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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 Bookshelf Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Number racket Neoliberalism 101: 12 best articles on neoliberalism Economism and abuse of economic theory in American politics
Supply Side or Trickle down economics Invisible Hand Hypothesys Efficient Market Hypothesis Monetarism fiasco Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy Hyman Minsky Samuelson's bastard Keynesianism Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo
In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Mathiness Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Think Tanks Enablers Twelve apostles of deregulation Bill Clinton, the founder of "Vichy left"
Free Market Fundamentalism Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Lawrence Summers Corruption of Regulators Glass-Steagall repeal Small government smoke screen Rational expectations scam Free Markets Newspeak
The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Deep State Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Introduction to Lysenkoism Republican Economic Policy Libertarian Philosophy    
John Kenneth Galbraith     History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite 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

[Apr 05, 2020] Hegemonic ideologies tend to naturalize socioculturally-generated pathologies, often dismissing them as "human nature."

Greed is good/ Of course it is, but not for everybody ;-)
Apr 05, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
susan , Apr 3 2020 3:18 utc | 192
Richard Steven Hack @101

Since two others have mentioned this, I'll thrown this out.

Hegemonic ideologies tend to naturalize socioculturally-generated pathologies, often dismissing them as "human nature."

I don't understand you to be necessarily doing this when you identify "human nature" with callous self-centeredness given your other writing (and generously shared links) but it does sound like you are using the term too loosely in your post for materialists and others to philosophically stomach. I am not the only one who objected to the usage upon reading.

Can "human nature" be identified, labeled, discussed separate from historical and material conditions? Is "human nature" not constituted via dialectical processes at multiple levels occurring through time and space, not least of all cultural which is shaped by socioeconomic conditions.

[Mar 28, 2020] Free market and wage arbitrage

Mar 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Kessler 11 hours ago

I'd add another consideration.

Let's say Bob can make 10 high-quality wigets per hour, while Jim can make 8 medium-quality wigets per hour. Bob gets paid 100$, while Jim gets paid 50$. Bob is more efficient and productive worker. But he will be fired and replaced by Jim, because Jim's cost of labor is lower. In this case market will eliminate the more productive worker in favor of a less productive one.

Now, within one nation this difference in wages will be very unlikely and quickly adjusted by the market. But between nations, Jim could be living in a poor country, where he can afford to survive on 50$, while Bob lives in a rich country with high rents and high product costs, so he'd barely get by on 100$.

So, how much of the global trade is increasing overall value due to local advantages and how much is just shifting value from some people in favor of others? And shouldn't we favor the first and minimize the second?

tz1 10 hours ago
We did test the antifragility.

Warnings like this have been happening over the past decade, and there are books (Poorly made in China) showing each part of the threat.

Each time, it was "Interview with a Zombie" with someone from NR, or Cato, or Mises, or even here, gurgling "Freeeeee Traaaade; Laaaazeeeee Faaaaire".

Trade has frictional costs. The shipping between the Ricardian tautological countries is not free. If it costs $10,000 to send the products to the destination, there is no comparitive advantage. Nature provides barriers.

But even worse, there is NO free trade, just regulatory arbitrage. Lets say you need to open a factory. You can:

1. Open it here and wait for the swarms of agents from OSHA, EEOC, EPA, IRS, etc. to harrass you and eat out your substance, and your workers to be treated like people, and have to get loans from an often hostile banking system that prefers wall street ETFs. An implacable bunch of socialists and SJWs that think Capitilists are evil and capitalism must be destroyed or just people on power trips will constantly try to close you down and bankrupt you personally and throw you in prison.

2. Open it in China where they will kick farmers off the land and build it for you, and staff it with disposable workers and you can just dump pollution into the local stream. There will be the customary cultural cronyism and corruption, but that's what a consultant is for (Poorly made in china, whats wrong with China). But it is the symbiont that wants to keep the host healthy so there will be the most blood to skim.

3. Open it in Mexico where it also has different customs than China, but the crony corruption is still far easier to deal with and less expensive than the Destroyer Obamabots.

john 7 hours ago
Capitalism is really good at optimizing for lowest cost, it is really bad at dealing with "externalities" like a once in a hundred year global pandemic. Governments should take the "long view" well at least 4-5 years at a time. Corporations look at things more quarter to quarter.
Jorge Morales Meoqui 3 hours ago
As Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile, the two authors are making a straw men argument with regard to David Ricardo.

I don't blame them. They are repeating what is written in most economics textbooks about the theory of comparative advantage. How they should know that this textbook theory is based on a misinterpretation of Ricardo's famous numerical example. (See here: https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/...

Ricardo did not assume that prices would remain stable, nor did he recommended that a nation should specialise in one major industry or that no two agents should specialise in the same industry. Depending on a single supplier is indeed a risky bet, but that is not what their original case for free trade recommended. On the contrary, it was meant to be a remedy against national and foreign monopolies.

Many lessons can be learned from the present crisis. To make countries less vulnerable or fragile to pandemics like COVID-19, we need robust public health care systems that covers all its residents. The health care system needs to have excess capacities (hospital beds, medical personal, ) and sufficient stocks (masks, ventilators, ) to handle the significant increase in the number of patients during pandemics. We need more international cooperation, coordination and solidarity, not less. So the exact opposite of protectionism and national solo efforts.

[Mar 28, 2020] Neoliberal priorities: plenty of USG resources for Pentagon and to run pandemic war games but no money to create the most basic stockpiles (thermometers, face masks, gloves)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion. ..."
"... Trump is like the kid who played video games when he should have been doing his homework, then failed miserably on the test and tried to bullshit his way through the essay questions. ..."
"... As you are probably aware, a handful of elected leaders were selling their stock while assuaging the public about the dangers of the pandemic. We've gone from incompetence, to negligence, to outright profiteering. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Last year, the Dept. of Health and Human Services ran a 7 month long exercise code named "Crimson Contagion," a dry run response to a global pandemic which started in China and expected more than 100 million Americans to become ill.

The simulation highlighted several failures in our preparedness for such a catastrophe .

DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knew there'd be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.

The New York Times broke this story yesterday, but as it's behind a paywall I won't link to it. But there's a good interview with one of the authors conducted by NPR.

Trump is like the kid who played video games when he should have been doing his homework, then failed miserably on the test and tried to bullshit his way through the essay questions.

As you are probably aware, a handful of elected leaders were selling their stock while assuaging the public about the dangers of the pandemic. We've gone from incompetence, to negligence, to outright profiteering.


QMS on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:05am
good point Marie

@Marie

dropping bombs and sanctioning free commerce in other countries is the American way of protecting the proceeds of the sociopaths
not such a good way to stop pandemics. Not in my name congress

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:57am
We do have a weird definition of national security.

@QMS
Fifty-six years dumping an untold number of dollars into "keeping us safe" from a foreign invader and the one time it happened, not any of the resources were worth a damn.

The problem isn't so much that the real threats are unknown, at least not in broad outline form, but they're not "sexy." Not amenable to what the military and cloak and dagger spy guys are into. And the perpetual USG budgets for the sexy stuff is far more profitable. And is better suited to hiding all the graft and corruption (and employing the surplus and unskilled labor that elite universities crank out) that upset ordinary people fearful that some undeserving person would get something for free from the USG.

Cant Stop the M... on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 3:52pm
Apparently medical supplies don't count as military

@Marie

supplies, either. Well, given how the govt likely views our soldiers, I guess that's not surprising.

pandemic war games but no money to implement the most basic stockpiles (thermometers, face masks, gloves) that would be very helpful in containing a virus. The larger serious shortcomings in the US are mostly intractable due to the "best" health care system that money can buy.

[Mar 28, 2020] Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 5:32 pm GMT

"Contrary to free-market catechism, the pursuit of profit frequently runs contrary to the public's well-being. This is especially true in an industry devoted to inventing and manufacturing health-giving and life-saving drugs."

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/3/gilead-orphan-drug-remdesivir-coronavirus

The free market is for chumps and the parasties who feed on them.

[Mar 28, 2020] On disappearance of certain drugs

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: Show Comment March 26, 2020 at 9:03 pm GMT

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Realist , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:51 am GMT
@obwandiyag

They have every right to suppress cures and raise prices.

It's the free market. Don't you people get it?

Sadly that's what the free market means to the wealthy and powerful.

Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 28, 2020] Just imagine the French hoity toity now not having to put up with the yellow vests in the streets. Must be such a comforting relief.

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Old and Grumpy , says: Show Comment

[Mar 28, 2020] One common flavour of modern idiotism: I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Redneck farmer , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 10:09 am GMT

There is also a tendency to think newer=better. I've heard doctors and pharmacists complain that patients will get offended when prescribed a cheaper, older drug. They want the best and newest, they need and deserve it!
Jake , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 11:42 am GMT
@Redneck farmer That is because advertising works. Drug companies being allowed to advertise guaranteed that predators, such as the Sacklers, would want to own drug companies.
Oracle , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:43 pm GMT
More activity on the dark, unethical side of capitalism. There's an entire history of it, opium wars, Atlantic slave trade, pornography, control of political agents through pedophilia. The list does go on and strangely enough it's usually the same actors.

[Mar 27, 2020] We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations under strct USA sanction

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 26 2020 23:56 utc | 90

Just one of many important anecdotal observations :

"We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations we sanction."

[Mar 27, 2020] Exactly when did behaviour of neoliberals become a bunch of out-takes from Catch-22?"

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Mar 27 2020 1:17 utc | 98

johnbrewster@77
Here's a story from today's Toronto Star. It's a neoliberalism story and goes well with Pepe Escobar's piece in Asia Times (see above for link)
Basically the Province of Ontario stockpiled everything need for the pandemic that SARs warned them was bound to come.

Then, a couple of years ago, they destroyed the stockpiles including 55 million facemasks.

Now there are no face masks to be found and medical staff, inter alia, are having to take totally unnecessary risks.

Why did this happen? Because neo-liberalism is all about profits and fiscal austerity: as soon as the masks got beyond their 'best before' date they were destroyed - so the manufacturers could have another bite at the cherry and sell another 55 million masks. But then, austerity, the need to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, stepped in so the orders were not renewed. And people will die, horrible deaths, as a result.


https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2020/03/25/province-stockpiled-55-million-face-masks-then-destroyed-them.html

[Mar 27, 2020] Looks like the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell.

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

steve , Mar 26 2020 22:46 utc | 75

For me the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell. The USA took victory way to seriously.

[Mar 27, 2020] Larry Summers should have a drink named after him

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Mar 26 2020 19:46 utc | 22

karlof1 #10

Larry Summers should have a drink named after him.
Ofshore double hoarder
Safebreaker with tonic
Gin and plunder scammer


Thanks b,I bought last roll of narrow elastic yesterday and will cut up some old silk shirts today.

[Mar 27, 2020] Trump's about as innocent in the coronavirus fiasco as jack the ripper

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Miss Lacy , Mar 26 2020 20:32 utc | 35

PS to vk # 1. Please think again. Trump has been in a trade war with China for what? a couple of years? AND, he specifically banned imports of medical supplies from China. Other posters wave supplied links for this idiocy.

Trump's about as innocent as jack the ripper. You may just be seeing things relatively, as ghouls like Elliot Abrahms and disgusting Pomposity make Trump seen like an amateur.

[Mar 27, 2020] Authentic scientific inquiry of any sort is virtually impossible under neoliberalism

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Allen , Mar 27 2020 1:57 utc | 113

The money-driven institutions long ago hijacked America's health agencies–the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), FDA, Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Mental Health, and the USDA– authentic scientific inquiry of any sort is virtually impossible in this climate.

During the past two decades the lines dividing the pharmaceutical industry and the federal health agencies has become increasingly blurred to put it kindly. The revolving door between private interests and top government employees at these agencies is well documented. One example is former CDC director Julie Gerberding who left government to become president of Merck's vaccine division, a move that earned her upwards of $3 million in stock options.

Keep in mind that CDC members own more than 50 patents connected to vaccinations.

Each of the 12 members of the CDC's ACIP Committee has a significant influence on the health of nearly every member of the American population. These are the people who are responsible for adding to and/or altering the national vaccine schedule. Does anyone believe for a second that given that these CDC members have a direct financial interest in this matter that they can remain objective and unbiased in creating vaccine policy, for example.

A significant number of ACIP committee members receive direct financial returns when more vaccinations are added to the current schedule. Many own vaccination related patents.

Some examples of patents owned or shared by members of the CDC and/or ACIP committee are;

1) Nucleic acid vaccines for prevention of flavivirus infection"
2) Various vaccination testing methods
3) Adjuvant patents
4) Assays that assist vaccine development
5) Vaccine quality control


Members of the CDC also own stock shares of the pharmaceutical companies responsible for supplying new vaccines to the public. Others receive research grant money, funding for their academic departments, or payments for the oversight of vaccine safety trials.

In 2007 the WHO changed it's definition of what qualifies as a pandemic. That needs to considered in the context of how the WHO changing it's funding mechanisms in 2005- meaning they went from a member states funded entity to a "private/public" partnership (PPP's).

As you might imagine the pharmaceuticals became primary donors and began to influence and now control policy decisions that come down from the WHO. Let's also keep in mind that when a "global pandemic" (again this is now defined by a decision-making body tied to large Pharma companies) is officially declared, certain powers now become "legal" for governments.

One of THE main outcomes in these PPP's is that virtually all funding for medical research gets funneled into certain spheres- meaning towards research that is ultimately going to benefit those companies funding it- Big Pharma.

[Mar 26, 2020] Reflections on a Century of Junk Science

Highly recommended!
Mar 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Kratoklastes , says: Show Comment Next New Comment March 25, 2020 at 6:16 pm GMT

@thotmonger

I also remember some of early estimates of Mad Cow disease in humans in UK and they turned out to be very exaggerated.

When the political class was trying to de-gay HIV/AIDS in 1987, they had Oprah tell everyone that 20% of heterosexual people would be dead before 1990.

The first I learned of Oprah's jaw-droppingly sensationalist remarks, was in a piece a couple of days ago on AmericanThinker (which sounds like a rare bird indeed, if not an outright oxymoron – but it has good stuff from time to time).

Anyhow, it was an interesting piece – entitled " Reflections on a Century of Junk Science " by the author of " Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture ", which I will acquire today. (The book's 11 years old, but sounds like it will be along the same lines as Kendrick's " Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense ", which was excellent).

[Mar 25, 2020] Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise - While Forecasting Major Coronavirus-caused Financial Crash for Americans

Mar 25, 2020 | www.unz.com

Boiling frogss , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm GMT

Goldman Gives CEO 20% Raise-

While Forecasting Major CoronaVirus-Caused Financial Crash for Americans

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MFinbvX0Jg0?feature=oembed

https://www.youtube.com/embed/IXatS9PeuCU?feature=oembed

[Mar 24, 2020] Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! by Mike Whitney

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media User Settings: Version? Social Media? Read Aloud w/ Show Word Counts No Video Autoplay No Infinite Scrolling
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Imagine if the congress approved a measure to form a public-private partnership between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Can you imagine that?

Now imagine if a panicky and ill-informed Congress gave the Fed a blank check to bail out all of its crooked crony corporate and Wall Street friends, allowing the Fed to provide more than $4.5 trillion to underwater corporations that ripped off Mom and Pop investors by selling them bonds that were used to goose their stock prices so fatcat CEOs could make off like bandits. Imagine if all that red ink from private actors was piled onto the national debt pushing long-term interest rates into the stratosphere while crushing small businesses, households and ordinary working people.

Now try to imagine the impact this would have on the nation's future. Imagine if the Central Bank was given the green-light to devour the Treasury, control the country's "purse strings", and use nation's taxing authority to shore up its trillions in ultra-risky leveraged bets, its opaque financially-engineered ponzi-instruments, and its massive speculative debts that have gone pear-shaped leaving a gaping black hole on its balance sheet?

Well, you won't have to imagine this scenario for much longer, because the reality is nearly at hand. You see, the traitorous, dumbshit nincompoops in Congress are just a hairs-breadth away from abdicating congress's crucial power of the purse, which is not only their greatest strength, but also allows the congress to reign in abuses of executive power by controlling the flow of funding. The power of the purse is the supreme power of government which is why the founders entrusted it to the people's elected representatives in congress. Now these imbeciles are deciding whether to hand over that authority to a privately-owned banking cartel that has greatly expanded the chasm between rich and poor, incentivized destructive speculation on an industrial scale, and repeatedly inflated behemoth asset-price bubbles that have inevitably blown up sending stocks and the real economy into freefall. The idea of merging the Fed and the Treasury first appeared in its raw form in an article by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen in the Financial Times. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

"The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt The Fed's intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market." ( Financial Times )

The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of "price stability and full employment". It's also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That's their problem, not the Fed's and not the American taxpayer's.

But notice how Bernanke emphasizes how "Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed". Why do you think he said that?

He said it because he anticipates an arrangement where the new Treasury-Fed combo could buy up to "$4.5 trillion of corporate debt" (according to Marketwatch and BofA). And the way this will work, is the Fed will select the bonds that will be purchased and the credit risk will be heaped onto the US Treasury. Apparently Bernanke and Yellen think this is a "fair" arrangement, but others might differ on that point.

Keep in mind, that in the last week alone, investors pulled a record $107 billion out of corporate bonds which is a market which has been in a deep-freeze for nearly a month. The only activity is the steady surge of redemptions by frantic investors who want to get their money back before the listing ship heads for Davey Jones locker. This is the market that Bernanke wants the American people to bail out mainly because he doesn't want to submerge the Fed's balance sheet in red ink. He wants to find a sucker who will take the loss instead. That's where Uncle Sam comes in, he's the target of this subterfuge. This same theme pops up in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Check it out:

"At least Treasury has come around to realizing it needs a facility to provide liquidity for companies. But as we write this, Mr. Mnuchin was still insisting that Treasury have control of most of the money to be able to ladle out directly to companies it wants to help. This is a recipe for picking winners and losers, and thus for bitter political fights and months of ugly headlines charging favoritism. The far better answer is for Treasury to use money from Congress to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund to back the Fed in creating a facility or special-purpose vehicles under Section 13(3) to lend the money to all comers. "( "Leaderless on the Econom" , Wall Street Journal)

I can hardly believe the author is bold enough to say this right to our faces. Read it carefully: They are saying "We want your money, but not your advice. The Fed will choose who gets the cash and who doesn't. Just put your trillions on the counter and get the hell out."

Isn't that what they're saying? Of course it is. And the rest of the article is even more arrogant:

"The Fed can charge a non-concessionary rate, but the vehicles should be open to those who think they need the money, not merely to those Treasury decides are worthy." (Huh? So the Treasury should have no say so in who gets taxpayer money??) The looming liquidity crisis is simply too great for that kind of bureaucratic, politicized decision-making. (Wall Street Journal)

Get it? In other words, the folks at Treasury are just too stupid or too prejudiced to understand the subtleties of a bigass bailout like this. Is that arrogance or what?

This is the contempt these people have for you and me and everyone else who isn't a part of their elitist gaggle of reprobates. Here's a clip from another article at the WSJ that helps to show how the financial media is pushing this gigantic handout to corporate America:.

"The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and banking regulators deserve congratulations for their bold, necessary actions to provide liquidity to the U.S. financial system amid the coronavirus crisis. But more remains to be done. We thus recommend: (1) immediate congressional action . to authorize the Treasury to use the Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee prime money-market funds, (2) regulatory action to effect temporary reductions in bank capital and liquidity requirements (NOTE–So now the banks don't need to hold capital against their loans?) .. additional Fed lending to banks and nonbanks .(Note -by "nonbanks", does the author mean underwater hedge funds?)

We recommend that the Fed take further actions as lender of last resort. First, it should re-establish the Term Auction Facility, used in the 2008 crisis, allowing depository institutions to borrow against a broad range of collateral at an auction price (Note–They want to drop the requirement for good Triple A collateral.) Second, it should consider further exercising its Section 13(3) authority to provide additional liquidity to nonbanks, potentially including purchases of corporate debt through a special-purpose vehicle" ( "Do More to Avert a Liquidity Crisis" , Wall Street Journal )

This isn't a bailout, it's a joke, and there's no way Congress should approve these measures, particularly the merging of the US Treasury with the cutthroat Fed. That's a prescription for disaster! The Fed needs to be abolished not embraced as a state institution. It's madness!

And look how the author wants to set up an special-purpose vehicle (SPV) so the accounting chicanery can be kept off the books which means the public won't know how much money is being flushed down the toilet trying to resuscitate these insolvent corporations whose executives are still living high on the hog on the money they stole from credulous investors. This whole scam stinks to high heaven!

Meanwhile America's working people will get a whopping $1,000 bucks to tide them over until the debts pile up to the rafters and they're forced to rob the neighborhood 7-11 to feed the kids. How fair is that?

And don't kid yourself: This isn't a bailout, it's the elitist's political agenda aimed at creating a permanent underclass who'll work for peanuts just to eek out a living.

Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika!


anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:03 am GMT

In 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve bailed out the global banking system to the tune of $16 Trillion. But American citizens were left to pay usurious rates of interest on $1 Trillion of credit card debt. And American students had lost years of economic opportunity but their $1 Trillion dollars of debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This time the banks should stand behind the debtors at the government troth.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:06 am GMT
It's hard to understand how holiday cruise shipping can be regarded as an essential business.

It is almost as hard to understand why a "Globalist Enterprise" should be spared its fate through the generosity of of one country. Even harder to understand, why would that one country should bail out a business, which had employed both tax-avoidance schemes as well as strategy import substitution and foreign investment to improve its profits at the expense of that country.

Nationalism is better that globalism. The current crisis was not caused by globalism; but globalism has drained from our country the means to respond to the crisis with the medicines and equipment that would reduce its severity.

Not a single cent of government aid should go toward a person or an entity outside the United States and it territories. Conditions should be placed upon such aid, so that the companies receiving it, must domesticate their supply chains, and must produce and develop their products within the United States.

Kim , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:38 am GMT
@anachronism Make the universities discharge the student debt. It was their scam all along. They can begin by retrenching their schools of the humanities and at least halving their administrative staff. And end building and sports programs. The fat hangs heavy on that particular pig.
anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:19 am GMT
@Kim I agree with you up to a point.

The student and the university should share responsibility equally. In the future, the institution should be made a co-signor on any student loan; and the obligation to repay the loan should be joint and several for both the institution and the student.

Bankruptcy provides the ex-student with the chance to start over and to escape the burden; but not without consequences. This will discourage the ex-student, who is doing well financially and has the means to service the debt, from just walking away.

[Mar 23, 2020] Looks like the virus further damage neoliberalism

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Mar 22 2020 19:39 utc | 60

The idea advanced on the last thread [by Vk and here @7 and 39 I think] that governments should be organized around something different than economics is sound and worthy of everyone's input, ideas and objections; discussion is needed and welcome.

International human to human discussion should take place. Human experience with nation state globalism has shown just how vulnerable humanity is to organized and institutionalized corruption; the actions of the leaders of individual nations have shown the nation state system cannot be trusted.

The Covid 19 pandemic has reminded us all that we as humans <= have a right to a government that is of our collective liking, we have learned that governments must serve the best interest of the most persons, not special interest of a few. Governments which fail to serve equal right, open access and equal chance to those it governs are prima facia legitimates. Covid 19 brought the meaning of the principle of self-determination to the forefront. Everyone's life is challenged by submicroscopic beast. It takes the cooperation of all of us, to save most of us, and it takes the corruption of a few, to ruin it all, for most of us.

Human rights come first, long before economics . No economic rationale can support the delay or justify the cost of failure for those entrusted with the power to act, should they fail to timely act with diligence on threat that human lives are in danger. Experience suggest it is not possible to leave the power, function, and direction of government to those whose responsibility it is to operate it <= something very different is needed.

Covid 19 was a wake up call , that makes real the unfulfilled and failed campaign promises in a never ending trail of campaigns. Its time for everyone to insist on truth, truth in media, truth in political campaigns, open book truth from those appointed to government, and to bring everyone's troops home. Its time for nation states to stop supporting the private oil and gas bandits, the MSM, or any other special interest, its time to make a single global currency that bears no interest and that does not require repayment of principal, its time for governments to stop arming belligerents, their own or those of anyone else (gun control should be transformed into between governments, weapons control and the persons of all humans everywhere should be equally armed), its time to stop one nation instigating or supporting regime change in another, and its time to deny government leaders from using the governments they lead, to enable private or corrupt profits. Every human has a right to life, liberty and to pursuit of happiness: <=governments were instituted to secure to mankind the enjoyment of the privilege of those rights; but it seems mankind has been lax in making these governments conform to their privilege of existence.

A $0 military budget, and no interest, no repay currency could bring the credit needed to create multi many places of employment, AWA fix ailing infra structures, improve access to, even make access globally universal. It could improve the quality of education and open to everyone<= fair play, access to capital (instead of venture capital expecting reward of profit, how about advances of capital in search of human progress). which could enable real progress on earth for mankind.

Its time to eliminate the dependency on, or even the existence of those monopolies nation states like to create out of thin air by using their power to invent by rule of law, powers that restrain true competition (license, privatized government ownership, special authority, patents, copyrights, and the private property ownership).

It time to stop over hyped , Wall Street multi global type greed which only exist because currency is used as control devise, instead of a facilitator. Nation states should facilitate humans to interact, in ways transparent to the nation state boundaries (Its economics, that encourages non sharing attitudes, that cause competitors to seek ways to use governments to restrain human inter action). Humans should try to replace foreign products with locally made goods and the foreign goods producers should be encouraged to make goods in places where the goods have a demand because demand produces jobs and provides opportunity, globalism organized to produce economic gains, often attempt to steal from locals the benefits of demand created by the locals. The local province rule should apply: that is if locals want to make it, multinationals should be denied. The billions saved to the global economy in unexpended energy consumption (no transport cost), could bring prices of goods and services to comparative advantage adjusted market price levels. I predict, the poor would prosper because they would have an opportunity to contribute to our global human society, and government would be re instituted to encourage and enforce equality for all to those it governs. Governments should restrain and deny wealth, but they should encourage and facilitate local competition. At one time people elected their representatives based on performance in accord to those ideals. Currency that carries no interest and that never needs to be repaid, challenges economic induced greed and redirects the efforts of mankind to providing that which is needed.

In 1949 the income tax in USA governed America was layered into tiers (where different tax rates were applied); the USA taxed those who made big bucks at 90% in its highest tier .. Seem to recall Briton had something similar [100% of everything over $150,000 pounds of taxable Income?]. From here => http://www.milefoot.com/math/businessmath/taxes/fit.htm <=i made a table
year rate@personal taxable income level
1941 81% @$5,000,000
1942-1943 88% @$200,000
1944-1945 94% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate.
1946-1947 91% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate (85.5% >credits).
1948-1951 91% @$400,000 The tax limited to a 77% effective rate in 1948-1949, .
1952-1953 92% @$400,000 The tax was limited to an 88% effective rate.

corporate rate from http://www.milefoot.com/math/businessmath/taxes/fit.htm I made a small table.
1942- 1945 40% > $50,000
1946- 1949 38% > $50,000
1950 42% > $25,000
1951 50.75% > $25,000
1952- 1963 52% > $25,000
1964 52% > $25,000
1965- 1967 48% > $25,000
1968- 1969 52.8% > $25,000

These numbers suggest a long winded story of useless corruption.

[Mar 23, 2020] If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

TJ , Mar 22 2020 20:57 utc | 74

@1 vk

If you'd ever tried to set up a business here in the UK, you'd realise pretty quickly that you are under complete and utter control of the government in every aspect and they own your business by dint of the taxes and the loans you have to take out from their banker friends, we have soft communism because the government owns you but pretends not to. Magna Carta is dead and it's only possible resuscitation would be a Runnymede 2 Electric Boogaloo.

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - A Tale of Two Foreign Policies The Train-Wreck Abroad Is Bipartisan by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did ..."
"... Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States. ..."
"... Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy. ..."
"... Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president. ..."
Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

Now that the Democratic Party has apparently succeeded in getting rid of the only two voices among its presidential candidates that actually deviated from the establishment consensus, it appears that Joe Biden will be running against Donald Trump in November. To be sure, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are still hanging on, but the fix was in and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) made sure that Sanders would be given the death blow on Super Tuesday while Gabbard would be blocked from participating in any of the late term debates.

It is widely believed that the abrupt withdrawal of candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on the eve of Super Tuesday that targeted Sanders was arranged through an intervention by ex-President Barack Obama who made a plea in support of "party unity," offering the two a significant quid pro quo down the road if they were willing to leave the race and throw their support to Biden, which they dutifully did. Rumor has it that Klobuchar might well wind up as Biden's vice president. An alternative tale is that it was a much more threatening "offer that couldn't be refused" coming from the Clintons.

... ... ...

Both Trump and Biden might reasonably described as Zionists, Trump by virtue of the made-in-Israel foreign policy positions he has delivered on since his election, and Biden by word and deed during his entire time in politics. When Biden encountered Sarah Palin in 2008 in the vice-presidential debate, he and Palin sought to outdo each other in enthusing over how much they love the Jewish state. Biden has said that "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist" and also, ridiculously, "Were there not an Israel, the U.S. would have to invent one. We will never abandon Israel -- out of our own self-interest. [It] is the best $3 billion investment we make." Biden has been a regular feature speaker at the annual AIPAC summit in Washington.

Trump might be described as both paranoid and narcissistic, meaning that he sees himself as surrounded by enemies and that the enemies are out to get him personally. When he is criticized, he either ridicules the source or does something impulsive to deflect what is being said. He attacked Syria twice based on false claims about the use of chemical weapons when a consensus developed in the media and in congress that he was being "weak" in the Middle East. Those attacks were war crimes as Syria was not threatening the United States.

Trump similarly reversed himself on withdrawing from Syria when he ran into criticism of the move and his plan to extricate the United States from Afghanistan, if it develops at all, could easily be subjected to similar revision. Trump is not really the man who as a candidate indicated that he was seriously looking for a way out of America's endless and pointless wars, no matter what his supporters continue to assert.

Biden is on a different track in that he is an establishment hawk. As head of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee back in 2002-2003 he green lighted George W. Bush's plan to attack Iraq. Beyond that, he cheer-leaded the effort from the Democratic Party benches, helping to create a consensus both in Washington and in the media that Saddam Hussein was a threat that had to be dealt with. He should have known better as he was privy to intelligence that was suggesting that the Iraqis were no threat at all. He did not moderate his tune on Iraq until after 2005, when the expected slam-dunk quick victory got very messy.

Biden was also certainly privy to the decision making by President Barack Obama, which include the destruction of Libya and the killing of American citizens by drone. Whether he actively supported those policies is unknown, but he has never been challenged on them. What is clear is that he did not object to them, another sign of his willingness to go along with the establishment, a tendency which will undoubtedly continue if he is elected president.

And Biden's foreign policy reminiscences are is subject to what appear to be memory losses or inability to articulate, illustrated by a whole series of faux pas during the campaign. He has a number of times told a tale of his heroism in Afghanistan that is complete fiction , similar to Hillary Clinton's lying claims of courage under fire in Bosnia.

So, we have a president in place who takes foreign policy personally in that his first thoughts are "how does it make me look?" and a prospective challenger who appears to be suffering from initial stages of dementia and who has always been relied upon to support the establishment line, whatever it might be. Though Trump is the more dangerous of the two as he is both unpredictable and irrational, the likelihood is that Biden will be guided by the Clintons and Obamas. To put it another way, no matter who is president the likelihood that the United States will change direction to get away from its interventionism and bullying on a global scale is virtually nonexistent. At least until the money runs out. Or to express it as a friend of mine does, "No matter who is elected we Americans wind up getting John McCain." Goodnight America!

Philip Giraldi Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. A former CIA Case Officer and Army Intelligence Officer who spent twenty years overseas in Europe and the Middle East working terrorism cases. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago and an MA and PhD in Modern History from the University of London. " Source "

[Mar 22, 2020] Opinion - Neoliberalism's Death Knell

Mar 22, 2020 | www.informationclearinghouse.info

In the latest It's Our Money podcast , PBI Chair Ellen Brown and co-host Walt McRee speak with renowned economist Michael Hudson, member of the Public Banking Institute Advisory Board. Walt introduces the episode:

The global economic devastation produced by market-driven profiteering has resulted in distressed and deprived citizens taking to the streets by the hundreds of thousands in cities around the globe and continues its destructive exploitation of our planet's resources. The culprit is an aging "neo-liberal" economic system which produces historic social inequality while consolidating power in the hands of a few. Our guest, renowned economist Michael Hudson, says this system is more neo-feudal than neo-liberal – and that its inherent excesses are on the verge of bringing it down . Ellen reports that one example of its demise may be in Mexico where its new president is creating new public banks to help address some of its neo-liberal market inequities. - [ Listen to the podcast ]

Michael Hudson: [00:00:00] There's recognition that commercial banking has become dysfunctional and that most loans by commercial banks are either against assets – in which case the lending inflates the prices of real estate, stocks and bonds – or for corporate takeover loans.
The economy's low-income brackets have not been helped by today's financial system. Here in New York City, red lining and a visceral class hatred by high finance toward the poor characterized the major banks. From the very top to the bottom, they were very clear they were not going to lend to places with racial minorities like the Lower East Side. The Chase Manhattan Bank told me that the reason was explicitly ethnic, and they didn't want to deal with poor people.

A lot of people in these neighborhoods used to have savings banks. There were 135 mutual savings banks in New York City with names like the Bowery Savings Banks, the Dime Savings Bank, the Immigrant Savings Bank. As their names show, they were specifically to serve the low-income neighborhoods. But in the 1980s the commercial banks convinced the mutual savings banks to let themselves be raided. Their capital reserves of the savings banks, was just looted by Wall Street. The depositors' equity was stripped away (leaving their deposits, to be sure). Sheila Bair, former head of the FDIC, told me that the commercial banks' cover story was that they were large enough to provide more capital reserves to lend for low-income neighborhoods. The reality was that instead, they simply extracted revenue from these neighborhoods. Large parts of the largest cities in America, from Chicago and New York to others, are underbanked because of the transformation of commercial banks from providers of mortgages to emptiers-out, just revenue collectors. That leaves the main recourse in these neighborhoods to pay-day lenders at usurious interest rates. These lenders have become major new customers for Wall Street bankers, not the poor who have no comparable access to credit.

Apart from the savings banks, of course, you had the post office banks. When I went to work on Wall Street in the 1960s, 3 percent of U.S. savings were in the form of post office savings. The advantage, of course, is that post offices were in every neighborhood. So you actually had either a local community banking like savings banks – not like today's community banks, which are commercial banks, lending largely to real estate speculators to capitalize rental apartments into heavily mortgaged co-ops with much higher financial carrying charges – or you had post offices. You now have a deprivation of basic bank services in much of the economy, combined with an increasingly dysfunctional and predatory commercial banking system.

The question is, what's going to happen next time there's a bank crash? Sheila Bair wrote about after the 2008 crash that the most corrupt bank was Citibank – not only corrupt, but incompetent. She had wanted to take it over. But Obama and his Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, acted as lobbyists for Citibank from the beginning, protecting it from being taken over. But imagine what would have happened if Citibank would have been become a public bank – or other banks that are about to have negative equity if there is a downturn in the stock and bond and real estate market. Imagine what will happen if they were turned into public banks. They would be able to provide the kind of credit that the commercial banking system has refused to provide – credit to blacks, Hispanics and poor people that have just been red-lined in what is becoming a financially polarized dual economy, one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.

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Walt McRee: [00:04:10] Well, power in that realm, of course, lies with the banking cartel. They look at public banks as a threat. They hate competition of any sort, it seems.

Michael Hudson: [00:04:18] Of course it is a threat.

Walt McRee: [00:04:22] And even when we say, Michael, that we're not going after the business you're already doing because you aren't lending to small, medium enterprises and so forth – we want to take on the infrastructure that you don't want to fund, but they still are pushing back. How will we be able to get past that?

Michael Hudson: [00:04:40] I think you should say that of course you're not going to take business away from them, because the public community bank or government-owned bank would not make corporate takeover loans or speculative derivative bets. It would not create the dysfunctional credit and debt overhead that has been expanding ever since 1999 when the Clinton administration changed the banking rules.
The problem is that the big commercial banks don't want the productive kind of loans that public banking would make. For instance, the reason they didn't want to extend credit to the Lower East Side or the Hudson Yards west side of New York was they wanted to sort of drive out their residents and gentrify it, by providing the money to the big developers who socially bulldoze these neighborhoods. Their policy is to kick out as many low-income renters or owners as they can, and replace them by raising rents from like $50 a month to $5,000 a month. That's what's happened on the Lower East Side from the time I first lived there to what rents are today.
There is a fight of the economy's unproductive sector against people who want to use credit in a productive way that actually helps the economy. I think it's a fight between good and evil, at least between the productive and unproductive economy, between economics for the people and economics for the One Percent.

Ellen Brown: [00:06:14] I wonder, though, if the Fed is going to even allow the banks to collapse again, with what they just did with the repo market. They can step in at any time to save anybody. I don't know that Congress, even has a say in it. What do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:06:30] I think that's right. I've talked to Paul Craig Roberts and we discuss whether they can just keep on keeping these zombie banks alive. Can they keep the over-indebted zombie economy alive by the Federal Reserve manipulating the forward stock and bond markets to support prices? It doesn't actually have to buy stocks and bonds beyond the $4 trillion it's already put into Quantitative Easing. It can simply make manipulate the forward market. That doesn't really cost any money until the big crash comes. So I think one should have a discussion over what President Trump says is a boom that that he's created, with the stock market going up. Does that mean that the economy is getting richer? Are we fine with commercial banking the way it is, so that we don't need public banking?

I think you have to expose the fact that what's happened is artificial state intervention. What we have in the name of free market support of the banks is not a free market at all. It's a highly centralized market to support the predatory financial sector's wealth against the rest of the economy. The financial sector's wealth takes the form of credit to the rest of the economy, extracting interest and amortization, while making loans simply to increase asset prices for real estate and financial securities, not put new means of production in place to employ labor. So you have to go beyond the public banking issue as such, and look at the political context. Ultimately, the way that you defend public banking is to show how the economy works and how public banking could play a positive role in the economy as it should work.

Ellen Brown: [00:08:14] Can you explain what you meant by forward lending? I mean, they don't have to

Michael Hudson: [00:08:19] It's not forward lending, it's buying long. For the stock market's Dow Jones average, they'll contract to buy all its stocks or those in the S&P 500 in one month, or one week or whatever the timeframe is, for X amount – say, 2% over what they're selling today. Well, once the plunge protection team issues a guarantee to buy, the market is going to raise the bid prices for these stocks up to what the Fed and the Treasury have promised to pay for them. By the time the prices go up, the Fed doesn't actually have to buy these stocks, because everybody's anticipated that the Fed would buy them at this 2 percent gain. So it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. We're dealing with a government run by the banks and the creditor powers to artificially raise asset prices, on credit. This has kept alive a system that represents itself as creating prosperity. But it's not creating prosperity for the 99 Percent. Public banking would aim at prosperity for the 99 Percent, not just for the One Percent.

Ellen Brown: [00:09:46] I'm writing about Mexico's AMLO, who is now who has just announced in January that he will be building 2,700 branches of a public bank in the next two years. He's expecting 13,000 branches ultimately, so it will be the largest bank in the country. His reasoning is just what you're saying, that the banks have failed and have not serviced the poor. His mandate is to help the poor, and he can't do that if they don't have banking services.

Michael Hudson: [00:10:17] Is that national?

Ellen Brown: [00:10:18] Yes, all across the country.

Walt McRee: [00:10:22] "Loprabrador", AMLO. So we know that a public monetary source is a public utility. Our vision is to create a network of local and state public banks. That leads us to the view that what we really need to be targeting is the Federal Reserve, to ultimately turn it into a publicly-owned entity. Is that folly or

Michael Hudson: [00:10:55] I think the way to get people to support this is if they understand how the Federal Reserve was created. A few years ago I published an article in an Indian economic journal (I think it's on my website), about how the Federal Reserve was created. There was a fight by Wall Street led by J.P. Morgan. America had a central bank until 1913 – the Treasury. Until 1913 the Treasury was doing everything that the Federal Reserve began to do. The idea of creating the Federal Reserve was to take power away from the Treasury. The Treasury wasn't even allowed to be on the board as an owner of Federal Reserve stock. The idea was to take decision-making away from Washington, away from democratic politics, and insulate the financial system from the democratic political system by turning control over to the corporate financial centers -- Wall Street, Chicago, and the other Federal Reserve districts. They were the same districts as those that the Treasury already had divided the country into. Remember, these were the decades leading up to World War I when there was a social democratic revolution from Europe to the United States. A guiding idea was to democratize banking.

Wall Street very quickly developed a counter strategy to this. And the counter strategy was the Federal Reserve. You're welcome to republish my article on your site. You and I both aim to reverse the counterrevolution mounted against classical economics and social democracy. The entity you're talking about would probably be under the aegis of the Treasury. You'd be putting the economy back in the direction that the world was moving before World War I derailed these efforts.

You talk of nationalizing the Fed. I know people don't like the word nationalizing. How about thing de-privatizing or de-Thatcherizing the Fed? You have to represent the Fed as having stolen economic and financial policy away from the public domain. It became part of the neoliberal project taking form in Austria in the 1930s. You're trying to restore the classical economic vision of productive versus unproductive credit, productive versus unproductive labor, and public money as opposed to private money. These distinctions were erased by the censorial neoliberal counter-revolution.
It's not that you're radical, that these people had a radical revolution to carve away the financial system from democracy. And you're restoring the classical vision of democratizing, re-democratizing finance and banking.

Walt McRee: [00:14:12] I want to thank you for saying that, Michael, because de-privatizing the Federal Reserve is so much more accurate and powerful. You'll recall that we kind of exchanged a phrase when I said "institutionalized deception.". I think that's really important. But let's say that prior to that, Stephanie Kelton gets in there, or somebody from the MMT crowd gets into a new administration prior to de-privatizing the Fed. Does MMT have a place to play or to emerge in that environment?

Michael Hudson: [00:14:55] Of course, and here's the role: You can leave the commercial banks to do what they're doing, but you're not going to provide Federal Reserve credit for them to load down the economy with unproductive debt. The question is, if you're going to create real community banking via a public banking sector, where will it get the money to lend out? How do we provide money to the red-lined areas of the economy to actually finance tangible capital investment and people's living needs, not just predatory lending? The way that MMT comes in is much like the Chicago plan for one hundred percent reserves. These community banks will need Treasury-created depository credit beyond the deposits they raise in their local areas.

They need more money. MMT will provide credit to these banks in exchange for their loan originations of a productive character, on terms that borrowers can afford, with realistic mortgages also to build public housing. The new Fed that we're talking about will be a major depositor and will provider of the capital deposits and reserves to the banks. Right now, it has provided $4 trillion of Quantitative Easing credit to the banks, not to put into the economy but only to inflate the stock and bond market and make housing more expensive. Wouldn't it be much better to provide credit to community banks that actually would make credit available for productive economic purposes – and not for takeover loans, stock buybacks and asset speculation?

Productive credit was what everybody expected banking to develop in the late 19th century. Germany and Central Europe were leading the way. It was called Middle Europa banking, as opposed to Anglo-American banking. (I discuss this contrast in Killing the Host.) That was essentially following the classical model, as everybody expected banking to evolve prior to World War I.

Ellen Brown: [00:17:29] Cool. That's totally what I also wrote about in my latest book. The Federal Reserve is where you should be getting credit, so you don't have to borrow it from somewhere else. Everybody thinks this whole repo thing is so contrived. It's re-hypothecated. One party owns the collateral at night, the other party owns it during the day. It's all just bluff to make it look like they borrowed something that wasn't really there. So let's just acknowledge that all money is just credit. And like you say, if you have a good loan, a good project to be monetized, that's the whole point of a bank. It will turn your future productivity into something you can spend in the marketplace. And the central bank is there to provide the credit.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:21] That's right.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:22] Turn it into dollars.

Michael Hudson: [00:18:24] That's right. My way of describing it is to look at history, to show that this is not a utopian idea. It is what made German and Central European banking so much more productive in the decades leading up to World War I. So we actually have historical examples of good banking versus bad banking. But the predators won in the end.

Ellen Brown: [00:18:53] Well, regarding this whole repo thing, one big problem we have with our public banks is the 110 percent collateralization requirement in California. How is a bank supposed to make loans if it has to use its deposits to buy securities – something safe and yielding low interest to back the deposits? It seems to me that what the big banks do – and I think we could do it, too – is to take those deposits and buy federal securities at 1.5 percent, and then they turn around and use the securities as collateral in the repo market, where they pay 1.5 percent. In other words, they earn 1.5 percent and they pay 1.5 percent. So it's a wash. They get their money for free. I think we could do that, too. Or are only certain players allowed to play that game, and we can't jump in?

Michael Hudson: [00:19:50] Well, you're the lawyer. Of course they could do it. I think one of the things that you and other progressives have recommended is that the Fed should stop paying money to the banks for their reserve deposits. Stop giving them the free giveaway. If you want to say, "We're against the largest welfare recipients in the country. They're not the people you think. They're the Wall Street banks. These hypocrites want to cut back Social Security to balance the budget. They want to cut back medical care and social services, and make themselves the only welfare recipients."

Ellen Brown: [00:20:30] Right, agreed. But if we just stand on our high horse and say this has to change, nothing will happen. We could do it ourselves and just show what you're doing in contrast to what they're doing

Michael Hudson: [00:20:44] You're asking for symmetry. They're making us carry a big load on our back, that they don't have to carry. They're loading the dice in their own favor. You want to unload the dice and stop the insider favoritism. You correctly represent the banks as being insiders. You have to say, "Look, these insiders are trying to keep a monopoly." You could use the anti-monopoly legislation that's been on the books since Teddy Roosevelt's time. You have a lot of legal power to break up the big banks. You could treat them like I think they could treat the pharmaceutical companies if Bernie gets in.

Walt McRee: [00:21:44] Monopolies are being challenged by the shadow banking industry. New forms of payment exchange technologies seem to be eating away at that singular source of credit. What's your prognosis for how that's going to evolve? Will the big banks find a way to clamp down on that ultimately?

Michael Hudson: [00:22:05] Are we talking about cryptocurrency?

Walt McRee: [00:22:07] That would be one example, yes.

Michael Hudson: [00:22:10] Well,. you can't stop people from gambling. People think that buying a cryptocurrency is like buying an Andy Warhol etching. Maybe it'll go up in price if a large number of people want it. But basically, it's junk. It's very speculative. It's certainly not stable. It goes up and down. One day there may be a solar flare that's going to wipe out all the bank records for these things. But there is no way to stop people from doing something that seems to be silly or gambling. You certainly will not insure them. So you will not give them any protection against loss. You also will want to insulate the economy from having any transactions in crypto, in these alternative money things that pose a big threat of loss. They are not real money, because the government will not accept payment of cryptocurrencies as taxes or for public goods and services. The government will only accept specified forms of money. You can create any kind of swap or bet. If you want to create the equivalent of a racetrack on horses. You can do it, but that's a financial racetrack. I think there may be taxes on racetracks. They were unregulated for a long time. But Hollywood movies showed that there's a lot of criminalization going on there.

