said that he thought single payer was better policy but politically impossible. That was the general line on the center left wonkosphere. I think the case for insurance-plus-exchange was at most a bad political argument disguised as a bad policy argument.

In another twitter thread (no not the one where he says twitter is a horrible medium for serious discussion) Paul Krugman comments

I want to focus on two of his tweets

Last point: wages. Here's where research has convinced me and others that wages are much less determined by supply and demand, much more determined by market power, than we used to believe. This implies a much bigger role for "predistribution" policies like minimum wage hikes 10/

Pro-union policies, and more than we used to think. "Let the market do its thing, but spend more on education/training and a bigger EITC" no longer sounds like wisdom 11/

I listed this as the one economist's mea culpa based on empirical evidence which came to my mind. A lot of center left economists used to oppose minimum wage increases and were convinced by empirical evidence (mostly by Card and Krueger) that this is actually good policy. But I don't see any problem with the EITC. Rather, economics 101 based arguments against the minimum wage and unions have been undermined by evidence*.

I think Krugman's problem with "a bigger EITC" is political. It appears on the Federal budget so deficit hawks won't allow a really huge increase. In contrast, people can think firms pay the minimum wage, so increasing it sounds like a cheap way to help the working poor.

More generally, I don't see any reason to abandone redistribution (like the EITC). In fact, I think that is both excellent policy and political dynamite. I note that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned promising to raise taxes on the rich and cut taxes on everyone else. Also they won. Other Democrats didn't promise that and they lost. A more progressive income tax is a relatively market respecting policy long supported by left of center economists. Oh and also Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. I don't think there is any evidence against the Clinton 1993 tax increase combined with EITC increase.

The fact that it is totally obvious that it is good politics (rejected absolutely by the Republican party and supported by most self identified Republicans) doesn't mean that it is too obvious to stress. It means debating redistribution vs predistribution is a distraction (which one here is not like the others) ?

I personally have criticisms of Bill Clinton type neoliberalism after the jump

OK so what can I add ?

I could bring up a really bad Clinton administration policy proposal based on neoliberalism: financial deregulation, and, in particular, Clinton's last act signing the commodity futures modernization act. This was absolutely policy based on pro free market beliefs of people who cared about fighting poverty (Rubin himself was a relative skeptic compared to other people and the Clinton Treasury whom I will not name and criticize).

I won't discuss welfare reform or the Clinton crime bill. Both were opposed by the center left wonks. That was politics not policy.

But there was strong support among neoliberal wonks for reinventing government, that is for outsourcing and replacing public provision of services with vouchers. There clearly was a strong view that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. There was I think sincere support for reducing the number of Federal employees.

I think there is now strong evidence that the public sector is often more efficient than the private sector. Part of the case was politics disguised as policy. Voters hate the bloated Federal Bureacuracy (based on total fantasy about its size and cost). There is a theoretical argument that civil servants don't work because it is very hard to fire them. In fact, they do work. This is a failure of vulgar economics 101 in which people are assumed to care only about consumption and leisure.

In contrast there are huge problems with contracting out to private firms. The incentives civil servants face is enough to overcome the laziness of people less lazy than me (almost everyone) but it is nothing compared to the incentives private contractors have to take advantage of the government. What I always say is that a large state is costly, but the cost depends on the surface area -- it is very costly for the state for modestly paid civil servants negotiate with businessmen and highly paid private managers (before going out the revolving door). Reinventing government makes it more costly. The key example is not a Clinton reform (although Clinton reluctantly signed the bill) Medicare Advantage was supposed to cause Medicare to wither on the vine because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) couldn't compete with private insurance. By 2010 defenders of private insurance (crucially including Joe Lieberman) were absolutely determined to prevent the CMS from competing with private insurance, because they knew private insurance companies couldn't survive the competition.

Also school vouchers have been shown to have large negative effects on achievement.

I'd say considerable evidence of positive long term effects of welfare programs has accumulated. The assumption based on economimics 101 that welfare reduces pre-transfer income by distorting incentives has not fared so well. The evidence tends to suggest direct benefits. I promised not to discuss this one, because I am sure that welfare reform was based on political calculations not bad policy analysis (it was not a policy of the Rubin wing of the party -- Rubin advised Clinton to veto the bill).

Now on another topic. How about winning elections. Isn't that important too ?

In the interview, Brad discusses policy and parliamentary (in the USA Congressional) politics. He could also argue about electoral politics and say Democrats have to move left to win elections. In any case I will argue that.

Brad's argument is distantly related to the mobilize the base vs capture the center political strategies. He doesn't stress this in the twitter thread or the interview, but he could discuss voters and how few genuinely indpendent voters there are. Like me, he can vividly recall the 80s when lots of smart Democrats (and also Robert Waldmann) argued that the party had to move rightward to recapture the center. I recall reading something by Robert Kuttner about what the party needed was left populism and this was blocked by the power of money in the Democratic party (think Bernie Sanders back when Sanders was mayor of Burlington). When I first read that, I thought it was crazy. Now I think it is totally right. Also note that, by promoting the internet, Al Gore saved the party from centrists like Al Gore. Now candidates and candidate-candidates can raise huge amounts of money with small donations and don't have to get along with and flatter rich people. Obama proved this 8 years before Sanders proved it again.

There are fewer swing voters and much less ticket splitting than their used to be. This means that elections are determined mainly by whether young people vote. Sneering and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is not good political strategy (also unwise unless one is a smart as she is and few people are).

* I have to say what I think of unions there was a liberaltarian argument that unions help insiders and create inequality (and support racial segregation). Also it was argued that unions prevented productivity growth by featherbeading and generally being rigid. These claims were never supported by evidence (empirically oriented labor economists like Richard Friedman always contested them}. In any case, the extreme decline of unions in the USA provides strong evidence that unions weren't the problem. They declined at the same time that there was a huge increase in inequality (there has also been an increase in racial wage differentials). Also their decline correlated with a marked decline in the rate of productivity growth. This is crude evidence, but detailed evidence long contradicted the case against unions. I think part of the shift is new evidence and part of the shift is more respect for evidence vs theory among economists. On the other hand, it's a whole lot easier to raise taxes on the rich and cut taxes on the non rich than to bring unions back.

[Mar 17, 2019] Market Concentration Is Threatening the US Economy by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Notable quotes:
"... Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone. ..."
"... The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model. ..."
"... The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it. ..."
Mar 17, 2019 | www.project-syndicate.org

Rising inequality and slow growth are widely recognized as key factors behind the spread of public discontent in advanced economies, particularly in the United States. But these problems are themselves symptoms of an underlying malady that the US political system may be unable to address.

The world's advanced economies are suffering from a number of deep-seated problems. In the United States, in particular, inequality is at its highest since 1928 , and GDP growth remains woefully tepid compared to the decades after World War II.

After promising annual growth of "4, 5, and even 6%," US President Donald Trump and his congressional Republican enablers have delivered only unprecedented deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office's latest projections , the federal budget deficit will reach $900 billion this year, and will surpass the $1 trillion mark every year after 2021. And yet, the sugar high induced by the latest deficit increase is already fading, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting US growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, down from 2.9% in 2018.

Many factors are contributing to the US economy's low-growth/high-inequality problem. Trump and the Republicans' poorly designed tax "reform" has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the tax code, funneling even more income to the highest earners. At the same time, globalization continues to be poorly managed, and financial markets continue to be geared toward extracting profits (rent-seeking, in economists' parlance), rather than providing useful services.

But an even deeper and more fundamental problem is the growing concentration of market power , which allows dominant firms to exploit their customers and squeeze their employees, whose own bargaining power and legal protections are being weakened . CEOs and senior executives are increasingly extracting higher pay for themselves at the expense of workers and investment.

For example, US corporate executives made sure that the vast majority of the benefits from the tax cut went into dividends and stock buybacks, which exceeded a record-breaking $1.1 trillion in 2018 . Buybacks raised share prices and boosted the earnings-per-share ratio, on which many executives' compensation is based. Meanwhile, at 13.7% of GDP , annual investment remained weak, while many corporate pensions went underfunded.

Evidence of rising market power can be found almost anywhere one looks. Large markups are contributing to high corporate profits . In sector after sector, from little things like cat food to big things like telecoms, cable providers, airlines, and technology platforms, a few firms now dominate 75-90% of the market, if not more; and the problem is even more pronounced at the level of local markets.

As corporate behemoths' market power has increased, so, too, has their ability to influence America's money-driven politics. And as the system has become more rigged in business's favor, it has become much harder for ordinary citizens to seek redress for mistreatment or abuse. A perfect example of this is the spread of arbitration clauses in labor contracts and user agreements, which allow corporations to settle disputes with employees and customers through a sympathetic mediator, rather than in court.

Multiple forces are driving the increase in market power. One is the growth of sectors with large network effects, where a single firm – like Google or Facebook – can easily dominate. Another is the prevailing attitude among business leaders, who have come to assume that market power is the only way to ensure durable profits. As the venture capitalist Peter Thiel famously put it , "competition is for losers."

Some US business leaders have shown real ingenuity in creating market barriers to prevent any kind of meaningful competition, aided by lax enforcement of existing competition laws and the failure to update those laws for the twenty-first-century economy. As a result, the share of new firms in the US is declining.

None of this bodes well for the US economy. Rising inequality implies falling aggregate demand, because those at the top of the wealth distribution tend to consume a smaller share of their income than those of more modest means.

Moreover, on the supply side, market power weakens incentives to invest and innovate. Firms know that if they produce more, they will have to lower their prices. This is why investment remains weak, despite corporate America's record profits and trillions of dollars of cash reserves. And besides, why bother producing anything of value when you can use your political power to extract more rents through market exploitation? Political investments in getting lower taxes yield far higher returns than real investments in plant and equipment. 1

Making matters worse, America's low tax-to-GDP ratio – just 27.1% even before the Trump tax cut – means a dearth of money for investment in the infrastructure, education, health care, and basic research needed to ensure future growth. These are the supply-side measures that actually do "trickle down" to everyone.

The policies for combating economically damaging power imbalances are straightforward. Over the past half-century, Chicago School economists , acting on the assumption that markets are generally competitive, narrowed the focus of competition policy solely to economic efficiency, rather than broader concerns about power and inequality. The irony is that this assumption became dominant in policymaking circles just when economists were beginning to reveal its flaws. The development of game theory and new models of imperfect and asymmetric information laid bare the profound limitations of the competition model.

The law needs to catch up. Anti-competitive practices should be illegal, period. And beyond that, there are a host of other changes needed to modernize US antitrust legislation. Americans' need the same resolve in fighting for competition that their corporations have shown in fighting against it.

The challenge, as always, is political. But with US corporations having amassed so much power, there is reason to doubt that the American political system is up to the task of reform. Add to that the globalization of corporate power and the orgy of deregulation and crony capitalism under Trump, and it is clear that Europe will have to take the lead.

[Mar 17, 2019] Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the entrepreneurial political hero/leader against the corrupt civil service

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". ..."
"... Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed ..."
"... Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here. ..."
Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

https://books.google.co.id/books?id=VBkkymt32CgC

(Messing about with the VPN to get the full page )

RUKidding , April 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Indeed. I have used it as such, myself! Not snark.

A most excellent book and series. Should be required viewing.

witters , April 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Yes, Minister was a neoliberal attack on government as such. It set the "entrepreneurial" political hero/leader against the corrupt "civil service". It made the latter the "deep state", thereby tainting forever the welfare state as an evil hidden conspiracy that (mysteriously) pandered to the meritocratically worthless. If that is what you mean by "Deep State" then you can have it.

Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

It is now known that a perfection of planned layout is achieved only by institutions on the point of collapse . [P]erfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery or progress there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters. The time for that comes later, when all the important work has been done. Perfection, we know, is finality; and finality is death.

Following this line of reasoning, it seems to me that the US military establishment has been in decline ever since the Pentagon was built and the temporary Navy Dept. buildings erected on the National Mall were razed.

Being that the Pentagon opened in 1943 and the buildings on the Mall were razed in 1970, which roughly coincides with our costly imperial adventures in Korea and Vietnam, I think Parkinson's Law #6 is dead on here.

[Mar 16, 2019] Martin Wolf Why Economists Failed as "Experts" -- and How to Make Them Matter Again

That's what neoliberal bottomfeeders like Summers, Krugman and Dejong should read and memorize
Notable quotes:
"... Neoclassical economics became important in large measure to show that markets delivered efficient outcomes, and efficiency was seen as tantamount to socially desirable. That's before considering that highly efficiency almost always comes at the expense of safety and robustness, and that efficient solutions may not be equitable. ..."
"... So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones. The question then become what makes experts trustworthy -- not, I should stress, intrinsically trustworthy, but rather perceived by the public to be so. ..."
"... The third point is that trust in expertise seems to be quite generally declining. This is partly perhaps because education is more widespread, which makes possession of an education appear in itself less authoritative. It is also partly because of the rapid dissemination of information. It is partly because of the easy formation of groups of the disaffected and dissemination of conspiracy theories. The internet and the new social media it has spawned have turned out to be powerful engines for the spreading of disinformation aimed at manipulation of the unwary. ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Even though Martin Wolf's post makes many important observations, I feel the need to take issue with his conclusion. Economists have been and continue to be enormously successful as experts. PhDs in economics make roughly twice as much as those in other social sciences. Economists are the only social scientists to have a seat at the policy table. And they continue to do so, despite their colossal failure in the global financial crisis, with no serious change in the discipline and no loss of reputation of any prominent economists.

Neoclassical economics became important in large measure to show that markets delivered efficient outcomes, and efficiency was seen as tantamount to socially desirable. That's before considering that highly efficiency almost always comes at the expense of safety and robustness, and that efficient solutions may not be equitable.

The importance of economists as policy advisers grew in the post World War II era, after the USSR managed the impressive feat of industrializing in the 20th century. US officials were concerned that a command and control economy could beat a messy, consumer oriented capitalist one, and turned to economists to give guidance on how to achieve high growth rates so as to produce enough guns and butter.

As for the specific impetus for Wolf's article, it appears to be due to voters ignoring the dire warnings made by the Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum campaign that Brexit would have large economic costs. But based on reports after the vote came in, that repudiation came not just because the public might well have good reason not to believe economists as a result of the crisis, but how the Remain campaign carried itself in the debates. That side apparently made arrogant-seeming, data heavy arguments, while the Leavers made stirring appeals about sovereignty .a UK version of MAGA.

By Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

"I think people in this country have had enough of experts."
-Michael Gove

Michael Gove, winner of the Brexit referendum (though loser in the game of politics, having failed to become leader of his party, and so, maybe, no true expert either) hit the nail on the head. The people of this country have, it seems, had enough of those who consider themselves experts, in some domains. The implications of this rejection of experts seem enormous. That should be of particular significance for economists, because economists were, after all, the "experts" against whom Mr. Gove was inveighing.

Yet it is not really true that the people of this country have had enough of experts. When they fall ill, they still go to licensed doctors. When they fly, they trust qualified pilots. When they want a bridge, they call upon qualified engineers. Even today, in the supposed "post-fact" world, such people are almost universally recognized as experts.

So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones. The question then become what makes experts trustworthy -- not, I should stress, intrinsically trustworthy, but rather perceived by the public to be so.

One might make three, admittedly speculative, points about this distinction between experts deemed by the public to be deserving of trust and those who are not.

The first is that some forms of expertise appear simply to be more solidly based than others in a body of theory and/or evidence, with recognizable successes to their credit. By and large, doctors are associated with cures, pilots with keeping airplanes in the sky and engineers with bridges that stay up. Such successes -- and there are many other comparable fields of expertise -- self-evidently make people with the relevant expertise appear trustworthy.

The second is that some forms of expertise are more politically contentious than others. Nearly everybody, for example, agrees that curing people, flying airplanes and building bridges are good things. Social and political arrangements -- and economics is inescapably about social and political arrangements -- are always and everywhere contentious. They affect not only how people think the human world works, but also how it ought to work. These forms of expertise are about values.

The third point is that trust in expertise seems to be quite generally declining. This is partly perhaps because education is more widespread, which makes possession of an education appear in itself less authoritative. It is also partly because of the rapid dissemination of information. It is partly because of the easy formation of groups of the disaffected and dissemination of conspiracy theories. The internet and the new social media it has spawned have turned out to be powerful engines for the spreading of disinformation aimed at manipulation of the unwary.

It might be encouraging for economists that they are not the only experts who are mistrusted. Consider the anti-vaccination movement, hostility to evolutionary theory, or rejection of climate science. All these are the products of doubts fueled by a combination of core beliefs and suspicion of particular forms of expertise. The anti-vaccination movement is driven by parents' concerns about their children. The hostility to evolution is driven by religion. The rejection of climate science is clearly driven by ideology. Every climate denier I know is a free marketeer. Is this an accident? No. The desire to believe in the free market creates an emotional justification for denying climate science. In principle, after all, belief in free markets and in the physics of the climate system have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

So economists are in good company with other forms of politically or socially contentious expertise. But they have a special difficulty. Not only are they engaged in an essentially controversial, because political, arena, and so also an inherently ideological one, but they suffer to a high degree from the first point I made above: their "science", if science it is, just does not look to the public to be solidly based. It does not work as well as the public wants and economists have claimed. Economists claim a certain scientific status. But much of it looks to the outsider more like "scientism" -- the use of an incomprehensible intellectual apparatus to obscure ignorance rather than reveal truth.

This does not mean that economists don't know useful things. It is quite clear that they do. Markets are extraordinary institutions, for example. Economists' elucidation of markets or of the principle of comparative advantage is a great intellectual achievement. Yet suspicion of economics and economists is both long-standing and understandable.

The problem became far more serious after the financial crisis. The popular perception is that the experts -- macroeconomists and financial economists -- did not appreciate the dangers before the event and did not understand the longer-run consequences after it. Moreover, the popular perception seems to be in large part correct. This has damaged the acceptance of the expertise of economists to a huge extent.

So how, in this suspicious contemporary environment, might economists persuade the public they are experts who deserve to be listened to?

I decided to ask my colleagues this question. One answered that:

1. Good economists have a clear (if incomplete) understanding of how the world works. This is a pre-requisite to making it a better place.

2. Economists have a sense of scale. They understand the difference between big and small and how to make that distinction. This is vital for policy.

3. Economics is all about counterfactuals. It understands the relevant comparators even if they are difficult to work out.

4. Economists are experts on incentives and motivations and empirically try to measure them rather than relying on wishful thinking.

5. Generally, good economists are expert in understanding the limits of their knowledge and forecasting abilities.

Another colleague added:

The general public usually associate economists with:
-A small set of macroeconomic forecasts (growth, inflation mainly), and
-A belief that markets always produce perfect outcomes

And they attribute failure to them if either:
-point forecasts (inevitably) prove wrong, or
-markets produce some bad outcomes

Whereas the expertise of economists is really in the building blocks that enable you to construct sensible forecasts and to understand how people are likely to behave and respond to a given set of circumstances/policies. This structure for understanding the world allows economists to take on board new developments, understand whether they reflect a rejection of their existing theories or merely a (possibly tail) outcome that was consistent with their "model," and push forward their understanding of the world from there. Rather than throwing away all existing wisdom when circumstances change somewhat.

I agree with these propositions. Properly understood, economics remains very useful. One realizes this as soon as one is engaged with someone who knows nothing at all about the subject. But I still have four qualifications to make.

First, a large part of what economists actually do, namely forecasting, is not very soundly based. It would be a good idea if economists stated that loudly, strongly, and repeatedly. Indeed, there should be ceaseless public campaigning by the professional bodies, emphasizing what economists don't know. Of course, that would not -- as economists might predict -- be in their interests.

Second, in important areas of supposed economic expertise, the analytical basis is really weak. This is true of the operation of the monetary and financial systems. It is also true of the determinants of economic growth.

Third, economists are not disinterested outsiders. They are part of the political process. It is crucial to remember that certain propositions favor the interests of powerful people and groups. Economists can find themselves easily captured by such groups. "Invisible hand" theorems are particularly open to such abuse.

Finally, the division between economic aspects of society and the rest is, in my view, analytically unsound. The relationship between, say, economics and sociology or anthropology is not like that between physics and chemistry. The latter rests upon the former. But economics and anthropology lie side by side. I increasingly feel that the educated economist, certainly those engaged in policy, must also understand political science, sociology, anthropology, and sociology. Otherwise, they will fail to understand what is actually happening.

If I am right, the challenge is not just to purify economics of exaggerated claims, though that is indeed needed. It is rather to recognize the limited scope of economic knowledge. This does not mean there is no such thing as economic expertise: there is. But its scope and generality are more limited than many suppose.

Michael Gove was wrong, in my view, about expertise applied in the Brexit debate. But he was not altogether wrong about the expertise of economists. If we were more humble and more honest, we might be better recognized as experts able to contribute to public debate.

With this in mind, what should be the goal of an education in economics at the university level? A part of the answer will come from developments within the field. In time, the incorporation of new ideas and techniques may make the academic discipline better at addressing the intellectual and policy challenges the world now confronts.

Another part of the answer, however, must come from asking what an undergraduate education ought to achieve. The answer should not be to produce apprentices in a highly technical and narrow discipline taught as a branch of applied mathematics. For the great majority of those who learn economics, what matters is appreciation of both a few core ideas and of the complexity of the economic reality.

At bottom, economics is a field of inquiry and a way of thinking. Among its valuable core concepts are: opportunity cost, marginal cost, rent, sunk costs, externalities, and effective demand. Economics also allows people to make at least some sense of debates on growth, taxation, monetary policy, economic development, inequality, and so forth.

It is unnecessary to possess a vast technical apparatus to understand these ideas. Indeed the technical apparatus can get in the way of such an understanding. Much of the understanding can also be acquired in a decent, but not inordinately technical, undergraduate education. That is what I was fortunate enough to acquire in my own years studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford in the late 1960s. Today, I believe, someone with my background in the humanities would never become an economist. I am absolutely sure I would not have done so. It might be arrogant to make this claim. But I think that would have been a pity -- and not just for me.

In addition, it would be helpful to expose students to some of the heterodox alternatives to orthodox economics. This can only be selective. But exposure to the ideas of Hyman Minsky, for example, would be very helpful to anybody seeking to understand the macroeconomic implications of liberalized finance.

The teaching of economics to undergraduates must focus on core ideas, essential questions, and actual realities. Such a curriculum might not be the best way to produce candidates for PhD programs. So be it. The study of economics at university must not be seen through so narrow a lens. Its purpose is to produce people with a broad economic enlightenment. That is what the public debate needs. It is what education has to provide.


greg , March 14, 2019 at 1:14 am

I am afraid a worse problem with economists is that they don't seem interested in anyone's opinions except their own.

They even hold ecology in disdain, not having any interest in learning what is, in fact, the foundational system of their own 'science.' The booms and busts of capitalism show familiar patterns to ecologists. Why, ecologists even have equations for them!

But I guess ecology is just too simple for the attentions of economists : Stupid animals. They don't even use money! What kind of economy can that be?

So economists look for models everywhere except where to find them. The hubris of humanity, not needing to give due attention to the economies of 'animal' societies.

Sanxi , March 14, 2019 at 7:04 am

To Yves. Well, I nearly lack the heart to respond, but I feel I must. Taking yesterday's NC's lessons of looking at a human facing and having eye contact to remain human online, I now do both – a human sits next to me. I read aloud to her.

Ok, you are a strong advocate of becoming a certified economist. Because 1.they make a lot of money and 2. only they sit at the policy table.

Further claims made in your preamble: in no particular order of importance: something about efficient outcomes that may not be equitable; command & control and guns and butter; and sadly an analysis of Brexit voters in either camp.

(One exception to all that I say is those using MMT, certified, with a degree or not. Again something I first learned about on NC.)

Yesterday, somewhere in the NC collective was the notion that the above mentioned economists tell tho' we may be so out of balance with the world that our extinction as a species is a legitimate issue to discuss, that in the end there ain't any money to not only not fix the problem but not even deal with it. And these guys/gals you laud? I and others have argued this gang provided the intellectual nonsense that put us where we are now.

What is your point that Econ grads make the most amount of money compared to what? Philosophy majors? True or not I still say it's a waste of a life. Not the knowing, but the being of one. I don't see what value there is for civilization in general but specifically that just because they make a lot of money, it's good?

All social science grads you say v Econ grads make more money. I doubt that. Seems every school district requires a PhD in Education, and a PhD in Business is very lucrative (not saying useful, just pays well).

The policy table. I'm truly baffled as to what you refer. If they are the only ones at said table then it follows they are the only ones at it. In my long life I'm trying to think were we ever let an economist have the final say, or even a moderate say in any political, governmental, or military policy. Some input yes, but deterministic, no. If they were sitting at their own table, when asked they came to table with those that had the votes, give their opinion and then left. Sociological impact statements had far bigger influence on policy. And policy is no more then the data we can agree on to make decisions.

Sure, many governments, NGOs, multinationals all have jobs for economists but in someway this is self serving, not a necessity. Kuhn's book on "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", does a good job of explain how authority gets established, vested, and in the end becomes useless. That it exists is not an argument that it is necessary or good. That there needs to be some way to define and explain things economic I no have issue with, that outside of MMT that is has been, using system theory I don't see it.

As to efficient outcomes that may not be equitable that speaks for itself. It doesn't. No 'may not' about it, said with respect.

As to command & control and guns and butter, seems like a long time ago. A long time ago, using science to help in making decisions was new and it took awhile to get it right, or at least to get it working.

(Small note, I have dual US & UK citizenships)

An analysis of Brexit voters in either camp. I can tell you why I voted the way I did but I need to make an appeal to Stephen Pinker's, "The Blank Slate". Either I have the free will to make a decision and accept responsibility for it or I don't. I believe I do and did. I voted to leave and yes their are economic impacts, as well as social, political, historical, psychological, and philosophical. As did in electing Trump. As did the 1776 revolution, as in the US Civil War, almost anything. Money is not everything nor the only thing. And the future isn't what it used to be. The Long Emergency is here.

skippy , March 14, 2019 at 7:15 am

Hayek liked banding around watery terms like freedom and liberty its when he stopped being an economist [political theory in times past] and jointed the ranks of ideologues .

Pay check included oops and health care .

Yves Smith Post author , March 14, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Boy are you shooting the messenger. I'm not saying the way the economics discipline has become influential is a good thing, but that is the way it is. How economics operates as a discipline is great for economists, so why should they change? So what if their prescription fail way too often? For instance, there haven't been any bad consequences to anyone who didn't see the crisis coming and (even worse) advocated bank deregulation, starting with Larry Summers (but he had plenty of company).

And you are simply wrong about the influence economists have. In the US, CBO budget scoring is fundamental to how Congress views various proposed programs, even though we have described how the CBOs methods are crap and the CBO operates as an a big enforcer of deficit hysteria (as in they play a politicized role). The Fed and other central banks, the most powerful single government economic actors, are all run by monetary economists. The IMF, another very powerful institution, has deeply embraced and implements neoliberal policies, namely, balanced budgets and squeezing labor (labor "reforms"). In the US, economists in op eds and even in Congressional testimony (see Bernanke for instance) argue for balanced budgets and argue the supposed necessity of cutting Social Security and Medicare and NEVER mention cutting military spending. They are acting not just as enforcers of overall spending, but by advocating what to cut, are influencing priorities.

Avery T , March 14, 2019 at 9:53 am

Back in my former life as an economist-in-training, I ran into ecological economics as a branch of natural resource economics. It was completely backwards – the extent ecological theory was brought in didn't extend beyond simple predator-prey-plant models, and the goal was to find the macroeconomic general equilibrium of biomass in the ecosystem.

That was probably just the most striking example of the institutional close-mindedness I saw back among the economists.

deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 3:08 am

Mr Wolf says, among the important concepts are "externalities" Like everything that supports economic activity. Economics reduces the real world to "externalities" and simple equations about things measured in crude tokens – money. How good can it be then.

Also, "Such a curriculum might not be the best way to produce candidates for PhD programs" – is that a goal in itself? Like, the world needs a certain amount of economics PhDs produced? What for?

Prof. Michael Hudson, Prof. Richard Wolff and others have long ago explained what's wrong with mainstream economics, but that can't be said in FT.

This reminds me of the party press during the Perestroika in the 80ies talking about reform in a similar soft and obfuscatory of the truth way, full of wishful recommendations, striking a demurely optimistic tone supposed to convey integrity. It was bullshit and when the real things started happening, everybody forgot about it, because it had no depth and no bearing on real life.

diptherio , March 14, 2019 at 10:40 am

It seems obvious to most people that not all values are commensurable with each other. For instance, things like literary and artistic quality, friendships, and human lives cannot defensibly be measured in dollar terms. However, this is just what economics attempts to do. Hence, environmental economics simply aims to put a dollar value on environmental quality (or degredation). Hence, the entirety of my Labor Economics course was focused on how you place a monetary value on a human life, when the human happens to die because of their job.

So, I tend to agree with you. The whole discipline is of questionable value, so long as economists refuse to accept some very basic truths and incorporate much more than money into their analyses.

JEHR , March 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm

That comment strikes me as strange because one of the weaknesses of classical economic models was the fact that how money works was not part of their inquiry.

The Rev Kev , March 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

In trying to judge the abilities of an expert, the best that most people can do is to see the results on what they practice. If a doctor has a reputation of getting his patients drug-addicted, then you would not go to them. If an engineer built a building but the roof constantly leaked, you would think twice about giving them another contract. But let us think about how well economists are judged. You might say that a lot of people in the UK discounted their advice during Brexit but it has been noted that a lot of the Leave campaign was based in depressed areas. Why were so many areas depressed? Because the people knew that the government was using the advice of economists as to which areas to prioritize for resources. And usually that meant London and its outer areas – which voted Remain.
People are fully aware of what happens too when WTO economists go into a country – social services are cut, public transport is cut way back, the cost of living for the poor skyrocket while the rich seem to be protected. And take a look at the economic state of the United States. Wages have flatlined since the 70s, infrastructure is falling into disrepair, whole swathes of the country are abandoned to their own devices, de-industrialisation is a fact, etc, etc etc but the point is that the people that were giving all the advice to have this done were economists like Ken Rogoff and his wonky austerity study. It may have been the politicians that pulled the trigger but it was economists that were loading the gun.
if you want a breed of economists more grounded in reality, then I would suggest having them work in a fulfillment center for a week to show the the consequences of what happens when you get priorities wrong. Certainly they need to study the work of economists like Hyman Minsky and Susan Strange who had gone out of fashion before the crash but the long and short of it is to see what works and what does not work. I do not mean to be insulting here but as far as I can see, modern economic theory has really been a theory for the top 20% and not for the rest of the population. And now we are seeing the result up close and personal and until this changes, people will not feel the need to take the advice of economist, even when they should. Martin Wolf is fortunate in having also a humanities background but how true is that nowadays?

Jos Oskam , March 14, 2019 at 4:04 am

The sentence " So, maybe the proper distinction to be made is between "trustworthy" experts and "untrustworthy" ones " is important. Unfortunately, in the article I miss a key aspect in making that distinction.

I seem to notice that the "trustworthy" areas of expertise in general tend to be removed from political ideas or preferences. Left or right, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, it does not affect the way in which trustworthy experts go about their business. It does not influence the way in which a doctor cures patients, a pilot flies a plane or an engineer constructs a bridge. However, as soon as we start discussing things like the economy, talk is full of "liberal" or "left" economists as opposed to "conservative" or "right" economics. I have never heard of one bridge being more at risk of collapse because it was designed by a liberal engineer versus a conservative one, or the other way round. When discussing the strength of a bridge political leanings simply do not come into play, it is not a factor like the strength of the steel used. But for all economic debate, these leanings often seem to be the essence of the discussion.

Given the general public's intensifying distrust of politicians and all things political, it does not surprise me that disciplines tainted by political colouring (like economics) are considered "untrustworthy" compared to disciplines where political colouring is not a factor (like the aforementioned doctors, pilots and engineers).

Since economics *is* in fact very interwoven with politics, I think the general public will always treat economists the same way they treat politicians, that is with a healthy dose of distrust. And who can blame them?

Ptb , March 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

Yes, ability vs integrity.
And you can take 10 of the most honest and well meaning people, dedicated to the public good and advancement of learning, employ them in a structure set up to profit first and ask questions second, and the whole is going to be not the same as the sum of the parts.

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 10:45 am

I'd say an unhealthy dose of distrust is more likely and more common.

People tend to treat conventional econospeak as so much blah, blah, blah and then turn around and credit or discredit what has been said on the basis of the tone with which it was said.

Economists working for the kleptocracy get a lot of mileage out of sounding serious, while talking complete rubbish. And, sadly, many economists working the left, get away with lame one-liners and a rudderless iconoclasm.

SJ , March 14, 2019 at 4:32 am

I had an e-mail exchange with Mr. Wolf many years ago – before the 2008 crash – where he basically told me that we live in the best of all possible worlds and that nothing needs to change – he has changed his tune since then, I suppose to try to avoid looking like a complete idiot and also to try to deflect criticism on to others. Maybe he has öearned something in the meantime, but maybe he is just faking for the sake of appearences.

deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 11:02 am

I think he is faking it. It's the party line. It is the beginning of the neoliberal Perestroika (see also Brad DeLong).

I quite like to look at it this way – it is very clarifying (as I lived in the Perestroika) and I recommend it. Don't for a moment trust the Perestroika – it is half-measures at best and purposeful deception at worst.

johnf , March 14, 2019 at 5:24 am

" The answer should not be to produce apprentices in a highly technical and narrow discipline taught as a branch of applied mathematics ." With apologies to Mr. Richter, economics is taught more like a branch of mathematical sophistry, and that is slighting the original sophists.

I was an undergraduate studying applied mathematics at the time and place, present day neoclassical economics was being developed, published and starting to be taught. I can think of just one economics-and-finance classmate who continued to study mathematics beyond first year calculus – which everyone had to take.

Our introductory numerical analysis professor was scathing about his colleagues at the other side of the Quads. He made it quite plain that we could not skip the rigor and "try to prove something like an economist". Pretty much all the econ students dropped his course when they discovered that. The specific problem they could not address, can be simply stated. If you know a number but don't know its error, you don't know the number. The difficulty the great mass of economists have with just that, excludes economics as a branch of applied mathematics.

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

interesting insight

pretty much the sum total of neoclassical economics is trying to work out the counterfactual of how the economy would work if everyone had more-or-less complete information to work with.

introduce genuine uncertainty, and pretty much the whole apparatus turns topsy-turvy and all the "laws" of economics disappear or become highly contingent on circumstances unlikely to obtain.

Thuto , March 14, 2019 at 5:40 am

"Fixing" economics must start with a wholesale divestment from the idea of this profession being a "science", said divestment openly promoted by economists themselves. All manner of hardwired, warped thinking, to say nothing of obstinacy in changing one's views when confronted with contradictory evidence, results from people believing that they're scientists practising a real science. When such thinking seeps into the subconscious, the obstinacy is locked into place and even events of the scale of the GFC aren't enough to shake loose the erroneous biases held by the mainstream profession.

How else would an entire profession place so much faith in the predictive powers of its models if not having such faith resting on a (supposed) firm foundation of science? An engineer designing a beam for a bridge has justifiable faith in continuum mechanics (a real science) as a sound foundation for their work, economics is devoid of such sound foundations and its time the profession loudly and publicly declared this in an unprecedented act of intellectual honesty.

Additionally, we see weak to non-existent culpability enforcement when policy recommendations put on the table by economists wreck lives (as they have over decades), this in stark contrast with e.g. an engineer designing a bridge that collapses and kills hundreds. In other words, economists have outsized influence in matters of policy out of proportion with the amount of actual skin they have in the game. On the other side, this "economics is a science" narrative disarms a public already deficient in the marginal capacity for independent, critical thinking to question anything economists say, said public including politicians who, as aptly put by the Rev Kev, pull the trigger of a policy gun loaded by economists.

cnchal , March 14, 2019 at 8:50 am

>. . . economics is devoid of such sound foundations and its time the profession loudly and publicly declared this in an unprecedented act of intellectual honesty.

Not one economist, with their ass planted firmly on their throne at the policy table, will admit to that. The operating principle is venality.

Now that they have lost the respect of the peasants, I don't want them to matter again. What I would like to see is mass firings of eclownomists, so they can experience life as lived by the peasants, just once. It may even free up resources to pay people to actually do good things instead of perpetuating one failure after another, and being grossly rewarded for those failures.

dearieme , March 14, 2019 at 6:35 am

I think he gets the wrong end of the stick here: "Consider the anti-vaccination movement, hostility to evolutionary theory, or rejection of climate science."

No doubt there are occasions when vaccinations can do serious harm: a niece of mine was excused a standard vaccination because of a contra-indication in her family medical history.The anti-vaxers, though, seem to have elevated some small kernel of truth into a stupid all-encompassing doctrine without giving the matter enough critical thought.

The anti-evolutionists seem to have failed to devote any critical thought to the matter at all.

But the sceptics about "climate science" have deployed critical thinking to identify this new religion as being composed largely of incompetence, dishonesty, and hysteria. It's the likes of old Wolfie who are lacking in critical thought on this issue. Maybe he's one of those people who is uneducated in science, and so too easily swayed by chaps shouting excitedly about models, measurements, and so forth.

It's very odd. Goebbels Warming is now old enough that you can check the historical record of its predictions of dreadful tipping points, of the disappearance of snow from Britain, of the flooding of this and that Pacific island group, and so on. All false. So why should anyone rational believe a word of it? After all, almost from the beginning its proponents believed that the science was settled – it was inarguable. In which case why have their predictions proved so lousy?

Consult a poet: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Consult an economist: incentives matter.

mle detroit , March 14, 2019 at 8:01 am

Dearie me, Dearieme, your comment appears to lack sources, citations, examples. Please provide.

Steve Ruis , March 14, 2019 at 8:38 am

So, Yves, you are saying ("Economists are the only social scientists to have a seat at the policy table," etc.) that economists are like weathermen. They still have a time slot on the evening news and are respected, even though their accuracy is abysmal. They make a lot of money doing this.

Basically, this is because we expect very little of economists and because they have stopped using ordinary language professionally, they have the status equivalent to someone actually helpful.

I think economics has become an asocial science with too many economists willing to provide some sort of academic cover for whatever the plutocrats want to do.

Arthur Dent , March 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

I think the analogy to meteorologists is interesting. As an engineer, I have some perspective on this.

In engineering design, frequent failure of what we design is generally undesirable. So we have our analytical tools based on both scientific theory and empirical data, and then apply a factor of safety (sometimes called factor of ignorance, but more accurately is a recognition that there is a probabilistic distribution of outcomes and the factors of safety shift the design towards success instead of high probability of failure).

Airline pilots operate similar to engineers in that they aren't flying close to the edge of the airplane's flight characteristics. Instead they stay in a zone quite a ways away from what the airplane could potentially do. This is one of the reasons that airplane travel is very safe, especially compared to car travel.

Meteorologists are trying to make predictions of the most likely scenario which means they are trying to hit the center of the distribution of the potential outcomes. As a results, they frequently are shown to have "missed" in that some other lower probability event occurred instead. Over the past couple of decades, we have gotten used to seeing weather forecasts with probabilities or ranges of outcomes.

I think the public presentation of economics has two separate problems, but both undermine economics credibility.

First, economics is a field that is trying to predict the most likely event and the range of potential outcomes, similar to the weather forecasts, but does not present the predictions this way. So people don't cut economists slack because their public presentations don't recognize the range of potential outcomes and the frank recognition of the inaccuracy of their predictions that we are used to with the weather people, especially once they get past 24 hrs of predictions.

Second, many of the economists that make public predictions are funded by interest groups. When we see a lawyer on TV, we know that he is being paid by a client to be an advocate and that is his job as a lawyer. So we may disregard what he has to say but we understand the context he is speaking in. However, the economists don't say who they are being paid by and so they are presumed to be independent experts when they are sometimes not. I believe this is a fundamental ethical issue within the economics profession.

