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Secular stagnation is a term proposed by Keynesian economist Alvin Hansen back in the 1930s to explain the USA dismal economic performance during this period. The period in which sluggish growth and output, and employment levels well below potential, coincide with a problematically low (even negative) real interest rates even in the face of the extraordinarily easy monetary policy. Later a similar phenomenon occurred in Japan. that's why it is often called called Japanification of the economy. Secular stagnation returned to the USA in full force after the financial crisis of 2008 (so called The Long Recession), so this is the second time the USA society experience the same socio-economic phenomenon.
Formally it can be defined as any stagnation that lasts substantially longer then the business cycle (and dominates the business cycle induced variations of economic activities), the suppression of economic performance for a long (aka secular) period. It also can be viewed as the crisis of demand, when demand became systemically weak (which under neoliberalism is ensured by redistribution of wealth up).
The global stagnation we are experiencing is the logical result of the dominance of neoliberalism and a sign of its crisis an a ideology. It is somewhat similar to the crisis of Bolshevik's ideology in the USSR in 60th when everybody realized that the existing society cannot fulfill the key promise of higher living standards. And that over centralization of economic life naturally leads to stagnation. The analogy does not ends here, but this point is the most important.
Neoliberalism replaced over-centralization (with iron fist one party rule) with over-financialization (with iron fist rule of financial oligarchy), with generally the same result as for the economy ( In other words neoliberalism like bolshevism is equal to economic stagnation; extremes meet). The end of cheap oil did not help iether. In a sense neoliberalism might be viewed as the elite reaction to the end of cheap oil, when it became clear that there are not enough cookies for everyone.
This growth in the financial sector's profits has not been an accident; it is the result of engineered shift in the elite thinking, which changed government policies. The central question of politics is, in my view, "Who has a right to live and who does not". In the answer to this question, neoliberal subscribes to Social Darwinism: ordinary citizens should be given much less rather than more social protection. Such policies would have been impossible in 50th and 60th (A Short History of Neo-liberalism)
In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today's standard neo-liberal toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage at or sent off to the insane asylum. At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian, a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist.
The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection--such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time. Even if someone actually agreed with these ideas, he or she would have hesitated to take such a position in public and would have had a hard time finding an audience.
And this change in government polices was achieved in classic Bolsheviks coup d'état way, when yoiu first create the Party of "professional neoliberal revolutionaries". Who then push for this change and "occupy" strategic places like economics departments at the universities, privately funded think tanks, MSM, and then subvert one or both major parties. The crisis of "New Deal Capitalism" helped, but without network of think tanks and rich donors, the triumph of neoliberalism in the USA would have been impossible:
...one explanation for this triumph of neo-liberalism and the economic, political, social and ecological disasters that go with it is that neo-liberals have bought and paid for their own vicious and regressive "Great Transformation". They have understood, as progressives have not, that ideas have consequences. Starting from a tiny embryo at the University of Chicago with the philosopher-economist Friedrich von Hayek and his students like Milton Friedman at its nucleus, the neo-liberals and their funders have created a huge international network of foundations, institutes, research centers, publications, scholars, writers and public relations hacks to develop, package and push their ideas and doctrine relentlessly.
Most economists are acutely aware of the increasing role in economic life of financial markets, institutions and operations and the pursuit of prifits via excotic instruments such as derivatives (all this constituted financialization). This dominant feature of neoliberalism has huge the re-distributional implications, huge effects on the US economy, international dimensions and monetary system, depth and longevity of financial crises and unapt policy responses to them.
They have built this highly efficient ideological cadre because they understand what the Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci was talking about when he developed the concept of cultural hegemony. If you can occupy peoples' heads, their hearts and their hands will follow.
I do not have time to give you details here, but believe me, the ideological and promotional work of the right has been absolutely brilliant. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, but the result has been worth every penny to them because they have made neo-liberalism seem as if it were the natural and normal condition of humankind. No matter how many disasters of all kinds the neo-liberal system has visibly created, no matter what financial crises it may engender, no matter how many losers and outcasts it may create, it is still made to seem inevitable, like an act of God, the only possible economic and social order available to us.
Neoliberalism naturally leads to secular stagnation due to redistribution of wealth up. which undermines purchasing power of the 99%, or more correctly 99.9 of the population. In the USA this topic became hotly debated theme in establishment circles after Summers speech in 2013. Unfortunately it was suppressed in Presidential campaign of 2016. Please note that Sanders speaks about Wall Street shenanigans, but not about ideology of neoliberalism. No candidates tried to address this problem of "self-colonization" of the USA, which is probably crucial to "making America great again" instead of continued slide into what is called "banana republic" coined by American writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter 1862–1910). Here is how Wikipedia described the term:
Banana republic or banana state is a pejorative political science term for politically unstable countries in Latin America whose economies are largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. bananas. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites. This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country's economy.
... ... ...
In economics, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by a collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, in which the profit derived from the private exploitation of public lands is private property, while the debts incurred thereby are a public responsibility.
This topic is of great importance to the US elite because the USA is the citadel of neoliberalism. It also suggest that the natural way neoliberal economic system based on increasing of the level of inequality (redistribution of wealth up) should behave: after the initial economic boom (like in case of steroids use) caused by financialization of economy (as well as dissolution of the USSR), helped by off-shoring of manufacturing, the destructive effects of this temporary boost come into foreground. Redistribution of wealth up increases inequality which after a certain delay starts to undercuts domestic demand. It also tilts the demand more toward conspicuous consumption (note the boom of luxury cars sales in the USA).
But after inequality reaches certain critical threshold the economy faces extended period of low growth reflecting persistently weak private demand (purchasing power of lower 90% of population). People who mostly have low level service economy jobs (aka MC-jobs) can't buy that much. Earlier giants of American capitalism like Ford understood that, but Wall Street sharks do not and does not want. They operate under principle "Après nous le déluge" ("After us, the deluge").
An economic cycle enters recession when total spending falls below expected by producers and they realize that production level is too high relative to demand. What we have under neoliberalism is Marx's crisis of overproduction on a new level. At this level it is intrinsically connected with the parasitic nature of complete financialization of the economy. The focus on monetary policy and the failure to enact fiscal policy options is the key structural defect of neoliberalism ideology and can't be changed unless neoliberal ideology is abandoned. Which probably will not happen unless another huge crisis hits the USA. That might not happen soon. Bolshevism lasted more then 70 years. If we assume that the "age of neoliberalism" started at 1973 with Pinochet coup d'état in Chile, neoliberalism as a social system is just 43 years old (as of 2016). It still has some "time to live"(TTL) in zombies state due to the principle first formulated by Margaret Thatcher as TINA ("There Is No Alternative") -- the main competitor, bolshevism, was discredited by the collapse of the USSR and China leadership adoption of neoliberalism. While Soviet leadership simply abandoned the sinking ship and became Nouveau riche in a neoliberal society that followed, Chinese elite managed to preserved at least outer framework of the Marxist state and the political control of the Communist party (not clear for how long). But there was a neoliberal transformation of Chinese economy, initiated, paradoxically, by the Chinese Communist Party.
Currently, no other ideology, including old "New Deal" ideology can compete with neoliberal ideology, although things started to change with Sanders campaign in the USA on the left and Trump campaign on the right. Most of what we see as a negative reaction to neoliberalism in Europe generally falls into the domain of cultural nationalism.
The 2008 financial crisis, while discrediting neoliberalism as an ideology (in the same way as WWII discredited Bolshevism), was clearly not enough for the abandonment of this ideology. Actually neoliberalism proved to be remarkably resilient after this crisis. Some researchers claim that it entered "zombie state" and became more bloodthirsty and ruthless.
There is also religious overtones of neoliberalism which increase its longevity (similar to Trotskyism, and neoliberalism can be called "Trotskyism for rich"). So, from a small, unpopular sect with virtually no influence, neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest the revealed truth. Like in most cults adherents became more fanatical believers after the prophecy did not materialized. The USA elite tried partially alleviate this problem by resorting to military Keynesianism as a supplementary strategy. But while military budget was raised to unprecedented levels, it can't reverse the tendency. Persistent high output gap is now a feature of the US economy, not a transitory state.
But there is another factor in play here: combination of peak (aka "plato" ;-) oil and established correlation of the speed of economic growth and prices on fossil fuels and first of all on oil. Oil provides more than a third of the energy we use on the planet every day, more than any other energy source (How High Oil Prices Will Permanently Cap Economic Growth - Bloomberg). It is dominant fuel for transport and in this role it is very difficult to replace.
That means that a substantial increase of price of oil acts as a fundamental limiting factor for economic growth. And "end of cheap oil" simply means that any increase of supply of oil to support growing population on the planet and economic growth now requires higher prices. Which naturally undermine economic growth, unless massive injection of currency are instituted. that probably was the factor that prevented slide of the US economy into the recession in 2009-2012. Such a Catch-22.
Growth dampening potential of over $100-a-barrel oil is now a well established factor. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true. Drop of oil price to below $50 as happened in late 2014 and first half of 2015 did not increase growth rate of the USA economy. It might simply prevented it from sliding it into another phase of Great Recession. Moreover when economies activity drops, less oil is needed. Enter permanent stagnation.
Also there is not much oil left that can be profitably extracted at prices below $80. So the current oil price slump is a temporary phenomenon, whether it was engineered, or is a mixture of factors including temporary overcapacity . Sooner or later oil prices should return to level "above $80", as only at this level of oil price capital expenditures in new production make sense. That des not mean that oil prices can't be suppressed for another year or even two, but as Herbert Stein aptly noted "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop,"
Imagine the alien spaceship landed somewhere in the world. There would be denial, disbelief, fear, and great uncertainty for the future. World leaders would struggle to make sense of the events. The landing would change everything.
The secular stagnation (aka "end of permanent growth") is a very similar event. This also is the event that has potential to change everything, but it is much more prolonged in time and due to this less visible ("boiling frog effect"). Also this is not a single event, but a long sequence of related events that probably might last several decades (as Japan had shown) or even centuries. The current "Great Recession" might be just a prolog to those events. It is clearly incompatible with capitalism as a mode of production, although capitalism as a social system demonstrated over the years tremendous adaptability and it is too early to write it down completely. Also no clear alternatives exists.
A very slow recovery and the secular stagnation is characteristic of economies suffering from a balance-sheet recession (aka crisis of overproduction), as forcefully argued by Nomura’s Richard Koo and other economists. The key point is that private investment is down, not because of “policy uncertainty” or “increased regulation”, but because business-sector expectations about future profitability have become dramatically depressed — and rationally so — in a context characterized by heavy indebtedness (of both households and corporations). As businesses see the demand falls they scale down production which creates negative feedback look and depresses demand further.
|The key point is that private investment is down, not because of “policy uncertainty” or “increased regulation”, but because business-sector expectations about future profitability have become dramatically depressed — and rationally so — in a context characterized by heavy indebtedness (of both households and corporations). As businesses see the demand falls they scale down production which creates negative feedback look and depresses demand further.|
There are at least five different hypothesis about the roots of secular stagnation:
Summers’s remarks and articles were followed by an explosion of debate concerning “secular stagnation”—a term commonly associated with Alvin Hansen’s work from the 1930s to ’50s, and frequently employed in Monthly Review to explain developments in the advanced economies from the 1970s to the early 2000s.2 Secular stagnation can be defined as the tendency to long-term (or secular) stagnation in the private accumulation process of the capitalist economy, manifested in rising unemployment and excess capacity and a slowdown in overall economic growth. It is often referred to simply as “stagnation.” There are numerous theories of secular stagnation but most mainstream theories hearken back to Hansen, who was Keynes’s leading early follower in the United States, and who derived the idea from various suggestions in Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936).
Responses to Summers have been all over the map, reflecting both the fact that the capitalist economy has been slowing down, and the role in denying it by many of those seeking to legitimate the system. Stanford economist John B. Taylor contributed a stalwart denial of secular stagnation in the Wall Street Journal. In contrast, Paul Krugman, who is closely aligned with Summers, endorsed secular stagnation on several occasions in the New York Times. Other notable economists such as Brad DeLong and Michael Spence soon weighed in with their own views.3
Three prominent economists have new books directly addressing the phenomena of secular stagnation.4 It has now been formally modelled by Brown University economists Gauti Eggertsson and Neil Mehrotra, while Thomas Piketty’s high-profile book bases its theoretical argument and policy recommendations on stagnation tendencies of capitalism. This explosion of interest in the Summers/Krugman version of stagnation has also resulted in a collection of articles and debate, edited by Coen Teulings and Richard Baldwin, entitled Secular Stagnation: Facts, Causes and Cures.5
Seven years after “The Great Financial Crisis” of 2007–2008, the recovery remains sluggish. It can be argued that the length and depth of the Great Financial Crisis is a rather ordinary cyclical crisis. However, the monetary and fiscal measures to combat it were extraordinary. This has resulted in a widespread sense that there will not be a return to “normal.” Summers/Krugman’s resurrection within the mainstream of Hansen’s concept of secular stagnation is an attempt to explain how extraordinary policy measures following the 2007–2008 crisis merely led to the stabilization of a lethargic, if not comatose, economy.
But what do these economists mean by secular stagnation? If stagnation is a reality, does their conception of it make current policy tools obsolete? And what is the relationship between the Summers/Krugman notion of secular stagnation and the monopoly-finance capital theory?
... ... ...
In “secular stagnation,” the term “secular” is intended to differentiate between the normal business cycle and long-term, chronic stagnation. A long-term slowdown in the economy over decades can be seen as superimposed on the regular business cycle, reflecting the trend rather than the cycle.
In the general language of economics, secular stagnation, or simply stagnation, thus implies that the long-run potential economic growth has fallen, constituting the first pillar of MISS. This has been most forcefully argued for by Robert Gordon, as well as Garry Kasparov and Peter Thiel.6 Their argument is that the cumulative growth effect of current (and future) technological changes will be far weaker than in the past. Moreover, demographic changes place limits on the development of “human capital.” The focus is on technology, which orthodox economics generally sees as a factor external to the economy and on the supply-side (i.e., in relation to cost). Gordon’s position is thus different than that of moderate Keynesians like Summers and Krugman, who focus on demand-side contradictions of the system.
In Gordon’s supply-side, technocratic view, there are forces at work that will limit the growth in productive input and the efficiency of these inputs. This pillar of MISS emphasizes that it is constraints on the aggregate supply-side of the economy that have diminished absolutely the long-run potential growth.
The second pillar of MISS, also a supply-side view, goes back at least to Joseph Schumpeter. To explain the massive slump of 1937, Schumpeter maintained there had emerged a growing anti-business climate. Moreover, he contended that the rise of the modern corporation had displaced the role of the entrepreneur; the anti-business spirit had a repressive effect on entrepreneurs’ confidence and optimism.7 Today, this second pillar of MISS has been resurrected suggestively by John B. Taylor, who argues the poor recovery is best “explained by policy uncertainty” and “increased regulation” that is unfavorable to business. Likewise, Baker, Bloom, and Davis have forcefully argued that political uncertainty can hold back private investment and economic growth.8
Summers and Krugman, as Keynesians, emphasize a third MISS pillar, derived from Keynes’s famous liquidity trap theory, which contends that the “full-employment real interest rate” has declined in recent years. Indeed, both Summers and Krugman demonstrate that real interest rates have declined over recent decades, therefore moving from an exogenous explanation (as in pillars one and two) to a more endogenous explanation of secular stagnation.9 The ultimate problem here is lack of investment demand, such that, in order for net investment to occur at all, interest rates have to be driven to near zero or below. Their strong argument is that there are now times when negative real interest rates are needed to equate saving and investment with full employment.