Walt McRee: [00:23:59] We were all amused, well, maybe a little wondering about Max Kaiser. Ellen and I and Tyson Slokum had some time with him over there just before you were at his Brooklyn studio, but Max is into Bitcoin in a big way, and he sees it as the new gold.

Michael Hudson: [00:24:20] He told me that a lot of people watch his show because they're gold bugs or they are interested in Bitcoin. I think he's tried to take a neutral view of it, certainly in our personal conversations. He's not a gold bug and he's not a Bitcoin or other bug. But he said that a lot of people want to find out about it, so he has guests on his show telling people, "Here it is, take your choice." It's part of the new speculative financial landscape, just like swamps are part of landscape for Florida real estate. So he's going to cover the whole spectrum. Reuters produces his shows, and the audience wants to hear about this. So he talks about what they want to hear.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:20] I think he actually does promote Bitcoin. He's heavily invested in it and he was one of the originals, so he's obviously made a lot of money on it.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:29] Okay.

Ellen Brown: [00:25:29] I think he agrees that it can't be a national currency. It's too slow, too expensive, and too environmentally unfriendly. But like you say, it has been a good investment, just like fine art or something that, if people want it, the value goes up. Plus, there's a big black market for it, for trading and things that you don't want the government to know about.

Michael Hudson: [00:25:57] It's a real phenomenon. I know people who benefited from Andy Warhol. So he saw the phenomenon and he seems to have made money, but when Steve Keen and I and others got together with him for a couple of days two months ago, the topic never came up in discussion.
But gold did. I wonder where the gold of Libya went, for instance. Apparently it was all taken and I understand the US gave it to ISIS. Hillary said it had to go to ISIS to act as our Foreign Legion. We gave them Libya's weapons. Some of the gold must have just been taken by the CIA and State Department for dirty tricks for its black operations. Certainly, America wants to prevent any other country or large gold possessor from having enough gold to try to reinstate it as a means of settling balance-of-payments deficits. America runs a large military deficit, so at a certain point, the more money it spends abroad for its 800 military bases, the more gold it would lose. Just like in General de Gaulle's time during the Vietnam War, although actually Germany was taking more gold than France. So America wants to keep the dollar at the center of the world financial system. That really was why it went to war with Libya, because Libya was one of the first countries to de-dollarize and move its currency toward gold. So you're having a group of countries – Russia, China, Iran and others – add gold to their reserves instead of dollars. You're having a de-dollarization move throughout the world to break free from the US ability to do what it did do Iran.

When Iran borrowed in dollars under the Shah, it used Chase Manhattan Bank as its paying agent. It put enough money into the account to pay its foreign debts service. But then the State Department told Chase to screw Iran and refuse to turn over the payment. Now that the Shah wasn't running Iran, once Chase refused to turn over the payment and froze Iran's account, that meant that Iran went into default on the entire dollarized foreign debt. It was liable for a huge amount of capital.
That was a warning for the rest of the world that no government could safely put its money in an American bank or an American bank branch, or in a British branch that would act as a subsidiary of the Pentagon. Because if you do, the bank can simply force you into default at any time, just like the US CIA can come in and use electronic weaponry to destroy your bank payment-clearing system. That's why the threat of cutting Russia and China and other countries off from the Swift Interbank Clearing System led Russia to develop its own clearing system. With a flick of a switch it can begin to work anytime United States tries to cut Russia off from the SWIFT payments system. So you're having the whole world de-dollarize very quickly. And right now the question is what Europe will choose. Are Germany and other countries going to become part of the de-dollarized system, or remain part of the dollar area?

This is part of the fight against using the IT chips and the communications chips from Huawei. Huawei did not put US spyware into the system. The United States says that if it can't have a phone system and communications system that it can control by spyware and use to blow up your economy, your public utilities, your electrical systems, then you're our enemy, because we feel insecure without this control. When President Trump said that Huawei was a threat to US national security, he meant that we don't feel secure unless we have the power to destroy any economy that acts in any way that is independent of the United States – because you might do something we don't like. This is the most aggressive concept of security that one could imagine. So of course the rest of the world is seeing its own national security as having a financial dimension. The financial dimension is to create a monetary and financial system that minimizes connections to the dollar except to the extent of having to buy and sell dollars to stabilize foreign exchange rate.

Ellen Brown: [00:31:31] There's a lot of talk, even among central bankers, that we need to get off the dollar as a global reserve currency. But it seems to me that gold is also manipulatable. I mean, it's not the ideal I had envisioned a system where instead of reserves being a thing, like dollars or gold that you can actually trade, it would just be a measure, like a yardstick. You would be able to compare one currency to another according to what you could buy with it. Like you'd have a whole basket of things that everybody uses in every country. And now that they report that kind of stuff, it wouldn't be all that hard to get the figures and, you know, just compare and say, well, your dollar will be worth so many pesos in Mexico or whatever. That was my idea, but what do you think?

Michael Hudson: [00:32:27] That would meet one of the criteria of money, which is as a measure of value, but it would not do at all for international money. You have to have some means of constraint. In other words, suppose the United States continued to run another military budget deficit like it did in the Vietnam War. There is no way that you could use the balance of payments as a constraint on the policy of deficit countries, which are usually the military aggressors. The whole idea of going off gold was that under the gold standard no country can afford to make war, because if you go to war your currency collapses. In 1976, Herman Kahn and I went to the Treasury and – this is to answer your question. He put up a map of the world and said, "These are the countries – Scandinavia, Western Europe, the United States – that don't believe in gold. They're all politically stable social democratic countries. They have faith in government. No look at these others here's the rest of the world – India, South America, Africa and most of Asia. these are people that believe in gold. Why do they believe in gold, but not the Protestant cultural area? Well, they don't have faith in government. They don't trust governments. They want some option that is independent of government. Gold is not only to bribe the border guards if they're escaping from somewhere. They want to be free of governments that have been captured by anti-democratic, predatory forces."

He said if you tried to think of what you would make that is an alternative to the dollar that people could understand, well, for thousands of years, people have decided that gold and silver. (I'm sure that you could add platinum and palladium.) So they have been the ultimate means of settlement, and hence of international monetary constraint.

Gold isn't to be used as money. It's not to be used as a normal means of payment. What it is to be used for is as a balance-of-payments constraint on the ability of countries to run up chronic deficits that are mainly military in character. So I called our presentation "Gold: the Peaceful Metal." Well, needless to say, the Treasury didn't go for that, because they said that we had just explained how super-imperialism works via the dollar. So they didn't go back to gold. We lost that argument.

Ellen Brown: [00:35:34] Isn't the reason we went off gold standard, though, that there simply isn't enough gold and that we wound up leveraging it, and

Michael Hudson: [00:35:42] No, there's plenty of gold. There wasn't enough gold to pay for the military deficit. Every month the dollars we spent in Vietnam would be turned over to the banks in Indo-China. They were French. They'd turn the dollars over to Paris and General de Gaulle would turn in these dollars for gold. We had to pay in gold for the military deficit, which was the entire source of the US balance-of-payments deficits in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s. America went off gold so that it could afford to wage war without the constraint of losing its control over the international monetary system.

Ellen Brown: [00:36:29] We went after gold domestically because it didn't work. I mean, you had to use fractional reserve lending

Michael Hudson: [00:36:35] Yes, of course gold doesn't work domestically. It's certainly not an appropriate domestic money supply. I'm only talking about it for settlements among central banks internationally.
Ellen Brown: [00:36:49] But you said it's not to be traded. But if you don't, how do you settle your balance of payments?

Michael Hudson: [00:36:53] It can be traded. There is a market. And you began by saying, quite correctly, that gold prices are manipulated. Well, right now the US and the central banks are manipulating its price to keep it low, in the same way that they're manipulating the stock and bond market by buying forward. Except in the case of gold, they're selling forward. If they keep agreeing to sell gold at a very low price, people will see that if they can buy gold at this low price, why should they buy it at a higher price today, as the price will fall and be driven down. So, yes, gold is manipulated downwards today by the U.S. – essentially the plunge protection team acting internationally to keep the price of gold down to discourage other countries and populations from buying it is protection against collapse of the financial system.

So we're back to the fact that the financial system is dysfunctional. In a functional financial system, you wouldn't need domestic reference to gold. You'd have a domestic financial system that works fine without gold. Gold is what you have when the financial system becomes dysfunctional and there's a breakdown.

Ellen Brown: [00:38:21] Well, it almost seems like you need some sort of global regulator. But that's like a one-world government, which we all freak out about.

Michael Hudson: [00:38:28] You certainly don't want a one world government. Right now all the plans for world government are neoliberal. They aim essentially to limit, to break up democratic government regulation of corporate business, mining and monopolies. The idea of a one-world government is to destroy any democratic government's ability to make its own laws in the interests of labor or society. You would have a parallel government of wealth, government of property. It's what the University of Chicago calls the Law and Economics regime. And this is, this is fascism on an international scale. And there is a wonderful book by Quinn Slobodian in 2008, Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Nationalism, showing how these plans were developed by fascists in the 1930s and by the fascist promoters at the University of Chicago. The fascist promoters were people like Hayek and von Mises and the Geneva economists around the League of Nations. So when they say they're anti-government, they're really anti-democracy. They're for an iron-fisted government by big business, big mining and big oil – and most of all, by big banks. That is the reason why people don't trust an international government. It would be an international iron fist of fascism, the way the current maneuvering of the financial classes and the rentier classes and the neocons have arranged things.

Ellen Brown: [00:39:56] Well, I totally agree. It's quite frightening. We want sovereignty for all our little nations, and even our little cities, states and so forth. But it seems to me, how do you get everybody to work together? For example, Venezuela has the debt problem that any country has that's heavily in debt to foreigners, or to vulture funds or whatever. There's not a universally recognized court that you can go to. And, you know, everybody agrees. It does seem like on some level we need some sort of collaborative effort where we all agree on the rules.

Michael Hudson: [00:40:33] Absolutely right. Now, of course, the United States would not recognize any international court. So, again, you'd have all the rest of the world belonging to the court, and the United States as the outlier. It's like you're the healthy body and we want to parasitize you. And it will not recognize the court. My Super-Imperialism reviews the history of this policy.
But you're right: There should be a court that would recognize such things as odious debt for governments. Venezuela's problem is that under the dictators that the Americans had installed by assassination and force, Venezuela had pledged its oil reserves as collateral for its international bonds. That gives a vested interest in the creditors to make it default and grab its oil reserves and its investments in the United States, the oil distributors it bought. So, yes, you do need a set of international rules for writing down bad debts. That means an alternative to the IMF. You need an anti-IMF. Instead of acting on behalf of the creditors imposing austerity on countries, you should create an organization representing society. And s the interest of society is to grow. Instead of promoting austerity like the IMF does, it would promote prosperity. Instead of financing the US government dollarization and giving US control, it would be part of the de-dollarization group.
So you'd have a pro-growth group of nations – of the world economy – using finance for growth and development with productive credit. You'd also have the United States providing predatory credit, austerity, cutting back Social Security, cutting back Medicare and having a polarizing economy that is shrinking and will end up looking like Greece or Argentina. The rest of the world would follow more productive and less oligarchic financial policies. That should ultimately be our global dream. But there's been little preparation for that. The financial sector's neoliberals have o put together an almost conspiratorial Law and Economics lobbying group to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership and World Trade Organization rules blocking governments from imposing anti-pollution fines or regulating monopolies or closing tax havens. If you fine an oil company for polluting, the government is obliged under this international law to pay the oil companies what they would have earned if they would have continued to poison the environment. This is

Ellen Brown: [00:43:41] Shocking.

Michael Hudson: [00:43:41] Definitely. This is an international deathwish.

Ellen Brown: [00:43:45] Agreed. Totally agreed.

Walt McRee: [00:43:47] We've been speaking with economist Michael Hudson. Our thanks to him for being on this program again. And you'll be hearing more from Michael on future editions of It's Our Money.

Walt McRee: [00:43:59] Well, that's it for this edition of It's Our Money with Ellen Brown. Thanks to our guests or sponsors, Public Banking Associates, and to you for listening. Be sure to check out Ellen's latest writings on the economy and the changing world of money by visiting ellenbrown.com. And for more information on public banking, visit PublicBankingInstitute.org. For information on how local and state governments can obtain professional insight and council about public banks from key national experts, visit PublicBankingAssociates.com. I'm Walt McRee. See you next time on It's our Money with Ellen Brown.

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of J is for Junk Economics (2017), Killing the Host (2015), The Bubble and Beyond (2012), Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1968 & 2003), Trade, Development and Foreign Debt (1992 & 2009) and of The Myth of Aid (1971), amongst many others.

[Mar 22, 2020] Mask piracy among neoliberal nations: Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. ..."
"... Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Stonebird , Mar 21 2020 21:25 utc | 31

I just think that the US "Intelligence" and most of the US Administration just haven't got it. I suppose when you are waiting for the "rapture" anything that can add to the chaos is to be included.

1) Pompeo and Grenell reportedly arguing that coronavirus has created window of opportunity for a direct strike on a weak and divided Iran. They were arguing about the severity of the strike.

2) Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisian has criticized the #UK for not delivering millions of masks #Iran bought in preparations ahead of #Covid19 outbreak. The London govt. refused to deliver them citing US sanctions! Note that Germany took supplies meant for Switzerland, The US via the Italian Mafia (I suppose) gets masks from Bergamo. etc. Wonderful show of world-wide solidarity.

Pompeo should hold his "rapture" in his hot little hand and .....

[Mar 21, 2020] Tulsi Gabbard says insider traders should be 'investigated prosecuted,' as Left and Right team up on profiteering senator

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "better prepared than ever ..."
"... "akin to the 1918 pandemic." ..."
"... "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," ..."
"... "Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks." ..."
"... "stomach churning," ..."
"... "For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," ..."
"... "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself." ..."
"... "If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," ..."
"... "calling for immediate investigations" ..."
"... "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, commenters from all sides have demanded swift punishment for US senators who dumped stock after classified Covid-19 briefings. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called for criminal prosecution. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) has received daily briefings on the threat posed by Covid-19 since January. Burr insisted to the public that America was ready to handle the virus, but sold up to $1.5 million in stocks on February 13, less than a week before the stock market nosedived, according to Senate filings . Immediately before the sale, Burr wrote an op-ed assuring Americans that their government is "better prepared than ever " to handle the virus.

Also on rt.com Liberal icon Sean Penn wants a 'compassionate' army deployment to fight Covid-19

After the sale, NPR reported that he told a closed-door meeting of North Carolina business leaders that the virus actually posed a threat "akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr does not dispute the NPR report.

In a tweet on Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for criminal investigations. "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," she wrote.

"Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks."

Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated & prosecuted for insider trading (the STOCK Act). It is illegal & abuse of power. Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks. https://t.co/rbVfJxrk3r

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 21, 2020

Burr was not the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to take precautions, it was reported. Fellow Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and her husband sold off more than a million dollars of shares in a biotech company five days later, while Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe (R) made a smaller sale around the same time. Both say their sales were routine.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) attended a Senate Health Committee briefing on the outbreak on January 24. The very same day, she began offloading stock, dropping between $1.2 and $3.1 million in shares over the following weeks. The companies whose stock she sold included airlines, retail outlets, and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

She did, however, invest in cloud technology company Oracle, and Citrix, a teleworking company whose value has increased by nearly a third last week, as social distancing measures forced more and more Americans to work from home. All of Loeffler's transactions were made with her husband, Jeff Sprecher, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) have joined the clamor of voices demanding punishment. Ocasio-Cortez described the sales as "stomach churning," while Omar reached across the aisle to side with Fox News' Tucker Carlson in calling for Burr's resignation.

I am 💯 with him on this 😱 https://t.co/Gbi3i2BagY

-- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 20, 2020

"For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," Carlson said during a Friday night monolog. "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself."

As of Saturday, there are nearly 25,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US, with the death toll heading towards 300. Now both sides of the political aisle seem united in disgust at the apparent profiteering of Burr, Loeffler, and Feinstein.

Right-wing news outlet Breitbart savaged Burr for voting against the STOCK Act in 2012, a piece of legislation that would have barred members of Congress from using non-public information to profit on the stock market. At the same time, a host of Democratic figures - including former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Kirsten Gillibrand - weighed in with their own criticism too.

"If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," Yang tweeted on Friday.

If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.

-- Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) March 20, 2020

Watchdog group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee "calling for immediate investigations" of Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein and Inhofe "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws."

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Mar 21, 2020] Tucker Senator Burr sold shares after virus briefing - YouTube

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Bowhead31 , 5 hours ago

The problem is these people no longer see themselves as public servants.

Maria Summers , 6 hours ago

The Georgia Senator is just as guilty as the rest of them, regarding "Insider Trading".

shane passey , 3 hours ago

She's a crook just like the rest of the politicians. They say they be there for the people. But they're really there to make themselves rich

[Mar 21, 2020] Don't forget our congress critter Senator Kelly Loeffler

Mar 21, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@supenau

who make profits as well. I cannot remember exactly when insider trading for them became legal but it should be no surprise to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that they're ALL doing it. That is one reason, at least in my semi-educated opinion, they did not go after Trump for emoluments during Shampeachment, because THEY ALL DO IT.

That goes all the way to the White House, no doubt.

Marie on Sat, 03/21/2020 - 10:28am

Looks as if the crisis profiteers were on top of it:

Think about this:

Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, was selling off millions of stocks -- and *buying* stock in a teleworking company.

-- Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2020

[Mar 19, 2020] Neoliberalism has an expiration date. And this day arrived. It's that simple.

If the ideology can't survive the objective reality, then it is not natural, but historically specific, therefore is doomed when the historical landscape changed.
Mar 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
physicians and providers ?"

Leonard Peikoff, of the Ayn Rand Institute, explained it this way: "Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want -- not to be given it without effort by somebody else ."

Richard M. Salsman, writing in Forbes Magazine, put it this way: "Doctors, nurses, hospitals, drug-makers, and health insurers are no more "servants" of the masses, or even of those in need of health care, than are businessmen, bankers, teachers, journalists, or truck drivers servants of those who need their services. If you want to pay for the services of health care providers, simply do so; if you can't afford it, try to negotiate a discount, or pay by installments, or seek access to private charity; but you have no "right" to take from health care providers what they're not willing to supply."

" where my nose begins"

The number of op-eds, articles, TV news segments, social media posts and videos, memes, etc. making this point is not small. It is a central ideological talking point of those who believe in the economic theories of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Essentially, "rights" are only negative. Rights only exist to protect individuals from state coercion. They do not entitle anyone to anything. Positive "rights" like education, healthcare, and employment are in fact a violation because they involve an imposition on those required to fulfill them.

Your health is your business, not the business of society. The demand that the government protect your health is not legitimate. Henry David Thoreau wrote "the government is best that governs least." Reverend A.C. Dixon coined the widely misattributed phrase: "your liberty ends just where my nose begins."

The way adherents of western liberalism view the world, healthcare simply cannot be a right. Society has no obligation to individuals, and individuals have no obligation to society. The state simply exists to protect you from those who would harm you or steal your property.

The State & Coronavirus

On February 26th, US President Donald Trump addressed the public about the danger of the CoronaVirus. He said: "the number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people. And that's the way I viewed it when I made that decision. Because of all we've done, the risk to the American people remains very low. We have the greatest experts in the world -- really, in the world, right here -- people that are called upon by other countries when things like this happen."

It seems that many of his supporters and detractors did not seem to realize that his words fly in the face of the longstanding mantra of his political allies. Why should the government prioritize the health of the American people? If healthcare is simply a personal matter, and the state has no right to impose on anyone else, how can the government take action to stop the CoronaVirus?

The reality is, however, that an uncontrolled outbreak of the Corona Virus would be a menace to public health. It is universally recognized that governments have an obligation to step in and prevent further outbreaks.

But then the question is raised, what makes CoronaVirus unique? When people in any society are unwell, it has a detrimental effect on society overall. A society with lots of diseased, unhealthy people in it, is problematic, even for those who are not diseased.

There is a reason that public health codes exist. There is a reason that the US appoints a Surgeon General as part of the Executive Branch. There's a reason that the US government has a Center for Disease Control.

It is universally recognized by the US public that on some level the state has the "right" to protect the collective health of its people. . The question is how much of a "right" to be healthy do US citizens have?

In many countries, the state ensures that citizens are insured. Some countries go as far as operating a national healthcare service, abolishing private hospitals and clinical services.

Bring A Chicken To The Doctor

The United States stands alone, among western countries, in maintaining a mostly private healthcare system. Richard Nixon's legislation creating Health Maintenance Organizations in 1973 set up a network of private insurers, who pay the medical bills of those who subscribe to their services.

Some free market conservatives and libertarians argue that even Nixon's 1973 reforms went too far. Sue Lowden, a conservative candidate for Congress in Nevada argued that the insurance companies created by the state were unnecessary, because prior to that Americans were free to barter with their physicians. She said "You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say I'll paint your house . In the old days that's what people would do to get healthcare with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down from that system ."

Regardless, Medical debt in the United States currently sits $3.3 trillion, roughly 17.9% of the country's GDP. In the year of 2019, 27 million Americans had no health insurance, meaning that they would have to pay for any healthcare services directly out of their personal funds.

If the government has an obligation to protect the entire US public from the Coronavirus, does it not have an obligation to ensure that the 27 million uninsured are able to acquire the healthcare they need? Does it not have an obligation to eliminate the $3.3 trillion in medical debt which is a huge weight on the economy?

Human Beings Are Collective Creatures

In essence, human beings are collective creatures. From the time of hunter-gatherer tribalism, to the slave empires of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Rome, and Greece, to the feudal commons, up to into the modern global capitalist economy, human beings have always cooperated with each other.

No one in this day and age can point to any product and say "I made this all by myself." The global economy, as it currently exists, involves human beings from across the planet, coming together to create products. A single electronic item may be the product of workers in 5 or 6 different countries. Even the most individualistic craftsmen use tools that are produced in assembly lines, and packaged by scores of other human beings.

Margaret Thatcher, an advocate of western individualism and economic liberalism, said "there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first."

However, the reality is the opposite of what Margaret Thatcher proclaimed. All of human history is a history of collectivism.

The CoronaVirus is a problem that not just neighborhoods and regions, not just countries, but the entire global community must address cooperatively. It shows the absolute necessity of breaking with the ideology that says human beings are only atomized individuals with no obligation to society, and with nothing owed to them.

Problems that threaten the entire human race, require the mobilizations of the entire human race to beat them back.

Western liberal individualist ideology, a convenient rhetorical device for the rich and powerful, fails to understand the very nature of human beings.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook" .

[Mar 19, 2020] The Decline of Neoliberalism Implications for CSR- - The BUSINESS of SOCIETY

Mar 19, 2020 | www.bos-cbscsr.dk

By Steen Vallentin.

"May you live in interesting times" – so the apocryphal English-language expression goes that people often refer to as 'the Chinese curse'. Times are certainly interesting. Taken for granted notions of what is up and down and left and right in politics are, if not turned on their head then knocked about in confusing and sometimes frightening ways.

The strange (non-)death of neoliberalism again?

One of the interesting developments in world politics right now is the crisis of neoliberalism as ideology. A development that some will indeed see as a curse, others as a blessing. It is not the first time that neoliberalism has been declared dead or seen to be in its death throes. Many obituaries of finance capitalism and global free trade were written in the wake of the financial crisis. Nevertheless, neoliberalism has shown itself to be remarkably resilient and has continued – in spite of public criticism – to be a dominant force in public policy around the world. Colin Crouch has referred to this recurring trajectory as 'the strange non-death of neoliberalism".

However, Brexit (and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as head of Labour) and the movements surrounding Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the United States are each in their own way symptomatic of a turning of the political tide against hyper-globalization and free market capitalism. The benefits of free trade – of goods, services and capital – and outsourcing of labor to low-cost destinations are now being challenged across the political spectrum. Even the Republic candidate for the presidency is questioning, supposedly (who knows with Trump), fundamental tenets of economic liberalism. The crisis of neoliberalism is both an intellectual and a popular one. Leading economists like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Piketty are among its vocal adversaries, and a public/populist movement is revolting against the crises and rising inequality that are associated with it. Even top economist from the IMF have recently acknowledged that neoliberalism has been "oversold".

... ... ...


Steen Vallentin is Director of the CBS Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (cbsCSR) and Associate Professor in the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School.

[Mar 19, 2020] We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism

Mar 19, 2020 | www.unz.com

Miro23 , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 8:21 am GMT

We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What's certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a "coincidence." Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.

Coronavirus is certainly a useful way to deflate a speculative bubble. The virus gets the blame rather the Dumpers in the Pump and Dump cycle.

Governments have decided to shut down their economies – which is in line with obsessive health and safety culture. In times past, flu variants would burn themselves out as host populations gained immunity. This time, people will probably still catch it anyway, while facing unemployment and bankruptcy.

No question that the Corona virus is putting the whole neoliberal world order under stress. The NWO needs globalization, debt , open frontiers and a petrodollar and they're all in trouble. Global trade has stopped. Can the public carry more debt? Frontiers are closing around the world. Oil has never had such an extreme demand/supply imbalance.

Would the NWO people (corporate globalists) do this to themselves through a planned Coronavirus 9/11 style "Event" to further extend their control of society? They can now extend their control but to do what exactly? The SWJ/racism conversation has completely disappeared and the Coronavirus is uniting populations in the crisis rather than dividing them.

Which makes it very unlikely that the Coronavirus was a planned 9/11 style "Event" to further remove civil liberties. The virus reaction is rebuilding nationalism, closing frontiers and crashing the wealth of elites. Elites may still try to use it to remove civil liberties but it doesn't look like it was planned that way. Right now, they seem to be as shocked and confused as everyone else.

If Western governments continue to fail in this challenge, the result may be a default return to localism. Local communities arrange their own governance, schooling, healthcare, policing and pay for it themselves saying goodbye to the corrupt Federal clown show.

[Mar 17, 2020] Will neliberalsm surive the second hard blow?

Mar 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Debz , Mar 17 2020 4:12 utc | 131

A link from Bill Mitchell Professor of Economics at Newcastle University, in NSW Australia, with some advice for the Australian government an what is to be done.

"In the early days of the GFC, I thought that the neoliberal era, supported by the mainstream macroeconomists, might be coming to an end. Maybe I was a decade out in my prediction.

Perhaps this crisis, induced by a human sickness, will end the madness that has redistributed massive volumes of income to the top-end-of-town, sustained elevated levels of labour underutilisation and seen the traditional progressive political voices become mouthpieces and even agents for the neoliberal economic lies. I was wrong in 2008 on this score.

I hope something good like this comes out of the current disaster. The coronavirus comes on top of already growing dissent over the failure of mainstream economic policy. It will redefine what governments can do with their obvious fiscal capacity and will demonstrate once-and-for-all the lies that the mainstream economists tell about deficits, inflation, interest rates, etc. It will categorically demonstrate the capacity of the currency-issuer. All that will lay the foundation for a better future, if we get beyond this current malaise."

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/

[Mar 16, 2020] The Man Who Sold the World Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America Kleinknecht, William 9781568584423 Amazon.

Notable quotes:
"... Kleinknecht also spares little on showing just how disengaged Reagan was, and how rich tycoons used this to their advantage. At the same time, along the lines of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kleinknecht notes that, even before Reagan's election, these tycoons were already more corporate raiders, looking to make money off various forms of cooking or tricking out company books, than they were corporate builders reinvesting in their companies. ..."
Mar 16, 2020 | www.amazon.com

This title is from an award-winning journalist, a major work of reporting and history that shatters the myth of Ronald Reagan. Since Ronald Reagan left office - and after his death especially - his influence has loomed over American life. Singled out for his 'courage, his kindness, his persistence, his honesty, and his almost heroic patience in the face of setbacks', a number of conservatives, from the late William Buckley to his former speechwriter Peggy Noonan to Republican nominee John McCain have looked to Reagan as a figure to regenerate the American conservative tradition as the Bush White House stumbles through crisis and scandal. This carefully calibrated image is a complete fiction, however.

The Reagan presidency was epoch-shattering, but not - as his propagandists would have it - because it invigorated private enterprise, toppled the Berlin Wall or made America feel strong again. Rather what gives Reagan such an awesome legacy is that he presided over the dismantling of one of the greatest social experiments in human history-an eight-decade period of reform in which working people were given an unprecedented sway over US politics, economy, and culture. Reagan halted this forward march toward democracy almost overnight.

In "The Man Who Sold the World", journalist William Kleinknecht explores Middle America and shows how Reaganism put the poor and working class back on the margins of everything except the basest popular culture. This scathing indictment of the Reagan legacy is the first comprehensive book to deal seriously with Ronald Reagan's place in contemporary America. Just as Americans are trying to grapple with the legacy of George W. Bush, "The Man Who Sold the World" shows how poorly we understand Reagan's.


Paul , Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2016

If only more people knew the extent of the damage ...

If only more people knew the extent of the damage this man did to our country! I don't have time to write a long review, but this book takes an exhaustive look at every spectrum of the domestic policies that this laissez-faire, trickle-down, invisible hand of the free market president unleashed on Americans. And it doesn't even touch on Iran-Contra or the multiple despotic dictators he propped up or supported in Central America. 8 people found this helpful Helpful

Amazon Customer , Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2013
A Small Glimmer of Truth

Since studying business and law in graduate school, every search for solutions to our policy problems has led me back to the changes made under Reagan. The sad truth is, his presidency was probably the most destructive in our history. If only more people would open their eyes to the truth about what he did to our society and our economy. Both our social battles and our declining economy are his legacies.

S. J. Snyder , Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2010
Good book with a GREAT "hook"

Since a lot of conservatives like to claim Reagan did so much to help small towns' Main Street, and since Reagan himself pitched myths about that, Kleinknecht starts the book off with a brilliant conceit.

He actually visits Reagan's small-town birthplace of Dixon, Ill., and talks to people there about how it has changed since 1980. That includes people who say they'll only talk to him if not asked to comment negatively on Reagan - which is, itself, an indirect negative comment on Reagan!

Kleinknecht then supplements that with data from the Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, etc., showing just what Reagan did do to, and NOT "for," Dixon and by extension, other small towns.

Kleinknecht also spares little on showing just how disengaged Reagan was, and how rich tycoons used this to their advantage. At the same time, along the lines of Paul Kennedy in "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers," Kleinknecht notes that, even before Reagan's election, these tycoons were already more corporate raiders, looking to make money off various forms of cooking or tricking out company books, than they were corporate builders reinvesting in their companies.

Kleinknecht then goes beyond that, showing that many conservatives, including economist Hayek (Hey, Milton Friedman, you didn't study him well enough!) warned about the perils of such unbridled "capitalism."

At a time when "conservatives" today bash lower-middle-class people for paying little to know income tax, while failing to point out massive companies like Reagan sponsor GM do the same on the corporate side, this reminder that conservativism is more than, and different from, what some talking heads today claim, is important.

That said, Kleinknecht cuts Jimmy Carter a bit too much slack and Bill Clinton a lot too much. I'm reminded of one of Clinton's first lies, IMO, where he said, with mock surprise, (not exact quote), "You mean my economic program is hostage to the bond market?" Yes, he was cleaning up parts of the Reagan deficit mess old man Bush hadn't fully tidied. But, he was too close to Jackson Stephens to really be surprised. Ditto for Congressional Democratic leadership, beyond the increasingly frail Tip O'Neill, in the Reagan era. (This means you, Jim Wright.)

This really is, though, at least a 4/5 star book. Ignore the 1-star reviews.

[Mar 16, 2020] OK, neoliberalism is bad. But what is the alternative?

Mar 16, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

  1. likbez , March 16, 2020 3:42 pm

    Thank you Stormy,

    You hit the nail.

    Privatization has its costs. Off-shoring has its costs. Austerity that feeds the rich and powerful has its costs.

    Destruction of the New Deal Capitalism was a tragedy. Only now we start realizing enormous costs of the neoliberalization of the country.

    Casino capitalism now officially entered the second stage of its crisis as the current situation is the direct continuation of 2008 crisis

Bert Schlitz , March 16, 2020 5:07 pm

How was that "New Deal Capitalism" doing by 1979? Pretty bad. Maybe its time to realize that capitalism itself is dying and has been since 1923 when the industrial revolution crested. Most people don't want to hear that. Nothing will work to bring it back. Not New Deal Capitalism. Not Gold Standard driven monetary system either. Nothing will work.

The only thing that will save capitalism is a new industrial revolution that=cheap debt to growth.

likbez , March 16, 2020 6:33 pm

How was that "New Deal Capitalism" doing by 1979? Pretty bad.

True. And currently the return to the New Deal is impossible as "management class" is now allied with the owners of the capital. The tectonic plates shifted

So neoliberalism proved to be a resilient social system even in its current zombie state, which it entered after 2008 when the neoliberal ideology was discredited.

But the problem is that for most people (other then, say top 10% of population) the cure was worse then the disease.

Can you please look at William Kleinknecht's book "The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America." It's just $3 on Amazon (used.)

Ronald Reagan, when the layers of myth are peeled away, was ar-
guably the least patriotic president in American history. He laid the
foundation for a new global economic order in which nationhood
would gradually become meaningless. He enacted policies that helped
wipe out the high-paving jobs for the working class that were the real
backbone of the country.

This supposed guardian of traditional values was the architect of wrenching social change that swept across the country in the 1980s, the emergence of an eerie, overcommercialized, postmodern America that has left so much of the populace psychically adrift.

Reagan propelled the transition to hypercapitalism, an epoch in which the forces of self-interest and profit seek to make a final rout of traditional human values. His legacy -- mergers, deregulation, tax
cuts for the wealthy, privatization, globalization -- helped weaken the
family and eradicate small-town life and the sense of community.

[Mar 15, 2020] The Companies Putting Profits Ahead of Public Health

Mar 14, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

As the coronavirus spreads, the public interest requires employers to abandon their longstanding resistance to paid sick leave.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values . It is separate from the newsroom.

Most American restaurants do not offer paid sick leave. Workers who fall sick face a simple choice: Work and get paid or stay home and get stiffed. Not surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that fully 20 percent of food service workers had come to work at least once in the previous year " while sick with vomiting or diarrhea ."

As the new coronavirus spreads across the United States, the time has come for restaurants, retailers and other industries that rely on low-wage labor to abandon their parsimonious resistance to paid sick leave. Companies that do not pay sick workers to stay home are endangering their workers, their customers and the health of the broader public. Studies show that paying for sick employees to stay home significantly reduces the spread of the seasonal flu. There's every reason to think it would help to check the new coronavirus, too.

[Mar 15, 2020] COVID-19 epidemic promote cooperation and as such should be viewed as the second stage of the collapse of neoliberalism

Mar 15, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

Some people see the world as an infinite number of prize fights, each with one winner and one loser. For them life is an unending series of these zero-sum games. Unfortunately, one of these people is the President of the United States.

One example of something that is not a zero-sum game is a global pandemic. Someone else's sickness is for me not a gain but a threat. No nation gains from the toll in another nation. To fight against the contagion, the main weapon is cooperation, on all levels, from interpersonal to international. On the international level, sharing resources and information is essential, because any vulnerability of any nation threatens the people of all other nations.

The nations fighting one another in World War I thought the opposite. So each one, including the US, treated the growing epidemic of 1918 as a military secret. The existence of the killer virus became public only because Spain, which was not one of the warring nations, refused to censor news about the disease. Estimates of death from the 1918 pandemic range from 17 million to 100 million. The war directly killed 53,000 Americans. The virus killed between 500,000 and 675,000 Americans. A deeper look would reveal that the ravages of the war, together with the perverted culture of war, were the pandemic's greatest enablers, if not its causes.

Today we no longer fight wars on the grand scale of World Wars I and II, the Korea War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War, at least for a couple of decades. We mainly fight what are called, euphemistically, low-intensity wars and trade wars. The United States in particular has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to destroy the economy and infrastructure of entire nations, even such developed nations as Venezuela and Iran, using only subversion, bribery, boycotts, sabotage, disinformation, and tariffs.

This raises some questions too big to answer well in a brief essay. Question 1: Didn't this present preferred war-fighting strategy in fact destroy the Soviet Union, making the United States the winner of the Cold War? There were three attempts to use conventional armies to destroy to the Soviet Union. First was the coordinated invasion, launched in 1918 by Britain, France, the US, Japan, Australian, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Italy, Poland, Greece, and Romania. Second was the series of invasions by Japan, beginning in 1931 and ending with the Soviet destruction of Japan's 6 th Army in the historic Battle of Khalkin Gol in August 1939. Finally came the invasion by the Nazi juggernaut that had just easily conquered all its European adversaries. The USSR defeated even this military colossus in the decisive battle of World War II. Yet forty-five years of the Cold War left the USSR a dismembered giant corpse. Thus the second question: Could the strategy of Cold War destroy China, the latest contender to be the world's largest and most technologically advanced nation? Even before Covid-19 arrived, Trump's economic and political warfare against China was seriously damaging the Chinese economy as well as inflicting significant damage on its own. This leads to the most important question.

There was certainly a loser in the Cold War. But was the United States a winner? Looking at our abysmal health care statistics (including life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, drug addiction, and suicide), our collapsing infrastructure, our disgraceful public education and public ignorance, the grotesque inequality between the one percent and everyone else, and our dysfunctional political system, one might ask: What did we win? And what would our nation look like today if, instead of the Cold War, we had extended the wartime cooperation with the USSR? The only certain outcome of the Cold War is that both Russia and the United States each still possess a doomsday weapon that continually threatens to wipe out human civilization and perhaps our species.

Which brings us back to today's bleak scene of crashing stock markets, a tragic-comic US election, and a disease threatening our personal freedom, our social pleasures, and our lives. China, seriously weakened by the US trade and political wars, made the same mistake as the World War I belligerent nations: trying to keep Covid-19 a secret. The Trump administration, among many other blunders and gaffes, is now making a worse and truly incomprehensible mistake: maintaining the tariffs and the rest of the trade war.

It is making the same mistake in relation to Iran. Before Covid-19 hit, the US had succeeded in wrecking much of Iran's economy and infrastructure, leaving that nation unable to contain the disease. The zero-sum game thinking behind this US policy hardly helps us win the game of death the virus is playing against us.

Trump's continuation of his trade war with China is also directly damaging the US and global economies, thus significantly exacerbating the crash of stock markets at home and around the world. This should be obvious to Washington policy makers, but perhaps not to someone who inherited 412 million dollars and proceeded to go bankrupt multiple times.

Trump is now blaming the stock market crashes on the media and Democrats for allegedly exaggerating the dangers of the virus. Covid-19 is certainly the event that triggered the crashes and it will certainly worsen the recession that now threatens. But remember that before the virus struck, there were already numerous warnings of both wildly overvalued markets and a possible recession looming in the months ahead. US manufacturing indices were already contracting. The Trump Administration was handing out tens of billions of dollars to bail out American farmers, to make up for their loss of markets due to Chinese retaliation. The yield curve had already inverted twice, usually a reliable indicator of coming recession. Long-term interest rates were so low that they were giving the lie to stock market's wild euphoria (which often precedes a major selloff or crash). Trump desperately sought to keep the markets fat and happy and to postpone any recession until after his reelection. That's why he was furiously bullying to Fed to cut interest rates drastically. He even urged the Fed to push into negative yield territory.

Now think back to late 2007 and 2008, when eight years of Republican recklessness in war and finance came perilously close to destroying the global banking system and did succeed in crashing the markets and plunging the nation, and the global economy, into what's now called the Great Recession, the worst recession since the Depression of 1929 and the 1930s. The only one major nation that steered clear of recession was China. While demand was collapsing around the world, it was China, acting like some super engine, that pulled the global economy out of the quagmire. Continuing to wage economic war against China today is thus suicidally insane.

Neither Covid-19 nor a major recession poses a threat to our survival as a species. We do, however, face two existential threats, both created by our species, and each featuring our nation in the lead role. At the very moment when only global unity and cooperation can save us from threats of nuclear holocaust and environmental devastation, deadly nationalism is tearing our species apart. Can Covid-19 teach us that those two great menaces to our existence are also not zero-sum games? That our species either wins or we, as well as many other species, all lose?

[Mar 14, 2020] This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan

Notable quotes:
"... This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan. It is a mistake to chose Biden, chief author of the Patriot Act, business-as-usual candidate, corporate lackey, weasel. ..."
Mar 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jadan , Mar 14 2020 2:45 utc | 187

This is a transformational moment in history that will allow American politics to socialize and turn away resolutely from the anti-government stupidity represented by Trump and all the anti-New Deal elements among the elite predators that have dominated politically since Reagan. It is a mistake to chose Biden, chief author of the Patriot Act, business-as-usual candidate, corporate lackey, weasel.

Bernie is the only rational choice, but the American people are not rational, and do not yet understand the urgency of a radical left turn. Much suffering will be the result and a radical right turn could occur, although disenchantment with the blithering idiocy of Donald Trump has already deprived him of any chance of re-election. The virus is going to take him down before profound political embarrassment. He's a dead man walking.This may be true of Bernie & Biden as well, but I say this without prejudice.

The Chinese clearly knew the character of this virus before it became apparent to the world. They did not react so swiftly or dramatically to earlier outbreaks like SARS, swine flu, avian flu and etc. They had prior knowledge of the potential of nCov2019. The US did not.

Why do we have a National Security Council or a Department of Homeland Security if they cannot read the writing on the wall? It was an accidental release of a weaponized virus. The US should have taken a cue and reacted with similar conviction shown by the CCP. But we have no leadership worth a shit.

Our representative republic has suffered an embarrassment in this failure to protect the people while a so-called national enemy, a communist dictatorship, has demonstrated more effective leadership and greater capability to protect its people. This is more than an embarrassment. It is an indictment of our political system.

It is time to turn sharply left to social democracy.

[Mar 14, 2020] Congress discard neoliberalism and jump into direct the New Deal Style action

Mar 14, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"Every aspect of modern life is being hit as sweeping measures are rolled out in an effort to stem the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump declared a national emergency Friday "to unleash the full power of the federal government."
"No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever," the president said as stocks rose sharply, regaining some of their recent losses.


Hours later, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation to give direct relief to Americans impacted by the spreading virus. Central to the aid package are free testing and sick pay guarantee for Americans affected.


People who are sick with the virus and have to be treated or quarantined would qualify for the sick pay benefit, which requires employers to offer 14 days of sick leave at "not less" than two-thirds of an employee's normal pay. Others who would qualify for paid sick leave are those who need to be home to care for a child whose school or childcare center has closed, and those who need to leave their jobs to take care of a family member infected with the virus.


The legislation offers three months of paid family and medical leave. And small and mid-sized employers would be reimbursed through tax credits." CBSNEWS


J , 14 March 2020 at 01:10 PM

Here's a link that I hope will be helpful to those wondering.

CoronaVirus.Gov

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

robt willmann , 14 March 2020 at 02:40 PM
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act appears to be in Title 42, U.S. Code, Chapter 68--

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title42/chapter68&edition=prelim

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/chapter-68

ST Harris , 14 March 2020 at 02:57 PM
And don't forget the amped up Fed repo purchasing, the fed had been trying to pull back on these since late last year, but this means max power QE2 through 2020, for better and for worse:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/overall-fed-temporary-liquidity-rises-to-283-1-billion-11584021405

[Mar 14, 2020] Erik Olin Wright and the Anti-capitalist Economy by Edward J. Martin

the idea the neoliberalism is "internal colonialism" is a very important one.
Mar 14, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

/ March 12th, 2020

The devastating effects of neoliberal economic schemes have laid the foundation for rebellion against this very system. Neoliberalism, understood as unrestricted free market economics can be traced to the sixteenth-century European colonization of the "new world" and its later manifestation in imperialism and neo-imperialism. This strategy has also fueled the industrial revolution until it met its fate with the Great Depression. The New Deal policies of the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s provided a temporary reprieve, but ultimately failed to secure a permanent solution to market failure. The proof of this vulnerability is made clear in the Great Recession some seventy years later with the market collapse in 2008.

In spite of these historical calamities, the rich have amazingly benefitted from their own economic disaster while the middle class and poor have been forced to financially both suffer from economic devastation and, adding insult to injury, bare the cost of repairing the disaster the rich have visited upon them. The rich, power elite, or one percent, whatever the spin, are clearly waging economic war on the people, and this has been dragging itself out since the inception of the United States. Today the result for most citizens is the lived reality of being "liquid asset poor," or put in other terms, "one paycheck away from disaster." Moreover, the devastation of the administrative state over the past forty years, starting with the Reagan era, has been a major factor in destroying the social safety net and in so doing unleash the "animal spirits" of the free market.

It is obvious. The neoliberal economic model is destroying life for Americans and some form of resistance to capitalism is needed more than ever. To this Erik Olin Wright develops an anti-capitalist strategy using metaphors such as: smashing capitalism, taming capitalism, escaping capitalism, and eroding capitalism . In this Wright constructs a new conceptual model based on two of the metaphors, "taming and eroding" capitalism. 1

Smashing Capitalism

The evidence that neoliberal and monopoly capitalism has historically devastated the lives of people, "smashing capitalism" is understandable. The reason for smashing capitalism is because it is a corrupt institution; reform is impossible since it is controlled by the interests of powerful elites. At times small reforms are possible through public policy, yet such reforms are contingent and subject to legislative change. Wright argues that policy in this regard is held captive by its elite clientele and international elites. This makes public policy unresponsive to the needs of the general public. In lieu of this, "smashing capitalism" through class struggle seems to be the only alternative. The idea that capitalism can be rendered a benign social order to which ordinary people benefit is a delusion. Instead the rational alternative is to end the life of capitalism and then reconstruct a state socialist alternative.

Aside from the strengths and weaknesses of revolutionary action, there are too many "moving parts," too much complexity, and too many unintended consequences in which revolutionary action, directed at terminating capitalism, is not feasible. Attempts at "system rupture" as Wright describes it, will tend to unravel into such chaos that revolutionary elites, regardless of their motives, will be compelled to resort to pervasive violence and repression to sustain social order. Such violence, in turn, destroys the possibility for a genuinely democratic, participatory process of building a new society. The evidence from the revolutionary tragedies of the twentieth century seem to indicate that smashing capitalism , according to Wright, fails as a strategy for social emancipation.

Taming Capitalism

An alternative to smashing capitalism is taming capitalism. Critics of capitalism argue that capitalism is self-destructive. It generates levels of inequality that undermine social cohesion. Capitalism destroys traditional jobs and leaves people to fend for themselves. It creates uncertainty and risk for individuals and communities. These are consequences of the inherent dynamics of a capitalist economy. Nevertheless, Wright argues that it is possible to build counteracting institutions neutralizing the negative externalities of capitalism. Well-crafted policies are more than possible at taming capitalism. Given favorable political circumstances, it is possible to win policy battles and impose the constraints needed for a more benign form of capitalism. The idea of taming capitalism does not eliminate the underlying tendency for capitalism to generate harms; it simply counteracts their effects.