So when the economics predictions (e.g. effects of tax cuts) fail to be accurate, it needs to be parsed out if it was simply a lower probability event or if the predictions were intentionally biased to begin with. None of this is well-addressed by the economics profession, which greatly undermines credibility.

JEHR , March 14, 2019 at 12:40 pm

+1

jfleni , March 14, 2019 at 8:55 am

I was just getting used to the idea that economists are like clocks: right twice a
day -- at Noon and sundown!

Ptb , March 14, 2019 at 9:14 am

Economists also use the term 'efficiency' to denote pareto optimality, which causes much confusion.

Especially when communicating with both analytical people of a hard-sciencey or engineering background (efficiency = a context specific figure, some-measure-of-output/some-measure-of-input, strict limits in how far you can generalize), and business people (efficient = low cost)

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 11:00 am

economists also routinely distinguish the allocative efficiency they focus upon almost exclusively from the kinds of technical or managerial efficiency that most of the rest of the world focuses upon, but they rarely admit that their focus is so narrow and does not generalize to encompass common sense notions of cost and efficiency -- it is almost as if they want to avoid the critical examination engineering enables while providing double-talk as cover for business people trying to privatize the profits while socializing the costs.

Matthew G. Saroff , March 14, 2019 at 9:50 am

Let me start by saying that I object to the term "Dismal Science" for economics.

This is not because of the "dismal" part, it's because of the "science" part.

That being said, the devaluing of expertise is due in large part to something not mentioned by Mr. Wolf: corruption, particularly for the field of macroeconomics.

We have seen this repeatedly in the past few decades, where nominally independent researchers have been found to slant their research to accommodate the results desired by their patrons. (The sad state of pharma and medical research come to mind as well)

In fact, ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN "RATIONAL ACTOR" THEORIES , academics in general, and economists in particular,will behave in ways that will most strongly benefit themselves, and not in ways that serve the truth or reality. (Studies have shown that economists are the most selfish academics )

I believe that if you discuss the devaluation of knowledge and expertise without discussing the pervasive corruption in western society, you are ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.

john Wright , March 14, 2019 at 3:04 pm

I object to the "Dismal" part.

Economic Science is very optimistic that what they characterize as "economic growth" in using up the world's resources in its pursuit, is a "good thing".

Economists are selling a limitless planet on which humans will always "pull the rabbit out of the hat", to solve any resource issue, including climate change and overpopulation.

That being said, I view the economic profession, as largely practiced by its well-paid members, as a mechanism to justify what the political and business elite want to do.

The elite are simply getting what they pay to hear.

Steven Greenberg , March 14, 2019 at 10:02 am

I worked on simulation software for integrated circuits. My friend studied economics with all the famous people. When I described to him what I did if there seemed to be a discrepancy between what my simulator said and how the integrated circuit behaved in real life or the intuition that an electrical engineer had about how it would behave in real life he was amazed. I was amazed that he was amazed. How could you possibly believe a simulator that necessarily has bugs in it, if you don't track down discrepancies to understand which is right, your intuition or the simulator?

Sometimes, I had to be very inventive to find another way to make a complex calculation in a way that would test out if the simulator was right. If economics students are taught the math, but not how to check their work, and the necessity of checking their work, then they shouldn't be in positions to make policy recommendations.

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 11:09 am

Yes!

Many economists avoid operational modeling of the processes of the actual, institutional economy. And, that which does take place in narrowly conceived research by specialists is never allowed to feed back on the methods or theories embodied in the core doctrines.

WobblyTelomeres , March 14, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Other than setting Friedman's Chicago Boys upon Chile, isn't it very difficult to model/test anything macro in the real world?

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 5:35 pm

One way mainstream macroeconomics defeats its own feeble efforts at empiricism is to set the problems in a frame of time-series regression analysis of highly aggregated data: national GDP and its high-level components year-by-year or quarter-by-quarter.

The behavior of tens or hundreds of millions of people reduced to statistics for largely formless accounting conventions relating to a single somewhat amorphous entity (a country) over time. History, however it happens, only ever happens one way, so there's always zero degrees of freedom in the aggregate time-series.

There is so little information left in the data, even the most clever econometricians would need a thousand years of data to "test" the most basic hypotheses. It is absurd to approach the task in the way they do.

Is it necessarily as difficult a task as they make it, to learn something useful about the way the economy works?

The problems of statistical aggregation and time-series are not rooted in the object of study -- the actual political economy -- so much as they are created by the conceptual apparatus.

In short form, economists have an analytic theory -- in form and epistemic status, something akin to Euclid's geometry. A geometry is not itself a map of the world and no one doing geometry confuses geometry with cartography or land surveying, but most economists do not understand that their theory is not itself a model of the actual political economy. Someone like Paul Krugman actually thinks he has "a map" of the political economy in, say, IS/LM . No student of geometry expects to find a dimensionless point in the bathroom or an isoceles triangle growing in the garden. Yet, economists regularly purport to casually observe perfectly competitive markets in equilibrium or the natural interest rate.

I think economists could do as well as, say, meteorologists or geologists in developing an empirically grounded understanding of the observable political economy, if they focused their attention on concrete and measurable mechanisms of the institutional economy and stopped talking meaninglessly about formless "markets" that have no existence.

Reality Bites , March 14, 2019 at 10:12 am

This article reminds me of why I stopped reading The Economist after the GFC. The Economist was quite explicit in advocating for a weak regulatory environment. I remember articles talking about how great it was for the Office of Thrift Supervision to regulate banks alongside others like the Fed because regulatory competition was good. After the GFC they were writing articles about how they opposed this all along.
It's not just that so many economists are wrong. It's that many times their models and predictions are wrong and they claim that it is either not what they argued for or 'externalities' intervened. Of course they never mentioned such externalities before. Many just outright conjure up unicorns. There were no shortage of economists claiming that the housing bubble was not a problem and the economy will grow to the point where things just naturally level off. Of course there was no accountability for those peddling these falsehoods.

Candy , March 14, 2019 at 11:01 am

I love the way people shrink down what Michael Gove said.

Here is his full exchange with his interviewer:

Gove: I think the people in this country have had enough of experts, with organizations from acronyms, saying --

Interviewer: They've had enough of experts? The people have had enough of experts? What do you mean by that?

Gove: People from organizations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.

Inteviewer: The people of this country have had enough of experts?

Gove: Because these people are the same ones who got consistently wrong what was happening.

shinola , March 14, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Perhaps it's changed since I started out as an econ. major in the mid '70's, but what disillusioned me was the total disregard for actual human behavior. Real people do NOT always behave rationally or honestly. Emotions/psychology do figure greatly in real people making "economic" decisions – just ask anyone who makes their living based on selling something.

Every economic model should be prefaced with "In an ideal world " (or perhaps more honestly "In an economist's construct of an ideal world )

Arizona Slim , March 14, 2019 at 12:18 pm

I share your disillusionment, shinola. I was a late 1970s econ major. By the time I graduated, I was done with economics.

hunkerdown , March 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Real people don't, but they should, say those who hire economists. If the algorithm doesn't work, change the inputs.

Wukchumni , March 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm

How many brand name economists up and quit in disgust 11 years ago when the powers that be decided to go against everything they stood for, and bailed out those that deserved to go down in financial flames?

not a one

bruce wilder , March 14, 2019 at 12:47 pm

A parenthetical lifted from Randy Wray's post responding to DeLong on MMT:

an exasperated Wynne Godley came into my office a couple of decades ago and announced that every [mainstream model] he had looked at was incoherent

That's the base problem, imho: economists are very successful as "experts" in a sociological sense, slotting into the role with firm claims on salary, status and ritual respect, as Yves Smith observed, but economics as a civic doctrine and a common frame of reference for political discourse is incoherent and economics as a scholarly discipline or "social science" fails methodological or epistemic standards.

There is a history of imperviousness to absolutely devastating critiques that isn't explained. Is that persistent "wrongness" related to professional success or only a by-product of an unfortunate pedagogy? Who puts the dogmatism into a dogma . . . and keeps it there?

(disclosure: i was a professional economist myself many years ago -- neither ambitious nor particularly successful, but I did attend ruling class schools for what that was worth)

deplorado , March 14, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Prof. Richard Werner has a fantastic talk (at the Russian Academy of Sciences) about, among other things, "the unresolved puzzles of modern economics" – to me the most striking there was how he dispenses with concept of "equilibrium".
He talks about the "puzzles" ~30 min in.

It is enough to see that and know that mainstream economists are little more than the high priests of the peculiar modern religion guiding our society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Um9wR46Ir4

Adam1 , March 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm

"The teaching of economics to undergraduates must focus on core ideas, essential questions, and actual realities."

Sadly Mr. Wolf suffers from the same delusions that so many mainstream economist suffer. They think they have actually considered "actual realities".

Yet the foundations of mainstream economics ignores these ACTUAL REALITIES
– Assumes Loanable Funds yet the Bank of England & the Bundesbank both publicly published research say endogenous money is correct. Loans create Deposits. They are clueless as to how finance works. I recall the infamous intro to econ question "If I double you income and double prices for beer, how much beer can you now purchase?" The standard econ answer is the same amount of beer. But in the real world the correct answer is you don't know. The professor never told you how large the fixed debt payments of the person were which most definitely impacts the amount of disposable income you have to buy beer. But then again most economists would likely fail any advanced accounting class. Long gone are the days when undergraduate economics students in economics had to take 2 or 3 semesters of accounting. Even my alma mater which is definitely heterodox in faculty and has MMT / UMKC taught faculty only require 1 these days. You need a strong foundation in accounting to be stock flow consistent in your modeling of a highly monetary modern economy.
– Assumes upward sloping supply curve is the market norm. At least 3 economic studies have attempted to measure this on large cross industry scales and every time concludes that over 1/2 of all businesses face downward sloping cost curves (natural monopoly stuff, and we wonder why industry concentration is the norm) and another 1/3 face flat cost curves. An upward sloping supply curve, for those not taking advanced or graduate level economics IS the assumed upward sloping marginal cost curve of the industry or nation if you're crazy enough to apply it at the macro level.

There are dozens more piss pore assumptions that underpin mainstream economics. In this day and age far more EMPIRICAL, real word data can be used to confirm what really makes an economy work, but sadly what we teach in college is garbage where the ACTUAL REALITIES are ignored.

Steven , March 14, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Soddy (paraphrasing John Ruskin) yet again:

a logical definition of wealth is absolutely needed for the basis of economics if it is to be a science."

Frederick Soddy, WEALTH, VIRTUAL WEALTH AND DEBT,
2nd edition, p. 102
Economists and financiers seem to be incapable of understanding we live on a finite planet. Nor do they seem to be able to get beyond equating money with wealth. It is much easier to just put a price on something like a Beethoven symphony (or call it 'priceless') than to attempt a definition of wealth. But for most of us the ingredients of a definition are much simpler. Topping the list has to be energy. You can't create it but you can dissipate it, i.e. render it useless, by for example manufacturing useless junk that falls apart quickly enough for people who run or own the business to make a lot of money.

Or if your customers can no longer afford the junk because you have automated or off-shored their jobs, you can sell guns and bombs to your wholly owned government – to use in blowing up people who stand in the way of your accumulating more of the money created by your bankers, financiers and politicians. Then there is the basic intelligence required to run the machinery and discern better – i.e. more energy and resource efficient – ways of doing things. With real wealth creation comes power. The Chinese may have figured this out. The West's 1%, its economists, bankers and politicians don't appear to have a clue.

RBHoughton , March 14, 2019 at 11:19 pm

Did Kenneth Rogoff apologise for his hit on Iceland and his subsequent dismay defense in Ferguson's "Inside Job"? At least one of the Chicago boys (Jonathan Sachs) has resiled from the opinions of Friedman and rejoined the human race but only after a raft of countries were ground down by the mill of the moneymen. Chile and Poland seem to have survived at horrible social cost but what of the others?

The plaint is partly true. When governments were advised by economists, they replaced the wishes of the electorate. The economist brought along their army of lawyers who instantly appeared as mercenary terrorists to browbeat and coerce officials with various threats to do as the moneymen asked and cease attending to the people. This is still the state of play in UK and USA and those core paper-issuers drag the 'also rans' along with carrots and sticks.

I believe the fault lies in lazy officials who seldom run trials on new ideas in limited areas but drop the entire country into one speculative foray after another. Its a shame that its not mentioned. There is no good reason why the whole country has to be volunteered for these new scheme. Why has the UK Treasury shut down every competing form of banking to the high street banks – the trust banks, coop bank, post office bank, municipal banks, mutuals – all thrown away as infringers of the BoE's monopoly. The country needs an Oliver Cromwell or Napoleon to lead it not the present bunch of ragamuffins and hooligans.

That brings me to the second problem the disastrous state of the representation. It is mainly due to the control factions have brought to bear on the selection of candidates for office. That has to stop and the way to do it to have primary assemblies of every 200-300 people who select one of their number to represent them. He's a school friend or neighbor and a known quantity. Several primary assemblies select a chap to represent them and so on up this new structure of democracy to the top.

The business community have sought to keep everyone's nose to the grindstone with statistics justifying under payment by understating inflation. That has to stop. The economics trade belongs with astrology and weather forecasting until it acknowledges the fundamentals that drive prices.

Yves Smith Post author , March 14, 2019 at 11:30 pm

It wasn't Ken Rogoff but Frederic Mishkin. He was on the Fed Board of Governors and had been vice chairman.

RBHoughton , March 15, 2019 at 4:00 am

Apologies to Mr Rogoff and grateful thanks to Yves for the correction. I'll take a pill now

Cal2 , March 15, 2019 at 12:29 am

It seems to me from my citizen's non-professional perspective that the only real economists are experts in resource extraction, manufacturing and end use of same.

IOW, a forester, mining, petroleum, construction engineer and even a naval admiral, sitting around a table, all beholden to and obeying the supreme chairmanship of an ecologist, would be a better and less destructive thing for the world than a bunch of money only maximum value extraction Wall Streeters controlling the engineers mentioned above.

Can there even be an economy without resource extraction? It seems like most new economic schemes are attempting this with humans bodies, credit ratings and bank accounts being the last available commodity.

Sound of the Suburbs , March 15, 2019 at 7:07 am

The economists got Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, but they missed this:

"The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community" Ricardo 1815 / Classical Economist

What does our man on free trade mean?
He was an expert on the small state, unregulated capitalism he observed in the world around him. He was part of the new capitalist class and the old landowning class were a huge problem with their rents that had to be paid both directly and through wages.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Employees get less disposable income after the landlords rent has gone.
Employers have to cover the landlord's rents in wages reducing profit.

Ricardo is just talking about housing costs, employees all rented in those days.

Employees get their money from wages and so the employer pays through wages.

Look at the US cost of living:
The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

Employees get their money from wages, so it is the employer that pays through wages, reducing profit and driving off shoring from the US.

Maximising profit requires minimising labour costs; i.e. wages.

China, Asia and Mexico look good, the US is awful.

(This is Michael Hudson's argument in a slightly different from)

There are some fundamental problems with today's economics, like this and the fact it doesn't look at money, debt or banks.

Also, it hasn't worked out financial markets are not like other markets.

The supply of stocks stays fairly fixed and central banks can create a "wealth effect" by just adding liquidity. More money is now chasing a fairly fixed number of financial assets and the price (e.g. stock market) goes up.

[Mar 16, 2019] The Party of Davos have ruled for 40-50 years. We've got unprecedented wealth inequality. We've got endless wars with no benefit for the Deplorables.

Mar 16, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Jack , 11 hours ago

Harper,

The media and the establishment are focused on Trump and his personality. They don't want to delve into the zeitgeist that allowed him to defeat two political dynasties. That's what they should be focused on.

It's a similar zeitgeist that caused Brexit. That elected Salvini and 5 Star in Italy. That's behind Gilets Jaunes who are now in their 18th week of protests in France. China going more totalitarian by the day under Chairman Xi.

The Party of Davos have ruled for 40-50 years. We've got unprecedented wealth inequality. We've got endless wars with no benefit for the Deplorables. All they have are opioids. More dying of that than automobile accidents. Health care, tuition, rents all rising. A double standard in tthe application of the law. Hypocrisy oozing from every pore of the ruling elites. Bribing their way to elite colleges while espousing meritocracy.

Is this what Howe & Strauss mean by the Fourth Turning?

mourjou -> David Schuler , 2 hours ago
In Europe it was right-wing governments who were largely responsible for introducing elements of a welfare state as a means of protecting capitalism and preventing the spread of socialism. Most real socialists opposed the welfare state efforts as they regarded them as a smoke screen.
If the 1% in the United States wish to enjoy the fruits of capitalism long term, they should do the same otherwise it'll be 1848 all over again. So yes, ""history repeats itself--the first as tragedy and then as farce", it's just that Marx was referring to larger events over a longer time frame than consecutive presidential elections.
Pat Lang Mod -> mourjou , 2 hours ago
I remember that this was particularly true of Bismark. We already have a mixed economy in th US. Social Security, hospital emergency rooms, a graduated progressive income tax systems, local arrangements for giving low income people a break on property taxes both for real estate taxes and taxes on cars, etc. I suppose you are aware that people with higher incomes pay the great bulk of income taxes in the US? Are you familiar with the EITC https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... what kind of change do you want to make, a guaranteed government provided income? Forgiveness of college load debt? What?

[Mar 13, 2019] Austerity Neoliberalism a new discursive formation

Mar 13, 2019 | www.opendemocracy.net

One Born Every MinuteOne of many legacies left by the late cultural theorist, Stuart Hall, in Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices was to emphasise that to understand "the effects and consequences of representation" we must consider "historical specificity". That is, he writes, "the way representational practices operate in concrete historical situations, in actual practice". With this in mind, we want to consider some cultural trends that have surfaced in British austerity culture and how they are entangled with neoliberal rationalities and philosophies. Our aim is to explore whether we are seeing the emergence of a specific discursive formation that we might call 'austerity neoliberalism'. To suggest this is not only to draw links between austerity and neoliberalism – they are there to be sure – but, more than this, to raise questions about whether they are being put to work in contemporary capitalism in a way that is mutually reinforcing, coming to constitute a novel formation – like Hall's idea of 'authoritarian populism'.

Neoliberalism is a contested term. Gill & Scharff describe it as "a mode of political and economic rationality characterised by privatisation, deregulation and a rolling back and withdrawal of the state from many areas of social provision". In its place is the market – market exchange seen as an ethic in itself, capable of guiding human action , and spreading out across social life so that it reconfigures relations between " governing and governed, power and knowledge, sovereignty and territoriality ". Our own interests have focussed on the role and force of neoliberalism in remaking subjectivity in ways that construct the individual, as Lisa Duggan and Wendy Brown suggest, as a calculating, entrepreneurial and 'responsibilised' subject, wholly responsible for their own life outcomes. We are interested not simply in how this construction erases structural inequalities and exculpates brutal social and economic forces, but also in how it materialises new ways of being in the world – that diminish what it is to be human.

There are clear links between neoliberalism and austerity. As Tracy Jensen and others, such as Kim Allen et al. , comment, the "objectives of 'austerity' align neatly with those of neo-liberalism: to discipline labour, to reduce the role of state and to redistribute income, wealth and power from labour to capital". Britain has seen vast changes to the socio-economic landscape thrust forward under the rationale that austerity measures are needed to pull the country out of recession and place it on the road to recovery. We have seen a devastating increase in social inequality. Increasing changes to welfare provisions like the bedroom tax and cuts to disability and sickness benefits, harsh benefits sanctions and reorganisations and cut backs to state-led services at the same time as rises in homelessness , food bank usage and deprivation have emerged.

However as some scholars have argued, austerity is not only an economic programme of 'fiscal management', but also a site of ideological and 'discursive struggle' – and this struggle plays out across government, public sites and popular culture in particular ways with very real material outcomes. As Tracey Jensen and Imogen Tyler point out in a special issue on 'Austerity Parenting' in 2012, the "public narrative of austerity" increasingly upholds the individual as responsible for their own social and economic status, as well as accountable for their own locality, a bustling economy and increasing independence from the state. Some have explored the emerging importance of thrift , nostalgia or gendered domestic entrepreneurship to show how austerity is shaping current formations of the self in the cultural sphere. Other examples of this are studies on the 'stay-at-home mother' , the 'recessionista' and the book, Gendering the Recession .

We want to briefly consider three other useful ways of thinking together 'austerity' and 'neoliberalism'. First, and continuing our psychosocial focus, we wish to draw attention to the increasing emphasis on 'character' in contemporary Britain. As Anna Bull and Kim Allen have put it in a recent call for paper s, "A growing number of policy initiatives and reports have asserted the importance of nurturing character in children and young people – with qualities such as 'grit', 'optimism', 'resilience', 'zest', and 'bouncebackability' located as preparing young people for the challenges of the 21st century and enabling social mobility." Resilience, in particular, has become the neoliberal trait par excellence for surviving austerity. As Mark Neocleous argues :

"Good subjects will 'survive and thrive in any situation', they will 'achieve balance' across several insecure and part-time jobs, they have 'overcome life's hurdles' such as facing retirement without a pension to speak of, and just 'bounce back' from whatever life throws, whether it be cuts to benefits, wage freezes or global economic meltdown."

Likewise, the new focus on 'confidence' as a panacea for gender inequality operates within the 'psychic life of neoliberalism' turning away from collective resistance against injustice, and towards a remodeling and upgrading of the self.

In turn, looking at the parenting and family policy that emerged under the coalition government there has been an emphasis on how character can solve the ills of 'poor parenting', which constructs working-class families as 'bad' parents in need of monitoring and disciplining. Tracey Jensen argues that the preoccupation with 'tough love' in social policy places increased prominence upon parents' character to realise children's social mobility. This, she asserts, " names the crisis of social immobility as one of parental indulgence, failure to set boundaries, moral laxity and disciplinary incompetence", seeing the responsibility of class inequalities placed on an individual's shoulders.

New forms of surveillance are also a key part of austerity neoliberalism. Austerity has seen a rolling back of the state furthering neoliberal mentalities, such as the increasing withdrawal of welfare support and pushing of individuals on welfare into work . This rolling back of the welfare state has occurred as the state attempts increasingly to observe its citizens and intervene into private life across multiple domains (schools, health, obesity, etc.). Val Gillies explores how, following New Labour's cue, the coalition government gradually increased its intervention into the family at ever-earlier stages. For example, she notes how under the Family Nurse Partnerships certain pregnant women whose unborn child is considered 'at risk' of social exclusion are assigned nurses who will teach them parenting skills to ensure social exclusion of the unborn child does not occur. As Gillies, among others , suggests, these types of surveillance mechanisms and interventional practices often target the most marginalised in society, retaining and reifying longheld inequalities around gender, class and 'race'.

Lastly, austerity neoliberalism has seen a simultaneous idealisation and dismantling of the state in the cultural realm. Recent research on televisual birth explores how Channel 4's award-winning show, One Born Every Minute , obscures the current context and effects of austerity by emphasising the importance of individual narratives of conflict and resolution through the mothers, families and midwives featured. On the one hand, the NHS/state is idealised but, on the other hand, there is a systematic failure to engage with how austerity has impacted on maternal care, midwifery and maternity wards. This one example of recent " spectacular dramatizations of the paradoxes of the political present " sees nurses and midwives depicted through a soft-focus image of self-sacrifice, care and romance, seen as 'angels', whose virtues are put to work to obscure a healthcare system that often seems to be at breaking point. This idealisation of hospital life and silence around austerity effects works to distract attention away from the material effects of austerity, cloaking them in a rosy glow in which 'love' and 'goodness' can seemingly compensate for a crumbling NHS.

In all three examples – the new cultural obsession with 'character', the intensification of surveillance, and the romanticisation of welfare and healthcare workers – we see not simply austerity at work, nor simply the impact of neoliberalism, but a distinctive formation where the two become mutually reinforcing. The UK has been through periods of austerity in the recent past – not least in the 1920s and 1930s and in the post-war period. However difficult these periods were (e.g. marked by considerable economic hardship and rationing), what is significant is that they were shaped by entirely different ideological and cultural framings – not by neoliberalism. It is the systematic and patterned framing of austerity measures through an individualizing neoliberal discourse that distinguishes the current formation as one of austerity neoliberalism. Austerity does not necessarily have to be neoliberal and neoliberalism does not have any necessary connection to austerity. But taken together they represent a toxic combination, one that attacks us body and soul.

Part of the Anti-Austerity and Media Activism series with Goldsmiths.

[Mar 13, 2019] Neoliberalism and austerity

Mar 13, 2019 | mainlymacro.blogspot.com

Friday, 21 October 2016 Neoliberalism and austerity I like to treat neoliberalism not as some kind of coherent political philosophy, but more as a set of interconnected ideas that have become commonplace in much of our discourse. That the private sector entrepreneur is the wealth creator, and the state typically just gets in their way. That what is good for business is good for the economy, even when it increases monopoly power or involves rent seeking. Interference in business or the market, by governments or unions, is always bad. And so on. As long as these ideas describe the dominant ideology, no one needs to call themselves neoliberal.
I do not think austerity could have happened on the scale that it did without this dominance of this neoliberal ethos. Mark Blyth has described austerity as the biggest bait and switch in history. It took two forms. In one the financial crisis, caused by an under regulated financial sector lending too much, led to bank bailouts that increased public sector debt. This leads to an outcry about public debt, rather than the financial sector. In the other the financial crisis causes a deep recession which - as it always does - creates a large budget deficit. Spending like drunken sailors goes the cry, we must have austerity now.
In both cases the nature of what was going on was pretty obvious to anyone who bothered to find out the facts. That so few did so, which meant that the media largely went with the austerity narrative, can be partly explained by a neoliberal ethos. Having spent years seeing the big banks lauded as wealth creating titans, it was difficult for many to comprehend that their basic business model was fundamentally flawed and required a huge implicit state subsidy. On the other hand they found it much easier to imagine that past minor indiscretions by governments were the cause of a full blown debt crisis.
You might point out that austerity was popular, but then so was bashing bankers. We got austerity in spades, while bankers at worst got lightly tapped. You could say that the Eurozone crisis was pivotal, but this would be to ignore two key facts. The first is that austerity plans were already well laid on the political right in both the UK and US before that crisis. The second is that the Eurozone crisis went beyond Greece because the ECB failed to act as every central bank should: as a sovereign lender of last resort. It changed its mind two years later, but I do not think it is overly cynical to say that this delay was partly strategic. Furthermore the Greek crisis was made far worse than it should have been because politicians used bailouts to Greece as a cover to support their own fragile banks. Another form of bait and switch.
While in this sense austerity might have been a useful distraction from the problems with neoliberalism made clear by the financial crisis, I think a more important political motive was that it appeared to enable the more rapid accomplishment of a key neoliberal goal: shrinking the state. It is no coincidence that austerity typically involved cuts in spending rather than higher taxes: the imagined imperative to cut the deficit was used as a cover to cut government spending. I call it deficit deceit. In that sense too austerity goes naturally with neoliberalism.
All this suggests that neoliberalism made 2010 austerity more likely to happen, but I do not think you can go further and suggest that austerity was somehow bound to happen because it was necessary to the 'neoliberal project'. For a start, as I said at the beginning, I do not see neoliberalism in those functionalist terms. But more fundamentally, I can imagine governments of the right not going down the austerity path because they understood the damage it would do. Austerity is partly a problem created by ideology, but it also reflects incompetent governments that failed to listen to good economic advice.
An interesting question is whether the same applies to right wing governments in the UK and US that used immigration/race as a tactic for winning power. We now know for sure, with both Brexit and Trump, how destructive and dangerous that tactic can be. As even the neoliberal fantasists who voted Leave are finding out, Brexit is a major setback for neoliberalism. Not only is it directly bad for business, it involves (for both trade and migration) a large increase in bureaucratic interference in market processes. To the extent she wants to take us back to the 1950s, Theresa May's brand of conservatism may be very different from Margaret Thatcher's neoliberal philosophy.

Posted by Mainly Macro at Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels: austerity , deficit deceit , Mark Blyth , neoliberalism 29 comments:

[Mar 13, 2019] Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Authoritarianism

Jun 01, 2015 | newpol.org

(New Politics Vol. XV No. 3, Whole Number 59) [PDF] [Print]

ImageAsk anyone what neoliberalism means and they'll tell you it's an economic system that corresponds to a particular economic philosophy. But any real-world economic system has a corresponding political system to promote and sustain it. Milton Friedman, who has become known as the father of neoliberal thinking, claims in his text Capitalism and Freedom that "the role of the government is t o do something that the market cannot do for itself, namely, to determine, arbitrate, and enforce the rules of the game."* While neoliberalism's advocates like to claim that the political system that corresponds to their economic preference is a democratic, minimal state, in practice, the neoliberal state has demonstrated quite the opposite tendency.

This essay will begin by sketching out the core tenets of neoliberal theory, tracing its history from the classical liberal tradition of the Enlightenment. I will then present some hypotheses on how relations between the neoliberal state and society operate, contrasting the state theories of Ralph Miliband and Nicos Poulantzas to create a framework that shows how the neoliberal state is a product and enforcer of anti-democratic practices . I will argue that the implementation of neoliberal economic policy, and the subsequent evolution of the neoliberal state, has historically been completed through anti-democratic methods. Further, in an effort to produce social relations that are more favorable to the accumulation of capital, austerity is employed as a tool to move further toward a market society, creating a larger, more interventionist state and promoting authoritarianism.

Neoliberalism in Theory

The term neoliberal is often convoluted, confused, and misinterpreted, especially in the American context where the center-left Democratic Party has traditionally held the title of liberal. The original liberals, or classical liberals as they are usually called, were those Enlightenment-era thinkers of Western European origin who desired to limit the authority of the feudal state and defended individual rights by restricting the power of the state, the crown, the nobility, and the church. The "neo" prefix serves as a romantic symbol, an attempt at establishing a (sometimes forced) common ground with historical figures like Adam Smith and the classical liberals, who challenged the tendencies of the monarchy to interfere in the economy for its own gain, producing inefficiency. Neoliberal economic thinkers are famously known for deriding government intervention in the economy, precisely because they trace their foundation to a period when markets were seen not just as a source of better economic outcomes, but as a weapon to challenge concentrated political power.

This revamping of liberalism appeared in the twentieth century at a time when its proponents believed they were facing a similar struggle against the expanded state apparatuses of Europe -- communist, social-democratic, and fascist. Friedrich Hayek, whose text The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, is arguably the most celebrated of the neoliberal canon, sought to show how government interference in the economy forms the basis of fascist and other totalitarian regimes, contrary to the then widely accepted notion that it was capitalist crisis that had produced fascism in Europe. For Hayek, the strong state, whether in the form of fascism, Soviet communism, or the creeping socialism of the British Labour Party, was to be eschewed.

If neoliberalism springs from a desire to combat the growing power and influence of the state, how is it that neoliberalism has produced not only a very robust state apparatus, but, as I will argue, an authoritarian one? The answer is that neoliberalism in practice has been quite different from its theory.

The Necessities of the State in Neoliberal Theory

As David Harvey points out in A Brief History of Neoliberalism, the neoliberals' economic ideals suffer from inevitable contradictions that require a state structure to regulate them. The first of these contradictions revolves around the role of law to ensure the individual's superiority over the collective in the form of private ownership rights and intellectual property rights (patents and copyrights). A judicial system is necessary to designate and regulate the interaction between private actors on the market. While intimations of the regulatory state can be seen in this formulation, it is hardly anything controversial. Only the most extreme of laissez-faire economic thinkers would not acknowledge the requirement of a state structure that creates the space for and regulates contracts.

The second contradiction derives from the elites' historical ambivalence regarding democracy and mass participation. If the people were free to make decisions about their lives democratically, surely the first thing they would do is interfere with the property rights of the elite, posing an existential threat to the neoliberal experiment. Whether these popular aspirations take the form of drives towards unionization, progressive taxation, or pushing for social policies that require the redistribution of resources, the minimal state cannot be so minimal that it is unable to respond to and crush the democratic demands of citizens. After all, as pointed out in the first contradiction, the neoliberal state exists in theory to guarantee the rights of the individual over the demands of a majority. Therefore, a system must be put in place that protects against the "wrong" decisions of a public that is supposed to buy, sell, act, and choose freely.

Two Levels of Authoritarianism

Any method that seeks to subvert the democratic demands of citizens, whether through force, coercion, or social engineering, is authoritarian. I argue here that the neoliberal state is authoritarian in two distinct but related forms. First, the historical imposition of neoliberalism on nation-states is the result of anti-democratic forces. Second, the maintenance of neoliberalism requires a market society achieved through a transformation in civil society. For this transformation to take place, welfare states must be slimmed down by austerity policies in order to turn over to the market potentially lucrative sectors of the social economy (in health care, education, social security, and so on). Public resources must become privatized; the public good must be produced by private initiative. Neoliberal economic policy can only function with a state that encourages its growth by actively shaping society in its own image, and austerity is the tool to push for that transformation. While the subversion of democracy is clearly authoritarian, the drive towards a market society and the social engineering necessary to maintain that society are further expressions of the de facto authoritarianism of neoliberalism and the neoliberal state.

Austerity traditionally has been defined as the economic policies surrounding deficit cutting. When public debt runs too high, according to the theory, the accounts must be balanced by cutting spending and raising taxes. It is important to look past the theory to see the results of austerity in practice and understand austerity as a social-historical force. To do this, one must define austerity from the perspective of its victims.

Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Podemos party in Spain, in his February 17 appearance on the Democracy Now! show, did just that by arguing that austerity is when people are forced out of their homes, when social services do not work, when public schools lack resources, when countries do not have sovereignty and become the colonies of financial powers. He closes by saying that austerity is the end of democracy, because without democratic control of the economy, there is no democracy.

The State and Society

The nature of how the state affects society has been a contentious topic within left traditions. Most notably, the debate between Ralph Miliband and Nicos Poulantzas that took place in the pages of the New Left Review in the early 1970s refreshed the study of the state. Miliband, in his The State in Capitalist Society , stressed an instrumentalist position, arguing that the reproduction of capitalism in society is due to the socialization of the ruling class in the tradition of capitalist dogma. As a large proportion of those who dominate the state and control its levers come from an elite education (he was writing from the perspective of British politics in the mid-twentieth century), it's no surprise that they believe their theories to be correct and just, while the state they run serves the interests of capital. The writings of Poulantzas, in particular Political Power and Social Classes , argued a structuralist position strongly influenced by the thought of Louis Althusser.

He claimed that the relation between the ruling class and the state was an objective relation, meaning that the coincidence of bourgeois ideology with the ideology of the state was a matter of how the system itself is organized. Their two state theories, the former arguing that the state is an instrument of the ruling class and the latter arguing that the state is the objective result of the capitalist system, shed light on the differences in conceptualizing not only the capitalist state, but how the state relates to and is legitimized by society. Is the market society a result of policies implemented by individuals in power who are trained in a particular neoliberal tradition, or an objective outcome of capitalist social relations that are the superstructural product of a system?

What could arguably be the genius of neoliberalism is the way in which it takes these two approaches to state theory and blends them. On the one hand, for Miliband, the neoliberal state is the extension of ruling-class free-market ideology, propagated by government bureaucrats, military officials, and technocrats who can speak no other language than that of the privileged status of capital and who hold the belief that they are serving the greater good. On the other hand, as Poulantzas suggested, neoliberalism needs to ensure its own survival by bending civil society, political institutions, and democracy to its will.

A state that so blatantly puts the rights and needs of one small class of citizens over others cannot be installed without a struggle. And further analysis shows us that once neoliberal regimes come into power, a certain degree of social engineering and coercion are necessary in order to guarantee the submission of the population and ensure the smooth accumulation of capital.

In what follows, I would like to lay out how neoliberal austerity regimes were installed, and also draw on hypotheses of how they are maintained. However, as each socio-political system is unique in its history, culture, norms, and traditions, the manifestation and maintenance of the neoliberal state differs depending on whether we are talking about core countries or peripheral ones, to use the terminology of World Systems Theory. The common denominator is the empowering of elites over the masses with the assistance of international forces through military action or financial coercion -- a globalized dialectic of ruling classes.

Peripheral Neoliberal States

In the periphery, those countries that have been dominated by colonial and neocolonial developed countries, economic and political trends beginning in the 1970s show that neoliberalism has been installed by the use of force. The Latin American experience demonstrates how neoliberalism was established through military operations and coups d'état. In Chile, the democratically elected president Salvador Allende was overthrown and the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet proceeded to crush labor unions and popular movements, privatizing a chunk of the public sector. When Pinochet stepped down, initiating a transition to democracy, he left behind the constitution that he had signed and put in place after the coup. Demands to chip away at this "constitution of the dictatorship," as it is referred to in Chile, are present in Chilean social movements, most recently the student movements seeking to reform the deeply unequal private higher education system. The reforms that were the bedrock of a reactionary counter-revolution in the country were brought about through force, violence, and physical coercion as seen in the torture and systematic repression of the regime's opponents.

The maintenance of such a regime could only be guaranteed through the dissolution of civil society to ensure that all avenues of dissent were illegal. Political representation in the National Congress was impossible because it was dissolved as civil liberties were proscribed. Organizations of a civil society, including unions, political parties, and groups set up by the Catholic Church to tend to the needs of the families of the disappeared, were treated as opposition organizations and were forbidden. It is estimated that tens of thousands of Chileans were tortured, while up to 200,000 were exiled, shocking the population into submission through fear. The laws regulating dissent were so strict that when the plebiscite was held to transition to democracy, special arrangements needed to be made to allow political groups the ability to organize and campaign, an attempt to reinvigorate a minimal civic culture in the country.

While Chile was the first and one of the main examples of the growth of neoliberalism, it has been far from unique. Economic "shock therapy" has become central to U.S. foreign policy, from Argentina in 1976 to the reintegration of post-communist states into the global capitalist economy. A quick comparison between countries listed as "not-free" by Freedom House and those that employ free-market neoliberal policies stresses this point. From Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in Central Asia, to the crisis-ridden state of Mexico, and the neoliberal reforms of dictators in the Middle East and North Africa, the notion that capitalism and democracy form a symbiotic relationship and support each other has been debunked. The dissolution of civil society goes hand in hand with the imposition of a neoliberal state through violence, in order to ensure that threats to the state's activities remain unchallenged.

Core Neoliberal States

In core countries, meanwhile, austerity and authoritarianism follow a different pattern. There, neoliberal political systems have been created through financial coercion and are held hostage by financial interests due to the economic "necessities" created by bankruptcies and budget deficits. The test in this case is New York City, where the consequences of the depression of 1974-75 run deep. Kim Moody, in From Welfare State to Real Estate , traces the political and economic alliance that took advantage of social pressures from deindustrialization, white flight, and global economic crisis to implement the reforms that would give rise to a complete transformation of the city's social fabric. His analysis shows how a united business elite was able to thwart the democratic interests of the city's working classes by using the budget, the deficit, and financial coercion to rein in what they saw as an unsustainable welfare state. A crisis regime was put in place representing a business class unified in its desire to reshape the social democratic polity of New York City, using the city government to achieve this transformation. What began as a move by bankers to shut the city out of the bond market evolved by 1975 into the establishment of the Emergency Financial Control Board, which set its sights on imposing tuition on the City University of New York system, increasing the fares for mass transit, and limiting welfare payments. It's a story that has become all too familiar in the twenty-first century and a tactic that is being replayed in other cities, states, and nations.