However, “interest rates are not fully flexible in modern economies”—in other words, market-determined interest rate adjustments chronically fail to achieve full employment. Summers contends there are financial forces that prohibit the real interest rate from becoming negative; hence, full employment cannot be realized.10
Some theorists contend that there has been demographic structural shifts increasing the supply of saving, thus decreasing interest rates. These shifts include an increase in life expectancy, a decrease in retirement age, and a decline in the growth rate of population.
Others, including Summers, point out that stagnation in capital formation (or accumulation) can be attributed to a decrease in the demand for loanable funds for investment. One mainstream explanation offered for this is that today’s new technologies and companies, such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, require far less capital investment. Another hypothesis is that there has been an important decrease in the demand for loanable funds, although they argue this is due to a preference for safe assets. These factors can function together to keep the real interest rate very low. The policy implication of secular low interest rates is that monetary policy is more difficult to implement effectually; during a recession, it is weakened and can even become ineffectual.
Edward Glaeser, focusing on “secular joblessness,” places severe doubt on the first pillar of MISS, but then makes a very important additional argument. Glaeser rejects the notion that there has been a slowdown in technological innovation; innovation is simply “unrelenting.” Likewise, he is far less concerned with secular low real interest rates, which may be far more cyclical. “Therefore,” contends Glaeser, “stagnation is likely to be temporary.”
Nonetheless, Glaeser underscores secular joblessness, and thus the dysfunction of U.S. labor markets constitutes a fourth pillar of MISS: “The dysfunction in the labour market is real and serious, and seems unlikely to be solved by any obvious economic trend.” Somehow, then, the problem is due to a misfit of skills or “human capital” on the side of workers, who thus need retraining. “The massive secular trend in joblessness is a terrible social problem for the US, and one that the country must try to address” with targeted policy.11 Glaeser’s argument for the dysfunction of U.S. labor markets is based on recession-generated shocks to employment, specifically of less-skilled U.S. workers. After 1970, when workers lost their job, the damage to human capital became permanent. In short, when human capital depreciates due to unemployment, overall abilities and “talent” are “lost” permanently. This may be because the skills required in today’s economy need to be constantly practiced to be retained. Thus, there is a ratchet-like effect in joblessness caused by recessions, whereby recession-linked joblessness is not fully reversed during recoveries—and all this is related to skills (the human capital of the workers), and not to capital itself. According to Glaeser, the ratchet-like effect of recession-linked joblessness is further exacerbated by the U.S. social-safety net, which has “made joblessness less painful and increased the incentives to stay out of work.”12
Glaeser contends that, if his secular joblessness argument is correct, the macroeconomic fiscal interventions argued for by Summers and Krugman are off-base.13 Instead, the safety net should be redesigned in order to encourage rather than discourage people from working. Additionally, incentives to work need to be radically improved through targeted investments in education and workforce training.14 Such views within the mainstream debate, emphasizing exogenous factors, are generally promoted by freshwater (conservative) rather than saltwater (liberal) economists. Thus, they tend to emphasize supply-side or cost factors.
The fifth pillar of MISS contends that output and productivity growth are stagnant due to a failure to invest in infrastructure, education, and training. Nearly all versions of MISS subscribe to some version of this, although there are both conservative and liberal variations. Barry Eichengreen underscores this pillar and condemns recent U.S. fiscal developments that have “cut to the bone” federal government spending devoted to infrastructure, education, and training.
The fifth pillar of MISS necessarily reflects an imbalance between public and private investment spending. Many theorists maintain that the imbalance between public and private investment spending, hence secular stagnation, “is not inevitable.” For example, Eichengreen contends if “the US experiences secular stagnation, the condition will be self-inflicted. It will reflect the country’s failure to address its infrastructure, education and training needs. It will reflect its failure to…support aggregate demand in an effort to bring the long-term unemployed back into the labour market.”15
The sixth pillar of MISS argues that the “debt overhang” from the overleveraging of financial firms and households, as well as private and public indebtedness, are a serious drag on the economy. This position has been argued for most forcefully by several colleagues of Summers at Harvard, most notably Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.16 Atif Mian and Amir Sufi also argue that household indebtedness was the primary culprit causing the economic collapse of 2007–2008. Their policy recommendation is that the risk to mortgage borrowers must be reduced to avoid future calamities.17
As noted, the defenders of MISS do not necessarily support a compatibility between the above six pillars: those favored by conservatives are supply-side and exogenous in emphasis, while liberals tend towards demand-side and endogenous ones. Instead, most often these pillars are developed as competing theories to explain the warrant of some aspect of secular stagnation, and/or to defend particular policy positions while criticizing alternative policy positions. However, the concern here is not whether there is the possibility for a synthesis of mainstream views. Rather, the emphasis is on how partial and separate such explanations are, both individually and in combination.
As Krugman said "We now know that the economic expansion of 2003-2007 was driven by a bubble. You can say the same about the latter part of the 90s expansion; and you can in fact say the same about the later years of the Reagan expansion, which was driven at that point by runaway thrift institutions and a large bubble in commercial real estate." In other words blowing bubbles is the fundamental way neoliberal economy functions, not an anomaly.
As much as the USA population is accustomed to hypocrisy of the ruling elite and is brainwashed by MSM, this news, delivered to them personally by the crisis of 2008 was too much for them not question the fundamentals (A Primer on Neoliberalism):
Of course, the irony that those same institutions would now themselves agree that those “anti-capitalist” regulations are required is of course barely noted. Such options now being considered are not anti-capitalist. However, they could be described as more regulatory or managed rather than completely free or laissez faire capitalism, which critics of regulation have often preferred.
But a regulatory capitalist economy is very different to a state-based command economy, the style of which the Soviet Union was known for. The points is that there are various forms of capitalism, not just the black-and-white capitalism and communism. And at the same time, the most extreme forms of capitalism can also lead to the bigger bubbles and the bigger busts.
In that context, the financial crisis, as severe as it was, led to key architects of the system admitting to flaws in key aspects of the ideology.
At the end of 2008, Alan Greenspan was summoned to the U.S. Congress to testify about the financial crisis. His tenure at the Federal Reserve had been long and lauded, and Congress wanted to know what had gone wrong. Henry Waxman questioned him:
I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.
In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working.
Precisely. That is precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.
[Greenspan’s flaw] warped his view about how the world was organized, about the sociology of the market. And Greenspan is not alone. Larry Summers, the president’s senior economic advisor, has had to come to terms with a similar error—his view that the market was inherently self-stabilizing has been “dealt a fatal blow.” Hank Paulson, Bush’s treasury secretary, has shrugged his shoulders with similar resignation. Even Jim Cramer from CNBC’s Mad Money admitted defeat: “The only guy who really called this right was Karl Marx.” One after the other, the celebrants of the free market are finding themselves, to use the language of the market, corrected.
— Raj Patel, Flaw , The Value of Nothing, (Picador, 2010), pp.4, 6-7
Now for the second time in history, the challenge is to save capitalism from itself: to recognize the great strengths of open, competitive markets while rejecting the extreme capitalism and unrestrained greed that have perverted so much of the global financial system in recent times. It took such a statesman as Franklin Delano Roosevelt to rebuild American capitalism after the Great Depression. New Deal policies allowed to rebuild postwar domestic demand, to engineer the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and to set in place the Bretton Woods system to govern international economic engagement.
With the abolishment of those policies blowing of one bubble after another, each followed by a financial crisis became standard chain of the events. Since 1973 we already have a half-dozen bubbles following by economic crisis. It started with Savings and loan crisis which partially was caused by the deregulation of S&Ls in 1980, by the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act signed by President Jimmy Carter on March 31, 1980, an important step is a series that eliminated regulations initially designed to prevent lending excesses and minimize failures.
To hide this unpleasant fact neoliberals resort to so called the Great Neoliberal Lie:
What is neoliberalism
The fallacious and utterly misleading argument that the global economic crisis (credit crunch) was caused by excessive state spending, rather than by the reckless gambling of the deregulated, neoliberalized financial sector.
Just as with other pseudo-scientific theories and fundamentalist ideologies, the excuse that "we just weren't fundamentalist enough last time" is always there. The neoliberal pushers of the establishment know that pure free-market economies are as much of an absurd fairytale as 100% pure communist economies, however they keep pushing for further privatizations, tax cuts for the rich, wage repression for the ordinary, and reckless financial sector deregulations precisely because they are the direct beneficiaries of these policies. Take the constantly widening wealth gap in the UK throughout three decades of neoliberal policy. The minority of beneficiaries from this ever widening wealth gap are the business classes, financial sector workers, the mainstream media elite and the political classes. It is no wonder at all that these people think neoliberalism is a successful ideology. Within their bubbles of wealth and privilege it has been. To everyone else it has been an absolute disaster.
Returning to a point I raised earlier in the article; one of the main problems with the concept of "neoliberalism" is the nebulousness of the definition. It is like a form of libertarianism, however it completely neglects the fundamental libertarian idea of non-aggression. In fact, it is so closely related to that other (highly aggressive) US born political ideology of Neo-Conservatism that many people get the two concepts muddled up. A true libertarian would never approve of vast taxpayer funded military budgets, the waging of imperialist wars of aggression nor the wanton destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit.
Another concept that is closely related to neoliberalism is the ideology of minarchism (small stateism), however the neoliberal brigade seem perfectly happy to ignore the small-state ideology when it suits their personal interests. Take the vast banker bailouts (the biggest state subsidies in human history) that were needed to save the neoliberalised global financial sector from the consequences of their own reckless gambling, the exponential growth of the parasitic corporate outsourcing sector (corporations that make virtually 100% of their turnover from the state) and the ludicrous housing subsidies (such as "Help to Buy and Housing Benefits) that have fueled the reinflation of yet another property Ponzi bubble.
The Godfather of neoliberalism was Milton Friedman. He made the case that illegal drugs should be legalised in order to create a free-market drug trade, which is one of the very few things I agreed with him about. However this is politically inconvenient (because the illegal drug market is a vital source of financial sector liquidity) so unlike so many of his neoliberal ideas that have consistently failed, yet remain incredibly popular with the wealthy elite, Friedman's libertarian drug legalisation proposals have never even been tried out.
The fact that neoliberals are so often prepared to ignore the fundamental principles of libertarianism (the non-aggression principle, drug legalisation, individual freedoms, the right to peaceful protest ...) and abuse the fundamental principles of small state minarchism (vast taxpayer funded bailouts for their financial sector friends, £billions in taxpayer funded outsourcing contracts, alcohol price fixing schemes) demonstrate that neoliberalism is actually more like Ayn Rand's barmy (greed is the only virtue, all other "virtues" are aberrations) pseudo-philosophical ideology of objectivism than a set of formal economic theories.
The result of neoliberal economic theories has been proven time and again. Countries that embrace the neoliberal pseudo-economic ideology end up with "crony capitalism", where the poor and ordinary suffer "austerity", wage repression, revocation of labor rights and the right to protest, whilst a tiny cabal of corporate interests and establishment insiders enrich themselves via anti-competitive practices, outright criminality and corruption and vast socialism-for-the-rich schemes.
Neoliberal fanatics in powerful positions have demonstrated time and again that they will willingly ditch their right-wing libertarian and minarchist "principles" if those principles happen to conflict with their own personal self-interest. Neoliberalism is less of a formal set of economic theories than an error strewn obfuscation narrative to promote the economic interests, and justify the personal greed of the wealthy, self-serving establishment elite.
The 1930s, a well researched period of balance-sheet recession, provides some interesting perspective despite large historical distance. Roosevelt was no socialist, but his New Deal did frighten many businesses, especially large business which BTW attempted a coupe to remove him from is position. Fortunately for Roosevelt CIA did not exist yet. And New Deal government projects has been much bigger and bolder, then anything Obama ever tried, because Obama administration was constrained in its action by dominant neoliberal thinking. Like regulatory capture, which is an immanent feature of neoliberalism, there is also less known and less visible ideological capture of the government. Which also makes neoliberalism more similar to bolshevism as this ideological capture and related inability of the USSR elite to modernize the economy on some "mixed" principles, when over-centralization stopped working. It, along with the collapse of the ideology, probably was one of the main reasons of the collapse of the USSR. Chinese leadership managed to do this and introduced "new economic policies"(NEP).
Uner New deal regime when public investment and hence aggregate demand expanded, the economy started to grow anyway. Roosevelt did have a vision and he did convince the electorate about the way to go. Cheap optimism of Reagan, or even audacity of hope "Obama style" were not enough. After all, as Francis Bacon may remind us: “Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper” (Apophthegms, 1624).
Obama/Bernanke-style attempts to stimulate growth by pure injection of cheap money in this environment not only inflate new bubbles instead of old one, with which the fighting starts. They also lead to massive redistribution of wealth that makes the problem even worse:
Paul Krugman tells us that Larry Summers joined the camp concerned about secular stagnation in his I.M.F. talk last week, something that I had not picked up from prior coverage of the session. This is good news, but I would qualify a few of the points that Krugman makes in his elaboration of Summers' remarks.
First, while the economy may presently need asset bubbles to maintain full employment (a point I made in Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy), it doesn't follow that we should not be concerned about asset bubbles. The problem with bubbles is that their inflation and inevitable deflation lead to massive redistribution of wealth.
Larry Summers was the first establishment economist who conceded that this is the fact (Wikipedia)
... Larry Summers presented his view during November 2013 that secular (long-term) stagnation may be a reason that U.S. growth is insufficient to reach full employment: "Suppose then that the short term real interest rate that was consistent with full employment [i.e., the "natural rate"] had fallen to negative two or negative three percent. Even with artificial stimulus to demand you wouldn't see any excess demand. Even with a resumption in normal credit conditions you would have a lot of difficulty getting back to full employment."
Robert J. Gordon wrote in August 2012:
"Even if innovation were to continue into the future at the rate of the two decades before 2007, the U.S. faces six headwinds that are in the process of dragging long-term growth to half or less of the 1.9 percent annual rate experienced between 1860 and 2007. These include demography, education, inequality, globalization, energy/environment, and the overhang of consumer and government debt. A provocative 'exercise in subtraction' suggests that future growth in consumption per capita for the bottom 99 percent of the income distribution could fall below 0.5 percent per year for an extended period of decades".
One hypothesis is that high levels of productivity greater than the economic growth rate are creating economic slack, in which fewer workers are required to meet the demand for goods and services. Firms have less incentive to invest and instead prefer to hold cash. Journalist Marco Nappolini wrote in November 2013:
"If the expected return on investment over the short term is presumed to be lower than the cost of holding cash then even pushing interest rates to zero will have little effect. That is, if you cannot push real interest rates below the so-called short run natural rate [i.e., the rate of interest required to achieve the growth rate necessary to achieve full employment] you will struggle to bring forward future consumption, blunting the short run effectiveness of monetary policy...Moreover, if you fail to bring it below the long run natural rate there is a strong disincentive to increase fixed capital investment and a consequent preference to hold cash or cash-like instruments in an attempt to mitigate risk. This could cause longer-term hysteresis effects and reduce an economy's potential output."
The cost of energy is probably another reason of secular stagnation along with excessive public and private debt. Rising cost of energy is deadly for capitalism. Here are some comments that might clarify the situation:
This is the biggest crybaby column Krugman's ever written. He should be ashamed of himself and return his Nobel prize immediately. Has he ever put down Keynes long enough to read a little Marx? Here's Robert Brenner summing it up in 2009:
What mainly accounts for the long-term weakening of the real economy is a deep, and lasting, decline of the rate of return on capital investment since the end of the 1960s.