This is similar to a medicine which effectively deals with symptoms rather than underlying causes. Known as the "Golden Age of Capitalism" – roughly the three decades following World War II – social-democratic policies, specifically in those locations where they were most thoroughly implemented, did a fairly good job at moving in the direction of a more humane economic system. Three clusters of state policies, in particular, that significantly counteracted the harm of capitalism are: health, employment, and income. So too, the state provided an expansive set of public goods (funded by a robust tax system) that included basic and higher education, vocational skill formation, public transportation, cultural activities, recreational facilities, research and development, and macro-economic stability. In large part the corporate media is to blame. Educational institutions as well. Still, for Wright taming capitalism remains a viable expression of anti-capitalism.

Escaping Capitalism

One of the oldest responses to the onslaught of capitalism has been to escape. For Wright, escaping capitalism may not have crystallized into systematic anti-capitalist ideologies, but nevertheless it has a coherent logic: capitalism is too powerful a system to destroy. Truly taming capitalism would require a level of sustained collective action that is unrealistic, and albeit, the system as a whole is too large and complex to control. The power elite control the United States and they will always coopt opposition and defend their privileges. The impulse to escape is reflected in many familiar responses to the harms of capitalism. For example, the movement of farmers to the Western frontier in nineteenth-century United States was, for many, an aspiration for stable, self-sufficient subsistence farming rather than production for the market.

Escaping capitalism is implicit in the "hippie" motto of the 1960s, "turn on, tune in, drop out." The "Go It Alone" demeanor and the "community economy" may be motivated by stagnant individual incomes during a period of economic austerity, but they can also point to ways of organizing economic activity that are less dependent on market exchange. More generally, the lifestyle of voluntary simplicity can contribute to broader rejection of consumerism and the preoccupation with economic growth in capitalism. Fleeing from the complexities and even injustices associated with capitalism will, in the long run, fail to address the deeper structural issues that could in fact return to promote worse outcomes from prior experiences. Escaping capitalism fails to address the underlying causes of capitalism's inadequacies and the outcomes that effect other's lives whatever their perspectives on capitalism.

Eroding Capitalism

The fourth form of anti-capitalism is the least familiar, eroding capitalism. This orientation for Wright, identifies capitalism as a socioeconomic system organized around three basic components: private ownership of capital; production for the market for the purpose of making profits; and employment of workers who do not own the means of production. Capitalists claim that markets are the most efficient and effective means for the distribution of scarce resources. The same capitalists, on the other hand, must confront problems with the distribution and equity of these resources. As a result, public policy has attempted to address these issues through what Wright describes as the "eroding capitalism" theme: policy implementations to remediate market failures. This includes nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations.

A number of these organizations can be thought of as hybrids, composed of capitalist and non-capitalist entities; some are non-capitalist while some are anti-capitalist. Thus, the eroding force on capitalism is to construct more inclusive, democratic, egalitarian, economic models wherever possible, and to struggle to expand and defend these efforts to the point where capitalism is no longer dominant. The eroding process evolves over time. As a strategic vision, eroding capitalism is both enticing and far-fetched in that social justice and emancipatory social change, attempt to build on a new world on economic and environmental justice, within the current capitalist structure, albeit flawed. Simply put, an economy dominated by capitalism could never be eliminated since the existence of large capitalist corporations are responsible, to a large degree, for livelihoods.

Eroding capitalism is not a fantasy for Wright. It is only plausible if it is combined with the social-democratic idea of taming capitalism , linking the bottom-up, society-centered strategic vision of anarchism with the top-down, state-centered strategic logic of social democracy. The goal is to tame capitalism in ways that make it more erodible so that eroding and taming capitalism, without its total elimination, is a position that makes sense in the context of understanding this position as a "pipedream" or "utopia."

Taming and Eroding

So, how should one as an anti-capitalist seek to implement a democratic economy?

First, abandon the fantasy of smashing capitalism. Capitalism is not able to be smashed, at least if the goal is to construct an emancipatory future aimed at social justice. It is a massive international institution whose destruction, presumably by some revolutionary force, would devastate the world financial system. Second, by escaping capitalism and moving off the grid and minimizing involvement with the market, is neither a realistic nor an appealing option for most people, especially those with families, financial responsibilities, etc. As a tactic for social change, it has little potential to foster a broader process of social emancipation.

In summary, if persons are concerned about living in a civilized world, in one way or another, social justice demands that capitalism, as it manifests itself today on a global scale, must address its inner demons, structures and institutions. Anti-capitalism thus directs its attention to taming and eroding capitalism . The real utopian emancipatory efforts can be directed at democratic economic models that serve the needs of labor as a priority, profits follow subsequently. This arguably is the best approach to remediating the precarious nature of the market and which also presumes that individuals and communities need to participate both in political movements for taming capitalism through public policies and in socioeconomic projects for eroding capitalism through the expansion of ongoing emancipatory forms of economic activity. This implies that people must renew an energetic progressive social democracy that not only neutralizes the harms of capitalism but also facilitates initiatives to build real utopias with the potential to erode the dominance of capitalism.

An anti-capitalist emancipatory project must have specific human rights guarantees in order for this emancipatory project to be successful. As Bernie Sanders argues, authentic freedom must embrace "economic security." Arguably, this can best be achieved with the reintroduction of FDR's Economic Bill of Rights. Hence the assurance of a democratic economy and an anti-capitalist strategy based on taming and eroding the inherent contradictions and nihilistic direction of capitalist designs.

  1. Erik Olin Wright, How to Be an Anti-capitalist for the 21st Century , Verso Books, 2019. [ ]
Edward J. Martin, Ph.D. is Professor of Public Policy and Administration, California State University, Long Beach, Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration. His areas of research include political economy, sustainable development, welfare policy, and inequality. He is Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Economic Development. His publications have appeared in New Political Science, Contemporary Justice Review, International Journal of Public Administration, and Social Policy. He is co-author of Savage State: Welfare Capitalism and Inequality and Capitalism and Critique: Unruly Democracy and Solidarity Economics. Read other articles by Edward J. .

This article was posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2020 at 3:32pm and is filed under Book Review , Capitalism , Neoliberalism .

[Mar 13, 2020] This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal social Darwinist "every man for himself" ethos is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are

Mar 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Daniel , Mar 13 2020 22:16 utc | 138

@Joanne Leon 15
The explosion of hate and blame and fear flying around online with regard to this pandemic is more than alarming and ultimately useless and damaging. In a way it scares me more than the flu itself at the moment because of the implications of how it will hinder our ability to cooperate and deal with this.

That's a good point. Western society with its twisted guiding philosophy of radical individualism and competition combined with a supremacist "that could never happen here" attitude quickly falls into panicked chaos when reality kicks in and reveals the society's underlying vulnerabilities. Countries with weak social safety nets and an ideological opposition to social responsibility are extremely vulnerable to systemic breakdown when their societies are under unexpected stress.

This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal social Darwinist "every man for himself" ethos is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are. Additionally, the house of cards that makes up the global economy has been in crisis mode since 2008, when it was bailed out by massive money printing in the US and EU and China pumping billions of dollars into the economy to keep it afloat, simply can't handle any additional stressors without going into breakdown mode.

In this kind of situation where clear headed cooperation and mutual effort are required the opposite happens and people go into panic and finger pointing mode looking for some external enemy to blame. Just imagine what will happen if global warming turns out to be as serious as many are predicting.

[Mar 13, 2020] Free trade suddenly seems like a dangerous fantasy, as nations start putting their own people first

Mar 13, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

It may one day be said that the coronavirus delivered the death blow to the New World Order, to a half-century of globalization, and to the era of interdependence of the world's great nations.

Tourism, air travel, vacation cruises, international gatherings, and festivals are already shutting down. Travel bans between countries and continents are being imposed. Conventions, concerts, and sporting events are being canceled. Will the Tokyo Olympics go forward? If they do, will all the anticipated visitors from abroad come to Japan to enjoy the games?

Trump has issued a one-month travel ban on Europe.

As for the "open borders" crowd, do Democrats still believe that breaking into our country should no longer be a crime, and that immigrants arriving illegally should be given free health care, a proposition to which all the Democratic debaters raised their hands?

The ideological roots of our free trade era can be traced to the mid-19th century, when its great evangelist, Richard Cobden, rose at Free Trade Hall in Manchester on January 15, 1846, and rhapsodized: "I see in the Free Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe -- drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."

In the pre-Trump era, Republicans held hands with liberal Democrats in embracing NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and most favored nation trade privileges for China.

In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security? Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes, and diabetes to China? Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense?

In this coronavirus pandemic, people now seem to be looking for authoritative leaders and nations seem to be looking out for their own peoples first. Would Merkel today invite a million Syrian refugees into Germany no matter the conditions under which they were living?

Is not the case now conclusive that we made a historic mistake when we outsourced our economic independence to rely for vital necessities upon nations that have never had America's best interests at heart?

Which rings truer today? We are all part of mankind, all citizens of the world. Or that it's time to put America and Americans first!

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.


EdMan 11 hours ago

Wiping out the NWO and discrediting globalism's the silver lining to the dark cloud of the coronavirus.
IanDakar EdMan 8 hours ago
Which leaders have been speaking of ways to reverse the ways of globalism and how close are they to obtaining power? This is going to require a changing of the elites fro mthe ones who are and will continue to push this form of globalism to the ones that are willing to switch to a new system.

(there will always be an elite. It's just a question of which ones you let wield power as not all of them are the type that we carry.)

AlexanderHistory X 8 hours ago
Unfortunately a ton of people are still espousing open borders globalism. This includes a large number of visible elites, the vast majority, in fact.
The best thing that could happen is that those who espouse such dangerous ideas are held to account by nature. Let them get sick with the Wu flu, let them be unable to attain medication because China has restricted exports to us. Let's see what they think after they have finally begun to experience the ramifications of their ideological thinking.
Awake and Uttering a Song AlexanderHistory X 3 hours ago
The elites will ALWAYS have access to medication they need. Most of them will NEVER "experience ramifications" in any way more than minor inconveniences.
Don Quijote 6 hours ago
Considering that you can get from New York City to Tokyo in under 24 hours, and that there are no major city on the Planet that cannot be reached from the lower forty-eight in under 48 hours, how do you intend to reverse globalism? Ban airplanes, telephones and the internet-based communications?

Because short of that, Globalism is here to stay.

[Mar 11, 2020] Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump triumph by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Highly recommended !
Notable quotes:
"... by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy ..."
"... He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands. ..."
"... Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take. He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. ..."
"... Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way" ..."
"... It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. ..."
"... The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. ..."
"... Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity. ..."
"... Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics . ..."
"... By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme. ..."
Nov 14, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek . Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism . It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy . Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take. He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. Just as the political philosopher should be free to think the unthinkable, so the very rich should be free to do the undoable, without constraint by public interest or public opinion.

The ultra rich are "scouts", "experimenting with new styles of living", who blaze the trails that the rest of society will follow. The progress of society depends on the liberty of these "independents" to gain as much money as they want and spend it how they wish. All that is good and useful, therefore, arises from inequality. There should be no connection between merit and reward, no distinction made between earned and unearned income, and no limit to the rents they can charge.

Inherited wealth is more socially useful than earned wealth: "the idle rich", who don't have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing "fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs". Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but "aimless display", they are in fact acting as society's vanguard.

Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way" .

It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. For all his grace and touch, Barack Obama, who didn't possess a narrative either (except "hope"), was slowly reeled in by those who owned the means of persuasion.

As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If the dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people's lives; debate is reduced to the jabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband.

The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, -> -> beginning with the agreement to limit global warming .

Those who tell the stories run the world. Politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives. The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century. It must be as appealing to some who have voted for Trump and Ukip as it is to the supporters of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn.

A few of us have been working on this, and can discern what may be the beginning of a story. It's too early to say much yet, but at its core is the recognition that – as modern psychology and neuroscience make abundantly clear – human beings, by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish . The atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes run counter to much of what comprises human nature.

Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity.

Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics .

By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.


ianfraser3 , 16 Nov 2016 17:54

EF Schumacher quoted "seek first the kingdom of God" in his epilogue of "Small Is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered". This was written in the early 1970s before the neoliberal project bit in the USA and the UK. The book is laced with warnings about the effects of the imposition of neoliberalism on society, people and the planet. The predictions have largely come true. New politics and economics needed, by leaders who place at the heart of their approach the premise, and fact, that humans are "by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish". It is about reclaiming our humanity from a project that treats people as just another commodity.
LionelKent -> greven , 16 Nov 2016 14:59
And persistent. J.K. Galbraith viewed the rightwing mind as predominantly concerned with figuring out a way to justify the shift of wealth from the immense majority to an elite at the top. I for one regret acutely that he did not (as far as I know) write a volume on his belief in progressive taxation.
courtsfurnishing -> Harryonthehill , 16 Nov 2016 10:05
Millions see no benefit from the wealth generated by these 'entrepreneurs', that is the nub of the matter. 'Trickle-down' economics is the biggest lie of my lifetime: (DOB 1951).
User237167 , 16 Nov 2016 08:40
Albert Einstein said, "capitalism is evil" in his famous dictum called, "Why Socialism" in 1949. He also called communism, "evil", so don't jump to conclusions, comrades. ;)

His reasoning was it distorts a human beings longing for the social aspect. I believe George references this in his statement about people being "unselfish". This is noted by both science and philosophy.

Einstein noted that historically, the conqueror would establish the new order, and since 1949, Western Imperialism has continued on with the predatory phase of acquiring and implementing democracy/capitalism. This needs to end. As we've learned rapidly, capitalism isn't sustainable. We are literally overheating the earth which sustains us. Very unwise.

Einstein wrote, "Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society."

Personally, I'm glad George and others are working on a new economic and social construct for us "human beings". It's time we leave the predatory phase of "us versus them", and construct a new society which works for the good of our now, global society.

zavaell -> LECKJ3000 , 16 Nov 2016 06:28
The problem is that both you and Monbiot fail to mention that your "the spontaneous order of the market" does not recognize externalities and climate change is outside Hayek's thinking - he never wrote about sustainability or the limits on resources, let alone the consequences of burning fossil fuels. There is no beauty in what he wrote - it was a cold, mechanical model that assumed certain human behaviour but not others. Look at today's money-makers - they are nearly all climate change deniers and we have to have government to reign them in.
aLERNO , 16 Nov 2016 04:52
Good, short and concise article. But the FIRST NEOLIBERAL MILESTONE WAS THE 1973 COUP D'ETAT IN CHILE, which not surprisingly also deposed the first democratically-elected socialist government.
willpodmore , 16 Nov 2016 04:10
Neoliberalism is the theory of capitalism in decline. A failed system that cannot produce growth or rising living standards for the majority. A system run by the IMF, the EU and other undemocratic bodies. And Mr Monbiot says we should stay in the neoliberal EU!
FunkyJunkie -> JVRTRL , 16 Nov 2016 03:23
here here, all the Austrians and those of central European descent (Friedman) are paranoid about the ascent of government and unfortunately it both colours their views and distorts their thinking. A recent reading of Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" confirmed my view that there was a lot of weak logic and quite poor intellectual thinking overall applied, tho in its day it would have resonated.
MGEvans -> marxmarv , 16 Nov 2016 03:10
You owe me five bucks mate.
accipiter15 , 16 Nov 2016 02:34
A great article and explanation of the influence of Hayek on Thatcher. Unfortunately this country is still suffering the consequences of her tenure and Osborne was also a proponent of her policies and look where we are as a consequence. The referendum gave the people the opportunity to vent their anger and if we had PR I suspect we would have a greater turn-out and nearly always have some sort of coalition where nothing gets done that is too hurtful to the population. As for Trump, again his election is an expression of anger and desperation. However, the American voting system is as unfair as our own - again this has probably been the cause of the low turn-out. Why should people vote when they do not get fair representation - it is a waste of time and not democratic. I doubt that Trump is Keynsian I suspect he doesn't have an economic theory at all. I just hope that the current economic thinking prevailing currently in this country, which is still overshadowed by Thatcher and the free market, with no controls over the city casino soon collapses and we can start from a fairer and more inclusive base!
JVRTRL -> Keypointist , 16 Nov 2016 02:15
The system that Clinton developed was an inheritance from George H.W. Bush, Reagan (to a large degree), Carter, with another large assist from Nixon and the Powell Memo.

Bill Clinton didn't do it by himself. The GOP did it with him hand-in-hand, with the only resistance coming from a minority within the Democratic party.

Trump's victory was due to many factors. A large part of it was Hillary Clinton's campaign and the candidate. Part of it was the effectiveness of the GOP massive resistance strategy during the Obama years, wherein they pursued a course of obstruction in an effort to slow the rate of the economic recovery (e.g. as evidence of the bad faith, they are resurrecting a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that Obama originally proposed in 2012, and now that they have full control, all the talk about "deficits" goes out the window).

Obama and the Democratic party also bear responsibility for not recognizing the full scope of the financial collapse in 2008-2009, passing a stimulus package that was about $1 trillion short of spending needed to accelerate the recovery by the 2010 mid-terms, combined with a weak financial regulation law (which the GOP is going to destroy), an overly complicated health care law -- classic technocratic, neoliberal incremental policy -- and the failure of the Obama administration to hold Wall Street accountable for criminal misconduct relating to the financial crisis. Obama's decision to push unpopular trade agreements didn't help either. As part of the post-mortem, the decision to continuing pushing the TPP may have cost Clinton in the rust belt states that went for Trump. The agreement was unpopular, and her shift on the policy didn't come across as credible. People noticed as well that Obama was trying to pass the measure through the lame-duck session of Congress post-election. With Trump's election, the TPP is done too.

VoltefarcedePfeffel , 15 Nov 2016 21:11
Another nasty neoliberal policy of Reagan and Thatcher, was to close all the mental hospitals, and to sweeten the pill to sell to the voters, they called it Care in the Community, except by the time those hospitals closed and the people who had to relay on those institutions, they found out and are still finding out that there is very little care in the community left any more, thanks to Thatcher's disintegration of the ethos community spirit. In their neoliberal mantra of thinking, you are on your own now, tough, move on, because you are hopeless and non productive, hence you are a burden to taxpayers. Its been that way of thinking for over thirty years, and now the latest group targeted, are the sick and disabled, victims of the neoliberal made banking crash and its neoliberal inspired austerity, imposed of those least able to fight back or defend themselves i.e. vulnerable people again!
TanTan -> crystaltips2 , 15 Nov 2016 20:10

If you claim that the only benefit of private enterprise is its taxability, as you did, then why not cut out the middle man and argue for full state-directed capitalism?


Because it is plainly obvious that private enterprise is not directed toward the public good (and by definition). As we have both agreed, it needs to have the right regulations and framework to give it some direction in that regard. What "the radical left" are pointing out is that the idea of private enterprise is now completely out of control, to the point where voters are disenfranchised because private enterprise has more say over what the government does than the people. Which is clearly a problem.

As for the rest, it's the usual practice of gathering every positive metric available and somehow attributing it to neoliberalism, no matter how tenuous the threads, and as always with zero rigour. Supposedly capitalism alone doubled life expectancy, supports billions of extra lives, invented the railways, and provides the drugs and equipment that keep us alive. As though public education, vaccines, antibiotics, and massive availability of energy has nothing to do with those things.

As for this computer being the invention of capitalism, who knows, but I suppose if one were to believe that everything was invented and created by capitalism and monetary motives then one might believe that. Energy allotments referred to the limit of our usage of readily available fossil fuels which you remain blissfully unaware of.

Children have already been educated to agree with you, in no small part due to a fear of the communist regimes at the time, but at the expense of critical thinking. Questioning the system even when it has plainly been undermined to its core is quickly labelled "radical" regardless of the normalcy of the query. I don't know what you could possibly think left-wing motives could be, but your own motives are plain to see when you immediately lump people who care about the planet in with communist idealogues. If rampant capitalism was going to solve our problems I'm all for it, but it will take a miracle to reverse the damage it has already done, and only a fool would trust it any further.

marxmarv -> hyp Alx , 15 Nov 2016 19:48
Then we can put the entire Washington Consensus to bed and never have to hear any of these awful names we've been hearing on our tellies for the past 30 years. Giant meteors at the hotel where Soros is holding his neoliberal huddle would be nice.
marxmarv -> grittygran , 15 Nov 2016 19:24
Liberalism itself is, to an extent, based on judgment and ritual humiliation, as shown by a few moments spent flipping through <I>The New Republic and other chronicles of their bourgeois aspirations. Whatever this brave new world without neoliberalism shall be, there are parts of this totalizing ideology called liberalism that taking with us seems to lead only to this same drama a few generations hence. Perhaps liberalism itself is toxic to political economy, under the theory that what it has brought is exactly what it brings, and that its influence may be better preserved in social libertinism than economic libertinism.
marxmarv -> greven , 15 Nov 2016 18:52
Communism didn't collapse, so much as neoliberalism took its scalp. Context matters here, and the West can't pretend it wasn't torturing, raping and murdering to make that happen.
yorkslass -> JGreen42 , 15 Nov 2016 18:32

A vote for Trump, Boris, Farage and Aaron Banks is a vote against neoliberal ism? Seriously?

Even these chaps realise that money is made from the 'little guy' and if the little guy is deprived of a reasonable income and the opportunity to spend it as he/she wills, then the 'big guys' eventually lose out as well.

The strategy adopted by all the corporative elites has been to import labour from countries which care about health and education for the masses and whose residents are happy to take low wages and UK government top ups in the form of tax credits and child benefits. After all, the wage differentials ensure they can educate their own children privately in their home countries and they can return home at any time for private health care when necessary.

The leaders of the EU have done all they can to ensure a more even distribution of wealth amongst member states. But in fact it suits no one except their wealthy cronies, who can pick and choose where they pay their taxes (or not). Migrants don't want it - they are happy to earn relatively high wages elsewhere and spend it in their own relatively impoverished home countries; and the native population of the wealthier countries don't want their own standards of living eroded by unfair competition from migrants.

The system is unsustainable long term and everyone knows it. If they weren't aware of what was happening before the Cameron negotiations, they certainly were when they saw the reaction, and the greed, of the Polish Minister in particular. Brexit happened becasue of Cameron's failure.

The Trump triumph is more difficult to understand. He seems to have picked up on Farage's rhetoric and applied it to the US (particularly in regard to Mexican migrants undercutting local wages and the apparent need for fences along the borders). I am not convinced however that the US as a federal superstate faces the same problems as the EU - which is currently a hybrid intergovernmental organisation / federal superstate, or rather in transition from the former to the latter. However if the US is the exemplar or the model into which the EU is morphing then it is best to stop the process right now.

CherryHill -> sadsaddo , 15 Nov 2016 18:15
This is the real scam regarding the NHS:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/15/revealed-temp-agencies-avoidance-scheme-costs-taxpayers-hundreds-of-millions

People can't be expected to work like this. No wonder we have trouble recruiting NHS staff. Who wants to be 'employed' by a two-person company? Shocking.

Also, somebody – and I don't care who it is – needs to get on top of the tax evasion and, now, National Insurance evasion by these companies. Billions are being lost. And to think you're quibbling about the cost of a few imaginary women having babies.

User781652 -> Trouthunter , 15 Nov 2016 17:03
Bernie Sanders, writing in the Boston Globe less than a month before the US election, mentioned 'one family (the Waltons) having more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of our population'. Does anyone know who this family is, as I have never heard of them? Those who think it is the famous family from the American TV series of the same name need not reply.
undercoverguyzer -> Dave_P , 15 Nov 2016 16:57
Well the rich did make a secret of it. Neoliberalism is the pattern that connects policies that roll back state social support and roll out pro-market 'solutions' with pseudoscientific economic explanations. The rich funded the considerable network of think tanks that took the neoliberal agenda to governments as the new truth, and the cover story was that there would be growth that lifts all boats. It hasn't happened. Instead we have inequality and stalled growth, but the new medicine 'austerity', continues to be neoliberal.

[Mar 11, 2020] Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics - what's the difference - Renegade Inc

Mar 11, 2020 | renegadeinc.com

Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics – what's the difference? By Claire Connelly Economics & Finance | Loading Bookmark to dashboard

Neoliberalism and neo-classical economics are often terms that are used interchangeably by various economists and financial writers, but actually, there are important differences between the two. We've had some requests from readers to make that distinction more obvious, so here goes

Neo-classical economic theory puts 'man' as a rational human being at the heart of the economic system, extrapolating the functions of the economy based on optimised behaviour of rational, well-informed individuals trading with one in another in what is effectively a barter system (which as I'm sure we all know by now, never actually existed ). It is based on the general equilibrium model pioneered by late 19th century economist Leon Walras , of the Lausanne School. Ironically, neoclassical economics guarantees full employment because it models a system with no frictions or inconveniences like trade unions, minimum wage laws or imperfect information. Also false.

It also guarantees that society will find an optimal allocation of resources on its own, so long as markets are competitive, and there are no externalities, like pollution, which go unaccounted for.

Neoclassicists are concerned about monopoly power, neoliberals are not. Neoclassicists believe it merits government intervention and regulation. Neoliberals, do not.

It is possible to be a neoclassical without being a neoliberal.

The most important thing to understand is that neoliberalism is a post-war political movement that grew out of the Mont Pelerin Society , a thought collective that formed a consensus not to put the market at the centre of the state, but to take it over completely. Its entire objective is to co-opt economics and subvert the public interest to suit the needs of powerful capitalist institutions and the politicians, economists, financiers, philosophers, bankers, think-tanks and media organisations that support them.

Neoliberalism is associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and was pioneered by economist Milton Friedman & Friedrich Hayeck, but as the economic historian, Philip Mirowski points out, this is a deliberate deception to trick people into thinking it is concerned about market equilibrium.

It is the doctrine by which white collar crime has been allowed to prosper unprosecuted while governments of wealthy nations like the US and UK have abdicated their responsibility for employment, health care, education and the general well-being of the populations they are supposedly elected to serve. In their minds, government exists only to maintain property rights, defend capitalists and maintain price stability, (which apparently doesn't count as intervention when it works in the favour of the wealthy).

We are what we eat, well, in free market terms anyway
Whilst 90% of the US media (film, TV and radio) is controlled by only 6 companies.

Unlike neoclassicists and neoliberals, heterodox economists and other post-Keynesians, reject the notion of general equilibrium. They believe the economy evolves through non-equilibrium states over time. Heterodox economists believe governments need to introduce instability-thwarting mechanisms to stabilise the economy, maintain full employment, and retain social equity.

"Free-market economists may want you to believe that the correct boundaries of the market can be scientifically determined, but this is incorrect," writes institutional economist, Ha-Joon Chang, in his book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism .

https://www.youtube.com/embed/J7m9wfFnH6o

"If the boundaries of what you are studying cannot be scientifically determined, what you are doing is not a science," writes the Cambridge University economist.

"Recognising that the boundaries of the market are ambiguous and cannot be determined in an objective way lets us realise that economics is not a science like physics or chemistry, but a political exercise."

In other words, a strong economy requires constant time, attention, assessment, and when it is called for, intervention. The rules will not always be the same, nor the causes. But it helps to start with an understanding of the role and purpose of government spending and taxation .

Further Listening

Listen to this interview economic historian Philip Mirowski who delves into the further nuances of these economic mindsets.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/cf2YQ-1wvrc?feature=oembed

Claire Connelly Claire Connelly Claire Connelly is the lead writer of Renegade Inc. An award-winning freelance journalist, speaker, and founder of subscription journalism experiment, Hello Humans.

Specialising in economics, technology and policy, Connelly is working on her first book due out in 2018.

With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Claire has written for leading publications including The Australian Financial Review, The Saturday Paper, ABC, SBS, Crikey, New Matilda, VICE & others. She is the co-host of The Week In Start-Ups Australia, and features regularly as a commentator on TV and radio shows including Radio National's Download This Show, ABC's The Drum, Ten's The Project, and more. Claire Connelly Latest posts by Claire Connelly ( see all )

Posted in Economics & Finance Tagged Economic Policy , Free Market , laissez-faire , Mont Perin Society , Neoclassical Economics , Neoliberalism 15 thoughts on "Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics – what's the difference?"
  1. Pingback: Renegade Inc: Neoliberal v Neoclassical economics – what's the difference? – Brave New Europe
  2. Tom Woods says: March 19, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    What were Hayek's contributions to capital theory? Just wondering. I have never encountered a single person who speaks of "neoliberalism" (a term we ourselves never use to describe what we believe) who has read a single word of Hayek's economic work. Or who even knows who Ludwig von Mises is.

    (Whenever the two economists mentioned are Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek, I know I'm dealing with somebody who hasn't read anything.) Reply

    1. Dave says: March 19, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      But of course you have read everything and know all, right Tom ? What specifically is wrong with this account ? If you can't dispute anything within the piece why do you attempt to dismiss it out of hand by implying without a shred of evidence what someone has or hasn't read ? How could you possibly know what someone has read or hasn't ? Reply

    2. David Blobaum says: March 19, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      (Whenever someone disqualifies someone else based on assumption I know I'm dealing with bruised ego) Reply

    3. John Giles says: March 20, 2018 at 6:13 am

      What actually is "capital theory", Tom. Why don't you use the term 'neoliberalism?
      Why do you think Claire hasn't heard of Mises and why would it be important anyway? Mises and the Austrian School are part of the problem that the article refers to. Reply

  3. Alan Luchetti says: March 20, 2018 at 12:13 am

    "(Whenever the two economists mentioned are Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek, I know I'm dealing with somebody who hasn't read anything.)"

    I think you meant "dealing to".

    And why so ignorant of Hayek on capital theory? 😉 Reply

  4. Hoobert Herver says: March 20, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry. I just don't believe even smart people can manage markets. That's the nature of markets: they are individual. If you haven't read Von Mises or Hayek, you're missing out on the thinking of two very smart people. It is hard for me to embrace the idea that – because a market doesn't seem to function as a person might want it to – persons should be given authority to govern those markets in a way that suits them. That, in itself, distorts the market. Reply

  5. Bob Kaufman says: March 21, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I am responding to an article by you in today's The Automatic Earth about the vengeance of capitalism. I could not get the response area to work so that is why I am coming to you this way.

    You write eloquently and I see the creation of increasing suffering due to a form of capitalism and class privilege in America and globally. I have read and listened to Keen, Hudson and Kelton. From my review they all approach the ability of a nation that controls their own currency as an ability to create an unlimited amount of money to use to reduce human suffering with no discussion of the ultimate end game if we continue to do so.

    There is a lot of suffering now and because of climate change, increasing usurping of jobs by technology and global resource depletion and more a lot more suffering may be coming our way.

    How much money are they (and you) thinking of creating?

    What are the implications of creating money at a much more rapid pace than we have been with no upper limits in sight?

    What are the upper limits of money creation? How would we know?

    Our present system of capitalism and privilege is like a drug. It feels good at the start but kills us in the end,

    I am fearful that an addiction to the unlimited or substantial and on going use of money created from thin air will do the same.

    What say you?

    PS: Please accept with compassion all the typos that are probably in this note. Reply

    1. Dave says: March 28, 2018 at 4:46 am

      You keep forgetting that having the ability to create money also gives you the ability to destroy that same money. What is collected in tax revenue is destroyed. More money is issued to create infrastructure. The deficit in a country that can create it's own currency is really just a ratio of what is collected(destroyed) and what is created(spent).
      Now ask yourself what happens when you quit destroying money and keep right on creating it Reply

  6. Youri says: March 23, 2018 at 12:40 am

    great article Claire! love your articles at New Matilda by the way, and enjoyed your interview at Redacted Tonight and love Renegade INC at RT 🙂 Reply

  7. Cliff Cobb says: March 26, 2018 at 6:38 am

    The aim of distinguishing neoclassical and neolilberal is of merit. The interview with Mirowski makes clear, however, that that are numerous strands of neoliberalism that overlap with each other, with some drawing on neoclassical arguments, and others having a different starting point. But it is not clear to me that all of them agree on the market fundamentalism, which is generally regarded as the defining characteristic of neoliberalism. Was Joseph Schumpeter a neoliberal? His ideas about entrepreneurship have probably done more to make monopoly respectable than the parallel work of von Mises. Schumpeter's thought has entered the mainstream in the U.S. via Peter Drucker, who thought the modern corporation was the engine of all forms of human progress. In Germany, Ordo-liberalism was another form of neoliberalism that called for a strong state. Was this self-contradiction? What I find frustrating in most discussions on the Left of these thinkers is the inability or unwillingness to recognize the ***partial*** validity of their ideas. On the particular subject of government interference to protect against monopoly power, it was Gabriel Kolko, a socialist, who first showed in 1962 that Progressives were responsible for the national monopolies that emerged around 1900. Even now, progressives fail to comprehend the many ways in which regulation benefits big business and stifles small business. Designing regulations that do more social and environmental good than harm is much harder than most progressives seem to recognize. Analyzing the sociology and politics of neoliberal organizations, as Mirowski does, gets us no closer to finding way to create effective government programs that do not simultaneously feed the leviathan of an expansive state. I would very much like to know which heterodox economists are actually addressing the tough problems we face rather than defining the boundaries between neoclassical thought and their own domain.. Reply

  8. Chris Auld says: May 30, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    There are a very large number of errors in this piece. Fundamentally, what is described as "neoclassical economics" is actually just one model, Walras' circa 1870 general equilibrium model. If one defines neoclassical economics as equivalent to that one model, then there has never been a single neoclassical economist, as absolutely no one limits attention to that one model.

    The body of research most actual economists would describe as "neoclassical economics" encompasses an enormous body of work which posits that some social phenomena can be understood as emergent results of individual, intentional behavior. That research includes literally thousands of papers studying the phenomena the author wrongly believes are simply excluded by assumption, such as unemployment, unions, minimum wage laws, and imperfect information. There is an entire field, Public Economics, devoted to the study of "the role and purpose of government spending and taxation."

    The idea that government can and should "introduce instability-thwarting mechanisms to stabilize the economy, maintain full employment, and retain social equity" is also, contrary to the article's assumptions, very much part of mainstream, neoclassical thought, and has been for almost a century.

    After having implicitly defined mainstream economics as solely the study of a single 1870 model, the article then also misrepresents heterodox economics. Notably, the Marxian economist (less than 1% of all economists) such as Chang do not "reject the notion of general equilibrium". Marxian analysis is explicitly grounded in general equilibrium, both in Marx's work and in modern neo-Marxian form, and can be expressed in the same analytical framework as the Walrasian model (see for example: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1911113?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents ).

    The article is correct that neoliberalism is a strain of political thought, and not economics at all: they're not even the same type of thing, much the same thing. That's all the article ought to say -- it gets everything about what economists think, and what neoclassical economics is, really, really wrong.

    Chris Auld
    Department of Economics
    University of Victoria Reply

    1. Steven says: May 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      Chris, your criticism is so misleading.

      Most though not all mainstream economics is neoclassical economics.

      Neoclassical economics is based on marginalism, or optimising behaviour, expected utility theory, and either implicit or explicit general equilibrium analysis. The economy, in the absence of frictions, would behave like a stable equilibrium system. In a macroeconomic sense, this is the basis of all versions of the neoclassical synthesis, including second generation dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models.

      These models all have Walrasian and Wicksellian roots. They all assume optimising behaviour. They always adopt the ergodic hypothesis and these days adopt rational expectations formation. Not only that, they have all been constructed in defiance of what we know about the history and nature of money; they all ignore ontological uncertainty, in the Keynesian sense; they all exclude genuinely endogenous financial instability and crisis; they are biased towards an essentially technological explanation of income distribution; they all incorporate a natural or non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment; they all exhibit long run money neutrality; they all incorporate an efficient markets approach to financial markets.

      There are of course elements of what some would regard these days as mainstream economics which don't fit under the neoclassical banner. However, for the most part, mainstream = neoclassicism.

      The greatest divide between neoclassical economics and genuine (i.e. not 'new') institutional economics, is the F-twist of Milton Friedman – the notion that unrealistic axiomatic foundations in some sense don't matter, and neither does an approach which does not naturally incorporate realistic institutions.

      Of course, economists using a neoclassical frame have things to say about unemployment, minimum wages, etc. But, as Hyman Minsky put it, "The game of policy making is rigged; the theory used determines the questions that are asked and the options that are presented. The prince is constrained by the theory of his intellectuals."

      You accuse the author of errors, and I think you are ungenerous – and, more importantly – incorrect. My advice to you is to read Steve Keen's best-seller 'Debunking Economics'. You could even read my 'Economics for Sustainable Prosperity'. If you read these two books, you will be much more aware of the limitations of neoclassical economics, and the rich insights available from the many economists who have worked, and who are working today, outside the neoclassical frame. Reply

  9. Claire says: May 31, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I highly recommend reading this short piece by Professor Steven Keen:

    http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2009/05/30/why-neoclassical-economics-is-dead/ .

    Or this piece by Lars Syll: https://larspsyll.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/what-is-wrong-with-neoclassical-economics/ .

    Perhaps you will find them useful in understanding why it's questionable that neoclassical economics has anything useful to say about financial stability.

    Kind regards,

    Claire Reply

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[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe

Highly recommended!
Neoliberalism destroys solidarity; as the result it destroys both the society and individuals
Notable quotes:
"... Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others. ..."
"... On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today. ..."
"... the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation. ..."
"... Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other. ..."
"... Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms ..."
"... More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one. ..."
"... A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. ..."
"... the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." ..."
Sep 29, 2014 | www.theguardian.com

An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities

'We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited.'

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you're reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won't really be noticed.

It's important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you've got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That's why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won't be you who has to pick up the pieces. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare , the best-known specialist on psychopathy today.

This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes. Nevertheless, the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation.

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other.

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the "infantilisation of the workers". Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities ("She got a new office chair and I didn't"), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

More important, though, is the serious damage to people's self-respect. Self-respect largely depends on the recognition that we receive from the other, as thinkers from Hegel to Lacan have shown. Sennett comes to a similar conclusion when he sees the main question for employees these days as being "Who needs me?" For a growing group of people, the answer is: no one.

Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.

Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy

See also

[Mar 10, 2020] Neoliberalism the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Under neoliberalism inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve: Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations and redefines citizens as consumers
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? ..."
"... Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . ..."
"... Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. ..."
"... Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances. ..."
"... Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers. ..."
"... Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. ..."
"... It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative' ..."
"... Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre. ..."
"... Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one ..."
"... Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one. ..."
"... When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel . ..."
"... Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man. ..."
"... Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". ..."
"... Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. ..."
"... Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities. ..."
"... The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised". ..."
"... The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years. ..."
"... What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century. ..."
Apr 16, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative? @GeorgeMonbiot

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness , the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump . But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

Inequality is recast as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

See also Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe, Sep 24, 2014

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it's unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe . We are all neoliberals now.

***

The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and the gradual development of Britain's welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.

In The Road to Serfdom , published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises's book Bureaucracy , The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.

With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as "a kind of neoliberal international": a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement's rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institute , the Heritage Foundation , the Cato Institute , the Institute of Economic Affairs , the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute . They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.

As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek's view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.

Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Friedman was happy to describe himself as a neoliberal . But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was not replaced by any common alternative.

At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes 's economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.

But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, "when the time came that you had to change ... there was an alternative ready there to be picked up". With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter's administration in the US and Jim Callaghan's government in Britain.

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice should have been promoted with the slogan 'there is no alternative'

After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, "it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised."

***

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan "there is no alternative". But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet's Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – "my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism". The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers , endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Naomi Klein documented that neoliberals advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted. Photograph: Anya Chibis/The Guardian

As Naomi Klein documents in The Shock Doctrine , neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet's coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Friedman described as "an opportunity to radically reform the educational system" in New Orleans .

Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating " investor-state dispute settlement ": offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes , protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one

Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.

Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel .

In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all phone services and soon became the world's richest man. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

Those who own and run the UK's privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world's richest man.

Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can't Afford the Rich , has had a similar impact. "Like rent," he argues, "interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort". As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up.

Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land , Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.

Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.

Chris Hedges remarks that "fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the 'losers' who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment". When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation . To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.

Judt explained that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power. The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to "cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them".

***

Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.

The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch , two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement . We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that "in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised".

The nouveau riche were once disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Today, the relationship has been reversed

The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. "The market" sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What "the market wants" tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. "Investment", as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities "camouflages the sources of wealth", leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entre preneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income.

These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism: the franchise model which ensures that workers do not know for whom they toil ; the companies registered through a network of offshore secrecy regimes so complex that even the police cannot discover the beneficial owners ; the tax arrangements that bamboozle governments; the financial products no one understands.

The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is used today only pejoratively . But they offer us no substitute. Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to Serfdom , Bureaucracy or Friedman's classic work, Capitalism and Freedom .

***

For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power.

Neoliberalism, Locke and the Green party | Letters Read more

Neoliberalism's triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.

Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.

What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it's not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.

George Monbiot's How Did We Get into This Mess? is published this month by Verso. To order a copy for £12.99 (RRP £16.99) ) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Topics Economics

[Mar 10, 2020] The Bankruptcy of the American Left by Chris Hedges

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Corporate capitalism is supranational . It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs. ..."
"... Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries ..."
"... Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself. ..."
"... "We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump." ..."
"... "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist , which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about." ..."
"... When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased." ..."
"... "The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share." ..."
"... "Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary." ..."
Feb 05, 2018 | www.truthdig.com

There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics , multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls " inverted totalitarianism ," the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control -- which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry -- we will continue to be victims.

Corporate capitalism is supranational . It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.

Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational. It must build alliances with workers around the globe. It must defy the liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which betray workers. It is this betrayal that has given rise to fascist and protofascist movements in Europe and other countries. Donald Trump would never have been elected but for this betrayal. We will build a global movement powerful enough to bring down corporate capitalism or witness the rise of a new, supranational totalitarianism.

The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good. But as capitalism ravages the social fabric, it damages, like any parasite, the host that allows it to exist. It unleashes dark, uncontrollable yearnings among an enraged population that threaten capitalism itself.

"This is a crisis of global dimensions," David North , the national chairman of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States, told me when we spoke in New York. "It is a crisis that dominates every element of American politics. The response that we're seeing, the astonishing changes in the state of the government, in the decay of political life, the astonishingly low level of political and intellectual discourse, is in a certain sense an expression of the bewilderment of the ruling elite to what it's going through."

"We can expect a monumental explosion of class struggle in the United States," he said. "I think this country is a social powder keg. There is an anger that exists over working conditions and social inequality. However [much] they may be confused on many questions, workers in this country have a deep belief in democratic rights. We totally reject the narrative that the working class is racist. I think this has been the narrative pushed by the pseudo-left, middle-class groups who are drunk on identity politics, which have a vested interest in constantly distracting people from the essential class differences that exist in the society. Dividing everyone up on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference fails to address the major problem."

North argues, correctly, that capitalism by its nature lurches from crisis to crisis. This makes our current predicament similar to past crises.

"All the unanswered questions of the 20th century -- the basic problem of the nation-state system, the reactionary character of private ownership with the means of production, corporate power, all of these issues which led to the first and Second world wars -- are with us again, and add to that fascism," he said.

"We live in a global economy, highly interconnected," North went on. "A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis. It has been completely incapable of answering this [ruling-class policy]. Therefore, it falls behind various national protectionist programs. The trade unions support Trump."

The sociologist Charles Derber , whom I also spoke with in New York, agrees.

"We don't really have a left because we don't have conversations about capitalism," Derber said. "How many times can you turn on a mainstream news like CNN and expect to hear the word 'capitalism' discussed? Bernie [Sanders] did one thing. He called himself a democratic socialist , which was a bit transformational simply in terms of rhetoric. He's saying there's something other than capitalism that we ought to be talking about."

"As the [capitalist] system universalizes and becomes more and more intersectional, we need intersectional resistance," Derber said. "At the end of the 1960s, when I was getting my own political education, the universalizing dimensions of the left, which was growing in the '60s, fell apart. The women began to feel their issues were not being addressed. They were treated badly by white males, student leaders. Blacks, Panthers, began to feel the whites could not speak for race issues. They developed separate organizations. The upshot was the left lost its universalizing character. It no longer dealt with the intersection of all these issues within the context of a militarized, capitalist, hegemonic American empire. It treated politics as siloed group identity problems. Women had glass ceilings. Same with blacks. Same with gays."

The loss of this intersectionality was deadly. Instead of focusing on the plight of all of the oppressed, oppressed groups began to seek representation for their own members within capitalist structures.

"Let's take a modern version of this," Derber said. " Sheryl Sandberg , the COO of Facebook, she did a third-wave feminism thing. She said 'lean in.' It captures this identity politics that has become toxic on the left. What does 'lean in' mean? It means women should lean in and go as far as they can in the corporation. They should become, as she has, a major, wealthy executive of a leading corporation. When feminism was turned into that kind of leaning in, it created an identity politics that legitimizes the very system that needs to be critiqued. The early feminists were overtly socialists. As was [Martin Luther] King. But all that got erased."

"The left became a kind of grab bag of discrete, siloed identity movements," Derber said. "This is very connected to moral purity. You're concerned about your advancement within the existing system. You're competing against others within the existing system. Everyone else has privilege. You're just concerned about getting your fair share."

"People in movements are products of the system they're fighting," he continued. "We're all raised in a capitalistic, individualistic, egoistic culture, so it's not surprising. And it has to be consciously recognized and struggled against. Everybody in movements has been brought up in systems they're repulsed by. This has created a structural transformation of the left. The left offers no broad critique of the political economy of capitalism. It's largely an identity-politics party. It focuses on reforms for blacks and women and so forth. But it doesn't offer a contextual analysis within capitalism."

Derber, like North, argues that the left's myopic, siloed politics paved the way for right-wing, nativist, protofascist movements around the globe as well as the ascendancy of Trump.

"When you bring politics down to simply about helping your group get a piece of the pie, you lose that systemic analysis," he said. "You're fragmented. You don't have natural connections or solidarity with other groups. You don't see the larger systemic context. By saying I want, as a gay person, to fight in the military, in a funny way you're legitimating the American empire. If you were living in Nazi Germany, would you say I want the right of a gay person to fight in combat with the Nazi soldiers?"

"I don't want to say we should eliminate all identity politics," he said. "But any identity politics has to be done within the framework of understanding the larger political economy. That's been stripped away and erased. Even on the left, you cannot find a deep conversation about capitalism and militarized capitalism. It's just been erased. That's why Trump came in. He unified a kind of very powerful right-wing identity politics built around nationalism, militarism and the exceptionalism of the American empire."

"Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse," Derber said. "It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic. When you break the left into these siloed identity politics, which are not contextualized, you easily get into this dogmatic fundamentalism. The identity politics of the left reproduces the worse sociopathic features of the system as a whole. It's scary."