Given the history of uninterrupted constitutional rule in the United States, the installation of neoliberalism requires the engineering of society through the transformation of institutions. By giving the market the freedom to determine when wages will be lowered, when jobs will be shed, and when communities will be destroyed, while simultaneously dismantling social welfare programs to increase the market's authority, a social crisis is produced that requires a police force to maintain order. This relationship has inspired the work of sociologist Loïc Wacquant for two decades. Combining a Marxist materialist approach to observe the socio-economic conditions that have influenced the growth of the American penal system with a Durkheimian symbolic perspective, which stresses how the prison serves as a symbol of disciplining power, his work Punishing the Poor argues that the expansion of correctional facilities should be seen as correlated with the rise of the neoliberal state. He notes how "welfare reform" corresponded with the expansion of the imprisoned population, signaling a shift in how contemporary neoliberal society treats the most vulnerable among us. This means that not only do prisons and jails serve as the place to physically keep those who have been convicted of criminal behavior, but they also serve as an alternative source of labor-power harvesting. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly allows penal labor, and while this has historically been organized by state-run corporations such as UNICOR, recent legislation allows the private sector to tap into the penal labor pool. Meant as an alternative to outsourcing, this practice is referred to as "smart-sourcing" (see www.unicor.gov/services/contact_helpdesk/).

The consequences of neoliberal reform and the penal society in the United States are related in more ways than one. While prisons are filled with those who have been affected by the welfare-to-workfare policies and war-on-drugs-era sentencing laws of the 1980s and 1990s, prisons are also an example of the process of privatizing government institutions and insuring that those institutions create profit for private investors, making the neoliberal state an agent in this wealth redistribution. The process of regulatory capture, where special interests are able to control the agencies that are supposed to be regulating them in the public interest, illustrates this point. While the market dictates the scope of what is possible for state institutions that are beholden to government funding, the market also creates the conditions, during periods of financial crisis, that lead to the bankrupting of state institutions through austerity measures and the privatization of these public assets.

Europe has also been subjected to the establishment of neoliberalism through financial coercion; however, the European case presents us with an instance of unprecedented democratic subversion on behalf of international capital. This is not to say that the establishment of neoliberalism has been imposed from the outside with no domestic encouragement, but rather that Europe presents us with a particular case of an alliance between the bourgeoisie of individual European nation-states and their counterparts in international institutions such as the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB). The rise of the political party Syriza in Greece and the election of Alexis Tsipras as prime minister, while nurturing a cautious hope, has also shown the extent to which the democratic aspirations of the citizens of Greece are sabotaged for the benefit of financial interests represented by the European Commission, the ECB, and the International Monetary Fund. The sovereignty of European countries is being attacked by advocates of neoliberalism under the guise of EU and ECB policy. In Italy, the technocratic government of Mario Monti was appointed without an election following the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi. Meanwhile in Ireland, the ECB held the democratically elected government in a stranglehold by attaching a series of austerity conditions to any bailout agreement. In practice, democratic demands must be made within the tight parameters that have been established by bankers, making a mockery of democracy itself.

The manifestation and maintenance of neoliberalism in Europe can be understood through the changing notions of citizenship in European countries. While at one time the citizenry was the sole constituency, a new group has evolved that claims dominance over the nation-state: creditors. According to the German political economist Wolfgang Streeck, in his work Buying Time: The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism , the growth of creditors has placed a strain on the state, allowing unelected and anti-democratic authorities to regulate how the state handles its relations with its citizens, and defining the nature of state-society relations. The introduction of this "constituency" of opposing interests into the political equation holds the polity of Europe within a loop. On the one hand, the government is supposed to be representative of the people, while on the other, international forces are recognized as citizens and therefore claim a voice in how the government conducts its business. While the neoliberal state was imposed through financial coercion, it is maintained through the creation of new political constituencies.

Conclusion

By blending the state theories of Miliband and Poulantzas, we are able to see the neoliberal state in a multidimensional form. It is not solely the result of the decisions of those in power, but also a complex system that constructs its own acquiescence. The neoliberal state is a qualitatively distinct form of the capitalist state. Its authoritarianism is present not only in its unquestioned defense of the interests of capital, but also in the way that it actively seeks to shape society to be more favorable to its goals. Peripheral countries have borne the burden of this violence as their position within the world system is secondary and practically dispensable. Core countries require a much more skilled intervention through the introduction of reforms and the transformation of institutions to solidify obedience in the form of the market society. Austerity, understood as a social-historical force, is the tool of the neoliberal state to subvert democracy and promote authoritarianism.

[Mar 11, 2019] The university professors, who teach but do not learn: neoliberal shill DeJong tries to prolong the life of neoliberalism in the USA

Highly recommended!
DeJong is more dangerous them Malkin... It poisons students with neoliberalism more effectively.
Mar 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Kurtismayfield , , March 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

Re:Wall Street Democrats

They know, however, that they've been conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game.

Thank you Mr. Black for the laugh this morning. They know exactly what they have been doing. Whether it was deregulating so that Hedge funds and vulture capitalism can thrive, or making sure us peons cannot discharge debts, or making everything about financalization. This was all done on purpose, without care for "winning the political game". Politics is economics, and the Wall Street Democrats have been winning.

notabanker , , March 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

For sure. I'm quite concerned at the behavior of the DNC leadership and pundits. They are doubling down on blatant corporatist agendas. They are acting like they have this in the bag when objective evidence says they do not and are in trouble. Assuming they are out of touch is naive to me. I would assume the opposite, they know a whole lot more than what they are letting on.

urblintz , , March 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I think the notion that the DNC and the Democrat's ruling class would rather lose to a like-minded Republican corporatist than win with someone who stands for genuine progressive values offering "concrete material benefits." I held my nose and read comments at the kos straw polls (where Sanders consistently wins by a large margin) and it's clear to me that the Clintonista's will do everything in their power to derail Bernie.

polecat , , March 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

"It's the Externalities, stupid economists !" *should be the new rallying cry ..

rd , , March 10, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Keynes' "animal spirits" and the "tragedy of the commons" (Lloyd, 1833 and Hardin, 1968) both implied that economics was messier than Samuelson and Friedman would have us believe because there are actual people with different short- and long-term interests.

The behavioral folks (Kahnemann, Tversky, Thaler etc.) have all shown that people are even messier than we would have thought. So most macro-economic stuff over the past half-century has been largely BS in justifying trickle-down economics, deregulation etc.

There needs to be some inequality as that provides incentives via capitalism but unfettered it turns into France 1989 or the Great Depression. It is not coincidence that the major experiment in this in the late 90s and early 2000s required massive government intervention to keep the ship from sinking less than a decade after the great unregulated creative forces were unleashed.

MMT is likely to be similar where productive uses of deficits can be beneficial, but if the money is wasted on stupid stuff like unnecessary wars, then the loss of credibility means that the fiat currency won't be quite as fiat anymore. Britain was unbelievably economically powerfully in the late 1800s but in half a century went to being an economic afterthought hamstrung by deficits after two major wars and a depression.

So it is good that people like Brad DeLong are coming to understand that the pretty economic theories have some truths but are utter BS (and dangerous) when extrapolated without accounting for how people and societies actually behave.

Chris Cosmos , , March 10, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I never understood the incentive to make more money -- that only works if money = true value and that is the implication of living in a capitalist society (not economy)–everything then becomes a commodity and alienation results and all the depression, fear, anxiety that I see around me. Whereas human happiness actually comes from helping others and finding meaning in life not money or dominating others. That's what social science seems to be telling us.

Oregoncharles , , March 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Quoting DeLong:

" He says we are discredited. Our policies have failed. And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans."

That's welcome, but it's still making excuses. Neoliberal policies have failed because the economics were wrong, not because "we've been conned by the Republicans." Furthermore, this may be important – if it isn't acknowledged, those policies are quite likely to come sneaking back, especially if Democrats are more in the ascendant., as they will be, given the seesaw built into the 2-Party.

The Rev Kev , , March 10, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Might be right there. Groups like the neocons were originally attached the the left side of politics but when the winds changed, detached themselves and went over to the Republican right. The winds are changing again so those who want power may be going over to what is called the left now to keep their grip on power. But what you say is quite true. It is not really the policies that failed but the economics themselves that were wrong and which, in an honest debate, does not make sense either.

marku52 , , March 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm

"And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans.""

Not at all. What about the "free trade" hokum that DeJong and his pal Krugman have been peddling since forever? History and every empirical test in the modern era shows that it fails in developing countries and only exacerbates inequality in richer ones.

That's just a failed policy.

I'm still waiting for an apology for all those years that those two insulted anyone who questioned their dogma as just "too ignorant to understand."

Glen , , March 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Thank you!

He created FAILED policies. He pushed policies which have harmed America, harmed Americans, and destroyed the American dream.

Kevin Carhart , , March 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

It's intriguing, but two other voices come to mind. One is Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste by Mirowski and the other is Generation Like by Doug Rushkoff.

Neoliberalism is partially entrepreneurial self-conceptions which took a long time to promote. Rushkoff's Frontline shows the Youtube culture. There is a girl with a "leaderboard" on the wall of her suburban room, keeping track of her metrics.

There's a devastating VPRO Backlight film on the same topic. Internet-platform neoliberalism does not have much to do with the GOP.

It's going to be an odd hybrid at best – you could have deep-red communism but enacted for and by people whose self-conception is influenced by decades of Becker and Hayek? One place this question leads is to ask what's the relationship between the set of ideas and material conditions-centric philosophies? If new policies pass that create a different possibility materially, will the vise grip of the entrepreneurial self loosen?

Partially yeah, maybe, a Job Guarantee if it passes and actually works, would be an anti-neoliberal approach to jobs, which might partially loosen the regime of neoliberal advice for job candidates delivered with a smug attitude that There Is No Alternative. (Described by Gershon). We take it seriously because of a sense of dread that it might actually be powerful enough to lock us out if we don't, and an uncertainty of whether it is or not.

There has been deep damage which is now a very broad and resilient base. It is one of the prongs of why 2008 did not have the kind of discrediting effect that 1929 did. At least that's what I took away from _Never Let_.

Brad DeLong handing the baton might mean something but it is not going to ameliorate the sense-of-life that young people get from managing their channels and metrics.

Take the new 1099 platforms as another focal point. Suppose there were political measures that splice in on the platforms and take the edge off materially, such as underwritten healthcare not tied to your job. The platforms still use star ratings, make star ratings seem normal, and continually push a self-conception as a small business. If you have overt DSA plus covert Becker it is, again, a strange hybrid,

Jeremy Grimm , , March 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Your comment is very insightful. Neoliberalism embeds its mindset into the very fabric of our culture and self-concepts. It strangely twists many of our core myths and beliefs.

Raulb , , March 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

This is nothing but a Trojan horse to 'co-opt' and 'subvert'. Neoliberals sense a risk to their neo feudal project and are simply attempting to infiltrate and hollow out any threats from within.

There are the same folks who have let entire economics departments becomes mouthpieces for corporate propaganda and worked with thousands of think tanks and international organizations to mislead, misinform and cause pain to millions of people.

They have seeded decontextualized words like 'wealth creators' and 'job creators' to create a halo narrative for corporate interests and undermine society, citizenship, the social good, the environment that make 'wealth creation' even possible. So all those take a backseat to 'wealth creator' interests. Since you can't create wealth without society this is some achievement.

Its because of them that we live in a world where the most important economic idea is protecting people like Kochs business and personal interests and making sure government is not 'impinging on their freedom'. And the corollary a fundamental anti-human narrative where ordinary people and workers are held in contempt for even expecting living wages and conditions and their access to basics like education, health care and living conditions is hollowed out out to promote privatization and become 'entitlements'.

Neoliberalism has left us with a decontextualized highly unstable world that exists in a collective but is forcefully detached into a context less individual existence. These are not mistakes of otherwise 'well meaning' individuals, there are the results of hard core ideologues and high priests of power.

Dan , , March 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Two thumbs up. This has been an ongoing agenda for decades and it has succeeded in permeating every aspect of society, which is why the United States is such a vacuous, superficial place. And it's exporting that superficiality to the rest of the world.

VietnamVet , , March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I read Brad DeLong's and Paul Krugman's blogs until their contradictions became too great. If anything, we need more people seeing the truth. The Global War on Terror is into its 18th year. In October the USA will spend approximately $6 trillion and will have accomplish nothing except to create blow back. The Middle Class is disappearing. Those who remain in their homes are head over heels in debt.

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt. The wealthy are getting richer.

The Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates families together have as much wealth as the lowest half of Americans. Donald Trump's Presidency and Brexit document that neoliberal politicians have lost contact with reality. They are nightmares that there is no escaping. At best, perhaps, Roosevelt Progressives will be reborn to resurrect regulated capitalism and debt forgiveness.

But more likely is a middle-class revolt when Americans no longer can pay for water, electricity, food, medicine and are jailed for not paying a $1,500 fine for littering the Beltway.

A civil war inside a nuclear armed nation state is dangerous beyond belief. France is approaching this.

[Mar 11, 2019] Bill Black Analyzes Brad DeLong's Stunning Concession Neoliberals Should Pass the Baton and Let the Left Lead naked capitali

Notable quotes:
"... He apparently still sees neoliberalism as way to "control capitalism's worst tendencies," when in fact neoliberalism is capitalism on steroids. In other words, he's completely lost. ..."
"... Black seems to be seeing a change of heart where there is simply a temporary surrender until the coalition of " neoliberal shills" can infiltrate and then overthrow again the "left policies that are bound to lead to destruction". ..."
"... And he seems to be blaming the blue dogs for not drumming into the plebs' heads that the former Presidents' (Clinton/Obama's) policy were great in order that the coalition grew. This was not a mea culpa. It was Delong's realistic strategy outline for neoliberal's continuance. And perhaps, a thinly veiled request for a policy position for himself or his son in any new lefty administration. ..."
"... Wasn't DeLong the economist so threatened to kneecap any academic economist and policy wonk who went against Hillary in the last election? He sounds practically mafiaso in this post . ..."
"... It's hard to take DeLong seriously. Contrary to what he says, the GOP and Dems have worked closely and successfully to implement neo-liberalism in America. ..."
"... My feeling is DeLong and the neo-liberal donor class are already conceding the 2020 election; seeing it as a repeat of the 1984 Mondale debacle. They want the young socialist side of the Democratic Party to take the blame, so in 2024 the donor class can run a candidate pushing new and improved neo-liberalism. Trump seems to be making the same calculation as he moves away from his populist/nationalist policies to become just another in a long line of Koch brother GOP neo-liberal stooges. ..."
"... Brad DeLong is brilliant, yet pushed the magical thinking of neoliberalism for 30 years. Am I missing something here? ..."
"... the university professors, who teach but do not learn. ..."
"... But when it came to Hillary running for President in 2016, DeLong fell in line and endorsed her, despite HRC's bad ("complete flop"?) decisions along the way as Senator and SOS (Honduras, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, Wall Street Speeches and Clinton Foundation grift). Can DeLong be trusted? ..."
Mar 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

MARC STEINER: So I mean, there's one quote that kind of sums up for me. When he wrote: "Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney's healthcare policy, with John McCain's climate policy, with Bill Clinton's tax policy, and George H.W. Bush's foreign policy. And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No f'n way he did not," is what he said. Cleaned it up just a little bit. But that kind of sums up, in many ways, exactly what he was saying.

BILL BLACK: Brad DeLong is brilliant. And he writes really well. And he has, in a super short form, captured it exactly. All of Obama's key policies were the product of very conservative views that are, on many economic fronts, literally to the right of these crazies that are the Republicans who constitute the House and the Senate. And even when they're not to the right of the crazies, they're way, way right, and they're inferior. Right? The progressive policies are fundamentally superior. Market regulation is a terrible failure. It is criminogenic.

I'll give you one example. He ends by saying wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we could use cap and trade to create an incentive for, you know, 20-plus million people to do the right thing? Because again, the neoliberal view is if they do the right thing they will get a profit. See? It'll all be wonderful. They'll all do the right thing. Except that it's vastly easier on something like cap and trade to do the wrong thing. To lie, to commit fraud about whether you're actually reducing the pollution, and collect the fees. And so he doesn't realize, still, I think, that we are incentivizing not 20 million people to do the right thing, but literally 2 billion people to do the wrong thing. And you know, often that will be the result, the wrong thing.

MARC STEINER: So, two final questions here. So in this–what's moving ahead here. Let me just posit this. So how did Democrats and the left respond to this? We're about to see an MSNBC clip from the CPAC meeting that took place in D.C. last weekend. And this is clearly going to be part of their major attack in the coming elections. Think about this vis a vis the long road. Let's watch this.

TED CRUZ: Look, I think there's a technical description of what's going on, which is that Democrats have gone bat crap crazy.

MIKE PENCE: That system is socialism.

SEBASTIAN GORKA: That is why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has introduced the Green New Deal. It's a watermelon. Green on the outside. Deep, deep red communist on the inside. They want to take your pickup truck. They want to rebuild your home. They want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.

MARC STEINER: So clearly this is going to be part of this strategy coming forth. I'm thinking about the long road and how this fits in, because this clearly is going to be the opposition, what they're going to start doing.

BILL BLACK: So literally, the watermelon guy, Gorka, is literally a Croatian fascist.

MARC STEINER: No question. No question.

BILL BLACK: I mean the Ustase, the pro-Hitler Croatian fascists. So progressives should take enormous comfort from Brad DeLong. He is one of the most influential economists. He wasn't just a theorist. He actually was there designing and implementing these policies at the most senior levels of the Clinton administration. And he says they are failures. They're political failures and they're often economic failures. And he says the left is composed–the progressive wing of the Democratic Party–of among the best people in the world. Their policies are typically wonderful. Excellent for the world. We need to get behind them. And the idea that we should continue to listen to the New Democrats, the Wall Street Democrats, and take guidance from them, is preposterous; that they must exit the stage and the baton must pass to the progressives to take the leadership role. And that they're doing an excellent job of that, and should continue and expand that leadership


pretzelattack , March 10, 2019 at 10:27 pm

ok after reading the comments i'm discouraged again. delong isn't a signal of a sea change of heart among neoliberals. but it's more friction for the neoliberals to cope with, and it is useful politically. he did admit that the policies he had espoused were wrong, and that the neoliberal view of the world was inaccurate. this isn't going to be easy for the krugmans to ignore.

delong personally could be another david brock; time will tell, and how he responds to the wave of criticism he will face from former colleagues.

Cripes , March 10, 2019 at 5:52 am

DeLong gives a qualified support to MMT, saying that it's not foolproof but better than the alternatives. As MMT-ers remind us, in political economy the policies are a different matter.

Reminds me of a bit of physics theories, that an old one is retired when a newer theory explains reality better. Except the old theorys were designed to conceal, not explain, reality.

You can read it here

https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/01/what-is-modern-monetary-theory.html

Susan the Other , March 10, 2019 at 11:44 am

Thanks for this link. It was such a short, clear analysis. In econospeak it was like a memo to a colleague. So Brad DeLong is on our list of good guys. How nice. The questions I am left with are about the usefulness of interest rates at all, and I vaguely remember Randy Wray saying stg. like 'interest rates should be kept very low to insure against inflation' which makes sense. Interest rates themselves could be pushing bubbles. And then what exactly are we talking about with the word "inflation"? I like (DeLong's or MMT's?) theory about inflated assets (govt bonds here) – that prices stay within a balance because there are fewer greater fools than we imagine. Maybe. But it might be nice to actually come up with a better remedy if and when the SHTF. A fiscal means of adjusting the balance without harming ordinary people. (MMT does this best.) The only method I know about is devaluing a currency and keeping on as is. Nobody loses any value that way because more dollars balance out the inflated values. But neoliberals are definitely batshit about currency devaluations. As if money had some intrinsic value. Maybe it's just a trade thing – but if so, you'd think it could be separated out from the rest of the uses of money. Maybe firewalls. So maybe I'll read some more Brad. Thanks.

Carla , March 10, 2019 at 6:50 am

I'm not rejoicing about this, and having read the VOX interview, I don't quite understand Steiner's and Black's enthusiasm. DeLong doesn't want to pass the baton at all -- he wants to crapify valid and essential policies: expanded, improved Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, MMT with a Job Guarantee, and a foreign policy not based on forever-wars. And that's exactly what the neoliberals intend to do: crapification on a grand scale.

"Market-friendly neoliberals, rather than pushing their own ideology, should work to improve ideas on the left. This, [DeLong] believes, is the most effective and sustainable basis for Democratic politics and policy for the foreseeable future."

Carla , March 10, 2019 at 9:02 am

Hey, DeLong, listen up: expanded, improved Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, a federal Job Guarantee, and a foreign policy (and defense budget) ending forever-wars are NOT ideas that need improving. They ARE the improvements. Neoliberalism is dead, and we intend to bury it.

notabanker , March 10, 2019 at 9:19 am

I agree with you here. For me the kicker is this:

No. It means argue with them, to the extent that their policies are going to be wrong and destructive, but also accept that there is no political path to a coalition built from the Rubin-center out. Instead, we accommodate ourselves to those on our left. To the extent that they will not respond to our concerns, what they're proposing is a helluva better than the poke-in-the-eye with a sharp stick. That's either Trumpist proposals or the current status.

Basically he's saying we don't have the numbers and building a coalition with the right hasn't worked, so now we should build one with the left. He's not actually saying the progressive policies are better, just that they have a better chance of getting their agenda forward with progressives than with conservatives.

The key to all of this from my perspective is they don't have the numbers. The American empire is in accelerating decline. Every major system is broken and corrupt. Government can't fix the problems. Populism elected Trump, and now voters will swing the other way looking for the magic bullet. The corporatists choices are deliberate sabotage of the electoral system, because good old fashioned corruption will no longer suffice, or capitulate to the left. DeLong sounds like a trial balloon to me.

The Rev Kev , March 10, 2019 at 9:33 am

Read up on his Wikipedia entry and the following bit grabbed my attention-

"In 1990 and 1991 DeLong and Lawrence Summers co-wrote two theoretical papers that were to become critical theoretical underpinnings for the financial deregulation put in place when Summers was Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton."

I would be very wary on any advice that he gives out myself.

Mel , March 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm

He doesn't have to convince me, so it doesn't matter that he won't. But if he can convince a few shaky Democrats on the less-right side that it's futile to try to reform the Republican Party from within

Dan , March 10, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Basically he's saying we don't have the numbers and building a coalition with the right hasn't worked, so now we should build one with the left. He's not actually saying the progressive policies are better, just that they have a better chance of getting their agenda forward with progressives than with conservatives.

Exactly. He hasn't changed his neoliberal stripes. He in no way admits, or feels sorry for, the incredible destruction neoliberal policies have wreaked on the masses here and abroad. He apparently still sees neoliberalism as way to "control capitalism's worst tendencies," when in fact neoliberalism is capitalism on steroids. In other words, he's completely lost.

Although he has a wide audience and any change in his rhetoric can theoretically be positive, there's no way he should be trusted. His change of opinion is not a substantive change of heart. It's out of absolute necessity due to the incredible pressure exerted by the grassroots. That pressure should never cease, or rest on its laurels, because the Brad DeLong's of the world change their tune.

Barry , March 10, 2019 at 11:28 am

The thing to rejoice or be sad about is not whether DeLong abandons centrism and becomes a leftist (or if you believe he has); it's whether the Left has a place at the table, which is what he is acknowledging.

For years, the Centrists have ignored or hippy-punched the Left while bargaining with the Right, which has pulled the Centrists ever-further to the right.

When a Centrist like DeLong says they should argue with the Left about lefty policies; when he says Centrists should pass the baton to the Left, he is acknowledging they have power now that must be reckoned with.

Acquiring enough power that the Establishment must treat with them should be the goal of all people on the left. It's far more important than winning any specific election.

(Let's just skip over distinctions between 'left', 'liberal' and 'progressive' in reading my comment. Those terms are entirely over-loaded and you can tell who I mean)

JEHR , March 10, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Forget "left," "right," and "progressive" and look at the actual policies that a group brings to politics–that's where you will find what is best for the public. Try to list T's policies and you will see what I mean.

Hopelb , March 10, 2019 at 12:24 pm

I agree. Black seems to be seeing a change of heart where there is simply a temporary surrender until the coalition of " neoliberal shills" can infiltrate and then overthrow again the "left policies that are bound to lead to destruction".

Delong asserts that once these neoliberal Econ policies work then this great coalition was going to feel less grinchy and the trickling would indeed then have trickled. He blames the politics not the economics.

And he seems to be blaming the blue dogs for not drumming into the plebs' heads that the former Presidents' (Clinton/Obama's) policy were great in order that the coalition grew. This was not a mea culpa. It was Delong's realistic strategy outline for neoliberal's continuance. And perhaps, a thinly veiled request for a policy position for himself or his son in any new lefty administration.

Chris , March 10, 2019 at 7:25 am

I'm not sure I agree with Prof. Black here either. Wasn't DeLong the economist so threatened to kneecap any academic economist and policy wonk who went against Hillary in the last election? He sounds practically mafiaso in this post .

"Mind you: The day will come when it will be time to gleefully and comprehensively trash people to be named later for Guevarista fantasies about what their policies are likely to do. The day will come when it will be time to gleefully and comprehensively trash people to be named later for advocating Comintern-scale lying to voters about what our policies are like to do. And it will be important to do so then–because overpromising leads to bad policy decisions, and overpromising is bad long-run politics as well."

That doesn't seem like integrity to me. It appears to be more opportunistic. He'll happily kick you whenever he thinks he can get away with it.

TroyMcClure , March 10, 2019 at 11:28 am

The leaked Clinton emails also revealed him to be repeatedly begging for a job for his adult son in the ersatz Clinton administration.

He's an operator. Nothing more.

Alain de Benoist , March 10, 2019 at 8:06 am

It's hard to take DeLong seriously. Contrary to what he says, the GOP and Dems have worked closely and successfully to implement neo-liberalism in America. He cites ObamaCare? The GOP pretended to be against it in order to win support from the less bright side of the political left bell curve and to wean them away from things like the public option or single-payer. But the GOP never went past Kabuki theatre to dismantle ObamaCare when they had the power to do so.

DeLong gives no policy specifics outside of some boring carbon tax stuff. Will he support protectionism? Single-payer? Nationalisation of Wall Street? Dismantling the US empire? Huge punitive tax increases on the wealthy? These are all things the Democratic donor class (which of course has a strong overlap with the GOP donor class) will never accept.

And what about ideas to deal with AI, deindustrialisation, automation, guaranteed income, etc? And since neo-liberals are 100% committed to mass immigration policies that at the same time increases total GDP but reduce per capita GDP; how will they react if progressive finally wake up and realise that taking in millions of low skilled workers in a future where demand for labour is radically reducing is a total recipe for disaster? Not to mention that the welfare state they are proposing will be impossible without very strict immigration policies, not to mention the terrible impact mass immigration has on the climate.

My feeling is DeLong and the neo-liberal donor class are already conceding the 2020 election; seeing it as a repeat of the 1984 Mondale debacle. They want the young socialist side of the Democratic Party to take the blame, so in 2024 the donor class can run a candidate pushing new and improved neo-liberalism. Trump seems to be making the same calculation as he moves away from his populist/nationalist policies to become just another in a long line of Koch brother GOP neo-liberal stooges.

The problem is that Trump's radical energy and ideas seduced many Americans who are now disappointed with his decidedly low-energy accomplishments. Basically the only campaign promises he kept were those he made to the Israel lobby. Now Trump is conceding the high energy and new idea ground to the Democratic left. He is switching from radical to establishment. This will open the door to say Bernie Sanders to win in 2020. But you can rest assured that the most voracious opponents that Bernie will have to get past will be Brad DeLong and the Democratic donor class when they realise this just might not be 1984 all over again.

Chris , March 10, 2019 at 8:52 am

I think DeLong isn't speaking for many of the neoliberal establishment. See this from Mr. Emmanuel in the Atlantic.

Echoes of "never ever" resounding off the cavernous walls of their empty heads and hearts

urblintz , March 10, 2019 at 8:17 pm

Yes. Jimmy Carter has done much good since his failed presidency and so it's painful to remember that he was the first Democrat neo-liberal POTUS.

SPEDTeacher , March 10, 2019 at 8:56 am

Brad DeLong is brilliant, yet pushed the magical thinking of neoliberalism for 30 years. Am I missing something here? Is Bill Black patting him on the back because he's brilliant at sophistry?

nihil obstet , March 10, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Back 15 years or so ago, I read DeLong's blog daily, trying to learn more economics than I know. I quit because it didn't make any sense. I remember there being these broad principles, but they had to be applied in a very narrow sense. One I remember vividly was DeLong's objections to consumer boycotts of foreign goods to end abuse of workers. These boycotts are counterproductive, he opined, and therefore you are just hurting the people you're trying to help. You should just shop as normal. So, I presume he regarded it as all right for me to choose products that are the color I want, the size I want, the whatever I want, except for the way it's produced I want. He did not like considerations of right and wrong among the people.

PlutoniumKun , March 10, 2019 at 9:55 am

DeLong has always been among the most thoughtful of centrists. He reminds me of people I know who are instinctively quite left wing but who's instincts are even stronger to stay within their own particular establishment circle and to side with the winners. Back in the 1990's I knew a few formerly left Labour supporters who became cautious Blairites (or at least Brownites). Some were opportunists of course, but some put it simply – 'I'm tired of losing. The reality is that a pure left wing government will not get elected under current conditions, we've proved this over decades. The only way we can protect the poor and vulnerable is to make peace with at least some of the capitalists, and remake ourselves as the party of growth and stability. If we can achieve growth, we can funnel as much as possible as this to the poor'.

What he seems to be saying is that the left wing analysis (economically and politically) is at least as intellectually tenable as those in the Centre and right, even if he has his doubts. He is honest enough to know that the political strategy of making common cause with 'moderate' Republicans hasn't worked and won't work. And he doesn't see 'the Left' as any worse than so called moderates or centre right (which of course distinguishes him from many Dems). So he is seeing the way the wind is blowing and is tacking that way. Essentially, he is recognising that the Overton Window is shifting rapidly to the left, and as a good centrist, he's following wherever the middle might be.

Whatever you think of his motivations (and from my reading over the years of his writings I think he has a lot more integrity than most of his colleagues. and is also very smart), the reality is that a successful left wing movement will need establishment figures like him to be 'on board'. Of course, they'll do their best to grab the steering wheel – the task is to keep them on board without allowing them to do that.

WobblyTelomeres , March 10, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Sees a parade, elbows his way to the front?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell , March 10, 2019 at 10:09 am

What?? Did Brad DeLong finally discover Monetary Sovereignty and the Ten Steps to Prosperity ? Nah, progressivism is still too radical for the university professors, who teach but do not learn.

Watt4Bob , March 10, 2019 at 10:21 am

The 'first step' is to admit you have a problem, and it's obvious that those of us who self-identify as progressives, if not socialists, have taken that step, admitting that as democrats, we have a problem.

The eleven-dimension game that we were sold, and that we so wishfully believed in, turned out to be a massive delusion, and ultimately an empty promise on the part of the democratic leadership.

The ' powder ' was kept dry, but ultimately stolen.

We were left defenseless, and became prey, and third-way democrats are the architects of our collective loss.

I'm taking DeLong at his word.

He may be the exception that proves the rule, and the Clinton wing of the democratic party may yet wrong-foot us, continue to mis-lead, and capitulate in the face of the enemy, but it strikes me as totally to be expected that reality should eventually dawn on at least a few of the folks responsible for the epic failures of democratic leadership.

I'm a big fan of that old saw, 'Lead, follow, or get out of the way' , democrats, fearful after losing to the likes of Reagan, decided to follow, and now find themselves as lost as the rest of us.

It doesn't strike me as totally impossible that a few of them might decide to ' get out of the way ', if only to be able to face themselves in the mirror.

John Wright , March 10, 2019 at 10:26 am

I don't get this exchange:

>MARC STEINER: You–do you think that the Wall Street Democrats, folks who are in the investment world, along with the Chuck Schumers of the world, are going to acquiesce? .. but are actually going to take seriously what DeLong said? -- -- -

>BILL BLACK: No, but that's because Brad DeLong has vastly more integrity than they do. They know, however, that they've been conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game.

For as long as Black has been around, I would not expect him to argue that "Wall Street Democrats" have been "conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game". Democrats such as Schumer, HRC, and Obama are in on the con and are not "absolute fools". They have the money and power to show that they were not working for chump change.

Black is too kind..

Chris Cosmos , March 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

I agree. I see no evidence that people Wall Street/corporate Democrats have collectively been "fooled" by Republicans. Take Obamacare for example, Obama mumbled some "facts" about health-care briefly at the beginning of the process and never mentioned anything like how much the US spends relative to other OECD countries which, with his bully-pulpit, he could have done to create a more reasonable system. All he would have to have done is cite statistics, studies, facts, facts, facts, facts about other health-care systems and the obvious corruption, inefficiency or our own. He could easily have gotten some equivalent of the "public option" or a more managed system like in continental Europe had he hammered away at FACTS.

I don't think Obama ever had any intention of changing health-care from a profit-making industry to a public utility like what the rest of the world enjoys. I don't think Obama ever had any intention of being anything but a center-right (not a centrist) POTUS. I don't buy into this "we were fooled" argument.

Guys like DeLong may have been fooled but I believe, more likely (and I know the Washington milieu), he pulled the wool rather intensively over his own eyes as many brilliant people did in the Clinton/Obama administrations because it was a good career move. I don't, btw, believe this was directly and consciously a deliberate plan–I believe it was something to do with a profound ignorance on the part of many if not most Washingtonians (and indeed most intellectuals in the USA) of the role of the unconscious in the psyche. I've seen it. A big player (a family friend) from the Clinton era went into Big Pharma thinking he could "do good" and he was sincere about it. But I also knew he liked money and the lifestyle that it brings–later he said that he was fooled after six or seven years of lavish salaries.

TimR , March 10, 2019 at 12:12 pm

I noticed that too. Black often strikes me as having a very crude framework that is either naivete or (more likely imo) bad faith and intentional misleading. It's just too much of a cartoon to be believed, even if (like me) you're not an insider who personally knows the players (as Black does DeLong.)

Repubs are "crazies" while Progressives have "wonderful, superior" policies. Ok sure This is not much more sophisticated thinking than team Red or team Blue that you get from your Aunt Irene or somebody.

John Wright , March 10, 2019 at 10:49 am

And remember this from Brad DeLong

from: http://www.unz.com/isteve/ex-clinton-staffer-brad-delongs-post-on-hillarys-management-skills/

" June 07, 2003″

"TIME TO POUND MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL ONCE AGAIN"

" My two cents' worth–and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994–is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly."

But when it came to Hillary running for President in 2016, DeLong fell in line and endorsed her, despite HRC's bad ("complete flop"?) decisions along the way as Senator and SOS (Honduras, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, Wall Street Speeches and Clinton Foundation grift). Can DeLong be trusted?

urblintz , March 10, 2019 at 11:36 am

Can't say whether DeLong can be trusted but I can imagine him remembering Keynes' famous line about changing his opinion when new information becomes available. That said, I can not imagine what new information may have come about, aside from Trump's unexpected wrecking of main stream Republicans, that had him change his mind about HRC. Her truth has been evident for decades and the more power she amassed over those years only made her truth ever more execrable.

Kurtismayfield , March 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

Re:Wall Street Democrats

They know, however, that they've been conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game.

Thank you Mr. Black for the laugh this morning. They know exactly what they have been doing. Whether it was deregulating so that Hedge funds and vulture capitalism can thrive, or making sure us peons cannot discharge debts, or making everything about financalization. This was all done on purpose, without care for "winning the political game". Politics is economics, and the Wall Street Democrats have been winning.

notabanker , March 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

For sure. I'm quite concerned at the behavior of the DNC leadership and pundits. They are doubling down on blatant corporatist agendas. They are acting like they have this in the bag when objective evidence says they do not and are in trouble. Assuming they are out of touch is naive to me. I would assume the opposite, they know a whole lot more than what they are letting on.

urblintz , March 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I think the notion that the DNC and the Democrat's ruling class would rather lose to a like-minded Republican corporatist than win with someone who stands for genuine progressive values offering "concrete material benefits." I held my nose and read comments at the kos straw polls (where Sanders consistently wins by a large margin) and it's clear to me that the Clintonista's will do everything in their power to derail Bernie.

Hepativore , March 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Daily Kos is like a yoga session compared to all of the Obots and Clintonites on Balloon Juice. One particular article "writer" there by the name of Annie Laurie is a textbook example of said Clinton die-hards and she whips up all of her cohorts into a rabid, anti-Sanders frenzy every time she posts.

Despite all of the complaining about Trump, I am sure that these neoliberals and identitarians would pine for the days of his administration and pal around with ex-president Trump much like they did with W. Bush. If Saint Harris or Saint Biden lose they will fail to shield the take-over of the political leadership of the unwashed masses of ignorant peasants who elected Sanders or Gabbard. Then places like Daily Kos and Balloon Juice will bemoan the fact that we did not listen to those who know what is best for us lowly knaves.

Chris Cosmos , March 10, 2019 at 11:11 am

Though I like Bill Black a lot–seems like a very hip guy and has done marvelous work for many years. However, my father got his second master's degree in economics around 1961–he did it as a career move. Eventually when I got old enough he told me that the field was "bullshit" and based on false assumptions about reality, however, the math worked so everyone believed in the field. Economics, as I looked into it is, indeed, a largely bullshit discipline that should never have been separated from politics or other fields.

We have a kind of fetishistic attitude towards "the economy" which is religious. "It's the economy, stupid" is an example of this fetish. I've talked to economists who really believes that EVERYTHING is a commodity and all motivations, interests, all come down to some kind of market process. This is utterly false and goes directly against what we've learned about social science, human motivation including happiness studies.

Economics also ignores history–people are motivated more by myth than by facts on the ground. This is why neoliberals are so confused when their models don't work. Thomas Frank described how Kansans favored policies that directly harmed them because of religious and cultural myths–this is, in fact, true everywhere and always has been. We aren't machines as economists seem to believe. All economists, particularly those who rely on "math" to describe our society need to be sent to re-education camps.

polecat , March 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

"It's the Externalities, stupid economists !" *

*should be the new rallying cry ..

rd , March 10, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Keynes' "animal spirits" and the "tragedy of the commons" (Lloyd, 1833 and Hardin, 1968) both implied that economics was messier than Samuelson and Friedman would have us believe because there are actual people with different short- and long-term interests.

The behavioral folks (Kahnemann, Tversky, Thaler etc.) have all shown that people are even messier than we would have thought. So most macro-economic stuff over the past half-century has been largely BS in justifying trickle-down economics, deregulation etc.

There needs to be some inequality as that provides incentives via capitalism but unfettered it turns into France 1989 or the Great Depression. It is not coincidence that the major experiment in this in the late 90s and early 2000s required massive government intervention to keep the ship from sinking less than a decade after the great uregulated creative forces were unleashed.

MMT is likely to be similar where productive uses of deficits can be beneficial, but if the money is wasted on stupid stuff like unnecessary wars, then the loss of credibility means that the fiat currency won't be quite as fiat anymore. Britain was unbelievably economically powerfully in the late 1800s but in half a century went to being an economic afterthought hamstrung by deficits after two major wars and a depression.

So it is good that people like Brad DeLong are coming to understand that the pretty economic theories have some truths but are utter BS (and dangerous) when extrapolated without accounting for how people and societies actually behave.

Chris Cosmos , March 10, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I never understood the incentive to make more money–that only works if money = true value and that is the implication of living in a capitalist society (not economy)–everything then becomes a commodity and alienation results and all the depression, fear, anxiety that I see around me. Whereas human happiness actually comes from helping others and finding meaning in life not money or dominating others. That's what social science seems to be telling us.

Dan , March 10, 2019 at 7:23 pm

Actually, Milton Friedman was a machine.

Big River Bandido , March 10, 2019 at 11:19 am

I read DeLong's piece in an airport last Tuesday, so I may have missed something (or I may have read an abridged version). But I think Steiner and Black read a little too much into it.

I interpreted DeLong's statement essentially as saying now neoliberals will have to make policy by collaborating with the left rather than the right. And I certainly didn't get the sense he was looking to the left to lead, but instead how neoliberals could co-opt the left, or simply be "freeloaders".

Michael , March 10, 2019 at 1:20 pm

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/3/4/18246381/democrats-clinton-sanders-left-brad-delong

Zack Beauchamp

So the position is not that neoliberals should abandon their policy beliefs. It's that you need to reorient your understanding of who your coalition is.