The failure of the rate of profit to recover is all the more remarkable, in view of the huge drop-off in the growth of real wages over the period.
The main cause, though not the only cause, of the decline in the rate of profit has been a persistent tendency to overcapacity in global manufacturing industries."
There's more, too. Instead of siding with crackpot Summers, Krugman should expand his research and be of some use to us all.
I am not sure that it is correct to think about public debt as internal debt. It's all about energy.
That means that public debt is to a large extent foreign due to unalterable oil consumption (and related trade deficits). And that completely changes the situation unless you are the owner of the world reserve currency.
But even in the latter case (exorbitant privilege as Valéry Giscard d'Estaing called it ) you can expect attacks on the status of the currency as world reserve currency. The growth is still supported via militarization, forced opening of foreign markets (with military force, if necessary) and conversion of the state into national security state. But as Napoleon admitted "You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them"
One positive thing about high public (and to a large extent foreign owned) debt in the USA is that it undermines what Bacevich called "new American militarism" (http://www.amazon.com/The-New-American-Militarism-Americans/dp/0195173384). Bacevich argues that this is distinct political course adopted by the "defense intellectuals," the evangelicals, and the neocons. And they will never regret their failed efforts such as Iraq invasion.
From Amazon review:
=== Quote ===
Bacevich clearly links our present predicaments both at home and abroad to the ever greater need for natural resources, especially oil from the Persian Gulf. He demolishes all of the reasons for our bellicosity based on ideals and links it directly to our insatiable appetite for oil and economic expansion. Naturally, like thousands of writers before him, he points out the need for a national energy policy based on more effective use of resources and alternative means of production.
=== End of Quote ==
As Heinberg explained fossil fuels, primarily oil, permeate every aspect of our modern culture - from agriculture to cities and a long-term perspective. In the age of almost 7 billion people demanding more and more of limited resources, the media, politicians and governments tend to only report short-term perspectives and ignore Heinberg's Five Axioms of Sustainability to the extent that these concepts are taboo to be spoken, discussed or thought (Heinberg, Richard (2007) Five Axioms of Sustainability):
1. (Tainter’s Axiom): Any society that continues to use critical resources unsustainably will collapse.
Exception: A society can avoid collapse by finding replacement resources.
Limit to the exception: In a finite world, the number of possible replacements is also finite.
2. (Bartlett’s Axiom): Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.
3. To be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment.
4. To be sustainable, the use of non-renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is declining, and the rate of decline must be greater than or equal to the rate of depletion.
The rate of depletion is defined as the amount being extracted and used during a specified time interval (usually a year) as a percentage of the amount left to extract.
5. Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions.
In cases where pollution from the extraction and consumption of non-renewable resources that has proceeded at expanding rates for some time threatens the viability of ecosystems, reduction in the rates of extraction and consumption of those resources may need to occur at a rate greater than the rate of depletion.
Archaeologist Joseph Tainter, in his classic study The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), demonstrated that collapse is a frequent if not universal fate of complex societies and argued that collapse results from declining returns on efforts to support growing levels of societal complexity using energy harvested from the environment. Jared Diamond’s popular book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005) similarly makes the argument that collapse is the common destiny of societies that ignore resourse constraints. This axiom defines sustainability by the consequences of its absence—that is, collapse.
Adapted from Wikipedia
Excluding the current, there were two period of stagnation in the USA history:
Construction of structures, residential, commercial and industrial, fell off dramatically during the depression, but housing was well on its way to recovering by the late 1930s.
The depression years were the period of the highest total factor productivity growth in the United States, primarily to the building of roads and bridges, abandonment of unneeded railroad track and reduction in railroad employment, expansion of electric utilities and improvements wholesale and retail distribution.
The war created pent up demand for many items as factories that once produced automobiles and other machinery converted to production of tanks, guns, military vehicles and supplies. Tires had been rationed due to shortages of natural rubber; however, the U.S. government built synthetic rubber plants. The U.S. government also built synthetic ammonia plants, aluminum smelters, aviation fuel refineries and aircraft engine factories during the war. After the war commercial aviation, plastics and synthetic rubber would become major industries and synthetic ammonia was used for fertilizer. The end of armaments production free up hundreds of thousands of machine tools, which were made available for other industries. They were needed in the rapidly growing aircraft manufacturing industry.
The memory of war created a need for preparedness in the United States. This resulted in constant spending for defense programs, creating what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex.
U.S. birth rates began to recover by the time of World War II, and turned into the baby boom of the postwar decades. A building boom commenced in the years following the war. Suburbs began a rapid expansion and automobile ownership increased.
High-yielding crops and chemical fertilizers dramatically increased crop yields and greatly lowered the cost of food, giving consumers more discretionary income. Railroad locomotives switched from steam to diesel power, with a large increase in fuel efficiency. Most importantly, cheap food essentially eliminated malnutrition in countries like the United States and much of Europe.
Many trends that began before the war continued:
- The use of electricity grew steadily as prices continued to fall, although at slower rate than in the early decades. More people purchased washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and other appliances. Air conditioning became increasingly prevalent in households and businesses. See:Diffusion of innovations#Diffusion data
- Infrastructures: The highway system continued to expand. Construction of the interstate highway system started in the late 1950s. The pipeline network continued to expand. Railroad track mileage continued its decline.
- Better roads and increased investment in the distribution system of trucks, warehouses and material-handling equipment, such as forklift trucks continued to reduce the cost of goods.
- Mechanization of agriculture increased dramatically, especially the use of combine harvesters. Tractor sales peaked in the mid-1950s.
One of the first researchers who clearly attributed secular stagnation problem to neoliberalism was Alan Nasser, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College. In his September 22, 2005 paper ECONOMIC LAWS, STRUCTURAL TENDENCIES, SECULAR STAGNATION THEORY, AND THE FATE OF NEOLIBERALISM he pointed out the key features of secular stagnation long before Summers started to understand the problem and even befor the economic crash of 2008 ;-)
September 22, 2005 | alannasser.org
Alan Nasser Invited presentation, University of Lille,
"We have now grown used to the idea that most ordinary or natural growth processes (the growth of organisms, or popu- lations of organisms or, for example, of cities) is not merely limited, but self-limited, i.e. is slowed down or eventually brought to a standstill as a consequence of the act of growth itself. For one reason or another, but always for some reason, organisms cannot grow indefinitely, just as beyond a certain level of size or density a population defeats its own capacity for further growth."
Sir Peter Medawar, The Revolution of Hope
"A business firm grows and attains great strength, and afterwards perhaps stagnates and decays; and at the turning point there is a balancing or equilibrium of the forces of life and decay. And as we reach to the higher stages of our work, we shall need ever more and more to think of economic forces as those which make a young man grow in strength until he reaches his prime; after which he gradually becomes stiff and inactive, till at last he sinks to make room for other and more vigorous life."
Alfred Marshall, Principals of Economics (1890)
"Though Keynes's 'breakdown theory is quite different from Marx's, it has an important feature in common with the latter: in both theories, the breakdown is motivated by causes inherent to the working of the economic engine, not by the action of factors external to it."
Joseph Schumpeter, Ten Great Economists
In this paper I shall address two major issues. Firstly, I shall discuss the implications for economic theory of a conception of economic laws widely at variance with the empiricist and/or positivist account of what laws are, how they are discovered, and how they are related to theory. At the same time, I will reject one cornerstone of anti-positivist thought, namely the idea that one cannot provide an account of laws that is fundamentally the same for the natural and the social sciences. Thus, I shall argue that an anti-positivist account of laws is entirely compatible with a conception of scientific laws that applies to both the "hard" (natural) and the "soft" (social) sciences. I shall defend this position by showing its application to economics and economic laws. In doing so, I will compare and contrast both natural-scientific (primarily physical) laws and social-scientific (primarily economic) laws. Secondly, I will argue that perhaps the most significant economic law descriptive of mature capitalism is the law of secular stagnation. The latter states that it is the natural tendency of a developed, industrialized capitalist economy to default to a state of chronic excess capacity and underconsumption. And this is itself a result of the tendency in advanced capitalism for the economic surplus (roughly, the difference between the Gross Domectic Product and the cost of producing the GDP) to grow at a rate more rapid than the growth of profitable industrial investment opportunities. In the course of my discussion I will use the United States as a paradigm case, Much as Marx attempted to identify the underlying features of the accumulation process by reference to England during the Industrial Revulution.
This has in fact been the state of global capital since the end of the "Golden Age" and the commencement of the age of globalized Reaganism/Thatcherism, i.e. the Age of Neoliberalism. I date the transition as commencing in 1973, the last year of post-War Keynesian growth rates in the USA. In fact, I will argue, neoliberal economic policy exacerbates capitalism'a tendency to stagnation. Let me begin with an account of economic laws.
LAWS, GENERATIVE MECHANISMS AND TENDENCIES
On the Humean or radical empiricist (positivist) account of laws, the latter are descriptions of observed regularities. Presumably, the scientist observes a "constant conjunction" of different kinds of happening, and infers from the regularity of the conjunction that the latter could not be merely accidental, and so concludes that the observed pattern of regularities must be nomological or law-like. 'Sodium chloride dissolves in water' and 'Metal expands when heated' would be simple examples of the results of this account of how laws of nature are discovered.
That this empiricist account is flawed becomes evident when we consider full-fledged laws of a genuine natural science, e.g. physics. I emphasize that laws are components of theories, which themselves are constitutive of established scientific disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. In fact, the two "laws" mentioned at the end of the preceding paragraph are not laws of physics at all. Among the genuine laws of physics is, e.g., 'Falling bodies near the surface of the earth accelerate at a constant rate.' This law is certainly not established by the observation of repeated conjunctions of events. On the contrary, actually observed falling bodies in "open systems", that is, in the circumstances of everyday life, conspicuously fail to conform to this law. Yet this is not taken to refute the law. For the law describes the behavior of bodies in a vacuum, that is to say, in a "closed system", one created by the scientist, typically in a laboratory situation. Philosophers of science have tended to ignore the distinction between regularities observed only in closed systems, and conjunctions observed in everyday life, which, as such, have no value as contributions to scientific knowledge. These philosophers have, accordingly, written as if the regularities in question were features of open systems, of nature. This confusion impedes our understanding of all types of laws, from physical to economic.
This failure –until relatively recently- of philosophers of science to properly attend to the importance of laboratory work in the acquisition of scientific knowledge is due to the fact that these philosophers have focused almost exclusively on science as established theory, i.e. as a way of representing the world. They had ignored how these theories were actually established. That is, they paid little attention to experiment, which is a way of intervening in the world. This inattention to what happens in closed systems created in the laboratory led thinkers to miss the importance of the concept of tendencies or dispositions in grasping the concept of a law of science. Let us dwell on this point and its relation to economic laws.
It is not that our knowledge of natural laws is not based on observed regularities. The point, rather, is that these regularities are not found in nature. They are found in closed systems, elaborately designed experimental circumstances found in laboratories. Yet, we correctly believe that what we learn in experimental situations gives us knowledge that is not confined to these situations. We believe that what we learn from observations of repeated patterns in experiments gives us not only knowledge of the behavior of objects in laboratory circumstances, but also knowledge of these same (kinds of) objects as they behave in nature, in the open systems of everyday life. But scientifically significant repeated patterns are not found in the world of daily life. This raises profound epistemological and ontological questions.
The most significant epistemological question arises from the following consideration: Were it not for the intervention of the experimenter, closed-system regularities would not obtain. Hence, the experimenter is a causal agent of the pattern of regularities observed in the laboratory. It is these contrived conjunctions which we invoke to justify our belief in (usually causal) laws. And while these regularities are the (partial) result of the intervention of the experimenter, we do not believe that the experimenter in any way originates the laws whose existence is attested to by the contrived regularities. The question therefore arises: What justifies our (correct) belief that knowledge obtained in closed laboratory systems designed by an agent applies also in open systems, i.e. in nature, which of course is not designed by scientists and does not evidence the regularities found under designed experimental circumstances?
I want to suggest that this question comes to the same as the following question: What must nature be like, and what must experiment reveal, in order for experimental knowledge to be able to be legitimately extended to the world outside of the laboratory, i.e. to nature? Note that this is a Realist question: it asks what we must presuppose about the constitution of the world in order that our experimentally-based scientific beliefs be justified. This is the precise Realist counterpart to Kant's Idealist question: What must we presoppose our minds –as opposed to nature or the world- to be like in order for scientific knowledge to be possible? I will argue that the answer to our Realist question provides the conceptual resources to elucidate the general nature of economic laws and economic theory, and the nature of the subject matter investigated by economists.
I will argue that since we believe that what we learn by experimental observation justifies our claim to knowledge of the experimental objects as they behave in nature, we must assume that these objects possess natural structures, similar to what Aristotle and the scholastics called "natures" or "essences." A natural structure must be conceived as what Critical Realists call a generative mechanism (hereafter, GM). The latter is a specific mode of material organization. What GMs generate are tendencies or dispositions to behave in characteristic ways. The statement that a physical thing or a social institution or structure tends to generate characteristic regularities is a statement of a law. The natural structure of salt, expressed in chemistry as HCl, is such that when it is mixed with water, whose natural structure or organization is expressed as H2O, it tends to dissolve. Gases tend to expand when heated and falling bodies near the surface of the earth tend to accelerate at a constant rate. These are statements of chemical and physical laws. We shall see that precisely the same kind of analysis can be made of laws in economics.
Tendencies are not the same as trends. The latter are merely observed regularities; there need be no implication that an underlying structural feature of the thing in question generates the regularity. This feature of laws is reflected in ordinary language in non-scientific contexts: we might say "He has a tendency to exaggerate." We mean that a disposition to exaggerate is a natural expression of his underlying character. We do not usually mean that he exaggerates whenever it is possible for him to exaggerate. This is part of the meaning of 'tendency.' Thus, tendencies can exist without being exercised. This happens when, e.g. salt is not mixed with water. Salt's nomological tendency to dissolve in water remains its categorical property even in the absence of circumstances in which its tendency to dissolve can be exercised. In addition, tendencies can be exercised without being realized. This is the case in the natural sciences when we observe, in non-laboratory situations, falling bodies accelerating at different rates. Indeed, no falling body in open systems is observed to accelerate at a constant or the same rate. But of course this is not taken to falsify the law of falling bodies. In nature, GMs continue to act in their characteristic ways without producing the patterned outcomes observable in closed experimental systems. This is so because in nature a multiplicity of GMs combine, interact and collide such as to result in the (scientifically irrelevant) flux of phenomena of the everyday world. The realization of a natural tendency can, in other words, be offset by counteracting forces. Thus, empiricism's mistake is to fail to recognize that GMs operate independent of the effects they generate. That is, GMs endure and go on acting (in the way that experimental closure enables us to identify) in nature, i.e. in open systems, where patterned regularities do not prevail. Statements about tendencies are not equivalent, salva veritate, to statements about their effects. Laws may exist and exercise their tendencies or powers even though no Humean "constant conjunctions" are observed. (This would be the case if it happened that the practice of creating closed experimental conditions had never been engaged in, i.e. in a world without science.)
LAWS, GENERATIVE MECHANISMS AND TENDENCIES IN ECONOMICS
GMs are not confined to the natural world. Natural structures are not the only structures there are. Plainly, there are humanely constructed structures. Capitalism is one such structure. Structures of this kind, GMs, that are dynamic by nature, i.e. which are characteristically diachronic, be they natural or socially constituted, share the same ontology. This should not be confused with the radical empiricist (positivist) claim that the natural and the social sciences share the same method. Clearly they do not: closed experimental situations exist but are not typical i istic outcomes ceteris paribus, ie. other things being equal, i.e. ceteris absentibus, other things being absent. When we identify the tendency of a thing, we specify what will happen, as a matter of course, if interfering conditions are absent. That is the point of vacuums in the closed systems created in laboratory experiments: they permit exercised tendencies, i.e. tendencies in operation, to be realized. If we want to know what gases tend to do when acted upon by heat, we eliminate all potential counteracting forces by creating a vacuum in the chamber, so that both gas and heat can express their natures unimpeded.