"How much of the left," he asked, "is reproducing what we are seeing in the society that we're fighting?"

[Mar 09, 2020] One day, Americans will fully understand , with horrible consequences, that not every single human transaction must revolve around making a few people obscenely rich

Mar 09, 2020 | www.unz.com

TKK , says: Show Comment March 9, 2020 at 5:06 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike In America, you are on your own.

At international arrivals in Atlanta, the overwhelmingly black TSA staff are not taking temps by infrared or taking any pro active measures. If they are, it was hidden from me. It seems- obtuse- to constantly harp on the catastrophe that is AA hires- but there it is.

Its the busiest airport in the world, BTW.

A sinister side note; Delta offered me an $83 upgrade for first class when I went in to delay another trip. It's a $6000 ticket to fly first class. My total would have been a little over $500. Dangling the carrot as everyone cancels.

One day, Americans will fully understand , with horrible consequences, that not every single human transaction must revolve around making a few people obscenely rich.

[Mar 09, 2020] The Politics of Privatization How Neoliberalism Took Over US Politics by Brett Heinz

Highly recommended!
Sep 08, 2017 | www.faireconomy.org

Many of us have come across the term "neoliberal," or "neoliberalism" before, but for all its use, few have ever taken the chance to actually explain what it is. An inadequate popular definition has allowed the term to be abused and misrepresented in a variety of ways. Despite these misrepresentations, however, "neoliberalism" is a concept that is very useful for understanding the world we live in today.

In simple terms, neoliberalism is a broad ideology that became popular in political, economic, and governmental circles in the 1970's and reached its peak in global popularity in the 1980's. Neoliberalism describes the political paradigm we are in right now, the political conditions of modern society . As the name suggests, it calls for a revitalization of the classical liberal view of economic policy. It's important to understand that "classical liberal" here refers to an older understanding of the word liberal than the one it has in modern America- it is referencing the liberalism of the Enlightenment era, represented by thinkers like Adam Smith and John Locke, not modern social liberalism as embodied by Barack Obama and much of the rest of the Democratic Party. In concrete policy terms, neoliberalism means free trade, low taxes, deregulation, privatization, and balanced budgets.

Neoliberalism represents a shift in the way we look at the world: it entails seeing every aspect of society, even those typically considered civic or community affairs, in the terms of the market economy.

"Stagflation" & Schools of Economic Thought

Neoliberalism emerged as a reaction to welfare state politics and Keynesian economics that had become popular in the West following the end of World War II.

What is Keynesian Economics? Two major schools of economic thought are Classical Economics and Keynesian Economics. Adam Smith's (1723-1790) theory of Classical Economics asserts that the market is a rapidly-adjusting, self-correcting entity. John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) believed that Classical Economics was flawed. If classical economics were true, Keyes asserted, waves of massive unemployment wouldn't exist, as the market would quickly self-adjust for the downturn. Keynes theorized that during an economic downturn, consumer demand tended to drop, causing employers to lay off employees, which would then decrease overall consumer demand, and the cycle would continue. Keynes concluded that in periods of economic downturn, government could manipulate demand by hiring, directly or through policy, unemployed workers and break the cycle.

Following a long period of significant prosperity, the 1970's brought with it a phenomenon known as "stagflation" - simultaneous stagnation (where worker wages are kept flat) and inflation (where the cost of living rises). Keynesians, who had been the dominant group in American economics at the time, believed it was impossible for stagflation to exist for any extended period of time.

As the Keynesians tried to make sense of economic realities of the day, a new wave of economists began to create other schools of thought. Milton Friedman (known as "the Chicago School" or "monetarists") made the case not only for a different approach to monetary policy in order to solve stagflation, but also for the idea that many forms of governmental involvement in the economy are in fact harmful. Others, like James Buchanan pioneered a field known as "public choice theory," which made the case to the economics profession that government bureaucrats acted in personal self-interest, not in the public interest, and thus that policy prescriptions should be much more cautious in calling for governmental solutions to economic issues.

Activist Business

At the same time as the intellectual environment began to shift toward the political right in economics, the business community also began to be more aggressive in asserting their interests in politics. This development was prompted in part by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. writing a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971, arguing that "the American economic system is under attack" from progressive critics of big business and that the business community should fight back. A number of conservative and libertarian think tanks and advocacy organizations were created and expanded during this period in order to make the intellectual case for "freer" capitalism, including the Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1974), and the American Enterprise Institute (founded in 1938 but becoming influential during the 1970′s).

A Radical Message

Combine a turn against government in the field of economics and a growing assertion of political power by businesses, and throw in increased public skepticism of government after Vietnam and Watergate, and you have a recipe for fundamental political change. Between the economic disarray, the public distrust, and both intellectual and financial support for an alternative to post-war welfare statism, a new ideology became dominant in the political sphere. This ideology was encapsulated by the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who summed it up perfectly with his famous quote: "in this current crisis, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem."

Such a claim may sound like standard conservative fare today, but both Reagan and his message were quite radical at the time, even among Republicans. At the time of his election, Reagan was seen by some ( including Gerald Ford ) as simply too far right to win. The last (elected) Republican president before him, Nixon, created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and a number of other progressive programs. He also called for healthcare reform that could arguably be called stronger than Obamacare, and an expansion of welfare , the latter of which was the inspiration for the Earned Income Tax Credit, passed shortly after he left office. Pieces of Nixon's economic agenda were noticeably left-wing, so much so that one journalist at the time noted that he left the Democrats having to resort to "me-tooism."

Nixon took such positions because he needed to respond to political pressures from the left, the same pressures that had pushed LBJ on civil rights legislation and the war on poverty. In the late 1970's, as the activism and radicalism of the 1960's began to die out, those pressures began to be outweighed by increasing pressure from businesses in the direction of neoliberalism. This started under Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the cautious deregulation of airlines in 1978 and the trucking industry in 1980. However, it was Reagan who truly delivered the neoliberal agenda in America and institutionalized it into government.

Importantly, this era also saw the start of the growth in the importance of campaign donations. Republicans had not only a strong base of think tanks to provide them with a network of intellectual support, they also had far more money from the corporate interests they were serving. Congressional Republicans beat their Democratic counterparts in campaign expenditures in every election year from 1976 to 1992.

Traditionally, Democrats had relied on unions as a critical source of both campaign donations and organizational support. With union strength declining (a trend the Reagan administration encouraged through policy), the Democrats were being totally outgunned. According to Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson's book "Winner-Take-All Politics":

" From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, corporate PACS [political action committees] increased their expenditures in congressional races nearly five fold. Labor spending only rose about half as fast... By 1980, unions accounted for less than a quarter of all PAC donations -- down from half six years earlier."

The Third Way

Even with the emergence of conservative "Reagan Democrats" during the 1980's, the game had changed for the Democratic Party. Recognizing this, a number of Democrats (including Bill Clinton) joined together in a group called the Democratic Leadership Council with the goal of dragging the party to the right and boosting campaign contributions. They succeeded. When Clinton eventually won the presidency, he cemented neoliberalism as the law of the land by making it clear that the Democrats would not challenge the new fundamental doctrine of limited government involvement in many parts of the economy, and as a result made the Democrats politically competitive again. (Both the previously mentioned "Winner-Take-All Politics" and Thomas Ferguson and Joel Roger's "Right Turn" go more into detail on this issue, and on neoliberalism more generally).

Instead of challenging the entirety of Reagan's assertion of government-as-problem, Clinton espoused a "third way" ideology: in his second inauguration, he said that "Government is not the problem, and Government is not the solution. We -- the American people -- we are the solution." Though the Clinton White House at times backed left-liberal policies like mild tax hikes on the wealthy, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Family Medical Leave Act, it also continued the neoliberal march of rolling back progressive achievements through the deregulation of Wall Street (the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, etc.), conservative welfare reform in 1996, NAFTA, and the gutting of public housing .

A One-Party System

Clinton himself was aware of the way that American politics was moving to the right, and he was sometimes frustrated with it. Allegedly, he once entered a meeting in the Oval Office complaining : "Where are all the Democrats? I hope you're all aware we're all Eisenhower Republicans. We're Eisenhower Republicans here, and we are fighting the Reagan Republicans. We stand for lower deficits and free trade and the bond market. Isn't that great?"

Despite this, however, Clinton and most of the rest of the Democratic Party accepted their role doing nothing more than, to borrow a phrase from political philosopher Roberto Unger, "to put a softer face on the agenda of their conservative opponents." They seek to make marginal improvements for poor, working class, and middle class voters here and there, but never seek to fundamentally shake up the political-economic system in any way. As one critic put it in 1990, even before Clinton's election, the Democratic Party is "...history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party. They do not interfere with capitalist momentum, but wait for excesses and the inevitable popular reaction." This is why many left-wing critics will refer to some Democrats as neoliberals even when they don't literally advocate for free market capitalism.

Neoliberalism within the Democratic Party looks less like a proposal to privatize or abolish Social Security as much as it does a commitment to benefit-cutting "entitlement reform." It can be seen both in language (the constant discussion of education as an "investment" in "skills" necessary for "improving the workforce," instead of a guaranteed right for all citizens) and in policy (proposing tax cuts for the middle class instead of social spending even when taxes are at some of their lowest rates in decades ; compromis[ing] in advance on major policy proposals like the 2009 stimulus; advocating piecemeal technocratic reforms to healthcare and finance instead of deeper, fundamental reform; etc.).

With their opponents on the defensive and partially compliant with their agenda, the Republicans continued to push further right under the leadership of Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America." The Democrats started to dig their heels in and push back a little for the first time during the later part of the George W. Bush administration as his (and the wars') approval ratings sank, and they now seem to have more or less stabilized. An increasingly loud progressive coalition of activists and advocates continues to push for ideas like single-payer healthcare, often dismissed as radical despite both being an international norm and the explicit goal of many mainstream Democratic politicians before neoliberalism's rise. The Democratic party establishment, on the contrary, is largely fine holding on to ideological territory that is, in certain areas, to the right of where it was several decades ago.

With the establishment of both major political parties accepting neoliberal ideology, it became default wisdom among economic, political, and media elites. Because the most powerful class of America accepted it as fact, it was instilled into the American consciousness as "common sense" that can't be seriously challenged. Ideas in direct opposition to neoliberalism were largely marginalized, and as a result, much of our modern debate now takes place within its bounds. Today, though, this marginalization is rapidly disappearing.

Today, we are witnessing the collapse of neoliberalism's "common sense" status. Republican elites took neoliberalism being one of their root organizing principles for granted while running campaigns using dog-whistle racism, never realizing that they were attracting a base of voters who hated immigrants a lot more than they hated regulation. The Republicans have drifted so far to the right that unabashed nationalists like Trump can now take the lead of the party, even as he espouses racist xenophobia-inspired protectionism that are in conflict with the neoliberal ideals of the party's business wing.

Even during their neoliberalization, the Democrats always had a left-wing occupied by social democrats. Today they largely occupy the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They were empowered by both opposition to the Iraq War late in the Bush era and the subsequent economic crash that occurred as a result of neoliberal deregulation of the finance sector. Obama ran as a semi-progressive but governed as a standard Democrat, leaving progressive disappointment and frustration to rise to the surface again once a primary was held to determine who would be the Democratic candidate after Obama: thus, the Bernie phenomenon.

Globalism & Neoliberalism

It seems as though the extinction of neoliberalism is embedded in the formula of neoliberalism itself. Neoliberalism and accompanying globalization have resulted in inequality and poverty for significant portions of the population, leaving many people economically impoverished and politically alienated. This prompts an inevitable political reaction, angry and populist in nature. The center-left (ex. Hillary Clinton) and center-right (ex. Jeb Bush) sing the praises of neoliberal globalization, while the left (ex. Bernie Sanders) vigorously attacks the "neoliberal" part of it, and the far-right (ex. Donald Trump) vigorously attack the "globalization" part of it. Today, progressives dislike neoliberalism, but also believe that the far-right's disdain for all forms of globalization is a distraction and misidentification of the root issue, using foreigners and people of color as scapegoats. The problem is not globalization, but globalization implemented in such a way so as to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

Neoliberalism is a powerful ideology and way of looking at the world. The neoliberal views most government involvement in the economy as harmful, and seeks to leave social problems to be solved by private enterprise and markets whenever possible. This is an idea that, over the last several decades, has become widely accepted to varying degrees by people across the political spectrum, and as such has been embedded into modern government and public policy.

When discussing modern politics, a recognition of the role neoliberalism has played in fueling massive increases in inequality and corrupting our democracy is vital.

A number of other industrialized countries have undergone neoliberalization on roughly the same time frame as the US, and are now experiencing similar backlashes: the U.K., neoliberalized under Margaret Thatcher and others, now has UKIP on its right and Jeremy Corbyn and social democratic Scottish nationalists on its left. France has witnessed the rise of not only the National Front on its far-right, but also the rise of populist socialists like Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Germany has the AfD and Pegida on its right and Die Linke on its left. New Zealand has New Zealand First. Sweden has the Sweden Democrats. Spain has Podemos. Additionally, backlash against "Washington Consensus" neoliberalism in Latin America contributed to a revitalization of left-populism in many countries. Though there are some nations that have experienced some form of neoliberalism without such political effects, a definite connection between neoliberalism and the emergence of anti-neoliberal populism certainly seems to exist.

[Mar 07, 2020] In the Land of the Gerontocrats by Jacob Bacharach

Notable quotes:
"... Nowhere, though, is the rusty, rickety nature of America's civic society more recently evident than in the hilariously, harrowingly inept response to the advent of the COVID-19 virus as a global contagion. Whether it is more or less dangerous and deadly than the media portrays is quite beside the point. The abject incapacity of any government, least of all the feds, to offer even simple, sensible guidance, much less mobilize national resources to examine, investigate and ameliorate the potential threat to human health and well-being is astonishing, even to a tired old cynic like me. At present, the most proactive step has been to pressure the Federal Reserve into goosing the stock market -- the sort of pagan expiation of dark spirits that you'd expect in a more primitive world, when a volcano blew or an earthquake hit. ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

As much as I like Bernie Sanders and hope he prevails in the Democratic primary, I confess that there's something gray and depressing about a crusty, seventy-something, New-Deal liberal representing the great electoral hope of the American left. There are, of course, a number of engaging young progressives in office now, but the fame and near-celebrity profiles of newcomers like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez belie the still fundamentally local power bases of these congresswomen, none of whom has yet been tested even in a statewide election. Victories at the state and local levels have been far outpaced by gains by so-called moderates and centrists, and even these barely dent the thousands of seats and offices lost to radical conservatives during the desultory administration of Barack Obama.

In the campaign for the presidential nomination, and in the aftermath of the multiple "Super Tuesday" primary contests, the Democratic race has become a two-man contest, pitting the insurrectionary Sanders against the increasingly incoherent Joe Biden. In Biden, Democrats are presented with a former senator for America's onshore but off-shore-style tax haven, Delaware, and a man who was selected as the most demographically inoffensive running mate for the then-seemingly-radical campaign of Barack Obama.

Until an eleventh-hour victory in South Carolina, the predominant narrative in the media was that Biden was cooked -- a spent force whose residually strong national poll numbers reflected name recognition and reserves of nostalgia for the Obama years. Biden's revival was buoyed by the support of the state's relatively conservative, older African American population, and then by his Super-Tuesday success just a few days later. (It didn't hurt that the vagaries of election season allowed him to avoid another crackpot debate performance or other testament to his rambling incomprehensibility in the interim.)

But that single victory and the synchronized withdrawals and endorsements by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar created a new narrative. Seemingly overnight, Biden had become a scrappy fighter with a never-say-die attitude, a Clintonian Comeback Kid.

This drove many older Democratic voters -- an inherently timorous group conditioned by decades of "The West Wing" and MSNBC to believe they're consultants and strategists rather than citizens and constituents -- toward the more familiar, pedigreed candidate. They simply did not care that Biden has been wrong, often aggressively and outspokenly so, on every significant issue for the last forty years.

After blowing half a billion dollars on a vanity campaign that won him American Samoa, Michael Bloomberg promptly bowed out and endorsed Biden as well, promising to dedicate his vast resources toward electing Joe.

Beyond the quixotic and indefatigable Tulsi Gabbard, the only candidate left standing was Elizabeth Warren -- also in her 70s and running on fumes since an ill-conceived and ill-fated pivot away from "Medicare for All." This ruined her relationship with the socialist left and any chance of serving as a bridge between the activist wing of the party and its constituency of urban professionals, if one could have existed to begin with. ( Editor's note: Warren has since dropped out. )

Looming is yet another septuagenarian, Donald Trump, whose ongoing mental decompensation remains the great unspeakable truth in corporate media. Although frequently hostile to him, with the obvious exception of Fox News, mainstream outlets continue to edit his transcripts "for clarity and concision," as the publishing saying goes, laundering the self-evident lunacy of his almost every public utterance like a gaggle of Soviets turning the somnolent ravings of an agèd commissar into readable prose for the next day's news.

I use the Soviet metaphor consciously. Long before I started dating and then married a scholar of Russian, I had a certain soft spot for the country, alternately maligned as an eternal basket case and an implacably cunning enemy that had sacrificed something like fifty times the number of Americans killed in every American war combined to defeat the Nazis. And now that I am shacked up with a Russianist and have visited the place a couple of times, I've come to see it not as a shadow or opposite of our own vast, weird nation but as a sibling of sorts.

The crass red-scare fantasies that characterize so many of the present narratives around election interference and the criminal Trump-Russia demimonde are as infuriating as they are baroquely silly. And yet there is a certain late-Soviet pallor hanging over America, even if on a material level our empire really does seem more robust than theirs ever was. (Once again, it bears mentioning that we never lost fifty million people in a war.)

There is a sense, despite the apparent ideological contestations of our ongoing presidential elections, of a group of gerontocrats battling to run what looks less and less like a traditional state than the palace apparatus of an ancient empire that has acquired its imperium almost by accident. As the press critic and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen observed in the fall of last year, "There is no White House. Not in the sense that journalists have always used that term. It's just Trump -- and people who work in the building. That they are reading from the same page cannot be assumed. The words, 'the White House' are still in use, but they have no clear referent."

The hollowed-out nature of the American state has been evident for some time and certainly predates Donald Trump, even if his simultaneously feckless and malicious administration exacerbates the sense of social and economic precariousness. Our biggest city can't build and maintain its transit system. Our bridges collapse. We can't marshal our resources to even pretend to do something about climate change.

The few actual achievements of the Obama administration -- its rapprochements with Cuba and Iran -- collapsed almost immediately on the whims of his successor while his cruelest policies -- the drone assassinations; the militarized border; the detentions -- metastasized and grew crueler.

Our municipal jails have become debtors' prisons as strapped municipalities turn to shaking down poor people and people of color to manage shrinking tax bases. Meanwhile, our health care system is the worst in the developed world -- an impenetrable skein of rent-seeking local monopolies that cost society trillions and bankrupt hundreds of thousands of individuals each year.

Nowhere, though, is the rusty, rickety nature of America's civic society more recently evident than in the hilariously, harrowingly inept response to the advent of the COVID-19 virus as a global contagion. Whether it is more or less dangerous and deadly than the media portrays is quite beside the point. The abject incapacity of any government, least of all the feds, to offer even simple, sensible guidance, much less mobilize national resources to examine, investigate and ameliorate the potential threat to human health and well-being is astonishing, even to a tired old cynic like me. At present, the most proactive step has been to pressure the Federal Reserve into goosing the stock market -- the sort of pagan expiation of dark spirits that you'd expect in a more primitive world, when a volcano blew or an earthquake hit.

Even elections seem beyond our capabilities at this point. In Texas, people waited for up to seven hours to cast votes on decrepit machines, and we still do not have official final results from the Iowa caucuses -- a fact little mentioned now that the primary season has moved on.

On the eve of the French Revolution, the Swiss-born theorist, journalist, and politician Jean-Paul Marat wrote, "No, liberty is not made for us: we are too ignorant, too vain, too presumptuous, too cowardly, too vile, too corrupt, too attached to rest and to pleasure, too much slaves to fortune to ever know the true price of liberty. We boast of being free! To show how much we have become slaves, it is enough just to cast a glance on the capital and examine the morals of its inhabitants."

Donald Trump is in the White House, and his allies in Congress, smarting from his impeachment and failed Senate trial, will now come out with allegations about the sketchy business dealings of one of his likely opponent's adult sons. Well. Here we are.

Jacob Bacharach is the author of the novels "The Doorposts of Your House and on Your Gates" and "The Bend of the World." His most recent book is "A Cool Customer: Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking."

[Mar 03, 2020] It is shocking to see such a disgusting piece of human garbage like Joe Biden get so many working class voters to vote for him. Biden has never missed a chance to stab the working class in the back in service to his wealthy patrons.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It's astonishing that so many people will just blindly accept what they are told, that Biden is. "moderate." Biden is so far to the right, he makes Nixon look like Trotsky. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

TG , Mar 3 2020 22:02 utc | 56

Yet another circus. The proles get to scream and holler, and when all is done, the oligarchy gets the policies it wants, the public be damned. Our sham 'democracy' is a con to privatize power and socialize responsibility.

Although it is shocking to see such a disgusting piece of human garbage like Joe Biden get substantial numbers of people to vote for him. Biden has never missed a chance to stab the working class in the back in service to his wealthy patrons.

The issue is not (for me) his creepiness (I wouldn't much mind if he was on my side), nor even his Alzheimer's, but his established track record of betrayal and corruption.

From wiping out the ability of regular folks to declare bankruptcy (something supported by our founding fathers who were NOT socialists), to shipping our industrial base to communist China (which in less enlightened days would have been termed treason), to spending tens of trillions of dollars bailing out and subsiding the big banks (that's not a misprint), to supporting "surprise medical billing," to opening the borders to massive third-world immigration so that wages can be driven down and reset and profits up (As 2015 Bernie Sanders pointed out), Backstabbing Joe Biden is neoliberal scum pure and simple.

It's astonishing that so many people will just blindly accept what they are told, that Biden is. "moderate." Biden is so far to the right, he makes Nixon look like Trotsky. Heck, he makes Calvin Coolidge look like Trotsky.

Mao , Mar 3 2020 22:01 utc | 55

Ian56:

Joe Biden is a crook and a con man.

He has been lying his whole life.

Claimed in his 1988 Campaign to have got 3 degrees at college and finished in top half of his class.

Actually only got 1 degree & finished 76th out of 85 in his class.

[VIDEO]

https://twitter.com/Ian56789/status/1234914227963518977

[Mar 03, 2020] "Predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what neoliberalism is.

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

chu teh , Mar 4 2020 0:50 utc | 80

Tonymike | Mar 3 2020 18:08 utc | 26

re ... Your house foreclosed upon by shady bank: naked capitalism, .0001% paid on interest savings: naked capitalism, poor wages: naked capitalism, dangerous workplace: naked capitalism, etc. ...

"naked capitalism" is not a clear description. Consider using "predatory capitalism", which clearly describes what it is.

Here's the Wiki dictionary definition:

Predatory--

1. relating to or denoting an animal or animals preying naturally on others.
synonyms: predacious, carnivorous, hunting, raptorial, ravening;
Example: "predatory birds".

2. seeking to exploit or oppress others.
synonyms: exploitative, wolfish, rapacious, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious
Example: "I could see a predatory gleam in his eyes"

Note where the word comes from:
The Latin "praedator", in English meaning "plunderer".

And "plunderer" helps the reader understand and perhaps recognize what is happening.

Every plunderer understands.

[Mar 02, 2020] Under the rule of a repressive [neoliberal] oligarchy, freedom can be made into a powerful instrument of domination

Mar 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

In "One-Dimensional Man , " Marcuse revealed the fundamental truth of modern Western capitalism: "Under the rule of a repressive whole, liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination . Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves. Free choice among a wide variety of goods and services does not signify freedom if these goods and services sustain social controls over a life of toil and fear -- that is, if they sustain alienation." It does not matter at all whether millions of people recognize their alienation, often blissfully unaware that their "needs" are not their own but merely produced through their superficially pleasant submission. The corporate state continues largely unchallenged.

[Feb 26, 2020] The neoliberal globalists and bankers are engaging in a massive ripoff of the "99%" (although I think the ratio is more like 80-20% rather than 99-1%). But I don't think Bernie has the solution.

Feb 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Dr. X , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:10 pm GMT

This article correctly describes how the neoliberal globalists and bankers are engaging in a massive ripoff of the "99%" (although I think the ratio is more like 80-20% rather than 99-1%). But I don't think Bernie has the solution.

Frankly, the Democratic Party had the solution -- the New Deal, which actually did create economic security for the white working class.

But they threw it out the window, and sided with the neoliberal oligarchy to finance their hedonistic post-1960s lifestyle of porn, drugs, miscegenation, integration, and recreational sex.

They've completely destroyed the culture. I don't think there is any solution at this point.

RadicalCenter , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm GMT
It's interesting: Hudson calls Democrat's "the servants' entrance to the Republican Party" and refers to the republican party's agenda in favor of the one percent.

Meanwhile, also on unz.com this very day, Boyd Cathey has a column "The Russians are Coming" wherein he calls Republicans "a sordid and disreputable second cousin of the advancing leftist juggernaut."

Perhaps they are both correct, and each of their own party's ruling apparatus is no better than the "other" party's ruling apparatus at all.

Jake , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:46 pm GMT
The motto of both Democrats and Republican Neocons and Republican Country Clubbers: Don't Think; Don't Ask; Pay Taxes; Vote for Us; Never Doubt 'Our' Filthy Rich; Blame 'Them' for Everything 'We' Call Bad.

American Democracy, WASP created democracy, is a whore's game. It is con artistry.

RadicalCenter , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:55 pm GMT
@Anon 123 No, there still is enough money even now to take care of the vast unemployed and underemployed class of people, WITHOUT further taxing those of us still working full-time and increasingly struggling.

1. Place natural resources -- oil, gas, and minerals -- under public ownership. Distribute the proceeds from their extraction and sale as an equal dividend to every US Citizen. (As part of the grand bargain, make it MUCH harder to gain US Citizenship, e.g. no birthright citizenship and no chain migration aka "family reunification.") This is a more thorough, more equitable national version of Alaska's resource-funded permanent fund.

How much do executives and shareholders of energy corporations profit each year off of our God-given natural resources? That becomes revenue available for all US Citizens as a universal basic income. (To minimize price/rent inflation, we can start the UBI very low and phase it in gradually over a period of, say, 8 years.)

2. Stop the us government's constant aggressive wars and occupations far from our borders, and close the majority of our bases abroad. Bring the troops home from Europe, Japan, and South Korea -- they can guard our southern border instead, and the new bases will provide a sustained boost to the hundreds of towns around the new bases here at home.

What if we reduced direct war, occupation, and foreign-base spending by $400 billion per year. Seems like a conservative figure. Here is a website that still has 2018 fed gov spending stats -- and seems to undercount military spending -- but a place to start:

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/interactive-data/trade-offs/?state=00&program=14

Of course, since we are borrowing a large chunk of the fed gov's current spending, we should not simply re-spend all of the military savings. Allocate part to other spending, but simply don't spend the rest (thereby borrowing less each year).

3. The current federal "Alternative Minimum (Income) Tax" kicks in at far too low an income level. Conversely, the AMT rate is far too low for extremely high incomes. What a coincidence. Apply the AMT only to household annual income above $2 million, amply adjusted for inflation, but tax the starch out of the oligarchs and billionaires. Yes, they can be forcibly prevented from moving their assets and themselves out of the country. Bloomberg, Zuckerberg, Buffet, Trump, the Sacklers, et al., can be confined and their property confiscated as needed to pay the AMT on their income and a wealth tax.

Even now, the money is there to directly help the American people with no increase in taxes on 99.5% of us, and with less fed gov borrowing than now.

[Feb 25, 2020] The Democrats' Quandary In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give by Michael Hudson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is "and forgive them their debts": Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year ..."
"... Until Nevada, all the presidential candidates except for Bernie Sanders were playing for a brokered convention. The party's candidates seemed likely to be chosen by the Donor Class, the One Percent and its proxies, not the voting class (the 99 Percent). If, as Mayor Bloomberg has assumed, the DNC will sell the presidency to the highest bidder, this poses the great question: Can the myth that the Democrats represent the working/middle class survive? Or, will the Donor Class trump the voting class? ..."
"... This could be thought of as "election interference" – not from Russia but from the DNC on behalf of its Donor Class. That scenario would make the Democrats' slogan for 2020 "No Hope or Change." That is, no from today's economic trends that are sweeping wealth up to the One Percent. ..."
"... But in the wake of Sanders' landslide victory in Nevada, a brokered convention would mean the end of the Democrat Party pretense to represent the 99 Percent. The American voting system would be seen to be as oligarchic as that of Rome on the eve of the infighting that ended with Augustus becoming Emperor in 27 BC. ..."
"... Today's pro-One Percent media – CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times ..."
"... History of Rome ..."
"... History of Rome ..."
"... Some on Resistance Twitter claim that if Sanders is the nominee, Trump will win a 48 sweep. Possible, but very unlikely. But if it did happen, the MSM would once again dismiss his program as being completely unacceptable to the voting class, and Sanders would trudge back to Vermont never to be heard from again. ..."
"... So if his program requires a decade long follow through, what are the least bad outcomes? If the D's deprive him of the nomination at the convention, even though he has far and away more pledged delegates, the MSM cannot dismiss his program as it would in the two previous scenarios, and his program would live to fight another day. ..."
"... Trump may or may not win. But if he does, the best he can hope for is a skin-of-his-teeth victory. Seriously, he lost the popular vote by a ton to Hillary freaking Clinton. ..."
"... And stuff is beginning to crumble around him on the Right. The Dow drops. Oops Richie Rich gets uneasy. ..."
"... I was more than a little honked when Sanders appeared to roll over and support HRC in 2016 in spite of the obvious fraud perpetrated on him and his supporters, not to mention the subsequent treatment they received at the hands of the DNC and Tom Perez. ..."
"... I find myself wondering if it wouldn't be a good idea for Sanders and his supporters to make it absolutely clear their attempts to work within 'the system' are finished if they are robbed again; maybe even starting work immediately on establishing a party not controlled by Wall Street lickspittle or knuckle-dragging no-nothings? ..."
Feb 25, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is "and forgive them their debts": Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year

To hear the candidates debate, you would think that their fight was over who could best beat Trump. But when Trump's billionaire twin Mike Bloomberg throws a quarter-billion dollars into an ad campaign to bypass the candidates actually running for votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, it's obvious that what really is at issue is the future of the Democrat Party. Bloomberg is banking on a brokered convention held by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in which money votes. (If "corporations are people," so is money in today's political world.)

Until Nevada, all the presidential candidates except for Bernie Sanders were playing for a brokered convention. The party's candidates seemed likely to be chosen by the Donor Class, the One Percent and its proxies, not the voting class (the 99 Percent). If, as Mayor Bloomberg has assumed, the DNC will sell the presidency to the highest bidder, this poses the great question: Can the myth that the Democrats represent the working/middle class survive? Or, will the Donor Class trump the voting class?

This could be thought of as "election interference" – not from Russia but from the DNC on behalf of its Donor Class. That scenario would make the Democrats' slogan for 2020 "No Hope or Change." That is, no from today's economic trends that are sweeping wealth up to the One Percent.

All this sounds like Rome at the end of the Republic in the 1st century BC. The way Rome's constitution was set up, candidates for the position of consul had to pay their way through a series of offices. The process started by going deeply into debt to get elected to the position of aedile, in charge of staging public games and entertainments. Rome's neoliberal fiscal policy did not tax or spend, and there was little public administrative bureaucracy, so all such spending had to be made out of the pockets of the oligarchy. That was a way of keeping decisions about how to spend out of the hands of democratic politics. Julius Caesar and others borrowed from the richest Bloomberg of their day, Crassus, to pay for staging games that would demonstrate their public spirit to voters (and also demonstrate their financial liability to their backers among Rome's One Percent). Keeping election financing private enabled the leading oligarchs to select who would be able to run as viable candidates. That was Rome's version of Citizens United.

But in the wake of Sanders' landslide victory in Nevada, a brokered convention would mean the end of the Democrat Party pretense to represent the 99 Percent. The American voting system would be seen to be as oligarchic as that of Rome on the eve of the infighting that ended with Augustus becoming Emperor in 27 BC.

Today's pro-One Percent media – CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times have been busy spreading their venom against Sanders. On Sunday, February 23, CNN ran a slot, "Bloomberg needs to take down Sanders, immediately."[1]Given Sanders' heavy national lead, CNN warned, the race suddenly is almost beyond the vote-fixers' ability to fiddle with the election returns. That means that challengers to Sanders should focus their attack on him; they will have a chance to deal with Bloomberg later (by which CNN means, when it is too late to stop him).

The party's Clinton-Obama recipients of Donor Class largesse pretend to believe that Sanders is not electable against Donald Trump. This tactic seeks to attack him at his strongest point. Recent polls show that he is the only candidate who actually would defeat Trump – as they showed that he would have done in 2016.

The DNC knew that, but preferred to lose to Trump than to win with Bernie. Will history repeat itself? Or to put it another way, will this year's July convention become a replay of Chicago in 1968?

A quandary, not a problem . Last year I was asked to write a scenario for what might happen with a renewed DNC theft of the election's nomination process. To be technical, I realize, it's not called theft when it's legal. In the aftermath of suits over the 2016 power grab, the courts ruled that the Democrat Party is indeed controlled by the DNC members, not by the voters. When it comes to party machinations and decision-making, voters are subsidiary to the superdelegates in their proverbial smoke-filled room (now replaced by dollar-filled foundation contracts).

I could not come up with a solution that does not involve dismantling and restructuring the existing party system. We have passed beyond the point of having a solvable "problem" with the Democratic National Committee (DNC). That is what a quandary is. A problem has a solution – by definition. A quandary does not have a solution. There is no way out. The conflict of interest between the Donor Class and the Voting Class has become too large to contain within a single party. It must split.

A second-ballot super-delegate scenario would mean that we are once again in for a second Trump term. That option was supported by five of the six presidential contenders on stage in Nevada on Wednesday, February 20. When Chuck Todd asked whether Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar would support the candidate who received the most votes in the primaries (now obviously Bernie Sanders), or throw the nomination to the super-delegates held over from the Obama-Clinton neoliberals (75 of whom already are said to have pledged their support to Bloomberg), each advocated "letting the process play out." That was a euphemism for leaving the choice to the Tony-Blair style leadership that have made the Democrats the servants' entrance to the Republican Party. Like the British Labour Party behind Blair and Gordon Brown, its role is to block any left-wing alternative to the Republican program on behalf of the One Percent.

This problem would not exist if the United States had a European-style parliamentary system that would enable a third party to obtain space on the ballots in all 50 states. If this were Europe, the new party of Bernie Sanders, AOC et al. would exceed 50 percent of the votes, leaving the Wall Street democrats with about the same 8 percent share that similar neoliberal democratic parties have in Europe ( e.g ., Germany's hapless neoliberalized Social Democrats), that is, Klobocop territory as voters moved to the left. The "voting Democrats," the 99 Percent, would win a majority leaving the Old Neoliberal Democrats in the dust.

The DNC's role is to prevent any such challenge. The United States has an effective political duopoly, as both parties have created such burdensome third-party access to the ballot box in state after state that Bernie Sanders decided long ago that he had little alternative but to run as a Democrat.

The problem is that the Democrat Party does not seem to be reformable. That means that voters still may simply abandon it – but that will simply re-elect the Democrats' de facto 2020 candidate, Donald Trump. The only hope would be to shrink the party into a shell, enabling the old guard to go way so that the party could be rebuilt from the ground up.

But the two parties have created a legal duopoly reinforced with so many technical barriers that a repeat of Ross Perot's third party (not to mention the old Socialist Party, or the Whigs in 1854) would take more than one election cycle to put in place. For the time being, we may expect another few months of dirty political tricks to rival those of 2016 as Obama appointee Tom Perez is simply the most recent version of Florida fixer Debbie Schultz-Wasserman (who gave a new meaning to the Wasserman Test).

So we are in for another four years of Donald Trump. But by 2024, how tightly will the U.S. economy find itself tied in knots?

The Democrats' Vocabulary of Deception

How I would explain Bernie's program. Every economy is a mixed economy. But to hear Michael Bloomberg and his fellow rivals to Bernie Sanders explain the coming presidential election, one would think that an economy must be either capitalist or, as Bloomberg put it, Communist. There is no middle ground, no recognition that capitalist economies have a government sector, which typically is called the "socialist" sector – Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, roads, anti-monopoly regulation, and public infrastructure as an alternative to privatized monopolies extracting economic rent.

What Mr. Bloomberg means by insisting that it's either capitalism or communism is an absence of government social spending and regulation. In practice this means oligarchic financial control, because every economy is planned by some sector. The key is, who will do the planning? If government refrains from taking the lead in shaping markets, then Wall Street takes over – or the City in London, Frankfurt in Germany, and the Bourse in France.

Most of all, the aim of the One Percent is to distract attention from the fact that the economy is polarizing – and is doing so at an accelerating rate. National income statistics are rigged to show that "the economy" is expanding. The pretense is that everyone is getting richer and living better, not more strapped. But the reality is that all the growth in GDP has accrued to the wealthiest 5 Percent since the Obama Recession began in 2008. Obama bailed out the banks instead of the 10 million victimized junk-mortgage holders. The 95 Percent's share of GDP has shrunk.

The GDP statistics do not show is that "capital gains" – the market price of stocks, bonds and real estate owned mainly by the One to Five Percent – has soared, thanks to Obama's $4.6 trillion Quantitative Easing pumped into the financial markets instead of into the "real" economy in which wage-earners produce goods and services.

How does one "stay the course" in an economy that is polarizing? Staying the course means continuing the existing trends that are concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the One Percent, that is, the Donor Class – while loading down the 99 Percent with more debt, paid to the One Percent (euphemized as the economy's "savers"). All "saving" is at the top of the pyramid. The 99 Percent can't afford to save much after paying their monthly "nut" to the One Percent.

If this economic polarization is impoverishing most of the population while sucking wealth and income and political power up to the One Percent, then to be a centrist is to be the candidate of oligarchy. It means not challenging the economy's structure.

Language is being crafted to confuse voters into imagining that their interest is the same as that of the Donor Class of rentiers , creditors and financialized corporate businesses and rent-extracting monopolies. The aim is to divert attention from voters' their own economic interest as wage-earners, debtors and consumers. It is to confuse voters not to recognize that without structural reform, today's "business as usual" leaves the One Percent in control.

So to call oneself a "centrist" is simply a euphemism for acting as a lobbyist for siphoning up income and wealth to the One Percent. In an economy that is polarizing, the choice is either to favor them instead of the 99 Percent.

That certainly is not the same thing as stability. Centrism sustains the polarizing dynamic of financialization, private equity, and the Biden-sponsored bankruptcy "reform" written by his backers of the credit-card companies and other financial entities incorporated in his state of Delaware. He was the senator for the that state's Credit Card industry, much as former Democratic VP candidate Joe Lieberman was the senator from Connecticut's Insurance Industry.

A related centrist demand is that of Buttigieg's and Biden's aim to balance the federal budget. This turns out to be a euphemism for cutting back Social Security, Medicare and relate social spending ("socialism") to pay for America's increasing militarization, subsidies and tax cuts for the One Percent. Sanders rightly calls this "socialism for the rich." The usual word for this is oligarchy . That seems to be a missing word in today's mainstream vocabulary.

The alternative to democracy is oligarchy. As Aristotle noted already in the 4 th

Confusion over the word "socialism" may be cleared up by recognizing that every economy is mixed, and every economy is planned – by someone. If not the government in the public interest, then by Wall Street and other financial centers in their interest. They fought against an expanding government sector in every economy today, calling it socialism – without acknowledging that the alternative, as Rosa Luxemburg put it, is barbarism.

I think that Sanders is using the red-letter word "socialism" and calling himself a "democratic socialist" to throw down the ideological gauntlet and plug himself into the long and powerful tradition of socialist politics. Paul Krugman would like him to call himself a social democrat. But the European parties of this name have discredited this label as being centrist and neoliberal. Sanders wants to emphasize that a quantum leap, a phase change is in order.

If he can be criticized for waving a needlessly red flag, it is his repeated statement that his program is designed for the "working class." What he means are wage-earners and this includes the middle class. Even those who make over $100,000 a year are still wage earners, and typically are being squeezed by a predatory financial sector, a predatory medical insurance sector, drug companies and other monopolies.

The danger in this terminology is that most workers like to think of themselves as middle class, because that is what they would like to rise into. That is especially he case for workers who own their own home (even if mortgage represents most of the value, so that most of the home's rental value is paid to banks, not to themselves as part of the "landlord class"), and have an education (even if most of their added income is paid out as student debt service), and their own car to get to work (involving automobile debt).

The fact is that even $100,000 executives have difficulty living within the limits of their paycheck, after paying their monthly nut of home mortgage or rent, medical care, student loan debt, credit-card debt and automobile debt, not to mention 15% FICA paycheck withholding and state and local tax withholding.

Of course, Sanders' terminology is much more readily accepted by wage-earners as the voters whom Hillary called "Deplorables" and Obama called "the mob with pitchforks," from whom he was protecting his Wall Street donors whom he invited to the White House in 2009. But I think there is a much more appropriate term: the 99 Percent, made popular by Occupy Wall Street. That is Bernie's natural constituency. It serves to throw down the gauntlet between democracy and oligarchy, and between socialism and barbarism, by juxtaposing the 99 Percent to the One Percent.

The Democratic presidential debate on February 25 will set the stage for Super Tuesday's "beauty contest" to gauge what voters want. The degree of Sanders' win will help determine whether the byzantine Democrat party apparatus that actually will be able to decide on the Party's candidate. The expected strong Sanders win is will make the choice stark: either to accept who the voters choose – namely, Bernie Sanders – or to pick a candidate whom voters already have rejected, and is certain to lose to Donald Trump in November.

If that occurs, the Democrat Party will evaporate as its old Clinton-Obama guard is no longer able to protect its donor class on Wall Street and corporate America. Too many Sanders voters would stay home or vote for the Greens. That would enable the Republicans to maintain control of the Senate and perhaps even grab back the House of Representatives.

But it would be dangerous to assume that the DNC will be reasonable. Once again, Roman history provides a "business as usual" scenario. The liberal German politician Theodor Mommsen published his History of Rome in 1854-56, warning against letting an aristocracy block reform by controlling the upper house of government (Rome's Senate, or Britain House of Lords). The leading families who overthrew the last king in 509 BC created a Senate chronically prone to being stifled by its leaders' "narrowness of mind and short-sightedness that are the proper and inalienable privileges of all genuine patricianism."[2]

These qualities also are the distinguishing features of the DNC. Sanders had better win big!

________________

[1] https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/22/opinions/bloomberg-needs-to-take-down-sanders-lockhart/index.html . Joe Lockhart, opinion. For the MSNBC travesty see from February 23, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/23/msnbc-full-blown-freakout-mode-bernie-sanders-cements-status-democratic-frontrunner, by Jake Johnson.

[2]Mommsen, History of Rome , 1911: 268.


divadab , February 25, 2020 at 7:55 am

I wonder how much of the rot at the top of the Dem party is simple dementia. By the age of 70, half of people have some level of dementia. Consider Joe Biden – is anyone in the public sphere going to state the obvious – that he has dementia and as such is unfit for office?

Fred1 , February 25, 2020 at 8:32 am

First, my priors. I voted for Sanders in 2016, will vote for him in 2020, and expect him to be elected president. Further I believe that where we find ourselves today is the result of at least 40 years of intentional bi-partisan policies. Both parties are responsible.

If Sanders, upon being elected, were able to snap his fingers and call into existence his entire program, it would immediately face a bi-partisan opposition that would be funded by billions of dollars, which would be willing to take as long as necessary, even decades, to roll it back.

Just electing Sanders is only the first step. There must be a committed, determined follow through that must be willing to last decades as well for his program to stick. And there will be defeats along the way.

Several observations. If Hillary had beaten Trump, Sanders would have trudged back to Vermont and would never have been heard from again. The MSM would have dismissed his program as being completely unacceptable to the voting class. But she didn't, so here we are, which is fantastic.

Some on Resistance Twitter claim that if Sanders is the nominee, Trump will win a 48 sweep. Possible, but very unlikely. But if it did happen, the MSM would once again dismiss his program as being completely unacceptable to the voting class, and Sanders would trudge back to Vermont never to be heard from again.

So if his program requires a decade long follow through, what are the least bad outcomes? If the D's deprive him of the nomination at the convention, even though he has far and away more pledged delegates, the MSM cannot dismiss his program as it would in the two previous scenarios, and his program would live to fight another day.

If he loses to Trump, but closely, which can mean a lot of different things, his program would live to fight another day. Moreover, if the D's are seen to actively collude with Trump, this less bad outcome would be even better.

I am an old geezer and don't expect to live long enough to see how all of this plays out. But I am very optimistic about his program's long term prospects. There is only one bad outcome, a Trump 48 state sweep, which I consider very unlikely. But most importantly, the best outcome, his election, and the two least bad outcomes, the D's stealing the nomination from him or his losing a close general election, all still will require a decades long commitment to make his program permanent.

I wish I were younger.

a different chris , February 25, 2020 at 8:55 am

>a Trump 48 state sweep

Where do people get this? Take a deep breath. Trump may or may not win. But if he does, the best he can hope for is a skin-of-his-teeth victory. Seriously, he lost the popular vote by a ton to Hillary freaking Clinton.

And stuff is beginning to crumble around him on the Right. The Dow drops. Oops Richie Rich gets uneasy.

Hammered by a 5 star general. The Deplorables kids were raised to look up to generals, not New Yawk dandys. How does this affect them? And it's still February.

Sailor Bud , February 25, 2020 at 8:34 am

Just an FYI: The five-volume Mommsen "History of Rome" referenced in the text is available in English on Project Gutenberg, free and legal to download. Probably everyone here knows this, but just in case

Dan , February 25, 2020 at 8:44 am

How about Bernie call himself "Roosevelt Democrat" instead of "Democratic Socialist". It would give all those in the senior demographic a better understanding of what Sander's policies mean to them as opposed to the scary prospect of the "Socialist" label.

Oxley Creek Boy , February 25, 2020 at 10:12 am

The Democrats should have been slowly disarming the word "socialist" for at least the last decade. In principle, it's not difficult – as Michael Hudson says – "Every economy is a mixed economy" – and in a very real sense everyone's a socialist (even if only unconsciously). I'm not saying that bit of rhetorical jujitsu would magically turn conservative voters progressive but you'll never get to the point where you can defend socialist programs on the merits if you always dodge that fight. It's just a shame that Bernie Sanders has to do it all in a single election cycle and I don't think choosing a different label now would help him much.

flora , February 25, 2020 at 11:37 am

He could even compare himself to the earlier Roosevelt: Teddy Roosevelt.