Brad DeLong

Yes, but that's also relevant to policy beliefs, right?
.
.
We need Medicare-for-all, funded by a carbon tax, with a whole bunch of UBI rebates for the poor and public investment in green technologies.
.
How does Bernie fit in here? Ever?

Kurtismayfield , March 10, 2019 at 2:53 pm

We already are paying more for the medical care that is being provided than what single lpayer will cost. I am so tired of the "How are you gonna pay for it" stuff. We already are, it's just a question of what bucket it comes from.

Oregoncharles , March 10, 2019 at 4:07 pm

True, but there still has to be a way of transferring the funds from the "private" bucket to the "government" bucket. MMT is one way of doing that, but still not acknowledged as a possibility by the PTB – except for the military, of course.

I'd rather see it taken out of the military, since that would be a good thing in itself, and the carbon tax (merely one of many measures, of course) rebated and/or used specifically to remediate climate deterioration. Rebating a carbon tax both protects it politically and corrects the harm that would otherwise be done to poor people.

kurtismayfield , March 10, 2019 at 6:14 pm

Take it out if the property taxes that Muni's have to use to insure all of their employees.

Take it out of all the money that business pays to health insurance.

Cut the military budget in half and tell a few if the tributaries "You are on your own". Cut the Navy in half and police only the Pacific.. tell Europe they are on the hook for the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Start there and you will get pretty close to $3 Trillion.

Synoia , March 10, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Mandatory retirement for Politicians:

Age 65, 3 proven lies, or failure to complete a Marathon in under 6 hours.

Whit hope the the result of the first Marathon would be repeated endlessly in our political circles.

Oregoncharles , March 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Quoting DeLong: " He says we are discredited. Our policies have failed. And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans."

That's welcome, but it's still making excuses. Neoliberal policies have failed because the economics were wrong, not because "we've been conned by the Republicans." Furthermore, this may be important – if it isn't acknowledged, those policies are quite likely to come sneaking back, especially if Democrats are more in the ascendant., as they will be, given the seesaw built into the 2-Party.

The Rev Kev , March 10, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Might be right there. Groups like the neocons were originally attached the the left side of politics but when the winds changed, detached themselves and went over to the Republican right. The winds are changing again so those who want power may be going over to what is called the left now to keep their grip on power. But what you say is quite true. It is not really the policies that failed but the economics themselves that were wrong and which, in an honest debate, does not make sense either.

marku52 , March 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm

"And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans.""

Not at all. What about the "free trade" hokum that Deong and his pal Krugman have been peddling since forever? History and every empirical test in the modern era shows that it fails in developing countries and only exacerbates inequality in richer ones.

That's just a failed policy.

I'm still waiting for an apology for all those years that those two insulted anyone who questioned their dogma as just "too ignorant to understand."

Glen , March 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Thank you!

He created FAILED policies. He pushed policies which have harmed America, harmed Americans, and destroyed the American dream.

Kevin Carhart , March 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

It's intriguing, but two other voices come to mind. One is Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste by Mirowski and the other is Generation Like by Doug Rushkoff. Neoliberalism is partially entrepreneurial self-conceptions which took a long time to promote. Rushkoff's Frontline shows the Youtube culture. There is a girl with a "leaderboard" on the wall of her suburban room, keeping track of her metrics. There's a devastating VPRO Backlight film on the same topic. Internet-platform neoliberalism does not have much to do with the GOP. It's going to be an odd hybrid at best – you could have deep-red communism but enacted for and by people whose self-conception is influenced by decades of Becker and Hayek? One place this question leads is to ask what's the relationship between the set of ideas and material conditions-centric philosophies? If new policies pass that create a different possibility materially, will the vise grip of the entrepreneurial self loosen? Partially yeah, maybe, a Job Guarantee if it passes and actually works, would be an anti-neoliberal approach to jobs, which might partially loosen the regime of neoliberal advice for job candidates delivered with a smug attitude that There Is No Alternative. (Described by Gershon). We take it seriously because of a sense of dread that it might actually be powerful enough to lock us out if we don't, and an uncertainty of whether it is or not.
There has been deep damage which is now a very broad and resilient base. It is one of the prongs of why 2008 did not have the kind of discrediting effect that 1929 did. At least that's what I took away from _Never Let_. Brad DeLong handing the baton might mean something but it is not going to ameliorate the sense-of-life that young people get from managing their channels and metrics.
Take the new 1099 platforms as another focal point. Suppose there were political measures that splice in on the platforms and take the edge off materially, such as underwritten healthcare not tied to your job. The platforms still use star ratings, make star ratings seem normal, and continually push a self-conception as a small business. If you have overt DSA plus covert Becker it is, again, a strange hybrid,

Jeremy Grimm , March 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Your comment is very insightful. Neoliberalism embeds its mindset into the very fabric of our culture and self-concepts. It strangely twists many of our core myths and beliefs.

Kevin Carhart , March 10, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Thanks Jeremy! Glad you saw it as you are one of the Major Mirowski Mentioners on NC and I have enjoyed your comments. Hope to chat with you some time.

Harold , March 10, 2019 at 5:50 pm

And this be law, that I'll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever king may reign, Still I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.

The Rev Kev , March 10, 2019 at 7:35 pm

Nailed it!

Raulb , March 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

This is nothing but a Trojan horse to 'co-opt' and 'subvert'. Neoliberals sense a risk to their neo feudal project and are simply attempting to infiltrate and hollow out any threats from within.

There are the same folks who have let entire economics departments becomes mouthpieces for corporate propaganda and worked with thousands of think tanks and international organizations to mislead, misinform and cause pain to millions of people.

The have seeded decontextualized words like 'wealth creators' and 'job creators' to create a halo narrative for corporate interests and undermine society, citizenship, the social good, the environment that make 'wealth creation' even possible. So all those take a backseat to 'wealth creator' interests. Since you can't create wealth without society this is some achievement.

Its because of them that we live in a world where the most important economic idea is protecting people like Kochs business and personal interests and making sure government is not 'impinging on their freedom'. And the corollary a fundamental anti-human narrative where ordinary people and workers are held in contempt for even expecting living wages and conditions and their access to basics like education, health care and living conditions is hollowed out out to promote privatization and become 'entitlements'.

Neoliberalism has left us with a decontextualized highly unstable world that exists in a collective but is forcefully detached into a context less individual existence. These are not mistakes of otherwise 'well meaning' individuals, there are the results of hard core ideologues and high priests of power.

Dan , March 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Two thumbs up. This has been an ongoing agenda for decades and it has succeeded in permeating every aspect of society, which is why the United States is such a vacuous, superficial place. And it's exporting that superficiality to the rest of the world.

VietnamVet , March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I read Brad DeLong's and Paul Krugman's blogs until their contradictions became too great. If anything, we need more people seeing the truth. The Global War on Terror is into its 18th year. In October the USA will spend approximately $6 trillion and will have accomplish nothing except to create blow back. The Middle Class is disappearing. Those who remain in their homes are head over heels in debt. The average American household carries $137,063 in debt. The wealthy are getting richer. The Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates families together have as much wealth as the lowest half of Americans. Donald Trump's Presidency and Brexit document that neoliberal politicians have lost contact with reality. They are nightmares that there is no escaping. At best, perhaps, Roosevelt Progressives will be reborn to resurrect regulated capitalism and debt forgiveness. But more likely is a middle-class revolt when Americans no longer can pay for water, electricity, food, medicine and are jailed for not paying a $1,500 fine for littering the Beltway.

A civil war inside a nuclear armed nation state is dangerous beyond belief. France is approaching this.

Dan , March 10, 2019 at 7:35 pm

Debt forgiveness is something we don't hear much about, even from the Bernie Sanders left. Very important policy throughout history, as Michael Hudson has so thoroughly documented.

[Mar 09, 2019] The USA new class in full glory: rich are shopping differently from the low income families and the routine is like doing drags, but more pleasurable and less harmful. While workers are stuglling with the wages that barely allow to support the family, the pressure to cut hours and introduce two tire system

Notable quotes:
"... Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously."" ..."
"... "Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs. ..."
"... Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security). ..."
Mar 09, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Guillotine Watch

"My Year of Living Like My Rich Friend" [ New York Magazine ].

"[S]hopping with T was different. When she walked into a store, the employees greeted her by name and began to pull items from the racks for her to try on. Riding her coattails, I was treated with the same consideration, which is how I wound up owning a beautiful cashmere 3.1 Philip Lim sweater that I had no use for and rarely wore, and which was eventually eaten by moths in my closet.

Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously.""

Indeed:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dfO0TgcDUnI

Class Warfare

"Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs.

Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security).

[Mar 09, 2019] The Incoherence of Larry Summers, a Serious Economist by J. D. Alt

Notable quotes:
"... To borrow Henry Ford's quote: "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." ..."
"... Note to Larry, please follow this logic: Money is Fiat; Fiat is cooperation; Cooperation is fiscal control; and fiscal control is civilization. Nowhere in this chain of thought does debt; interest; austerity; or any of your other little techniques even exist. Those bizarre ideas exist in more primitive thinking about power and slavery and savage exploitation. You know the routine. ..."
Mar 07, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Larry Summers, like Hillary Clinton, does not seem willing to get the message that it would behoove him to retreat from public life.

By J. D. Alt, author of The Architect Who Couldn't Sing , available at Amazon.com or iBooks. Originally published at www.realprogressivesusa.com

Lawrence Summers, according to Lawrence Summers, is a "serious economist." He has just written an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he seriously explains why Modern Money Theory -- as proposed by "fringe economists," as he calls them -- is a recipe for disaster. I am going to leave it to the "fringe economists" to rebut Mr. Summers; (I'm confident that professors Wray, Kelton, Tcherneva, Tymoigne, and Fullwiler can take care of that job quite easily). What I want to consider is something even more fundamental: How is it that someone who presents himself as a "serious economist" can get away with speaking incoherently while expecting us -- the everyday citizens of America -- to take what he is saying as true?

Here is Summers' first point about why MMT is a recipe for disaster: "Modern monetary theory holds out the prospect that somehow by printing money, the government can finance its deficits at zero cost. In fact, in today's economy, the government pays interest on any new money it creates, which takes the form of its reserves held by banks at the Federal Reserve. Yes, there is outstanding currency in circulation, but because that can always be deposited in a bank, its quantity is not controlled by the government. Even money-financed deficits cause the government to incur debt."

Yes, that's very clear and logical, isn't it? The government "prints" money and then pays interest on it? The interest it pays become the "reserves" in the Federal Reserve system? And what exactly does that have to do with "outstanding currency in circulation"? And what is it exactly that happens when that "outstanding currency" gets deposited in a bank? And if "money-financed" deficits cause the government to incur debt, maybe we should think about financing our deficits with something other than money? These are all serious economic questions.

Summers' incoherent rambling reminds me of another case of incoherent ramblings reported, coincidentally, in the same edition of the Washington Post: Donald Trump's CPAC speech as evaluated by columnist Eugene Robinson . Here are a few instances of Trump apparently giving his best impersonation of Lawrence Summers:

"When the wind stops blowing, that's the end of your electric. Let's hurry up. 'Darling -- Darling, is the wind blowing today? I'd like to watch television, Darling.' No, but it's true . Now Robert Mueller never received a vote, and neither did the person that appointed him. And as you know, the attorney general says, 'I'm going to recuse myself. I'm going to recuse.' And I said, why the hell didn't he tell me that before I put him in? How do you recuse yourself?"

Lawrence Summers' second point about the fallacy of MMT goes like this: "Contrary to the claims of modern monetary theorists, it is not true that governments can simply create new money to pay all liabilities coming due and avoid default. As the experience of any number of emerging markets demonstrates, past a certain point, this approach leads to hyperinflation. Indeed, in emerging markets that have practiced modern monetary theory, situations could arise where people could buy two drinks at bars at once to avoid the hourly price increases. As with any tax, there is a limit to the amount of revenue that can be raised via such an inflation tax. If this limit is exceeded, hyperinflation will result."

Really, that all must be true, because Summers is a serious economist. Didn't really know there were third world countries that have been practicing Modern Money Theory for a long time -- but obviously it didn't work out well for them. And, clearly, you can't tax people more than they possess, so that proves it: hyperinflation!

Donald Trump had more to ramble about as well: "And they showed -- they showed from the White House all the way down There were people. Nobody has ever seen it. The Capitol down to the Washington Monument -- people. But I saw pictures that there were no people. Those pictures were taken hours before . They had to walk with high-heels, in many cases. They had to walk all the way down to the Washington Monument and then back. And I looked, and I made a speech, and I said, before I got on -- I said to the people who were sitting next to me, 'I've never seen anything like this.'"

Lawrence Summers' third denunciation of MMT is as follows: "Modern monetary theorists typically reason in terms of a closed economy. But a policy of relying on central bank finance of government deficits, as suggested by modern monetary theorists, would likely result in a collapsing exchange rate. This would in turn lead to increased inflation, increased long-term interest rates (because of inflation), risk premiums, capital fleeing the country, and lower real wages as the exchange rate collapsed and the price of imports soared."

But of course! That's all obvious, isn't it? Mr. Summers is just pointing it out. Exchange rates would collapse. It's the most obvious thing any reader of his argument can easily grasp and understand -- and that means "risk premiums" too (which clearly nobody wants).

At one point in his CPAC speech Donald Trump says this: "You know I'm totally off-script right now. And this is how I got elected, by being off-script. True. And if we don't go off-script, our country is in big trouble, folks. Because we have to get it back."

What strikes me is that our country is, indeed, in big trouble -- but it's because the "script" that's being read to us by our political leaders, commentators, and "serious economists" is nothing more than an incoherent babbling.


bruce wilder , March 7, 2019 at 10:15 am

"somehow by printing money" is a significant tell -- the stupider the clichéd metaphor, the more incoherent the economics. Summers in using that cliche is confusing currency with money, which error really ought to embarrass him, but obviously does not.

paulmeli , March 7, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Summers' Op-Ed is bafflegab of the highest order. It's sad that that's what passes for informed commentary these days, but I think for monetary issues that's always been the case. Any school that dares to teach monetary economics is defunded, exiled to 2nd or 3rd tier status.

There has been a lot of pushback on this Op-Ed and Krugman's from unexpected sources (Forbes, Bloomberg). This response is especially good:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2019/03/05/mmt-sense-or-nonsense/#489e306c5852

Also, demonstrating what a careerist Krugman is: Paul Krugman to Bernard Lietaer: "Never touch the money system" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6nL9elK0EY . (short – 44 sec.)

Carey , March 7, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Good stuff! Thanks for those links.

Susan the Other , March 7, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Well of course Krug, "never look at money" because if you do you'll be blinded by reality.

sgt_doom , March 7, 2019 at 2:10 pm

Krugman has been a member of the lobbyist group for the central bankers, the Group of Thirty (www.group30.org) ever since it was founded by the Rockefeller Foundation back in 1978.

Carla , March 7, 2019 at 3:27 pm

I read the John T Harvey piece this a.m. because Yves had it in Links. It was so good I sent him a fan letter.

Tomonthebeach , March 7, 2019 at 4:27 pm

I read it 2 days ago and felt no compulsion to praise. Harvey includes some Summersian bullshit of his own. For example: "Just as the President's daughter said days ago, people like to work. Quite right."

Harvey clearly does not live on the beach where the slacker-surfer lifestyle dominates. Likewise, it seems likely that he has never had to manage human resources in a large organization where more than just a few workers are obviously not liking what they are doing.

The biggest barrier to full-employment is that not everybody wants to work or at least work very hard. That causes co-worker resentment, an unproductive workplace climate, and if ignored long enough, it can impair productivity to the extent that everybody becomes out of work.

Grebo , March 7, 2019 at 5:56 pm

So, you don't consider surfing work? Perhaps you're right, but I don't consider lack of enthusiasm for bullshit jobs evidence that people don't want to work.

paulmeli , March 7, 2019 at 6:02 pm

The biggest barrier to full-employment is that not everybody wants to work or at least work very hard.

Thank God for those people, it makes my life so much easier. You wouldn't like working in a world where everyone and anyone could replace you.

I've never worked in an environment where everyone pulled their own weight, but it's also true that we tend to hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.

At any rate, I still don't want them to starve.

tegnost , March 7, 2019 at 6:35 pm

I'm not sure where you're surfing but in my experience it's doctors, lawyers, mba, engineers, and their kids. This link tells the story of the modern day surfer vs the stereotypical slacker surfer
http://www.surfparkcentral.com/surfer-statistics-infographic-the-common-us-surfer/

wetsuits cost hundreds of dollars, my cheapest new board was an ellington for $400 like 15 years ago (no, it can't really be that long ago?) My brothers quiver is easily worth $10,000, which is lucky for me because he can't ride them all at once. Not to say there isn't a large transient population, beaches have bathrooms and showers, but the surfer/slacker may not be a real thing?

tegnost , March 7, 2019 at 6:46 pm

also
https://brandongaille.com/22-surfing-industry-statistics-trends/
FTL
#12. In a survey about surfing in the United Kingdom, surfers were disproportionally represented in managerial, professional, or business-owning employment classes. Nearly 80% of surfers fit into these employment categories, compared to just 54% of the general population. (Surfers Against Sewage)

#13. Surfers also have a higher level of education attainment compared to the general population. In the UK, 64% of surfers reported having a higher education, compared to just 27% of the general population. (Surfers Against Sewage)

Carey , March 7, 2019 at 5:14 pm

I thought it was notably good too, and clearly written. Agree or not, what he was saying was not in question, unlike Summers's/ Krugman's slippery stuff.

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:00 pm

Larry Summers is on a list of people I've created where if I read or hear something they write or say and agree with it, I go back and check my premise on said topic.

Have never had to do so with Summers. This entire editorial reeks of Upton Sinclair's famous quote "it's impossible to get someone to understand something when his paycheck depends on him not understanding it."

John Harvey in Forbes takes Summers, Rogoff, and clown prince Krugman down point by point as well.

Phil in KC , March 7, 2019 at 10:18 am

Because I have only a single college course in Macro (taken 40 years ago), I am hardly any kind of economist, certainly not a serious one. But I do have some ability to parse a sentence and figure out the meaning–usually. Thanks for pointing out that the garble I can make no sense of is just garble. I thought I was just one of the uninitiated and ignorant masses.

I am curious about the audience Summers had in mind when he wrote or uttered this. Who are they?

voteforno6 , March 7, 2019 at 11:58 am

I think the important information is conveyed to his intended audience via the title – the rest of it is filler, to justify printing it.

You're not alone in your interpretation of his column. I have enough confidence in my reading comprehension abilities to state affirmatively that his column is full of Thomas Friedman-like gibberish.

polecat , March 7, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Tatooine IS a hard language to parse, afterall ..

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:01 pm

this effort by Summers is the editorial equivalent of spinning wheels furiously in a pit of mud

Carey , March 7, 2019 at 2:37 pm

I see it more as a holding action by the usual cast of characters.
For how long will it work?

Colonel Smithers , March 7, 2019 at 10:19 am

Thank you, Yves.

In the UK, we have a what you may call reverse Churchill problem, i.e. Churchill provokes mixed emotions in the UK, but is revered in the US. In the US, Summers provokes mixed emotions, but is revered in the UK, at least by the usual neo-liberal suspects. God Forbid. The family blogger has even been floated as a potential successor to Carney, probably a ploy by his vermin acolytes at the FT.

You will be delighted to hear that Summers' vicar on earth, or at least in the UK, New Labour family blogger Ed Balls was ousted from the Commons and some of public life by Andrea Jenkins. Jenkins is an Ultra Brexiteer, but History will be kind to her for sparing the long-suffering UK public from more of Balls. Oh, yes, she will be elevated to the Pantheon for that ouster alone.

diptherio , March 7, 2019 at 10:53 am

Larry Summers, famous for stating that there is a "good economic case" to be made for exporting all our toxic waste to Africa. Larry Summers, famous for claiming that there aren't more women in STEM fields because "girls are bad at math." Larry Summers, beloved of neo-liberals everywhere.

allan , March 7, 2019 at 10:57 am

How Larry Summers' memo hobbled Obama's stimulus plan [Dean Baker in The Guardian, 2012]

How Larry begat Donald. Austerity has consequences – who knew?

susan the Other , March 7, 2019 at 2:11 pm

indeed.

allan , March 8, 2019 at 10:41 am

Fiscal space and the aftermath of financial crises: How it matters and why [Christina Romer
and David Romer]

Abstract: In OECD countries over the period 1980–2017, countries with lower debt-to-GDP ratios responded to financial distress with much more expansionary fiscal policy and suffered much less severe aftermaths. Two lines of evidence together suggest that the relationship between the debt ratio and the policy response is driven partly by problems with sovereign market access, but even more so by the choices of domestic and international policymakers. First, although there is some relationship between more direct measures of market access and the fiscal response to distress, incorporating the direct measures attenuates the link between the debt ratio and the policy response only slightly. Second, contemporaneous accounts of the policymaking process in episodes of major financial distress show a number of cases where shifts to austerity were driven by problems with market access, but at least as many where the shifts resulted from policymakers' choices despite an absence of difficulties with market access. These results point to a twofold message: conducting policy in normal times to maintain fiscal space provides valuable insurance in the event of financial crises, and domestic and international policymakers should not let debt ratios determine the response to crises unnecessarily. [emphasis added]

If only one of the authors had been in a position to shape the administration's response in early 2009

La vendetta è un piatto che va servito freddo.

JCC , March 7, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Not to mention the article published here on NC back in 2013:

The very thing that the former endowment chiefs had worried about and warned of for so long then came to pass. Amid plunging global markets, Harvard would lose not only 27 percent of its $37 billion endowment in 2008, but $1.8 billion of the general operating cash – or 27 percent of some $6 billion invested. Harvard also would pay $500 million to get out of the interest-rate swaps Summers had entered into, which imploded when rates fell instead of rising. The university would have to issue $1.5 billion in bonds to shore up its cash position, on top of another $1 billion debt sale. And there were layoffs, pay freezes, and deep, university-wide budget cuts.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/why-larry-summers-should-not-be-permitted-to-run-anything-more-important-than-a-dog-pound.html

shinola , March 7, 2019 at 4:40 pm

From that article:

"Summers is your man if you are a banker, looter, or plutocrat."

'nuff said.

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Churchill is revered in America by people whose memory only goes back to 1941 and even then, only plays the highlights.

This American thinks he was a war criminal many times over and in a just world would have died in a prison cell, but I recognize I'm the minority in my country

RBHoughton , March 7, 2019 at 8:39 pm

I don't believe anyone is completely useless. Al Gore made a follow-up film "An Inconvenient Sequel" which mentioned, inter alia, the likely failure of COP21 because India needed hundreds of gigawatts of new energy and the banks would dun them 13% on loans plus 2% for the exchange if they opted for green energy. Gore got onto Summers and a deal was thrashed out that was satisfactory to India. The country then signed the agreement along with the rest of the world. A man with that kind of clout with the hooligans in banking as valuable.

pretzelattack , March 7, 2019 at 8:47 pm

does he still have that kind of clout?

Redlife2017 , March 8, 2019 at 3:21 am

+1000 for some beautiful snark

Nina , March 7, 2019 at 10:21 am

I have considered Larry's presence in any political campaign the kiss of death, since Obama first ran for president. Fair warning, contenders for 2020! You do not want to be seen so much as shaking Larry's hand in public!

Matt Young , March 7, 2019 at 10:48 am

MMT is what we do. We cycle like MMT says we should, we tax and sequester like MMT says we should, we devalue once a generation as MMT says we should. We are MMT, Larry SUmmers is simply faking it to protect the Keynesian form of MMT. The difference between Keynes and MMT? MMTers have no assumption about smooth trajectories.

This is all the most useless debate among economists I have seen, and I have watched a ton of useless debates in the ten years of the last 'MMT' cycle. So, let us get on with the next MMT cycle, starting with a period of extraordinary means, followed by Tax and sequester, then if we are lucky, we get a devaluation, in proper MMT order.

bushtheidiot , March 7, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Bingo this guy gets it, we already print off a bunch of money to finance spending, lower interest rates to prop up spending and decrease debt costs, etc. Except the way we do it now benefits the rich by forcing the rest of us to spend spend spend because our money does nothing in the savings account. Meantime, the money gets pushed into stocks and bonds which benefits only a certain class.

This essentially paves the way for MMT, which is just to reallocate who gets the benefit of this money printing from the rich to the rest of us.

The current system clearly doesn't work, however, and the idea that we can just spend money we make up out of thin air as a stable plan is nonsense. Just like it was in 2008, and just like it is now with a 23 trilliion national debt.

We want medicare for all, increase the payroll tax and a small income tax, and that will do it. Charge everyone a "premium" for health coverage in their pay check that is far cheaper than what it is now, or let employers pay for it and get a tax deduction.

No need to print monopoly money for anyone–rich or poor. We are wealthy enough to afford this stuff.

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:08 pm

the rich have had socialism for decades. it has worked so well for them, now the rest of us want a bite.

Oh , March 7, 2019 at 3:28 pm

I agree regarding Medicare for all but it should be free. If money's needed, let's tax the banksters to pay for it. After all the owe us $23 trillion.

jsn , March 7, 2019 at 1:59 pm

This is really no different from the dust big tobacco kicked up for 30 years to deny cancer, or big oil and climate denialism: there are a bunch of greedy b******s out there who have been making a killing off of looting, asset stripping and environmental and social market externalities doing all they can to milk the last dollar from a completely rotten system.

Summers is pitching in to obscure perceptions of the rot that serves him so well.

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Stop any significant % of the war machine spending $1T+ per year and spend it at home in the US on crushing the price of housing and providing a jobs guarantee; you wouldn't be able to run from the economic boom anywhere

shinola , March 7, 2019 at 11:03 am

How dare anyone question Mr. Summers proclamations!

He has the credentials, the experience, the insights of a world class economist!

Just look at what Mr. Summers & his crew did for the Russian economy after the collapse of the USSR.
[sarc off]

Summers is the pet economist of the ultra neoliberal crowd.

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:10 pm

the word for people like Summers is "gatekeeper". He's doing his best to keep things within "the acceptable parameters of debate."

His is failing, will ultimately fail completely, and be discredited. I just hope he lives long enough to see it all happen.

Yves Smith Post author , March 7, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Look at what he did to Harvard! Wrecked its endowment by a stupid interest rate swaps bet. Harvard had to get rid of hot breakfasts and an expansion in Alford as a result.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/why-larry-summers-should-not-be-permitted-to-run-anything-more-important-than-a-dog-pound.html

John Wright , March 7, 2019 at 11:20 am

Disclaimer: I'm no economist as my degree is in electrical engineering.

I prefer to look at MMT as somewhat similar to a company issuing additional common and preferred stock.

The company, in this case is a government.

In this view, common stock issuance (that pays no dividend) is new currency issued and preferred stock issuance = US treasury certificates that pay interest ( similar to a preferred stock dividend ).

One can argue that "the market" will not penalize a company (or government) when it raises funds via new stock issuance, IF the proceeds are perceived will be invested wisely.

But if the new stock issuance proceeds are perceived to be used foolishly than one would expect the issuing "company" will see the value of their preferred and common stock drop (as inflation decreases the value of its currency).

For example, if MMT minded US government issues new monetary "common/preferred stock" (creates new currency and issues treasury securities) and uses this purchasing power to improve US infrastructure, improve the bloated USA healthcare/financial industries or educates its people more cost effectively, then the global market could be completely happy with this use of the world's resources.

And the relative value of the US currency might be stable or even increase.

On the other hand, if the MMT minded US government issues more currency/securities and funds a destructive war, one might expect the existing global holders of the USA's currency and securities to be disappointed and push the relative value down.

Just as a corporation has to have some sort of resources (IP, customer list, inventories, market dominance, new products in development) that are valued for it to issue stock, a MMT minded government must be viewed as having resources and power.

For example, Haiti is a sovereign nation with its own currency, the Haitian gourde.

But I suspect Haiti will have a very difficult time using MMT (issuing gourde denominated securities) to improve its economy as it is perceived has having few resources and a prior history of resource squandering corruption (Papa/Baby Doc Duvalier) .

deplorado , March 7, 2019 at 2:55 pm

This is an excellent and very useful analogy, thank you!

Tomonthebeach , March 7, 2019 at 4:37 pm

I betcha that Haiti's debts are not in Gourdes but in Euros, Pounds, and Dollars. Most US debit to itself and foreign countries in our own currency. As Mosler points out, inflation often hurts our trading partners worse than it does us.

jsn , March 7, 2019 at 7:37 pm

A great analogy! And the value of a nations currency is a statement of market perception of the quality and effectiveness of its institutions.

charles 2 , March 8, 2019 at 12:37 am

I share your analogy 100% and I think this is the right way to present monetary theory (I don't want to say "modern" because it is more than a century that it works like this already). Although, I would add a twist : the government also distributes dividends in non monetary terms, by providing, say, free roads, free education or free healthcare ( In the preceding century, there were actually railroads issuing bonds that paid interest with free tickets !)
Of course, the amount of "paid in kind" dividend is similar whether one holds one dollar in the pocket or a million, so it is not popular with the wealthy class.
I think it is an important component to point out because one frequently encounters people who frequently complain that a dollar today is worth less than a dollar yesterday, but forget that between yesterday and today, the government provided services to the dollar holder regardless of him/her earning an income and paying taxes.

PlutoniumKun , March 7, 2019 at 11:22 am

I was going to ask the serious question 'how did Larry Summers get to his esteemed position in the first place ?' Nothing I've ever read by or about him over the years has indicated that he is anything but a second rate bluffer with a talent for impressing other bluffers, and yet in many quarters he seems to be held in significant awe.

But mindful of the rules here about 'setting homework' I looked up his career in Wikipedia. It seems he was quite influential in developmental economics, which no doubt led to his gig in the World Bank. So someone who is considered a Harvard expert in development economics writes:

Lawrence Summers' second point about the fallacy of MMT goes like this: "Contrary to the claims of modern monetary theorists, it is not true that governments can simply create new money to pay all liabilities coming due and avoid default. As the experience of any number of emerging markets demonstrates, past a certain point, this approach leads to hyperinflation. Indeed, in emerging markets that have practiced modern monetary theory, situations could arise where people could buy two drinks at bars at once to avoid the hourly price increases. As with any tax, there is a limit to the amount of revenue that can be raised via such an inflation tax. If this limit is exceeded, hyperinflation will result."

If someone talking in a bar said that, you'd consider him an idiot, or at best, someone who just hasn't read very much. And yet a Harvard professor can, without embarrassment, write such nonsense. And still be taken seriously. It really is unbelievable.

Mel , March 7, 2019 at 12:08 pm

The argument, shorn of the beebling and handwaving, does make some sense. A Haitian government, say, that tries to issue more gourdes (HTG) to pay off a US$ (or ECU, or anything foreign) debt is going to find out that no number of gourdes will be enough. It will have to be US$, and they will only be acquired on the terms the US$ creditor specifies. This has been true ever since independence, when the whole world insisted that the Haitians buy themselves back from France.
They can used gourdes to mobilize their own efforts and their own resources, and hope to achieve something with those.

Grant , March 7, 2019 at 12:30 pm

"A Haitian government, say, that tries to issue more gourdes (HTG) to pay off a US$"

That is a government creating its own currency, which it then has to exchange for another currency. That is roughly what Germany was forced to do with after the massive WWI debts were forced on it and it went through hyperinflation. The issue is owing money in another currency. MMT economists have said again and again that countries should try to avoid, if they can, owing money in a foreign currency. Obviously, many poor countries have no option. Different than a government issuing bonds in its own currency. If the Haitian government injected its own currency into the economy, then issued bonds in its own currency as a means of reaching its central bank's targeted interest rate, and Haiti owed money in its own currency, that would be a good comparison to our situation. Summers doesn't understand (or pretends not to) the problem of bringing up hyperinflation in places like Peru and Venezuela, or the problems poor countries face in regards to external debt, versus what the situation is in the US. We are in no way comparable to those countries or situations. It's absurd, and he knows better, or he should.

In regards to the debt of developing and underdeveloped countries; the big issue is the need for a massive debt write down (among a host of other things). On that, Éric Toussaint's work is hugely important.

a different chris , March 7, 2019 at 12:58 pm

>The issue is owing money in another currency.

Even in this case -- the point is how much of your own currency can you create? The runaway debt inflation is just getting the information the hard way. And it is irreversible, unless you can send out assassins to kill your off-shore debt holders.

If you can come up with a good idea of how much you can safely print, why borrow it? If there was just some academic profession that could come up with useful answers to that question

Grant , March 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm

"Even in this case -- the point is how much of your own currency can you create? "

This has been discussed many times. The broad limit is the productive capacity of the economy. Are we at full employment, are we at full productive capacity? If the change in the money stock is proportionally larger than the value of the goods and services created with that money, then you could have inflation. Could, because inflation is more complex than that. If the government were to create a bunch of money (forget private credit creation for a second since we can't control that much right now), but that money went to rich people that hoarded it, if it was used by companies to buy up their own shares, if it was used to buy goods from other countries, if it was put in a tax shelter, among countless other things, that money wouldn't circulate around the economy and wouldn't cause much inflation. It is possible for the government to create lots of money and for deflation to set it. Happened after the crash in 1929, that was Friedman's argument as to why the Great Depression happened. He said that even though the Fed was creating lots of money, the economy was contracting at a greater rate and so in real terms the money supply was shrinking. Steve Keen responded to that and showed the problems with that argument, but this dynamic is well known. Private banks creating credit money are a part of this and the crash in 1929 too. After the crash in 2007/2008, it is pretty well established that while the government did create a lot of money, it didn't create enough and it didn't channel to the parts of the economy that could have led to a recovery for working people. So, not only how much money is created, but where that money goes in the economy, whether or not more stuff can be produced, expectations of the future, among other things, will determine inflation.

"If you can come up with a good idea of how much you can safely print, why borrow it? If there was just some academic profession that could come up with useful answers to that question "

Not trying to be rude, but have you actually read MMT literature? Cause all this stuff is addressed. We don't borrow money in the way you think. The government, the US government, doesn't need to borrow or tax in order to spend. The particular way we have chosen to create money was developed decades ago, when we were on the gold standard and had either the value of dollars fixed to an ounce of gold, or later all currencies fixed to the dollar which could be exchanged in a given amount for gold. We aren't on gold anymore. We could just have the government spend the money into the economy and use taxes to manage inflation. We don't have to issue bonds, and Wray I believe has said that states that have control over their own currencies shouldn't issue bonds in this way anymore. But those bonds come with no risk at all (the government will not default on the bonds unless forced to by politicians) and they accrue interest, so investors like them, especially when there is uncertainty. But we don't have to issue bonds AFTER the government spends to manage inflation. My understanding is that the Fed is the buyer of last resort on the secondary market for bonds, and those that take part in bond auctions are required to actually bid. I don't see why investors would all of a sudden not like US bonds (it would have to be something with geopolitical implications) but even if they did, the situations could be dealt with, and again, we don't need to even issue bonds in order to spend anyway. That is a radically different situation than Haiti owing money in another currency and being massively in debt to other countries in other currencies, with little ability to export value added goods that have strong terms of trade. Read up on the amount of debt owed by Haiti to France since the Haitian revolution, and the amount of debt paid but still owed by developing and underdeveloped countries in the post-WWII era. You think Summers cares? How in the world is that comparable to the US in 2019? It is ridiculous, and Summers knows it.

Oh , March 7, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Great response!

ChrisPacific , March 7, 2019 at 3:24 pm

That is true and it's one of the key factors that can lead to hyperinflation. However, Summers isn't talking about that scenario. Nothing in his argument mentions foreign currency denominated debt. He's simply claiming that there is some upper limit on deficit spending beyond which the economy will automatically tip over into hyperinflation. I'd love to see him point out one instance in history where that's happened without external factors like foreign currency debt playing a role. The closest thing I can think of is credit bubbles, but those are self-correcting in the long run and can't spiral out of control like hyperinflation.

urblintz , March 7, 2019 at 2:07 pm

He was brought into politics by wait for it. Ronald Reagan.

"Summers was on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan in 1982–1983." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Summers#Public_official

And most people still don't know how he helped plunder post-Soviet Russia and the real scandal he survived at Harvard.

https://directeconomicdemocracy.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/larry-summers-the-shleifer-russia-fiasco-and-kleptocracy-as-a-guiding-ethos/

WheresOurTeddy , March 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm

he came in with the armada of economic pirates that was 1981 and has been looting ever since

Yves Smith Post author , March 7, 2019 at 4:14 pm

He has two uncles each of whom was a Nobel Prize winners: Paul Samuelson and Ken Arrow. Summers was to the economic manor born.

PlutoniumKun , March 7, 2019 at 6:01 pm

Wow, I'd no idea of that. Whatever about Samuelson (yes, I suffered through his textbook), Arrow did some very interesting and incisive work. I guess Summers was, as the Vietnamese would say 'second rice crop'.

charles 2 , March 8, 2019 at 12:50 am

'how did Larry Summers get to his esteemed position in the first place?'

Larry Summers became a famous economist like Donald Trump became a famous property developer : through family

From his own website :

"I remember the fall night in 1972, after Kenneth was awarded the Nobel Prize. The other American Nobel Prize winner at that moment, Paul Samuelson, also my uncle, hosted a party for Kenneth and the Cambridge economics community. I was a sophomore economics major at MIT, so I was hardly appropriate company for such an august gathering, but I was a little unique in being related to both the host and the honoree, so I was invited and I participated as best I could in the conversation."

timbers , March 7, 2019 at 11:39 am

Reminds me a scene in John Carpenter's Christine: "There's no smoking in this garage!" the owner says having gotten up from a card game where all his buddies are sitting around a table waiting for him to rejoin them, as they all smoke." "Sir, those men over there are smoking. You better them them to stop."

Jerry B , March 7, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Here is an article discussing the recent dust up on MMT:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2019/03/05/mmt-sense-or-nonsense/

From the article a quote from Keynes:

"The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds."

And this from the author of the article:

"Those prominent economists aren't even so much rejecting MMT as holding tight to their own orthodox views. This is not necessarily on purpose, but it's extremely difficult for anyone to make a paradigm shift. MMT, aka macroeconomics done properly, is, as Keynes says, "extremely simple and should be obvious." The problem we have here is the difficulty in escaping from antiquated notions of macro modeling (Krugman), inflation (Summers), and debt financing (Rogoff)."

I think one of the problems we have in this country and the world is that what we think of as the mainstream educational model is actually socialization, indoctrination, brainwashing, and or ideological training. And then "jobs" are based on how well you bought in to that brainwashing.

Various education reformers over the past decades such as Ivan Illich and John Taylor Gatto have mentioned similar critiques of education in the US and the world in that our educational system does not foster problem solving and critical thinking.

It is my belief that our educational system creates a type of false self in people. In order to get the "right" answers and do well on tests, etc, you have to compromise your truth, your experience, and your true self and allow yourself to be programmed in the particular models of your profession.

Maybe in Summers, Hillary, and Trump's case, as they have gotten older that "programming memory/false self" is starting to become fractured due to cognitive decline, physical issues, stress, fatigue, etc. and as they desperately try to regurgitate their brainwashing it is coming out in an incoherent mess.

As Summers is only 64, before Yves jumps on me for equating cognitive decline with being older or in one's 60's I think it is specific to each individual. I just turned 60 and my brain is as sharp as ever, it is my body that is slowing the train down!!

To illustrate my point, a while back I read Anthony Atkinson's book, Inequality: What Can Be Done? He mentions in the book that Greg Mankiw's Principle of Micro/Macro economics textbooks have very little on the subject of inequality. How could a mainstream textbook on economics not have a significant portion on inequality?? IMO because in Mankiw's case inequality does not fit his ideology.

NC has a way of posting articles the same day that can be connected. I think this post can be related to the " Is a Harvard MBA Bad for You?" post. The MBA becomes brainwashing. Instead of trying to solve a problem MBA'ers and other professions try to fit the ideology of what they were taught in school to the problem.