Thus, implicit in both physical- and social-scientific practice is the crucial distinction between the exercise and the realization (or manifestation) of a tendency. This distinction is essential to structural analysis in economics because of the impossibility of creating the social equivalent of a vacuum in the social sciences, which deal with the open systems of everyday life, where a great many forces and tendencies collide. Accordingly, just as the law of the tendency of falling bodies to accelerate at a constant rate is not falsified by the failure of falling bodies to behave accordingly in open systems, so too, e.g., the law of the tendency of the growth of productive capacity to outpace the growth of profitable investment opportunities -the thesis of secular stagnation theory- is not undermined by the remarkable growth rates of the Golden Age. In both cases, the presence of offsetting factors prevents the structurally generated tendency from being realized or manifested. I argue that the same can be said for any putative economic law.
In social science –and this is most conspicuous in economics, the most theoretically developed of the human sciences- we compensate for the absence of experimentally closed systems by constructing their functional equivalent, which we might call, in terms redolent of Weber, an ideal-typical theoretical model. It is an unfortunate habit (perhaps a tendency in the above-elaborated sense…) of mainstream economists to employ these models as if they described the open-system observable facts of economic life. This is, I suspect, a consequence of the economic empiricist's mistake referred to above, namely to think that GMs, if they must be spoken of at all, are to be conceived as reducible to their effects. (Recall Hume's claim, inspired by his reading of Newton, to expunge all notions of "power", "generation" and "production" from his analyses.) But, as noted above, GMs in both the social and the natural sciences employ unrealistic models, i.e. models which do not pretend to offer the equivalent of a photographic representation of the world. In both natural-scientific experiments and social-scientific ideal-type models, an attempt is made to abstract from the nonessential. We seek to place the spotlight of theory on what is necessary to the situation, system or institution under investigation, and to prescind from the arbitrary and accidental. In economics we seek to identify those features of capitalism that make it what it is. This enables us to identify capitalism's distinct and characteristic tendencies, and to describe what will happen as a result of the exercise of these tendencies, ceteris absentibus.
That there are such tendencies seems to me to be uncontroversial. We all know, for example, that cyclical downturns are not mere empirical contingencies of capitalist development, but structurally generated tendencies which follow inexorably from the specific mode of organization (structure) of capitalism. And like all tendencies, their realization can be offset, as we have seen above, by counteracting factors, such as fiscal and monetary policy. Other examples would be what Marx called the tendencies of capital to concentrate and centralize. The tendency, and corresponding law, with which I will be primarily concerned in this paper is constitutive of the theory of secular stagnation, and is far more likely than the immediately foregoing examples to generate controversy. I refer to the tendency of mature capitalism to suffer from a chronic paucity of profitable industrial investment opportunities, relative to the great magnitude of its investable surplus. Let us look more closely at this tendency.
THE THEORY OF SECULAR STAGNATION
It is worth mentioning that the view that the continuous accumulation of capital is both essential to the normal development of capitalist societies and essentially self-limiting was held by virtually all of the major modern political economists, in the form of one version or another of the doctrine of the falling rate of profit. Adam Smith explained the secular decline of the profit rate by the increasing abundance of capital in a developing capitalist society. Ricardo and Mill believed that the rate of profit would be depressed by the diminishing productivity of the land which would drive up the price of wage goods and therefore of the wages of labor, and so drive down the profits of capital. Marx pointed to the increasing capital-intensity of industry and the paucity of working-class purchasing power relative to the productive capacity of the economy, as the principal threat to the profit rate. And Keynes held that in mature capitalist economies the "marginal efficiency of capital", i.e. the expected rate of return (over cost) on an additional unit of a given capital asset, would tend to decline. All these thinkers had an at least intuitive appreciation of the fact that the growth of capital tends to be terminally self-limiting. (It is worth citing a remark of Joseph Shumpeter at this point:
"Though Keynes's 'breakdown theory is quite different from Marx's, it has an important feature in common with the latter: in both theories, the breakdown is motivated by causes inherent to the working of the economic engine, not by the action of factors external to it.")
In my estimation, no one understood the underlying dynamics of the tendency to stagnation better than the Polish economist Michal Kalecki, who is known to have developed the essentials of Keynes's General Theory before Keynes himself (and to have produced far more elegant mathematical formulations thereof). Perhaps the best way to understand Kalecki's thought is to see him as having argued that certain features of a not-yet-mature industrializing economy persist after the process of industrialization has been accomplished, with the effect that the developed capitalist economy is saddled with a problem of chronic excess capacity. Let me sketch this train of thought.
In the course of their natural growth capitalist economies reach a level of industrial development characterizable as maturity, a point beyond which growth must either cease, or be sustained by exogenous (in a sense to be elucidated below) means. Straight away we are confronted with a rejection of an assumption that is implicit in mainstream neoclassical theory, viz. that both the supply and the demand curves shift, virtually automatically, to the right. On the stagnationist conceptualization of growth or development, the process of development is not everlasting, but rather is at some point accomplished. There is the period, industrialization, during which the economy is developing, and which culminates in a (finally) industrialized or developed infrastructure. At this stage there will have been built up, or "accumulated", a complement of plant and equipment in steel production, machine tools, power stations, transport systems, etc., that is capable of satisfying a level of consumption demand consistent with the moral limits of a reasonably civilized style of life, the constraints imposed by a finite fund of natural resources, and, most importantly for stagnation theory, the limited possibilities of what Marx called "expanded reproduction" imposed by the accumulation process itself.
This account point can be expanded as follows. During any period of industrialization, the growth of the capital goods industry (hereafter, following Marx, Department I, or DI) must outpace the growth of the consumption goods industries (hereafter, again following Marx, Department II, or DII). Indeed, it belongs to the nature of the process of industrialization that the demand for the output of DI cannot be a function of the behavior of consumption demand; during industrialization, investment demand is both rapid and relatively autonomous. For if the principal project is to develop the means of production, then a disproportionate share of national wealth must be devoted to investment/accumulation at the expense of consumption. Strategic capital goods such as transport and communications networks and steel mills cannot be built bit by bit. This is clear with respect to railroads (Recall Keynes's remark that "Two pyramids are better than one, and two masses for the dead better than one; but two railroads from London to York are not necessarily better than one."), but perhaps not as clear with respect to steel facilities.
Suppose 1) that the efficient production of steel requires equipment with the capacity to produce 200,000 tons of steel, and 2) that demand turns out to be for 300,000 tons. The investor has two alternatives, either to forgo an extra market or to take a chance and add another 200.000 tons. On the second alternative, the one virtually assured in a period of (rapid) industrialization, the manufacturer is left with a surplus capacity of 100,000 tons. Here we see, writ small, a crucial source of two basic tendencies of capitalist development, the unrelenting pressure to expand markets, and the tendency to overproduction of a specific kind, namely the overproduction of capital goods, the tendency to overaccumulation. Each of these tendencies is the basis of a corresponding law of economics: Wherever we find a competitive, profit-driven market economy, we must also find a system-driven tendency to expand markets, and: Wherever we find a competitive, profit-driven market economy, we must also find a system-driven tendency for the growth of productive capacity to outpace the growth of effective demand.
As we have seen, all the major classical political economists anticipated the stationary state; they all assumed that the period of development or industrialization would come to an end. Basic industries would be in place, and DI would be capable of meeting all the replacement and expansion demands of DII. Prescinding for the moment from the emergence of new industries, DI would no longer be a source of substantial expansion demand for its own output; most of DI's internal expansion demand would be extinct.
But this is not th hread of classical (and perhaps neoclassical) theory contains the assurance that the capitalist economy provides a mechanism that in the long run counteracts the tendency of the demand for the products of DI to peter out. As one might expect, this is the price mechanism, which brings about, in the circumstances described above, a falling rate of profit (or interest) and thereby a simultaneous check on accumulation and spur to consumption. The causal chain is simple: the fall of the profit rate would lower capital's share of national income, i.e. it would transfer income from capital to labor. Thus, the demand gap created by the sharp waning of DI's expansion demand would be made up by the increase in consumption demand, which would of course mean an expansion in the demand for the output of DII. Moreover, an immediate expansion of DII at the expense of DI in order to assure a rapid transition out of the stationary state would be entirely feasible given the adaptability of certain key industries in DI to new market conditions resulting from the newly-expanded purchasing power of the working class. The construction of new factories could, for example, yield to the construction of new homes.
The theoretical elegance of this scenario is impressive -almost inspirational- but, alas for illusions, the price mechanism does not work this way. For the above-mentioned transfer in national income from capital to labor is supposed to happen when industrialization comes to an end by virtue of its having been accomplished. But from the capitalists' perspective, it is as if nothing counts as industrialization coming to an end. New industries, for example, can create a situation functionally equivalent to industrialization. "Accumulate, accumulate, that is Moses and the prophets."
We have at this point arrived at a picture of a developed capitalist economy which is in a state of permanent industrialization. Excess capacity prevails and working-class income is stagnant or declining. Interestingly, this has in fact been the state of both the U.S. and the global economy since 1973. According to the foregoing analysis, this reflects the fact that the U.S. and global economies are now instances not merely of the exercise of the law of the tendency of mature capitalism to stagnate, but of its realization. To put it differently: these economies are now in their natural state.
But important questions immediately arise. Why are these economies in their natural state now? And if there is a structurally generated tendency for capitalist economies to stagnate, how shall we account for the historically unprecedented growth rates of the Golden Age? I have barely sketched an outline of a response to these challenges above: if there is indeed a tendency for capitalism to stagnate, then there must have been in operation during the Golden Age what I called "counteracting forces and tendencies" which had spent themselves by the mid-1970s. In the absence of new offsetting forces, the tendency to stagnate has, as we should expect, re-asserted itself. These claims require further elaboration, and it is to this task that I now turn.
SECULAR STAGNATION AND TRANSFORMATIONAL GROWTH
In order to account for the actual pattern of capitalist growth in the context of stagnation theory, we must reflect on the kind of growth required by capitalist economic arrangements. Mainstream theory does not distinguish between kinds of growth if and when it addresses the specific requirements of capitalist growth at all. This is, I believe, a serious error. I will begin by introducing the notion of transformational growth, which transforms the entire way of life of society and absorbs exceptionally large amounts of the investible surplus. My point shall be that a capitalist economy cannot sustain growth merely by producing more and more different types of widgets, in the absence of pervasive structural change. Growth sustained in the latter manner is transformational growth.
We are forced to introduce the concept of transformational growth for reasons related to my earlier discussion of the structural features of mature capitalism which generates a chronic tendency to stagnation. I will now embellish this analysis. It should be clear that capitalism cannot grow in the way in which a balloon grows: its growth cannot leave its proportions intact, i.e. such that there are no new products and no new processes of production. This is to say that a capitalist economy either undergoes transformational growth or it stagnates. The argument is as follows.
Investment expands productive capacity, which in turn requires that demand increase at the same rate as potential production. Without the required rate of demand growth, underutilization/excess capacity will discourage further investment or capital accumulation and the result will of course be stagnation. Let us not address this issue in the manner of the neoclassical economist, who seems to assume that both supply and demand curves can be counted on to perennially shift to the right (absent, of course, undue government interference). But this quaint assumption is belied by the enormous literature on the development and indispensability to capitalism of the marketing and advertising industries, which we might view as massive efforts to counteract Keynes's declining marginal propensity to consume by deliberately creating among the consuming masses a full panoply of "manufactured" consumption desires. These considerations point to the need constantly to exogenously stimulate consumption demand in order to narrow the demand gap generated by the tendency to overaccumulation. But they do not yet establish the need to generate a broad, nation-wide pattern of demand required by structural change and transformational growth.
What is needed at this point are concrete examples of the generators of transformational growth, and of exactly how these generators accomplish one of the fundamental features of transformational growth, the mobilization and coordination of the economic resources of the entire country into a grand national project which stimulates demand not merely for this and that consumption good, but for crucial commodities and institutions such as oil, steel rubber, and other primary products, and communication and transportation facilities. What this requires are what Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy termed, in their influential Monopoly Capital (Monthly Review Press, 1966), "epoch-making innovations". Edward Nell and Robert Heilbroner have characterized these same innovations as "transformative innovations". Let me approach transformative innovations by looking at the tendency to stagnation from yet another perspective, one which focuses on the role of competition as a major force behind the growth of both investment and consumption.
Competition reduces the need for investment by tending to increase both productivity and savings. Let us see how this happens. As a result of competition business is under continuous pressure to cut costs and produce more efficiently. To the extent that business succeeds in these respects, productive potential is increased. At the same time, competition also requires business to hold down wages and salaries and to pay out dividend and profit income relatively sparingly. Together, these pressures hold back both worker and capitalist consumption. The result is a tendency for productive capacity to expand faster than consumption. This means that there is no reason for investment to grow, for capital to achieve the required rate of accumulation, unless there are major pressures transforming the way people live. In the absence of such pressures, we may expect stagnation.
There are two dimensions of transformative innovations which are in fact two aspects of the same phenomenon. One dimension is solely technological, and the other points to changes in a population's entire way of life. Neither of these is part of a process of steady, balloon-like growth, nor is either automatically, or normally, generated by the fundamental capitalist dynamics identified by the mainstream textbooks. For this reason I have called the stimulus imparted by these innovations 'exogenous'. Let us look first at the technological dimension of transformative innovation.
This can be identified, after the owl of Minerva has spread its wings, by reflecting on some of the requirements of ideal-typical capitalism. Neoliberals correctly remind us that the bottom line is of course "freedom", primarily the freedom of capital to roam the world seeking markets, sources of cheap labor and investment opportunities. Microecenomic textbooks in fact tend to assume the perfect mobility of both capital and labor.
Let us focus on sources of power, which became especially important after the industrial revolution. Technological development resulted in the virtually total replacement of human and animal muscle power by inanimate sources of power, mainly water and steam. But reliance on water as a source of power places extreme limits on the mobility of capital, and hence on the possibilities of capitalist growth. Water power is site-specific, and the number of rivers and streams is limited. Moreover, the water had to be fast-running and productive facilities had to be located as far downstream as possible. And of course water power is only seasonally available. These restraints alone place an intolerable obstacle to the free and ongoing accumulation of capital. Here we find an overwhelming incentive to switch from water to steam power. This constitutes a huge stimulus to the accumulation of capital on a national scale.
Capitalism requires sources of power that are independent of nature and can be applied constantly wherever they are needed. And these are precisely what steam power made possible. It was now possible to set up productive facilities virtually anywhere; a major fetter to the accumulation of capital was removed. The universal mobility required by capital was now much more fully realized. At this point I want to emphasize that this technological /economic transformation was necessarily accompanied by profound social and cultural changes. For the steam engine's reduction of the seasonality of water power made possible a feature of work that is increasingly common on a global scale: the emergence of modern year-round work habits. With this change comes a dramatic transformation of our notions (and practices) of work and leisure, with all the consequences these have for the felt experience of everyday life. That is an instance of the second dimension of transformative innovation, i.e. its introduction of dramatic cultural changes, changes in the way populations live.
Much the same can be said for the subsequent shift to electrical power, which makes possible trolley cars, refrigerators (as opposed to what used to be called, in the U.S., "ice boxes"), ranges, toasters, radios, washing machines, fans, et al.