By 1900 the old bourbon Dem party was deeply split between its old, big business and banking wing – the bourbons – and the rising progressive/populist wing. It was GOP pres Roosevelt who first pushed through progressive programs like breaking up railroad and commodity monopolies, investigating and regulating meat packing and fraudulent patent medicines, etc. Imagine that.

lyman alpha blob , February 25, 2020 at 1:30 pm

I just finished Stoller's book Goliath and according to him, Teddy wasn't quite as progressive as we are often led to believe. He wasn't so much opposed to those with enormous wealth – he just wanted them to answer to him. He did do the things you mentioned, but after sending the message to the oligarchs, he then became friendly with them once he felt he'd brought them to heel. He developed quite the soft spot for JP Morgan, according to Stoller.

TR wanted to be the Boss, the center of attention with everyone looking up to him. As one of his relatives said, he wanted to be the baby at every christening and the corpse at every funeral.

I find Bernie to be a lot more humble.

Balakirev , February 25, 2020 at 12:51 pm

I have a sense that changing his party affiliation label at any point in time since Sanders began running for president in 2016 would be a godsend to his enemies in both hands of the Duopoly. They'd tar him loudly as a hypocrite without an ounce of integrity, using personal politics to distract from the issues.

Meanwhile, we can expect to see the Socialist (and Communist, and Russia-Russia-Russia) nonsense reiterated as long as Sanders has strong visibility. He's extremely dangerous to both parties and their owners. I don't' believe the DNC will let him take the convention, but if he does, I'll bet the Dems give him minimal support and hope he fails–better the devil you know, etc.

political economist , February 25, 2020 at 9:56 am

It's time to put your money in reality futures by putting all that you can into supporting Bernie, AOC, etc. and all your local candidates that support at least democratic socialism and ourrevolution the DSA Justice Dems or other groups that have people but need money. I was having a conversation with a friend who was complaining that he was getting too many emails from Bernie asking for money after he had given the campaign a "modest amount". My suggestion was in honor of his children and grandchildren he should instead GIVE 'TIL IT FEELS GOOD. My spouse and I, I told him, gave the max to Bernie and now we don't give upset when he asks for more. There will likely never be a moment like this in history and there may not be much of a history if things go the wrong way now. He agreed.

Debra D. , February 25, 2020 at 10:11 am

Exactly right. I gave Bernie the max in 2019 and will keep giving throughout 2020. This campaign is about not just me, but all of us. It's now. We must fight for this change as has always been the historical precedent.

BillC , February 25, 2020 at 11:55 am

OK, you two gave me the push I needed to max out my contributions to Bernie too. Let's hope Bernie's (oops OUR) bandwagon keeps gathering steam!

Arizona Slim , February 25, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Another 2019 Bernie maxer here.

I feel blessed to have been able to give at this level. And I believe that I did this for a lot of people who aren't able to donate at all.

steven , February 25, 2020 at 11:13 am

I was more than a little honked when Sanders appeared to roll over and support HRC in 2016 in spite of the obvious fraud perpetrated on him and his supporters, not to mention the subsequent treatment they received at the hands of the DNC and Tom Perez.

I am coming to understand that might have been necessary within the context of one last desperate attempt to work with the Democratic party. But now I find myself wondering if it wouldn't be a good idea for Sanders and his supporters to make it absolutely clear their attempts to work within 'the system' are finished if they are robbed again; maybe even starting work immediately on establishing a party not controlled by Wall Street lickspittle or knuckle-dragging no-nothings?

Little as it has been the answer has a lot to do with my willingness to pour more money into repetitively self-defeating behavior.

HotFlash , February 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Bernie is a long-distance runner and strategizes like one. First work on finishing your races. Then worry about where you place.

Debra R. , February 25, 2020 at 11:28 am

I am a somewhat old geezer, too, who caucused for Bernie in 2016 and 2020. This article is very good and helps me understand why I feel the way I do. I was disappointed in Obama, who didn't follow through on the things I cared about, and I was devastated when Clinton was crowned the Democratic nominee well before the Convention, all the while holding onto a smidgen of hope that somehow Bernie would pull through as the nominee.

I was ecstatic when Bernie announced his candidacy for 2020. He is our only hope, and now we have a second chance. But now I am spending half my time screaming at people on tv and online who can't even hear me, and even if they could, they don't give a s–t what I think. It's Clinton 2.0–same thing all over again, four years later. Just who do these people (DNC, MSM, and others with a voice) think they are, to decide for the Democratic voters which candidate will be the nominee, who won't be the nominee, without regard to what the voters want? They are a bunch of pompous as–s who have some other motive that I am not savvy enough to understand. Is it about money in their pockets or what?

It should be as simple as this–Bernie is leading in the polls, if they are to be believed, and good people of all demographics want him to be our next President. He is a serious contender for the nomination. Show the man some much-earned respect and put people on MSM and publish articles by writers who help us understand what the anti-Bernie panic is about and why we shouldn't panic. Help us to explain his plans if he hasn't explained it thoroughly enough instead of calling him crazy. But to dismiss him as if he has the plague is not furthering the truth, and it is a serious injustice to the voting public. Naked Capitalism can't do it alone.

HotFlash , February 25, 2020 at 12:58 pm

There is a lot of good analysis out there, mainly on Youtube. I particularly like The Hill's Rising. A young progressive Democrat and a young progressive Republican (who even knew there was such a thing!) 'splain a lot of the antipathy. Another good source is Nomiki Konst, who is working on reforming the Dem party from within. Here she talks to RJ Eskow about how the DNC is structured and how she hopes to provide tools for rank-and-file Dems to wrest the levers of power from the establishment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ7wm6DCPV4

notabanktoadie , February 25, 2020 at 12:32 pm

Private sector cannot operate without same. Harrold

The problem is that the population, including FDR in his time, have been duped into believing that the private sector REQUIRES government privileges for private depository institutions, aka "the banks."

So currently we have no truly private sector to speak of but businesses and industry using the public's credit but for private gain.

Susan the other , February 25, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Last night's Democracy Now was interesting. Amy seems to be less of a commie hater than she recently was with her participation in the Russia-Russia-Russia smears against Trump. She held court last night with Paul Krugman and Richard Wolff discussing just exactly what "socialism" means. It was a great performance.

Krug seemed a little shellshocked about the whole discussion and he said we shouldn't even use the term "socialism" at all because all the things Bernie wants are just as capitalist – that capitalism encompasses socialism. But he stuttered when he discussed "single-payer" which he claimed he supported – his single payer is like Pete Buttigieg's single-payer-eventually. He tried to change the subject and Amy brought him straight back.

Then Wolff, who was in excellent form, informed the table that "socialism" is a moveable feast because it can be and has been many things for the advancement of societies, etc. But the term always means the advancement of society. Then Krug dropped a real bomb – he actually said (this is almost a quote) that recently he had been informed by Powell that debt isn't really all that important.

Really, Krug said that. And he tried to exetend that thought to the argument that anybody can provide social benefits – it doesn't require a self-proclaimed "socialist".

Richard Wolff confronted that slide with pointing out that it hasn't happened yet – and he left Krug with no excuses. It was quite the showdown. Nice Richard Wolff is so firmly in Bernie's camp.

Krug looked evasive – and I kept wishing they had invited Steve Keen to participate.

[Feb 25, 2020] The Economic Anxiety Hypothesis has Become Absurd(er)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The key promise of neoliberalism, which came to power in the USA in 1980 with the election of Reagan (aka "the Quiet Coup") was that "the rising tide lifts all boats." -- the redistribution of the wealth up somehow will lift the standard of living of lower strata of the population too. This was a false promise from the very beginning (like everything about neoliberalism, which is based on lies and fake economics in any case). So anger accumulated and now became the key factor in elections. This anger is directed against the neoliberal establishment. ..."
"... The anger toward immigrants is, in fact, a displaced and projected anger against the elimination of meaningful and well-paid jobs and replacing them with McJobs, the process that was the key factor in lowering the standard of living of the bottom 80% of the population. ..."
"... The other part of this anger is directed toward the USA financial oligarchy (personified by such passionately hated figures as Lloyd "we are doing God's" Blankfein, private equity sharks, and figures like Wexner/Epstein) and "political establishment" the key figures of which many people would like to see hanging from street lamp posts (remember "Lock her up" movement in 2016). ..."
"... That's why the neoliberal establishment was forced to use to dirty tricks like Russiagate to patch the cracks in the neoliberal façade. ..."
"... In Marxist terms, the USA entered the period called the "revolutionary situation" when the ruling neoliberal elite couldn't govern "as usual" and "the deplorable" do not want to live "as usual". The situation when according to Hegel, "quantity turns into quality," or as Marx said "ideas become a material force when they grip the mind of the masses." ..."
Feb 25, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

I am old enough to remember when many very serious people ascribed the rise of Donald Trump to economic anxiety. The hypthesis never fit the facts (his supporters had higher incomes on average than Clinton's) but it has become absurd. The level of self reported economic anxiety is extraordinarily low

Gallup reports "Record High optimism about Personal Finances in U.S." with 74% predicting they will be better off next year.

Yet now the Democratic party has an insurgent candidate candidate in the lead. I hasten to stress that I am not saying Sanders supporters have much in common with Trump supporters (young vs old, strong hispanic support vs they hate Trump etc etc etc). But both appeal to anger and advocate a radical break with business as usual. Both reject party establishments. Also Warren if a little bit less so.

Trump's 2016 angry supporters still support him *and* they are still angry. He remains unpopular in spite of an economy performing very well (and perceived to be performing very well).

Whatever is going on in 2020, it sure isn't economic anxiety.

Yet there is clearly anger and desire for radical change.

I don't pretend to understand it, but I think it probably has a lot to do with relative economic performance and increased inequality. I can't understand why the reaction of so many Americans to this would be to hate immigrants and vote for Trump, but, then I don't watch Fox News.

One other thing which it isn't is rejection of the guy who came before Trump. Obama has a Real Clear Politics average favorable rating of 59% and unfavorable of 36.1 % vastly vastly better than any currently active politician. (Sanders is doing relatively very well at net -2.7 compared to Obama's + 22.9) He is not rejected. He is not considered a failure. Yet only a small majority is interested in any sort of going back to the way things were.


likbez , February 25, 2020 12:37 am

Robert ,

Trump's 2016 angry supporters still support him *and* they are still angry.

Many Trump "angry supporters" in 2016 used to belong to "anybody but Hillary" class (and they included a noticeable percentage of Bernie supporters, who felt betrayed by DNC) .

They are lost for Trump as he now in many aspects represents the "new Hillary" and the slogan "anybody but Trump" is growing in popularity. Even among Republicans: Trump definitely already lost a large part of anti-war Republicans and independents. As well as. most probably, a part of working class as he did very little for them outside of effects of military Keynesianism.

I suspect he also lost a part of military voters, those who supported Tulsi. They will never vote for Trump.

He also lost a part of "technocratic" voters resentful of the rule of financial oligarchy (anti-swampers), as his incompetence is now an undisputable fact.

He also lost Ron Paul's libertarians, who voted for him in 2016.

How "Coronavirus recession", if any, might affect 2020 elections is difficult to say, but in any case this is an unfavorable for Trump event.

EMichael , February 25, 2020 10:39 am

"I can't understand why the reaction of so many Americans to this would be to hate immigrants and vote for Trump, but, then I don't watch Fox News."

Coming to you since 1965. It's just that immigrants are now added to blacks. Trump took 50 years of the Southern Strategy, took the dogwhistles completely out of the closet and wore his racism right on his chest. Helped that he had over 50 years of experience as a racist, it came naturally to him.

And he attracted a new rw base, those who were not satisfied with dog whistles and/or did not hear them.

likbez , February 25, 2020 12:19 pm

I don't pretend to understand it, but I think it probably has a lot to do with relative economic performance and increased inequality.

It is actually very easy to understand: the middle class fared very poorly since 1991. See https://www.cnbc.com/id/44962589 . Now "the chickens come home to roost," so to speak.

The key promise of neoliberalism, which came to power in the USA in 1980 with the election of Reagan (aka "the Quiet Coup") was that "the rising tide lifts all boats." -- the redistribution of the wealth up somehow will lift the standard of living of lower strata of the population too. This was a false promise from the very beginning (like everything about neoliberalism, which is based on lies and fake economics in any case). So anger accumulated and now became the key factor in elections. This anger is directed against the neoliberal establishment.

The anger toward immigrants is, in fact, a displaced and projected anger against the elimination of meaningful and well-paid jobs and replacing them with McJobs, the process that was the key factor in lowering the standard of living of the bottom 80% of the population.

The other part of this anger is directed toward the USA financial oligarchy (personified by such passionately hated figures as Lloyd "we are doing God's" Blankfein, private equity sharks, and figures like Wexner/Epstein) and "political establishment" the key figures of which many people would like to see hanging from street lamp posts (remember "Lock her up" movement in 2016).

Resentment against spending huge amounts of money for wars for sustaining and enlarging the global USA-centered neoliberal empire is another factor. In this sense, impoverishment and shrinking of the middle class in the USA is similar to the same impoverishment during the last days of the British colonial empire.

That's why the neoliberal establishment was forced to use to dirty tricks like Russiagate to patch the cracks in the neoliberal façade.

In Marxist terms, the USA entered the period called the "revolutionary situation" when the ruling neoliberal elite couldn't govern "as usual" and "the deplorable" do not want to live "as usual". The situation when according to Hegel, "quantity turns into quality," or as Marx said "ideas become a material force when they grip the mind of the masses."

In 2016 that resulted in the election of Trump.

Add to this the fact that the neoliberal establishment (represented by both parties) now is clearly anti-social (the fact that a private equity shark Romney was a presidential candidate and then was elected as senator tells a lot about the level of degradation) and is unwilling to solve burning problems with medical insurance, minimal wage and other "the New Deal" elements of social infrastructure.

Democratic Party platform now is to the right of Eisenhower republicans.

That dooms the party candidates like CIA-democrat Major Pete, or "the senator from the credit card companies" Biden, and create an opening for political figures like Sanders (which are passionately hated by DNC)

[Feb 24, 2020] Creating the Corporate Coup

Notable quotes:
"... Although corporations are legally a person (see history below), they are in fact an entity. The sole goal of that entity is profit. There is no corporate conscience. ..."
"... Perhaps it would be useful to look at the nature of our global expansion. The global expanse of US military bases is well-known, but its actual territorial empire is largely hidden. The true map of America is not taught in our schools. Abby Martin interviews history Professor Daniel Immerwahr about his new book, ' How To Hide An Empire ,' where he documents the story of our "Greater United States." This is worth the 40 minute watch...I learned several new things. One more long clip. However this one is fine to just listen to as you do things. This is a wonderful interview with Noam Chomsky. The man exudes wisdom. ..."
"... The oligarchy has been with us since perhaps the tribal origins of our species, but the corporation is a newer phenomenon. A faceless, soulless profit machine. Ironically it is the 14th amendment which is used to justify corporate person-hood. ..."
"... Corporations aren't specifically mentioned in the 14th Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution. But going back to the earliest years of the republic, when the Bank of the United States brought the first corporate rights case before the Supreme Court, U.S. corporations have sought many of the same rights guaranteed to individuals, including the rights to own property, enter into contracts, and to sue and be sued just like individuals. ..."
"... But it wasn't until the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Rail Road that the Court appeared to grant a corporation the same rights as an individual under the 14th Amendment ..."
"... The United States is home to five of the world's 10 largest defense contractors, and American companies account for 57 percent of total arms sales by the world's 100 largest defense contractors, based on SIPRI data. Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the world, is estimated to have had $44.9 billion in arms sales in 2017 through deals with governments all over the world. The company drew public scrutiny after a bomb it sold to Saudi Arabia was dropped on a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 boys and 11 adults. Lockheed's revenue from the U.S. government alone is well more than the total annual budgets of the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency, combined. ..."
"... http://news.nidokidos.org/military-spending-20-companies-profiting-the-m... For a list of the 20 companies profiting most off war... https://themindunleashed.com/2019/03/20-companies-profiting-war.html ..."
"... Capitalism, militarism and imperialism are disastrously intertwined ..."
"... Corporations are Religions Yes they are. They have ethics, goals, and priests. They have a god who determines everything "The Invisible Hand". They believe themselves to be superior to the state. They have cult garb, or are we not going to pretend that there's corporate dress codes, right down to the things you can wear on special days of the week. They determine what you can eat, drink and read. If you say something wrong, they feel within their rights to punish you because they OWN the medium that you used to spread ideas. OF course they don't own your thoughts... those belong to the OTHER god. ..."
Dec 09, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

Chris Hedges often says "The corporate coup is complete". Sadly I think he is correct. So this week I thought it might be interesting to explore the techniques which are used here at home and abroad. The oligarchs' corporate control is global, but different strategies are employed in various scenarios. Just thinking about the recent regime changes promoted by the US in this hemisphere...

The US doesn't even lie about past coups. They recently released a report about the 1953 CIA led coup against Iran detailing the strategies. Here at home it is a compliant media and a new array of corporate laws designed to protect and further enrich that spell the corporate capture of our culture and society. So let's begin by looking at the nature of corporations...

The following 2.5 hour documentary from 2004 features commentary from Chris, Noam, Naomi, and many others you know. It has some great old footage. It is best watched on a television so you have a bigger screen. (This clip is on the encore+ youtube channel and does have commercials which you can skip after 5 seconds)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpQYsk-8dWg

Based on Joel Bakan's bestseller The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power , this 26-award-winning documentary explores a corporation's inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts and possible futures.

One hundred and fifty years ago, a corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Today, it is a vivid, dramatic, and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy and the Communist Party in other times and places, a corporation is today's dominant institution.

Charting the rise of such an institution aimed at achieving specific economic goals, the documentary also recounts victories against this apparently invincible force.

Although corporations are legally a person (see history below), they are in fact an entity. The sole goal of that entity is profit. There is no corporate conscience. Some of the CEO's in the film discuss how all the people in the corporations are against pollution and so on, but by law stockholder profit must be the objective. Now these entities are global operations with no loyalty to their country of origin.

Perhaps it would be useful to look at the nature of our global expansion. The global expanse of US military bases is well-known, but its actual territorial empire is largely hidden. The true map of America is not taught in our schools. Abby Martin interviews history Professor Daniel Immerwahr about his new book, ' How To Hide An Empire ,' where he documents the story of our "Greater United States." This is worth the 40 minute watch...I learned several new things. One more long clip. However this one is fine to just listen to as you do things. This is a wonderful interview with Noam Chomsky. The man exudes wisdom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuVqfKYbGvE (2 hour 5 min)

So much of this conversation touches on today's topic of our corporate capture. Amy interviewed Ed Snowden this week... (video or text)

This is a system, the first system in history, that bore witness to everything. Every border you crossed, every purchase you make, every call you dial, every cell phone tower you pass, friends you keep, article you write, site you visit and subject line you type was now in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards were not. And I felt, despite what the law said, that this was something that the public ought to know.

https://www.democracynow.org/2019/12/5/edward_snowden_amy_goodman_interv...

The oligarchy has been with us since perhaps the tribal origins of our species, but the corporation is a newer phenomenon. A faceless, soulless profit machine. Ironically it is the 14th amendment which is used to justify corporate person-hood.

Corporations aren't specifically mentioned in the 14th Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution. But going back to the earliest years of the republic, when the Bank of the United States brought the first corporate rights case before the Supreme Court, U.S. corporations have sought many of the same rights guaranteed to individuals, including the rights to own property, enter into contracts, and to sue and be sued just like individuals.

But it wasn't until the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Rail Road that the Court appeared to grant a corporation the same rights as an individual under the 14th Amendment

https://www.history.com/news/14th-amendment-corporate-personhood-made-co...

More recently in 2010 (Citizens United v. FEC): In the run up to the 2008 election, the Federal Elections Commission blocked the conservative nonprofit Citizens United from airing a film about Hillary Clinton based on a law barring companies from using their funds for "electioneering communications" within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. The organization sued, arguing that, because people's campaign donations are a protected form of speech (see Buckley v. Valeo) and corporations and people enjoy the same legal rights, the government can't limit a corporation's independent political donations. The Supreme Court agreed. The Citizens United ruling may be the most sweeping expansion of corporate personhood to date.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/how-supreme-court-turned-co...

Do they really believe this is how we think?

More than just using the courts, corporations are knee deep in creating favorable laws, not just by lobbying, but by actually writing legislation to feed the politicians that they own and control, especially at the state level.

Through ALEC, Global Corporations Are Scheming to Rewrite YOUR Rights and Boost THEIR Revenue. Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.

In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU? Numerous resources to help us expose ALEC are provided below. We have also created links to detailed discussions of key issues...

https://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

Here's an attempt by a local station to tell the story of a Georgia session of legislators and ALEC lobbyists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3yIbxydlHY (6 min)

There is very little effort to hide the blatant corruption. People seem to accept this behavior as business as usual, after all it is.

Part of the current ALEC legislative agenda involves stifling protests.

I think it started in Texas...

A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.
H.B. 3557, which is under consideration in the state Senate after passing the state House earlier this month, ups penalties for interfering in energy infrastructure construction by making the protests a felony. Sentences would range from two to 10 years.

https://www.ecowatch.com/texas-bill-pipeline-protests-felony-2637605986....
It is now law. Other states are following suit...

Lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced a bill on September 5 designed to chill protests around oil and gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure in the state by imposing harsh criminal penalties for trespassing on or damaging the property of a broad range of "energy providers."

Senate Bill 386 echoes similar "critical infrastructure protection" model bills pushed out by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Council of State Governments over the last two years to prevent future protests like the one against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2019/09/16/wisconsin-legislators-seek-crimi...

These activities are taking place in most states...especially red ones like mine.

When TPTB use government to play chess with the countries of the world havoc ensues...

Abby and Mike were on Chris' show yesterday talking about Gaza and the US/Israeli effort at genocide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcsEYRt_jGY (28 min)

And Chris was on the evening RT news this week discussing how the US empire is striking back against leaders who help their own people rather than our global corporations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P5G9S8flnY (6.5 min)

Lee Camp and Ben Norton also discussed how the US wants to own South America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLETst107M0 (1st 22 min)

This excellent article tells the story well...

Financially, the cost of these wars is immense: more than $6 trillion dollars. The cost of these wars is just one element of the $1.2 trillion the US government spends annually on wars and war making. Half of each dollar paid in federal income tax goes towards some form or consequence of war . While the results of such spending are not hard to foresee or understand: a cyclical and dependent relationship between the Pentagon, weapons industry and Congress, the creation of a whole new class of worker and wealth distribution is not so understood or noticed, but exists and is especially malignant.

This is a ghastly redistribution of wealth, perhaps unlike any known in modern human history, certainly not in American history. As taxpayers send trillions to Washington. DC, that money flows to the men and women that remotely oversee, manage and staff the wars that kill and destroy millions of lives overseas and at home. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees and civilian contractors servicing the wars take home six figure annual salaries allowing them second homes, luxury cars and plastic surgery, while veterans put guns in their mouths, refugees die in capsized boats and as many as four million nameless souls scream silently in death.

These AUMFs (Authorization for Use of Military Force) and the wars have provided tens of thousands of recruits to international terror groups; mass profits to the weapons industry and those that service it; promotions to generals and admirals, with corporate board seats upon retirement ; and a perpetual and endless supply of bloody shirts for politicians to wave via an unquestioning and obsequious corporate media to stoke compliant anger and malleable fear. What is hard to imagine, impossible even, is anyone else who has benefited from these wars.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/12/06/authorizations-for-madness-the-e...

The United States is home to five of the world's 10 largest defense contractors, and American companies account for 57 percent of total arms sales by the world's 100 largest defense contractors, based on SIPRI data. Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the world, is estimated to have had $44.9 billion in arms sales in 2017 through deals with governments all over the world. The company drew public scrutiny after a bomb it sold to Saudi Arabia was dropped on a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 boys and 11 adults. Lockheed's revenue from the U.S. government alone is well more than the total annual budgets of the IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency, combined.

http://news.nidokidos.org/military-spending-20-companies-profiting-the-m... For a list of the 20 companies profiting most off war... https://themindunleashed.com/2019/03/20-companies-profiting-war.html

The obvious industry which was not included nor considered is the fossil fuel industry. Here's another example of mutual corporate interests.

"Capitalism, militarism and imperialism are disastrously intertwined with the fossil fuel economy .A globalized economy predicated on growth at any social or environmental costs, carbon dependent international trade, the limitless extraction of natural resources, and a view of citizens as nothing more than consumers cannot be the basis for tackling climate change .Little wonder then that the elites have nothing to offer beyond continued militarisation and trust in techno-fixes."

-- Nick Buxton and Ben Hayes
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/05/doubling-down-the-military-big-b...

The US military is one of the largest consumers and emitters of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in history, according to an independent analysis of global fuel-buying practices of a "virtually unresearched" government agency.
If the US military were its own country, it would rank 47th between Peru and Portugal in terms of annual fuel purchases, totaling almost 270,000 barrels of oil bought every day in 2017. In particular, the Air Force is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and bought $4.9 billion of fuel in 2017 – nearly double that of the Navy ($2.8 billion).

https://www.iflscience.com/environment/us-military-ranks-higher-in-green...

The fossil fuel giants even try to control the climate talks...

Oil and gas groups were accused Saturday of seeking to influence climate talks in Madrid by paying millions in sponsorship and sending dozens of lobbyists to delay what scientists say is a necessary and rapid cut in fossil fuel use.

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/12/fossil-fuel-groups-destroying-climate-t...

The corporations are so entwined that it is difficult to tell where they begin and end. There's the unity of private prisons and the war machine. And it's a global scheme...this example from the UK.

One thing is clear: the prison industrial complex and the global war machine are intimately connected. This summer's prison strike that began in the United States and spread to other countries was the largest in history. It shows more than ever that prisoners are resisting this penal regime, often at great risk to themselves. The battle to end prison slavery continues.

https://corporatewatch.org/poppies-prison-labour-and-the-war-machine/

Then there was the corporate tax give away...

The 2017 tax bill cut taxes for most Americans, including the middle class, but it heavily benefits the wealthy and corporations . It slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and its treatment of "pass-through" entities -- companies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations -- will translate to an estimated $17 billion in tax savings for millionaires this year. American corporations are showering their shareholders with stock buybacks, thanks in part to their tax savings.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/12/18/18146253/tax-cuts-and...

Even Robert Jackson Jr., commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Appointed to the SEC in 2017 by President Donald Trump. Confirmed in January 2018 sees the corporate cuts as absurd.

"We have been to the movie of tax cuts and buybacks before, in the Republican administration during the George W. Bush era. We enacted a quite substantial tax cut during that period. And studies after that showed very clearly that most corporations use the funds from that tax cut for buybacks. And here's the kicker. That particular tax cut actually required that companies deploy the capital for capital expenditures, wage increases and investments in their people. Yet studies showed that, in fact, the companies use them for buybacks. So we've been to this movie before. And what you're describing to me, that corporations turned around and took the Trump tax cut and didn't use it in investing in their people or in infrastructure, but instead for other purposes, shouldn't surprise anybody at all."

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/11/18/corporations-stock-buybacks-sec-...

So the corporations grow larger, wealthier, more powerful, buying evermore legislative influence along the way. They have crept into almost every aspect of our lives. Some doctors are beginning to see the influence of big pharma and other corporate interests are effecting the current practice of medicine.

Gary Fettke is a doctor from Tasmania who has been targeted for promoting a high fat low carb diet...threatened with losing his medical qualifications. He doesn't pull punches in this presentation discussing the corporate control of big ag/food and big pharma on medical practice and education. (27 min)

Comments

detroitmechworks on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:28am

Corporations are Religions Yes they are. They have ethics, goals, and priests. They have a god who determines everything "The Invisible Hand". They believe themselves to be superior to the state. They have cult garb, or are we not going to pretend that there's corporate dress codes, right down to the things you can wear on special days of the week. They determine what you can eat, drink and read. If you say something wrong, they feel within their rights to punish you because they OWN the medium that you used to spread ideas. OF course they don't own your thoughts... those belong to the OTHER god.

At least the crazy made up gods that I listen to don't usually fuck over other human beings for a goddamn percentage. ON the other hand, if a corporation can make a profit, it's REQUIRED to fuck you over. To do otherwise would be against it's morals. Which it does have, trust us... OH, and corporations get to make fun of your beliefs, but you CANNOT make fun of theirs. Because that would be heresy against logic and reason.

www.youtube.com/embed/uGDA0Hecw1k?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:37am
yes indeed, they are superior to the state...

@detroitmechworks

In the film Secret State they (fossil fuel) admit it. Here's the trailer...(1.5 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCYjbux_dCM

You can watch the series if anyone has an interest. Start here...there are about 6 episodes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aeZT6IXCUg (42 min)

Good spy thriller.

Nice to see you around the site again. Thanks for visiting this piece.

QMS on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:39am
A recent front page item

In a local newspaper showed a couple coming out of a Wal-Mart with their carts piled high with big boxed foreign junk, then shown cramming their SUV full of said junk. The headline read "Crazy Busy". It pretty much summed up what is wrong with the American consumer culture. The next day's big headline spotlighted our senator's picture affixed to a LARGE headline boasting "$22 Billion Submarine Contract Awarded". A good example of of what is wrong with the american war economy.

Thank you for your compilation Lookout! If we can get beyond the headlines, working at grass root and local solutions, maybe even underground revolution, there may be hope for us. Barter for a better future.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:06am
Let's hope we trade up for something better

@QMS

My buddies always say about their mayor..."There's no way we will trade down after this election...but then we do." Perhaps it is true for more than just their town.

The line running in my head is..."What if they gave a war and nobody came". I want to expand it to..."What if they made cheap junk no one really wanted and nobody bought it". Or substitute junk food for cheap junk, or...

My point in today's conclusion is much as I try to walk away from corporate culture/control, I really can't totally escape...but at least I spend most of my time in the open, breathing clean air, surrounded by forest. We do what we can.

Onward through the fog...

Raggedy Ann on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 8:58am
Good Sunday morning, Lookout ~~

Consumerism in our society is a plague, a disease perpetrated upon us by our corporate lords. It has taken over everything about being an American.

I think the youth are catching on, as they are thrifting more, but they don't understand about food, and that's the rub. Our youth will be more unhealthy until they understand what corporations are doing to us through food addictions.

We're expecting rain today for most of the day and actually it's just started. The person who will drill our well came by yesterday and figured out some details. We are behind two other wells, so it will probably be the holiday week when it happens - we'll see. I can wait til January and hope we do.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:10am
best of luck with your well!

@Raggedy Ann

That's an exciting project. Keep us posted. I hope y'all have a great holiday break. Enjoy your time....the most valuable thing we have!

davidgmillsatty on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:09am
The main reason I am not enamored with Sander's economic

Ideas is that new deal of FDR's day had corporate opponents far different than those of today. Sanders does not seem to understand that the corporations of yesterday, and what worked against them, will not work against the corporations of today. In the early part of the 20th century, corporations were still primarily domestic and local often with charters from the state where they conducted their primary business, many times all of their business.

Regulation and unions were reasonable anti-dotes to the abuses of these local and domestic corporations. The state still had some semblance of control over them.

But today corporations are global. They have no allegiance to, or concern for the domestic economy or local people. They do not fear of any anti-dotes that worked for years against domestic or local corporations. Global corporations just leave and go elsewhere if they don't like the domestic or local situation if they have not managed to completely take over the government.

There is only one reason to incorporate in the first place. That is for the owner(s) of the business to avoid personal liability or responsibility. The majority of people never understand this idea. Corporate owners are the people who are the genuine personal responsibility avoiders. Not the poor. The only antidote to corporations these days is the total demise of the corporation and its similar business entities that dodge personal responsibility. And the state must refuse to allow any such entities to do business. It is the only way forward. Otherwise nation states will give way to corporate states. Corporate governance is the new feudalism from which the old feudalism morphed.

Sanders isn't going to advocate doing away with corporate entities or other similar business entities. Nor will any of the Democratic contenders. They all require corporations to rail against as the basis for their political policy.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:19am
corporate power is formative

@davidgmillsatty

...and I've always wondered just how Bernie would dismantle them. However like the impotence of the impeachment, is the impotence of the primary process.

When the DNC was sued after 2016, they were exonerated based on the ruling they were a private entity entitled to make rules as the wanted. The primary is so obviously rigged I can almost guarantee Bernie will not be allowed the nomination, so the question to how he would change corporate control is really moot.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

davidgmillsatty on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:56am
Sanders Winning the Nomination

@Lookout I probably could get on board with a Sanders campaign if he would run as an Independent. But it is really hard to get on board with him as a Democrat. If he loses the nomination, he will probably not run as an Independent once again. Once he bailed on an Independent run last time, I and many others bailed on him. I would support his Independent candidacy just to screw with the Electoral College. I thought last time an independent candidacy might have thrown the election to the House of Representatives. I could see a Democratically controlled House voting for him over Trump in a three way EC split if the Democratic candidate took low EC numbers.

But he is so afraid of being tarred with the Nader moniker.

What I said many times on websites last election is that an EC vote is very similar to a Parliamentary Election. And that would be an interesting change for sure. It would also be a means of having the popular vote winner restored if there is a big enough margin in the House. And what would be equally cool is that the Senate picks the VP. So you could have President and VP from different parties.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:32am
in some alternate universe...

@davidgmillsatty

if Bernie got the nomination, I would vote for him, especially in this imaginary world, if Tulsi was his running mate. Then there the question about your vote being counted? We'll just have to see what we see and make judgements based on outcomes, IMO.

#4.1 I probably could get on board with a Sanders campaign if he would run as an Independent. But it is really hard to get on board with him as a Democrat. If he loses the nomination, he will probably not run as an Independent once again. Once he bailed on an Independent run last time, I and many others bailed on him. I would support his Independent candidacy just to screw with the Electoral College. I thought last time an independent candidacy might have thrown the election to the House of Representatives. I could see a Democratically controlled House voting for him over Trump in a three way EC split if the Democratic candidate took low EC numbers.

But he is so afraid of being tarred with the Nader moniker.

What I said many times on websites last election is that an EC vote is very similar to a Parliamentary Election. And that would be an interesting change for sure. It would also be a means of having the popular vote winner restored if there is a big enough margin in the House. And what would be equally cool is that the Senate picks the VP. So you could have President and VP from different parties.

davidgmillsatty on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:01am
The more I think about this

@Lookout The only way the Democrats might beat Trump is to have Sanders run as an Independent and prevent Trump from reaching 270. That is a far better way to beat Trump than impeachment. Would the house vote for the Democrat or an Independent? I guess it would depend on how Sanders did in the popular vote and EC against his Democratic rival.

#4.1.1
if Bernie got the nomination, I would vote for him, especially in this imaginary world, if Tulsi was his running mate. Then there the question about your vote being counted? We'll just have to see what we see and make judgements based on outcomes, IMO.

TheOtherMaven on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 2:06pm
And who that rival was!

@davidgmillsatty @davidgmillsatty

If it was Hillary "Dewey Cheatem & Howe" Clinton, all bets are off.

#4.1.1.1 The only way the Democrats might beat Trump is to have Sanders run as an Independent and prevent Trump from reaching 270. That is a far better way to beat Trump than impeachment. Would the house vote for the Democrat or an Independent? I guess it would depend on how Sanders did in the popular vote and EC against his Democratic rival.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 2:48pm
The $hill was on Howard Stern this week...

@TheOtherMaven

//www.youtube.com/embed/LhxMvmX9WlA?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 3:18pm
Howard effin Stern indeed

@Lookout

Good lord.that she did that is unbelievable. Great point. Boycott Fox News, but go on Stern's show. It's going to be fun to watch how much lower she falls.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 3:30pm
The depth of her corruption is unfathomable

@snoopydawg

AE maybe be correct that they will pull her from behind the curtain and anoint her to run again. But I sure hope not!

snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 3:31pm
More lying about Bernie not supporting Hillary

@Lookout

MSNBC invited on two former Hillary Clinton aides to criticize Bernie Sanders for taking a "long time to get out of the race" and that he didn't do "enough" campaigning for her in 2016. pic.twitter.com/6Vsqo0DKZI

-- Ibrahim (@ibrahimpols) December 8, 2019

Come on Bernie call this crap out.

davidgmillsatty on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 6:08pm
The Way that would work in the House of Reps

@TheOtherMaven They have to choose from actual EC vote getters. So if she is not the candidate she could not win.

Having Sanders run as an Independent and Warren or Biden run as a Democrat would be a much better strategy to ensure a Trump loss in the House. Of course it might take some coordination as in asking the voters to vote for the candidate who has the best chance of beating Trump in certain states. But voters could probably figure that out.

Or a candidate could just withdraw from a state in which the other candidate had a better chance of beating Trump.

QMS on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:27am
Dig it

@irishking @irishking
What to do?Dance in the streets! //www.youtube.com/embed/9KhbM2mqhCQ

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:27am
Do you think the bear went over the mountain...

@irishking

refers to RUSSIA!!! (Just joking) Thanks for the song. Here's one from 1929 back atcha! Thanks for the visit. //www.youtube.com/embed/pDOwDi2jlk0

jakkalbessie on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:15am
So much to think about

Lookout as usual you have done an excellent job of giving me a lot of articles to read and think about this next week.

Of course I need to be loading my car and shutting this place down as I head to the Texas hill country. Will look for an article about Kinder Morgan and small communities that are fighting the pipeline through their towns. The read was a little hopeful.

Watching the weather and it looks like sunshine and clear skies as I travel. Thanks for all your work in putting this together.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 10:27am
My buddy JU Lee wrote a song...

@jakkalbessie

I like to travel on the old roads.

There's not a youtube, but the chorus goes:

I like to travel on the old roads
I like the way it makes me feel
No destination just the old roads
Somehow it helps the heart to heal.

I hope your road trip is a good one. The less busy tracks are almost meditative....soaking in scenery as the world passes by.

Have fun and be careful.

Lookout as usual you have done an excellent job of giving me a lot of articles to read and think about this next week.

Of course I need to be loading my car and shutting this place down as I head to the Texas hill country. Will look for an article about Kinder Morgan and small communities that are fighting the pipeline through their towns. The read was a little hopeful.

Watching the weather and it looks like sunshine and clear skies as I travel. Thanks for all your work in putting this together.

ggersh on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:06am
Nice work Lookout

Here are a couple of links to how free markets help in the corporate takeover. Amazon a corp that has only made a profit by never paying taxes and accounting fraud. It became a trillion dollar corp through the use of monopoly money(stock) it's nothing but the perfect example of todays "unicorn" corp, i.e. worth what it is w/out ever making a penny

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:26am
The free market created the private prison industry too

@ggersh

Not so free really is it? Amazon is certainly a monster...now hosting the CIA/MIC cloud as well as owning the WaPo.

Snode on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 11:45am
Corporations are not people

Corporations can live far beyond a persons lifespan. Corporations can commit homicide and escape execution and justice. Unfortunately, unions are just as likely to be on the corporations side to get jobs and wages, and bust heads if anything interferes with that.

If we protest we've seen the police ready to use deadly force at the drop of a hat, and get away with it. We get to vote on candidates that some political club chose for us, and have little incentive to work for the 99%. The gov. has amassed so much information on us we can't even fathom its depth. We have nowhere left, no unexplored lands out of reach of the government. We think we own things, but if you think you own a home, see how long it is before the gov. confiscates it if you don't pay your property taxes.

If I were younger, or a young person asked what to do, I would say.... learn some skill that would make you attractive for emigrating to another country, because the US looks like it's over. It's people are only here to be exploited. And if Bernie were to become president I hope he gets a food taster.

Lily O Lady on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 1:27pm
Corporations are worldwide entities now. No where to

@Snode

run to. No where to hide. As in the U.K., corporations are seeking to to dismantle the NHS and turn it into a for-profit system like ours. Even as the gilllet-jaune protesters risk life and limb, Macron seeks to install true neoliberalism in France. And the beat goes on.

snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 5:41pm
Yep you nailed it

@Snode

Corporations can live far beyond a persons lifespan. Corporations can commit homicide and escape execution and justice.

Look at what chevron did to people in Borapol. I'm sure I spelled this wrong but hopefully people will know what I'm talking about. They killed lots of people and poisoned their land for decades and the fight over it is still going on. How many decades more will chevron get to skirt justice? Banks continue to commit fraud and they only get little fines that don't do jack to keep them from doing it again. Even cities are screwing people. Owe a few dollars on your property taxes and they will take your home and sell it for pennies on the dollar. How in hell can it be legal to charge people over 600% interest? What happened to usury rules if that's the correct term.

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 5:51pm
They've done it all over the world...

@snoopydawg

The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled last week that a prior ruling by an Ecuadorean court that fined Chevron $9.5 billion in 2011 should be upheld, according to teleSUR, a Latin American news agency. Texaco, which is currently a part of Chevron, is responsible for what is considered one of the world's largest environmental disasters while it drilled for oil in the Ecuadorian rainforest from 1964 to 1990.
https://www.ecowatch.com/will-chevron-and-exxon-ever-be-held-responsible...

snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 7:13pm
It's just unbelievable that they can still dodge responsibilit

@Lookout

for decades of polluting and killing.

The legal battle has been tied up in the courts for years. Ecuador's highest court finally upheld the ruling in January 2014, but Chevron refused to pay.

This is another thing that corporations get away with. Contaminating land and then just walking away from it. How many superfund sites have we had to pay for instead of the ones who created the mess. Just declared bankruptcy and walked away. Corporations are people? Fine then they should be held as accountable as the people in the lower classes. Fat chance though right?

Lily O Lady on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 6:01pm
Union Carbide India was responsible for the Bopal disaster.
snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 7:16pm
Thanks for the save

@Lily O Lady

Weren't people killed by a gas cloud released from the plant? I read something recently that said the case is still going through the courts. How much money have they spent trying not to spend more?

snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 12:27pm
7 year old concerned about the Uighers

//www.youtube.com/embed/wGq0xVh6UJw?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 12:36pm
The comments are supportive of Tulsi

@snoopydawg

....and no I had not seen that clip. Tulsi impresses me in many ways and the manner in which she treats this child is an example.

Especially as compared to Joe ByeDone's adolescent behavior...

//www.youtube.com/embed/mKV0oAPENdg?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

snoopydawg on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 1:09pm
Ugh

@Lookout @Lookout

Byedone just needs to pack it in and drop out already. Today he was defending the republican party after someone said something about them needing to go away. Joe said that we need another party so one does not get more power than the other. Yeah right, Joe. It's not like the Pubs are already weilding power they don't have and them dems cowering and supporting them.

Newsweek reporter quit after being censored on the OPCW story.

I have collected evidence of how they suppressed the story in addition to evidence from another case where info inconvenient to US govt was removed, though it was factually correct.

-- Tareq Haddad (@Tareq_Haddad) December 7, 2019

ANd great news for Max Bluementhal!!

BREAKING: The US government has DROPPED ITS BOGUS CASE against me and @NotConq .

I was hauled out of my house by a team of cops, jailed for two days, and maliciously defamed due to the lies of the US-backed Venezuelan opposition.

I plan to seek justice. https://t.co/Wm7Yl8cL2T

-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 7, 2019

Thanks for the wound up, LO. Lots of great stuff here to go back and digest.

#9

....and no I had not seen that clip. Tulsi impresses me in many ways and the manner in which she treats this child is an example.

Especially as compared to Joe ByeDone's adolescent behavior...

data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 1:22pm
Glad to see Max vindicated

@snoopydawg

...thanks for the news.

Caity had a nice piece on Consortiumnews on the newsweek story...
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/12/08/journalist-newsweek-suppressed-opc...

Lily O Lady on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 1:44pm
Bipartisanship is big now. It's how politicians hide their dirty dealings.

@snoopydawg

First frustrate us with gridlock. Then pass bills benefiting the corporate overlords. Then leading up to elections pass bills like the one against animal cruelty (who doesn't love kitties and puppies?), or propose a bill to consider regulating cosmetics. This second bipartisan effort is glaringly cynical since no one apparently knows what is in beauty products. Sanders must have politicians worried for them to attempt something which has managed to go unregulated for so long.

All this bipartisanship is not even up to the level of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's more like wiping at them with a dirty rag while the ship of state continues to sink. While animal cruelty and cosmetic safety are important issues, they pale in comparison to the systemic ills America suffers. Our fearless leaders will continue to scratch the surface while corruption and business as usual continue to fester. These bipartisan laws may look good on a politician's resume, but they won't really help the 99%.

CB on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 5:35pm
Looks like the PTB are starting to crank up

@snoopydawg
the propaganda to give NATO a raison d'être for a pivot to China. This will be doomed to complete failure just as the Russian pivot has.

But Putin and Xi Jinping are both much too skilled and intelligent to defeat. American WWE trash talkers are completely outclassed by an 8th dan in judo paired with a Sun Tzu scholar.

Tomoe nage - use your opponent's weight and aggression against him.

"If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected ."
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Thank you Barack and Hillary...

CB on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 9:39pm
Neither Russia nor China want the US or US$ to collapse too quickly. It would be devastating for the entire world if it happened suddenly.

@Lookout
What they want is a controlled collapse. If they can get the US to continue to overspend on war mongering rather than programs of social uplift the country will rot from the inside.

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Meanwhile, back in the Motherland: //www.youtube.com/embed/acPgB_rhdfA

Lookout on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 3:25pm
corporate corruption is low fanging fruit

@Pluto's Republic

So much more to say really. Had to stop somewhere but as you know the corruption runs deep and is intermixed with the CIA/FBI/MIC corporate government under which we live.

On we go as best we can!

There is great dignity in the objective truth. Perhaps because it never flows through the contaminated minds of the unworthy.

smiley7 on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 7:43pm
Excellent Watch, Lookout,

Corporate charters were initially meant to be for the public good if i'm not mistaken in recall, it was a trade-off for their privilege to exist. Maybe a movement political leader could highlight this and move the pendulum back to accountability.

Had a conversation with good friend today, a 3M rep, and he was griping about his competitor's shady marketing product practices apparently lying to manufacturers about the grades and contents of their competing products.

smiley7 on Sun, 12/08/2019 - 7:53pm
A timely piece to go with your conversation of today:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/07/kochland-review-koch-bro...

Battle of Blair... on Mon, 12/09/2019 - 8:37am
I want that flag.

Where can I buy that flag? I will raise it and sing the corporate anthem

"God bless Generica.
Land that is owned.
By the wealthy, unhealthy
As that might be for those being pwnd.

From the Walmart to McDonalds to the corner Dominooooos.
God Bless Generica
My high rent home.

[Feb 24, 2020] Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world by Nikil Saval

Feb 03, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

It's not just a populist backlash – many economists who once swore by free trade have changed their minds, too. How had they got it so wrong?