To use an analogy: there are usually multiple routes to get from one town to the other. It does not always have to be the "main road". Sometimes the main road is not always the fastest, shortest, etc. And sometimes by taking the same road all the time, one's perspective becomes narrow and hinders thinking outside of the box.

To borrow Henry Ford's quote: "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

After decades of allowing ourselves to be brainwashed, I think we are starting to, as J.D. Alt mentions above, "question the scripts" and are finding them to be a house of cards.

Susan the Other , March 7, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Well you are just a kid. I'm 72 and I think I'm a family blogging genius but it could be just the first symptom. Whatever I'm going to tell you guys what I think about this stuff until I get politely censored. I never studied economics – but I studied languages until words were falling out of my ears. And in my lexicon Larry doesn't even have the integrity of an idiot. Sometimes an idiot is spot on. Larry is a deceptive, self-serving power tripper dedicated to a time gone by and never to return. Too bad.

Jerry B , March 7, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Susan! Recently I went to my doctor and he asked me how I was feeling. I said physiological (my term for non-skeletal) I am 40. Structurally (arthritis, herniated discs, etc. etc.) I feel like I am 70!

===but I studied languages until words were falling out of my ears===

I have always had an intuitive sense for language. Verbal and non verbal language. The words used, tone, inflections, etc. Andrew Carnegie once said that the older he became the less he paid attention to what people said and the more he paid attention to their behavior. And I think that is partly true but language is important.

And as you mention language can be used to convey power. Pierre Bourdieu wrote Language and Symbolic Power which I have been wanting to read. I have also skimmed through some of Michel Foucault's work on discourse analysis.

Also I have read some of Kenneth Burke's work such as A Grammar of Motive's and A Rhetoric of Motives. After reading Burke's books I became more curious about people's motives behind their language and behavior, and also the idea of rhetoric. IMO Obama is a master at rhetoric and hence could fool a lot of people, while Trump sucks at it.

If you have not done so already I suggest looking up the Logical Fallacies links on NC's policies page. I believe a lot of language uses for power are in snowing the public in using arguments or propaganda that contain logical fallacies and heuristics. I have learned a lot in examining what people say and their arguments from NC.

Grant , March 7, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Yeah, I found what he said to be absolutely absurd. He seems to believe that MMT describes something we might do, as opposed to explaining how things are, at least in countries like the US. If he can't understand, or pretends to not understand, the difference between a country owing money in a foreign currency versus issuing bonds in a country's own currency, and the actual role of bonds in the US system or how money is actually created, then he isn't trying. Cause, whatever we want to say about Summers and all he represents, he isn't a stupid man. I haven't seen a single critique of MMT from the likes of Krugman or Summers that demonstrates that they understand the thing they think they are critiquing, or that they understand how things actually work. In response to MMT, they either respond with some models that they were taught that aren't based in reality, or they just lie about MMT. It is the economic version of people like Pelosi lying about single payer in the political sphere using ridiculous logic.

That, to me, is frightening, given how much power he has and who he has been hired to give advice to. People like Summers seem to freak out, really when you look at it, by the fact that we are questioning a fantasy account of how things are. They want to continue to make policies on the assumption that things are in reality what they say they are in their models, and there is a huge gap between the assumptions in their models and reality. If he were to acknowledge the insights from MMT about how things work, many of the excuses those in power have for doing nothing as the country falls apart would crumble, and those doing nothing are then more directly responsible for the impact of their policies. Once you realize that they are not investing in communities being neglected by private interests, they aren't investing in things needed to deal with the environmental crisis, they aren't helping to fund programs to get people healthcare or things like clean water (communities like Flint say hello) because they are paid by interests to do those things, and for ideological and class reasons, they can no longer pretend that the government "can't afford" those things. The debate switches to a place they don't want to be in, and they are then more responsible for the decisions they make. It is no longer about circumstances forcing themselves on these worthless politicians.

skippy , March 7, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Larry Summer: We Print Our Own Money

Published on Apr 3, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuqQ3FZuSUs

I also think some need to observe that Keynes was not a Keynesian in the manner that mainstream use the IS-LM. One is the use of econometrics and the other is the IS-LM was a – starting point – of observation that needed more fleshing out and not some "economic law [tm] carried down the mount.

Would additionally point out good old Ralph Musgrave over at TJN proclaiming his long support for MMT with caveats, sadly anyone with with a functional memory would know key MMT'ers stance with Musgrave does not support those claims.

PS. great start to the day 50kg black German Sheppard just bound up on the bed – all wet – and wanted to share his eagerness for the day .

Gary Gray , March 7, 2019 at 3:36 pm

Keynes believed in governments planning more investment, especially during down times. This is the blunder modern day "sheep" don't understand. It isn't deficits that matter, but pushing the investment into usage/production. Deficits like we have now are nothing more than public debt underwriting private debt expansion via financial engineering. Of course market statists would hate the government with a bigger % of total investment, as they would lose control of the economic system and bow to the will of another.

Its amazing how dopamine release and other "feel good" consumption based games and circuses so rules the people. All they live for is the fix. The bourgeois sells it them as "their fix", "their ownership" of said fix while they rake in profits and destroy the environment. Truly like the Roman end times. No wonder the Christians are so worried. They see themselves replaced like the old rituals and traditions that proceeded it.

WestcoastDeplorable , March 7, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Yves, I'm not a MMT fan, but you're spot-on about Summers. Didn't he lose the Harvard Endowment over $1 Billion with his "sage management"? He's an idiot.

skippy , March 7, 2019 at 2:28 pm

One would think after the Chicago boys foray with Born and its after math people would question the use of such people as PR tools – well must be running dry.

Suggest you look into the groundings of MMT and not emotive processes – see link above. Keynes started a process to refute orthodox thinking, seems some post morte folded parts [tm] into orthodox thinking so they could own – manage that perspective. Hence when needed mainstream will utilize Keynes to say money is not a problem and then completely reverse azimuth and say Keynes said money is a problem ..

Can't wait till they take Marx out of context to support some elitist social views ..

Grant , March 7, 2019 at 3:03 pm

I am curious, just want to know. When you say you aren't a fan of MMT, what is the reason? I am interested in good critiques of its insights, just hard to come by, since it does seem to describe present really pretty well.

Adam1 , March 7, 2019 at 2:25 pm

As with most "serious economists" he's really an overpaid fraud. The man professes to understand government deficits, yet he has no idea how the accounting works.

From Warren Mosler
"Several years ago I had a meeting with Senator Tom Daschle and then Asst. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. I had been discussing these innocent frauds with the Senator, and explaining how they were working against the well being of those who voted for him. So he set up this meeting with the Asst. Treasury Secretary who was also a former Harvard economics professor and had two uncles who had won Nobel prizes in economics, to get his response and hopefully confirm what I was saying.

I opened with a question: "Larry, what's wrong with the budget deficit?"

To which he replied: "It takes away savings that could be used for investment".

To which I replied: "No it doesn't, all Treasury securities do is offset operating factors at the Fed. It has nothing to do with savings and investment".

To which he replied: "Well, I really don't understand reserve accounting so I can't discuss it at that level".

Senator Daschle was looking at all this in disbelief. The Harvard professor of economics Asst. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers didn't understand reserve accounting? Sad but true."

Susan the Other , March 7, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Note to Larry, please follow this logic: Money is Fiat; Fiat is cooperation; Cooperation is fiscal control; and fiscal control is civilization. Nowhere in this chain of thought does debt; interest; austerity; or any of your other little techniques even exist. Those bizarre ideas exist in more primitive thinking about power and slavery and savage exploitation. You know the routine.

Gary Gray , March 7, 2019 at 3:19 pm

Maybe, but debt expansion is debt expansion. Globally debt exhaustion looks to have been reached and we are at the top of the mountain. We are at the first stage, the next stage is what triggers the recession. The last stage, the Minsky moment.

Summers is a cluck, but a useful one in this case. The move from a mixed economy to financial engineering is very addictive to the "people". Moving back to a mixed economy won't be all giggles for everybody as consumption is naturally cut.

Like all junkies, the detox won't be easy and in some cases, fatal.

Susan the Other , March 8, 2019 at 10:09 am

Yes, it is what is so frightening about our current breakdown. Debt is the whole system. It was necessary to maintain that system. But there's no reason why debt can't be put in what banksters call a "bad bank" and just let it run off the books. It can all be done in some resolution that forgives some and allows some to linger without interfering in the economy anymore. There will always be private debt, so caveat friends and neighbors. But there's no reason to suffer an impossible debt burden as a sovereign nation. And from here on in we should not buy anything unless it can be purchased in US dollars/treasuries. The debt to ourselves doesn't matter. The thing that matters is how we spend our money, do we waste time on bad projects or do we create a more valuable civilization with good ones? Debt is just a monkeywrench, useful to gamblers and middlemen. We could configure a completely different economics with very little pain if we put our minds to it.

Samuel Conner , March 7, 2019 at 4:45 pm

I find it profoundly encouraging that it seems that the best that the best credentialed opponents of MMT can do is what is described here.

They aren't ridiculing MMT; they are embarrassing themselves.

KLG , March 7, 2019 at 5:16 pm

Another good link to Larry Summers, Serious Economist. I remembered this passage from Herman Daly's book, and the magic of DuckDuckGo found this. Long but worth the few minutes. NB, I don't know anything about this blogger:
https://sallywengrover.wordpress.com/tag/herman-daly/

Carey , March 7, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Yes, that was a good link. Bookmarked that site.

The Rev Kev , March 7, 2019 at 7:32 pm

Not much love for Larry Summers here – and rightly so. I remember reading a conversation that he was in where he explained how things worked. I'll see if I can summarize it-

Larry Summers is a serious person.
Important people listen to serious people.
This is how serious people express power – by having important people listen to them.
Golden rule is that serious people never criticize each other in public – ever.

I'm sure that people here can pick out the flaw in this arrangement – as in Garbage In, Garbage Out as far as important people are concerned and the information & opinions that they receive.

KLG , March 7, 2019 at 9:57 pm

I saw what you did there.

charles 2 , March 8, 2019 at 1:07 am

Seriously, what would you expect from a person who writes this at the first paragraph for his biography (emphasis mine) :
"Dr. Summers' tenure at the U.S. Treasury coincided with the longest period of sustained economic growth in U.S. history. He is the only Treasury Secretary in the last half century to have left office with the national budget in surplus . Dr. Summers has played a key role in addressing every major financial crisis for the last two decades."

Change "addressing" by "participating in the genesis of", and you are quite close to the truth

Susan the Other , March 8, 2019 at 10:19 am

Mmmm, and all that treasury surplus was accrued by Larry's Austerity which exponentiated the private debt and turned into the 2008 tsunami. Heck of a job, Larry.

Mike Barry , March 8, 2019 at 7:14 am

Larry Summers, a Serious Economist

"You cannot be serious." -- John Mcenroe

Stillfeelinthebern , March 8, 2019 at 9:30 pm

"Larry Summers, like Hillary Clinton, does not seem willing to get the message that it would behoove him to retreat from public life."

Love this sentence!

Fazal Majid , March 9, 2019 at 12:11 am

Larry Summers is useful as a canary. The day Obama appointed him as an adviser (before his inauguration) was the day I understood Obama would do diddly squat about fixing the root causes of the Great Recession.

The part I don't understand is how he gained his prominence, other than literal nepotism. You'd think the fact he lost Harvard's endowment a cool billion would have killed his career given how prominent Harvard grads are in the US' power structure.

Sound of the Suburbs , March 9, 2019 at 3:50 am

2008 was the wakeup call global policymakers slept through.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Albert Einstein

This is exactly what we've been trying to do since 2008.

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png

Our policymakers thought this was a "black swan", and if your economics doesn't consider debt it is.

One question led me to the answer. "How does money get destroyed in the system?"

This is what happened, how did it happen?

It can't happen if banks are financial intermediaries as our policymaker's believe.

Other people have been looking into this and so there is a lot of work that has already been done to help you get to the answer.

The central bankers later confirmed how money gets destroyed in the system.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

We were flying blind during globalisation and policymakers didn't understand the monetary system.

The FT revealed the Chinese were undertaking a major study of the West.

I think they must have worked out things are fundamentally wrong as they have made all the classic mistakes everyone else has made since 2008.

They have already worked out inflated asset prices and the private debt-to-GDP ratio are indicators of coming financial crises and these were the indicators that showed 1929 and 2008 were coming.

By the time they understood what was going on the Minsky Moment was dead ahead, and they could no longer use the debt fuelled growth model they had used before.

When US policymakers understand the monetary system they may be able to make some valid comments.

[Mar 06, 2019] The only real growth in the US -

Mar 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

1. Opiates/Big Pharma

2. Redundancies

3. John Bolton's harelip cover

[Mar 05, 2019] On origin of the phase There ain t no such thing as a free lunch

Mar 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> mulp ... "...TANSTAAFL" March 20, 2017 at 04:59 AM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_ain%27t_no_such_thing_as_a_free_lunch

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" (alternatively, "There is no such thing as a free lunch" or other variants) is a popular adage communicating the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing.

The acronyms TANSTAAFL, TINSTAAFL, and TNSTAAFL, are also used. Uses of the phrase dating back to the 1930s and 1940s have been found, but the phrase's first appearance is unknown.[1]

The "free lunch" in the saying refers to the nineteenth-century practice in American bars of offering a "free lunch" in order to entice drinking customers.

The phrase and the acronym are central to Robert Heinlein's 1966 science-fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which helped popularize it.[2][3]

The free-market economist Milton Friedman also popularized the phrase[1] by using it as the title of a 1975 book,[4] and it is used in economics literature to describe opportunity cost.[5]

Campbell McConnell writes that the idea is "at the core of economics".

[I was a bigger fan of Robert Heinlein's than I was of Milton Friedman and even then it was "Stranger in a Strange Land" and "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" rather than later works that appealed to me.]

[Mar 05, 2019] Milton Friedman now firmly belongs to the dustbin of history

Mar 05, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

reason 02.15.19 at 8:12 am 21 (no link)

Just as an aside. It is worth remembering where the current globalization came from historically.

It started with the 1970s inflation, (caused partly by the oil crisis) and the coincident abuse of monopoly power by a number of unions (please those on the outer left don't try to pretend it didn't happen, it did).

Uncle Milton came along with plausible sounding solutions (monetarism and increasing foreign competition). Increasing foreign competition worked for a while – until the mergers starting being international and industry concentration increased on an international scale (and so was harder to combat).

Uncle Milton has since been proved wrong about almost everything. His one big idea that never got tried (negative income tax – which could implemented more simply and effectively as a universal basic income) ironically is the only one I think was good.

[Mar 05, 2019] Hurrah ! Mankiw to Leave Flagship Harvard Ec 10 Course News by Molly C. McCafferty

One neoliberal jerk less...
The Harvard Crimson

After more than a decade at the helm of one of Harvard's largest courses, Economics Professor N. Gregory Mankiw announced in an email to graduate students Monday that he will step down from teaching Economics 10: "Principles of Economics" at the end of this semester.

[Mar 04, 2019] Communitarianism or Populism: The Ethic of Compassion and the Ethic of Respect

This is overview of the course...
Notable quotes:
"... Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value. ..."
"... Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul. ..."
"... Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market. ..."
"... The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image. ..."
"... In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering. ..."
"... "The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction. ..."
"... The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control. ..."
Jan 13, 2017 | www.theworkingcentre.org

If terms like "populism" and "community" figure prominently in political discourse today, it is because the ideology of the Enlightenment, having come under attack from a variety of sources, has lost much of its appeal. The claims of universal reason are universally suspect. Hopes for a system of values that would transcend the particularism of class, nationality, religion, and race no longer carry much conviction. The Enlightenment's reason and morality are increasingly seen as a cover for power, and the prospect that the world can he governed by reason seems more remote than at any time since the eighteenth century. The citizen of the world-the prototype of mankind in the future, according to the Enlightenment philosophers-is not much in evidence. We have a universal market, but it does not carry with it the civilizing effects that were so confidently expected by Hume and Voltaire. Instead of generating a new appreciation of common interests and inclinations-if the essential sameness of human beings everywhere-the global market seems to intensify the awareness of ethnic and national differences. The unification of the market goes hand in hand with the fragmentation of culture.

The waning of the Enlightenment manifests itself politically in the waning of liberalism, in many ways the most attractive product of the Enlightenment and the carrier of its best hopes. Through all the permutations and transformations of liberal ideology, two of its central features have persisted over the years: its commitment to progress and its belief that a liberal state could dispense with civic virtue. The two ideas were linked in a chain of reasoning having as its premise that capitalism had made it reason able for everyone to aspire to a level of comfort formerly accessible only to the rich. Henceforth men would devote themselves to their private business, reducing the need for government, which could more or less take care of itself. It was the idea of progress that made it possible to believe that societies blessed with material abundance could dispense with the active participation of ordinary citizens in government.

After the American Revolution liberals began to argue-in opposition to the older view that "public virtue is the only foundation of republics," in the words of John Adams -- that proper constitutional checks and balances would make it advantageous even for bad men to act for the public good," as James Wilson put it. According to John Taylor, "an avaricious society can form a government able to defend itself against the avarice of its members" by enlisting the "interest of vice ...on the side of virtue." Virtue lay in the "principles of government," Taylor argued, not in the "evanescent qualities of individuals." The institutions and "principles of a society may be virtuous, though the individuals composing it are vicious."

Meeting minimal conditions

The paradox of a virtuous society based on vicious individuals, however agree able in theory, was never adhered to very consistently. Liberals took for granted a good deal more in the way of private virtue than they were willing to acknowledge. Even to day liberals who adhere to this minimal view of citizenship smuggle a certain amount of citizenship between the cracks of their free- market ideology. Milton Friedman himself admits that a liberal society requires a "minimum degree of literacy and knowledge" along with a "widespread acceptance of some common set of values." It is not clear that our society can meet even these minimal conditions, as things stand today, but it has always been clear, in any case, that a liberal society needs more virtue than Friedman allows for.

A system that relies so heavily on the concept of rights presupposes individuals who respect the rights of others, if only because they expect others to respect their own rights in return. The market itself, the central institution of a liberal society, presupposes, at the very least, sharp-eyed, calculating, and clearheaded individuals-paragons of rational choice. It presupposes not just self interest but enlightened self-interest. It was for this reason that nineteenth-century liberals attached so much importance to the family. The obligation to support a wife and children, in their view, would discipline possessive individualism and transform the potential gambler, speculator, dandy, or confidence man into a conscientious provider. Having abandoned the old republican ideal of citizenship along with the republican indictment of luxury, liberals lacked any grounds on which to appeal to individuals to subordinate private interest to the public good.

But at least they could appeal to the higher selfishness of marriage and parenthood. They could ask, if not for the suspension of self-interest, for its elevation and refinement. The hope that rising expectations would lead men and women to invest their ambitions in their offspring was destined to be disappointed in the long run. The more closely capitalism came to be identified with immediate gratification and planned obsolescence, the more relentlessly it wore away the moral foundations of family life. The rising divorce rate, already a source of alarm in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, seemed to reflect a growing impatience with the constraints imposed by long responsibilities and commitments.

The passion to get ahead had begun to imply the right to make a fresh start whenever earlier commitments became unduly burden some. Material abundance weakened the economic as well as the moral foundations of the "well-'ordered family state" admired by nineteenth-century liberals. The family business gave way to the corporation, the family farm (more slowly and painfully) to a collectivized agriculture ultimately controlled by the same banking houses that had engineered the consolidation of industry. The agrarian uprising of the 1870s, 1880s, and l890s proved to be the first round in a long, losing struggle to save the family farm, enshrined in American mythology, even today, as the sine qua non of a good society but subjected into practice to a ruinous cycle of mechanization, indebtedness, and overproduction.

The family invaded

Instead of serving as a counter weight to the market, then, the family was invaded and undermined by the market. The sentimental veneration of motherhood, even at the peak of its influence in the late nineteenth century, could never quite obscure the reality that unpaid labour bears the stigma of social inferiority when money becomes the universal measure of value.

In the long run women were forced into the workplace not only because their families needed extra income but because paid labour seemed to represent their only hope of gaining equality with men. In our time it is increasingly clear that children pay the price for this invasion of the family by the market. With both parents in the workplace and grandparents conspicuous by their absence, the family is no longer capable of sheltering children from the market. The television set becomes the principal baby-sitter by default. Its invasive presence deals the final blow to any lingering hope that the family can provide a sheltered space for children to grow up in.

Children are now exposed to the out side world from the time they are old enough to be left unattended in front of the tube. They are exposed to it, moreover, in a brutal yet seductive form that reduces the values of the marketplace to their simplest terms. Commercial television dramatizes in the most explicit terms the cynicism that was always implicit in the ideology of the marketplace. The sentimental convention that the best things in life are free has long since passed into oblivion. Since the best things clearly cost a great deal of money, people seek money, in the world depicted by commercial television, by fair means or foul.

Throughout the twentieth century liberalism has been pulled in two directions at once: toward the market and (not withstanding its initial misgivings about government) toward the state. On the one hand, the market appears to be the ideal embodiment of the principle-the cardinal principle of liberalism-that individuals are the best judges of their own interests and that they must therefore be allowed to speak for themselves in matters that concern their happiness and well-being. But individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market. Even liberal individuals require the character-forming discipline of the family, the neighbourhood, the school, and the church, all of which (not just the family) have been weakened by the encroachments of the market.

The market notoriously tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pres sure on every activity to justify itself in the only items it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.

Weakening social trust

In the attempt to restrict the scope of the market, liberals have therefore turned to the state. But the remedy often proves to be worse than the disease. The replacement of informal types of association by formal systems of socialization and control weakens social trust, undermines the willingness both assume responsibility for one's self and to hold others accountable for their actions destroys respect for authority and thus turns out to be self-defeating. Neighbourhoods, which can serve as intermediaries between the family and the larger world. Neighbourhoods have been destroyed not only by the market-by crime and drugs or less dramatically by suburban shopping malls-but also by enlightened social engineering.

The main thrust of social policy, ever since the first crusades against child labour, has been to transfer the care of children from informal settings to institutions designed specifically for pedagogical and custodial purposes. Today this trend continues in the movement for daycare, often justified on the undeniable grounds that working mothers need it but also on the grounds that daycare centers can take advantage of the latest innovations in pedagogy and child psychology. This policy of segregating children in age-graded institutions under professional supervision has been a massive failure, for reasons suggested some time ago by Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an attack on city planning that applies to social planning in general.

"The myth that playgrounds and grass and hired guards or supervisors are innately wholesome for children and that city streets, filled with ordinary people, are innately evil for children, boils down to a deep contempt for ordinary people." In their contempt planners lose sight of the way in which city streets, if they are working as they should, teach children a lesson that cannot be taught by educators or professional caretakers: that "people must take a modicum of public responsibility for each other even if they have no ties to each other." When the corner grocer or the locksmith scolds a child for running into the street, the child learns something that can't be learned simply by formal instruction.

What the child learns is that adults unrelated to one another except by the accident of propinquity uphold certain standards and assume responsibility for the neighbourhood. With good reason, Jacobs calls this the "first fundamental of successful city life," one that "people hired to look after children cannot teach because the essence of this responsibility is that you do it without being hired."

Neighbourhoods encourage "casual public trust," according to Jacobs. In its absence the everyday maintenance of life has to be turned over to professional bureaucrats. The atrophy of informal controls leads irresistibly to the expansion of bureaucratic controls. This development threatens to extinguish the very privacy liberals have always set such store by. It also loads the organizational sector with burdens it cannot support. The crisis of public funding is only one indication of the intrinsic weakness of organizations that can no longer count on informal, everyday mechanisms of social trust and control.

The taxpayers' revolt, although itself informed by an ideology of privatism resistant to any kind of civic appeals, at the same time grows out of a well-founded suspicion that tax money merely sustains bureaucratic self-aggrandizement

The lost habit of self-help

As formal organizations break down, people will have to improvise ways of meeting their immediate needs: patrolling their own neighbourhoods, withdrawing their children from public schools in order to educate them at home. The default of the state will thus contribute in its own right to the restoration of informal mechanisms of self-help. But it is hard to see how the foundations of civic life can be restored unless this work becomes an overriding goal of public policy. We have heard a good deal of talk about the repair of our material infrastructure, but our cultural infrastructure needs attention too, and more than just the rhetorical attention of politicians who praise "family values" while pursuing economic policies that undermine them. It is either naive or cynical to lead the public to think that dismantling the welfare state is enough to ensure a revival of informal cooperation-"a thousand points of light." People who have lost the habit of self-help, who live in cities and suburbs where shopping malls have replaced neighbourhoods, and who prefer the company of close friends (or simply the company of television) to the informal sociability of the street, the coffee shop, and the tavern are not likely to reinvent communities just because the state has proved such an unsatisfactory substitute. Market mechanisms will not repair the fabric of public trust. On the contrary the market's effect on the cultural infrastructure is just as corrosive as that of the state.

A third way

We can now begin to appreciate the appeal of populism and communitarianism. They reject both the market and the welfare state in pursuit of a third way. This is why they are so difficult to classify on the conventional spectrum of political opinion. Their opposition to free-market ideologies seems to align them with the left, but 'their criticism of the welfare state (whenever this criticism becomes open and explicit) makes them sound right-wing. In fact, these positions belong to neither the left nor the right, and for that very reason they seem to many people to hold out the best hope of breaking the deadlock of current debate, which has been institutionalized in the two major parties and their divided control of the federal government. At a time when political debate consists of largely of ideological slogans endlessly repeated to audiences composed mainly of the party faithful, fresh thinking is desperately needed. It is not likely to emerge, however, from those with a vested interest in 'the old orthodoxies. We need a "third way of thinking about moral obligation," as Alan Wolfe puts it, one that locates moral obligation neither in the state nor in the market but "in common sense, ordinary emotions, and everyday life."

Wolfe's plea for a political program designed to strengthen civil society, which closely resembles the ideas advanced in The Good Society by Robert Bellah and his collaborators, should be welcomed by the growing numbers of people who find themselves dissatisfied with the alternatives defined by conventional debate. These authors illustrate the strengths of the communitarian position along with some of its characteristic weaknesses. They make it clear that both the market and the state presuppose the strength of "non-economic ties of trust and solidarity" as Wolfe puts it. Yet the expansion of these institutions weakens ties of trust and thus undermines the preconditions for their own success. The market and the "job culture," Bellah writes, are "invading our private lives," eroding our "moral infrastructure" of "social trust." Nor does the welfare state repair the damage. "The example of more successful welfare states ... suggests that money and bureaucratic assistance alone do not halt the decline of the family" or strengthen any of the other "sustaining institutions that make interdependence morally significant." None of this means that a politics that really mattered-a politics rooted in popular common sense instead of the ideologies that appeal to elites-would painlessly resolve all the conflicts that threaten to tear the country apart. Communitarians underestimate the difficulty of finding an approach to family issues, say, that is both profamily and profeminist.

That may be what the public wants in theory. In practice, however, it requires a restructuring of the workplace designed to make work schedules far more flexible, career patterns less rigid and predictable, and criteria for advancement less destructive to family and community obligations. Such reforms imply interference with the market and a redefinition of success, neither of which will be achieved without a great deal of controversy.

Back to Course Content

[Mar 02, 2019] Tancredo Would Republican Establishment Use Impeachment to Block Trump Agenda

First vices about the color revolution against Trump were heard on December 2016
Notable quotes:
"... Republican leaders in Congress are already sending Trump a subtle but clear warning: accept our business-as-usual Chamber of Commerce agenda or we will join Democrats to impeach you. ..."
"... Impeachment has been the goal of Democrats since the day after Trump won the election, and the Republican establishment will use the veiled threat as leverage to win concession after concession from the Trump White House. ..."
"... There are at least four Trump campaign promises which, if not dropped or severely compromised, could generate Republican support for impeachment: Trump's Supreme Court appointments, abandoning the Trans Pacific Partnership, radical rollback of Obama regulatory projects, and real enforcement of our nation's immigration laws. ..."
"... On regulatory rollback, Congress can legitimately insist on negotiating the details with Trump. But on the other three, immigration, the TPP, and Supreme Court nominees, Trump's campaign promises were so specific - and so popular - that he need not accept congressional foot-dragging. ..."
"... Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced this week he will oppose Trump's tax reforms. Senator Lindsey Graham is joining Democrats in sponsoring new legislation to protect the "Dreamers" from deportation after their unlawfully granted legal status and work permits expire. Senator Susan Collins will oppose any restrictions on Muslim refugees, no matter how weak and inadequate the vetting to weed out jihadists. Senator Lamar Alexander aims to protect major parts of Obamacare, despite five years of voluminous Republican promises to "repeal and replace" it if they ever had the power to do so. ..."
"... on the House side, we have the naysayer-in-chief, Speaker Paul Ryan, who refused to campaign with Donald Trump in Wisconsin, and who has vowed to obstruct Trump's most important and most popular campaign promise - an end to open borders and vigorous immigration law enforcement. ..."
"... Donald Trump won a electoral mandate to change direction and put American interests first, beginning with border security. If the congressional Republican establishment chooses to block the implementation of that electoral mandate, it would destroy not only Trump's agenda, it would destroy the Republican Party. ..."
Dec 18, 2016 | www.breitbart.com
Several months ago I was asked what advice I would give to the Trump campaign.

I said, only half joking, that he had better pick a vice presidential candidate the establishment hates more than it hates him. That would be his only insurance against impeachment. Those drums have already begun to beat, be it ever so subtly.

Is anyone surprised how quickly the establishment that Donald Trump campaigned against has announced opposition to much of his policy agenda? No. But few understand that the passionate opposition includes a willingness to impeach and remove President Trump if he does not come to heel on his America First goals.

Ferocious opposition to Trump from the left was expected and thus surprises nobody. From the comical demands for vote recounts to street protests by roving bands of leftist hate-mongers and condescending satire on late-night television, hysterical leftist opposition to Trump is now part of the cultural landscape.

But those are amusing sideshows to the main event, the Republican establishment's intransigent opposition to key pillars of the Republican president's agenda.

Republican leaders in Congress are already sending Trump a subtle but clear warning: accept our business-as-usual Chamber of Commerce agenda or we will join Democrats to impeach you.

If you think talk of impeachment is insane when the man has not even been sworn into office yet, you have not been paying attention. Impeachment has been the goal of Democrats since the day after Trump won the election, and the Republican establishment will use the veiled threat as leverage to win concession after concession from the Trump White House.

What are the key policy differences that motivate congressional opposition to the Trump agenda? There are at least four Trump campaign promises which, if not dropped or severely compromised, could generate Republican support for impeachment: Trump's Supreme Court appointments, abandoning the Trans Pacific Partnership, radical rollback of Obama regulatory projects, and real enforcement of our nation's immigration laws.

On regulatory rollback, Congress can legitimately insist on negotiating the details with Trump. But on the other three, immigration, the TPP, and Supreme Court nominees, Trump's campaign promises were so specific - and so popular - that he need not accept congressional foot-dragging.

Yet, while the President-elect 's transition teams at the EPA, State Department and Education Department are busy mapping ambitious changes in direction, Congress's Republican leadership is busy doubling down on dissonance and disloyalty.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced this week he will oppose Trump's tax reforms. Senator Lindsey Graham is joining Democrats in sponsoring new legislation to protect the "Dreamers" from deportation after their unlawfully granted legal status and work permits expire. Senator Susan Collins will oppose any restrictions on Muslim refugees, no matter how weak and inadequate the vetting to weed out jihadists. Senator Lamar Alexander aims to protect major parts of Obamacare, despite five years of voluminous Republican promises to "repeal and replace" it if they ever had the power to do so.

And then, on the House side, we have the naysayer-in-chief, Speaker Paul Ryan, who refused to campaign with Donald Trump in Wisconsin, and who has vowed to obstruct Trump's most important and most popular campaign promise - an end to open borders and vigorous immigration law enforcement.

It is no exaggeration to say that Trump's success or failure in overcoming the opposition to immigration enforcement will determine the success or failure of his presidency. If he cannot deliver on his most prominent and most popular campaign promise, nothing else will matter very much.

So, the bad news for President Trump is this: If he keeps faith with his campaign promises on immigration, for example to limit Muslim immigration from terrorism afflicted regions, which is within his legitimate constitutional powers as President, he will risk impeachment. However, his congressional critics will face one enormous hurdle in bringing impeachment charges related to immigration enforcement: about 90 percent of what Trump plans to do is within current law and would require no new legislation in Congress. Obama disregarded immigration laws he did not like, so all Trump has to do is enforce those laws.

Now, if you think talk of impeachment is ridiculous because Republicans control Congress, you are underestimating the depth of Establishment Republican support for open borders.

The first effort in the 21st century at a general amnesty for all 20 million illegal aliens came in January 2005 from newly re-elected President George Bush. The "Gang of Eight" amnesty bill passed by the US Senate in 2013 did not have the support of the majority of Republican senators, and now they are faced with a Republican president pledged to the exact opposite agenda, immigration enforcement. And yet, do not doubt the establishment will sacrifice a Republican president to protect the globalist, open borders status quo.

The leader and spokesman for that establishment open borders agenda is not some obscure backbencher, it is the Republican Speaker of the House. Because the Speaker controls the rules and the legislative calendar, if he chooses to play hardball against Trump on immigration he can block any of Trump's other policy initiatives until Trump abandons his immigration enforcement goals.

What all this points to is a bloody civil war within the Republican Party fought on the battlefield of congressional committee votes.

Donald Trump won a electoral mandate to change direction and put American interests first, beginning with border security. If the congressional Republican establishment chooses to block the implementation of that electoral mandate, it would destroy not only Trump's agenda, it would destroy the Republican Party.

[Mar 01, 2019] The public sentiment in the USA looks more and more like a replay of 1920th

Mar 01, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

iSage , 14 minutes ago

All Risk and no reward asked me this, and here is the truth of it all:

9 minutes ago

iSage, what do you have to say about the fraudulent debt-based money system that is protected by all political classes, even as it enslaves and impoverishes the masses of people?

Poverty - Debt Is Not a Choice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7BTTB4tiEU

How To Be a Crook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oHbwdNcHbc

Renaissance 2.0 The Rise of [Debt-Money Monopolist] Financial Empire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96c2wXcNA7A

Krugman to Lietaer: "Never touch the money system!" (Krugman propagandist protecting the fraud!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6nL9elK0EY

"The establishment of central banks is ALWAYS a necessary first step of subjugation of geographically congregated bloodlines." ~House of Rothschild

Possibly The Most Interesting Cabal-related Link You Will Ever See – An Interview With An Architect
https://www.anonymousconservative.com/blog/possibly-the-most-interesting-cabal-related-link-you-will-ever-see-an-interview-with-an-architect/

Show your adversaries that you can think outside the "Matrix" programming.

31 seconds ago

=============================My response=================================

iSage

The debt is a creation of fiat money, pure and simple, living beyond our means. We were taken off the gold standard by FDR and Nixon closed the gold window to finance JFK's Vietnam war. Thus establishing the Petro Dollar, via having the House of Fraud sell their black gold (oil) in fiat dollars, for tech know how and military protection.

The Fed is an illegal entity, which controls our money supply and interest rates artificially. They can do this because we are a bankrupt nation going back to the 1930's.

We are a captured nation under LOST, Laws of the Seas Treaty, thus the Gold Tassels around our flag in courts and federal buildings. Our names are in CAPS in all birth certs, because we are slaves to the system, due to this bankruptcy and treaty.

It is a farce the American people have been fleeced and lied to all their lives, thinking the Das Kapital capitalism is great. It is a *** communist construct, to enslave us further.

Would you like to hear more?

[Mar 01, 2019] The Black Bill and the Green New Deal

Feb 20, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

Sandwichman | February 20, 2019 12:48 am

Climate Change Politics US EConomics "When we first came to Washington in 1933," FDR Labor Secretary Francis Perkins wrote in her memoir, The Roosevelt I Knew , "the Black bill was already before the Congress. Introduced by Senator Hugo L. Black, it had received support from many parts of the country and from many representatives and senators."

The Black Bill was the Senate version of the Black-Connery Thirty-Hour Bill. On April 6, 1933, the Senate approved the measure by a vote of 53 to 30. Perkins was scheduled to appear before the House committee holding hearings on the Connery Bill:

Roosevelt had a problem. He was in favor of limiting the hours of labor for humanitarian and possibly for economic reasons and therefore did not want to oppose the bill. At the same time, he did not feel that it was sound to support it vigorously. But the agitation for the bill was strong. Its proponent insisted that it was a vital step toward licking the depression. I said, "Mr. President, we have to take a position. I'll take the position, but I want to be sure that it is in harmony with your principles and policy."

Roosevelt had another problem. The National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce were adamantly opposed to the Thirty-Hour Bill. Perkins offered amendments to the Connery Bill, the American Federation of Labor offered other amendments and business representatives "proposed crippling amendments that would have destroyed the purpose of the measure."

On May 1, the administration withdrew its support for the Connery Bill. Roosevelt had concluded that organized business would not support the recovery program if the Black-Connery Bill were to become law. In its place, the collective bargaining provisions of Section 7(a) and wage, hour and labor standard provisions were added to the National Industrial Recovery Act through, in Leon Keyserling's account, "a series of haphazard accidents reflecting the desire to get rid of the Black bill and to put something in to satisfy labor."

The Supreme Court ruled the Recovery Act unconstitutional on May 27, 1935. In its place, the "Second New Deal" consisted of a variety of policies, including, most notably, the National Labor Relations Act, the Works Progress Administration and Social Security.

The moral to the story is that "the" New Deal was improvised, it evolved, was not unitary and its original impetus came from a fundamentally different policy proposal that was anathema to the business lobby. The Thirty-Hour Bill was conceived as a solution to a problem that is no longer polite in policy circles to consider as a problem -- "over-production."

I am sympathetic to the intentions and ambition of the Green New Deal resolution proposed by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. What I find especially compelling is the inclusion of social and economic justice and equality in the program goals. The vision isn't just a proposal for "sustainable" business-as-usual, powered by wind and solar.

The day before Ocasio-Cortez and Markey announced their resolution, Kate Aronoff and co-authors presented a " Five Freedoms " statement of principles for a Green New Deal, modeled on Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms.from 1941. My favorite, of course, is number two: Freedom From Toil:

We can't escape work altogether, and there's a lot of work we need to do, immediately and in the long term. But work doesn't need to rule our lives.

The great nineteenth-century English socialist William Morris made a distinction between useful work and useless toil: we need the former but should free ourselves from the latter. We can escape the crushing toll of working long hours for low wages to make something that someone else owns.

At present, there's a lot of work that's worse than useless -- it's toil that's harmful to the people doing it and to the world in which we live. But even useful work should be distributed more widely so that we can all do less of it -- and spend more time enjoying its fruits.

I suppose there always has been work that is "worse than useless" -- bullshit jobs and all that. But there is cruel irony in the fact that the ultimate solution to the 1930s problem of over-production was perpetual creation of useless toil through credit, fashion, advertising, and government stimulus and subsidies. The original proposal had been shorter working time !

Which brings me back to the peregrinations of the FDR New Deal. The 12-year deadline posited by the I.P.C.C. for keeping within the 1.5 degree centigrade limit brings us to the 100th anniversary of Keynes's " Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren ." Time has run out on his caveat:

But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

We have been pretending long enough now for foul to become worse than useless and to convince ourselves that fair really would be foul. It is past time to stop pretending .


  1. spencer , February 20, 2019 11:32 am

    I've long wondered why conservatives – libertarians do not give as much attention to the 40 hour workweek as they do to the minimum wage. From their point of view there should not be much difference between the two.

    Sandwichman , February 20, 2019 11:47 am

    I suspect they intuit that a workweek much longer than 40-hours will not add an iota to output, will probably subtract from output -- and profits -- and could possibly provoke a renewal of mass struggles for shorter hours.