The railroad too is a transformative innovation par excellence. Consider the spectacular effects of railroad expansion: internal transport costs are sharply reduced; both new products and new geographical areas are brought into commercial markets; it is now possible to deliver exports to port with unprecedented efficiency, thereby encouraging the extensive development of the export sector; and impetus is provided to the development of the coal, iron and engineering industries. As with the steam engine, these technological and economic benefits wee necessarily accompanied by profound social and cultural changes. The railroads changed the way of life of the people by binding them as never before. The possibility now existed for mass production, mass consumption and indeed mass culture.
And of course the establishment of a national rail network absorbed massive amounts of investible capital, thereby spurring sustainable growth and offsetting the realization of the economic law that capitalist economies tend to stagnate. Apropos: in the latter third of the nineteenth century, railroad investment in the U.S. amounted to more than all investment in manufacturing industries.
And who can doubt that the transformative effects of the introduction of the automobile were epoch-making? The expansion of the automobile industry was the single most important force in the economic expansion of the 1920s. Car production increased threefold during this decade. (The automobile industry produced 12.7% of all manufactured output, employed 7.1% of all manufacturing workers, and paid 8.7% of all industrial wages.) Immediately after World War II the auto industry continued what was to be its breakneck expansion, and the possibilities created thereby constituted what was perhaps the most extensive transformation of the country's way of life in its history.
Consider the stimulus to capital accumulation and employment constituted by the following, each and all a consequence of the increasing automobilization of American society and culture: the migration of the population from the central city to the suburbs and exurbs (first made possible by the streetcar, before the major streetcar operations were bough and then quickly dismantled by the auto companies); the need for surfaced roads, road construction and maintenance, highway construction and maintenance (which had already accounted for 2% of GDP in 1929); the suburbanization of America, with the attendant construction of housing, schools, hospitals, workplaces, and more; the growth of shopping malls; the expansion of the credit industry; the spread of hotels and motels; and of course the growth of the tourism/travel industry. Never before had any population's way of living been transformed so profoundly in so short a period of time. And of course no one has failed to recognize that Americans' main symbol of their most precious possession, their personal freedom/liberty, is their ability to drive, solo, cars that have increasingly come to resemble tanks. Americans' liberty, embodied in the automobile, has become, literally, a commodity.
The long-term growth of the U.S. economy cannot be adequately explained or described without reference to these transformative innovations. None of these are required by the models of capital accumulation found in neoclassical, Keynesian or Marxian growth theory. After the civil war, growth in the last third of the nineteenth century was spurred primarily by the railroads. This stimulus fizzled, as railroad expansion began to slow down, around 1907, when, in spite of extensive electrification of urban (and even some rural) areas, the U.S. economy began a stretch of slow growth, which lasted until the outbreak of World War I. After the end of the War, the economy experienced a brief slump, which was followed by a period of fairly sustained expansion in the 1920s. The latter, as we have seen, was spurred mainly by the growth of the automobile industry. But the rate of growth of the automobile industry slowed down after 1926, and with it the rate of growth of almost all other manufacturing industries. And wages and employment had not risen as rapidly as production, productivity or profits.
In fact, the economic situation in the U.S. at the end of the 1920s bore a remarkable resemblance to the current economic situation in America. After 1926 overcapacity emerged in many key industries, the most significant of these being automobiles, textiles, and residential construction. Contractionary forces are cumulative: excess capacity caused business confidence to decline, with resulting cutbacks in spending on productive capacity in the consumer durables and capital goods industries. The economy was intensely unsound at the end of the 1920s, and the indications at the time were clear. Consumer demand was held down by a steadily growing inequality of income. Thus, an increasing percentage of total purchases were financed by credit in order to foster purchases of consumer durables. About seventy-five percent of all cars were sold on credit. Accordingly, both home mortgages and installment debt grew rapidly. This was the extension of a trend that had begun as early as 1922, when total personal debt began rising faster than disposable income. Thus, underconsumption and traces of excess capacity, key indicators of stagnationist forces, were in effect from the very beginning of the "roaring '20s". These tendencies became increasingly foregrounded over the course of the decade.
Excess capacity in key manufacturing industries was displacing workers from capital-intensive, technologically advanced sectors to industries relatively devoid of technological advance, i.e. service industries such as trade, finance and government. With capital unable to find sufficiently profitable investment opportunities in high-productivity industries, rampant speculative activity ensued, fostered by the growing concentration of income and therefore savings during the decade. More than two thirds of all personal savings was held by slightly over two percent of all families. The wanton optimism of the 1920s led those with substantial savings to want to get richer quickly, and with little effort. The stock market bubble that materialized at the end of the decade seemed to justify the expectations that fortunes could be made overnight in real estate and the stock market. When investors acted on these expectations, the existing bubble became bigger and hence more fragile. To those familiar with the current state of the U.S. economy, the present situation presents itself as history repeating itself -contra Marx- yet again as farce.
FROM GREAT DEPRESSION TO GOLDEN AGE TO NEOLIBERALISM
The mounting instabilities of the economy of the 1920s led to a Depression that was unresponsive to the Roosevelt administration's elevenfold increase in government spending. When U.S. entry into World War II finally brought about a resumption of growth, there was nonetheless an abiding fear among economists that once War spending ceased, the forces and tendencies that had generated the Depression might reassert themselves and exceptionally slow growth could resume. Instead, much to the surprise of many economists, American capitalism began the most sustained period of expansion in its entire history. The period from 1947 to 1973 has come to be called "The Golden Age", and appears, on the face of it, to be a fatal anomaly with respect to secular stagnation theory. After all, if the causes of the Great Depression were structural, and the exogenous stimulus provided by the War was what produced a resumption of growth, how was it possible that the economy, in the absence of powerful exogenous stimulus, exhibited an historically unprecedented period of long-term growth?
I have suggested that sustained national (as opposed to intra-national regional) growth has been engendered by the emergence of transformative innovations, and it is this kind of consideration that I believe offers the most plausible explanation both of Golden-Age expansion and of the petering out of this growth period and the resumption of (global) stagnation. Five stimuli to long-term growth were set in motion after the War, and these were for the most part exogenous in the sense indicated, and essentially limited. I will construe these stimuli as forces counteracting the tendency to stagnation. Once most of these stimuli had spent their potential, stagnationist tendencies re-asserted themselves, and overinvestment became evident once again. With profitable industrial investment opportunities in short supply, the economic surplus was invested instead in what became a vast proliferation of financial instruments. When the bubble created by this process finally burst, it was replaced with a housing bubble. Indeed a variety of bubbles, in financial assets, in housing, in credit, and a substantially overvalued dollar now threaten an historically unparalleled reassertion of the tendency to stagnation. But let us look first at the counteracting forces.
After the War, and as a result of wartime rationing, Americans had accumulated a very large fund of savings, and the time had come when these could finally be spent. This accounted for an immediate surge of consumption spending which temporarily averted the onset of recession. But the effectiveness of this source of spending was soon spent. What truly impelled the sustained growth of the Golden Age was 1) the resumption of a vast expansion of the automobile industry, and with it the stimulation of the broad range of investment and employment opportunities discussed above in connection with automobilization; 2) large-scale economic aid to Europe, which stimulated export demand; 3) a nationwide process of suburbanization, which, in tandem with the expansion of auto production, expanded significantly the demand for the output of every other major industry; 4) the emergence of what president Eisenhower christened the "military-industrial" complex, which provided additional stimulus to the industries most vulnerable to economic instability, the industries of DI, the capital goods sector; and finally 5) the steady and growing expansion of business and especially consumer credit, which in recent years has assumed elephantine proportions.
Three of these factors bear the two most important features of epoch-making innovations. The expansion of the auto industry, suburbanization, and the ever-increasing expansion and extension of credit all absorb massive amounts of investible surplus, and transform the mode of life of the entire population. In so doing they impart a massive push to the macro-growth process. The first two of these have their initial direct effect on investment. The third factor, the growing importance of credit, affects both investment and consumption, but the long-term trend of the credit industry in the U.S., evident now in hindsight, is much more significant in relation to consumption. There is now in the States a credit bubble of menacing proportions, with consumers now in debt to the tune of about107% of disposable income. The Marshall Plan (number 2 above) affected mainly and directly investment and employment, with boosts to consumption following thereupon. By the mid- to late-1970s, the employment-generating capacity of the military had declined. Washington determined, in the light of the defeat in Vietnam, that hi-tech warfare, which is of course technology- rather than labor-intensive, must replace traditional forms of subversion and aggression, in order to render less likely a repeat of the "Vietnam Syndrome."
It is worth mentioning that the military-industrial complex and the vast extension of consumer credit were what constituted what Joan Robinson called "bastard Keynesianism" in the United States. Recall that Keynes had insisted that fiscal and monetary policy were necessary but not sufficient conditions for avoiding stagnation. The tendency to stagnation could be offset for the long run only if some key industries were nationalized, and income redistributed. Nationalization would allow the State to offset lagging demand by providing cheap inputs to the private sector, thereby enabling lower prices. And redistributing income would transfer liquidity from those who had more than they could either consume or invest to those whose consumption demand was severely constrained.
American policymakers saw it as their challenge to reap the effects of nationalization and redistribution without actually nationalizing industries or redistributing income. The solution was ingenious: the military-industrial complex would be the functional equivalent of state-owned industries, and would, as noted above, stimulate the demand for the output of those very firms that produced capital goods. And the extension of consumer credit would allow working people to mortgage future years' incomes and spend more without a corresponding increase in either their private or their social wage.
As mentioned earlier, these forces counteracting the tendency to stagnation were all inherently limited and temporary. By the late 1960s, the automobile industry had achieved maturity, suburbanization had been accomplished, and aid to Europe had not only long ended, but had apparently created for America the economic equivalent of Frankenstein's monster. Europe and Japan were now formidable threats to U.S. economic hegemony. (Germany, for example, has overtaken the U.S. as an exporter of capital goods.) These three colossal absorbers of surplus were now no longer in operation. In the mid-1960s social spending had overtaken military spending as the larger share of government spending. And credit had begun to function as a supplement to declining real income, rather than a further addition to growing income.
These combined developments rendered the post-War counters to the realization of the tendency to stagnation obsolete. The result was the onset of stagnation not only in the U.S. but also worldwide. In America there has been overcapacity in autos, steel, shipbuilding and petrochemicals since the mid- to late-1970s.
This general picture is widely reflected in the business press. Business Week noted that "..supply outpaces demand everywhere, sending prices lower, eroding corporate profits and increasing layoffs" (Jan. 25, 1999, p. 118). The former chairman of General Electric claimed that "..there is excess capacity in almost every industry" (The New York Times, Nov. 16, 1997, p. 3). The Wall Street Journal noted that "..from cashmere to blue jeans, silver jewelry to aluminum cans, the world is in oversupply" (Nov. 30, 1998, p. A17). And The Economist fretted that " the gap between sales and capacity is "at its widest since the 1930s" (Feb. 20, 1999, p. 15). At this time excess capacity in steel is exceeding twenty percent, in autos it has fluctuated around 30%. And these figures look good in comparison to unused capacity numbers in the "industries of the future" of the "New Economy", semiconductors and telecommunications. Not long ago, ninety-seven percent of fibre optic capacity was idle.
MAINSTREAM ECONOMICS AND STAGNATION THEORY
Let us begin with the indisputable fact that the regime of neoliberalism has brought with it a substantial decline in economic growth. The most widely cited study on this issue, produced for the IECD by Angus Maddison, shows that the annual rate of growth of real global GDP fell from 4.9% in 1950-1973 to 3 % in 1973-1998, a drop of 39 %. Theoretical commitments can guide perception: neoliberal economists either denied or ignored the decline in global growth because of their reliance on Say's Law, that it is not possible for total demand to fall below full-capacity supply over the long run. In my earlier remarks I offered an explanation of sluggish growth rates since 1973. Many orthodox economics have done something similar: they have offered explanations of the initial rise in excess capacity. But what has not been explained is why global supply did not eventually adjust itself to the slower rate of demand growth, with the result that in the mid-1970s the global economy would enter a period of sluggish expansion. And it is worth mentioning that even Keynesian macro-theory is inadequate in this regard. It assumes that slow growth in aggregate demand will result in a proportionate decline in the growth of aggregate supply through its effect upon investment and therefore productivity.
An adequate explanation of the sustained character of excess capacity can be constructed from insights from Schumpeter, Marx and the contemporary economist James Crotty. The analysis that follows should be understood within the framework of the version of secular stagnation theory sketched above.
Before the shift to neoliberal policies by Jimmy Carter, Reagan and Thatcher, the global economy was already subject to downward pressures on demand growth resulting from two oil price shocks and the restrictive macro policy imposed in response to oil-price induced inflation. These impediments to demand growth were exacerbated by neoliberal policies. In combination, these forces led to a sharp rise in excess capacity in globally competing industries. At the same time competitive pressures were further intensified by the reduction of the market power of national oligopolies caused by the removal of protectionist barriers to the free movement of goods and money across national boundaries. Accordingly, competitive pressures between nations rose dramatically. In this context, normal stagnationist tendencies operated to further constrain global demand growth and further reproduce industrial capacity faster than either neoclassical or Keynesian theory could comprehend.
The Achilles Heel of neoclassical theory with respect to its inability to account for the persistence of overcapacity during the neoliberal period is its account of competition. So-called "perfect competition" is alleged to lead to maximum efficiency and the elimination of excess capacity. This claim appears inconsistent with the history of real-world, pre- and post-oligopolistic competition. Textbook-like competition has led to periodic market gluts or overproduction crises, price wars, plummeting profits, unbearable debt burdens and violent labor relations. Neoclassical theory banishes these demons with the aid of two assumptions which appear designed explicitly to make them impossible. The first assumption claims that production cost per unit rises rapidly as output increases, and the second that exit from low-profit industries is free or costless. If these assumptions were indeed true, then pure competition could not be shown to have stagnation- or depression-inducing effects. But these assumptions are, I shall suggest, false.
I will begin with the least plausible of these two assumptions. It states that there is free or costless exit from low-profit industries. But productive assets are typically immobile or irreversible, i.e., they are not liquid, and this forces a sizeable loss in the value of a firm's capital should it choose to leave an unprofitable industry. Whether they are sold on a second-hand market or reallocated to a different industry, productive assets will lose substantial value. Capital flowing out of the aerospace industry has been found to sell for one third of its replacement cost. Insolvent telecom firms in the U.S. have sold their assets for 20 cents on the dollar. And isn't this what one would expect? For it is usually poor profit prospects and/or great excess capacity that heighten a firm's incentive to leave an industry. But it is precisely those circumstances which deeply depress the price of industry-specific assets on the second-hand market, since the supply of these assets grows even as the demand for them has collapsed.
Before I turn to the slightly more plausible (yet still false) assumption -that unit production cost rises dramatically as output increases- I will outline the corollary of neoclassical theory itself which neoclassical economists seek to evade by introducing this assumption. The theory tells us that pure competition will force price down until it covers marginal cost. Now if unit production cost remained constant irrespective of the output level, then marginal production cost and average production cost per unit would be equal. When perfect competition forces price to equal marginal cost, total revenue will be equal to total production cost. But in this case there will be no revenue left over either to pay the "fixed" cost of maintaining capital stock in the face of depreciation or obsolescence, or to pay interest and/or dividends to investors. Thus, perfect competition is seen to cause the representative firm to suffer, in each production period, a loss that is equal to fixed costs. Keeping in mind that most important global industries have huge fixed costs, no industry could long survive the consequences of intense competition.