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email T he annual January gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos is usually a placid affair: a place for well-heeled participants to exchange notes on global business opportunities, or powder conditions on the local ski slopes, while cradling champagne and canapes. This January, the ultra-rich and the sparkling wine returned, but by all reports the mood was one of anxiety, defensiveness and self-reproach.

The future of economic globalisation, for which the Davos men and women see themselves as caretakers, had been shaken by a series of political earthquakes. "Globalisation" can mean many things, but what lay in particular doubt was the long-advanced project of increasing free trade in goods across borders. The previous summer, Britain had voted to leave the largest trading bloc in the world. In November, the unexpected victory of Donald Trump , who vowed to withdraw from major trade deals, appeared to jeopardise the trading relationships of the world's richest country. Forthcoming elections in France and Germany suddenly seemed to bear the possibility of anti-globalisation parties garnering better results than ever before. The barbarians weren't at the gates to the ski-lifts yet – but they weren't very far.

In a panel titled Governing Globalisation , the economist Dambisa Moyo , otherwise a well-known supporter of free trade, forthrightly asked the audience to accept that "there have been significant losses" from globalisation. "It is not clear to me that we are going to be able to remedy them under the current infrastructure," she added. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, called for a policy hitherto foreign to the World Economic Forum : "more redistribution". After years of hedging or discounting the malign effects of free trade, it was time to face facts: globalisation caused job losses and depressed wages, and the usual Davos proposals – such as instructing affected populations to accept the new reality – weren't going to work. Unless something changed, the political consequences were likely to get worse.

The backlash to globalisation has helped fuel the extraordinary political shifts of the past 18 months. During the close race to become the Democratic party candidate, senator Bernie Sanders relentlessly attacked Hillary Clinton on her support for free trade . On the campaign trail, Donald Trump openly proposed tilting the terms of trade in favour of American industry. "Americanism, not globalism, shall be our creed," he bellowed at the Republican national convention last July. The vote for Brexit was strongest in the regions of the UK devastated by the flight of manufacturing. At Davos in January, British prime minister Theresa May, the leader of the party of capital and inherited wealth, improbably picked up the theme, warning that, for many, "talk of greater globalisation means their jobs being outsourced and wages undercut." Meanwhile, the European far right has been warning against free movement of people as well as goods. Following her qualifying victory in the first round of France's presidential election, Marine Le Pen warned darkly that "the main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalisation that is endangering our civilisation."

It was only a few decades ago that globalisation was held by many, even by some critics, to be an inevitable, unstoppable force. "Rejecting globalisation," the American journalist George Packer has written, "was like rejecting the sunrise." Globalisation could take place in services, capital and ideas, making it a notoriously imprecise term; but what it meant most often was making it cheaper to trade across borders – something that seemed to many at the time to be an unquestionable good. In practice, this often meant that industry would move from rich countries, where labour was expensive, to poor countries, where labour was cheaper. People in the rich countries would either have to accept lower wages to compete, or lose their jobs. But no matter what, the goods they formerly produced would now be imported, and be even cheaper. And the unemployed could get new, higher-skilled jobs (if they got the requisite training). Mainstream economists and politicians upheld the consensus about the merits of globalisation, with little concern that there might be political consequences.

Back then, economists could calmly chalk up anti-globalisation sentiment to a marginal group of delusional protesters, or disgruntled stragglers still toiling uselessly in "sunset industries". These days, as sizable constituencies have voted in country after country for anti-free-trade policies, or candidates that promise to limit them, the old self-assurance is gone. Millions have rejected, with uncertain results, the punishing logic that globalisation could not be stopped. The backlash has swelled a wave of soul-searching among economists, one that had already begun to roll ashore with the financial crisis. How did they fail to foresee the repercussions?


I n the heyday of the globalisation consensus, few economists questioned its merits in public. But in 1997, the Harvard economist Dani Rodrik published a slim book that created a stir. Appearing just as the US was about to enter a historic economic boom, Rodrik's book, Has Globalization Gone Too Far?, sounded an unusual note of alarm.

Rodrik pointed to a series of dramatic recent events that challenged the idea that growing free trade would be peacefully accepted. In 1995, France had adopted a programme of fiscal austerity in order to prepare for entry into the eurozone; trade unions responded with the largest wave of strikes since 1968. In 1996, only five years after the end of the Soviet Union – with Russia's once-protected markets having been forcibly opened, leading to a sudden decline in living standards – a communist won 40% of the vote in Russia's presidential elections. That same year, two years after the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), one of the most ambitious multinational deals ever accomplished, a white nationalist running on an "America first" programme of economic protectionism did surprisingly well in the presidential primaries of the Republican party.

What was the pathology of which all of these disturbing events were symptoms? For Rodrik, it was "the process that has come to be called 'globalisation'". Since the 1980s, and especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union, lowering barriers to international trade had become the axiom of countries everywhere. Tariffs had to be slashed and regulations spiked. Trade unions, which kept wages high and made it harder to fire people, had to be crushed. Governments vied with each other to make their country more hospitable – more "competitive" – for businesses. That meant making labour cheaper and regulations looser, often in countries that had once tried their hand at socialism, or had spent years protecting "homegrown" industries with tariffs.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Anti-globalisation protesters in Seattle, 1999. Photograph: Eric Draper/AP

These moves were generally applauded by economists. After all, their profession had long embraced the principle of comparative advantage – simply put, the idea countries will trade with each other in order to gain what each lacks, thereby benefiting both. In theory, then, the globalisation of trade in goods and services would benefit consumers in rich countries by giving them access to inexpensive goods produced by cheaper labour in poorer countries, and this demand, in turn, would help grow the economies of those poorer countries.

But the social cost, in Rodrik's dissenting view, was high – and consistently underestimated by economists. He noted that since the 1970s, lower-skilled European and American workers had endured a major fall in the real value of their wages, which dropped by more than 20%. Workers were suffering more spells of unemployment, more volatility in the hours they were expected to work.

While many economists attributed much of the insecurity to technological change – sophisticated new machines displacing low-skilled workers – Rodrik suggested that the process of globalisation should shoulder more of the blame. It was, in particular, the competition between workers in developing and developed countries that helped drive down wages and job security for workers in developed countries. Over and over, they would be held hostage to the possibility that their business would up and leave, in order to find cheap labour in other parts of the world; they had to accept restraints on their salaries – or else. Opinion polls registered their strong levels of anxiety and insecurity, and the political effects were becoming more visible. Rodrik foresaw that the cost of greater "economic integration" would be greater "social disintegration". The inevitable result would be a huge political backlash.

As Rodrik would later recall, other economists tended to dismiss his arguments – or fear them. Paul Krugman , who would win the Nobel prize in 2008 for his earlier work in trade theory and economic geography, privately warned Rodrik that his work would give "ammunition to the barbarians".

It was a tacit acknowledgment that pro-globalisation economists, journalists and politicians had come under growing pressure from a new movement on the left, who were raising concerns very similar to Rodrik's. Over the course of the 1990s, an unwieldy international coalition had begun to contest the notion that globalisation was good. Called "anti-globalisation" by the media, and the "alter-globalisation" or "global justice" movement by its participants, it tried to draw attention to the devastating effect that free trade policies were having, especially in the developing world, where globalisation was supposed to be having its most beneficial effect. This was a time when figures such as the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman had given the topic a glitzy prominence by documenting his time among what he gratingly called "globalutionaries" : chatting amiably with the CEO of Monsanto one day, gawking at lingerie manufacturers in Sri Lanka the next. Activists were intent on showing a much darker picture, revealing how the record of globalisation consisted mostly of farmers pushed off their land and the rampant proliferation of sweatshops. They also implicated the highest world bodies in their critique: the G7, World Bank and IMF. In 1999, the movement reached a high point when a unique coalition of trade unions and environmentalists managed to shut down the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle.

In a state of panic, economists responded with a flood of columns and books that defended the necessity of a more open global market economy, in tones ranging from grandiose to sarcastic. In January 2000, Krugman used his first piece as a New York Times columnist to denounce the "trashing" of the WTO, calling it "a sad irony that the cause that has finally awakened the long-dormant American left is that of – yes! – denying opportunity to third-world workers".

Where Krugman was derisive, others were solemn, putting the contemporary fight against the "anti-globalisation" left in a continuum of struggles for liberty. "Liberals, social democrats and moderate conservatives are on the same side in the great battles against religious fanatics, obscurantists, extreme environmentalists, fascists, Marxists and, of course, contemporary anti-globalisers," wrote the Financial Times columnist and former World Bank economist Martin Wolf in his book Why Globalization Works. Language like this lent the fight for globalisation the air of an epochal struggle. More common was the rhetoric of figures such as Friedman, who in his book The World is Flat mocked the "pampered American college kids" who, "wearing their branded clothing, began to get interested in sweatshops as a way of expiating their guilt".

ss="rich-link"> Globalisation once made the world go around. Is it about to grind to a halt? Read more

Arguments against the global justice movement rested on the idea that the ultimate benefits of a more open and integrated economy would outweigh the downsides. "Freer trade is associated with higher growth and higher growth is associated with reduced poverty," wrote the Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati in his book In Defense of Globalization. "Hence, growth reduces poverty." No matter how troubling some of the local effects, the implication went, globalisation promised a greater good.

The fact that proponents of globalisation now felt compelled to spend much of their time defending it indicates how much visibility the global justice movement had achieved by the early 2000s. Still, over time, the movement lost ground, as a policy consensus settled in favour of globalisation. The proponents of globalisation were determined never to let another gathering be interrupted. They stopped meeting in major cities, and security everywhere was tightened. By the time of the invasion of Iraq, the world's attention had turned from free trade to George Bush and the "war on terror," leaving the globalisation consensus intact.

Above all, there was a widespread perception that globalisation was working as it was supposed to. The local adverse effects that activists pointed to – sweatshop labour, starving farmers – were increasingly obscured by the staggering GDP numbers and fantastical images of gleaming skylines coming out of China. With some lonely exceptions – such as Rodrik and the former World Bank chief and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz – the pursuit of freer trade became a consensus position for economists, commentators and the vast majority of mainstream politicians, to the point where the benefits of free trade seemed to command blind adherence. In a 2006 TV interview, Thomas Friedman was asked whether there was any free trade deal he would not support. He replied that there wasn't, admitting, "I wrote a column supporting the Cafta, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade."


I n the wake of the financial crisis, the cracks began to show in the consensus on globalisation, to the point that, today, there may no longer be a consensus. Economists who were once ardent proponents of globalisation have become some of its most prominent critics. Erstwhile supporters now concede, at least in part, that it has produced inequality, unemployment and downward pressure on wages. Nuances and criticisms that economists only used to raise in private seminars are finally coming out in the open.

A few months before the financial crisis hit, Krugman was already confessing to a "guilty conscience". In the 1990s, he had been very influential in arguing that global trade with poor countries had only a small effect on workers' wages in rich countries. By 2008, he was having doubts: the data seemed to suggest that the effect was much larger than he had suspected.

In the years that followed, the crash, the crisis of the eurozone and the worldwide drop in the price of oil and other commodities combined to put a huge dent in global trade. Since 2012, the IMF reported in its World Economic Outlook for October 2016 , trade was growing at 3% a year – less than half the average of the previous three decades. That month, Martin Wolf argued in a column that globalisation had "lost dynamism", due to a slackening of the world economy, the "exhaustion" of new markets to exploit and a rise in protectionist policies around the world. In an interview earlier this year, Wolf suggested to me that, though he remained convinced globalisation had not been the decisive factor in rising inequality, he had nonetheless not fully foreseen when he was writing Why Globalization Works how "radical the implications" of worsening inequality "might be for the US, and therefore the world". Among these implications appears to be a rising distrust of the establishment that is blamed for the inequality. "We have a very big political problem in many of our countries," he said. "The elites – the policymaking business and financial elites – are increasingly disliked . You need to make policy which brings people to think again that their societies are run in a decent and civilised way."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Illustration by Nathalie Lees

That distrust of the establishment has had highly visible political consequences: Farage, Trump, and Le Pen on the right; but also in new parties on the left, such as Spain's Podemos, and curious populist hybrids, such as Italy's Five Star Movement . As in 1997, but to an even greater degree, the volatile political scene reflects public anxiety over "the process that has come to be called 'globalisation'". If the critics of globalisation could be dismissed before because of their lack of economics training, or ignored because they were in distant countries, or kept out of sight by a wall of police, their sudden political ascendancy in the rich countries of the west cannot be so easily discounted today.

Over the past year, the opinion pages of prestigious newspapers have been filled with belated, rueful comments from the high priests of globalisation – the men who appeared to have defeated the anti-globalisers two decades earlier. Perhaps the most surprising such transformation has been that of Larry Summers. Possessed of a panoply of elite titles – former chief economist of the World Bank, former Treasury secretary, president emeritus of Harvard, former economic adviser to President Barack Obama – Summers was renowned in the 1990s and 2000s for being a blustery proponent of globalisation. For Summers, it seemed, market logic was so inexorable that its dictates prevailed over every social concern. In an infamous World Bank memo from 1991 , he held that the cheapest way to dispose of toxic waste in rich countries was to dump it in poor countries, since it was financially cheaper for them to manage it. "The laws of economics, it's often forgotten, are like the laws of engineering," he said in a speech that year at a World Bank-IMF meeting in Bangkok. "There's only one set of laws and they work everywhere. One of the things I've learned in my short time at the World Bank is that whenever anybody says, 'But economics works differently here,' they're about to say something dumb."

Over the last two years, a different, in some ways unrecognizable Larry Summers has been appearing in newspaper editorial pages. More circumspect in tone, this humbler Summers has been arguing that economic opportunities in the developing world are slowing, and that the already rich economies are finding it hard to get out of the crisis. Barring some kind of breakthrough, Summers says, an era of slow growth is here to stay.

In Summers's recent writings, this sombre conclusion has often been paired with a surprising political goal: advocating for a "responsible nationalism". Now he argues that politicians must recognise that "the basic responsibility of government is to maximise the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good".


O ne curious thing about the pro-globalisation consensus of the 1990s and 2000s, and its collapse in recent years, is how closely the cycle resembles a previous era. Pursuing free trade has always produced displacement and inequality – and political chaos, populism and retrenchment to go with it. Every time the social consequences of free trade are overlooked, political backlash follows. But free trade is only one of many forms that economic integration can take. History seems to suggest, however, that it might be the most destabilising one.

Nearly all economists and scholars of globalisation like to point to the fact that the economy was rather globalised by the early 20th century. As European countries colonised Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, they turned their colonies into suppliers of raw materials for European manufacturers, as well as markets for European goods. Meanwhile, the economies of the colonisers were also becoming free-trade zones for each other. "The opening years of the 20th century were the closest thing the world had ever seen to a free world market for goods, capital and labour," writes the Harvard professor of government Jeffry Frieden in his standard account, Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the 20th Century. "It would be a hundred years before the world returned to that level of globalisation."

In addition to military force, what underpinned this convenient arrangement for imperial nations was the gold standard. Under this system, each national currency had an established gold value: the British pound sterling was backed by 113 grains of pure gold; the US dollar by 23.22 grains, and so on. This entailed that exchange rates were also fixed: a British pound was always equal to 4.87 dollars. The stability of exchange rates meant that the cost of doing business across borders was predictable. Just like the eurozone today, you could count on the value of the currency staying the same, so long as the storehouse of gold remained more or less the same.

When there were gold shortages – as there were in the 1870s – the system stopped working. To protect the sanctity of the standard under conditions of stress, central bankers across the Europe and the US tightened access to credit and deflated prices. This left financiers in a decent position, but crushed farmers and the rural poor, for whom falling prices meant starvation. Then as now, economists and mainstream politicians largely overlooked the darker side of the economic picture.

In the US, this fuelled one of the world's first self-described "populist" revolts, leading to the nomination of William Jennings Bryan as the Democratic party candidate in 1896. At his nominating convention, he gave a famous speech lambasting gold backers: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold." Then as now, financial elites and their supporters in the press were horrified. "There has been an upheaval of the political crust," the Times of London reported, "and strange creatures have come forth."

Businessmen were so distressed by Bryan that they backed the Republican candidate, William McKinley, who won partly by outspending Bryan five to one. Meanwhile, gold was bolstered by the discovery of new reserves in colonial South Africa. But the gold standard could not survive the first world war and the Great Depression. By the 1930s, unionisation had spread to more industries and there was a growing worldwide socialist movement. Protecting gold would mean mass unemployment and social unrest. Britain went off the gold standard in 1931, while Franklin Roosevelt took the US off it in 1933; France and several other countries would follow in 1936.

The prioritisation of finance and trade over the welfare of people had come momentarily to an end. But this wasn't the end of the global economic system.


T he trade system that followed was global, too, with high levels of trade – but it took place on terms that often allowed developing countries to protect their industries. Because, from the perspective of free traders, protectionism is always seen as bad, the success of this postwar system has been largely under-recognised.

Over the course of the 1930s and 40s, liberals – John Maynard Keynes among them – who had previously regarded departures from free trade as "an imbecility and an outrage" began to lose their religion. "The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war, is not a success," Keynes found himself writing in 1933 . "It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous – and it doesn't deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it." He claimed sympathies "with those who would minimise, rather than with those who would maximise, economic entanglement among nations," and argued that goods "be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible".

The international systems that chastened figures such as Keynes helped produce in the next few years – especially the Bretton Woods agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) – set the terms under which the new wave of globalisation would take place.

The key to the system's viability, in Rodrik's view, was its flexibility – something absent from contemporary globalisation, with its one-size-fits-all model of capitalism. Bretton Woods stabilised exchange rates by pegging the dollar loosely to gold, and other currencies to the dollar. Gatt consisted of rules governing free trade – negotiated by participating countries in a series of multinational "rounds" – that left many areas of the world economy, such as agriculture, untouched or unaddressed. "Gatt's purpose was never to maximise free trade," Rodrik writes. "It was to achieve the maximum amount of trade compatible with different nations doing their own thing. In that respect, the institution proved spectacularly successful."

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Construction workers in Beijing, China. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

Partly because Gatt was not always dogmatic about free trade, it allowed most countries to figure out their own economic objectives, within a somewhat international ambit. When nations contravened the agreement's terms on specific areas of national interest, they found that it "contained loopholes wide enough for an elephant to pass", in Rodrik's words. If a nation wanted to protect its steel industry, for example, it could claim "injury" under the rules of Gatt and raise tariffs to discourage steel imports: "an abomination from the standpoint of free trade". These were useful for countries that were recovering from the war and needed to build up their own industries via tariffs – duties imposed on particular imports. Meanwhile, from 1948 to 1990, world trade grew at an annual average of nearly 7% – faster than the post-communist years, which we think of as the high point of globalisation. "If there was a golden era of globalisation," Rodrik has written, "this was it."

Gatt, however, failed to cover many of the countries in the developing world. These countries eventually created their own system, the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD). Under this rubric, many countries – especially in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia – adopted a policy of protecting homegrown industries by replacing imports with domestically produced goods. It worked poorly in some places – India and Argentina, for example, where the trade barriers were too high, resulting in factories that cost more to set up than the value of the goods they produced – but remarkably well in others, such as east Asia, much of Latin America and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where homegrown industries did spring up. Though many later economists and commentators would dismiss the achievements of this model, it theoretically fit Larry Summers's recent rubric on globalisation: "the basic responsibility of government is to maximise the welfare of citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good."

The critical turning point – away from this system of trade balanced against national protections – came in the 1980s. Flagging growth and high inflation in the west, along with growing competition from Japan, opened the way for a political transformation. The elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were seminal, putting free-market radicals in charge of two of the world's five biggest economies and ushering in an era of "hyperglobalisation". In the new political climate, economies with large public sectors and strong governments within the global capitalist system were no longer seen as aids to the system's functioning, but impediments to it.

Not only did these ideologies take hold in the US and the UK; they seized international institutions as well. Gatt renamed itself as the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the new rules the body negotiated began to cut more deeply into national policies. Its international trade rules sometimes undermined national legislation. The WTO's appellate court intervened relentlessly in member nations' tax, environmental and regulatory policies, including those of the United States: the US's fuel emissions standards were judged to discriminate against imported gasoline, and its ban on imported shrimp caught without turtle-excluding devices was overturned. If national health and safety regulations were stricter than WTO rules necessitated, they could only remain in place if they were shown to have "scientific justification".

The purest version of hyperglobalisation was tried out in Latin America in the 1980s. Known as the "Washington consensus", this model usually involved loans from the IMF that were contingent on those countries lowering trade barriers and privatising many of their nationally held industries. Well into the 1990s, economists were proclaiming the indisputable benefits of openness. In an influential 1995 paper, Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner wrote: "We find no cases to support the frequent worry that a country might open and yet fail to grow."

But the Washington consensus was bad for business: most countries did worse than before. Growth faltered, and citizens across Latin America revolted against attempted privatisations of water and gas. In Argentina, which followed the Washington consensus to the letter, a grave crisis resulted in 2002 , precipitating an economic collapse and massive street protests that forced out the government that had pursued privatising reforms. Argentina's revolt presaged a left-populist upsurge across the continent: from 1999 to 2007, leftwing leaders and parties took power in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, all of them campaigning against the Washington consensus on globalisation. These revolts were a preview of the backlash of today.


R odrik – perhaps the contemporary economist whose views have been most amply vindicated by recent events – was himself a beneficiary of protectionism in Turkey. His father's ballpoint pen company was sheltered under tariffs, and achieved enough success to allow Rodrik to attend Harvard in the 1970s as an undergraduate. This personal understanding of the mixed nature of economic success may be one of the reasons why his work runs against the broad consensus of mainstream economics writing on globalisation.

"I never felt that my ideas were out of the mainstream," Rodrik told me recently. Instead, it was that the mainstream had lost touch with the diversity of opinions and methods that already existed within economics. "The economics profession is strange in that the more you move away from the seminar room to the public domain, the more the nuances get lost, especially on issues of trade." He lamented the fact that while, in the classroom, the models of trade discuss losers and winners, and, as a result, the necessity of policies of redistribution, in practice, an "arrogance and hubris" had led many economists to ignore these implications. "Rather than speaking truth to power, so to speak, many economists became cheerleaders for globalisation."

In his 2011 book The Globalization Paradox , Rodrik concluded that "we cannot simultaneously pursue democracy, national determination, and economic globalisation." The results of the 2016 elections and referendums provide ample testimony of the justness of the thesis, with millions voting to push back, for better or for worse, against the campaigns and institutions that promised more globalisation. "I'm not at all surprised by the backlash," Rodrik told me. "Really, nobody should have been surprised."

But what, in any case, would "more globalisation" look like? For the same economists and writers who have started to rethink their commitments to greater integration, it doesn't mean quite what it did in the early 2000s. It's not only the discourse that's changed: globalisation itself has changed, developing into a more chaotic and unequal system than many economists predicted. The benefits of globalisation have been largely concentrated in a handful of Asian countries. And even in those countries, the good times may be running out.

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Statistics from Global Inequality , a 2016 book by the development economist Branko Milanović, indicate that in relative terms the greatest benefits of globalisation have accrued to a rising "emerging middle class", based preponderantly in China. But the cons are there, too: in absolute terms, the largest gains have gone to what is commonly called "the 1%" – half of whom are based in the US. Economist Richard Baldwin has shown in his recent book, The Great Convergence, that nearly all of the gains from globalisation have been concentrated in six countries.

Barring some political catastrophe, in which rightwing populism continued to gain, and in which globalisation would be the least of our problems – Wolf admitted that he was "not at all sure" that this could be ruled out – globalisation was always going to slow; in fact, it already has. One reason, says Wolf, was that "a very, very large proportion of the gains from globalisation – by no means all – have been exploited. We have a more open world economy to trade than we've ever had before." Citing The Great Convergence, Wolf noted that supply chains have already expanded, and that future developments, such as automation and the use of robots, looked to undermine the promise of a growing industrial workforce. Today, the political priorities were less about trade and more about the challenge of retraining workers , as technology renders old jobs obsolete and transforms the world of work.

Rodrik, too, believes that globalisation, whether reduced or increased, is unlikely to produce the kind of economic effects it once did. For him, this slowdown has something to do with what he calls "premature deindustrialisation". In the past, the simplest model of globalisation suggested that rich countries would gradually become "service economies", while emerging economies picked up the industrial burden. Yet recent statistics show the world as a whole is deindustrialising. Countries that one would have expected to have more industrial potential are going through the stages of automation more quickly than previously developed countries did, and thereby failing to develop the broad industrial workforce seen as a key to shared prosperity.

For both Rodrik and Wolf, the political reaction to globalisation bore possibilities of deep uncertainty. "I really have found it very difficult to decide whether what we're living through is a blip, or a fundamental and profound transformation of the world – at least as significant as the one that brought about the first world war and the Russian revolution," Wolf told me. He cited his agreement with economists such as Summers that shifting away from the earlier emphasis on globalisation had now become a political priority; that to pursue still greater liberalisation was like showing "a red rag to a bull" in terms of what it might do to the already compromised political stability of the western world.

Rodrik pointed to a belated emphasis, both among political figures and economists, on the necessity of compensating those displaced by globalisation with retraining and more robust welfare states. But pro-free-traders had a history of cutting compensation: Bill Clinton passed Nafta, but failed to expand safety nets. "The issue is that the people are rightly not trusting the centrists who are now promising compensation," Rodrik said. "One reason that Hillary Clinton didn't get any traction with those people is that she didn't have any credibility."

Rodrik felt that economics commentary failed to register the gravity of the situation: that there were increasingly few avenues for global growth, and that much of the damage done by globalisation – economic and political – is irreversible. "There is a sense that we're at a turning point," he said. "There's a lot more thinking about what can be done. There's a renewed emphasis on compensation – which, you know, I think has come rather late."

[Feb 24, 2020] The fatal flaw of neoliberalism: it's bad economics by Dani Rodrik

Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. ..."
"... The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash. ..."
"... The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world. ..."
"... That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest. ..."
Nov 14, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Neoliberalism and its usual prescriptions – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics.

As even its harshest critics concede, neoliberalism is hard to pin down. In broad terms, it denotes a preference for markets over government, economic incentives over cultural norms, and private entrepreneurship over collective action. It has been used to describe a wide range of phenomena – from Augusto Pinochet to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, from the Clinton Democrats and the UK's New Labour to the economic opening in China and the reform of the welfare state in Sweden.

The term is used as a catchall for anything that smacks of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation or fiscal austerity. Today it is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas and practices that have produced growing economic insecurity and inequality, led to the loss of our political values and ideals, and even precipitated our current populist backlash.

We live in the age of neoliberalism, apparently. But who are neoliberalism's adherents and disseminators – the neoliberals themselves? Oddly, you have to go back a long time to find anyone explicitly embracing neoliberalism. In 1982, Charles Peters, the longtime editor of the political magazine Washington Monthly, published an essay titled A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto . It makes for interesting reading 35 years later, since the neoliberalism it describes bears little resemblance to today's target of derision. The politicians Peters names as exemplifying the movement are not the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, but rather liberals – in the US sense of the word – who have become disillusioned with unions and big government and dropped their prejudices against markets and the military.

The use of the term "neoliberal" exploded in the 1990s, when it became closely associated with two developments, neither of which Peters's article had mentioned. One of these was financial deregulation, which would culminate in the 2008 financial crash and in the still-lingering euro debacle . The second was economic globalisation, which accelerated thanks to free flows of finance and to a new, more ambitious type of trade agreement. Financialisation and globalisation have become the most overt manifestations of neoliberalism in today's world.

That neoliberalism is a slippery, shifting concept, with no explicit lobby of defenders, does not mean that it is irrelevant or unreal. Who can deny that the world has experienced a decisive shift toward markets from the 1980s on? Or that centre-left politicians – Democrats in the US, socialists and social democrats in Europe – enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism, such as deregulation, privatisation, financial liberalisation and individual enterprise? Much of our contemporary policy discussion remains infused with principles supposedly grounded in the concept of homo economicus , the perfectly rational human being, found in many economic theories, who always pursues his own self-interest.

But the looseness of the term neoliberalism also means that criticism of it often misses the mark. There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship or incentives – when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas.

The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions. A proper understanding of the economics that lie behind neoliberalism would allow us to identify – and to reject – ideology when it masquerades as economic science. Most importantly, it would help us to develop the institutional imagination we badly need to redesign capitalism for the 21st century.


N eoliberalism is typically understood as being based on key tenets of mainstream economic science. To see those tenets without the ideology, consider this thought experiment. A well-known and highly regarded economist lands in a country he has never visited and knows nothing about. He is brought to a meeting with the country's leading policymakers. "Our country is in trouble," they tell him. "The economy is stagnant, investment is low, and there is no growth in sight." They turn to him expectantly: "Please tell us what we should do to make our economy grow."

The economist pleads ignorance and explains that he knows too little about the country to make any recommendations. He would need to study the history of the economy, to analyse the statistics, and to travel around the country before he could say anything.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tony Blair and Bill Clinton: centre-left politicians who enthusiastically adopted some of the central creeds of Thatcherism and Reaganism. Photograph: Reuters

But his hosts are insistent. "We understand your reticence, and we wish you had the time for all that," they tell him. "But isn't economics a science, and aren't you one of its most distinguished practitioners? Even though you do not know much about our economy, surely there are some general theories and prescriptions you can share with us to guide our economic policies and reforms."

The economist is now in a bind. He does not want to emulate those economic gurus he has long criticised for peddling their favourite policy advice. But he feels challenged by the question. Are there universal truths in economics? Can he say anything valid or useful?

So he begins. The efficiency with which an economy's resources are allocated is a critical determinant of the economy's performance, he says. Efficiency, in turn, requires aligning the incentives of households and businesses with social costs and benefits. The incentives faced by entrepreneurs, investors and producers are particularly important when it comes to economic growth. Growth needs a system of property rights and contract enforcement that will ensure those who invest can retain the returns on their investments. And the economy must be open to ideas and innovations from the rest of the world.

But economies can be derailed by macroeconomic instability, he goes on. Governments must therefore pursue a sound monetary policy , which means restricting the growth of liquidity to the increase in nominal money demand at reasonable inflation. They must ensure fiscal sustainability, so that the increase in public debt does not outpace national income. And they must carry out prudential regulation of banks and other financial institutions to prevent the financial system from taking excessive risk.

Now he is warming to his task. Economics is not just about efficiency and growth, he adds. Economic principles also carry over to equity and social policy. Economics has little to say about how much redistribution a society should seek. But it does tell us that the tax base should be as broad as possible, and that social programmes should be designed in a way that does not encourage workers to drop out of the labour market.

By the time the economist stops, it appears as if he has laid out a fully fledged neoliberal agenda. A critic in the audience will have heard all the code words: efficiency, incentives, property rights, sound money, fiscal prudence. And yet the universal principles that the economist describes are in fact quite open-ended. They presume a capitalist economy – one in which investment decisions are made by private individuals and firms – but not much beyond that. They allow for – indeed, they require – a surprising variety of institutional arrangements.

So has the economist just delivered a neoliberal screed? We would be mistaken to think so, and our mistake would consist of associating each abstract term – incentives, property rights, sound money – with a particular institutional counterpart. And therein lies the central conceit, and the fatal flaw, of neoliberalism: the belief that first-order economic principles map on to a unique set of policies, approximated by a Thatcher/Reagan-style agenda.

Consider property rights. They matter insofar as they allocate returns on investments. An optimal system would distribute property rights to those who would make the best use of an asset, and afford protection against those most likely to expropriate the returns. Property rights are good when they protect innovators from free riders, but they are bad when they protect them from competition. Depending on the context, a legal regime that provides the appropriate incentives can look quite different from the standard US-style regime of private property rights.

This may seem like a semantic point with little practical import; but China's phenomenal economic success is largely due to its orthodoxy-defying institutional tinkering. China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices in property rights. Its reforms produced market-based incentives through a series of unusual institutional arrangements that were better adapted to the local context. Rather than move directly from state to private ownership, for example, which would have been stymied by the weakness of the prevailing legal structures, the country relied on mixed forms of ownership that provided more effective property rights for entrepreneurs in practice. Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs), which spearheaded Chinese economic growth during the 1980s, were collectives owned and controlled by local governments. Even though TVEs were publicly owned, entrepreneurs received the protection they needed against expropriation. Local governments had a direct stake in the profits of the firms, and hence did not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

China relied on a range of such innovations, each delivering the economist's higher-order economic principles in unfamiliar institutional arrangements. For instance, it shielded its large state sector from global competition, establishing special economic zones where foreign firms could operate with different rules than in the rest of the economy. In view of such departures from orthodox blueprints, describing China's economic reforms as neoliberal – as critics are inclined to do – distorts more than it reveals. If we are to call this neoliberalism, we must surely look more kindly on the ideas behind the most dramatic poverty reduction in history.

One might protest that China's institutional innovations were purely transitional. Perhaps it will have to converge on western-style institutions to sustain its economic progress. But this common line of thinking overlooks the diversity of capitalist arrangements that still prevails among advanced economies, despite the considerable homogenisation of our policy discourse.

What, after all, are western institutions? The size of the public sector in OECD countries varies, from a third of the economy in Korea to nearly 60% in Finland. In Iceland, 86% of workers are members of a trade union; the comparable number in Switzerland is just 16%. In the US, firms can fire workers almost at will; French labour laws have historically required employers to jump through many hoops first. Stock markets have grown to a total value of nearly one-and-a-half times GDP in the US; in Germany, they are only a third as large, equivalent to just 50% of GDP.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'China turned to markets, but did not copy western practices ... ' Photograph: AFP/Getty

The idea that any one of these models of taxation, labour relations or financial organisation is inherently superior to the others is belied by the varying economic fortunes that each of these economies have experienced over recent decades. The US has gone through successive periods of angst in which its economic institutions were judged inferior to those in Germany, Japan, China, and now possibly Germany again. Certainly, comparable levels of wealth and productivity can be produced under very different models of capitalism. We might even go a step further: today's prevailing models probably come nowhere near exhausting the range of what might be possible, and desirable, in the future.

The visiting economist in our thought experiment knows all this, and recognises that the principles he has enunciated need to be filled in with institutional detail before they become operational. Property rights? Yes, but how? Sound money? Of course, but how? It would perhaps be easier to criticise his list of principles for being vacuous than to denounce it as a neoliberal screed.

Still, these principles are not entirely content-free. China, and indeed all countries that managed to develop rapidly, demonstrate the utility of those principles once they are properly adapted to local context. Conversely, too many economies have been driven to ruin courtesy of political leaders who chose to violate them. We need look no further than Latin American populists or eastern European communist regimes to appreciate the practical significance of sound money, fiscal sustainability and private incentives.


O f course, economics goes beyond a list of abstract, largely common-sense principles. Much of the work of economists consists of developing stylised models of how economies work and then confronting those models with evidence. Economists tend to think of what they do as progressively refining their understanding of the world: their models are supposed to get better and better as they are tested and revised over time. But progress in economics happens differently.

Economists study a social reality that is unlike the physical universe. It is completely manmade, highly malleable and operates according to different rules across time and space. Economics advances not by settling on the right model or theory to answer such questions, but by improving our understanding of the diversity of causal relationships. Neoliberalism and its customary remedies – always more markets, always less government – are in fact a perversion of mainstream economics. Good economists know that the correct answer to any question in economics is: it depends.

Does an increase in the minimum wage depress employment? Yes, if the labour market is really competitive and employers have no control over the wage they must pay to attract workers; but not necessarily otherwise. Does trade liberalisation increase economic growth? Yes, if it increases the profitability of industries where the bulk of investment and innovation takes place; but not otherwise. Does more government spending increase employment? Yes, if there is slack in the economy and wages do not rise; but not otherwise. Does monopoly harm innovation? Yes and no, depending on a whole host of market circumstances.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest 'Today [neoliberalism] is routinely reviled as a shorthand for the ideas that have produced growing economic inequality and precipitated our current populist backlash' Trump signing an order to take the US out of the TPP trade pact. Photograph: AFP/Getty

In economics, new models rarely supplant older models. The basic competitive-markets model dating back to Adam Smith has been modified over time by the inclusion, in rough historical order, of monopoly, externalities, scale economies, incomplete and asymmetric information, irrational behaviour and many other real-world features. But the older models remain as useful as ever. Understanding how real markets operate necessitates using different lenses at different times.

Perhaps maps offer the best analogy. Just like economic models, maps are highly stylised representations of reality . They are useful precisely because they abstract from many real-world details that would get in the way. But abstraction also implies that we need a different map depending on the nature of our journey. If we are travelling by bike, we need a map of bike trails. If we are to go on foot, we need a map of footpaths. If a new subway is constructed, we will need a subway map – but we wouldn't throw out the older maps.

Economists tend to be very good at making maps, but not good enough at choosing the one most suited to the task at hand. When confronted with policy questions of the type our visiting economist faces, too many of them resort to "benchmark" models that favour the laissez-faire approach. Kneejerk solutions and hubris replace the richness and humility of the discussion in the seminar room. John Maynard Keynes once defined economics as the "science of thinking in terms of models, joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant". Economists typically have trouble with the "art" part.

This, too, can be illustrated with a parable. A journalist calls an economics professor for his view on whether free trade is a good idea. The professor responds enthusiastically in the affirmative. The journalist then goes undercover as a student in the professor's advanced graduate seminar on international trade. He poses the same question: is free trade good? This time the professor is stymied. "What do you mean by 'good'?" he responds. "And good for whom?" The professor then launches into an extensive exegesis that will ultimately culminate in a heavily hedged statement: "So if the long list of conditions I have just described are satisfied, and assuming we can tax the beneficiaries to compensate the losers, freer trade has the potential to increase everyone's wellbeing." If he is in an expansive mood, the professor might add that the effect of free trade on an economy's longterm growth rate is not clear either, and would depend on an altogether different set of requirements.

This professor is rather different from the one the journalist encountered previously. On the record, he exudes self-confidence, not reticence, about the appropriate policy. There is one and only one model, at least as far as the public conversation is concerned, and there is a single correct answer, regardless of context. Strangely, the professor deems the knowledge that he imparts to his advanced students to be inappropriate (or dangerous) for the general public. Why?

The roots of such behaviour lie deep in the culture of the economics profession. But one important motive is the zeal to display the profession's crown jewels – market efficiency, the invisible hand, comparative advantage – in untarnished form, and to shield them from attack by self-interested barbarians, namely the protectionists . Unfortunately, these economists typically ignore the barbarians on the other side of the issue – financiers and multinational corporations whose motives are no purer and who are all too ready to hijack these ideas for their own benefit.

As a result, economists' contributions to public debate are often biased in one direction, in favour of more trade, more finance and less government. That is why economists have developed a reputation as cheerleaders for neoliberalism, even if mainstream economics is very far from a paean to laissez-faire. The economists who let their enthusiasm for free markets run wild are in fact not being true to their own discipline.


H ow then should we think about globalisation in order to liberate it from the grip of neoliberal practices? We must begin by understanding the positive potential of global markets. Access to world markets in goods, technologies and capital has played an important role in virtually all of the economic miracles of our time. China is the most recent and powerful reminder of this historical truth, but it is not the only case. Before China, similar miracles were performed by South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and a few non-Asian countries such as Mauritius . All of these countries embraced globalisation rather than turn their backs on it, and they benefited handsomely.

Defenders of the existing economic order will quickly point to these examples when globalisation comes into question. What they will fail to say is that almost all of these countries joined the world economy by violating neoliberal strictures. South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, heavily subsidised their exporters, the former through the financial system and the latter through tax incentives. All of them eventually removed most of their import restrictions, long after economic growth had taken off.

But none, with the sole exception of Chile in the 1980s under Pinochet, followed the neoliberal recommendation of a rapid opening-up to imports. Chile's neoliberal experiment eventually produced the worst economic crisis in all of Latin America. While the details differ across countries, in all cases governments played an active role in restructuring the economy and buffering it against a volatile external environment. Industrial policies, restrictions on capital flows and currency controls – all prohibited in the neoliberal playbook – were rampant.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Protest against Nafta in Mexico City in 2008: since the reforms of the mid-90s, the country's economy has underperformed. Photograph: EPA

By contrast, countries that stuck closest to the neoliberal model of globalisation were sorely disappointed. Mexico provides a particularly sad example. Following a series of macroeconomic crises in the mid-1990s, Mexico embraced macroeconomic orthodoxy, extensively liberalised its economy, freed up the financial system, sharply reduced import restrictions and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). These policies did produce macroeconomic stability and a significant rise in foreign trade and internal investment. But where it counts – in overall productivity and economic growth – the experiment failed . Since undertaking the reforms, overall productivity in Mexico has stagnated, and the economy has underperformed even by the undemanding standards of Latin America.

These outcomes are not a surprise from the perspective of sound economics. They are yet another manifestation of the need for economic policies to be attuned to the failures to which markets are prone, and to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each country. No single blueprint fits all.


A s Peters's 1982 manifesto attests, the meaning of neoliberalism has changed considerably over time as the label has acquired harder-line connotations with respect to deregulation, financialisation and globalisation. But there is one thread that connects all versions of neoliberalism, and that is the emphasis on economic growth . Peters wrote in 1982 that the emphasis was warranted because growth is essential to all our social and political ends – community, democracy, prosperity. Entrepreneurship, private investment and removing obstacles that stand in the way (such as excessive regulation) were all instruments for achieving economic growth. If a similar neoliberal manifesto were penned today, it would no doubt make the same point.

Critics often point out that this emphasis on economics debases and sacrifices other important values such as equality, social inclusion, democratic deliberation and justice. Those political and social objectives obviously matter enormously, and in some contexts they matter the most. They cannot always, or even often, be achieved by means of technocratic economic policies; politics must play a central role.

Still, neoliberals are not wrong when they argue that our most cherished ideals are more likely to be attained when our economy is vibrant, strong and growing. Where they are wrong is in believing that there is a unique and universal recipe for improving economic performance, to which they have access. The fatal flaw of neoliberalism is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics.

A version of this article first appeared in Boston Review

[Feb 24, 2020] Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse by Van Badham

Highly recommended!
Yes, neo-McCarthyism is a sign of the collapse of neoliberal ideology and the crisis within the neoliberal ruling elite, which is trying to patch the cracks int he neoliberal facade of the US society and require the control over the population (which rejected neoliberalism at voting booth in 2016) with Russophobia
Apr 26, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

5. The reds are back under the beds

There's always a bit of judgment and vengeance inherent to the factional shenanigans of Australia's Liberal party, but its refreshed vocabulary warrants inclusion as the fifth sign. Michael Sukkar, the member for Deakin, has been recorded in a dazzling rant declaring war on a "socialist" incursion into a party whose leader is a former merchant banker who pledged to rule for "freedom, the individual and the market" the very day he was anointed.

Sukkar's insistence is wonderful complement to the performance art monologues of former Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop on Sky, where she weekly decries socialism is to blame for everything from alcoholism to energy prices.

The reds may not be under the beds quite yet, but if Sukkar's convinced some commie pinkos are already gatecrashing cocktail events with the blue-tie set, they're certainly on his mind.

[Feb 22, 2020] The Red Thread A Search for Ideological Drivers Inside the Anti-Trump Conspiracy by Diana West

Highly recommended!
She does not use the term neoliberalism but she provide interesting perspective about connection of neoliberalism and Trotskyism. It is amazing fact that most of them seriously studied communist ideology at universities.
Trotskyites are never constrained by morality and they are obsessed with raw power (especially political power) and forceful transformation of the society. They are for global dominance so they were early adherents of "Full spectrum Dominance" doctirne approporitated later be US neocons. Their Dream -- global run from Washington neoliberal empire is a mirror of the dream of Trotskyites of global communist empire run from Moscow (Trotsky "Permanent war" till the total victory of communism idea)
Inability to understand that neoliberal is undermines Diana West thinking, but still she is a good researcher and she managed to reveal some interesting facts and tendencies. She intuitively understand that both are globalist ideologies, but that about all she managed to understand. Bad for former DIA specialist on the USSR and former colleague of Colonel Lang (see Sic Semper Tyrannis)
It is funny that Sanders is being accused of being a 'self-identified' socialist, while neoliberal elite is shoulder-deep in socialism for the 1% and enjoy almost unlimited access to free Fed funds.
Feb 22, 2020 | www.amazon.com

Boston Bill , March 23, 2019

Programs, programs, get your program here.

I received my copy just a few days before the Mueller investigation closed shop. There is an old saying "You can't tell the players without a program." As the aftermath of the Mueller investigation begins, you need this book. Some pundits and observers of the political scene have observed that the Mueller investigation didn't come about because of any real concern about "Trump Russia collusion," it was manufactured to protect the deep state from a non-political interloper. That's the case Diana West makes and does it with her exceptional knowledge of the Cold War and the current jihad wars. Not to mention her deadly aim with her rhetorical darts.

Erving L. Briggs , April 2, 2019
History Repeats

The Red Thread by Diana West
Diana states, "the anti-Trump conspiracy is not about Democrats and Republicans. It is not about the ebb and flow of political power, lawfully and peacefully transferred. It is about globalists and nationalists, just as the president says. They are locked in the old and continuous Communist/anti-Communist struggle, and fighting to the end, whether We, the anti-Communists, recognize it or not."

Diana traces the Red Thread running through the swamp, she names names and relates the history of the Red players. She asks the questions, Why? Why so many Soviet-style acts of deception perpetrated from inside the federal government against the American electoral process? Why so many uncorroborated dossiers of Russian provenance influencing our politics? Why such a tangle of communist and socialist roots in the anti-Trump conspiracy?
In this book, these questions will be answered.

If you have read her book "American Betrayal," I'm sure you will have a good idea about what is going on. I did. I just didn't know the major players and the red history behind each of them.

The book is very interesting and short, only 104 pages, but it is not finished yet. Easy to read but very disturbing to know the length and width of the swamp, the depth, we may not know for a long time. I do feel better knowing that there are people like Diana uncovering and shining a light into the darkness. Get the book, we all need to know why this is happening and who the enemies are behind it. Our freedom depends on it.

[Feb 19, 2020] During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d' tat) changed sides and betrayed the working class

Highly recommended!
This was an outright declaration of "class war" against working-class voters by a "university-credentialed overclass" -- "managerial elite" which changed sides and allied with financial oligrchy. See "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind
Notable quotes:
"... By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI. ..."
Feb 19, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 19, 2020 12:31 pm

Does not matter.

It looks like Bloomberg is finished. He just committed political suicide with his comments about farmers and metal workers.

BTW Bloomberg's plan is highly hypocritical -- like is Bloomberg himself.

During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d'état) changed sides and betrayed the working class.

So those neoliberal scoundrels reversed the class compromise embodied in the New Deal.

The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the neoliberal managerial class and financial oligarchy who got to power via the "Quiet Coup" was the global labor arbitrage in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations.

So all those "improving education" plans are, to a large extent, the smoke screen over the fact that the US workers now need to compete against highly qualified and lower cost immigrants and outsourced workforce.

The fact is that it is very difficult to find for US graduates in STEM disciplines a decent job, and this is by design.