  2. Denis Drew , February 21, 2019 12:38 am

    As for the climate change part, don't forget the coming of thermonuclear fusion power. Only trouble is that it is always 30 years away.
    https://www.amazon.com/Sun-Bottle-Strange-History-Thinking-ebook-dp-B001IH6WOM/dp/B001IH6WOM/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1550727164

    I don't see work as such a torture. When Keynes was speaking, work was much more arduous than it is now (unless you work in McDonald's) and remuneration was mostly subsistence because productivity was much lower and technology but little (top invention, steam engines, no LED TVs!). I know people who could retire but don't because, what else would they do.

  3. Luc , February 21, 2019 9:04 am

    "The capitalist mode of production, while on the one hand, enforcing economy in each individual business, on the other hand, begets, by its anarchical system of competition, the most outrageous squandering of labour-power and of the social means of production, not to mention the creation of a vast number of employments, at present indispensable, but in themselves superfluous."

    Unless one has a good grasp of the difference between value and material wealth these discussions usually go nowhere. Most of labour performed today is unnecessary from the future standpoint of a post-capitalist society.

[Feb 26, 2019] Civilizations are only held together by the "glue" of shared beliefs. The deep-state-media-complex has just applied a solvent to the very glue that holds the entire culture together.

Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

densa , says: February 26, 2019 at 11:04 pm GMT

@Mike from Jersey This:

Don't the people pulling the strings behind the media understand what they have done? They have convinced a large part of the nation that everything that they were taught from childhood is a fraud.

Civilizations are only held together by the "glue" of shared beliefs. The deep-state-media-complex has just applied a solvent to the very glue that holds the entire culture together.

And Hopkins says a disillusioned people might realize

in reality they are living in a neo-feudalist, de facto global capitalist empire administrated by omnicidal money-worshipping human parasites that won't be satisfied until they've remade the whole of creation in their nihilistic image.

There has been a longstanding bipartisan attack against the nation, and I use that term as defined as "a stable, historically developed community of people with a territory, economic life, distinctive culture, and language in common."

But I don't think the "deep-state-media-complex" is concerned by this. Again, feature not bug.

[Feb 26, 2019] Neoliberalism might be more resilient that we initially thought due to utilizing the power of survellance over citizens to prevent any meaningful political challenge

Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Endgame Napoleon , says: February 26, 2019 at 5:05 pm GMT

We live in a goon-run surveillance economy, backed up by the strong arm of a mighty surveillance state apparatus, and nobody -- I mean nobody -- really stands up to it, calling out the real economic problems without a politically correct overlay that focuses on drummed-up social issues or other media-driven diversion tactics. As much as Hollywood theatrics are used as a way to sell the current setup as a functioning Republic to the serfs, none of our never-been-so-wealthy elected leadership has the morality to challenge the corrupt system. There's a reason for their crumbly back bones.

Despite the fake-morality play, using kids and babies as props in this fake-feminist era, we don't even have leaders morally uncompromised enough to take on the Swamp in minor ways, not in a surveillance state / surveillance economy, where all of the morally blemished political elites have a lot to lose -- financially.

Political elites have a lot to lose financially, even though few of them ever took the classic road to riches, including taking on financial risk to create quality jobs for US citizens, as opposed to using cheap foreign wage slaves whose low wages are pumped up by welfare for US-born kids, making it easy for them to work cheaply for elites.

Most of our rich political elites have never started businesses, employing US citizens to make tangible items, like cake mixes or ketchup, but somehow in this finacialized surveillance economy, all of our political leaders are flat-out rich with a lot to lose from speaking out against the rigged system, much less actually doing something about it.

Even without extra, ratings-boosting, sexual or other Swamp-exploitable foibles, that means a lot of leverage for surveillance goons to hold over political decision-makers' heads if they don't do their bidding, especially in a survelliance state / survelliance economy, wherein every nook and cranny of their lives is scrutinized to the hilt.

And it's perfectly okay for our power couples to put riches over morality because, like the aristocrats producing golden heirs to assume the throne in other eras when aristocratic couples and static wealth reigned supreme, our business and political leaders have all reproduced, putting them as above firing and above morality as other elites in the family-friendly, fake-feminist era. Everything elites do is for their babies, regardless of how venal it is.

Despite all of the surveillance that renders the Fourth Amendment null and void for cash-strapped serfs no less than elites and that stymies the First Amendment, suppressing the serfs from calling out the economic situation for what it is no less than elites, corruption is at all time highs.

Think that has anything to do with the brass-knuckle silencing tactics, made possible by the surveillance state?

Our so-called leaders don't even bother to challenge the most basic threats to constitutional liberty, much less the shaky foundation of our part-time / temp / churn-job economy, with its welfare-subsidized legal & illegal immigrant workforce and our single-mom & married-mom workforce, able to work part-time and in temp jobs for beans, thereby supplementing spousal income, rent-covering child support or the welfare they collect by staying under the earned-income limits for multiple welfare programs during working months in single-breadwinner households with US-born kids.

It is not even semi-quality jobs that support most households at the growing bottom. It is the already intact socialist system propping up a willing, cheap labor force for big corporations, that supports a large percentage of American households. Who needs Bernie's socialism when we already have a platter of 100%-free, non-contributory, pay-per-birth socialism, offered up by the Republican and Democratic Uniparty to drive down wages for non-welfare-eligible citizens 40 years?

Bernie is no stand-out Rebel. American corporations love socialism.

Even though the rebel Bernie has never held more than one senate seat, single-breadwinner households with US-born kids are already supplied with hundreds in free EBT food, reduced-cost housing, hundreds in monthly cash assistance, free electrcity and up to $6,431 in refundable child tax credit cash when they are willing to work part time or in temp positions for low wages, staying below the earned-income limits for welfare during working months. That's how they undercut millions of underemployed citizens who lack unearned income streams from .gov, and no corporate-owned political rebel in the surveillance state is willing to stand up to it.

No politician on the right or the left is free enough from the surveillance economy / surveillance state's goon squad to say what that means for vanquished middle-class prosperity in the USA.

It's not just student loans, either, no matter how much the establishment wants that to be the main problem so that they can blow another housing bubble with the mostly unmarried Millennials in their part-time / churn jobs. Truth is: Few of those college grads except the dual-high-earner parents in their family-friendly / absenteeism-friendly jobs -- keeping two of the few jobs with benefits and good wages under one roof and halving the size of the house-buying and rent-covering middle class while low-wage daycare workers or grandparents raise their kids -- can afford to buy a house. The above-firing group in the top 20%, however, can afford more palatial houses than any non-rich group of non job creators in US history.

In the long-gone America with the broad middle class and the mostly married, stay-at-home moms, most couples paid off modest houses by retirement, and most single earners with one, earned-only income stream could afford the dignity of a modest apartment, whereas most of today's working women will face insurmountable rent costs in retirement, just like they do during working years.

That is what the fake feminists have accomplished for the bottom 80%, but the family-friendly princesses in their palaces have not made any compromises. They humanize that by adding layers of absenteeism privileges for low-wage mommies in discriminatory voted-best-for-moms jobs, plus welfare and cash handouts through the progressive tax code to soften the brutality of this churn-job economy. But those womb-privileged single moms find themselves in the same dismal economic boat with the single, childless women in the bottom 80% after their kids turn 18, and the wage-supplementing, pay-per-birth freebies from goverment dry up.

Lacking a student loan debt does not overcome the insurmountable cost of housing for single breadwinners, whether they are male or female, non-custodial parents, middle-aged or older with no kids, older with no kids under 18 or younger in the years before family formation beefs up their income with cash-check tax code privileges, monthly welfare access and crony-parent workplace privileges. With none of the unearned income streams accruing to womb-productive single earners, the single earners relying relying on earned-only income from one person cannot even afford rent for a one-room apartment in a safe or unsafe area, much less a house. And there are more single earners than ever; we are the majority.

https://oftwominds.cloudhostedresources.com/?ref=https%3A%2F%2Fduckduckgo.com%2F&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.oftwominds.com%2Fblog.html

The childbearing-aged Millennials will be the focus of every economist and of all political hacks, seeking votes from the mostly older and middle-aged citizens who bother to show up on voting day, not the Xers with one, earned-only income stream and no kids under 18 and, thus, no handouts from Uncle Sam and the Treasury Department pumping up their wages in this dismal scam landscape of a churn-job gig economy.

Thanks to feminism, there are more & more of us in that category in this era of single, "independent" career women, and it is going to get worse and worse as this group hits retirement age. It will be worse for everyone except the dual-high-earner parents -- the tax-advantaged, "needs-the-job," above-firing "talent" who were needed at work because of their talent, but who were somehow on a an expensive, lengthy, family-friendly vacation every couple of months during their above-firing, childbearing-aged working years, not to mention all of the mornings and afternoons of excused absenteeism (for kids, for kids!) and their multiple pregnancy leaves.

These working-parents-in-charge, with their libertine, back-watching, family-friendly work schedules, sure do fire a lot of the non-family-friendly non culture fits whose every day, all-day hard work helps to keep their bonus numbers up. They fire away for the most trivial and pettiest of infractions in the churn machine of America's unprofessional-to-the-max corporate workplaces. Use and lose. Churn and burn. It equals family-friendly job security.

But regardless of how they did it, they will still retire into their luxury apartments or cathedral-ceiling homes, with two streams of SS income and two 401k streams.

Whereas, however hard they work and however much they help to pump up the crony-parent managers' bonuses, a huge number of divorced or never-married, single-breadwinner Xers who, since they did not have kids, did not need tax credit handouts to boost up their low wages, nor above-firing absenteeism privileges, benefits, decent-paying jobs or even a modicum of job security will retire into the most spartan and hopeless of "retirement" situations.

They will have nothing but one stream of very inadequate, non-rent-covering SS, into which they contributed either 7.5% or 15.3% of every dime they earned, unlike these glorified single moms and immigrants, raking in 100%-free monthly welfare by the truckloads, in addition to bigly, refundable cash-assistance welfare checks from the progressive tax code that top out at $6,431 all through their childbearing years, even though they do not pay income taxes in many cases and even though they work part time .

The average employed person in the USA is a part-time worker. That is the reality of automation, fake womb-productivity-based feminism and 4 decades of welfare-supported mass immigration.

Retirement will be just as bad, if not worse, for the even bigger group of hear-them-roar, fake-feminist, ever-more-never-married, part-time-job-holding, pink-hatted "career" women -- with all of their hypocritical, un-feminist, womb-focused demands of .gov and their much-maligned soy-boy sperm providers -- in the equally underemployed Millennial generation.

But in an anti-individual, anti-liberty and corrupt-to-the-core survelliance state economy, with a Constitution based on individual liberty in suspension, all that counts is a functioning feudal structure for aristocratic baby makers in the top 1 -- 20%, pumping out heirs to the thrones in a financialized economy that favors static wealth, and the illusion of benevolence that they create by throwing lots of mom-pampering cake crumbs to their womb-productive, welfare-qualified, legal & illegally-in-this-country cheap, groveling servants. A ton of Hollywood-lite, weepy-eyed media concern for the mommies and babies around the globe adds gloss to this fake-morality veneer.

Trump said something about the immigration part of this corrupt equation, saying it loudly enough to divert attention from the fact that he is not really doing anything about the onslaught of 40 years of mass-scale, welfare-aided legal & illegal immigration that keeps wages at rock bottom for cashing-in employers.

Turns out, Bernie, however saintly by comparison with other politicians in the surveillance state / surveillance economy, was not without goon-exploitable human foibles, like a $600,000 rustic lake house needing "help" from interior designers and a spousal-income controversy. Bernie fans should not forget that the Deep State cutthroats are not at all above exploiting it with no mercy, no matter how many cutesy baby pics they wave around to prove their humanity. They are shameless enough to use it against him, no matter how knee-deep in Swamp dollars they are.

That goes for the lovely, family-friendly leaders in both of our corrupt, Swamp-controlled parties. And it would not matter if a truly kick- *** superhero arose to take on the Swamp Goliath.

This Surveillance Swamp is too deep even for Mister Rodgers to wade through. If he ran for office on a platform of true reform, the Surveillance Swampers would be accusing him of bacchanalian bathroom activity, telling him they have video conformation of that, along with proof from credit-rating agencies of his cardigan sweater-buying shopaholic sprees right down to his last bank transaction.

We live in KGB country, where it is easy to pull politicians off of any real reformist path. No wonder, swampers are so concerned with Russia, thirty years after the Cold War ended. Rich US politicians, in a rigged surveillance economy, live in Stalinist Russia -- Stalinist Russia with an increased surveillance capacity, whereas the serfs live under the same economic & government surveillance without even the reward of a quality non-churn job, an independent roof over their heads or a safe neighborhood.

What a great trade off: our liberty and our widespread middle class in return for end-to-end financial security for the top 1 -- 20% and womb-productivity-based welfare security for some part-time-working, womb-productive citizens and noncitizens in the bottom 80% during their baby-making years. Oh, we serfs also get to hear the virtue-signaling chorus of the racism and sexism fighters, and a few of them make bank off of discrimination lawsuits.

[Feb 26, 2019] Instead of class struggle, we have identity politics. Instead of the ownership of the means of production, we have tranny bathrooms.

Notable quotes:
"... Socialism is government by the ruling honchos who have figured out how to appear as altruistic saviors while living the life of Riley and holding the carrot of prosperity in front of the noses of the disenfranchised peasants. ..."
"... If I understand you correctly, we are in the best of all worlds? ..."
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Digital Samizdat , says: February 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike Today's system is a hybrid of a late finance-stage global capitalism and cultural–not economic–Marxism. Instead of class struggle, we have identity politics. Instead of the ownership of the means of production, we have tranny bathrooms.

So the right-wingers (like Peter Hitchens) who say that 'Marxism won' are half right culturally, not economically. What causes all the confusion (among the libertarian types especially) is that capitalism in reality does not in any way resemble how it ought to work according to libertarian theories and never did. But when you point out to them that capitalism never worked in practice to begin with, they answer: 'But true capitalism has never even been tried!' And of course, they're right. 'True' capitalism (i.e., what libertarian theory calls capitalism) really never has been tried, and for exactly the same reason that perpetual motion machines have never been tried either: they're impossible.

None of which means I'm a 'pure' socialist. I'm open to mixed-economies and new experiments. I usually characterize myself more as a national socialist, mostly to differentiate myself from the 'world revolution' Trotskyite socialists who now predominate on the far-left.

That means I also take some inspiration from some fascists and national-syndicalists, although I don't regard any of them as holy writ, either.

In my opinion, the number one success factor for a civilization is not what theory it professes, but rather who controls it. Theories will always have to be modified to suit the circumstances; but the character of a people is much harder to change.

China's prospering because it's controlled by Chinese engineers; our civilization is suffocating because it's controlled by Jew-bankers and Masonic lawyers. Get rid of them first, and we can debate monetary theory till we're blue in the face.

Johnny Walker Read , says: February 26, 2019 at 1:25 pm GMT
@Captain Willard You must be under the delusion we live in a Constitutional Republic.

Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning 'few', and ἄρχω (arkho), meaning 'to rule or to command')[1][2][3] is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious, political, or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term.

"Their names are prick'd"

Authenticjazzman , says: February 26, 2019 at 7:30 pm GMT
@redmudhooch " Socialism is government by the working class"

Socialism is government by the ruling honchos who have figured out how to appear as altruistic saviors while living the life of Riley and holding the carrot of prosperity in front of the noses of the disenfranchised peasants.

Your transparent mindset of : Socialism never worked because the wrong people were in charge of every attempt to actualize it, and if the right folks go at it in the "right" manner it will finally work., has been exposed as the lie it is.

This nonsense of : the Russians, Chinese, all of East Europe, Cuba, Venezuela, etc, etc. they really did not understand Marx, and they really did not want to establish a true " Farmers and Workers paradise", as according to Marx, so if we, the new generation of "Woke" "Jungsozialisten", if we go at it, there will be no failure this time, this nonsense has run it time and more and more otherwise unknowing peoples are finally waking up it's the lies and madness

Myself, I spent time in the seventies behind the "Iron Curtain" before the wall came down and I will never forget the morgue-like atmosphere of the grey cities and the dead eyes of the hopeless natives, and ignoranti like you are striving to repeat these humans tragedies over and over, regardless of how many time they fail and how much travail and suffering they generate.

Authenticjazzman "Mensa" qualified since 1973, airborne trained US Army vet, and pro jazz artist.

Authenticjazzman , says: February 26, 2019 at 7:51 pm GMT
@Stephen Paul Foster " The profit motive" after being replaced with the Socialist rubber-stamp which holds power of life or death over it's hapless subjects, and make no bones about wielding it's ruthless fatal power, would seem like altruism and benevolency in retrospect.

AJM

ploni almoni , says: February 26, 2019 at 9:40 pm GMT
@Authenticjazzman

If I understand you correctly, we are in the best of all worlds?

Sparkon , says: February 26, 2019 at 11:13 pm GMT
@ploni almoni T he runaway over-use of the narcissism cliché has been fueled mostly by copy-cats with weak vocabularies who use it deliriously as a general purpose put-down of men who aren't slobs.
AceDeuce , says: February 27, 2019 at 12:41 am GMT
"The Bernie Sanders Story: From Brooklyn to Vermont-One Man's Odyssey in Search of Diversity".

[Feb 26, 2019] It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of human rights promotion, as have some other communists

Notable quotes:
"... It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists. ..."
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Digital Samizdat , says: February 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike Today's system is a hybrid of a late finance-stage global capitalism and cultural–not economic–Marxism. Instead of class struggle, we have identity politics. Instead of the ownership of the means of production, we have tranny bathrooms.

So the right-wingers (like Peter Hitchens) who say that 'Marxism won' are half right culturally, not economically. What causes all the confusion (among the libertarian types especially) is that capitalism in reality does not in any way resemble how it ought to work according to libertarian theories and never did. But when you point out to them that capitalism never worked in practice to begin with, they answer: 'But true capitalism has never even been tried!' And of course, they're right. 'True' capitalism (i.e., what libertarian theory calls capitalism) really never has been tried, and for exactly the same reason that perpetual motion machines have never been tried either: they're impossible.

None of which means I'm a 'pure' socialist. I'm open to mixed-economies and new experiments. I usually characterize myself more as a national socialist, mostly to differentiate myself from the 'world revolution' Trotskyite socialists who now predominate on the far-left.

That means I also take some inspiration from some fascists and national-syndicalists, although I don't regard any of them as holy writ, either.

In my opinion, the number one success factor for a civilization is not what theory it professes, but rather who controls it. Theories will always have to be modified to suit the circumstances; but the character of a people is much harder to change.

China's prospering because it's controlled by Chinese engineers; our civilization is suffocating because it's controlled by Jew-bankers and Masonic lawyers. Get rid of them first, and we can debate monetary theory till we're blue in the face.

Commentator Mike , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT

@Digital Samizdat

I think that applying the old concepts of Marxism is no longer possible in the west since there is hardly a genuine proletariat as a proper class any more with the deindustrialisation and the transfer of major industries to China and other Asian and Latin American countries.

On the other hand the lumpenproletariat has grown and will grow further with greater automation in industry.

Many more people are now unemployed, underemployed, in service industries, part-time and temporary jobs, or ageing old age pensioners and retirees.

With the greater atomisation of the individual, break up of families, greater mobility, the concept of classes rooted long-term in their communities seems less applicable. You could say most of the global proletariat is now in China.

It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists.

Paul Edward Gottfried's "The Strange Death of Marxism" seems to offer some explanations but is not of much use in developing a new activism capable of taking on the system or providing a more viable alternative.

RobinG , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike

classical concepts of socialism and capitalism, and left and right politics

The left/right concept is no longer valid. For one thing, of what use is a $15. minimum wage (apparently a standard "left" plank) if there aren't any jobs? Take a look at Andrew Yang. At least he is posing the right questions.

Andrew Yang's Pitch to America – We Must Evolve to a New Form of Capitalism

[Feb 26, 2019] "'Free market?!'" he exclaimed. "No such thing. Because it's all crooked.

Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: February 26, 2019 at 6:34 pm GMT

@Digital Samizdat Excellent intelligence. As opposed to the "high IQ" idiocy promulgated on here.

You may like the way an acquaintance, a PhD from Chicago School of Business, who had just finished working on a project for Big Pharma, observed when I brought up the concept of "free market."

"'Free market?!'" he exclaimed. "No such thing. Because it's all crooked."

[Feb 26, 2019] Neoliberalism by Julie Wilson

Highly recommended!
The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this close enough concept) that deified the market. It stress the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberalism.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

skeptic on October 8, 2017

A solid book on neoliberal ideology and neoliberal rationality. Highly recommended

The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this is close enough concept) that deified the market. It stresses the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberal ideology much like was the case with Bolsheviks in the USSR:

Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.

According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical bloc, "a moving equilibrium" of class interests and values. Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation. In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so.
Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new dominant field. Specifically, we are going to trace the shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony. This shift is represented in the two images below.

Previous versions of liberal hegemony imagined society to be divided into distinct public and private spheres. The public sphere was the purview of the state, and its role was to ensure the formal rights and freedoms of citizens through the rule of law. The private sphere included the economy and the domestic sphere of home and family.

For the most part, liberal hegemony was animated by a commitment to limited government, as the goal was to allow for as much freedom in trade, associations, and civil society as possible, while preserving social order and individual rights. Politics took shape largely around the line between public and private; more precisely, it was a struggle over where and how to draw the line. In other words, within the field of liberal hegemony, politics was a question of how to define the uses and limits of the state and its public function in a capitalist society. Of course, political parties often disagreed passionately about where and how to draw that line. As we'll see below, many advocated for laissez-faire capitalism, while others argued for a greater public role in ensuring the health, happiness, and rights of citizens. What's crucial though is that everyone agreed that there was a line to be drawn, and that there was a public function for the state.

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets.

This view correlates well with the analysis of Professor Wendy Brown book "Undoing the Demos" and her paper "Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy" (pdf is freely available)

In this sense neoliberalism are just "Trotskyism for the rich" with the same utopian dream of global neoliberal revolution, but much more sinister motives. And is as ruthless in achieving its goals, if necessary bring neoliberal "regime change" on the tips of bayonets, or via 'cultural revolutions".

If we follow the line of thinking put forward by Professor Philip Mirowski's in his book "Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown," we can say that neoliberals essentially "reverse-engineered" Bolsheviks methods of acquiring and maintaining political power, replacing "dictatorship of proletariat" with the "dictatorship of financial oligarchy".

I would say more: The "professional revolutionary" cadre that were the core of Bolshevik's Party were replaced with well paid, talented intellectual prostitutes at specially created neoliberal think tanks. And later "infiltrated" in economic departments (kind of stealth coup d'état in academia financed by usual financial players).

Which eventually created a critical mass of ideas which were able to depose New Deal Capitalism ideology, putting forward the set of remedies that restore the power the financial oligarchy enjoyed in 1920th. Technological changes such as invention of computers and telecommunication revolution also helped greatly.

At the same time unlike Bolsheviks, neoliberals are carefully hiding their agenda. Funny, neoliberalism is the only known to me major ideology which the US MSM are prohibited to mention by name ;-)

The role of state under neoliberalism is very close to the role of state under Bolsheviks' "dictatorship of proletariats". It no way this still a liberal democracy -- this is what Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". Less brutal then Bolsheviks' regime, but still far from real democracy. Under neoliberalism the state is a powerful agent needed to enforce markets on unsuspecting population in all spheres of life, whether they want it or not (supported by 12" guns of neoliberal MSM battleships):

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets. Consequently, contemporary politics take shape around questions of how best to promote competition. For the most part, politics on both the left and right have been subsumed by neoliberal hegemony. For example, while neoliberalism made its debut in Western politics with the right-wing administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leaders associated with the left have worked to further neoliberal hegemony in stunning ways. As we will explore in more depth below and in die coming chapters, both U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have governed to create a privatized, market society. In other words, there is both a left and a right hegemonic horizon of neoliberalism. Thus, moving beyond neoliberalism will ultimately require a whole new field of politics.

One of the most interesting part of the book is the brief analysis of the recent elections (with very precise characterization of Hillary Clinton defeat as the defeat of the "neoliberal status quo"). The author claims that Trump supporters were mainly representatives of the strata of the US society which were sick-and-tied of neoliberalism (note the percentage of Spanish speaking electorate who voted for Trump), but they were taken for a ride, as instead of rejection of globalism and free movement of labor, Trump actually represented more right wing, more bastardized version of "hard neoliberalism".

In the period which followed the elections Trump_vs_deep_state emerged as a kind of "neoliberalism in one country" -- much like Stalin's "socialism in one country". It and did not care one bit about those who voted for him during election . As in classic "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go."

So in a way Trump represents the mirror image of Obama who in the same way betrayed his votes (twice) acting from "soft neoliberalism" position, while Trump is acting from "hard neoliberalism" position.

On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.

Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.
... ... ...

In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.

We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.

While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'

[Feb 26, 2019] THE CRISIS OF NEOLIBERALISM by Julie A. Wilson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. ..."
"... Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy. ..."
"... In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism. ..."
"... We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism. ..."
"... While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."' ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Quote from the book is courtesy of Amazon preview of the book Neoliberalism (Key Ideas in Media & Cultural Studies)

In Chapter 1, we traced the rise of our neoliberal conjuncture back to the crisis of liberalism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, culminating in the Great Depression. During this period, huge transformations in capitalism proved impossible to manage with classical laissez-faire approaches. Out of this crisis, two movements emerged, both of which would eventually shape the course of the twentieth century and beyond. The first, and the one that became dominant in the aftermath of the crisis, was the conjuncture of embedded liberalism. The crisis indicated that capitalism wrecked too much damage on the lives of ordinary citizens. People (white workers and families, especially) warranted social protection from the volatilities and brutalities of capitalism. The state's public function was expanded to include the provision of a more substantive social safety net, a web of protections for people and a web of constraints on markets. The second response was the invention of neoliberalism. Deeply skeptical of the common-good principles that undergirded the emerging social welfare state, neoliberals began organizing on the ground to develop a "new" liberal govemmentality, one rooted less in laissez-faire principles and more in the generalization of competition and enterprise. They worked to envision a new society premised on a new social ontology, that is, on new truths about the state, the market, and human beings. Crucially, neoliberals also began building infrastructures and institutions for disseminating their new' knowledges and theories (i.e., the Neoliberal Thought Collective), as well as organizing politically to build mass support for new policies (i.e., working to unite anti-communists, Christian conservatives, and free marketers in common cause against the welfare state). When cracks in embedded liberalism began to surface -- which is bound to happen with any moving political equilibrium -- neoliberals were there with new stories and solutions, ready to make the world anew.

We are currently living through the crisis of neoliberalism. As I write this book, Donald Trump has recently secured the U.S. presidency, prevailing in the national election over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Throughout the election, I couldn't help but think back to the crisis of liberalism and the two responses that emerged. Similarly, after the Great Recession of 2008, we've saw two responses emerge to challenge our unworkable status quo, which dispossesses so many people of vital resources for individual and collective life. On the one hand, we witnessed the rise of Occupy Wall Street. While many continue to critique the movement for its lack of leadership and a coherent political vision, Occupy was connected to burgeoning movements across the globe, and our current political horizons have been undoubtedly shaped by the movement's success at repositioning class and economic inequality within our political horizon. On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.

Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.

Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy.

Universal health care. Free higher education. Fair trade. The repeal of Citizens United. Trump offered a different response to the crisis. Like Sanders, he railed against global trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, Trump's victory was fueled by right neoliberalism's culture of cruelty. While Sanders tapped into and mobilized desires for a more egalitarian and democratic future, Trump's promise was nostalgic, making America "great again" -- putting the nation back on "top of the world," and implying a time when women were "in their place" as male property, and minorities and immigrants were controlled by the state.

Thus, what distinguished Trump's campaign from more traditional Republican campaigns was that it actively and explicitly pitted one group's equality (white men) against everyone else's (immigrants, women, Muslims, minorities, etc.). As Catherine Rottenberg suggests, Trump offered voters a choice between a multiracial society (where folks are increasingly disadvantaged and dispossessed) and white supremacy (where white people would be back on top). However, "[w]hat he neglected to state," Rottenberg writes,

is that neoliberalism flourishes in societies where the playing field is already stacked against various segments of society, and that it needs only a relatively small select group of capital-enhancing subjects, while everyone else is ultimately dispensable. 1

In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.

We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.

While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'

Mark Fisher, the author of Capitalist Realism, put it this way:

The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.4

I think that, for the first time in the history of U.S. capitalism, the vast majority of people might sense the lie of liberal, capitalist democracy. They feel anxious, unfree, disaffected. Fantasies of the good life have been shattered beyond repair for most people. Trump and this hopefully brief triumph of right neoliberalism will soon lay this bare for everyone to see. Now, with Trump, it is absolutely clear: the rich rule the world; we are all disposable; this is no democracy. The question becomes: How will we show up for history? Will there be new stories, ideas, visions, and fantasies to attach to? How can we productively and meaningful intervene in the crisis of neoliberalism? How can we "tear a hole in the grey curtain" and open up better worlds? How can we put what we've learned to use and begin to imagine and build a world beyond living in competition? I hope our critical journey through the neoliberal conjuncture has enabled you to begin to answer these questions.

More specifically, in recent decades, especially since the end of the Cold War, our common-good sensibilities have been channeled into neoliberal platforms for social change and privatized action, funneling our political energies into brand culture and marketized struggles for equality (e.g., charter schools, NGOs and non-profits, neoliberal antiracism and feminism). As a result, despite our collective anger and disaffected consent, we find ourselves stuck in capitalist realism with no real alternative. Like the neoliberal care of the self, we are trapped in a privatized mode of politics that relies on cruel optimism; we are attached, it seems, to politics that inspire and motivate us to action, while keeping us living in competition.

To disrupt the game, we need to construct common political horizons against neoliberal hegemony. We need to use our common stories and common reason to build common movements against precarity -- for within neoliberalism, precarity is what ultimately has the potential to thread all of our lives together. Put differently, the ultimate fault line in the neoliberal conjiuicture is the way it subjects us all to precarity and the biopolitics of disposability, thereby creating conditions of possibility for new coalitions across race, gender, citizenship, sexuality, and class. Recognizing this potential for coalition in the face of precarization is the most pressing task facing those who are yearning for a new world. The question is: How do we get there? How do we realize these coalitional potentialities and materialize common horizons?

HOW WE GET THERE

Ultimately, mapping the neoliberal conjuncture through everyday life in enterprise culture has not only provided some direction in terms of what we need; it has also cultivated concrete and practical intellectual resources for political interv ention and social interconnection -- a critical toolbox for living in common. More specifically, this book has sought to provide resources for thinking and acting against the four Ds: resources for engaging in counter-conduct, modes of living that refuse, on one hand, to conduct one's life according to the norm of enterprise, and on the other, to relate to others through the norm of competition. Indeed, we need new ways of relating, interacting, and living as friends, lovers, workers, vulnerable bodies, and democratic people if we are to write new stories, invent new govemmentalities, and build coalitions for new worlds.

Against Disimagination: Educated Hope and Affirmative Speculation

We need to stop turning inward, retreating into ourselves, and taking personal responsibility for our lives (a task which is ultimately impossible). Enough with the disimagination machine! Let's start looking outward, not inward -- to the broader structures that undergird our lives. Of course, we need to take care of ourselves; we must survive. But I firmly believe that we can do this in ways both big and small, that transform neoliberal culture and its status-quo stories.

Here's the thing I tell my students all the time. You cannot escape neoliberalism. It is the air we breathe, the water in which we swim. No job, practice of social activism, program of self-care, or relationship will be totally free from neoliberal impingements and logics. There is no pure "outside" to get to or work from -- that's just the nature of the neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power. But let's not forget that neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power is also a source of weakness. Potential for resistance is everywhere, scattered throughout our everyday lives in enterprise culture. Our critical toolbox can help us identify these potentialities and navigate and engage our conjuncture in ways that tear open up those new worlds we desire.

In other words, our critical perspective can help us move through the world with what Henry Giroux calls educated hope. Educated hope means holding in tension the material realities of power and the contingency of history. This orientation of educated hope knows very well what we're up against. However, in the face of seemingly totalizing power, it also knows that neoliberalism can never become total because the future is open. Educated hope is what allows us to see the fault lines, fissures, and potentialities of the present and emboldens us to think and work from that sliver of social space where we do have political agency and freedom to construct a new world. Educated hope is what undoes the power of capitalist realism. It enables affirmative speculation (such as discussed in Chapter 5), which does not try to hold the future to neoliberal horizons (that's cruel optimism!), but instead to affirm our commonalities and the potentialities for the new worlds they signal. Affirmative speculation demands a different sort of risk calculation and management. It senses how little we have to lose and how much we have to gain from knocking the hustle of our lives.

Against De-democratization: Organizing and Collective Coverning

We can think of educated hope and affirmative speculation as practices of what Wendy Brown calls "bare democracy" -- the basic idea that ordinary' people like you and me should govern our lives in common, that we should critique and try to change our world, especially the exploitative and oppressive structures of power that maintain social hierarchies and diminish lives. Neoliberal culture works to stomp out capacities for bare democracy by transforming democratic desires and feelings into meritocratic desires and feelings. In neoliberal culture, utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective governing to competing for equality.

We have to get back that democractic feeling! As Jeremy Gilbert taught us, disaffected consent is a post-democratic orientation. We don't like our world, but we don't think we can do anything about it. So, how do we get back that democratic feeling? How do we transform our disaffected consent into something new? As I suggested in the last chapter, we organize. Organizing is simply about people coming together around a common horizon and working collectively to materialize it. In this way, organizing is based on the idea of radical democracy, not liberal democracy. While the latter is based on formal and abstract rights guaranteed by the state, radical democracy insists that people should directly make the decisions that impact their lives, security, and well-being. Radical democracy is a practice of collective governing: it is about us hashing out, together in communities, what matters, and working in common to build a world based on these new sensibilities.

The work of organizing is messy, often unsatisfying, and sometimes even scary. Organizing based on affirmative speculation and coalition-building, furthermore, will have to be experimental and uncertain. As Lauren Berlant suggests, it means "embracing the discomfort of affective experience in a truly open social life that no

one has ever experienced." Organizing through and for the common "requires more adaptable infrastructures. Keep forcing the existing infrastructures to do what they don't know how to do. Make new ways to be local together, where local doesn't require a physical neighborhood." 5 What Berlant is saying is that the work of bare democracy requires unlearning, and detaching from, our current stories and infrastructures in order to see and make things work differently. Organizing for a new world is not easy -- and there are no guarantees -- but it is the only way out of capitalist realism.

Against Disposability: Radical Equality

Getting back democratic feeling will at once require and help us lo move beyond the biopolitics of disposability and entrenched systems of inequality. On one hand, organizing will never be enough if it is not animated by bare democracy, a sensibility that each of us is equally important when it comes to the project of determining our lives in common. Our bodies, our hurts, our dreams, and our desires matter regardless of our race, gender, sexuality, or citizenship, and regardless of how r much capital (economic, social, or cultural) we have. Simply put, in a radical democracy, no one is disposable. This bare-democratic sense of equality must be foundational to organizing and coalition-building. Otherwise, we will always and inevitably fall back into a world of inequality.

On the other hand, organizing and collective governing will deepen and enhance our sensibilities and capacities for radical equality. In this context, the kind of self-enclosed individualism that empowers and underwrites the biopolitics of disposability melts away, as we realize the interconnectedness of our lives and just how amazing it feels to

fail, we affirm our capacities for freedom, political intervention, social interconnection, and collective social doing.

Against Dispossession: Shared Security and Common Wealth

Thinking and acting against the biopolitics of disposability goes hand-in-hand with thinking and acting against dispossession. Ultimately, when we really understand and feel ourselves in relationships of interconnection with others, we want for them as we want for ourselves. Our lives and sensibilities of what is good and just are rooted in radical equality, not possessive or self-appreciating individualism. Because we desire social security and protection, we also know others desire and deserve the same.

However, to really think and act against dispossession means not only advocating for shared security and social protection, but also for a new society that is built on the egalitarian production and distribution of social wealth that we all produce. In this sense, we can take Marx's critique of capitalism -- that wealth is produced collectively but appropriated individually -- to heart. Capitalism was built on the idea that one class -- the owners of the means of production -- could exploit and profit from the collective labors of everyone else (those who do not own and thus have to work), albeit in very different ways depending on race, gender, or citizenship. This meant that, for workers of all stripes, their lives existed not for themselves, but for others (the appropriating class), and that regardless of what we own as consumers, we are not really free or equal in that bare-democratic sense of the word.

If we want to be really free, we need to construct new material and affective social infrastructures for our common wealth. In these new infrastructures, wealth must not be reduced to economic value; it must be rooted in social value. Here, the production of wealth does not exist as a separate sphere from the reproduction of our lives. In other words, new infrastructures, based on the idea of common wealth, will not be set up to exploit our labor, dispossess our communities, or to divide our lives. Rather, they will work to provide collective social resources and care so that we may all be free to pursue happiness, create beautiful and/or useful things, and to realize our potential within a social world of living in common. Crucially, to create the conditions for these new, democratic forms of freedom rooted in radical equality, we need to find ways to refuse and exit the financial networks of Empire and the dispossessions of creditocracy, building new systems that invite everyone to participate in the ongoing production of new worlds and the sharing of the wealth that we produce in common.

It's not up to me to tell you exactly where to look, but I assure you that potentialities for these new worlds are everywhere around you.

[Feb 22, 2019] An interesting obituary to neoliberalism from unz.com

I changed the term Capitalism to Neoliberalism, as Capitalism has multiple forms incliudong New DealCapitalism and Neoliberlaism. It is Neoliberlaism that won in 1980 with "Reagan revolution."
Feb 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

redmudhooch , says: February 22, 2019 at 3:15 am GMT

Good to see an article that doesn't blame only the "Jews" seems some people here have a terrible time believing that there can be more than 1 single cause of wars or other troubles.

I thought all our military heros were required to read and understand Sun Tzu's Art of War? Seems they skipped a few chapters and cheated on the exam.

Neoliberalism always fails. Neoliberalism is growing and the white population is dying .hmmmm

The 'flaw' (intentional) in Neoliberalism is that it was never intended to improve the conditions of the common man. Capital, was only ever intended to fill the coffers of princes, kings, dukes, barons and lesser nobles so that they would have a medium of exchange for services that they, themselves, were incapable of producing/providing.

And, as we now see the full long term 'effects' of Neoliberalism, wealth disparity, homelessness, drug addiction, increased suicide rates, lowered longevity, stagnant wages, staggeringly high personal, corporate, and sovereign debt levels, increases in personal bankruptcy (particularly health care related), predatory lending, a monopolistic private sector, corporate dominance of government (think ALEC and uncontrolled corporate lobbying), unrestricted immigration (think removal of sanctions on employers for illegals), destruction of unions (& pensions), encouragement of offshoring and destructive mergers and acquisitions via changes to the tax code, massive overspending on the military along with an aggressive empire-building posture, trickle down economics, etc.

The current situation in the U.S. should not be a surprise it started about 38 years ago. You voted for it and now you will have to live with it. China is indeed kicking our ass, our "leaders" are far too corrupt to change course, we've hit the iceberg already.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Welcome to the Saint Reagan Revolution. Have a nice day .

MEFOBILLS , says: February 21, 2019 at 9:28 pm GMT
@TKK immigrate a replacement population if not hostile? Why would you export your industry if not hostile?

You don't dig out and convert your economy to first world standards overnight.

So, the trend lines are clear. The West and U.S. is a finance oligarchy in decline, while Russia is on a ascendant path. These lines will cross over at some point in near future. One could even squint and say that Russia is no longer an Oligarchy of special interests, and is moving into Byzantium mode e.g. symphony of Church and State. Many Russian thinkers are projecting another 40 years or so to consolidate the gains.