We seem to have found a tendency to stagnation or complete system breakdown where we would least expect to find it - in neoclassical theory itself. But the theory claims to have a response to this embarrassment. It simply denies the claim that appears to entail the undesired consequence, namely the claim that unit production cost remains constant no matter what the output level. Armed now with the (false) assumption that unit production cost rises rapidly as production increases, the conclusion is drawn that marginal cost and price are greater than average unit production cost. Thus, in equilibrium, the gap between price and average production cost is sufficiently large to cover all fixed costs. Let competition be as fierce as you wish, the typical firm will not lose money. Voila!
I have claimed that each of the rescuing assumptions discussed above is false. What would realistic assumptions about marginal cost and the reversibility of invested capital look like? To answer this question we must recognize the distinctive character of the dominant industries of global trade and investment. These industries include steel, autos, aircraft, shipbuilding, petrochemicals, consumer durables, electronics, semiconductors and banking. Studies of this type of industry suggest that marginal cost does not typically rise with output, with the rare exception of cases when the industry is producing near full capacity output. Marginal cost behaves as we would expect in cases of economies of scale: it remains constant or declines as capacity utilization rises. It follows that if free competition forces price to equal marginal cost in these industries, we should count on an ensuing wave of bankruptcies. Here again we see that neoclassical theory, corrected for unrealistic assumptions, seems to commit us to conceptualize mature capitalism as subject to the law of an inherent tendency to stagnation or worse.
The issue I am focusing on here turns on the dynamics of unrestricted competition among oligopolies in the context of economies of scale. The importance of economies of scale underscores the crucial similarity of all the dominant industries, including the new information-technology and telecommunications (ITC) industries. I stress this point because influential neoclassical economists have wanted to claim a significant difference, with respect to overcapacity problems, between the ITC industries and the other dominant industries. For purposes of explaining the persistence of excess capacity under neoliberalism, we want to remember that as scale economies grow, marginal costs fall as fixed costs per unit rise. Thus, the greater the economies of scale, the more destructive becomes the marginal cost pricing required by intense competition. With this in mind, we can more easily see that 1) these dynamics in especially conspicuous operation in the ITC industries, and 2) that such differences as there are between ITC and the other dominant oligopolies are insignificant for the analysis of secular stagnation theory, and of capitalist growth in general.
The key issue right now, recall, is the highly destructive consequences of the tendency of free competition among dominant industries to force price to equal marginal cost. That this is the case is easier to see in the ITC sector than in the other dominant industries. This is because in ITC marginal cost is often close to zero. Producing another copy of software or adding another customer to eBay is virtually costless. This has led many mainstream economists to argue that ITC industries are exempt from the laws of the neoclassical theory of perfect competition. Since ITC firms have marginal costs much lower than their large fixed costs, the argument goes, the possession of at least temporary monopoly power is the only guarantee of an incentive to produce anything at all. Without monopoly pricing power prices will be competed down to marginal cost and fixed costs will be unable to be covered. Thus, the motor of the "new economy" is said to be the constant pursuit of monopoly power. But, contrary to the neoclassical claim, none of this distinguishes significantly between ITC and other key industries. The drive to monopoly power is characteristic of all large corporations in the present age.
As Paul Sweezy argued in his Marshall Lectures, the typical firm in an oligopolized industry strives to be a monopolist. Each firm does this individually, and they all do it collectively. Individual firms seek monopoly status through the sales effort, where the firm's product is put forth as the best in the industry and as different from all the others. Firms within the same industry seek to approach monopoly status by collusion with respect to pricing policy, especially by agreeing to refrain from cutthroat price competition. For reasons developed at length above, therefore, all dominant firms, whether old- or new-economy operations, will tend to achieve monopoly status and to be chronically saddled with excess capacity.
A SCANDALOUSLY BRIEF LOOK AT SLOW-GROWTH CAPITALISM
We are in the midst of another unparalleled period of historical capitalism. Since the onset of stagnation, the median wage in the States has not changed at all for the vast majority of wage workers. Over the past six quarters the gowth of wage income has been negative. A brief sketch of the state of the U.S. economy toward the end of last year highlights features whose most plausible explanation may lie in the fact of secular stagnation. If stagnation theory is accurate, what follows is precisely what we would expect to find. The current state of the U.S. and the global economy is best understood, I believe, against the background too briefly elaborated above. Here is a picture of the U.S. economy today. The key to a healthy economy is job- and income-creating investment in capital goods, which in turn generates a virtuous cycle of further growth in investment, jobs and income. Ominously, the investment, growth, employment and income pictures are unprecedentedly dismal.
Compared to cyclical recoveries between 1949 and 1973, recoveries during the neoliberal period have been weak. Indeed, one or two of the post-1973 upturns has been weaker than some downturns during the Golden Age. Since the stock market collapse of four years ago, the situation has worsened. Growth rates since 2000 have been half their previous average. Even this weak performance required historically unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus: 13 rate cuts, three tax cuts, massive government deficits and record growth in money and credit.
Official figures mask the economy's most serious problems. Growth figures are annualized by U.S. statisticians. Thus, the much-touted 7.1% growth rate in the third quarter of 2003 was the one that would emerge after twelve months if the current trend were to continue. The same growth rate would have been reported in the eurozone as 1.8%. This is an uncommonly weak performance.
Investment data are equally misleading. Since the mid-1990s the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has adjusted upward actual business dollar outlays on computers and related equipment to take into account quality improvements (faster processors, bigger hard drives, more memory). BEA calls this "hedonic adjustment." Accordingly, the BEA estimates that business high-tech investment quadrupled between 1996 and 2002, from $70.9 to $283.7. But in actual dollars spent, the increase was only from $70.9 billion to $74.2 billion, very low by historic standards. The high-tech boom was both greatly exaggerated and misleading. After all, neither profits nor wages are taken in "hedonically adjusted" dollars.
The difference between real and hedonic outlays explains what would otherwise be a paradoxical feature of the years 2000-2003: government was reporting big increases in high-tech investment, while manufacturers were bemoaning declining sales.
Hedonic pricing has accounted for a steadily rising percentage of all reported capital investment. But if we look at actual dollars spent, we find that since 1998 the growth rate of business fixed investment has actually been declining. Real capital investment has in fact not been this weak since the Great Depression.
The fudging of investment figures also obscures the sorry state of the jobs market. The Commerce Department's figures on nonresidential investment for the third and fourth quarters of 2003 reported increases of, respectively, 12.8 and 9.6%. A closer look reveals that the "adjusted" hi-tech sector is the only bright spot, with production and capacity rising, respectively, 24.6% and 11.1% over the past year. But hi-tech is not where significant jobs increases are found. Employment in hi-tech has declined steadily through the so-called "recovery" since its 2001 peak.
In non-hi-tech manufacturing, where investment figures are not adjusted, production from January 2003 to January 2004 rose only 0.9%, while capacity actually declined -0.2%. This represents a record nineteen-straight-month decline in mainline manufacturing capacity. Since it is mainline manufacturing which employs almost 95% of all manufacturing workers, it comes as no surprise that for the first time since the Great Depression the economy has gone more than three years without creating any jobs.
The jobs crisis is even worse than it appears. Here again statistical sleight-of-hand, this time by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), obscures economic reality. Based on data gathered employing the "net birth/death adjustment," BLS announced in April, 2004, that the long-awaited jobs recovery had finally arrived. Nonfarm payrolls had allegedly surged by a whopping 308,000 in March, 2004. The birth/death model uses business deaths to "impute" employment from business births. Thus, as more businesses fail, more new jobs are imputed to have materialized through business births. This improbable statistical artefact accounts for about half of the reported 308,000 March, 2004 payroll increase.
The birth/death model is based on statistics covering 1998-2002. This was a period of explosive telecom and dot.com startups, quite unlike today's flat economic landscape. Thus, two thirds of the 947,000 new jobs BLS "imputed" for March-May, 2004, were never actually counted by BLS and never reported by any firm.
BlS's household and establishment surveys tell a more sobering story. March employment by private industry actually fell by 175,000, and the number of self-employed workers declined by 288,000. Without the simultaneous increase of 439,000 government jobs, the March job announcement would have been a calamity. And both average weekly hours and total hours worked declined markedly, even as (according to the dubious birth/death findings) the work force increased. This is the first time in U.S. history that net job growth has been negative 26 months into a recovery.
The wage and salary picture has also set grim records. During the current recovery, wage and salary growth has actually been negative, at -0.6%, in contrast to the average increase of 7.2% characteristic of this point into each of the other eight post-War recoveries. In fact, median family income in the post-War period exhibits an ominous trend. From 1947 to 1967, real median family income rose by 75%. But since 1967, it has grown by only 30%.
Labor's losses have been capital's gain: since the peak of the last recovery, in the first quarter of 2001, corporate profits have risen 62.2%, compared to the average of 13.9% at the same point in the last eight recoveries. Never in American history has any recorded recovery had such a lopsided balance in the distribution of income gains between labor and capital.
Given the dismal investment, wage/salary and employment pictures, how has it been possible for consumption to have risen to 71% of GDP in the early nineties, from its prior post-War average of 66%? The answer is a growth rate of consumer debt never seen before in America. For the first time ever, in March 2001, overall debt levels (mortgage debt plus consumer debt, mainly credit card debt and car loans) rose above annual disposable income. And from 2001 to 2004 consumer debt rose from 101% to 116% of disposable income. In the first half of 2004, consumer borrowing has been at its highest ever. It has declined slightly in the meantime. So has consumer spending. Should Americans decide to significantly increase their saving and service debts, while lowering correspondingly their consumption expenditures, the global economy could experience a major disruption.
Up until very recently, consumers had stepped up their borrowing to compensate for slowing income growth. Thus, such growth as the U.S. has experienced in recent years has been almost entirely consumption- and debt-driven. More fundamentally, it has been bubble-driven, fueled principally by bubbles in home values and credit.
Since the collapse of stock market/hi-tech bubbles in 2001, the illusory "wealth effect" has been sustained, and consumer spending thereby encouraged, by another bubble, the enormous inflation of house prices. The biggest increase in household debt came from home mortgage debt, especially home mortgage refinancing. With mortgage rates low and home prices rising, households' home equity ballooned. Bloated home equity then provided rising collateral to underwrite still more borrowing.
What makes this especially problematic is that over the last ten years, the average family has suffered under large increases in health premiums, housing costs, tuition fees and child care costs. As a result, households' and individuals' margin of protection against insolvency has dramatically declined. Filings for personal bankruptcy are approaching a record high.
There are indications that these weaknesses and imbalances in the economy are reaching a critical mass. The mortgage refi boom has fizzled, and consumer spending is beginning to decline. Two years ago the Fed's quarterly Beige Book reported a disturbing shift in the composition of credit spending: more and more families are using their credit cards to finance spending on essentials, such as food and energy.
It is no exaggeration to say that both the U.S. economy and the global economy are hugely dependent on the American consumer's increasing willingness to spend more than (s)he makes. (Imported goods have been a rising proportion of all goods purchased here.) Thus, a decline in U.S. consumer spending portends further declines in investment, jobs and income. From January to July of 2004, consumer spending rose at an annual rate of 2.8%, down from 3.3% in 2003 and 3.1 % in 2002. For perspective, during the boom years 1999-2000, growth rates were 5.1% and 4.7%.
Spending on consumer durables is the most significant indicator of healthy growth, and the drastically lower spending in this area is cause for alarm: spending for consumer durables was down to $23.5 billion in the first seven months of this year, in contrast to $71 billion on 2003 and $58 billion in 2002.
Should consumer spending continue to decline, the economy faces the genuine likelihood of a severe recession. Of course not a single American politician addresses this issue.
What is required is a shift from bubble-, debt-, and consumption-driven growth to investment- and income-driven growth. This in turn necessitates a decline in Americas principal export, jobs. Domestic job growth, a higher minimum wage, tax cuts aimed predominantly at low- and middle-income families, a sharp reduction in defense spending and a redirection of these funds to long-neglected and pressing social needs such as health care reform, the provision of universal pre-school, and across-the-board repair and upgrading of America's deteriorated infrastructure of roads, highways,tunnels and bridges, all these should be at the forefront of a Democratic administration's agenda. The restoration of infrastructure is especially labor intensive, and would generate an enormous number of productive jobs. And as a national project spearheaded by government initiative, government would emerge as a major employer.
All this si entirely incompatible with the overwhelming neoliberal bent of even the most "liberal" political leaders. It was after all Bill Clinton who urinated on the grave of Franklin Roosevelt when he proclaimed "the end of welfare as we know it".
As unfashionable as it is to suggest such a thing at a conference of economists, the only hope for the world's majority seems to be the revival of the kinds of mass movements witnessed here in May of 1968, and throughout the world during the 1960s. And time may be short.
Alan Nasser is Professor emeritus of Political Economy and Philosophy at The Evergreen State College. His book, The “New Normal”: Persistent Austerity, Declining Democracy and the Globalization of Resistance will be published by Pluto Press in 2013. If you would like to be notified when the book is released, please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Palley » Blog Archive » Explaining Stagnation Why it Matters
John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff clearly identify stagnation in their 2009 book The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (HERE). They conclude with a section titled “Back to the real economy: the stagnation problem” and they write:
“It was the reality of economic stagnation beginning in the 1970s, as heterodox economists Ricardo Belliofiore and Joseph Halevi have recently emphasized, that led to the emergence of “the new financialized capitalist regime,” a kind of “paradoxical financial Keynesianiasm” whereby demand in the economy was stimulated primarily “thanks to asset-bubbles” (Foster and Magdoff, p.129).”
My own 2009 New America Foundation report, “America’s Exhausted Paradigm: Macroeconomic Causes of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession”, concluded (HERE):
“The bottom line is macroeconomic failure rooted in America’s flawed economic paradigm is the ultimate cause of the financial crisis and Great Recession…. Now, there is a grave danger that policymakers only focus on financial market reform and ignore reform of America’s flawed economic paradigm. In that event, though the economy may stabilize, it will likely be unable to escape the pull of economic stagnation. That is because stagnation is the logical next stage of the existing paradigm.”
That report became a core chapter in my 2012 book, From Financial Crisis to Stagnation, the blurb for which reads (HERE):
“The U.S. economy today is confronted with the prospect of extended stagnation. This book explores why…. Financial deregulation and the house price bubble kept the economy going by making ever more credit available. As the economy cannibalized itself by undercutting income distribution and accumulating debt, it needed larger speculative bubbles to grow. That process ended when the housing bubble burst. The earlier post–World War II economic model based on rising middle-class incomes has been dismantled, while the new neoliberal model has imploded. Absent a change of policy paradigm, the logical next step is stagnation. The political challenge we face now is how to achieve paradigm change.”
The big analytical difference between Foster and Magdoff and myself is that they see stagnation as inherent to capitalism whereas I see it as the product of neoliberal economic policy. Foster and Magdoff partake of the Baran-Sweezy tradition that recommends deeper socialist transformation. I use a structural Keynesian framework that recommends reconstructing the income and demand generation mechanism via policies that include rebuilding worker bargaining power, reforming globalization, and reining in corporations and financial markets.
Larry Summers’ story of serial bubbles delaying stagnation has substantial similarities with both accounts but he avoids blaming either capitalism or neoliberalism. That is hardly surprising as Summers has been a chief architect of the neoliberal system and remains committed to it, though he now wants to soften its impact. Instead, he appeals to the black box of “secular stagnation” as ultimate cause and suggests fiscal policies that would ameliorate the demand shortage problem. However, those policies would not remedy the root cause of stagnation as they leave the economic architecture unchanged.
Though Summers and Krugman are relative late-comers to the stagnation hypothesis, they have still done a great public service by drawing attention to it. Now that stagnation has been identified, the real debate can begin.