Also, after the "Reagan neoliberal revolution" ( actually a coup d'état ), profits were maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of the immigrant workforce (the collapse of the USSR helped greatly ). They push down wages and compete for jobs with their domestic counterparts, including the recent graduates. So the situation since 1991 was never too bright for STEM graduates.

By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI.

See also recently published "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind.

One of his quotes:

The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.

[Feb 19, 2020] On Michael Lind's "The New Class War" by Gregor Baszak

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... To writer Michael Lind, Trump's victory, along with Brexit and other populist stirrings in Europe, was an outright declaration of "class war" by alienated working-class voters against what he calls a "university-credentialed overclass" of managerial elites. ..."
"... Lind cautions against a turn to populism, which he believes to be too personality-centered and intellectually incoherent -- not to mention, too demagogic -- to help solve the terminal crisis of "technocratic neoliberalism" with its rule by self-righteous and democratically unaccountable "experts" with hyperactive Twitter handles. Only a return to what Lind calls "democratic pluralism" will help stem the tide of the populist revolt. ..."
"... Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump's success was an unholy alliance of "Putin stooges" and unrepentant "white supremacists." ..."
"... To Lind, the case is much more straightforward: while the vast majority of Americans supports Social Security spending and containing unskilled immigration, the elites of the bipartisan swamp favor libertarian free trade policies combined with the steady influx of unskilled migrants to help suppress wage levels in the United States. Trump had outflanked his opponents in the Republican primaries and Clinton in the general election by tacking left on the economy (he refused to lay hands on Social Security) and right on immigration. ..."
"... Then, in the 1930s, while the world was writhing from the consequences of the Great Depression, a series of fascist parties took the reigns in countries from Germany to Spain. To spare the United States a similar descent into barbarism, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, in which the working class would find a seat at the bargaining table under a government-supervised tripartite system where business and organized labor met seemingly as equals and in which collective bargaining would help the working class set sector-wide wages. ..."
"... This class compromise ruled unquestioned for the first decades of the postwar era. It was made possible thanks to the system of democratic pluralism, which allowed working-class and rural constituencies to actively partake in mass-membership organizations like unions as well as civic and religious institutions that would empower these communities to shape society from the ground up. ..."
"... But then, amid the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" set in that sought to reverse the class compromise. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the newly emboldened managerial class was "global labor arbitrage" in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations; alternatively, profits can be maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of an unskilled, non-unionized immigrant workforce that competes for jobs with its unionized domestic counterparts. By one-sidedly canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, Lind concludes, the managerial elite had brought the recent populist backlash on itself. ..."
"... American parties are not organized parties built around active members and policy platforms; they are shifting coalitions of entrepreneurial candidate campaign organizations. Hence, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only capitalist ideologically; they are capitalistically run enterprises. ..."
"... In the epigraph to the book, Lind cites approvingly the 1949 treatise The Vital Center by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote that "class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society." Schlesinger was just one among many voices who believed that Western societies after World War II were experiencing the "end of ideology." From now on, the reasoning went, the ideological battles of yesteryear were settled in favor of a more disinterested capitalist (albeit New Deal–inflected) governance. This, in turn, gave rise to the managerial forces in government, the military, and business whose unchecked hold on power Lind laments. The midcentury social-democratic thinker Michael Harrington had it right when he wrote that "[t]he end of ideology is a shorthand way of saying the end of socialism." ..."
"... A cursory glance at the recent impeachment hearings bears witness to this, as career bureaucrats complained that President Trump unjustifiably sought to change the course of an American foreign policy that had been nobly steered by them since the onset of the Cold War. In their eyes, Trump, like the Brexiteers or the French yellow vest protesters, are vulgar usurpers who threaten the stability of the vital center from polar extremes. ..."
Jan 08, 2020 | lareviewofbooks.org

A FEW DAYS AFTER Donald Trump's electoral upset in 2016, Club for Growth co-founder Stephen Moore told an audience of Republican House members that the GOP was "now officially a Trump working class party." No longer the party of traditional Reaganite conservatism, the GOP had been converted instead "into a populist America First party." As he uttered these words, Moore says, "the shock was palpable" in the room.

The Club for Growth had long dominated Republican orthodoxy by promoting low tax rates and limited government. Any conservative candidate for political office wanting to reap the benefits of the Club's massive fundraising arm had to pay homage to this doctrine. For one of its formerly leading voices to pronounce the transformation of this orthodoxy toward a more populist nationalism showed just how much the ground had shifted on election night.

To writer Michael Lind, Trump's victory, along with Brexit and other populist stirrings in Europe, was an outright declaration of "class war" by alienated working-class voters against what he calls a "university-credentialed overclass" of managerial elites. The title of Lind's new book, The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite , leaves no doubt as to where his sympathies lie, though he's adamant that he's not some sort of guru for a " smarter Trumpism ," as some have labeled him.

Lind cautions against a turn to populism, which he believes to be too personality-centered and intellectually incoherent -- not to mention, too demagogic -- to help solve the terminal crisis of "technocratic neoliberalism" with its rule by self-righteous and democratically unaccountable "experts" with hyperactive Twitter handles. Only a return to what Lind calls "democratic pluralism" will help stem the tide of the populist revolt.

The New Class War is a breath of fresh air. Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump's success was an unholy alliance of "Putin stooges" and unrepentant "white supremacists."

To Lind, the case is much more straightforward: while the vast majority of Americans supports Social Security spending and containing unskilled immigration, the elites of the bipartisan swamp favor libertarian free trade policies combined with the steady influx of unskilled migrants to help suppress wage levels in the United States. Trump had outflanked his opponents in the Republican primaries and Clinton in the general election by tacking left on the economy (he refused to lay hands on Social Security) and right on immigration.

The strategy has since been successfully repeated in the United Kingdom by Boris Johnson, and it looks, for now, like a foolproof way for conservative parties in the West to capture or defend their majorities against center-left parties that are too beholden to wealthy, metropolitan interests to seriously attract working-class support. Berating the latter as irredeemably racist certainly doesn't help either.

What happened in the preceding decades to produce this divide in Western democracies? Lind's narrative begins with the New Deal, which had brought to an end what he calls "the first class war" in favor of a class compromise between management and labor. This first class war is the one we are the most familiar with: originating in the Industrial Revolution, which had produced the wretchedly poor proletariat, it soon led to the rise of competing parties of organized workers on the one hand and the liberal bourgeoisie on the other, a clash that came to a head in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Then, in the 1930s, while the world was writhing from the consequences of the Great Depression, a series of fascist parties took the reigns in countries from Germany to Spain. To spare the United States a similar descent into barbarism, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, in which the working class would find a seat at the bargaining table under a government-supervised tripartite system where business and organized labor met seemingly as equals and in which collective bargaining would help the working class set sector-wide wages.

This class compromise ruled unquestioned for the first decades of the postwar era. It was made possible thanks to the system of democratic pluralism, which allowed working-class and rural constituencies to actively partake in mass-membership organizations like unions as well as civic and religious institutions that would empower these communities to shape society from the ground up.

But then, amid the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" set in that sought to reverse the class compromise. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the newly emboldened managerial class was "global labor arbitrage" in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations; alternatively, profits can be maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of an unskilled, non-unionized immigrant workforce that competes for jobs with its unionized domestic counterparts. By one-sidedly canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, Lind concludes, the managerial elite had brought the recent populist backlash on itself.

Likewise, only it can contain this backlash by returning to the bargaining table and reestablishing the tripartite system it had walked away from. According to Lind, the new class peace can only come about on the level of the individual nation-state because transnational treaty organizations like the EU cannot allow the various national working classes to escape the curse of labor arbitrage. This will mean that unskilled immigration will necessarily have to be curbed to strengthen the bargaining power of domestic workers. The free-market orthodoxy of the Club for Growth will also have to take a backseat, to be replaced by government-promoted industrial strategies that invest in innovation to help modernize their national economies.

Under which circumstances would the managerial elites ever return to the bargaining table? "The answer is fear," Lind suggests -- fear of working-class resentment of hyper-woke, authoritarian elites. Ironically, this leaves all the agency with the ruling class, who first acceded to the class compromise, then canceled it, and is now called on to forge a new one lest its underlings revolt.

Lind rightly complains all throughout the book that the old mass-membership based organizations of the 20th century have collapsed. He's coy, however, about who would reconstitute them and how. At best, Lind argues for a return to the old system where party bosses and ward captains served their local constituencies through patronage, but once more this leaves the agency with entities like the Republicans and Democrats who have a combined zero members. As the third-party activist Howie Hawkins remarked cunningly elsewhere ,

American parties are not organized parties built around active members and policy platforms; they are shifting coalitions of entrepreneurial candidate campaign organizations. Hence, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only capitalist ideologically; they are capitalistically run enterprises.

Thus, they would hardly be the first options one would think of to reinvigorate the forces of civil society toward self-rule from the bottom up.

The key to Lind's fraught logic lies hidden in plain sight -- in the book's title. Lind does not speak of "class struggle ," the heroic Marxist narrative in which an organized proletariat strove for global power; no, "class war " smacks of a gloomy, Hobbesian war of all against all in which no side truly stands to win.

In the epigraph to the book, Lind cites approvingly the 1949 treatise The Vital Center by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote that "class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society." Schlesinger was just one among many voices who believed that Western societies after World War II were experiencing the "end of ideology." From now on, the reasoning went, the ideological battles of yesteryear were settled in favor of a more disinterested capitalist (albeit New Deal–inflected) governance. This, in turn, gave rise to the managerial forces in government, the military, and business whose unchecked hold on power Lind laments. The midcentury social-democratic thinker Michael Harrington had it right when he wrote that "[t]he end of ideology is a shorthand way of saying the end of socialism."

Looked at from this perspective, the break between the postwar Fordist regime and technocratic neoliberalism isn't as massive as one would suppose. The overclass antagonists of The New Class War believe that they derive their power from the same "liberal order" of the first-class peace that Lind upholds as a positive utopia. A cursory glance at the recent impeachment hearings bears witness to this, as career bureaucrats complained that President Trump unjustifiably sought to change the course of an American foreign policy that had been nobly steered by them since the onset of the Cold War. In their eyes, Trump, like the Brexiteers or the French yellow vest protesters, are vulgar usurpers who threaten the stability of the vital center from polar extremes.

A more honest account of capitalism would also acknowledge its natural tendencies to persistently contract and to disrupt the social fabric. There is thus no reason to believe why some future class compromise would once and for all quell these tendencies -- and why nationalistically operating capitalist states would not be inclined to confront each other again in war.

Gregor Baszak is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His Twitter handle is @gregorbas1.

Stourley Kracklite 20 days ago • edited ,

Reagan was a free-trader and a union buster. Lind's people jumped the Democratic ship to vote for Reagan in (lemming-like) droves. As Republicans consolidated power over labor with cheap goods from China and the meth of deficit spending Democrats struggled with being necklaced as the party of civil rights.
The idea that people who are well-informed ought not to govern is a sad and sick cover story that the culpable are forced to chant in their caves until their days are done, the reckoning being too great.

[Jan 26, 2020] The Collapse of Neoliberalism by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
From the book The Great Democracy by Ganesh Sitaraman.
This is a very valuable article, probably the best written in 2019 on the topic, that discusses several important aspects of neoliberalism better then its predecessors...
Notable quotes:
"... For some, and especially for those in the millennial generation, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started a process of reflection on what the neoliberal era had delivered. ..."
"... neoliberal policies had already wreaked havoc around the world ..."
"... "excessively rapid financial and capital market liberalization was probably the single most important cause of the crisis"; he also notes that after the crisis, the International Monetary Fund's policies "exacerbated the downturns." ..."
"... In study after study, political scientists have shown that the U.S. government is highly responsive to the policy preferences of the wealthiest people, corporations, and trade associations -- and that it is largely unresponsive to the views of ordinary people. The wealthiest people, corporations, and their interest groups participate more in politics, spend more on politics, and lobby governments more. Leading political scientists have declared that the U.S. is no longer best characterized as a democracy or a republic but as an oligarchy -- a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism. ..."
"... neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. ..."
"... Demagogues rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society. ..."
"... The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. ..."
"... They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. ..."
"... In spite of these failures, most policymakers did not have a new ideology or different worldview through which to comprehend the problems of this time. So, by and large, the collective response was not to abandon neoliberalism. After the Great Crash of 2008, neoliberals chafed at attempts to push forward aggressive Keynesian spending programs to spark demand. President Barack Obama's advisers shrank the size of the post-crash stimulus package for fear it would seem too large to the neoliberal consensus of the era -- and on top of that, they compromised on its content. ..."
"... When it came to affirmative, forward-looking policy, the neoliberal framework also remained dominant. ..."
"... It is worth emphasizing that Obamacare's central feature is a private marketplace in which people can buy their own health care, with subsidies for individuals who are near the poverty line ..."
"... Fearful of losing their seats, centrists extracted these concessions from progressives. Little good it did them. The president's party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, and this time was no different. For their caution, centrists both lost their seats and gave Americans fewer and worse health care choices. ..."
"... The Republican Party platform in 2012, for example, called for weaker Wall Street, environmental, and worker safety regulations; lower taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals; and further liberalization of trade. It called for abolishing federal student loans, in addition to privatizing rail, western lands, airport security, and the post office. Republicans also continued their support for cutting health care and retirement security. After 40 years moving in this direction -- and with it failing at every turn -- you might think they would change their views. But Republicans didn't, and many still haven't. ..."
"... Although neoliberalism had little to offer, in the absence of a new ideological framework, it hung over the Obama presidency -- but now in a new form. Many on the center-left adopted what we might call the "technocratic ideology," a rebranded version of the policy minimalism of the 1990s that replaced minimalism's tactical and pragmatic foundations with scientific ones. The term itself is somewhat oxymoronic, as technocrats seem like the opposite of ideologues. ..."
"... The technocratic ideology preserves the status quo with a variety of tactics. We might call the first the "complexity canard." ..."
"... The most frequent uses of this tactic are in sectors that economists have come to dominate -- international trade, antitrust, and financial regulation, for example. The result of this mind-set is that bold, structural reforms are pushed aside and highly technical changes adopted instead. Financial regulation provides a particularly good case, given the 2008 crash and the Great Recession. When it came time to establish a new regulatory regime for the financial sector, there wasn't a massive restructuring, despite the biggest crash in 70 years. ..."
"... Instead, for the most part, the Dodd-Frank Act was classically technocratic. It kept the sector basically the same, with a few tweaks here and there. There was no attempt to restructure the financial sector completely. ..."
"... The Volcker Rule, for example, sought to ban banks from proprietary trading. But instead of doing that through a simple, clean breakup rule (like the one enacted under the old Glass-Steagall regime), the Volcker Rule was subject to a multitude of exceptions and carve-outs -- measures that federal regulators were then required to explain and implement with hundreds of pages of technical regulations ..."
"... Dodd-Frank also illustrates a second tenet of the technocratic ideology: The failures of technocracy can be solved by more technocracy. ..."
"... Dodd-Frank created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a government body tasked with what is called macroprudential regulation. What this means is that government regulators are supposed to monitor the entire economy and turn the dials of regulation up and down a little bit to keep the economy from another crash. But ask yourself this: Why would we ever believe they could do such a thing? We know those very same regulators failed to identify, warn about, or act on the 2008 crisis. ..."
"... In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus's head like the goddess Athena. ..."
"... Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think. In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities -- and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. ..."
"... Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East. ..."
"... The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today's problems. ..."
"... The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | newrepublic.com
Welcome to the Decade From Hell , our look back at an arbitrary 10-year period that began with a great outpouring of hope and ended in a cavalcade of despair. The long-dominant ideology brought us forever wars, the Great Recession, and extreme inequality. Good riddance.

With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. "Laissez-faire is finished," declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash "called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years -- the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us."

... ... ...

[Jan 25, 2020] Rabobank What If... The Protectionists Are Right And The Free Traders Are Wrong by Michael Every

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British: Destroyed the Indian textile industry to benefit their own cloth manufacturers; Started the Opium Wars to balance UK-China trade by selling China addictive drugs; Ignored the Irish Potato Famine and continued to allow Irish wheat exports; Forced Siam (Thailand) to open up its economy to trade with gunboats (as the US did with Japan); and Colonized much of Africa and Asia. ..."
"... Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure. ..."
"... Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case. ..."
Jan 25, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!" (Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 4, The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill)

Submitted by Michael Every of Rabobank

2020 starts with markets feeling optimistic due to a US-China trade deal and a reworked NAFTA in the form of the USMCA. However, the tide towards protectionism may still be coming in, not going out.

The intellectual appeal of the basis for free trade, Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage, where Portugal specializes in wine, and the UK in cloth, is still clearly there. Moreover, trade has always been a beneficial and enriching part of human culture. Yet the fact is that for the majority of the last 5,000 years global trade has been highly-politicized and heavily-regulated . Indeed, global free-trade only began following the abolition of the UK Corn Laws in 1846, which reduced British agricultural tariffs, brought in European wheat and corn, and allowed the UK to maximize its comparative advantage in industry.

Yet it took until 1860 for the UK to fully embrace free trade, and even then the unpalatable historical record is that during this 'golden age', the British:

As we showed back in ' Currency and Wars ', after an initial embrace of free trade, the major European powers and Japan saw that their relative comparative advantage meant they remained at the bottom of the development ladder as agricultural producers, an area where prices were also being depressed by huge US output; meanwhile, the UK sold industrial goods, ran a huge trade surplus, and ruled the waves militarily. This was politically unsustainable even though the UK vigorously backed the intellectual concept of free trade given it was such a winner from it.

Regardless, the first flowering of free trade collapsed back into nationalism and protectionism - bloodily so in 1914. Free trade was tried again from 1919 - but burned-out even more bloodily in the 1930s and 1940s. After WW2, most developed countries had moderately free trade - but most developing countries did not. We only started to re-embrace global free trade from the 1990s onwards when the Cold War ended – and here it is under stress again. In short, only around 100 years in a total of 5,000 years of civilization has seen real global free trade, it has failed twice already, and it is once again coming under pressure.

What are we getting wrong? Perhaps that Ricardo's theory has major flaws that don't get included in our textbooks, as summarized in this overlooked quote

"It would undoubtedly be advantageous to the capitalists of England [that] the wine and cloth should both be made in Portugal [and that] the capital and labour of England employed in making cloth should be removed to Portugal for that purpose." Which is pretty much what happens today! However, Ricardo adds that this won't happen because "Most men of property [will be] satisfied with a low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations," which is simply not true at all! In other words, his premise is flawed in that:

As Ricardo's theory requires key conditions that are not met in reality most of the time, why are we surprised that most of reality fails to produce idealised free trade most of the time? Several past US presidents before Donald Trump made exactly that point. Munroe (1817-25) argued: " The conditions necessary for Free Trade's success - reciprocity and international peace - have never occurred and cannot be expected ". Grant (1869-77) noted "Within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade".

Yet arguably we are better, not worse, off regardless of these sentiments – so hooray! How so? Well, did you know that Adam Smith, who we equate with free markets, and who created the term "mercantile system" to describe the national-protectionist policies opposed to it, argued the US should remain an agricultural producer and buy its industrial goods from the UK? It was Founding Father Alexander Hamilton who rejected this approach, and his "infant industry" policy of industrialization and infrastructure spending saw the US emerge as the world's leading economy instead. That was the same development model that, with tweaks, was then adopted by pre-WW1 Japan, France, and Germany to successfully rival the UK; and then post-WW2 by Japan (again) and South Korea; and then more recently by China, that key global growth driver. Would we really be better off if the US was still mainly growing cotton and wheat, China rice and apples, and the UK was making most of the world's consumer goods? Thank the lack of free trade if you think otherwise!

Yet look at the examples above and there is a further argument for more protectionism ahead. Ricardo assumes a benign global political environment for free trade . Yet what if the UK and Portugal are rivals or enemies? What if the choice is between steel and wine? You can't invade neighbours armed with wine as you can with steel! A large part of the trade tension between China and the US, just as between pre-WW1 Germany and the UK, is not about trade per se: for both sides, it is about who produces key inputs with national security implications - and hence is about relative power . This is why we hear US hawks underlining that they don't want to export their highest technology to China, or to specialize only in agricultural exports to it as China moves up the value-chain. It also helps underline why for most of the past 5,000 years trade has not been free. Indeed, this argument also holds true for the other claimed benefit of free trade: the cross-flow of ideas and technology. That is great for friends, but not for those less trusted.

Of course, this doesn't mean liked-minded groups of countries with similar-enough or sympathetic-enough economies and politics should avoid free trade: clearly for some states it can work out nicely - even if within the EU one could argue there are also underlying strains. However, it is a huge stretch to assume a one-size-fits-all free trade policy will always work best for all countries, as some would have it. That is a fairy tale. History shows it wasn't the case; national security concerns show it can never always be the case; and Ricardo argues this logically won't be the case.

Yet we need not despair. The track record also shows that global growth can continue even despite protectionism, and in some cases can benefit from it. That being said, should the US resort to more Hamiltonian policies versus everyone, not just China, then we are in for real financial market turbulence ahead given the role the US Dollar plays today compared to the role gold played for Smith and Ricardo! But that is a whole different fairy tale...

[Jan 23, 2020] An incredible level of naivety of people who still think that a single individual, or even two, can change the direction of murderous US policies that are widely supported throughout the bureaucracy?

Highly recommended!
The deep state clearly is running the show (with some people unexpected imput -- see Trump ;-)
Elections now serve mainly for the legitimizing of the deep state rule; election of a particular individual can change little, although there is some space of change due to the power of executive branch. If the individual stray too much form the elite "forign policy consensus" he ether will be JFKed or Russiagated (with the Special Prosecutor as the fist act and impeachment as the second act of the same Russiagate drama)
But a talented (or reckless) individual can speed up some process that are already under way. For example, Trump managed to speed up the process of destruction of the USA-centered neoliberal empire considerably. Especially by launching the trade war with China. He also managed to discredit the USA foreign policy as no other president before him. Even Bush II.
Jan 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Trailer Trash , Jan 23 2020 18:30 utc | 44
>This is the most critical U.S. election in our lifetime
> Posted by: Circe | Jan 23 2020 17:46 utc | 36

Hmmm, I've been hearing the same siren song every four years for the past fifty. How is it that people still think that a single individual, or even two, can change the direction of murderous US policies that are widely supported throughout the bureaucracy?

Bureaucracies are reactionary and conservative by nature, so any new and more repressive policy Trumpy wants is readily adapted, as shown by the continuing barbarity of ICE and the growth of prisons and refugee concentration camps. Policies that go against the grain are easily shrugged off and ignored using time-tested passive-aggressive tactics.

One of Trump's insurmountable problems is that he has no loyal organization behind him whose members he can appoint throughout the massive Federal bureaucracy. Any Dummycrat whose name is not "Biden" has the same problem. Without a real mass-movement political party to pressure reluctant bureaucrats, no politician of any name or stripe will ever substantially change the direction of US policy.

But the last thing Dummycrats want is a real mass movement, because they might not be able to control it. Instead Uncle Sam will keep heading towards the cliff, which may be coming into view...


Per/Norway , Jan 23 2020 19:31 utc | 62

The amount of TINA worshipers and status quo guerillas is starting to depress me.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE to believe A politician will/can change anything and give your consent to war criminals and traitors?
NO person(s) WILL EVER get to the top in imperial/vassal state politics without being on the rentier class side, the cognitive dissonans in voting for known liars, war criminals and traitors would kill me or fry my brain. TINA is a lie and "she" is a real bitch that deserves to be thrown on the dump off history, YOUR vote is YOUR consent to murder, theft and treason.
DONT be a rentier class enabler STOP voting and start making your local communities better and independent instead.

Per
Norway

Piotr Berman , Jan 23 2020 20:19 utc | 82
The amount of TINA worshipers and status quo guerillas is starting to depress me. <- Norway

Of course, There Is Another Way, for example, kvetching. We can boldly show that we are upset, and pessimistic. One upset pessimists reach critical mass we will think about some actions.

But being upset and pessimistic does fully justify inactivity. In particular, given the nature of social interaction networks, with spokes and hubs, dominating the network requires the control of relatively few nodes. The nature of democracy always allows for leverage takeover, starting from dominating within small to the entire nation in few steps. As it was nicely explained by Prof. Overton, there is a window of positions that the vast majority regards as reasonable, non-radical etc. One reason that powers to be invest so much energy vilifying dissenters, Russian assets of late, is to keep them outside the Overton window.

Having a candidate elected that the curators of Overton window hate definitely shakes the situation with the potential of shifting the window. There were some positive symptoms after Trump was elected, but negatives prevail. "Why not we just kill him" idea entered the window, together with "we took their oil because we have guts and common sense".

From that point of view, visibility of Tulsi and election of Sanders will solve some problems but most of all, it will make big changes in Overton window.

[Jan 18, 2020] The joke is on us: Without the USSR the USA oligarchy resorted to cannibalism and devour the American people

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

In another sense, however, the passing of the cold war could not have been more disorienting. In 1987, Georgi Arbatov, a senior adviser to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev , had warned: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you – we are going to deprive you of an enemy."

...Winning the cold war brought Americans face-to-face with a predicament comparable to that confronting the lucky person who wins the lottery: hidden within a windfall is the potential for monumental disaster.

[Jan 12, 2020] Luongo Fears "An Abyss Of Losses" As Iraq Becomes MidEast Battleground

Highly recommended!
Jan 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

The future of the U.S.'s involvement in the Middle East is in Iraq. The exchange of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran occurred wholly on Iraqi soil and it has become the site on which that war will continue.

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, following President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. and Israel are determined this border crossing remains closed and have demonstrated just how far they are willing to go to prevent the free flow of goods and people across this border.

The regional allies of Iran are to be kept weak, divided and constantly under harassment.

Iraq is the battleground because the U.S. lost in Syria. Despite the presence of U.S. troops squatting on Syrian oil fields in Deir Ezzor province or the troops sitting in the desert protecting the Syrian border with Jordan, the Russians, Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds forces continue to reclaim territory previously lost to the Syrian government.

Now with Turkey redeploying its pet Salafist head-choppers from Idlib to Libya to fight General Haftar's forces there to legitimize its claim to eastern Mediterannean gas deposits, the restoration of Syria's territorial integrity west of the Euphrates River is nearly complete.

The defenders of Syria can soon transition into the rebuilders thereof, if allowed. And they didn't do this alone, they had a silent partner in China the entire time.

And, if I look at this situation honestly, it was China stepping out from behind the shadows into the light that is your inciting incident for this chapter in Iraq's story.

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

It doubles China's investment in Iraq while denying the U.S. that money and influence.

This happened after a massive $53 billion deal between Exxon-Mobil and Petrochina was put on hold after the incident involving Iran shooting down a U.S. Global Hawk drone in June.

With the U.S balking over the Exxon/Petrochina big deal, Iraqi Prime Minster Adel Abdul Mahdi signed the new one with China in October. Mahdi brought up the circumstances surrounding that in Iraqi parliaments during the session in which it passed the resolution recommending removal of all foreign forces from Iraq.

Did Trump openly threaten Mahdi over this deal as I covered in my podcast on this? Did the U.S. gin up protests in Baghdad, amplifying unrest over growing Iranian influence in the country?

And, if not, were these threats simply implied or carried by a minion (Pompeo, Esper, a diplomat)? Because the U.S.'s history of regime change operations is well documented. Well understood color revolution tactics used successfully in places like Ukraine , where snipers were deployed to shoot protesters and police alike to foment violence between them at the opportune time were on display in Baghdad.

Mahdi openly accused Trump of threatening him, but that sounds more like Mahdi using the current impeachment script to invoke the sinister side of Trump and sell his case.

It's not that I don't think Trump capable of that kind of threat, I just don't think he's stupid enough to voice it on an open call. Donald Trump is capable of many impulsive things, openly threatening to remove an elected Prime Minister on a recorded line is not one of them.

Mahdi has been under the U.S.'s fire since he came to power in late 2018. He was the man who refused Trump during Trump's impromptu Christmas visit to Iraq in 2018 , refusing to be summoned to a clandestine meeting at the U.S. embassy rather than Trump visit him as a head of state, an equal.

He was the man who declared the Iraqi air space closed after Israeli air attacks on Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) positions in September.

And he's the person, at the same time, being asked by Trump to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran in peace talks for Yemen.

So, the more we look at this situation the more it is clear that Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.

It's clear that Trump doesn't want to fight a war with Iran in Iran. He wants them to acquiesce to his unreasonable demands and begin negotiating a new nuclear deal which definitively stops the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, and as P atrick Henningsen at 21st Century Wire thinks ,

Trump now wants a new deal which features a prohibition on Iran's medium range missiles , and after events this week, it's obvious why. Wednesday's missile strike by Iran demonstrates that the US can no longer operate in the region so long as Iran has the ability to extend its own deterrence envelope westwards to Syria, Israel, and southwards to the Arabian Peninsula, and that includes all US military installations located within that radius.

Iraq doesn't want to be that battlefield. And Iran sent the message with those two missile strikes that the U.S. presence in Iraq is unsustainable and that any thought of retreating to the autonomous Kurdish region around the air base at Erbil is also a non-starter.

The big question, after this attack, is whether U.S. air defenses around the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi were active or not. If they were then Trump's standing down after the air strikes signals what Patrick suggests, a new Middle East in the making.

If they were not turned on then the next question is why? To allow Iran to save face after Trump screwed up murdering Soleimani?

I'm not capable of believing such Q-tard drivel at this point. It's far more likely that the spectre of Russian electronics warfare and radar evasion is lurking in the subtext of this story and the U.S. truly now finds itself after a second example of Iranian missile technology in a nascent 360 degree war in the region.

It means that Iran's threats against the cities of Haifa and Dubai were real.

In short, it means the future of the U.S. presence in Iraq now measures in months not years.

Because both China and Russia stand to gain ground with a newly-united Shi'ite Iraqi population. Mahdi is now courting Russia to sell him S-300 missile defense systems to allow him to enforce his demands about Iraqi airspace.

Moqtada al-Sadr is mobilizing his Madhi Army to oust the U.S. from Iraq. Iraq is key to the U.S. presence in the region. Without Iraq the U.S. position in Syria is unsustainable.

If the U.S. tries to retreat to Kurdish territory and push again for Masoud Barzani and his Peshmerga forces to declare independence Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go ballistic.

And you can expect him to make good on his threat to close the Incerlik airbase, another critical logistical juncture for U.S. force projection in the region.

But it all starts with Mahdi's and Iraq's moves in the coming weeks. But, with Trump rightly backing down from escalating things further and not following through on his outlandish threats against Iran, it may be we're nearing the end of this intractable standoff.

Back in June I told you that Iran had the ability to fight asymmetrically against the U.S., not through direct military confrontation but through the after-effects of a brief, yet violent period of war in which all U.S., Israeli and Arab assets in the Middle East come under fire from all directions.

It sent this same message then that by attacking oil tankers it could make the transport of oil untenable and not insurable. We got a taste of it back then and Trump, then, backed down.

And the resultant upheaval in the financial markets creating an abyss of losses, cross-asset defaults, bank failures and government collapses.

Trump has no real option now but to negotiate while Iraq puts domestic pressure on him to leave and Russia/China come in to provide critical economic and military support to assist Mahdi rally his country back towards some semblance of sovereignty

* * *

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MalteseFalcon , 3 minutes ago link

OK kids,

Play time is over.

China needs Iraqi oil to build the BRI.

Last one into Africom is a rotten egg!!!!

daveeemc2 , 14 minutes ago link

This is the most delicious of irony

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

The american imperial style of intervention is dead.

China debt trap model of belt and road is the path forward.

They will win hearts and minds, and not a single shot fired.

USA gets debt from paying war machine and killed and maimed soldiers whose personal psychiatry will haunt them for an entire lifetime.

In the end, Americans get nothing but debt and risk their own soverignty as a population ages and infrastructure crumbles....kinda like now.

MalteseFalcon , 1 minute ago link

The last 30 years of American foreign policy has been an unmitigated disaster.

yerfej , 26 minutes ago link

How about "what is the goal?" There is none of course. The assholes in the Washington/MIC just need war to keep them relevant. What if the US were to closed down all those wars and foreign bases? THEN the taxpayer could demand some accounting for the trillions that are wasted on complete CRAP. There are too many old leftovers from the cold war who seem to think there is benefit to fighting wars in shithole places just because those wars are the only ones going on right now. The stupidity of the ****** in the US military/MIC/Washington is beyond belief. JUST LEAVE you ******* idiots.

Rusticus2.0 , 22 minutes ago link

Your comment should have been directed at Trump, the commander in chief.

I guess that's still a bridge too far, but sooner than later you're going to have to cross it.

BobEore , 29 minutes ago link

Excellent Smithers, excellent:

Sometimes, in treading thru the opaque, sandstorm o ******** swept wastes of the ' desert of the really real '...

one must rely upon a marking... some kind of guidepost, however tenuous, to show you to be still... on the trail, not lost in the vast haunted reaches of post-reality. And you know, Tommy is that sort of guide; the sort of guy who you take to the fairgrounds, set him up with the 'THROW THE BALL THRU THE HOOP... GUARANTEED PRIZE TO SCOOP' kiosk...

and he misses every time. Just by watching Tom run through his paces here... zeroing in on the exact WRONG interpretation of events ... every dawg gone time... one resets their compass to tru course and relaxes into the flow agin! Thanks Tom! Let's break down ... the Schlitzy shopping list of sloppy errors:

Israel continues to up the ante on Iran, f ollowing President Trump's lead by bombing Shia militias stationed near the Al Bukumai border crossing between Syria and Iraq. Urusalem.. and its pathetically obedient dogsbody USSA ... are busy setting up RIMFISTAN Tom.. you really need to start expanding your reading list; On both sides of that border you mention .. they will be running - and guarding - pipeline running to the mothership. Shia miitias and that project just don't mix. Nobody gives a frying fluck bout your imaginary 'land bridge to the Med'... except you and the gomers. And you and they aren't ANYWHERES near to here.

  • Abdul Madhi, the first Iraqi prime minister since the 2003 U.S. invasion push for more Iraqi sovereignty, is emerging as the pivotal figure in what led up to the attack on General Soleimani and what comes after Iran's subsequent retaliation.
  • Ok... this is getting completely embarrassing. The man is a 'caretaker' Tom... that's similar to a 'janitor' - he's on the way out. If you really think thats' being pivotal... I'm gonna suggest that you've 'pivoted' on one of your goats too many times.

Look, Tom... I did sincerely undertake to hold your arm, and guide you through this to a happier place. But you... are underwater my man. And that's quite an accomplishment, since we be traveling through the deserts of the really real. You've enumerated a list of things which has helped me to understand just how completely distorted is the picture of the situation here in mudded east.. is... in the minds of the myriad victims of your alt-media madness. And I thank you for that. But its time we part company.

These whirring klaidescope glasses I put on, in order to help me see how you see things, have given me a bit of a headache. Time to return to seeing the world... as it really works!

simpson seers , 14 minutes ago link

says the yankee chicken ******......

Fireman , 32 minutes ago link

Like Ukraine, everything the anglozionazi empire of **** smear$...turns to ****.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVMbCTWRcSs

https://theduran.com/ukranian-whistleblower-reveals-mh-17-tragedy-was-orchestrated-by-poroshenko-and-british-secret-service/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=wR1NFI6TBH0

BGO , 39 minutes ago link

The whole *target and destroy* Iran (and Iraq) clusterfuck has always been about creating new profit scenarios, profit theaters, for the MIC.

If the US govt was suddenly forced to stop making and selling **** designed to kill people... if the govt were forced to stopping selling **** to other people so they can kill people... if the govt were forced to stop stockpiling **** designed to kill people just so other people would stop building and stockpiling **** designed to kill people... first the US then the world would collapse... everyone would finally see... the US is a nation of people that allows itself to be propped up by the worst sort of people... an infinitesimally small group of gangsters who legally make insane amounts of money... by creating in perpetuity... forever new scenarios that allow them to kill other people.

Jesus ******* Christ ZeroHedge software ******* sucks.

Fireman , 40 minutes ago link

Understanding why Agent Orange is a meat puppet.

The following has been known to cure T.D.S.

https://www.bitchute.com/video/NJF06yjvdErM/

Wantoknow , 44 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option? What do you believe are the limits of Trump's options that assure he must negotiate? Perhaps all out war is not yet possible politically in the US, but public sentiment has been manipulated before. Why not now?

One must not yet reject the idea that the road to Moscow and Beijing does not run through Iran. Throwing the US out of the Middle East would be a grievous failure for the deep state which has demonstrated itself to be absolutely ruthless. It is hard to believe the US will leave without a much more serious war forcing the issue.

So far Trump has appeared artless and that may continue but that artlessness may well bring a day when Trump will not back down.

Fireman , 39 minutes ago link

Why has Trump no real option?

Ask the towel girls at Maralago and Jeffrey Pedovore.

Rusticus2.0 , 49 minutes ago link

The motivation behind Trump pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action wasn't because, after careful analytical study of the plan, he decided it was a bad deal. It was because Israel demanded it as it didn't fit into their best interests and, as with the refreezing of relationships with Cuba, it was a easier way to undo Obama policy rather than tackling Obamacare. Hardly sound judgement.

The war will continue in Iraq as the Shia majority mobilize against an occupying force that has been asked to leave, but refuse. What will quickly become apparent is that this war is about to become far more multifaceted with Iraqi and Iranian proxies targeting American interests across numerous fronts.

Trump is the head of a business empire; Downsizing is not a strategy that he's ever employed; His business history is a case study in go big or go bust.

not-me---it-was-the-dog , 32 minutes ago link

so it will work like this....

trump's zionist overlords have demanded he destroy iran.

as a simple lackey, he agreed, but he does need political cover to do so.

thus the equating of any attack or threat of attack by any group of any political persuasion as originating from iran.

any resistance by the shia in iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the currect governement of iraq will be considered as being directed from iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

any resistance by the sunni in iraq will be considered subversion by iran, or a false flag by iran, thus an attack on iran is warranted.

trump's refusal to follow the SOFA agreement, and heed the call of the democratic government we claim to have gone in to install, is specifically designed to lead to more violence, which in turn can be blamed on iran's "malign" influence, which gives the entity lackeys cover to spread more democracy.

MIGA!

Brazen Heist II , 55 minutes ago link

America is a nation of imbeciles. They have meddled in Iraq since the 1980s and still can't subdue the place to their content.

Dey hate us for our freedumbs!

Ghost who Walks , 54 minutes ago link

I'm more positive that Iraq can resolve its issues without starting a Global War.

The information shared by the Iraqi Prime Minister goes part way to awakening the population as to what is happening and why.

Once more information starts to leak out (and it will from those individuals who want to avoid extinction) the broad mass of the global population can take action to protect themselves from the psychopaths.

new game , 1 hour ago link

This is what empires in decline do. Hubris...

meanwhile China rises with Strategic economic investment.

And the econ hitmen aren't done yet...

moar war...

Arising , 1 hour ago link

China moving in to sign a $10.1 billion deal with the Iraqi government to begin the reconstruction of its ruined oil and gas industry in exchange for oil is of vital importance.

Come on Tom, you should know better than that: the U.S will destroy any agreements between China and the people of Iraq.

The oil will continue to be stolen and sent to Occupied Palestine to administer and the people of Iraq will be in constant revolt, protest mode and subjugation- but they will never know they are being manipulated by the thieving zionists in D.C and Tel aviv.

Ms No , 1 hour ago link

Agreed. It will take nothing short of a miracle to stop this. Time isnt on their side though so they better get on it. They will do something big to get it going.

RoyalDraco , 14 minutes ago link

This isn't "humanity." Few people are psychopathic killers. It is being run by a small cliche of Satanists who are well on their way to enslaving humanity in a dystopia even George Orwell could not imagine. They control most of the levers of power and influence and have done so for centuries.

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

- Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's testimony before the Nuremberg tribunal on crimes against humanity

[Jan 11, 2020] Atomization of workforce as a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
"... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
"... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
"... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
"... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

I particularly liked this point:

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

[Jan 02, 2020] The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It s Usefulness Happiness as an achievable goal is an illusion, but that doesn t mean happiness itself is not attainable by Darius Foroux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ..."
"... Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer. ..."
Aug 22, 2019 | getpocket.com

For the longest time, I believed that there's only one purpose of life: And that is to be happy. Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It's to achieve happiness in some way. And I'm not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

That's why we collectively buy shit we don't need, go to bed with people we don't love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don't like.

Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don't care what the exact reason is. I'm not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

We are who are.

Let's just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don't live fulfilling lives. I don't necessarily care about the why .

I care more about how we can change.

Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

But at the end of the day, you're lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: "What's next in this endless pursuit of happiness?"

Well, I can tell you what's next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

It's all a façade. A hoax. A story that's been made up.

Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that's kind of what the quote says as well.

But here's the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

Happiness can't be a goal in itself. Therefore, it's not something that's achievable. I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness. When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I'll give it a try here. Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You're not creating anything. You're just consuming or doing something. And that's great.

Don't get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it's not what gives meaning to life.

What really makes me happy is when I'm useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

For the longest time I foud it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots connected.

Emerson says:

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

And I didn't get that before I became more conscious of what I'm doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it's actually really simple.

It comes down to this: What are you DOING that's making a difference?

Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don't have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than you were born.

If you don't know how, here are some ideas.

That's just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

You see? It's not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there's zero evidence that I ever existed.

Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

It's a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

"Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad."

You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat . I've been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show , he's doing something.

He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says "Do More."

Most people would say, "why would you work more?" And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

A different mindset.

Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

Don't take it too seriously. Don't overthink it. Just DO something that's useful. Anything.

Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.

More from Darius Foroux

This article was originally published on October 3, 2016, by Darius Foroux, and is republished here with permission. Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

Join his newsletter.


[Jan 01, 2020] Radical "essentialist identity" left is just tools of financial oligarchy and/or stooges of intelligence agencies and always has been

Jan 01, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.31.19 at 2:25 pm

Tim 12.31.19 at 3:46 am @3

"If this succeeds, we'll be well on the path to dictatorship." This seems predicated on the idea that 'whites' will only be able to hold onto power by Dictatorship. Population trends suggest whites will still be the largest group [just under half] in 2055. A considerable group given their, to borrow the phrase, 'privilege'. Add conservative Asian and even Catholic Latino voters, is it that difficult to envisage a scenario where Republicans sometimes achieve power without Dictatorship? They are already benefiting from the radical left helping drive traditional working class white voters to the right [helped by Republican/Fox etc hyperbole].

Radical left is either idiots of stooges of intelligence agencies and always has been.

IMHO the idea that " whites" are or will be the force behind the move to the dictatorship is completely naïve. Dictatorship is needed for financial oligarchy and it is the most plausible path of development due to another factor -- the collapse of neoliberal ideology and complete discrediting of neoliberal elite. At least in the USA. Russiagate should be viewed as an attempt to stage a color revolution and remove the President by the USA intelligence agencies (in close cooperation with the "Five eyes") .

I would view Russiagate is a kind of Beer Hall Putsch with intelligence agencies instead of national-socialist party. A couple conspirators might be jailed after Durham investigation is finished (Hilter was jailed after the putsch), but the danger that CIA will seize the political power remains. After all KGB was in this role in the USSR for along time. Is the USA that different? I don't think so. There is no countervailing force: the number of people with security clearance in the USA exceed five million. This five million and not "whites" like some completely naïve people propose is the critical mass for the dictatorship.
https://news.yahoo.com/durham-surprises-even-allies-statement-202907008.html

The potential explosiveness of Durham's mission was further underscored by the disclosure that he was examining the role of John O. Brennan, the former CIA director, in how the intelligence community assessed Russia's 2016 election interference.

BTW "whites" are not a homogeneous group. There is especially abhorrent and dangerous neoliberal strata of "whites" including members of financial oligarchy, the "professional class" and "academia" (economics department are completely infected.) as well as MIC prostitutes in MSM.

[Dec 28, 2019] Identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") to counter the defection of trade union members from the party

Highly recommended!
divide and conquer 1. To gain or maintain power by generating tension among others, especially those less powerful, so that they cannot unite in opposition.
Dec 28, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 12.27.19 at 10:21 pm

John,

I've been thinking about the various versions of and critiques of identity politics that are around at the moment. In its most general form, identity politics involves (i) a claim that a particular group is not being treated fairly and (ii) a claim that members of that group should place political priority on the demand for fairer treatment. But "fairer" can mean lots of different things. I'm trying to think about this using contrasts between the set of terms in the post title. A lot of this is unoriginal, but I'm hoping I can say something new.

You missed one important line of critique -- identity politics as a dirty political strategy of soft neoliberals.

See discussion of this issue by Professor Ganesh Sitaraman in his recent article (based on his excellent book The Great Democracy ) https://newrepublic.com/article/155970/collapse-neoliberalism

To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future.

When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future.

Demagogues [more correctly neoliberals -- likbez] rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy.

Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity.

Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support. The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

Indeed, the central anchoring assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment have been proven wrong. Foreign policymakers largely assumed that all good things would go together -- democracy, markets, and human rights -- and so they thought opening China to trade would inexorably lead to it becoming a liberal democracy. They were wrong. They thought Russia would become liberal through swift democratization and privatization. They were wrong.

They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. And to be clear, Donald Trump had nothing to do with them. All of these failures were evident prior to the 2016 election.

If we assume that identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ("soft neoliberals") many things became much more clear.

Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represent a mechanism to compensate for the loss of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump.

Initially Clinton calculation was that trade union voters has nowhere to go anyways, and it was correct for first decade or so of his betrayal. But gradually trade union members and lower middle class started to leave Dems in droves (Demexit, compare with Brexit) and that where identity politics was invented to compensate for this loss.

So in addition to issues that you mention we also need to view the role of identity politics as the political strategy of the "soft neoliberals " directed at discrediting and the suppression of nationalism.

The resurgence of nationalism is the inevitable byproduct of the dominance of neoliberalism, resurgence which I think is capable to bury neoliberalism as it lost popular support (which now is limited to financial oligarchy and high income professional groups, such as we can find in corporate and military brass, (shrinking) IT sector, upper strata of academy, upper strata of medical professionals, etc)

That means that the structure of the current system isn't just flawed which imply that most problems are relatively minor and can be fixed by making some tweaks. It is unfixable, because the "Identity wars" reflect a deep moral contradictions within neoliberal ideology. And they can't be solved within this framework.

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump administration sanction companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

Highly recommended!
Dec 21, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com

Watcher x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 6:27 am

The new US defense bill, agreed on by both parties, includes sanctions on executives of companies involved in the completion of Nordstream 2. This is companies involved in laying the remaining pipe, and also companies involved in the infrastructure around the arrival point.

This could include arrest of the executives of those companies, who might travel to the United States. One of the companies is Royal Dutch Shell, who have 80,000 employees in the United States.