[Feb 18, 2019] It is interesting that in the center of the Dostoevski novel Posessed (published in the 1870's) liberalism is being taken to its distorted extreme by a small group of would-be anarchists whose proposals have a modern twist to them as codified by one of their would-be leaders

Feb 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

juliania , Feb 16, 2019 2:34:21 PM | link

Thanks for opening a discussion on this article, b. I also recommend the Orlov translation, since the writing is complex. I am currently reading Dostoievski's "The Devils" (translated as "The Possessed" in most English editions) and after going through the old copy I have, will acquire a more recent translation to go deeper in. I think it is important historically as assisting me in acquiring somewhat the perspective being brought in the Surkov article.

It is interesting that in the center of the novel (published in the 1870's) liberalism is being taken to its distorted extreme by a small group of would-be anarchists whose proposals have a modern twist to them as codified by one of their would-be leaders:

"...In the first place, there is a lowering of the level of education, science, and art...the thirst for knowledge is an aristocratic thirst. No sooner do we have a family and experience love than we begin to desire to own things. We shall kill that desire; we shall spread drunkenness, gossip, information on others...everything must be reduced to the common denominator of complete equality...

[Feb 16, 2019] MSM Begs For Trust After Buzzfeed Debacle by Caitlin Johnstone

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them. ..."
"... More accountability in media than in politics, Chuck? Really? Accountability to whom? Your advertisers? Your plutocratic owners? Certainly not to the people whose minds you are paid exorbitant sums to influence; there are no public elections for the leadership of the mass media. ..."
"... CNN, for the record, has been guilty of an arguably even more embarrassing Russiagate flub than Buzzfeed 's when they wrongly reported that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks' DNC email archives prior to their 2016 publication, an error that was hilariously due to to the simple misreading of an email date by multiple people ..."
"... The mass media, including pro-Trump mass media like Fox News, absolutely deserves to be distrusted. It has earned that distrust. It had earned that distrust already with its constant promotion of imperialist wars and an oligarch-friendly status quo, and it has earned it even more with its frenzied promotion of a narrative engineered to manufacture consent for a preexisting agenda to shove Russia off the world stage. ..."
"... The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn't mean it's not true. The only reason people don't rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media's endless cultural engineering project . ..."
"... They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better. ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Following what the Washington Post has described as "the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny of the press," mass media representatives are now flailing desperately for an argument as to why people should continue to place their trust in mainstream news outlets.

On Thursday Buzzfeed News delivered the latest "bombshell" Russiagate report to fizzle within 24 hours of its publication, a pattern that is now so consistent that I've personally made a practice of declining to comment on such stories until a day or two after their release. "BOOM!" tweets were issued by #Resistance pundits on Twitter, "If true this means X, Y and Z" bloviations were made on mass media punditry panels, and for about 20 hours Russiagaters everywhere were riding the high of their lives, giddy with the news that President Trump had committed an impeachable felony by ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a proposed Trump office tower in Moscow, a proposal which died within weeks and the Kremlin never touched .

There was reason enough already for any reasonable person to refrain from frenzied celebration, including the fact that the story's two authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, were giving the press two very different accounts of the information they'd based it on, with Cormier telling CNN that he had not personally seen the evidence underlying his report and Leopold telling MSNBC that he had. Both Leopold and Cormier, for the record, have already previously suffered a Russiagate faceplant with the clickbait viral story that Russia had financed the 2016 election, burying the fact that it was a Russian election .

Then the entire story came crashing down when Mueller's office took the extremely rare step of issuing an unequivocal statement that the Buzzfeed story was wrong , writing simply, "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the special counsel's office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate."

According to journalist and economic analyst Doug Henwood, the print New York Times covered the Buzzfeed report on its front page when the story broke, but the report on Mueller's correction the next day was shoved back to page 11 . This appalling journalistic malpractice makes it very funny that NYT's Wajahat Ali had the gall to tweet , "Unlike the Trump administration, journalists are fact checking and willing to correct the record if the Buzzfeed story is found inaccurate. Not really the actions of a deep state and enemy of the people, right?"

This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them.

"Those trying to tar all media today aren't interested in improving journalism but protecting themselves," tweeted NBC's Chuck Todd.

"There's a lot more accountability in media these days than in our politics. We know we live in a glass house, we hope the folks we cover are as self aware."

More accountability in media than in politics, Chuck? Really? Accountability to whom? Your advertisers? Your plutocratic owners? Certainly not to the people whose minds you are paid exorbitant sums to influence; there are no public elections for the leadership of the mass media.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/rMY-zTxPCuY

"Mueller didn't do the media any favors tonight, and he did do the president one," griped the odious Chris Cuomo on CNN. "Because as you saw with Rudy Giuliani and as I'm sure you'll see with the president himself, this allows them to say 'You can't believe it! You can't believe what you read, you can't believe what you hear! You can only believe us. Even the Special Counsel says that the media doesn't get it right.'"

"The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they're willing to lie to do it, and I don't think that's true" said Jeffrey Toobin on a CNN panel , adding "I just think this is a bad day for us."

"It does reinforce bad stereotypes about the news media," said Brian Stelter on the same CNN panel.

"I am desperate as a media reporter to always say to the audience, judge folks individually and judge brands individually. Don't fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we're all crooked. We're not. But Buzzfeed now, now the onus is on Buzzfeed. "

CNN, for the record, has been guilty of an arguably even more embarrassing Russiagate flub than Buzzfeed 's when they wrongly reported that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks' DNC email archives prior to their 2016 publication, an error that was hilariously due to to the simple misreading of an email date by multiple people.

The mass media, including pro-Trump mass media like Fox News, absolutely deserves to be distrusted. It has earned that distrust. It had earned that distrust already with its constant promotion of imperialist wars and an oligarch-friendly status quo, and it has earned it even more with its frenzied promotion of a narrative engineered to manufacture consent for a preexisting agenda to shove Russia off the world stage.

The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn't mean it's not true. The only reason people don't rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media's endless cultural engineering project .

They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better.

* * *

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet new merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers .

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[Feb 13, 2019] It is hard not to wonder just how neoliberal ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

From: Books That Challenge the Consensus on Capitalism
Notable quotes:
"... Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?" ..."
"... He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions." ..."
"... Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded, if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues. ..."
"... Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions. ..."
"... Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism. ..."
Dec 24, 2018 | news.yahoo.com

...A Western consensus quickly formed after the collapse of communist regimes in 1989. It was widely believed by newspaper editorialists as well as politicians and businessmen that there was no alternative to free markets, which alone could create prosperity. The government's traditional attempts to regulate corporations and banks and redistribute wealth through taxes were deemed a problem. As the economist Milton Friedman put it, "The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests." Neither individuals nor companies needed to worry much about inequality or social justice. In Friedman's influential view, "There is one and only one social responsibility of business -- to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits."

Political fiascos in the West, following its largest financial crisis -- events accompanied by the emergence of China, a Communist-run nation-state, as a major economic power, as well as an unfolding environmental calamity -- have utterly devastated these post-1989 assumptions about free markets and the role of governments.

Confessions to this effect come routinely from disenchanted believers. Take, for instance, Olivier Blanchard, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who recently posed the once-blasphemous question: "What comes after capitalism?"

Blanchard was commenting on the recent demonstrations in France against President Emmanuel Macron. He rightly described a global impasse: "Given the political constraints on redistribution and the constraints from capital mobility, we may just not be able to alleviate inequality and insecurity enough to prevent populism and revolutions."

... ... ...

Thus, Martin Wolf, respected columnist for the Financial Times, recently concluded, if "reluctantly," that "capitalism is substantially broken." This year, many books with titles such as "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" and "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" blamed an unjust economic system and its beneficiaries for the rise of demagogues.

It is becoming clear that the perennial conflict between democracy, which promises equality, and capitalism, which generates inequality, has been aggravated by a systemic neglect of some fundamental issues.

... ... ...

Her targets range from pharmaceutical companies, which uphold a heartless version of market rationality, to internet companies with monopoly power such as Google and Facebook. Her most compelling example, however, is the workings of the financial sector, and its Friedman-style obsession with "shareholder value maximization," which has infected the corporate sector as a whole.

Reading Mazzucato's book, it is hard not to wonder just how "neoliberal" ideas and values, which uphold the rationality of the market and exclude notions of the common good, came to shape the conduct of individuals and institutions.

In the conventional account of neoliberalism, Friedman looms large, along with his disciple Ronald Reagan, and Britain's Margaret Thatcher. Much has been written about how the IMF's structural adjustment programs in Asia and Africa, and "shock-therapy" for post-Communist states, entrenched orthodoxies about deregulation and privatization.

In these narratives, neoliberalism appears indistinguishable from laissez-faire. In "Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism," Quinn Slobodian briskly overturns this commonplace view. Neoliberals, he argues, are people who believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself," and indeed neoliberalism is a form of regulation -- one that insulates the markets from vagaries of mass democracy and economic nationalism.

... ... ...

Pankaj Mishra is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. His books include "Age of Anger: A History of the Present," "From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia," and "Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond." For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

[Feb 13, 2019] MoA - Russiagate Is Finished

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... You can take this to the bank. Hardcore Russiagaters will never give up their belief in collusion and Russian influence in the 2016 campaign -- never. Congress and Mueller will be accused of engaging in a coverup. ..."
"... Thus, even if the Mueller report is underwhelming, I think that the Democrats and TDS-saturated Trump opponents will attempt to rehabilitate it by pretending that it contains important loose ends that need to be pursued. In other words, to perpetuate the Mueller-driven political Russophobia by all other available means. ..."
"... Russiagate has exposed the great degree of corruption within the Justice Department bureaucracy, particularly within FBI, and within the entire Democrat Party. ..."
"... Since this is obviously not going to be allowed to happen, and since these people get away with everything, expect this to never end, despite all evidence to the contrary. It doesn't matter if they've been exposed as CIA propagandists or Integrity Initiative stooges, the game goes on...and on.... the job security of these disgraced columnists is the greatest in the Western world. ..."
"... Stephen Cohen discusses how rational viewpoints are banned from the mainstream media, and how several features of US life today resemble some of the worst features of the Soviet system. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/12/stephen-cohen-on-war-with-russia-and-soviet-style-censorship-in-the-us/ ..."
"... The US needs an enemy, how else can they ask NATO members to cough up 2% of GDP [just for one example Germany's GDP is nearly 4 Trillion dollars [2017] for defence spending, what a crazy sum all NATO members must fork out to please the US, but then most of that money must be spent on the US MIC 'interoperability' of course. ..."
"... Another great damage of Russiagate was the instigating of a nuclear arms race directed primarily at Russia, and ideologically justified by its diabolical policies. ..."
"... Russiagate was very successful. You just have to understand the objectives. It was a great distraction. Diverting peoples attention from the continued fleecing of the "real people" which are the bottom 90% by the "Corporate People" and their Government Lackeys. ..."
"... It provided an excuse for the acting CEO (a figurehead) of the Corporate Empire to go back on many of the promises made that got him elected, and to fill the swamp with Neocon and Koch Brother creatures with the excuse the Deep State made him do it. More proof that there is no deception that is too ridiculous to be believed so long as you have enough pundits claiming it to be so ..."
"... If you've done just a cursory look into Seth Rich, you'd be very suspicious about the story of his life and death. IMO Assange/Wikilleaks were set up. And Flynn was set up too. What they are doing is Orwellian: White Helmets, election manipulation, propaganda, McCarthism, etc. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention. ..."
"... See also this primer on Mueller's MO. ..."
"... The button pushers behind the Trump collusion and Russia election hacking false narratives got what they wanted: to walk the democrats and republicans straight into Cold War v2; to start their campaign to suppress alternative voices on the internet; to increase military spending; and more, more, more war. ..."
"... Russiagate was very successful <=pls read, re-read Pft @ 46.. he listed many things. divide and conquer accomplished. a nation state is defined as an armed rule making structure, designed by those who control a territory, and constructed by the lawyers, military, and wealthy and run by the persons the designers appoint, for the appointed are called politicians. ..."
"... At the beginnng of Russiagate, I wrote on Robert Parry's Consirtium News that Russiagate is Idiocracy piggy-backing on decades and literally billions of dollars of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian propaganda. How hard would it be to brainwash an already brainwashed population? ..."
"... The purveyors of Russiagate will re-compose themselves, brush off all reports and continue on. One just cannot get away from one's nature, even when that nature is pure idiocy. ..."
"... Russiagate will not go away unfortunately because it has evolved in the "Russiagate Industry". As mentioned by others, the Russiagate Industry has been very profitable for many industries and people. Russiagate has generated an entire cottage industry of companies around censorship and "find us a Russian". Dow Jones should have an index on the Russiagate Industry. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

For more than two years U.S. politicians, the media and some bloggers hyped a conspiracy theory. They claimed that Russia had somehow colluded with the Trump campaign to get him elected.

An obviously fake 'Dirty Dossier' about Trump, commissioned by the Clinton campaign, was presented as evidence. Regular business contacts between Trump flunkies and people in Ukraine or Russia were claimed to be proof for nefarious deals. A Russian click-bait company was accused of manipulating the U.S. electorate by posting puppy pictures and crazy memes on social media. Huge investigations were launched. Every rumor or irrelevant detail coming from them was declared to be - finally - the evidence that would put Trump into the slammer. Every month the walls were closing in on Trump.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/qjUvfZj-Fm0

At the same time the very real Trump actions that hurt Russia were ignored.

Finally the conspiracy theory has run out of steam. Russiagate is finished :

After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
...
Democrats and other Trump opponents have long believed that special counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional investigators would unearth new and more explosive evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russians. Mueller may yet do so, although Justice Department and Congressional sources say they believe that he, too, is close to wrapping up his investigation.

Nothing, zero, nada was found to support the conspiracy theory. The Trump campaign did not collude with Russia. A few flunkies were indicted for unrelated tax issues and for lying to the investigators about some minor details. But nothing at all supports the dramatic claims of collusion made since the beginning of the affair.

In a recent statement House leader Nancy Pelosi was reduced to accuse Trump campaign officials of doing their job:

"The indictment of Roger Stone makes clear that there was a deliberate, coordinated attempt by top Trump campaign officials to influence the 2016 election and subvert the will of the American people. ...

No one called her out for spouting such nonsense.

Russiagate created a lot of damage.

The alleged Russian influence campaign that never happened was used to install censorship on social media. It was used to undermine the election of progressive Democrats. The weapon salesmen used it to push for more NATO aggression against Russia. Maria Butina, an innocent Russian woman interested in good relation with the United States, was held in solitary confinement (recommended) until she signed a paper which claims that she was involved in a conspiracy.

In a just world the people who for more then two years hyped the conspiracy theory and caused so much damage would be pushed out of their public positions. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. They will jump onto the next conspiracy train continue from there.

Posted by b on February 12, 2019 at 01:38 PM | Permalink

Comments next page " Legally, Maria Butina was suborned into signing a false declaration. If there were the rule of law, such party or parties that suborned her would be in gaol. Considering Mueller's involvement with Lockerbie, I am not holding my breath. FWIW the Swiss company that made the timers allegedly involved in Lockerbie have some comments of its own .


james , Feb 12, 2019 2:00:14 PM | link

thanks b..

I will be really glad when this 'get Russia' craziness is over, but I suspect even if the Mueller investigation has nothing, all the same creeps will be pulling out the stops to generate something... Skripal, Integrity Initiative, and etc. etc. stuff like this just doesn't go away overnight or with the end of this 'investigation'... folks are looking for red meat i tell ya!

as for Maria Butina - i look forward to reading the article.. that was a travesty of justice but the machine moves on, mowing down anyone in it's way... she was on the receiving end of all the paranoia that i have come to associate with the western msm at this point...

Zanon , Feb 12, 2019 2:03:26 PM | link
Considering Mueller hasn't produced its report nor the House dito, its way to early to say Russia gate is "finished".
Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 2:11:44 PM | link
And Russiagate was used ...
... by Hillary to justify her loss to Trump

Hillary's loss is actually best explained as her throwing the election to Trump . The Deep State wanted a nationalist to win as that would best help meet the challenge from Russia and China - a challenge that they had been slow to recognize.

=
... to smear Wikileaks as a Russian agent

The DNC leak is best explained as a CIA false flag.

=
... to remove and smear Michael Flynn

Trump said that he fired Flynn for lying to VP Pence but Flynn's conversations with the Russian Ambassador after Obama threw them out for "meddling" in the US election was an embarrassment to the Administration as Putin's Putin's decision not to respond was portrayed as favoritism toward the Trump Administration.

Rob , Feb 12, 2019 2:28:50 PM | link
You can take this to the bank. Hardcore Russiagaters will never give up their belief in collusion and Russian influence in the 2016 campaign -- never. Congress and Mueller will be accused of engaging in a coverup. This is typical behavior for conspiracy theorists.
bj , Feb 12, 2019 2:30:41 PM | link
Jimmy Dore on same: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgBxfHdb4OU Enjoy!
Ort , Feb 12, 2019 2:34:14 PM | link
I hope that Russiagate is indeed "finished", but I think it needs to be draped with garlic-clove necklaces, shot up with silver bullets, sprinkled with holy water, and a wooden stake driven through its black heart just to make sure.

I don't dispute the logical argument B. presents, but it may be too dispassionately rational. I know that the Russiagate proponents and enthralled supporters of the concept are too invested psychologically in this surrealistic fantasy to let go, even if the official outcome reluctantly admits that there's no "there" there.

The Democratic Party, one of the major partners mounting the Russophobic psy-op, has already resolved to turn Democratic committee chairmen loose to dog the Trump administration with hearings aggressively flogging any and all matters that discredit and undermine Trump-- his business connections, social liaisons, etc.

They may hope to find the Holy Grail: the elusive "bombshell" that "demands" impeachment, i.e., some crime or illicit conduct so heinous that the public will stand for another farcical impeachment proceeding. But I reckon that the Dems prefer the "soft" impeachment of harassing Trump with hostile hearings in hopes of destroying his 2020 electability with the death of a thousand innuendoes and guilt-by-association.

Thus, even if the Mueller report is underwhelming, I think that the Democrats and TDS-saturated Trump opponents will attempt to rehabilitate it by pretending that it contains important loose ends that need to be pursued. In other words, to perpetuate the Mueller-driven political Russophobia by all other available means.

Put more succinctly, I fear that Russiagate won't be finished until Rachel Maddow says it's finished. ;)

worldblee , Feb 12, 2019 2:38:17 PM | link
Once a hypothesis is fixed in people's minds, whether true or not, it's hard to get them to let go of it. And let's not forget how many times the narrative changed (and this is true in the Skripal case as well), with all past facts vanishing to accommodate a new narrative.

So I, like others, expect the fake scandal to continue while many, many other real crimes (the US attempted coup in Venezuela and the genocidal war in Yemen, for instance) continue unabated.

karlof1 , Feb 12, 2019 2:43:34 PM | link
Putin solicits public input for essential national policy goals . If ever there was a template to follow for an actual MAGAgenda, Putin's Russia provides one. While US politicos argue over what is essentially Bantha Pudu, Russians are hard at work improving their nation which includes restructuring their economy.

Russiagate has exposed the great degree of corruption within the Justice Department bureaucracy, particularly within FBI, and within the entire Democrat Party.

BlunderOn , Feb 12, 2019 2:48:51 PM | link
mmm...

I very much doubt it it is over. Trump is corrupt and has links to corrupt Russians. Collusion, maybe not, but several stinking individuals are in the frame for, guess what - ...bring it on... The fact that Hilary was arguably even worse (a point made ad-nauseum on here) is frankly irrelevant. The vilification of Trump will not affect the warmongers efforts. He is a useful idiot

james , Feb 12, 2019 2:52:33 PM | link
for a take on the alternative reality some are living in emptywheel has an article up on the nbc link b provides and the article on butina is discussed in the comments section... as i said - they are looking for red meat and will not be happy until they get some... they are completely zonkers...
Blooming Barricade , Feb 12, 2019 2:55:18 PM | link
Now that this racket has been admitted as such, I expect all of the media outlets that devoted banner headlines, hundreds of thousands of hours of cable TV time, thousands of trees, and free speech online to immediately fire all of their journalists and appoint Glenn Greenwald as the publisher of the New York Times, Michael Tracey at the Post, Aaron Matte at the Guardian, and Max Blumenthal at the Daily Beast.

Since this is obviously not going to be allowed to happen, and since these people get away with everything, expect this to never end, despite all evidence to the contrary. It doesn't matter if they've been exposed as CIA propagandists or Integrity Initiative stooges, the game goes on...and on.... the job security of these disgraced columnists is the greatest in the Western world.

jayc , Feb 12, 2019 3:03:51 PM | link
Stephen Cohen discusses how rational viewpoints are banned from the mainstream media, and how several features of US life today resemble some of the worst features of the Soviet system. https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/12/stephen-cohen-on-war-with-russia-and-soviet-style-censorship-in-the-us/
Heath , Feb 12, 2019 3:18:29 PM | link
It turned out getting rid of the Clintons has been a long term project.
Harry Law , Feb 12, 2019 3:21:58 PM | link
The US needs an enemy, how else can they ask NATO members to cough up 2% of GDP [just for one example Germany's GDP is nearly 4 Trillion dollars [2017] for defence spending, what a crazy sum all NATO members must fork out to please the US, but then most of that money must be spent on the US MIC 'interoperability' of course.

Then of course Russia has to be surrounded by NATO should they try and take over Europe by surging through the Fulda gap./s

Then of course there are the professional pundits who have built careers on anti Russian propaganda, Rachel Maddow for instance who earns 30,000$ per day to spew anti Russian nonsense.

folktruther , Feb 12, 2019 3:27:32 PM | link
Another great damage of Russiagate was the instigating of a nuclear arms race directed primarily at Russia, and ideologically justified by its diabolical policies.

I'm sorry b is so down on Conspiracy Theories, since they reveal quite real staged homicidal false flag operations of US power. Feeding into the stigmatizing of the truth about reality is not in the interests of the earth's people.

frances , Feb 12, 2019 3:31:11 PM | link
somehow I see this "revelation: tied to Barr's approaching tenure. I think they (FBI/DOJ) didn't want his involvement in their noodle soup of an investigation and the best way to accomplish that was to end it themselves. I also suspect that a deal has been made with Trump, possibly in exchange for leaving his family alone.

So we will see no investigation of Hillary, her 650,000 emails or the many crimes they detailed (according to NYPD investigation of Weiner's laptop) and the US will continue to be at war all day, every day. Team Swamp rules.

Ash , Feb 12, 2019 3:35:06 PM | link
Meanwhile, MSM is prepping its readers for the possibility that the Mueller report will never be released to us proles. If that's the case, I'm sure nobody will try to use innuendo to suggest it actually contains explosive revelations after all...
Heath , Feb 12, 2019 3:38:37 PM | link
@16

Harry, its vitally important as the US desperately wants to keep Europe under its thumb and to stop this European army which means Europe lead by Paris and Berlin becomes a world power. Trump's attempts to make nice with Russia is to keep it out of the EU bloc.

Anne Jaclard , Feb 12, 2019 3:54:47 PM | link
Well, the liberal conspiracy car crash ensured downmarket Mussolini a second term, it appears...Hard Brexit Tories also look likely to win thanks to centrist sabatoge of the left. You reap what you sow, corporate presstitutes!
wagelaborer , Feb 12, 2019 4:05:25 PM | link
Sane people have predicted the end of Russiagate almost as many times as insane people have predicted that the "smoking gun that will get rid of Trump" has been found. And yet the Mighty Wurlitzer grinds on, while social media is more and more censored.

I expect it all to continue until the 2020 election circus winds up into full-throated mode, and no one talks about anything but the next puppet to be appointed. Oops, I mean "elected".

Jen , Feb 12, 2019 4:15:57 PM | link
Ort @ 7:

You also need to behead the corpse, stuff the mouth with a lemon and then place the head down in the coffin with the body in supine (facing up) position. Weight the coffin with stones and wild roses and toss it into a fast-flowing river.

Russiagate won't be finished until a wall is built around Capitol Hill and all its inhabitants and worker bees declared insane by a properly functioning court of law.

Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 4:16:59 PM | link
frances @18:
I also suspect that a deal has been made with Trump, possibly in exchange for leaving his family alone. So we will see no investigation of Hillary ...
Underlying your perspective is the assumption that USA is a democracy where a populist "outsider" could be elected President, Yet you also believe that Hillary and the Deep State have the power to manipulate government and the intelligence agencies and propose a "conspiracy theory" based on that power.

Isn't it more likely that Trump made it clear (behind closed doors, of course) that he was amenable to the goals of the Deep State and that the bogus investigation was merely done to: 1) cover their own election meddling; 2) eliminate threats like Flynn and Assange/Wikileaks; 3) anti-Russian propaganda?

Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 4:33:16 PM | link
Jen

Steven Cohen once lamented that there were no "wise men" left in foreign policy. All the independent realists were shut out.

Michael McNulty , Feb 12, 2019 4:49:32 PM | link
US anti-Russian hysteria is moving into that grey area beyond McCarthyism approaching Nazism.
Circe , Feb 12, 2019 4:58:40 PM | link
Dowd, Trump's former lawyer on Russiagate stated there may not even be a report. If this is the case then the Zionist rulers have gotten to Mueller who no doubt figured out that the election collusion breadcrumbs don't lead to Putin, they lead to Netanyahu and Zionist billionaire friends! So Mueller may have to come up with a nothing burger to hide the truth.
Danny , Feb 12, 2019 5:02:34 PM | link
B is the only alternative media blogger I've followed for a significant amount of time without becoming disenfranchised. Not because he has no blind spot - his is just one I can deal with... optimism.

hopehely , Feb 12, 2019 5:14:49 PM | link

I will believe Russiagate is finished when expelled Russian staff gets back, when the US returns the seized Russian properties, when the consulate is Seattle reopens and when USA issues formal apology to Russia.

Posted by: hopehely | Feb 12, 2019 5:14:49 PM | link

bevin , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:18 PM | link
Nobody has ever advanced the tiniest shred of credible evidence that 'Russia' or its government at any level was in any way implicated either in Wikileaks' acquisition of the DNC and Podesta emails or in any form of interference with the Presidential election.

This has been going on for three years and not once has anything like evidence surfaced.

On the other hand there has been an abundance of evidence that those alleging Russian involvement consistently refused to listen to explore the facts.

Incredibly, the DNC computers were never examined by the FBI or any other agency resembling an official police agency. Instead the notorious Crowdstrike professionally russophobic and caught red handed faking data for the Ukrainians against Russia were commissioned to produce a 'report.'

Nobody with any sense would have credited anything about Russiagate after that happened.

Thgen there was the proof, from VIPS and Bill Binney (?) that the computers were not hacked at all but that the information was taken by thumbdrive. A theory which not only Wikileaks but several witnesses have offered to prove.

Not one of them has been contacted by the FBI, Mueller or anyone else "investigating."

In reality the charges from the first were ludicrous on their face. There is, as b has proved and every new day's news attests, not the slightest reason why anyone in the Russian government should have preferred Trump over Clinton. And that is saying something because they are pretty well indistinguishable. And neither has the morals or brains of an adolescent groundhog.

Russiagate is over, alright, The Nothingburger is empty. But that means nothing in this 'civilisation': it will be recorded in the history books, still to be written, by historians still in diapers, that "The 2016 Presidential election, which ended in the controversial defeat of Hillary Clinton, was heavily influenced by Russian agents who hacked ..etc etc"

What will not be remembered is that every single email released was authentic. And that within those troves of correspondence there was enough evidence of criminality by Clinton and her campaign to fill a prison camp.

Another thing that will not be recalled is that there was once a young enthusiastic man, working for the DNC, who was mugged one evening after work and killed.

Baron , Feb 12, 2019 5:16:49 PM | link
The 'no collusion' result will only spur the 'beginning of the end' baboons to shout even more, they'll never stop until they die in their beds or the plebs of the Republic made them adore the street lamp posts, you'll see. The former is by far more likely, the unwashed of American have never had a penchant for foreign affairs except for the few spasms like Vietnam.
Circe , Feb 12, 2019 5:20:11 PM | link
There was collusion alright but the only Russians who helped Trump get elected and were in on the collusion are citizens of ISRAEL FIRST, likewise for the American billionaires who put Trump in the power perch. ISRAEL FIRST.

That's why Trump is on giant billboards in Israel shaking hands with the Yahoo. Trump is higher in the polls in Israel than in the U.S. If it weren't that the Zionist upper crust need Trump doing their dirty work in America, like trying today get rid of Rep. Omar Ilhan, then Trump would win the elections in Ziolandia or Ziostan by a landslide cause he's been better for the Joowish state than all preceding Presidents put together. Mazel tov to them bullshet for the rest of us servile mass in the vassal West and Palestinians the most shafted class ever. Down with Venezuela and Iran, up with oil and gas. The billionare shysters' and Trump's payola is getting closer. Onward AZ Empire!

Les , Feb 12, 2019 5:24:36 PM | link
He proved himself so easy to troll during the election. It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate.
Zachary Smith , Feb 12, 2019 5:38:03 PM | link
@ Harry Law #16

At least Germany has the good sense not to throw taxpayer money at the F-35. German F-35 decision sacrifices NATO capability for Franco-German industrial cooperation I don't know what they have in mind with a proposed airplane purchase. If they need fighters, buy or lease Sweden's Gripen. If attack airplanes are what they're after, go to Boeing and get some brand new F-15X models. If the prickly French are agreeable to build a 6th generation aircraft, that would be worth a try.

Regarding Rachel Maddow, I recently had an encounter with a relative who told me 1) I visited too many oddball sites and 2) he considered Rachel M. to be the most reliable news person in existence. I think we're talking "true believer" here. :)

Zachary Smith , Feb 12, 2019 5:43:19 PM | link
@ Les @42
It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate.

Considering how those "intelligence agencies" are hard pressed to find their own tails, even if you allow them to use both hands, it would surprise me.

That Trump would turn out to be a tub of jello in more than just a physical way has been a surprise to an awful lot of us.

Pft , Feb 12, 2019 5:44:54 PM | link

Russiagate was very successful. You just have to understand the objectives. It was a great distraction. Diverting peoples attention from the continued fleecing of the "real people" which are the bottom 90% by the "Corporate People" and their Government Lackeys.

It provided an excuse for the acting CEO (a figurehead) of the Corporate Empire to go back on many of the promises made that got him elected, and to fill the swamp with Neocon and Koch Brother creatures with the excuse the Deep State made him do it. More proof that there is no deception that is too ridiculous to be believed so long as you have enough pundits claiming it to be so

Allowed the bipartisan support for the clamp down on alt media with censorship by social media (Deep State Tools) and funded by the Ministry of Truth set up by Obama in his last days in office to under the false pretense of protecting us from foreign governments interference in elections (except Israel of course) . Similar agencies have been set up or planned to be in other countries followig the US example such as UK, France, Russia, etc.

Did anyone really expect Mr "Cover It Up " Mueller to find anything? Mueller is Deep State all the way and Trump is as well, not withstanding the "Fake Wrestling " drama that they are bitter enemies. All the surveillance done over the past 2-3 decades would have so much dirt on the Trumpet they could silence him forever . Trump knew that going in and I sometimes wonder if he was pressured to run as a condition to avoid prosecution. Pretty sure every President since Carter has been "Kompromat"

Jackrabbit , Feb 12, 2019 6:29:51 PM | link
james, bevin

If you've done just a cursory look into Seth Rich, you'd be very suspicious about the story of his life and death. IMO Assange/Wikilleaks were set up. And Flynn was set up too. What they are doing is Orwellian: White Helmets, election manipulation, propaganda, McCarthism, etc. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention.

stevelaudig , Feb 12, 2019 6:34:12 PM | link
Russians and likely at the behest of the Russian state interfered and it was fair payback for Yeltsin's election. It is time to move on but not in feigned ignorance of what was done. Was it "outcome" affecting, possibly, but not clearly and if the US electoral college and electoral system generally is so decrepit that a second level power in the world can influence then its the US's fault.

It's not like the 2000 election wasn't a warning shot about the rottenness of system and a system that doesn't understand a warning shot deserves pretty much what it gets. But there's enough non-hype evidence of acts and intent to say yes, the Russians tried and may have succeeded. They certainly are acting guilty enough. but still close the book move and move on to Trump's 'real' crimes which were done without a Russian assist.

spudski , Feb 12, 2019 6:52:50 PM | link
@38 bevin @47 james

I seem to recall former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray saying that it was not a hack and that he had been handed a thumb drive in a field near American University by a disgruntled Democrat whistleblower. Further, I seem to recall William Binney, former NSA Technical Leader for intelligence, conducting an experiment to show that internet speeds at the time would not allow the information to be hacked - they knew the size of the files and the period over which they were downloaded. Plus, Seth Rich. So why does anyone even believe it was a hack, @32 THN?

Johan Meyer , Feb 12, 2019 6:55:54 PM | link
Just another comment re Mueller. There is a great documentary by (Dutch, not Israeli---different person) Gideon Levy, Lockerbie Revisited. The narration is in Dutch, but the interviews are in English, and there is a small segment of a German broadcast. The documentary ends abruptly where one set of FBI personnel contradict statements by another set of FBI personnel. See also this primer on Mueller's MO.
frances , Feb 12, 2019 7:11:07 PM | link
reply to Les 42
"It wouldn't surprise me if aim of the domestic intelligence agencies all along was to get him elected and have a candidate they could manipulate."

Not the intelligence agencies, the Military IMO. They knew HC for what she was; horrifically corrupt and,again IMO,they know she is insane.

They saw and I think still see Trump as someone they could work with, remember Rogers (Navy) of the NSA going to him immediately once he was elected? That was the Military protecting him as best they could.

They IMO have kept him alive and as long as he doesn't send any troops into "real" wars, they will keep on keeping him alive.
This doesn't mean Trump hasn't gone over to the Dark Side, just that no military action will take place that the military command doesn't fully support.

Again, I could be wrong, he could be backed by fiends from Patagonia for all I really know:)

AriusArmenian , Feb 12, 2019 8:44:27 PM | link
The button pushers behind the Trump collusion and Russia election hacking false narratives got what they wanted: to walk the democrats and republicans straight into Cold War v2; to start their campaign to suppress alternative voices on the internet; to increase military spending; and more, more, more war.
james , Feb 12, 2019 9:34:59 PM | link
ot - further to @65 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK5YFos56ZU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK5YFos56ZU

as jr says - welcome to the rabbit hole..

ben , Feb 12, 2019 10:11:05 PM | link
Hope you're right b. Maybe now we can get on with some real truths.
  1. That there is really only one party with real influence, the party of $.
  2. That most of the Dems belong to that club, and virtually all the Repubs.
  3. That the U$A is not a real democracy, but an Oligarchy.
  4. That the corporate empire is the greatest purveyor of evil the world has ever known.

And these are just a few truths. Thanks for the therapy b, hope you feel better...

Circe , Feb 12, 2019 10:52:22 PM | link
Boy, I hope Jackrabbit sees this. Everyone knows I believe Trump is the anointed chosen of the Zionist 1%. There was no Russia collusion; it was Zionist collusion with a Russian twist...
Circe , Feb 12, 2019 11:11:17 PM | link
Oh yeah! Forgot to mention the latest. Trump is asking Kim to provide a list of his nuclear scientists! Before Kim acts on this request, he should call up the Iranian government for advise 'cause they have lots of experience and can warn Kim of what will happen to each of those scientists. They'll be put on a kill-list and will be extrajudicially wacked as in executed. Can you believe the chutzpah? Trump must think Kim is really stupid to fall for that one!

Aye! The thought of six more years of Zionist pandering Trump. Barf-inducing prospect is too tame.

PHC , Feb 13, 2019 2:25:44 AM | link

Russiagate is finished. So, now is the time to create Chinagate. But how ??

V , Feb 13, 2019 2:25:48 AM | link
The view from the hermitage is, we are in the age of distractions. Russiagate will be replaced with one of a litany of distractions, purely designed to keep us off target. The target being, corruption, vote rigging, illegal wars, war crimes, overthrowing sovereign governments, and political assasinations, both at home and abroad. Those so distracted, will focus on sillyness; not the genuine danger afoot around the planet. Get used to it; it's become the new normal.
Circe , Feb 13, 2019 3:53:19 AM | link
@76Hw
I have yet to read anything more delusional, nay, utterly preposterous. Methinks you over-project too much. Even Trump would have a belly-ache laugh reading that sheeple spiel. You're the type that sees the giant billboard of Zionist Trump and Yahoo shaking hands and drones on and on that our lying eyes deceive us and it's really Trump playing 4-D chess. I suppose when he tried to pressure Omar Ilhan into resigning her seat in Congress yesterday, that too was reverse psychology?

Trump instagramed the billboard pic, he tweeted it, he probably pasted it on his wall; maybe with your kind of wacky, Trump infatuation, you should too!

Starring role

Circe , Feb 13, 2019 4:15:37 AM | link
Russiagate is finished because Mueller discovered an embarrassing fact: The collusion was and always will be with Israel. Here's Trump professing his endless love for Zionism: Trump Resign
snake , Feb 13, 2019 5:13:14 AM | link

Russiagate was very successful <=pls read, re-read Pft @ 46.. he listed many things. divide and conquer accomplished.
a nation state is defined as an armed rule making structure, designed by those who control a territory, and constructed by the lawyers, military, and wealthy and run by the persons the designers appoint, for the appointed are called politicians.

Most designs of armed nation states provide the designers with information feedback and the designers use that information to appoint more obedient politicians and generals to run things, and to improve the design to better serve the designers. The armed rule making structure is designed to give the designers complete control over those targeted to be the governed. Why so stupid the governed? ; always they allow themselves to be manipulated like sheep.

When 10 angry folks approach you with two pieces of ropes: one to throw over the tree branch under which your horse will be supporting you while they tie the noose around your neck and the other shorter piece of rope to tie your hands behind ..your back you need at that point to make your words count , if five of the people are black and five are white. all you need do is say how smart the blacks are, and how stupid the whites are, as the two groups fight each other you manage your escape. democrat vs republican= divide to conquer. gun, no gun = divide to conquer, HRC vs DJT = divide to conquer, abortion, no abortion = divide to conquer, Trump is a Russian planted in a high level USA position of power = divide to conquer, They were all in on it together,, Muller was in the white house to keep the media supplied with XXX, to keep the law enforcement agencies in the loop, and to advise trump so things would not get out of hand ( its called Manipulation and the adherents to the economic system called Zionism
For the record, Zionism is not related to race, religion or intelligence. Zionism is a system of economics that take's no captives, its adherents must own everything, must destroy and decimate all actual or imaginary competition, for Zionist are the owners and masters of everything? Zionism is about power, absolute power, monopoly ownership and using governments everywhere to abuse the governed. Zionism has many adherents, whites, blacks, browns, Christians, Jews, Islamist, Indians, you name it among each class of person and walk of life can be found persons who subscribe to the idea that they, and only they, should own everything, and when those of us, that are content to be the governed let them, before the kill and murder us, they usually end up owning everything.

snake , Feb 13, 2019 6:08:16 AM | link
Here might the subject matter that Russia Gate sought to camouflage https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/02/13/588433/US-Saudi-Arabia-nuclear-deal-nuclear-weapons 'This comes as US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been holding secret talks with Saudi officials on sharing US nuclear technology.'

Finally, a hypothesis to explain

1. why the Joint non nuclear agreement with Iran and the other nuclear power nations, that prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons, was trashed? Someone needs to be able to say Iran is developing ..., at the right time.

2. Why Netanyohu made public a video that claimed Iran was developing nuclear stuff in violation of the Iran non nuclear agreement, and everybody laughed,

3. Why the nuclear non proliferation agreement with Russia, that terminated the costly useless arms race a decade ago, has been recently terminated, to reestablish the nuclear arms race, no apparent reason was given the implication might be Russia could be a target, but

4. why it might make sense to give nukes to Saudi Arabia or some other rogue nation, and

5. why no one is allowed to have nuclear weapons except the Zionist owned and controlled nation states.