The questions are what caused stagnation and what must be done to restore shared prosperity? There is no guarantee we will answer those questions correctly (my prior is mainstream economists will continue their track record of getting it wrong). But it is absolutely certain we will not get the right answer if we do not ask the right question. So thank you Larry Summers and Paul Krugman for putting stagnation on the table. Let the debate begin.
Tha means the major defeat for “stabilization policies” that were supposed to smooth the capitalist industrial cycle and abolish panics. And the problem preceeds the 2008 panic itself.
The highly misleading unemployment rate calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor notwithstanding, there has been a massive growth in long-term unemployment in the U.S. in the wake of the crisis, as shown by the declining percentage of the U.S. population actually working.
The current situation also refute the key tenet of neoclassical economy (which is pseudo-religious doctrine, so that only increase fanatic devotion of its well-paid adherents). Neoclassical economists insisted that since a “free market economy” naturally tends toward an equilibrium with full employment of both workers and machines, the economy should should quickly return to “full employment” after a recession. This is not the case. See also Secular Stagnation Lawrence H. Summers
There were several uncessful attempts to explaint his situation from neoclassical positions. In Secular Stagnation, Coalmines, Bubbles, and Larry Summers - NYTimes.com Paul Krugman emphasized the liquidity trap – zero lower bound to interest rates which supposedly prevents spending from reaching a level sufficient for full employment.
Larry’s formulation of our current economic situation is the same as my own. Although he doesn’t use the words “liquidity trap”, he works from the understanding that we are an economy in which monetary policy is de facto constrained by the zero lower bound (even if you think central banks could be doing more), and that this corresponds to a situation in which the “natural” rate of interest – the rate at which desired savings and desired investment would be equal at full employment – is negative.
And as he also notes, in this situation the normal rules of economic policy don’t apply. As I like to put it, virtue becomes vice and prudence becomes folly. Saving hurts the economy – it even hurts investment, thanks to the paradox of thrift. Fixating on debt and deficits deepens the depression. And so on down the line.
This is the kind of environment in which Keynes’s hypothetical policy of burying currency in coalmines and letting the private sector dig it up – or my version, which involves faking a threat from nonexistent space aliens – becomes a good thing; spending is good, and while productive spending is best, unproductive spending is still better than nothing.
Larry also indirectly states an important corollary: this isn’t just true of public spending. Private spending that is wholly or partially wasteful is also a good thing, unless it somehow stores up trouble for the future. That last bit is an important qualification. But suppose that U.S. corporations, which are currently sitting on a huge hoard of cash, were somehow to become convinced that it would be a great idea to fit out all their employees as cyborgs, with Google Glass and smart wristwatches everywhere. And suppose that three years later they realized that there wasn’t really much payoff to all that spending. Nonetheless, the resulting investment boom would have given us several years of much higher employment, with no real waste, since the resources employed would otherwise have been idle.
OK, this is still mostly standard, although a lot of people hate, just hate, this kind of logic – they want economics to be a morality play, and they don’t care how many people have to suffer in the process.
But now comes the radical part of Larry’s presentation: his suggestion that this may not be a temporary state of affairs.
2. An economy that needs bubbles?
We now know that the economic expansion of 2003-2007 was driven by a bubble. You can say the same about the latter part of the 90s expansion; and you can in fact say the same about the later years of the Reagan expansion, which was driven at that point by runaway thrift institutions and a large bubble in commercial real estate.
So you might be tempted to say that monetary policy has consistently been too loose. After all, haven’t low interest rates been encouraging repeated bubbles?
But as Larry emphasizes, there’s a big problem with the claim that monetary policy has been too loose: where’s the inflation? Where has the overheated economy been visible?
So how can you reconcile repeated bubbles with an economy showing no sign of inflationary pressures? Summers’s answer is that we may be an economy that needs bubbles just to achieve something near full employment – that in the absence of bubbles the economy has a negative natural rate of interest. And this hasn’t just been true since the 2008 financial crisis; it has arguably been true, although perhaps with increasing severity, since the 1980s.
One way to quantify this is, I think, to look at household debt. Here’s the ratio of household debt to GDP since the 50s:
There was a sharp increase in the ratio after World War II, but from a low base, as families moved to the suburbs and all that. Then there were about 25 years of rough stability, from 1960 to around 1985. After that, however, household debt rose rapidly and inexorably, until the crisis struck.
So with all that household borrowing, you might have expected the period 1985-2007 to be one of strong inflationary pressure, high interest rates, or both. In fact, you see neither – this was the era of the Great Moderation, a time of low inflation and generally low interest rates. Without all that increase in household debt, interest rates would presumably have to have been considerably lower – maybe negative. In other words, you can argue that our economy has been trying to get into the liquidity trap for a number of years, and that it only avoided the trap for a while thanks to successive bubbles.
And if that’s how you see things, when looking forward you have to regard the liquidity trap not as an exceptional state of affairs but as the new normal.
3. Secular stagnation?
How did this happen? Larry explicitly invokes the notion of secular stagnation, associated in particular with Alvin Hansen (pdf). He doesn’t say why this might be happening to us now, but it’s not hard to think of possible reasons.
Back in the day, Hansen stressed demographic factors: he thought slowing population growth would mean low investment demand. Then came the baby boom. But this time around the slowdown is here, and looks real.
Think of it this way: during the period 1960-85, when the U.S. economy seemed able to achieve full employment without bubbles, our labor force grew an average 2.1 percent annually. In part this reflected the maturing of the baby boomers, in part the move of women into the labor force.
This growth made sustaining investment fairly easy: the business of providing Americans with new houses, new offices, and so on easily absorbed a fairly high fraction of GDP.
Now look forward. The Census projects that the population aged 18 to 64 will grow at an annual rate of only 0.2 percent between 2015 and 2025. Unless labor force participation not only stops declining but starts rising rapidly again, this means a slower-growth economy, and thanks to the accelerator effect, lower investment demand.
By the way, in a Samuelson consumption-loan model, the natural rate of interest equals the rate of population growth. Reality is a lot more complicated than that, but I don’t think it’s foolish to guess that the decline in population growth has reduced the natural real rate of interest by something like an equal amount (and to note that Japan’s shrinking working-age population is probably a major factor in its secular stagnation.)
There may be other factors – a Bob Gordonesque decline in innovation, etc.. The point is that it’s not hard to think of reasons why the liquidity trap could be a lot more persistent than anyone currently wants to admit.
4. Destructive virtue
If you take a secular stagnation view seriously, it has some radical implications – and Larry goes there.
Currently, even policymakers who are willing to concede that the liquidity trap makes nonsense of conventional notions of policy prudence are busy preparing for the time when normality returns. This means that they are preoccupied with the idea that they must act now to head off future crises. Yet this crisis isn’t over – and as Larry says, “Most of what would be done under the aegis of preventing a future crisis would be counterproductive.”
He goes on to say that the officially respectable policy agenda involves “doing less with monetary policy than was done before and doing less with fiscal policy than was done before,” even though the economy remains deeply depressed. And he says, a bit fuzzily but bravely all the same, that even improved financial regulation is not necessarily a good thing – that it may discourage irresponsible lending and borrowing at a time when more spending of any kind is good for the economy.
Amazing stuff – and if we really are looking at secular stagnation, he’s right.
Of course, the underlying problem in all of this is simply that real interest rates are too high. But, you say, they’re negative – zero nominal rates minus at least some expected inflation. To which the answer is, so? If the market wants a strongly negative real interest rate, we’ll have persistent problems until we find a way to deliver such a rate.
One way to get there would be to reconstruct our whole monetary system – say, eliminate paper money and pay negative interest rates on deposits. Another way would be to take advantage of the next boom – whether it’s a bubble or driven by expansionary fiscal policy – to push inflation substantially higher, and keep it there. Or maybe, possibly, we could go the Krugman 1998/Abe 2013 route of pushing up inflation through the sheer power of self-fulfilling expectations.
Any such suggestions are, of course, met with outrage. How dare anyone suggest that virtuous individuals, people who are prudent and save for the future, face expropriation? How can you suggest steadily eroding their savings either through inflation or through negative interest rates? It’s tyranny!
But in a liquidity trap saving may be a personal virtue, but it’s a social vice. And in an economy facing secular stagnation, this isn’t just a temporary state of affairs, it’s the norm. Assuring people that they can get a positive rate of return on safe assets means promising them something the market doesn’t want to deliver – it’s like farm price supports, except for rentiers.
Oh, and one last point. If we’re going to have persistently negative real interest rates along with at least somewhat positive overall economic growth, the panic over public debt looks even more foolish than people like me have been saying: servicing the debt in the sense of stabilizing the ratio of debt to GDP has no cost, in fact negative cost.
I could go on, but by now I hope you’ve gotten the point. What Larry did at the IMF wasn’t just give an interesting speech. He laid down what amounts to a very radical manifesto. And I very much fear that he may be right.
A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like. I am referring not to the standard false promises that children are always given (about how the world is fair, or how those who work hard shall be rewarded), but to a particular generational promise—given to those who were children in the fifties, sixties, seventies, or eighties—one that was never quite articulated as a promise but rather as a set of assumptions about what our adult world would be like. And since it was never quite promised, now that it has failed to come true, we’re left confused: indignant, but at the same time, embarrassed at our own indignation, ashamed we were ever so silly to believe our elders to begin with.
Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now? Even those inventions that seemed ready to emerge—like cloning or cryogenics—ended up betraying their lofty promises. What happened to them?
We are well informed of the wonders of computers, as if this is some sort of unanticipated compensation, but, in fact, we haven’t moved even computing to the point of progress that people in the fifties expected we’d have reached by now. We don’t have computers we can have an interesting conversation with, or robots that can walk our dogs or take our clothes to the Laundromat.
As someone who was eight years old at the time of the Apollo moon landing, I remember calculating that I would be thirty-nine in the magic year 2000 and wondering what the world would be like. Did I expect I would be living in such a world of wonders? Of course. Everyone did. Do I feel cheated now? It seemed unlikely that I’d live to see all the things I was reading about in science fiction, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t see any of them.
At the turn of the millennium, I was expecting an outpouring of reflections on why we had gotten the future of technology so wrong. Instead, just about all the authoritative voices—both Left and Right—began their reflections from the assumption that we do live in an unprecedented new technological utopia of one sort or another.
The common way of dealing with the uneasy sense that this might not be so is to brush it aside, to insist all the progress that could have happened has happened and to treat anything more as silly. “Oh, you mean all that Jetsons stuff?” I’m asked—as if to say, but that was just for children! Surely, as grown-ups, we understand The Jetsons offered as accurate a view of the future as The Flintstones offered of the Stone Age.
Surely, as grown-ups, we understand The Jetsons offered as accurate a view of the future as The Flintstones did of the Stone Age.
Even in the seventies and eighties, in fact, sober sources such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian were informing children of imminent space stations and expeditions to Mars. Creators of science fiction movies used to come up with concrete dates, often no more than a generation in the future, in which to place their futuristic fantasies. In 1968, Stanley Kubrick felt that a moviegoing audience would find it perfectly natural to assume that only thirty-three years later, in 2001, we would have commercial moon flights, city-like space stations, and computers with human personalities maintaining astronauts in suspended animation while traveling to Jupiter. Video telephony is just about the only new technology from that particular movie that has appeared—and it was technically possible when the movie was showing. 2001 can be seen as a curio, but what about Star Trek? The Star Trek mythos was set in the sixties, too, but the show kept getting revived, leaving audiences for Star Trek Voyager in, say, 2005, to try to figure out what to make of the fact that according to the logic of the program, the world was supposed to be recovering from fighting off the rule of genetically engineered supermen in the Eugenics Wars of the nineties.
By 1989, when the creators of Back to the Future II were dutifully placing flying cars and anti-gravity hoverboards in the hands of ordinary teenagers in the year 2015, it wasn’t clear if this was meant as a prediction or a joke.
The usual move in science fiction is to remain vague about the dates, so as to render “the future” a zone of pure fantasy, no different than Middle Earth or Narnia, or like Star Wars, “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” As a result, our science fiction future is, most often, not a future at all, but more like an alternative dimension, a dream-time, a technological Elsewhere, existing in days to come in the same sense that elves and dragon-slayers existed in the past—another screen for the displacement of moral dramas and mythic fantasies into the dead ends of consumer pleasure.
Might the cultural sensibility that came to be referred to as postmodernism best be seen as a prolonged meditation on all the technological changes that never happened? The question struck me as I watched one of the recent Star Wars movies. The movie was terrible, but I couldn’t help but feel impressed by the quality of the special effects. Recalling the clumsy special effects typical of fifties sci-fi films, I kept thinking how impressed a fifties audience would have been if they’d known what we could do by now—only to realize, “Actually, no. They wouldn’t be impressed at all, would they? They thought we’d be doing this kind of thing by now. Not just figuring out more sophisticated ways to simulate it.”
That last word—simulate—is key. The technologies that have advanced since the seventies are mainly either medical technologies or information technologies—largely, technologies of simulation. They are technologies of what Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco called the “hyper-real,” the ability to make imitations that are more realistic than originals. The postmodern sensibility, the feeling that we had somehow broken into an unprecedented new historical period in which we understood that there is nothing new; that grand historical narratives of progress and liberation were meaningless; that everything now was simulation, ironic repetition, fragmentation, and pastiche—all this makes sense in a technological environment in which the only breakthroughs were those that made it easier to create, transfer, and rearrange virtual projections of things that either already existed, or, we came to realize, never would. Surely, if we were vacationing in geodesic domes on Mars or toting about pocket-size nuclear fusion plants or telekinetic mind-reading devices no one would ever have been talking like this. The postmodern moment was a desperate way to take what could otherwise only be felt as a bitter disappointment and to dress it up as something epochal, exciting, and new.
In the earliest formulations, which largely came out of the Marxist tradition, a lot of this technological background was acknowledged. Fredric Jameson’s “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” proposed the term “postmodernism” to refer to the cultural logic appropriate to a new, technological phase of capitalism, one that had been heralded by Marxist economist Ernest Mandel as early as 1972. Mandel had argued that humanity stood at the verge of a “third technological revolution,” as profound as the Agricultural or Industrial Revolution, in which computers, robots, new energy sources, and new information technologies would replace industrial labor—the “end of work” as it soon came to be called—reducing us all to designers and computer technicians coming up with crazy visions that cybernetic factories would produce.
End of work arguments were popular in the late seventies and early eighties as social thinkers pondered what would happen to the traditional working-class-led popular struggle once the working class no longer existed. (The answer: it would turn into identity politics.) Jameson thought of himself as exploring the forms of consciousness and historical sensibilities likely to emerge from this new age.
What happened, instead, is that the spread of information technologies and new ways of organizing transport—the containerization of shipping, for example—allowed those same industrial jobs to be outsourced to East Asia, Latin America, and other countries where the availability of cheap labor allowed manufacturers to employ much less technologically sophisticated production-line techniques than they would have been obliged to employ at home.
From the perspective of those living in Europe, North America, and Japan, the results did seem to be much as predicted. Smokestack industries did disappear; jobs came to be divided between a lower stratum of service workers and an upper stratum sitting in antiseptic bubbles playing with computers. But below it all lay an uneasy awareness that the postwork civilization was a giant fraud. Our carefully engineered high-tech sneakers were not being produced by intelligent cyborgs or self-replicating molecular nanotechnology; they were being made on the equivalent of old-fashioned Singer sewing machines, by the daughters of Mexican and Indonesian farmers who, as the result of WTO or NAFTA–sponsored trade deals, had been ousted from their ancestral lands. It was a guilty awareness that lay beneath the postmodern sensibility and its celebration of the endless play of images and surfaces.