Hightrekker x Ignored says: 12/13/2019 at 12:28 pm
So much for the "Free Market".
Hickory x Ignored says: 12/12/2019 at 11:28 pm
Some people believe 'the market' for crude oil is a fair and effective arbiter of the industry supply and demand. But if we step back an inch or two, we all can see it has been a severely broken mechanism during this up phase in oil. For example, there has been long lags between market signals of shortage or surplus.

Disruptive policies and mechanisms such as tariffs, embargo's, and sanctions, trade bloc quotas, military coups and popular revolutions, socialist agendas, industry lobbying, multinational corporate McCarthyism, and massively obese debt financing, are all examples of forces that have trumped an efficient and transparent oil market.

And yet, the problems with the oil market during this time of upslope will look placid in retrospect, as we enter the time beyond peak.
I see no reason why it won't turn into a mad chaotic scramble.
We had a small hint of what this can look like in the last mid-century. The USA responded to military expansionism of Japan by enacting an oil embargo against them. The response was Pearl Harbor. This is just one example of many.
How long before Iran lashes out in response to their restricted access to the market?
People generally don't respond very calmly to involuntary restriction on food, or energy, or access to the markets for these things.

[Dec 02, 2019] A bunch of neocons in key positions in Trump administration really represents a huge threat to world peace

Notable quotes:
"... No. My point was it's very misleading. Misleading to set the parameters of discussion on U.S. posture toward Russia in such a way as to assume that Putin's actions against a purported Russian "democracy" have anything at all to do with USian antagonism of Russia. I'm sure you'll note current U.S. military cooperation with that boisterous hotbed of democratic activity, Saudi Arabia, in Yemen. Our allies in the house of Saud require help in defending their democratic way of life against the totalitarianism of Yemeni tribes, you see. The U.S. opposes anti-democratic forces whenever and where ever it can, especially in the Middle East. I guess that explains USian antipathy to Russia. ..."
Oct 28, 2016 | crookedtimber.org
Howard Frank in this blog provides a good example of Vichy left thinking...

Howard Frant 10.26.16 at 6:19 am 73

Stephen @58

Howard Frant 10.26.16 at 6:19 am ( )

Stephen @58

Yes, it was late and I was tired, or I wouldn't have said something so foolish. Still, the point is that after centuries of constant war, Europe went 70 years without territorial conquest. That strikes me as a significant achievement, and one whose breach should not be taken lightly.

phenomenal cat @64

So democratic structures have to be robust and transparent before we care about them? I'd give a pretty high value to an independent press and contested elections. Those have been slowly crushed in Russia. The results for transparency have not been great. Personally, I don't believe that Ukraine is governed by fascists, or that Ukraine shot down that jetliner, but I'm sure a lot of Russians do.

Russian leaders have always complained about "encirclement," but we don't have to believe them. Do you really believe Russia's afraid of an attack from Estonia? Clearly what Putin wants is to restore as much of the old Soviet empire as possible. Do you think the independence of the Baltic states would be more secure or less secure if they weren't members of NATO? (Hint: compare to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova.)

phenomenal cat 10.26.16 at 6:55 pm 84

"So democratic structures have to be robust and transparent before we care about them?"

No. My point was it's very misleading. Misleading to set the parameters of discussion on U.S. posture toward Russia in such a way as to assume that Putin's actions against a purported Russian "democracy" have anything at all to do with USian antagonism of Russia. I'm sure you'll note current U.S. military cooperation with that boisterous hotbed of democratic activity, Saudi Arabia, in Yemen. Our allies in the house of Saud require help in defending their democratic way of life against the totalitarianism of Yemeni tribes, you see. The U.S. opposes anti-democratic forces whenever and where ever it can, especially in the Middle East. I guess that explains USian antipathy to Russia.

"I'd give a pretty high value to an independent press and contested elections."

Yeah, it'd be interesting to see what the U.S. looked like with those dynamics in place.

"Those have been slowly crushed in Russia. The results for transparency have not been great."

If you say so. For now I'll leave any decisions or actions taken on these outcomes to Russian citizens. I would, however, kindly tell Victoria Nuland and her ilk to fuck off with their senile Cold War fantasies, morally bankrupt, third-rate Great Game machinations, and total spectrum dominance sociopathy.

"Personally, I don't believe that Ukraine is governed by fascists, or that Ukraine shot down that jetliner, but I'm sure a lot of Russians do."

There's definitely some of 'em hanging about, but yeah it mostly seems to be a motley assortment of oligarchs, gangsters, and grifters tied into international neoliberal capital and money flows. No doubt Russian believe a lot things. I find Americans tend to believe a lot things as well.

[Dec 02, 2019] The Vichy left – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their own prosperity

Notable quotes:
"... Pretty consistent, I agree. IMHO Sanjait might belong to the category that some people call the "Vichy left" – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their 'own' prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protect it, everybody else be damned. ..."
"... Very neoliberal approach if you ask me. Ann Rand would probably be proud for this representative of "creative class". ..."
"... Essentially the behavior that we've had for the last 8 years with the king of "bait and switch". ..."
Oct 24, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Sanjait -> Sandwichman ... October 24, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Some paranoid claptrap to go along with your usual anti intellectualism.

Interestingly, with your completely unrelated non sequitur, you've actually illustrated something that does relate to Krugmans post. Namely that there are wingnuts among us. They've taken over the Republican Party, but the left has some too. Fortunately though the Democratic Party hasn't been taken over by them yet, and is still mostly run by grown ups.

Sandwichman -> Sanjait... , October 24, 2016 at 10:42 AM

I am confident that what you say here is consistent with your methods and motivations.
likbez -> Sandwichman ...
"I am confident that what you say here is consistent with your methods and motivations."

Pretty consistent, I agree. IMHO Sanjait might belong to the category that some people call the "Vichy left" – essentially people who are ready to sacrifice all principles to ensure their 'own' prosperity and support the candidate who intends to protect it, everybody else be damned.

Very neoliberal approach if you ask me. Ann Rand would probably be proud for this representative of "creative class".

Essentially the behavior that we've had for the last 8 years with the king of "bait and switch".

[Dec 02, 2019] The Fake Myth of American Meritocracy by Barbara Boland

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for. ..."
"... When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. ..."
"... The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy: ..."
Mar 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The college bribery scandal reveals an ugly truth: our society is unjust, dominated by a small elite. Actress Lori Loughlin, who has been implicated in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock The most destructive and pervasive myth in America today is that we live in a meritocracy. Our elites, so the myth goes, earned their places at Yale and Harvard, on Wall Street and in Washington -- not because of the accident of their birth, but because they are better, stronger, and smarter than the rest of us. Therefore, they think, they've "earned" their places in the halls of power and "deserve" to lead.

The fervor with which so many believe this enables elites to lord over those worse off than they are. On we slumber, believing that we live in a country that values justice, instead of working towards a more equitable and authentically meritocratic society.

Take the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. On Tuesday, the FBI and federal prosecutors announced that 50 people had been charged in, as Sports Illustrated put it , "a nationwide college admissions scheme that used bribes to help potential students cheat on college entrance exams or to pose as potential athletic recruits to get admitted to high-profile universities." Thirty-three parents, nine collegiate coaches, two SAT/ACT exam administrators, an exam proctor, and a college athletics administrator were among those charged. The man who allegedly ran the scheme, William Rick Singer, pled guilty to four charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and obstruction of justice.

As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for.

Cheating. Bribery. Lying. The wealthy and privileged buying what was reserved for the deserving. It's all there on vivid display. Modern American society has become increasingly and banally corrupt , both in the ways in which "justice" is meted out and in who is allowed to access elite education and the power that comes with it.

The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes. We pretend to be better than Russia and other oligarchies, but we too are dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

The average American citizen has very little power, as a 2014 study by Princeton University found. The research reviewed 1,779 public policy questions asked between 1981 and 2002 and the responses by different income levels and interest groups; then calculated the likelihood that certain policies would be adopted.

What they found came as no surprise: How to Fix College Admissions

A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18 percent of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time.

That's in stark contrast with policies favored by average Americans:

When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy:

our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. [T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

The belief in the myth of merit hurts the smart kid with great grades who aced his SATs but was still rejected from Yale and Harvard. It hurts talented athletes who have worked their tails off for so many years. It hurts parents who have committed hundreds of school nights and weekends to their children. It hurts HR departments that believe degrees from Ivy League schools mean that graduates are qualified. It hurts all of us who buy into the great myth that America is a democratic meritocracy and that we can achieve whatever we want if only we're willing to expend blood, toil, sweat, and tears.

At least in an outright class system like the British Houses of Lords and Commons, there is not this farcical playacting of equal opportunity. The elites, with their privilege and titles, know the reason they are there and feel some sense of obligation to those less well off than they are. At the very least, they do not engage in the ritual pretense of "deserving" what they "earned" -- quite unlike those who descend on Washington, D.C. believing that they really are better than their compatriots in flyover country.

All societies engage in myth-making about themselves. But the myth of meritocracy may be our most pervasive and destructive belief -- and it mirrors the myth that anything like "justice" is served up in our courts.

Remember the Dupont heir who received no prison time after being convicted for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge ruled that six-foot-four Robert Richards "wouldn't fare well in prison"? Or the more recent case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who had connections to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and faced a 53-page federal indictment for sex-trafficking over two dozens underage girls ? He received instead a sweetheart deal that concealed the extent of his crimes. Rather than the federal life imprisonment term he was facing, Epstein is currently on house arrest after receiving only 13 months in county jail. The lead prosecutor in that case had previously been reprimanded by a federal judge in another underage sex crimes case for concealing victim information, the Miami Herald reports .

While the rich are able to escape consequences for even the most horrific of crimes , the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Approximately 7 million people were under some form of correctional control by the end of 2011, including 2.2 million who were detained in federal, state, and local prisons and jails. One in every 10 black men in his thirties is in prison or jail, and one out of three black men born in 2001 can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.

While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed . There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them.

Despite all this evidence, most Americans embrace a version of the Calvinist beliefs promulgated by their forebears, believing that the elect deserve their status. We remain confident that when our children apply to college or are questioned by police , they will receive just and fair outcomes. If our neighbors' and friends' kids do not, then we assure ourselves that it is they who are at fault, not the system.

The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action.

Barbara Boland is the former weekend editor of the Washington Examiner . Her work has been featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report, HotAir.com, RealClearDefense, RealClearPolitics, and elsewhere. She's the author of Patton Uncovered , a book about General Patton in World War II. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC .

MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

The GOP's Laughable Call for a Balanced Budget Amendment Congress's "One Spending Bill to Rule Them All" is a Debt-Fueled Disgrace Hide 11 comments 11 Responses to The Myth of American Meritocracy

Collin March 15, 2019 at 1:46 pm

If conservatives are going to dance the graves of Aunt Beckie, the backlash is going to be big. Sure this is a 'scandal' but it seems these parents weren't rich enough to bribe their kids in college the right way, like Trumps and Kushner, and probably slightly duped into going along with this scheme. (It appears the government got the ring leader to call all defendants to get evidence they participated in a crime.)

Just wait until the mug shot of Aunt Beckie is on the internet and Olivia Jade does 60 minutes doing teary eyed interview of how much she loves her mother. And how many parents are stress that their kids will struggle in the global competitive economy.

Fran Macadam , , March 15, 2019 at 1:52 pm
I fully recall the days of getting government computing contracts. Once a certain threshold was reached, you discovered you had to hire a "lobbyist," and give him a significant amount of money to dole out to various gatekeepers in the bureaucracy for your contracts to be approved. That was the end of our government contracts, and the end was hastened by the reaction to trying to complain about it.
prodigalson , , March 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm
Great article, well done. More of this please TAC.
Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:17 pm
Thank you, Barbara Boland, for "The Myth of American Meritocracy" and for linking ("Related Articles" box) to the 2012 "The Myth of American Meritocracy" by Ron Unz, then publisher of the American Conservative.

The 26,000-word Ron Unz research masterpiece was the opening salvo in the nation-wide discussion that ultimately led to the federal court case nearing resolution in Boston.

"The Myth of American Meritocracy -- How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?" by Ron Unz, The American Conservative, Nov 28, 2012:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:18 pm
Barbara Boland "While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed."

Ms. Boland: According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans [13 per cent of the population] accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008.

JeffK , , March 15, 2019 at 2:46 pm
I agree with prodigalson. This is the type of article that TAC should uphold as a 'gold standard'. One reason I read, and comment on, TAC is that it offers thought provoking, and sometimes contrarian, articles (although the constant harping on transgender BS gets annoying).

America has always been somewhat corrupt. But, to borrow a phrase, wealth corrupts, and uber wealth corrupts absolutely.

As Warren Buffet says "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning".

I have said it before, and I will say it again. During the next severe financial recession, if the rich are protected and coddled and everybody else is left to fend for themselves the ARs will come out of the closets when the sheriff comes to take the house or the pickup truck. My sense is that average Americans have had enough.

Imagine if the digital transfer of money was abolished. Imagine if everybody had to have their money in a local bank instead of on an account in one of the major banks. Imagine if Americans saw, day after day, armored vehicles showing up at local banks to offload sacks of currency that went to only a few individual accounts.

Instead, the elites get their financial statements showing an ever increasing pile of cash at their disposal. They see it, but nobody else does. But, if everybody physically saw the river of wealth flowing to the elites, I believe things would change. Fast. Right now this transfer of wealth is all digital, hidden from the view of 99.99% of Americans. And the elites, the banking industry, and the wealth management cabal prefer it that way.

Mike N in MA , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
You said it sister. Great article.

I am amazed by the media coverage of this scandal. Was anyone actually under the impression that college admissions were on the level before these Hollywood bozos were caught red handed?

BDavi52 , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
What total silliness!

No, the meritocracy is not dead; it's not even dying. It is, in fact, alive and well and the absolute best alternative to any other method used to separate wheat from chaff, cream from milk, diamonds from rust.

What else is there that is even half as good?

Are merit-based systems perfect? Heck, no. They've never been perfect; they will never be perfect. They are administered by people and people are flawed. Not just flawed in the way Singer, and Huffman are flawed (and those individuals are not simply flawed, they're corrupt) but flawed in the everyday kind of sense. Yes, we all have tendencies, biases, preferences that will -- inevitably -- leak into our selection process, no matter how objectively strict the process may be structured, no matter how rigorously fair we try to be.

So the fact that -- as with most things -- we can find a trace of corruption here that fact is meaningless. We can find evidence of human corruption, venality, greed, sloth, lust, envy (all of the 7 Deadly Sins) pretty much everywhere. But if we look at the 20M students enrolled in college, the vast majority are successfully & fairly admitted through merit-based filtering systems (which are more or less rigorous) which have been in place forever.

Ms. Boland tells us (with a straight face, no less) that "The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes." But what does that even mean?

Certainly money can buy access and certainly money can buy outcomes. But that's what money does. She might as well assert that money can buy goods and services, and lions and tigers and bears -- oh my! Of course it can. Equally networks can 'buy' access and outcomes (if my best friend is working as the manager for Adele, I'm betting he could probably arrange my meeting Adele). Equally success & fame can buy access and outcomes. I'm betting Adele can probably arrange a meeting with Gwen Stefani .and both can arrange a meeting with Tom Brady. So what? Does the fact that money can be used to purchase goods & services mean money or the use of money is corrupt or morally degenerate? No, of course not. In truth, we all leverage what we have (whatever that may be) to get what we want. That's how life works. But the fact that we all do that does not mean we are all corrupt.

But yes, corruption does exist and can usually be found, in trace amounts -- as I said -- pretty much everywhere.

So is it rampant? Can I buy my way into the NBA or the NFL? If I go to Clark Hunt and give him $20M and tell him I want to play QB for the Chiefs, will he let me? Can I buy my way into the CEO's position at General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sprint, Verizon, General Motors, Toyota or any of the Fortune 500? Heck, can I even buy my way into the Governor's mansion? To become the Mayor of Chicago? Or the Police Commissioner? No -- these things are not possible. But what I can buy is my presence on the media stage.

What happens after cannot be purchased.

So no, by any measure, corruption is not rampant. And though many things are, in fact, for sale -- not everything is. And no matter how much money I give anyone, I'm never gonna QB the Chiefs or play for the Lakers.

She tells us, "we are dominated by a rich and powerful elite." No, we're not. Most of us live our lives making the choices we want to make, given the means that each of us has, without any interference from any so-called "elite". The "elite" didn't tell me where to go to school, or where to get a job, or how to do my job, or when to have kids, or what loaf of bread to buy, or what brand of beer tastes best, or where to go on the family vacation. No one did. The elite obviously did not tell us who to vote for in the last presidential election.

Of course one of the problems with the "it's the fault of the elite" is the weight given institutions by people like Ms.Boland. "Oh, lordy, the Elite used their dominating power to get a brainless twit of a daughter into USC". Now if my kid were cheated out of a position at USC because the Twit got in, I'd be upset but beyond that who really cares if a Twit gets an undergraduate degree from USC or Yale .or Harvard .or wherever. Some of the brightest people I've known earned their degrees at Easter PolyTechnic U (some don't even have college degrees -- oh, the horror!); some of the stupidest have Ivy League credentials. So what?

Only if you care about the exclusivity of such a relatively meaningless thing as a degree from USC, does gaming the exclusivity matter.

She ends with the exhortation: "The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action."

To do what, exactly?

Toss the baby and the bathwater? Substitute lottery selection for merit? Flip a coin? What?
Again the very best method is and always will be merit-based. That is the incentive which drives all of us: the hope that if we work hard enough and do well enough, that we will succeed. Anything else is just a lie.

Yes, we can root out this piece of corruption. Yes, we can build better and more rigorously fair systems. But in the end, merit is the only game in town. Far better to roll-up our sleeves and simply buckle down, Winsocki. There isn't anything better.

Sid Finster , , March 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
Gee, and people wonder why the rubes think that the system is gamed, why the dogs no longer want to eat the dog food.
Jim Jatras , , March 15, 2019 at 3:22 pm
"While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed. There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them."

So to what degree are these "disparities" "disproportionate" in light of actual criminal behavior? To be "proportionate," would we expect criminal behavior to correlate exactly to racial, ethnic, sex, and age demographics of society as a whole?

Put another way, if you are a victim of a violent crime in America, what are the odds your assailant is, say, an elderly, Asian female? Approximately zero.

Conversely, what are the odds your assailant is a young, black male? Rather high, and if you yourself are a young, black male, approaching 100 percent.

Pam , , March 15, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Mostly thumbs up to this article. But why you gotta pick on Calvinism at the end? Anyway, your understanding of Calvinism is entirely upside down. Calvinists believe they are elect by divine grace, and salvation is something given by God through Jesus, which means you can't earn it and you most assuredly don't deserve it. Calvinism also teaches that all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect, regardless of class or status. There's no "version" of Calvinism that teaches what you claim.

[Dec 01, 2019] Academic Conformism is the road to 1984. - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Highly recommended!
Dec 01, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Academic Conformism is the road to "1984."

Symptoms-of-groupthink-janis-72-l

The world is filled with conformism and groupthink. Most people do not wish to think for themselves. Thinking for oneself is dangerous, requires effort and often leads to rejection by the herd of one's peers.

The profession of arms, the intelligence business, the civil service bureaucracy, the wondrous world of groups like the League of Women Voters, Rotary Club as well as the empire of the thinktanks are all rotten with this sickness, an illness which leads inevitably to stereotyped and unrealistic thinking, thinking that does not reflect reality.

The worst locus of this mentally crippling phenomenon is the world of the academics. I have served on a number of boards that awarded Ph.D and post doctoral grants. I was on the Fulbright Fellowship federal board. I was on the HF Guggenheim program and executive boards for a long time. Those are two examples of my exposure to the individual and collective academic minds.

As a class of people I find them unimpressive. The credentialing exercise in acquiring a doctorate is basically a nepotistic process of sucking up to elders and a crutch for ego support as well as an entrance ticket for various hierarchies, among them the world of the academy. The process of degree acquisition itself requires sponsorship by esteemed academics who recommend candidates who do not stray very far from the corpus of known work in whichever narrow field is involved. The endorsements from RESPECTED academics are often decisive in the award of grants.

This process is continued throughout a career in academic research. PEER REVIEW is the sine qua non for acceptance of a "paper," invitation to career making conferences, or to the Holy of Holies, TENURE.

This life experience forms and creates CONFORMISTS, people who instinctively boot-lick their fellows in a search for the "Good Doggy" moments that make up their lives. These people are for sale. Their price may not be money, but they are still for sale. They want to be accepted as members of their group. Dissent leads to expulsion or effective rejection from the group.

This mentality renders doubtful any assertion that a large group of academics supports any stated conclusion. As a species academics will say or do anything to be included in their caste.

This makes them inherently dangerous. They will support any party or parties, of any political inclination if that group has the money, and the potential or actual power to maintain the academics as a tribe. pl


doug , 01 December 2019 at 01:01 PM

Sir,

That is the nature of tribes and humans are very tribal. At least most of them. Fortunately, there are outliers. I was recently reading "Political Tribes" which was written by a couple who are both law professors that examines this.

Take global warming (aka the rebranded climate change). Good luck getting grants to do any skeptical research. This highly complex subject which posits human impact is a perfect example of tribal bias.

My success in the private sector comes from consistent questioning what I wanted to be true to prevent suboptimal design decisions.

I also instinctively dislike groups that have some idealized view of "What is to be done?"

As Groucho said: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member"

J , 01 December 2019 at 01:22 PM
Reminds one of the Borg, doesn't it?

The 'isms' had it, be it Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Elitism all demand conformity and adherence to group think. If one does not co-tow to whichever 'ism' is at play, those outside their group think are persecuted, ostracized, jailed, and executed all because they defy their conformity demands, and defy allegiance to them.

One world, one religion, one government, one Borg. all lead down the same road to -- Orwell's 1984.

Factotum , 01 December 2019 at 03:18 PM
David Halberstam: The Best and the Brightest. (Reminder how the heck we got into Vietnam, when the best and the brightest were serving as presidential advisors.)

Also good Halberstam re-read: The Powers that Be - when the conservative media controlled the levers of power; not the uber-liberal one we experience today.

[Dec 01, 2019] Neoliberalism Tells Us We're Selfish Souls How Can We Promote Other Identities by Christine Berry,

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power. ..."
"... The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open. ..."
"... More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement. ..."
"... Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried." ..."
"... They tried running an economy on debt in the 1920s. The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn't look at private debt, neoclassical economics. ..."
"... Keynes looked at the problems of the debt based economy and came up with redistribution through taxation to keep the system running in a sustainable way and he dealt with the inherent inequality capitalism produced. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, which has influenced so much of the conventional thinking about money, is adamant that the public sector must not create ('print') money, and so public expenditure must be limited to what the market can 'afford.' Money, in this view, is a limited resource that the market ensures will be used efficiently. Is public money, then, a pipe dream? No, for the financial crisis and the response to it undermined this neoliberal dogma. ..."
"... The financial sector mismanaged its role as a source of money so badly that the state had to step in and provide unlimited monetary backing to rescue it. The creation of money out of thin air by public authorities revealed the inherently political nature of money. But why, then, was the power to create money ceded to the private sector in the first place -- and with so little public accountability? ..."
Nov 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: Not sure the soul is an identity, but authors don't write the headlines. Read on!

By Christine Berry, a freelance researcher and writer and was previously Director of Policy and Government for the New Economics Foundation. She has also worked at ShareAction and in the House of Commons. Originally published at Open Democracy .

"Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul." Understanding why Thatcher said this is central to understanding the neoliberal project, and how we might move beyond it. Carys Hughes and Jim Cranshaw's opening article poses a crucial challenge to the left in this respect. It is too easy to tell ourselves a story about the long reign of neoliberalism that is peopled solely with all-powerful elites imposing their will on the oppressed masses. It is much harder to confront seriously the ways in which neoliberalism has manufactured popular consent for its policies.

The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people. We need a coherent strategy for replacing this narrative with one that actively reconstructs our collective self-image – turning us into empowered citizens participating in communities of mutual care, rather than selfish property-owning individuals competing in markets.

As the Gramscian theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau observed, our political identities are not a 'given' – something that emerges directly from the objective facts of our situation. We all occupy a series of overlapping identities in our day-to-day lives – as workers or bosses, renters or home-owners, debtors or creditors. Which of these define our politics depends on political struggles for meaning and power.

Part of the job of politics – whether within political parties or social movements – is to show how our individual problems are rooted in systemic issues that can be confronted collectively if we organise around these identities. Thus, debt becomes not a source of shame but an injustice that debtors can organise against. Struggles with childcare are not a source of individual parental guilt but a shared societal problem that we have a shared responsibility to tackle. Podemos were deeply influenced by this thinking when they sought to redefine Spanish politics as 'La Casta' ('the elite') versus the people, cutting across many of the traditional boundaries between right and left.

The architects of neoliberalism understood this process of identity creation. By treating people as selfish, rational utility maximisers, they actively encouraged them to become selfish, rational utility maximisers. As the opening article points out, this is not a side effect of neoliberal policy, but a central part of its intention. As Michael Sandel pointed out in his 2012 book 'What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets' , it squeezes out competing values that previously governed non-market spheres of life, such as ethics of public service in the public sector, or mutual care within local communities. But these values remain latent: neoliberalism does not have the power to erase them completely. This is where the hope for the left lies, the crack of light through the doorway that needs to be prised open.

The Limits of Neoliberal Consciousness

In thinking about how we do this, it's instructive to look at the ways in which neoliberal attempts to reshape our identities have succeeded – and the ways they have failed. While Right to Buy might have been successful in identifying people as home-owners and stigmatising social housing, this has not bled through into wider support for private ownership. Although public ownership did become taboo among the political classes for a generation – far outside the political 'common sense' – polls consistently showed that this was not matched by a fall in public support for the idea. On some level – perhaps because of the poor performance of privatised entities – people continued to identify as citizens with a right to public services, rather than as consumers of privatised services. The continued overwhelming attachment to a public NHS is the epitome of this tendency. This is partly what made it possible for Corbyn's Labour to rehabilitate the concept of public ownership, as the 2017 Labour manifesto's proposals for public ownership of railways and water – dismissed as ludicrous by the political establishment – proved overwhelmingly popular.

More generally, there is some evidence that neoliberalism didn't really succeed in making us see ourselves as selfish rational maximisers – just in making us believe that everybody else was . For example, a 2016 survey found that UK citizens are on average more oriented towards compassionate values than selfish values, but that they perceive others to be significantly more selfish (both than themselves and the actual UK average). Strikingly, those with a high 'self-society gap' were found to be less likely to vote and engage in civic activity, and highly likely to experience feelings of cultural estrangement.

This finding points towards both the great conjuring trick of neoliberal subjectivity and its Achilles heel: it has successfully popularised an idea of what human beings are like that most of us don't actually identify with ourselves. This research suggests that our political crisis is caused not only by people's material conditions of disempowerment, but by four decades of being told that we can't trust our fellow citizens. But it also suggests that deep down, we know this pessimistic account of human nature just isn't who we really are – or who we aspire to be.

An example of how this plays out can be seen in academic studies showing that, in game scenarios presenting the opportunity to free-ride on the efforts of others, only economics students behaved as economic models predicted: all other groups were much more likely to pool their resources. Having been trained to believe that others are likely to be selfish, economists believe that their best course of action is to be selfish as well. The rest of us still have the instinct to cooperate. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising: after all, as George Monbiot argues in 'Out of the Wreckage' , cooperation is our species' main survival strategy.

What's Our 'Right to Buy?'

The challenge for the left is to find policies and stories that tap into this latent sense of what makes us human – what Gramsci called 'good sense' – and use it to overturn the neoliberal 'common sense'. In doing so, we must be aware that we are competing not only with a neoliberal identity but also with a new far-right that seeks to promote a white British ethno-nationalist group identity, conflating 'elites' with outsiders. How we compete with this is the million dollar question, and it's one we have not yet answered.

Thatcher's use of flagship policies like the Right to Buy was a masterclass in this respect. Deceptively simple, tangible and easy to grasp, the Right to Buy also communicated a much deeper story about the kind of nation we wanted to be – one of private, property-owning individuals – cementing home-ownership as a cultural symbol of aspiration (the right to paint your own front door) whilst giving millions an immediate financial stake in her new order. So what might be the equivalent flagship policies for the left today?

Perhaps one of the strongest efforts to date has been the proposal for ' Inclusive Ownership Funds ', first developed by Mathew Lawrence in a report for the New Economics Foundation, and announced as Labour policy by John McDonnell in 2018. This would require companies to transfer shares into a fund giving their workers a collective stake that rises over time and pays out employee dividends. Like the Right to Buy, as well as shifting the material distribution of wealth and power, this aims to build our identity as part of a community of workers taking more collective control over our working lives.

But this idea only takes us so far. While it may tap into people's desire for more security and empowerment at work, more of a stake in what they do, it offers a fairly abstract benefit that only cashes out over time, as workers acquire enough of a stake to have a meaningful say over company strategy. It may not mean much to those at the sharpest end of our oppressive and precarious labour market, at least not unless we also tackle the more pressing concerns they face – such as the exploitative practices of behemoths like Amazon or the stress caused by zero-hours contracts. We have not yet hit on an idea that can compete with the transformative change to people's lives offered by the Right to Buy.

So what else is on the table? Perhaps, when it comes to the cutting edge of new left thinking on these issues, the workplace isn't really where the action is – at least not directly. Perhaps we need to be tapping into people's desire to escape the 'rat race' altogether and have more freedom to pursue the things that really make us happy – time with our families, access to nature, the space to look after ourselves, connection with our communities. The four day working week (crucially with no loss of pay) has real potential as a flagship policy in this respect. The Conservatives and the right-wing press may be laughing it down with jokes about Labour being lazy and feckless, but perhaps this is because they are rattled. Ultimately, they can't escape the fact that most people would like to spend less time at work.

Skilfully communicated, this has the potential to be a profoundly anti-neoliberal policy that conveys a new story about what we aspire to, individually and as a society. Where neoliberalism tapped into people's desire for more personal freedom and hooked this to the acquisition of wealth, property and consumer choice, we can refocus on the freedom to live the lives we truly want. Instead of offering freedom through the market, we can offer freedom from the market.

Proponents of Universal Basic Income often argue that it fulfils a similar function of liberating people from work and detaching our ability to provide for ourselves from the marketplace for labour. But in material terms, it's unlikely that a UBI could be set at a level that would genuinely offer people this freedom, at least in the short term. And in narrative terms, UBI is actually a highly malleable policy that is equally susceptible to being co-opted by a libertarian agenda. Even at its best, it is really a policy about redistribution of already existing wealth (albeit on a bigger scale than the welfare state as it stands). To truly overturn neoliberalism, we need to go beyond this and talk about collective ownership and creation of wealth.

Policies that focus on collective control of assets may do a better job of replacing a narrative about individual property ownership with one that highlights the actual concentration of property wealth in the hands of elites – and the need to reclaim these assets for the common good. As well as Inclusive Ownership Funds, another way of doing this is through Citizens' Wealth Funds, which socialise profitable assets (be it natural resources or intangible ones such as data) and use the proceeds to pay dividends to individuals or communities. Universal Basic Services – for instance, policies such as free publicly owned buses – may be another.

Finally, I'd like to make a plea for care work as a critical area that merits further attention to develop convincing flagship policies – be it on universal childcare, elderly care or support for unpaid carers. The instinctive attachment that many of us feel to a public NHS needs to be widened to promote a broader right to care and be cared for, whilst firmly resisting the marketisation of care. Although care is often marginalised in political debate, as a new mum, I'm acutely aware that it is fundamental to millions of people's ability to live the lives they want. In an ageing population, most people now have lived experience of the pressures of caring for someone – whether a parent or a child. By talking about these issues, we move the terrain of political contestation away from the work valued by the market and onto the work we all know really matters; away from the competition for scarce resources and onto our ability to look after each other. And surely, that's exactly where the left wants it to be.

This article forms part of the " Left governmentality" mini series for openDemocracy.

Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm

The problem is that people are selfish–me included–and so what is needed is not better ideas about ourselves but better laws. And for that we will need a higher level of political engagement and a refusal to accept candidates who sell themselves as a "lesser evil." It's the decline of democracy that brought on the rise of Reagan and Thatcher and Neoliberalism and not some change in public consciousness (except insofar as the general public became wealthier and more complacent). In America incumbents are almost universally likely to be re-elected to Congress and so they have no reason to reject Neoliberal ideas.

So here's suggesting that a functioning political process is the key to reform and not some change in the PR.

Angie Neer , November 1, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Carolinian, like you, I try to include myself in statements about "the problem with people." I believe one of the things preventing progress is our tendency to believe it's only those people that are the problem.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , November 1, 2019 at 4:55 pm

Human nature people are selfish. It's like the Christian marriage vow – which I understand is a Medieval invention and not something from 2,000 years ago – for better or worse, meaning, we share (and are not to be selfish) the good and the bad.

"Not neoliberals, but all of us." "Not the right, but the left as well." "Not just Russia, but America," or "Not just America, but Russia too."

Carolinian , November 1, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Perhaps a rational system is one that accepts selfishness but keeps it within limits. Movements like the Chicago school that pretend to reinvent the wheel with new thinking are by this view a scam. As J.K. Galbraith said: "the problem with their ideas is that they have been tried."

The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:06 pm

My small brain got stuck on your reference to a 'Christian marriage vow'. I was just sitting back and conceiving what a Neoliberal marriage vow would sound like. Probably a cross between a no-liabilities contract and an open-marriage agreement.

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 9:05 pm

"people are selfish"?; or "people can sometimes act selfishly"? I think the latter is the more accurate statement. Appeal to the better side, and more of it will be forthcoming.
Neolib propaganda appeals to trivial, bleak individualism..

Carolinian , November 2, 2019 at 9:14 am

I'm not sure historic left attempts to appeal to "the better angels of our nature" have really moved the ball much. It took the Great Depression to give us a New Deal and WW2 to give Britain the NHS and the India its freedom. I'd say events are in the saddle far more than ideas.

Mark Anderlik , November 2, 2019 at 10:58 am

I rather look at it as a "both and" rather than an "either or." If the political groundwork is not done beforehand and during, the opportunity events afford will more likely be squandered.

And borrowing from evolutionary science, this also holds with the "punctuated equilibrium" theory of social/political change. The strain of a changed environment (caused by both events and intentionally created political activity) for a long time creates no visible change to the system, and so appears to fail. But then some combination of events and conscious political work suddenly "punctuates the equilibrium" with the resulting significant if not radical changes.

Chile today can be seen as a great example of this: "Its not 30 Pesos, its 30 Years."

J4Zonian , November 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Carolinian, you provide a good illustration of the power of the dominant paradigm to make people believe exactly what the article said–something I've observed more than enough to confirm is true. People act in a wide variety of ways; but many people deny that altruism and compassion are equally "human nature". Both parts of the belief pointed out here–believing other people are selfish and that we're not–are explained by projection acting in concert with the other parts of this phenomenon. Even though it's flawed because it's only a political and not a psychological explanation, It's a good start toward understanding.

"You and I are so deeply acculturated to the idea of "self" and organization and species that it is hard to believe that man [sic] might view his [sic] relations with the environment in any other way than the way which I have rather unfairly blamed upon the nineteenth-century evolutionists."

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, p 483-4
This is part of a longer quote that's been important to me my whole life. Worth looking up. Bateson called this a mistake in epistemology–also, informally, his definition of evil.
http://anomalogue.com/blog/category/systems-thinking/

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
― Frédéric Bastiat

Doesn't mean it's genetic. In fact, I'm pretty sure it means it's not.

Capital fn 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:11 pm

The desire for justice is the constant.

The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.

The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.

Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.

Anarcissie , November 2, 2019 at 10:09 am

At some points in life, everyone is a free rider. As for the hard workers, many of them are doing destructive things which the less hard-working people will have to suffer under and compensate for. (Neo)liberalism and capitalism are a coherent system of illusions of virtue which rest on domination, exploitation, extraction, and propaganda. Stoking of resentment (as of free riders, the poor, the losers, foreigners, and so on) is one of the ways those who enjoy it keep it going.

Capital fn. 4 , November 1, 2019 at 1:16 pm

The desire for justice is the constant.

The Iron Lady once proclaimed, slightly sinisterly: "Economics is the method. The object is to change the soul." She meant that British people had to rediscover the virtue of traditional values such as hard work and thrift. The "something for nothing" society was over.

But the idea that the Thatcher era re-established the link between virtuous effort and just reward has been effectively destroyed by the spectacle of bankers driving their institutions into bankruptcy while being rewarded with million-pound bonuses and munificent pensions.

The dual-truth approach of the Neoliberal Thought Collective (thanks, Mirowski) has been more adept at manipulating narratives so the masses are still outraged by individuals getting undeserved social benefits rather than elites vacuuming up common resources. Thanks to the Thatcher-Reagan revolution, we have ended up with socialism for the rich, and everyone else at the mercy of 'markets'.

Pretending that there are not problems with free riders is naive and it goes against people's concern with justice. Acknowledging free riders on all levels with institutions that can constantly pursue equity is the solution.

Synoia , November 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

The Iron Lady had a agenda to break the labor movement in the UK.

What she did not understand is Management gets the Union (Behavior) it deserves. If there is strife in the workplace, as there was in abundance in the UK at that time, the problem is the Management, (and the UK class structure) not the workers.

As I found out when I left University.

Thatcher set out to break the solidarity of the Labor movement, and used the neo-liberal tool of selfishness to achieve success, unfortunately,

The UK's poor management practices, (The Working Class can kiss my arse) and complete inability to form teams of "Management and Workers" was, IMHO, is the foundation of today's Brexit nightmare, a foundation based on the British Class Structure.

And exploited, as it ever was, to achieve ends which do not benefit workers in any manner.

The Historian , November 1, 2019 at 1:43 pm

The left needs to acknowledge that aspects of the neoliberal agenda have been overwhelmingly popular: it has successfully tapped into people's instincts about the kind of life they want to lead, and wrapped these instincts up in a compelling narrative about how we should see ourselves and other people.

Sigh, no this is not true. This author is making the mistake that everyone is like the top 5% and that just is not so. Perhaps she should get out of her personal echo chamber and talk to common people.

In my travels I have been to every state and every major city, and I have worked with just about every class of people, except of course the ultra wealthy and ultra powerful – they have people to protect them from the great unwashed like me – and it didn't take me long to notice that the elite are different from the rest of us but I could never explain exactly why. After I retired, I started studying and I've examined everything from Adam Smith, to Hobbes, to Kant, to Durkheim, to Marx, to Ayn Rand, to tons of histories and anthropologies of various peoples, to you name it and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want.

Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. It is what allowed people in Europe to risk their own lives to save Jews. And it is also what allows people to live under the worst dictators without rebelling. Of course we all want more but we have limits on what we will do to get that more – the wealthy and powerful seem to have no limits. For instance, most of us won't screw over our co-workers to make ourselves look better, although some will. Most of us won't turn on our best friends even when it would be to our advantage to do so, although some will. Most of us won't abandon those we care about, even when it means severe financial damage to us, although some will.

For lack of a better description, I call what the 5% have the greed gene – a gene that allows them to give up empathy and compassion and basic morality – what some of us call fairness – in the search for personal gain. I don't think it is necessarily genetic but there is something in their makeup that cause them to have more than the average self interest. And because most humans are more cooperative than they are competitive, most humans just allow these people to go after what they want and don't stand in their way, even though by stopping them, they could make their own lives better.

Most history and economics are theories and stories told by the rich and powerful to justify their behavior. I think it is a big mistake to attribute that behavior to the mass of humanity. Archeology is beginning to look more at how average people lived instead of seeking out only the riches deposited by the elite, and historians are starting to look at the other side of history – average people – to see what life was really like for them, and I think we are seeing that what the rulers wanted was never what their people wanted. It is beginning to appear obvious that 95% of the people just wanted to live in their communities safely, to have about what everyone else around them had, and to enjoy the simple pleasures of shelter, enough food, and warm companionship.

I'm also wondering why the 5% think that all of us want exactly what they want. Do they really think that they are somehow being smarter or more competent got them there while 95% of the population – the rest of us – failed?

At this point, I know my theory is half-baked – I definitely need to do more research, but nothing I have found yet convinces me that there isn't some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm

" ..and I've come to the conclusion that most of us are not neoliberal and do not want what the top 5% want. Most people are not overly competitive and most do not seek self-interest only. That is what allows us to live in cities, to drive on our roadways, to form groups that seek to improve conditions for the least of us. It is what allows soldiers to protect each other on the battlefield when it would be in their self interest to protect themselves. "

I really liked your comment Historian. Thanks for posting. That's what I've felt in my gut for a while, that the top 5% and the establishment are operating under a different mindset, that the majority of people don't want a competitive, dog eat dog, self interest world.

SKM , November 1, 2019 at 5:52 pm

me too, great observation and well put. Made me feel better too! Heartfelt thanks

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:00 pm

I agree with Foy Johnson. I've been reading up on Ancient Greece and realizing all the time that 'teh Greeks' are maybe only about thirty percent of the people in Greece. Most of that history is how Greeks were taking advantage of each other with little mention of the majority of the population. Pelasgians? Yeah, they came from serpents teeth, the end.

I think this is a problem from the Bronze Age that we have not properly addressed.

Mystery Cycles are a nice reminder that people were having fun on their own.

Carey , November 1, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Thanks very much for this comment, Historian.

deplorado , November 1, 2019 at 5:22 pm

I have more or less the same view. I think the author's statement about neoliberalism tapping into what type of life people want to lead is untenable. Besides instinct (are we all 4-year olds?), what people want is also very much socially constructed. And what people do is also very much socially coerced.

One anecdote: years ago, during a volunteer drive at work, I worked side by side with the company's CEO (company was ~1200 headcount, ~.5bn revenue) sorting canned goods. The guy was doing it like he was in a competition. So much so that he often blocked me when I had to place something on the shelves, and took a lot of space in the lineup around himself while swinging his large-ish body and arms, and wouldn't stop talking. To me, this was very rude and inconsiderate, and showed a repulsive level of disregard to others. This kind of behavior at such an event, besides being unpleasant to be around, was likely also making work for the others in the lineup less efficient. Had I or anyone else behaved like him, we would have had a good amount of awkwardness or even a conflict.

What I don't get is, how does he and others get away with it? My guess is, people don't want a conflict. I didn't want a conflict and said nothing to that CEO. Not because I am not competitive, but because I didn't want an ugly social situation (we said 'excuse me' and 'sorry' enough, I just didn't think it would go over well to ask him to stop being obnoxious and dominant for no reason). He obviously didn't care or was unaware – or actually, I think he was behaving that way as a tactical habit. And I didn't feel I had the authority to impose a different order.

So, in the end, it's about power – power relations and knowing what to do about it.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Yep, I think you've nailed it there deplorado, types like your CEO don't care at all and/or are socially unaware, and is a tactical habit that they have found has worked for them in the past and is now ingrained. It is a power relation and our current world unfortunately is now designed and made to suit people like that. And each day the world incrementally moves a little bit more in their direction with inertia like a glacier. Its going to take something big to turn it around

Jeremy Grimm , November 1, 2019 at 6:49 pm

I too believe "most of us are not neoliberal". But if so, how did we end up with the kind of Corporate Cartels, Government Agencies and Organizations that currently prey upon Humankind? This post greatly oversimplifies the mechanisms and dynamics of Neoliberalism, and other varieties of exploitation of the many by the few. This post risks a mocking tie to Identity Politics. What traits of Humankind give truth to Goebbels' claims?

There definitely is "some real basic difference between those who aspire to power and wealth and the rest of us" -- but the question you should ask next is why the rest of us Hobbits blindly follow and help the Saurons among us. Why do so many of us do exactly what we're told? How is it that constant repetition of the Neoliberal identity concepts over our media can so effectively ensnare the thinking of so many?

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 7:47 pm

Maybe it's something similar to Milgram's Experiment (the movie the Experimenter about Milgram was on last night – worth watching and good acting by Peter Sarsgaard, my kind of indie film), the outcome is just not what would normally be expected, people bow to authority, against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice. The Hobbits followed blindly in that experiment, the exact opposite outcome as to what was predicted by the all the psychology experts beforehand.

Mo's Bike Shop , November 1, 2019 at 8:12 pm

people bow to authority , against their own beliefs and interests, and others interests, even though they have choice

'Don't Make Waves' is a fundamentally useful value that lets us all swim along. This can be manipulated. If everyone is worried about Reds Under the Beds or recycling, you go along to get along.

Some people somersault to Authority is how I'd put it.

Foy , November 1, 2019 at 11:17 pm

Yep, don't mind how you put that Mo, good word somersault.

One of the amusing tests Milgram did was to have people go into the lift but all face the back of the lift instead of the doors and see what happens when the next person got in. Sure enough, with the next person would get in, face the front, look around with some confusion at everyone else and then slowly turn and face the back. Don't Make Waves its instinctive to let us all swim along as you said.

And 'some people' is correct. It was actually the majority, 65%, who followed directions against their own will and preferred choice in his original experiment.

susan the Other , November 1, 2019 at 8:07 pm

thank you, historian

The Rev Kev , November 1, 2019 at 8:14 pm

That's a pretty damn good comment that, Historian. Lots to unpick. It reminded me too of something that John Wyndham once said. He wrote how about 95% of us wanted to live in peace and comfort but that the other 5% were always considering their chances if they started something. He went on to say that it was the introduction of nuclear weapons that made nobody's chances of looking good which explains why the lack of a new major war since WW2.

Mr grumpy , November 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

Good comment. My view is that it all boils down to the sociopathic personality disorder. Sociopathy runs on a continuum, and we all exhibit some of its tendencies. At the highest end you get serial killers and titans of industry, like the guy sorting cans in another comment. I believe all religions and theories of ethical behavior began as attempts to reign in the sociopaths by those of us much lower on the continuum. Neoliberalism starts by saying the sociopaths are the norm, turning the usual moral and ethical universe upside down.

Janie , November 1, 2019 at 11:59 pm

Your theory is not half-baked; it's spot-on. If you're not the whatever it takes, end justifies the means type, you are not likely to rise to the top in the corporate world. The cream rises to the top happens only in the dairy.

Grebo , November 2, 2019 at 12:25 am

Your 5% would correspond to Altemeyer's "social dominators". Unfortunately only 75% want a simple, peaceful life. 20% are looking for a social dominator to follow. It's psychological.

Kristin Lee , November 2, 2019 at 5:21 am

Excellent comment. Take into consideration the probability that the majority of the top 5% have come from a privileged background, ensconced in a culture of entitlement. This "greed" gene is as natural to them as breathing. Consider also that many wealthy families have maintained their status through centuries of calculated loveless marriages, empathy and other human traits gene-pooled out of existence. The cruel paradox is that for the sake of riches, they have lost their richness in character.

Davenport , November 2, 2019 at 7:57 am

This really chimes with me. Thanks so much for putting it down in words.

I often encounter people insisting humans are selfish. It is quite frustrating that this more predo