Statement: Zionism is an economic system that requires the elimination of all competition of whatever kind. It is a winner get's all, takes no prisoners, targets all who would threaten or be a challenge or a threat; does not matter if the threat is in in oil and gas, technology or weapons as soon as a possibility exist, the principles of Zionism would require that it be taken out, decimated, and destroyed and made where never again it could even remotely be a threat to the Empire, that Zionism demands..

Hypothesis: A claim that another is developing nuclear weapon capabilities is sufficient to take that other out?

Kiza , Feb 13, 2019 8:26:29 AM | link
I am glad that most commenters understand that Russiagate will not go away. But the majority appear to miss the real reason. Russiagate is not an accusation, it is the state of mind.

At the beginnng of Russiagate, I wrote on Robert Parry's Consirtium News that Russiagate is Idiocracy piggy-backing on decades and literally billions of dollars of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian propaganda. How hard would it be to brainwash an already brainwashed population?

The purveyors of Russiagate will re-compose themselves, brush off all reports and continue on. One just cannot get away from one's nature, even when that nature is pure idiocy. Of course, the most ironic in the affair is that it is the so called US "intellectuals", academics and other assorted cretins who are the most fervent proponents. If you were wondering how Russia can make such amazing defensive weapons that US can only deny exist and wet dream of having, there is your answer. It is the state of mind. The whole of US establishment are legends in their on lunch time and totally delusional about the reality surrounding them - both Russiagate and MAGA cretins, no report can help the Russiagate nation.

Finally, I am thinking of that crazy and ugly professor bitch from the British Cambridge University who gives her lectures naked to protest something or other. I am so lucky that I do not have to go to a Western university ever again. What a catastrophic decline! No Brexit can help the Skripal nation.

NemesisCalling , Feb 13, 2019 8:46:48 AM | link
Russiagate is finished, but is DJT also among the rubble?

Hardly any money for the border wall and still lingering in the ME?

If Hoarsewhisperer proves to be correct above re: DJT, he will really have to knock our socks off before election 2020. To do this he will have to unequivocally and unceremoniously withdraw from the MENA and Afghanistan and possibly declare a National Emergency for more money for the wall.

The problem is, when he does this, he will look impulsively dangerous and this may harm his mystique to the lemmings who need a president to be more "presidential."

My money is on status quo all the way to 2020 and the rethugz hoping the Dems will eat their own in an orgy of warring identities.

I would love to be proven wrong.

morongobill , Feb 13, 2019 9:52:25 AM | link
Rush Limbaugh has been on a roll with his analysis of Russiagate, in fact, his analysis is in line with the writer/editor here at MOA.
Bart Hansen , Feb 13, 2019 10:52:12 AM | link
The collusion story may be faltering, but the blame for Russia poisoning the Skripals lives on. The other night on The News Hour, "Judy" led off the program with this: "It has been almost a year since Kremlin intelligence officers attempted to kill a Russian defector in the British city of Salisbury by poisoning him with a nerve agent. That attack, and the subsequent death of a British woman, scared away tourists and shoppers, but authorities and residents are working to get the town's economy back on track. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports."
Erelis , Feb 13, 2019 12:15:48 PM | link

Russiagate will not go away unfortunately because it has evolved in the "Russiagate Industry". As mentioned by others, the Russiagate Industry has been very profitable for many industries and people. Russiagate has generated an entire cottage industry of companies around censorship and "find us a Russian". Dow Jones should have an index on the Russiagate Industry.

Here is one recent example. You know the measles outbreak in the US Pacific Northwest. Yup, the Russians. How do we know. A government funded research grant. The study found that 899 tweets caused people to doubt vaccines. Looks like money is to be had even by academics for the right results.

Measles outbreak: Anti-vaccination misinformation fueled by Russian propagandists, study finds
https://www.oregonlive.com/clark-county/2019/02/measles-outbreak-anti-vaccination-misinformation-fueled-by-russian-propagandists-study-finds.html

[Feb 13, 2019] Mathiness and game thoery

Any good mathematical theory can be misapplied and perverted if there is social pressure and money to do so..
Feb 13, 2019 | www.alternet.org

Game Theory:

A glossary of exploitive economics 'Lean in' and 8 other bad business buzzwords that should be phased out – Alternet.org

The use of mathematics to model human reality; one of the more bizarre offshoots that followed the mathematization of economic thought in the 20th century.

Game theory focuses on strategies used by competing actors to make rational decisions. What should I do given my opponent may subsequently decide A, B, C, or D? It was pioneered by John von Neumann, John Nash, and Oskar Morgenstern. The assumption that social life is a game of logic between conniving actors is foundational to this view of economics. But do we really behave in such a "me versus you" manner?

Game Theory's rational individualism closely resonates with neoliberal capitalism because it reconceptualizes everyone as mini corporations who are totally selfish.

Individuals compete rather than share; seek to outsmart the next person rather than empathize. Proponents of the approach often use the "as if" defense. The model might not perfectly match reality, but we can approximate how someone behaves in the real world by assuming they act "as if" they're Nashian plotters.

It's the normative assumptions underlying this "as if" that are problematic that at bottom we're all greedy and impatient bankers. One could just as well argue that people act "as if" they're trusting and altruistic socialists, but Game Theory won't have any of that.

[Feb 13, 2019] The return of W>eimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... 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 ..."
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?

[Feb 12, 2019] How Neoliberalism Is Normalising Hostility

Notable quotes:
"... By Couze Venn, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Theory in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at Johannesburg University. His recent book is After Capital, Sage, 2018. Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet – this zero sum game of winners and losers benefits only the far right. ..."
"... Image: Homeless man with commuters walking past, Waterloo Station, London. Credit: Jessica Mulley/Flickr, CC 2.0. ..."
"... As Ha Joon Chang has shown, by the 1990s, financial capitalism had become the dominant power, prioritising the interest of shareholders, and incentivising managers through share ownership and bonuses schemes. ..."
"... Meanwhile, neoliberal political economy gradually became the new orthodoxy, increasing its impact through right wing thinktanks and government advisors and spreading its influence in academia and economic thought. Its initial success in terms of growth and prosperity in the 1990s and turn of the century consolidated its hold over the economy until the crash of 2008. ..."
"... political economy ..."
"... Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and 'losers'. Apart from the alt-right in the USA, we find its exemplary advocates amongst leading Brexiteers in the UK, backed by dark money. It is not the social democratic compromise of capitalism with a human face that could support the welfare state. Seen in this context, there is an essential affinity between alt-right, neoliberal political economy and neo- fascisms, punctuated by aggressivity, intolerance, exclusion, expulsion and generalised hostility. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

How Neoliberalism Is Normalising Hostility Posted on February 12, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Even though this post paints with very bright colors, I imagine most readers will agree with the argument it makes about the destructive social impact of neoliberalism.

Some additional points to consider:

Neoliberalism puts markets above all else. In this paradigm, you are supposed to uproot yourself if work dries up where you live or if there are better opportunities elsewhere. The needs of your family or extended family are treated as secondary. And your community? Fuggedaboudit. And this attitude has also led to what is arguably the most corrosive practice, of companies treating employees like tissue paper, to be trashed after use.

Companies have increasingly adopted a transactional posture towards customers. This shift happened on Wall Street as a result of deregulation in the 1980s (Rule 415; if anyone cares, I'll elaborate in comments). The reduced orientation towards treating customers well as a sound business practice, and merely going through the form is particularly pronounced at the retail level. I can't tell you how many times I have had to go through ridiculous hoops merely to get a vendor to live up to its agreement, and even though I am plenty tenacious, I don't always prevail. It didn't used to be anywhere near this bad. And this is corrosive. Not only are customers effectively treated as if they can be abused, the people in the support ops wind up being on the receiving end of well deserved anger even though they aren't the proper target. The phone reps are almost certainly not told that they are perpetrating an abuse (which then leads to the question of who in the organization has set up the scripts and training with lies in them) but for certain types of repeat cases, they have to know their employer is up to no good. I am sure this is the case at Cigna, where at least twice a year, I have a problem with a claim, the service rep says it should have been paid and puts it in to be reprocessed and I typically have to rinse and repeat and get stroopy about it, meaning the later reps can see the pattern of deliberate non-payment of a valid claim and continue to act as if they can do something about it.

By Couze Venn, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Theory in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Associate Research Fellow at Johannesburg University. His recent book is After Capital, Sage, 2018. Originally published at openDemocracy

From working conditions to welfare policies, from immigration to the internet – this zero sum game of winners and losers benefits only the far right.

Image: Homeless man with commuters walking past, Waterloo Station, London. Credit: Jessica Mulley/Flickr, CC 2.0.

The hostile environment is not just about the Windrush generation in the UK, or the harassment of migrants at the Mexican border in the USA, or the unwelcoming treatment of refugees trying to reach Europe. It has become ubiquitous and widespread. We encounter it in many aspects of daily life. In worsening conditions at work such as zero-hour 'contracts'. In obstacles to accessing social and health services due to cutbacks, making people's lives more precarious. Online threats and trolling are other signs of this normalisation of hostility.

The normalisation of hostile environments signals a worrying and global shift in values of tolerance, empathy, compassion, hospitality and responsibility for the vulnerable. It's a normalisation that was criticised recently in the UK by UN Poverty Rapporteur Philip Alston, who described how "punitive, mean-spirited, often callous" government welfare policies were contributing to an " increasingly hostile and unwelcoming society ".

There's a pattern to hostile environments that harks back to the 1930s and 40s. As we know, at the time, those targeted were considered as the enemy within, to be subject to expulsion, exclusion and indeed, genocide, as happened to Jews and other so-called 'inferior races'. In more recent time, the iterations of this discourse of the alien other who must be expelled or eliminated to save the 'pure' or 'good race' or ethnicity and reconstitute the broken community have found traction in Europe, the USA, Rwanda, India, parts of the Middle East. In its wake, refugees have become asylum seekers, migrants are labelled illegal or criminal, cultural differences become alien cultures, non-binary women and men are misgendered, and at the extreme, those targeted for violence become vermin. It marks a shift in political culture that inscribes elements of fascism.

Why has this atmosphere of hostility become the default position in politics? What have been the triggers and what are the stakes in this great moving rightwards shift? One may be tempted to identify the change in mood and attitudes with recent events like the election of Trump in the USA. But the far right has been on the rise in Europe, the UK and the US for some years, as seen in movements like the Tea Party, UKIP, or the National Front in France . They have been given a boost by the flood of refugees generated by wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, as well as by the spread of fundamentalist religious creeds that have an affinity with forms of fascism.

Why? Two related sets of developments that from the 1970s have gradually altered the political terrain. Economically, globalisation emerged as an integral part of a transnational corporate strategy aimed at securing advantageous conditions for the consolidation of global capital at a time of risky structural changes in the global economy. And politically, neoliberalism took hold when the crises of the 1970s started to undermine the postwar consensus in the Keynesian mixed economy and the role of the welfare state.

Globalisation saw the systematic deployment of outsourcing production in countries offering cheap labour, minimised corporate tax burdens and other incentives for transnational corporations, and the invention of the trade in derivatives (financial mechanisms intended to leverage the value of assets and repackaged debts). They contributed to the 2008 crash. The general public were made to bail out the banks through increased taxation and the establishment of policies across social services that produce hostile environments for claimants seeking state support.

As Ha Joon Chang has shown, by the 1990s, financial capitalism had become the dominant power, prioritising the interest of shareholders, and incentivising managers through share ownership and bonuses schemes. The disruptions due to this recomposition of capital have been a global squeeze on income, the creation of a new precariat, and the debt society. People who feel insecure, abandoned to forces outside their control become easy prey to demagogues and prophets of deceit who promise the return of good times, provided enemies and outsiders who wreck things are expelled.

Meanwhile, neoliberal political economy gradually became the new orthodoxy, increasing its impact through right wing thinktanks and government advisors and spreading its influence in academia and economic thought. Its initial success in terms of growth and prosperity in the 1990s and turn of the century consolidated its hold over the economy until the crash of 2008.

What is important here is the radical shift in values and attitudes that recall utilitarian values in the 19th Century. In particular, it is reflected in the neoliberal hostility towards the poor, the weak, the destitute, the ' losers', expressed in its denial or abnegation of responsibility for their plight or welfare, and its project of dismantling the welfare or providential state.

This pervasive atmosphere of hostility is the real triumph of neoliberal political economy . Not the economy – privatisation, monetisation, deregulation, generalised competition, and structural adjustments are immanent tendencies in globalised capitalism anyway. But neoliberal political economy reanimates attitudes and values that legitimate the consolidation of power over others, evidenced for example in the creation of an indebted population who must play by the dominant rules of the game in order to survive. It promotes new servitudes, operating on a planetary scale. What is rejected are ideas of common interest and a common humanity that support the principle of collective responsibility for fellow humans, and that radical liberal philosophers like John Stuart Mill defended. They were the values, along with the principles of fundamental human rights, that informed major reforms, and inspired socialism. The establishment of the welfare or providential state, and programmes of redistribution, enshrined in Beveridge or New Deals, draw from these same principles and values.

Neoliberalism has promoted a self-centeredness that pushes Adam Smith-style individualism to an extreme, turning selfishness into a virtue, as Ayn Rand has done. It is a closed ontology since it does not admit the other, the stranger, into the circle of those towards whom we have a duty of responsibility and care. It thus completes capitalism as a zero-sum game of winners and 'losers'. Apart from the alt-right in the USA, we find its exemplary advocates amongst leading Brexiteers in the UK, backed by dark money. It is not the social democratic compromise of capitalism with a human face that could support the welfare state. Seen in this context, there is an essential affinity between alt-right, neoliberal political economy and neo- fascisms, punctuated by aggressivity, intolerance, exclusion, expulsion and generalised hostility.

There are other important stakes at this point in the history of humanity and the planet. We tend to forget that support for fundamental human rights, like equality, liberty, freedom from oppressive power, has long been motivated by the same kind of concern to defend the vulnerable, the poor, the destitute, the oppressed from the injustices arising from unequal relations of power. We forget too that these rights have been hard won through generations of emancipatory struggles against many forms of oppressions.

Yet, it is sad to see many institutions and organisations tolerate intolerance out of confusion about the principles at stake and for fear of provoking hostile reactions from those who claim rights that in effect disadvantage some already vulnerable groups. Failure to defend the oppressed anywhere and assert our common humanity is the slippery slope towards a Hobbesian state and great suffering for the many.

[Feb 12, 2019] Social anger at neoliberalization as a material force in 2002 elections

Feb 12, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez, February 12, 2019 8:11 pm

Daniel,

For decades we have heard about the loss of industrial production throughout what is called the "Rust Belt". It's presented, even as recent as the prior presidential election as a relative regional problem that only began post-Reagan.

With all due respect, it looks like you forgot that at some point quantity turns into quality, so making simple extrapolations might well result in an oversimplification of the current situation.

You essentially ignore the current reality of rising popular anger, and the fact of breaking of the social contract by neoliberal (and first of all financial) oligarchy, which is as detached from "deplorable" as French aristocracy ("let them eat cakes" mentality.)

In 2019 it is clear that the USA completely and irreversibly moved from an economy based on high wages and reliable benefits to a system of low wages and cheap consumer prices, to the detriment of workers, which means that social contract was broken ( https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/the-past-and-future-of-americas-social-contract/282511/ ).

While less dangerous for the oligarchy then when the USSR used to exist, the level of social anger comes into play as never before. In 2016 became a material factor that decided the elections. I do not see that 2020 will be different.

The most detrimental effects from outsourcing and offshoring will come to the forefront probably in 10 years or so when the oil price might be well over $100 per barrel. But even now this huge social experiment on live people in redistribution of wealth up turn out to be detrimental for the unity of the country (and not only to the unity).

The current squabble between globalist, Clinton wing of Democratic Party allied with the corporatists with the Republican Party (with supporting intelligence agencies) and rag-tag forces of the opposition is a good indication of the power of this resentment.

Spearheaded by intelligence agencies (with material support from British government ) attack on Trump (aka Russiagate) is the attack on the idea of an alternative for neoliberal globalization, not so much on the personality or real or perceived Trump actions; the brutal, Soviet-style attack on the deviation from neoliberal status quo directed on the political elimination of the opposition by elimination of Trump from the political scene. Much like Show Trials were in the USSR (in this case people were charged to be British spies ;-)

There are two countries now co-existing within the USA borders. Which often speak different languages. One is the country of professionals, managers, and capital owners (let's say top 10%). The other is the country of common people (aka "deplorable", or those who are below median wage -- ~$30K in 2017; ratio of average and median wage is now around 65% ).

With the large part of the latter living as if they live in a third world country. That's definitely true for McDonald, Wall-mart (and all retail) employees (say, all less than $15 per hour employees, or around half of US workers).

I think the level of anger of "deplorable" will play the major role in 2020 elections and might propel Warren candidacy. That's why now some MSM are trying to derail her by exploiting the fact that she listed her heritage incorrectly on several applications.

But when the anger of "deplorable" is in play, then, as Donald Trump aptly quipped, one could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody and do not lose any voters. I think this is now true for Warren too.

Here are some old, but still interesting, facts circa Nov 2011 ( https://www.businessinsider.com/sad-facts-deindustrialization-america-2011-11 ):

-- The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001
-- The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000
-- From 1999 to 2008, employment at the foreign affiliates of US parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million
-- In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output. In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent
-- As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941. The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000
-- As of 2010 consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of this 70 percent, over half is spent on services
-- In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use. Today it ranks 15th
-- Asia produces 84% of printed circuit boards used worldwide.
-- In September 2011, the Census Bureau said 46.2 million Americans are now living in poverty, which is the highest number of poor Americans in the 52 years that records have been kept

NOTE: Programming jobs in the USA are expected to shrink in 2019 ( -21,300 ) so it is incorrect to look at IT industry as a potential compensating industry for manufacturing layoffs. ( https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-technology-jobs )

[Feb 12, 2019] Blain The Current Iteration Of 'Capitalism' Has Spawned Increased Global Poverty, Income Inequality, Urban Deprivation, Squal

Feb 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Blain's Morning Porridge, submitted by Bill Blain

What a fascinating world we live in.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos exposing himself, and exposes the National Inquirer for attempted blackmail. A young senator, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, snaring the headlines and proposing a preposterous New Green Deal – while further splitting the Democrats. Europe plunging back into recession. The UK no closer to a Brexit Deal (hang-on, that's not a headline that's just normal..) Deutsche Bank paying up to demonstrate it can borrow in markets. Santander facing a Euro 50 bln breach of promise lawsuit from Andreas Orcel (proving the Spanish banking adage: At Santander – you are either a Botin or a.. servant..) So much out there

Are all these things linked? Yes – the world we live in determines the functionality of global markets. You might believe Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was the victim of an Inquirer effort to "catch and kill" a story the paper has on Mr Trump's activities in Moscow, or you might believe Deutsche Bank's problems are part of a deeper malaise across European banking. Whatever the news changes our perceptions.

... ... ...

It's a difficult one: the current iteration of capitalism has spawned increased Global Poverty, Income Inequality, Urban Deprivation, Squalor and Filth. Yet, somehow, such iniquity isn't actually bad for markets? Should I therefore hurrah the continuation of low rates as good for markets and ignore the bad for people thing? What's to worry about when share-buybacks push up stock prices, and the Fed is keeping rates artificially low to i) placate the president, and ii) counter the president's trade policies.

Long term – even my most hardened sink or sink free-market capitalist critics admit we face a disruptive inequality crisis. We can address it sooner or later. The imbalances are growing and the rules of mean reversion apply as much to society and politics as they do to markets ! Long-term markets would probably function better if everyone is positively motivated. Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism and economics got it. So do most people – but the sad reality is Change is Difficult – especially when the market leads opinion!

I've been thinking about the "hows" of making the world a better place all weekend, but I don't know enough 'ologys or medicine to cure drug abuse, chronic greed, urban mental illness, virtue-signaling philanthropy, or how to reform out education systems and society to improve everyone's opportunities.

What I do suspect is markets are building up great long-term underlying weaknesses, but in the short-terms low interest rates for longer is a distortion, but positive for financial asset prices That can't be a good thing?


silverwolf888 , 20 minutes ago link

Shallow people and trolls are fond of saying, of capitalism, "this is not capitalism." In 1964 Professor Quigley (Tragedy And Hope) identified 5 stages of capitalism, and we have come a long way since then, for the worse. But, like the current communist Chinese, it is all capitalism, stock markets, banks and all. I believe Marx was right when he said communism and capitalism are the same thing, at a different stage. We need some kind of free market. But as to this capitalism thing, it is still a new phenomenon in history, and it is not working.

jutah , 57 minutes ago link

for all you keyboard commando defenders of Adam Smith one thing you fail to comprehend is that life is about more than what you can just buy and sell, that is the point. Failing to recognize this fact will only hasten your demise. On top of that, if 'true capitalism' is not what we have now you say, which is a valid point, then how did we get here? That is how it started out and now look where it ended up. It was flawed from the start because of the power of greed in order to purchase influence and infiltrate your 'pure system'.

Caloot , 2 hours ago link

Where's Capitalism? This country is more fascist than Italy during Mussolini. So again. This itineration ? This what, version? There aren't flavors to freedom , fknut.

itstippy , 3 hours ago link

There's something amiss in our money system and it's killing us. Why, in a system of Fractional Reserve Banking, do the banks no longer need or want savers to deposit savings with them? What happened?

For decades the various commercial banks courted depositors like eager suiters. They offered competing interest rates on savings accounts, promoted their 5 and 10 year CDs, even offered free toasters for opening a new savings account. Something fundamental changed with the repeal of Glass-Steagal in November, 1999. Banks now promote their "services" - which cost money - and their loans. Mortgage loans, HELOCs, car loans, student loans, credit cards, all manner of loans. We're inundated with offers from banks to loan us money.

Prior to the repeal of Glass-Steagal the saying was, "The only way to get a loan is to prove you don't need one."

HaveDream , 3 hours ago link

Long term speaking, global 'capitalism' is really an alliance between global bankers and one strong country at a time, to use that country's government to blow a national money and asset bubble. ('Imperial' is probably better than 'national.')

First it was the Dutch Empire, then it was the British, and then it was America. When one top country's strength is spent by debt, corruption and easy living, the bankers move on to the next one.

Things look bad today because we're near the end of one global empire but the next one (India) is still some way off. The elites have to do whatever ad hoc trickery to keep the current charade going, absent real strength and growth from a new national bubble.

[Feb 12, 2019] Angry Bear Hey Rustbelt and beyond, Losing factories is not new

Feb 12, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 11, 2019 3:03 pm

Until neoliberal elite stops its brutal squeeze of workers, expect collapsing of the social contract. The country was already in a pre-revolutionary state in 2016 with the net result of election of Trump over Clinton (and, given a chance, people would have chosen Sanders over Trump).

The color revolution against Trump, which is underway, is, as s side effect, undermining of influence of neoliberal MSM (aka "fake news" ) and social unity of the nation. When the President calls WaPo "Bezos blog" that's delegitimization (and naked Bezos photos does not help either) When FBI is compared to STASI and Mueller investigation is called a witch hunt that points on the deeply divided country with the fractured neoliberal elite experiencing the crisis of legitimacy.

But the basic problem is that it costs a lot of money to cultivate a segment of the market now as it involves creation of a group of new consumers. And the more sophisticated the segment is, the more expensive it is. If workers are squashed (good jobs are displaced by McJob and/or permatemps) you face stagnation as top 10% can't replace bottom 80% as consumers.

That's probably why the US economy can't escape secular stagnation and reported growth is within the error margin of measurements and heavily depends on the inflation metric and "expansive" treatment of GDP (gambling, financial industries, military expenses, etc)

Paul Krugman said the US economy may be heading into a recession On the positive side that might end Trump run and give Warren a chance. On the negative it will amplify the current inequality problems and might provoke social unrest.

Bert Schlitz , February 11, 2019 3:13 pm

Sorry, Lilbez, Trump didn't win anything and was a neoliberal invention which coincides with evangelical voters. Why you keep on missing that point? Don't you want to admit that?

Another little fact, Sprague's growth peaked in 1959. It actually was bleeding jobs by the late 60's which triggered the real strikes. Maybe, just maybe that growth was a illusion of the war driven destruction.

spencer , February 11, 2019 4:20 pm

Bert -- the first death of manufacturing was the New England textile and shoe industries in the 1920's–1940s. Those industries finally became too small to have a significant negative impact in New England in the 1960s and 1970s. Boston and other New England areas started rebounding in the 1960s, largely on the back of aerospace and other technology intensive industries. But the 1970 recession was lead by the fall in those industries. So the Massachusetts Miracle appeared to start with the recovery from the 1970 recession. What made Mass different. One by the 1960s shoes and textiles has become so small that they were no longer a significant drag on the economy. Second, Massachusetts continued its very large investment in education, and it was not only MIT, but throughout the public secondary and college level schools. So it had the educated population to move into the very early stages of the emerging information technology industries that later came to be known as the Massachusetts Miracle. So Mass went through the death of its key manufacturing industries earlier than other regions, but continued to invest heavily in education, something I'm afraid I do not see in the Midwest. Moreover, in the Midwest the traditional industries are still large enough that weakness in them still has a significant negative impact on GDP. Moreover, the growth we do see in autos and other Midwestern industries is occurring in the South and does not help the Midwest much -- Alabama is now the second most important manufacturer of cars and light trucks.

There is a certain validity to your analysis, but it is off by enough to be misleading.

Kaleberg , February 11, 2019 7:53 pm

Spencer is right about manufacturing vanishing over a much longer time frame. Manufacturing jobs have been vanishing since the early 20th century. A lot of this is increased efficiency. It used to take over 100 work-hours to build a car. Now it's down to 20 and still falling. New England industrialized early, and by the 1970s the dead/dying shoe industry was a major item in the presidential debates. In 'Still the Iron Age', Smil points out that the steel industry has probably gained an order of magnitude in efficiency over the last 30 years, but this kind of thing never gets press coverage. Basic oxygen furnaces and direct reduction or iron don't make good news stories.

The places that have recovered first emphasized education and having a broad portfolio. Who would have imagined how important furniture design and manufacturing would be to Los Angeles recovery from the aerospace collapse after the Cold War? The big difference with our "Rust Belt" is the overall massive level of denial combined with vicious racism and antisemitism: "If we could just kill enough blacks and Jews, they'll start making washing machines here again."

[Feb 11, 2019] The so-called shale revolution, the fracking miracle, may have resulted in record oil and gas production in North America, but the real miracle -- in which shale companies make money fracking that oil and gas -- has yet to occur.

Feb 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

While U.S. politicians from both parties have given standing ovations for the U.S. oil and gas industry , investors appear to be losing their enthusiasm. The so-called shale revolution, the fracking miracle, may have resulted in record oil and gas production in North America, but the real miracle -- in which shale companies make money fracking that oil and gas -- has yet to occur.

[Feb 11, 2019] Blain The Current Iteration Of 'Capitalism' Has Spawned Increased Global Poverty, Income Inequality, Urban Deprivation, Squal

Feb 11, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Blain's Morning Porridge, submitted by Bill Blain

What a fascinating world we live in.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos exposing himself, and exposes the National Inquirer for attempted blackmail. A young senator, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, snaring the headlines and proposing a preposterous New Green Deal – while further splitting the Democrats. Europe plunging back into recession. The UK no closer to a Brexit Deal (hang-on, that's not a headline that's just normal..) Deutsche Bank paying up to demonstrate it can borrow in markets. Santander facing a Euro 50 bln breach of promise lawsuit from Andreas Orcel (proving the Spanish banking adage: At Santander – you are either a Botin or a.. servant..) So much out there

Are all these things linked? Yes – the world we live in determines the functionality of global markets. You might believe Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was the victim of an Inquirer effort to "catch and kill" a story the paper has on Mr Trump's activities in Moscow, or you might believe Deutsche Bank's problems are part of a deeper malaise across European banking. Whatever the news changes our perceptions.

The trick is too separate the chaos of new flow from the tau of markets . Markets are linear functions of buy/sell – they are not necessarily about common sense. To illustrate: last week I wrote about Italy, pointing out just how hopelessly its ensnared and entrapped within the straight-jacket of the Euro, with little prospect of growth, employment or upside.

Yet Italian bonds are one of the top performing assets – AND WILL REMAIN SO – because the ECB can't afford to let Italy go, and Europe sliding back into downturn pretty much ensures they'll continue to bailout Italy and likely resurrect QE in some form – watch out for something like long-term repos. An article in one weekend paper says the EU is now turning a blind eye to European governments spending their way out of austerity driven recession.

Therefore, smart investors might agree with my analysis of Italy as unsustainable, yet keep buying Italy, and will keep on buying right up to the moment the arbitrage cracks. (According the theory of flight bumble-bees can't fly – but they do.) That's why the smart hedge fund bosses are watching the succession for Draghi's job at the ECB so carefully, and weighting populism in Germany so carefully – as it requires a complicit German electorate to keep the Euro illusion going. I suspect they care considerably less about the current spat betwixt France and Italy – entertaining as it is.

On a purely common sense Macro perspective, you should probably ignore Europe completely. Who cares about counties with sub 1% growth, demographic time-bombs ticking away, and a hopeless mish-mash of unpredictable populist politics coming to the fore? Go invest in the fast growing economies of Africa and Asia instead.. Yet, it still makes sense to arb the European game.

Such things are just facets of the six-impossible things before breakfast approach to investment.

Using the same logic, you might see US stock and bond markets as a screaming buy!

US growth remains robust – despite the FED clearly indicating its dialing back rate hikes. Essentially rates will remain flat. Is that a problem? From the market's perspective – get out the party hats! There is no long term inflation threat because there is zero wage pressure. Despite "full employment" US companies pay as little as they can. Wages aren't rising.

Low rates will fuel yet more share buy-backs for Bernie Sanders to fulminate against. Share buybacks are great for the market and excellent for senior executives and owners of businesses – converting equity into massively underpriced debt and handing more capital back to them. More highly levered companies don't actually build anything more, or create new jobs but the rich get richer – and, heck, isn't that what capitalism is all about? In the short-run .

Last week I commented in the Morning Porridge about Squalor and Creeping Poverty in San Francisco. It was an eye-opener. It got about a quarter of a million views on Zerohedge , I got trolled and called a communist /socialist /democratic no-nothing stooge. (On the plus side, I got over 300 comments from porridge readers, and only one was nasty. The rest ranged from supportive to constructively critical.)

It's a difficult one: the current iteration of capitalism has spawned increased Global Poverty, Income Inequality, Urban Deprivation, Squalor and Filth. Yet, somehow, such iniquity isn't actually bad for markets? Should I therefore hurrah the continuation of low rates as good for markets and ignore the bad for people thing? What's to worry about when share-buybacks push up stock prices, and the Fed is keeping rates artificially low to i) placate the president, and ii) counter the president's trade policies.

Long term – even my most hardened sink or sink free-market capitalist critics admit we face a disruptive inequality crisis. We can address it sooner or later. The imbalances are growing and the rules of mean reversion apply as much to society and politics as they do to markets ! Long-term markets would probably function better if everyone is positively motivated. Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism and economics got it. So do most people – but the sad reality is Change is Difficult – especially when the market leads opinion!

I've been thinking about the "hows" of making the world a better place all weekend, but I don't know enough 'ologys or medicine to cure drug abuse, chronic greed, urban mental illness, virtue-signaling philanthropy, or how to reform out education systems and society to improve everyone's opportunities.

What I do suspect is markets are building up great long-term underlying weaknesses, but in the short-terms low interest rates for longer is a distortion, but positive for financial asset prices That can't be a good thing?

[Feb 11, 2019] Many meaning of the word "free" are different from the "free from coercion" adopted by the Neoliberal Newspeak

Notable quotes:
"... The ruling class has successfully ruled out any concept of consent. Keep bringing consent up and their philosophies will be shown to be the same as gang rapists. ..."
"... They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. ..."
"... They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | www.unz.com

sentido kumon , says: February 3, 2019 at 10:17 am GMT

'Liber' in Latin means:
1) free (man)
2) free from tribute
3) independent, outspoken/frank
4) unimpeded
5) void of

The author needs to recheck his definitions. Voluntary exchange, consent, free markets, free will, etc are just some of the concepts at the heart of the true libertarian thought. The ruling class has successfully ruled out any concept of consent. Keep bringing consent up and their philosophies will be shown to be the same as gang rapists.

"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!" – Ludwig Von Mises

[Feb 11, 2019] Has neoliberal mirage become apparent by Dr Khisa

Notable quotes:
"... Dr Khisa is assistant professor at North Carolina State University (USA). ..."
"... moses.khisa@gmail.com ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | monitor.co.ug
No country or region of the world has ever broke out of the chains of poverty through the magic of the market. And no country has developed because of the benevolence of foreign capital. None. The consistent historical record has entailed growth and development anchored in highly nationalist economic agendas with heavy involvement of public institutions.
In fact, for much of medieval and early modern Europe, with England leading the way, national economies were built around mercantilism. This was a system that directly employed state power for national economic accumulation. Merchants and rulers drunk from the same teacup.
This system of mercantilism is in fact still alive today: For example, American military power is intricately tied to business interests for national accumulation and when American politicians talk about 'our national interest,' they primarily mean economic.
With a terribly disappointing record of modest growth, at best, without transformation, the neoliberal creed has come under increasing doubt from the front-runner converts of the 1980s, including our own NRM regime in Uganda. There has been a striking turnaround in rhetoric though not practice.
It is instructive to hear the Ugandan ruler belatedly lamenting the dubious practices of multinational telecom companies that evade taxes and repatriate all their profits: That is precisely what we signed up for. Sorry Mr President. With rapidly growing and disproportionately young populations, African countries are increasingly seen as the main frontier for product innovation and experimentation. So, China's aggressive penetration of the continent, seductively using infrastructural projects, has to be viewed in that light – to capture markets and raw materials for the long-term.
The raw end to Africa's place in the global economy, and for which African governments show little concern, is the one-way traffic of an unlimited open policy in Africa, but not for African products out of Africa, not in China or India and not in the West.
Part of the problem, we are often told, is not having competitive products for the so-called global markets, but how on earth is this ever going to happen when local producers are overrun on the home turf by cheap Chines goods? Much the same way we hunger for foreign investors, there is a rather misleading obsession with exporting to foreign markets. But the immediate, domestic market provides the necessary testing ground for breaking into the distant consumer.
African governments, more so the one of Mr Museveni, will do well to fully concede to the neoliberal mirage. Markets can theoretically do many things, but they have never on their own, delivered robust and sustained growth or brought about economic transformation. There is now wide consensus in academic circles that fiscal coercion, to direct credit and investment to certain critical sectors of a poor economy, is crucial to propel and sustain high growth.
For Uganda, the greatest obstacle to a radical rethink and turnaround of national economic policy is the powerful cabal, comprising local comprador class and foreign speculators, who have profiteered enormously from the laissez faire system, including commandeering public property and using state power for economic predation.
In that regard, the struggle for political change is also, in fact, most importantly in concrete terms, a struggle for economic revolution, to embark on a wholly different approach to a long-term national economic strategy.
Without an internally coherent and clearly articulated long-term plan for economic transformation, away from the orthodoxy of the IMF and the World, Uganda will remain trapped in poverty 50 years down the road. Dr Khisa is assistant professor at North Carolina State University (USA).
moses.khisa@gmail.com

[Feb 10, 2019] Neoliberalism is dead. Now let's repair our democratic institutions by Richard Denniss

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement. Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more. These days they proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form. ..."
"... While the hypocrisy is staggering, at least voters can now see that politics, and elections, matter. Having been told for decades that it was "global markets" that shaped our society, it's now clear that it is actually the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott who decide whether we get new coal mines or power stations. Luckily, millions of voters now realise that if it's OK to subsidise new coal mines, there's no reason we can't subsidise renewables instead. ..."
"... So, what to nationalise? What new machinery of state should we build first? Should we create a national anti-corruption watchdog, replace the productivity commission with a national interest commission, or abolish the failed network of finance sector regulators and build a new one from scratch? ..."
"... The death of neoliberalism means we can finally have a national debate about the size and role of government, and the shape of the economy and society we want to build. ..."
"... class warfare (by the rich against the 99%, though I should not need to say that) is still very much alive. ..."
"... The rise of nationalism is indeed worrying situation.. but its clear that mass discontent is driving a 'shift' away from the status quo and that opportunists of every creed are all trying to get in on the action.. ..."
"... the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss is population growth and lack of natural resources and meaningful 'employment' .. which self serving politicians are exploiting via playing the fear card and creating further division in society in order to embrace and increase their own power. Further more, no one, it seems, has any valid answers as regards resolving the division and creating a path forward.. thereby making more conflict an inevitability. ..."
"... Like Octopus, the globalists have every one of their eight legs in a different pot of gold. On their arms, suction cups maintain an iron grip. Trying to pull those suckers out, leaves us raw and bleeding. To release their grip, without hurting ourselves, we must aim for the brain. ..."
"... Murdoch's media empire has arms in every Democracy on earth. As his poisonous ink spread across our lands, we wallowed in the dark. ..."
"... The Oil and Coal Tycoons have arms in every black hole on earth. As their suckers pull black gold from the land beneath our feet, we choke on the air we breathe. ..."
"... The Financial Tyrants have arms in our buildings, factories, farms and homes. Their suckers stripped our pockets bare and we ran out of money. ..."
"... The False Prophets spread their arms into our private lives. Their suckers turned our modest, humble faiths into global empires filled with mega-churches, televangelists, jet-setting preachers and evangelical armies Hell bent on disruption and destruction. ..."
"... Neoliberalism may be dead but the former Trotskyites who invented it are still alive and they still have an agenda. ..."
"... Neo Liberalism was a project cooked up back in the late 1970s by the Capital owning classes & enacted by successive govts of "right" or "left" ever since. They feared the growing power of the working & middle classes which they felt threatened their own power & wealth. So they set out to destroy any ability of the working class to organise & to gut the middle class. ..."
"... Key to this was decoupling wages from productivity & forcing us all into debt peonage. Deregulation of the financial markets & the globalization of capital markets, disastorous multilateral trade deals & off shoring jobs, slashing state social programmes, Union busting laws all part of the plan. All covered with a lie that we live in meritocracies & the "best & brightest" are in charge. The result has been evermore riches funneled to the wealthiest few percent & a wealth gap bigger than that of the gilded age ..."
"... The majority press are so organised around the idea that neoliberalism in the sense captured economically and to some extent socially as construed in the article above; ..."
"... Rumours of neoliberalism's death have been somewhat exaggerated. Its been on life support provided by the LNP since John Howard and there are still a few market fundamentalists lurking in the ranks of the ALP, just waiting for their chance to do New Labor MkII in memory of Paul Keating. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's lasting legacy will not be the ludicrous economic programs, privatizations and deregulation, those can all be rolled back if some party would grow a spine. The real damage was caused by the aping of the US and UK's cult of individual responsibility, the atomizing effects of neoliberal anti-social policy and demonization of collective action including unionism. ..."
Oct 31, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

The opposite of a neoliberal economic agenda isn't a progressive economic agenda, but democratic re-engagement. Neoliberalism taught us that "there is no alternative" to cutting taxes, cutting services and letting the banks treat us as they see fit. But of course not even the Coalition believes that any more. These days they proudly subsidise their friends and regulate their enemies in order to reshape Australia in their preferred form.

While the hypocrisy is staggering, at least voters can now see that politics, and elections, matter. Having been told for decades that it was "global markets" that shaped our society, it's now clear that it is actually the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott who decide whether we get new coal mines or power stations. Luckily, millions of voters now realise that if it's OK to subsidise new coal mines, there's no reason we can't subsidise renewables instead.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world Read more

The parliament is filling with people of all political persuasions who, if nothing else, decry the neoliberal agenda to shrink our government and our national vision. While there's obviously quite a distance between MPs who want to build the nation, one new coal mine at a time, and those who want to fill our cities with renewable energy, the whole purpose of democracy is to settle such disputes at the ballot box.

The Liberals want to nationalise coal-fired power stations and