Why did the projected explosion of technological growth everyone was expecting—the moon bases, the robot factories—fail to happen? There are two possibilities. Either our expectations about the pace of technological change were unrealistic (in which case, we need to know why so many intelligent people believed they were not) or our expectations were not unrealistic (in which case, we need to know what happened to derail so many credible ideas and prospects).
Most social analysts choose the first explanation and trace the problem to the Cold War space race. Why, these analysts wonder, did both the United States and the Soviet Union become so obsessed with the idea of manned space travel? It was never an efficient way to engage in scientific research. And it encouraged unrealistic ideas of what the human future would be like.
Could the answer be that both the United States and the Soviet Union had been, in the century before, societies of pioneers, one expanding across the Western frontier, the other across Siberia? Didn’t they share a commitment to the myth of a limitless, expansive future, of human colonization of vast empty spaces, that helped convince the leaders of both superpowers they had entered into a “space age” in which they were battling over control of the future itself? All sorts of myths were at play here, no doubt, but that proves nothing about the feasibility of the project.
Some of those science fiction fantasies (at this point we can’t know which ones) could have been brought into being. For earlier generations, many science fiction fantasies had been brought into being. Those who grew up at the turn of the century reading Jules Verne or H.G. Wells imagined the world of, say, 1960 with flying machines, rocket ships, submarines, radio, and television—and that was pretty much what they got. If it wasn’t unrealistic in 1900 to dream of men traveling to the moon, then why was it unrealistic in the sixties to dream of jet-packs and robot laundry-maids?
In fact, even as those dreams were being outlined, the material base for their achievement was beginning to be whittled away. There is reason to believe that even by the fifties and sixties, the pace of technological innovation was slowing down from the heady pace of the first half of the century. There was a last spate in the fifties when microwave ovens (1954), the Pill (1957), and lasers (1958) all appeared in rapid succession. But since then, technological advances have taken the form of clever new ways of combining existing technologies (as in the space race) and new ways of putting existing technologies to consumer use (the most famous example is television, invented in 1926, but mass produced only after the war.) Yet, in part because the space race gave everyone the impression that remarkable advances were happening, the popular impression during the sixties was that the pace of technological change was speeding up in terrifying, uncontrollable ways.
Alvin Toffler’s 1970 best seller Future Shock argued that almost all the social problems of the sixties could be traced back to the increasing pace of technological change. The endless outpouring of scientific breakthroughs transformed the grounds of daily existence, and left Americans without any clear idea of what normal life was. Just consider the family, where not just the Pill, but also the prospect of in vitro fertilization, test tube babies, and sperm and egg donation were about to make the idea of motherhood obsolete.
Humans were not psychologically prepared for the pace of change, Toffler wrote. He coined a term for the phenomenon: “accelerative thrust.” It had begun with the Industrial Revolution, but by roughly 1850, the effect had become unmistakable. Not only was everything around us changing, but most of it—human knowledge, the size of the population, industrial growth, energy use—was changing exponentially. The only solution, Toffler argued, was to begin some kind of control over the process, to create institutions that would assess emerging technologies and their likely effects, to ban technologies likely to be too socially disruptive, and to guide development in the direction of social harmony.
While many of the historical trends Toffler describes are accurate, the book appeared when most of these exponential trends halted. It was right around 1970 when the increase in the number of scientific papers published in the world—a figure that had doubled every fifteen years since, roughly, 1685—began leveling off. The same was true of books and patents.
Toffler’s use of acceleration was particularly unfortunate. For most of human history, the top speed at which human beings could travel had been around 25 miles per hour. By 1900 it had increased to 100 miles per hour, and for the next seventy years it did seem to be increasing exponentially. By the time Toffler was writing, in 1970, the record for the fastest speed at which any human had traveled stood at roughly 25,000 mph, achieved by the crew of Apollo 10 in 1969, just one year before. At such an exponential rate, it must have seemed reasonable to assume that within a matter of decades, humanity would be exploring other solar systems.
Since 1970, no further increase has occurred. The record for the fastest a human has ever traveled remains with the crew of Apollo 10. True, the commercial airliner Concorde, which first flew in 1969, reached a maximum speed of 1,400 mph. And the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144, which flew first, reached an even faster speed of 1,553 mph. But those speeds not only have failed to increase; they have decreased since the Tupolev Tu-144 was cancelled and the Concorde was abandoned.
None of this stopped Toffler’s own career. He kept retooling his analysis to come up with new spectacular pronouncements. In 1980, he produced The Third Wave, its argument lifted from Ernest Mandel’s “third technological revolution”—except that while Mandel thought these changes would spell the end of capitalism, Toffler assumed capitalism was eternal. By 1990, Toffler was the personal intellectual guru to Republican congressman Newt Gingrich, who claimed that his 1994 “Contract With America” was inspired, in part, by the understanding that the United States needed to move from an antiquated, materialist, industrial mind-set to a new, free-market, information age, Third Wave civilization.
There are all sorts of ironies in this connection. One of Toffler’s greatest achievements was inspiring the government to create an Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). One of Gingrich’s first acts on winning control of the House of Representatives in 1995 was defunding the OTA as an example of useless government extravagance. Still, there’s no contradiction here. By this time, Toffler had long since given up on influencing policy by appealing to the general public; he was making a living largely by giving seminars to CEOs and corporate think tanks. His insights had been privatized.
Gingrich liked to call himself a “conservative futurologist.” This, too, might seem oxymoronic; but, in fact, Toffler’s own conception of futurology was never progressive. Progress was always presented as a problem that needed to be solved.
Toffler might best be seen as a lightweight version of the nineteenth-century social theorist Auguste Comte, who believed that he was standing on the brink of a new age—in his case, the Industrial Age—driven by the inexorable progress of technology, and that the social cataclysms of his times were caused by the social system not adjusting. The older feudal order had developed Catholic theology, a way of thinking about man’s place in the cosmos perfectly suited to the social system of the time, as well as an institutional structure, the Church, that conveyed and enforced such ideas in a way that could give everyone a sense of meaning and belonging. The Industrial Age had developed its own system of ideas—science—but scientists had not succeeded in creating anything like the Catholic Church. Comte concluded that we needed to develop a new science, which he dubbed “sociology,” and said that sociologists should play the role of priests in a new Religion of Society that would inspire everyone with a love of order, community, work discipline, and family values. Toffler was less ambitious; his futurologists were not supposed to play the role of priests.
Gingrich had a second guru, a libertarian theologian named George Gilder, and Gilder, like Toffler, was obsessed with technology and social change. In an odd way, Gilder was more optimistic. Embracing a radical version of Mandel’s Third Wave argument, he insisted that what we were seeing with the rise of computers was an “overthrow of matter.” The old, materialist Industrial Society, where value came from physical labor, was giving way to an Information Age where value emerges directly from the minds of entrepreneurs, just as the world had originally appeared ex nihilo from the mind of God, just as money, in a proper supply-side economy, emerged ex nihilo from the Federal Reserve and into the hands of value-creating capitalists. Supply-side economic policies, Gilder concluded, would ensure that investment would continue to steer away from old government boondoggles like the space program and toward more productive information and medical technologies.
But if there was a conscious, or semi-conscious, move away from investment in research that might lead to better rockets and robots, and toward research that would lead to such things as laser printers and CAT scans, it had begun well before Toffler’s Future Shock (1970) and Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty (1981). What their success shows is that the issues they raised—that existing patterns of technological development would lead to social upheaval, and that we needed to guide technological development in directions that did not challenge existing structures of authority—echoed in the corridors of power. Statesmen and captains of industry had been thinking about such questions for some time.
Industrial capitalism has fostered an extremely rapid rate of scientific advance and technological innovation—one with no parallel in previous human history. Even capitalism’s greatest detractors, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, celebrated its unleashing of the “productive forces.” Marx and Engels also believed that capitalism’s continual need to revolutionize the means of industrial production would be its undoing. Marx argued that, for certain technical reasons, value—and therefore profits—can be extracted only from human labor. Competition forces factory owners to mechanize production, to reduce labor costs, but while this is to the short-term advantage of the firm, mechanization’s effect is to drive down the general rate of profit.
For 150 years, economists have debated whether all this is true. But if it is true, then the decision by industrialists not to pour research funds into the invention of the robot factories that everyone was anticipating in the sixties, and instead to relocate their factories to labor-intensive, low-tech facilities in China or the Global South makes a great deal of sense.
As I’ve noted, there’s reason to believe the pace of technological innovation in productive processes—the factories themselves—began to slow in the fifties and sixties, but the side effects of America’s rivalry with the Soviet Union made innovation appear to accelerate. There was the awesome space race, alongside frenetic efforts by U.S. industrial planners to apply existing technologies to consumer purposes, to create an optimistic sense of burgeoning prosperity and guaranteed progress that would undercut the appeal of working-class politics.
These moves were reactions to initiatives from the Soviet Union. But this part of the history is difficult for Americans to remember, because at the end of the Cold War, the popular image of the Soviet Union switched from terrifyingly bold rival to pathetic basket case—the exemplar of a society that could not work. Back in the fifties, in fact, many United States planners suspected the Soviet system worked better. Certainly, they recalled the fact that in the thirties, while the United States had been mired in depression, the Soviet Union had maintained almost unprecedented economic growth rates of 10 percent to 12 percent a year—an achievement quickly followed by the production of tank armies that defeated Nazi Germany, then by the launching of Sputnik in 1957, then by the first manned spacecraft, the Vostok, in 1961.
It’s often said the Apollo moon landing was the greatest historical achievement of Soviet communism. Surely, the United States would never have contemplated such a feat had it not been for the cosmic ambitions of the Soviet Politburo. We are used to thinking of the Politburo as a group of unimaginative gray bureaucrats, but they were bureaucrats who dared to dream astounding dreams. The dream of world revolution was only the first. It’s also true that most of them—changing the course of mighty rivers, this sort of thing—either turned out to be ecologically and socially disastrous, or, like Joseph Stalin’s one-hundred-story Palace of the Soviets or a twenty-story statue of Vladimir Lenin, never got off the ground.
After the initial successes of the Soviet space program, few of these schemes were realized, but the leadership never ceased coming up with new ones. Even in the eighties, when the United States was attempting its own last, grandiose scheme, Star Wars, the Soviets were planning to transform the world through creative uses of technology. Few outside of Russia remember most of these projects, but great resources were devoted to them. It’s also worth noting that unlike the Star Wars project, which was designed to sink the Soviet Union, most were not military in nature: as, for instance, the attempt to solve the world hunger problem by harvesting lakes and oceans with an edible bacteria called spirulina, or to solve the world energy problem by launching hundreds of gigantic solar-power platforms into orbit and beaming the electricity back to earth.
The American victory in the space race meant that, after 1968, U.S. planners no longer took the competition seriously. As a result, the mythology of the final frontier was maintained, even as the direction of research and development shifted away from anything that might lead to the creation of Mars bases and robot factories.
The standard line is that all this was a result of the triumph of the market. The Apollo program was a Big Government project, Soviet-inspired in the sense that it required a national effort coordinated by government bureaucracies. As soon as the Soviet threat drew safely out of the picture, though, capitalism was free to revert to lines of technological development more in accord with its normal, decentralized, free-market imperatives—such as privately funded research into marketable products like personal computers. This is the line that men like Toffler and Gilder took in the late seventies and early eighties.
In fact, the United States never did abandon gigantic, government-controlled schemes of technological development. Mainly, they just shifted to military research—and not just to Soviet-scale schemes like Star Wars, but to weapons projects, research in communications and surveillance technologies, and similar security-related concerns. To some degree this had always been true: the billions poured into missile research had always dwarfed the sums allocated to the space program. Yet by the seventies, even basic research came to be conducted following military priorities. One reason we don’t have robot factories is because roughly 95 percent of robotics research funding has been channeled through the Pentagon, which is more interested in developing unmanned drones than in automating paper mills.
A case could be made that even the shift to research and development on information technologies and medicine was not so much a reorientation toward market-driven consumer imperatives, but part of an all-out effort to follow the technological humbling of the Soviet Union with total victory in the global class war—seen simultaneously as the imposition of absolute U.S. military dominance overseas, and, at home, the utter rout of social movements.
For the technologies that did emerge proved most conducive to surveillance, work discipline, and social control. Computers have opened up certain spaces of freedom, as we’re constantly reminded, but instead of leading to the workless utopia Abbie Hoffman imagined, they have been employed in such a way as to produce the opposite effect. They have enabled a financialization of capital that has driven workers desperately into debt, and, at the same time, provided the means by which employers have created “flexible” work regimes that have both destroyed traditional job security and increased working hours for almost everyone. Along with the export of factory jobs, the new work regime has routed the union movement and destroyed any possibility of effective working-class politics.
Meanwhile, despite unprecedented investment in research on medicine and life sciences, we await cures for cancer and the common cold, and the most dramatic medical breakthroughs we have seen have taken the form of drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Ritalin—tailor-made to ensure that the new work demands don’t drive us completely, dysfunctionally crazy.
With results like these, what will the epitaph for neoliberalism look like? I think historians will conclude it was a form of capitalism that systematically prioritized political imperatives over economic ones. Given a choice between a course of action that would make capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and one that would transform capitalism into a viable, long-term economic system, neoliberalism chooses the former every time. There is every reason to believe that destroying job security while increasing working hours does not create a more productive (let alone more innovative or loyal) workforce. Probably, in economic terms, the result is negative—an impression confirmed by lower growth rates in just about all parts of the world in the eighties and nineties.
But the neoliberal choice has been effective in depoliticizing labor and overdetermining the future. Economically, the growth of armies, police, and private security services amounts to dead weight. It’s possible, in fact, that the very dead weight of the apparatus created to ensure the ideological victory of capitalism will sink it. But it’s also easy to see how choking off any sense of an inevitable, redemptive future that could be different from our world is a crucial part of the neoliberal project.
At this point all the pieces would seem to be falling neatly into place. By the sixties, conservative political forces were growing skittish about the socially disruptive effects of technological progress, and employers were beginning to worry about the economic impact of mechanization. The fading Soviet threat allowed for a reallocation of resources in directions seen as less challenging to social and economic arrangements, or indeed directions that could support a campaign of reversing the gains of progressive social movements and achieving a decisive victory in what U.S. elites saw as a global class war. The change of priorities was introduced as a withdrawal of big-government projects and a return to the market, but in fact the change shifted government-directed research away from programs like NASA or alternative energy sources and toward military, information, and medical technologies.
Of course this doesn’t explain everything. Above all, it does not explain why, even in those areas that have become the focus of well-funded research projects, we have not seen anything like the kind of advances anticipated fifty years ago. If 95 percent of robotics research has been funded by the military, then where are the Klaatu-style killer robots shooting death rays from their eyes?
Obviously, there have been advances in military technology in recent decades. One of the reasons we all survived the Cold War is that while nuclear bombs might have worked as advertised, their delivery systems did not; intercontinental ballistic missiles weren’t capable of striking cities, let alone specific targets inside cities, and this fact meant there was little point in launching a nuclear first strike unless you intended to destroy the world.
Contemporary cruise missiles are accurate by comparison. Still, precision weapons never do seem capable of assassinating specific individuals (Saddam, Osama, Qaddafi), even when hundreds are dropped. And ray guns have not materialized—surely not for lack of trying. We can assume the Pentagon has spent billions on death ray research, but the closest they’ve come so far are lasers that might, if aimed correctly, blind an enemy gunner looking directly at the beam. Aside from being unsporting, this is pathetic: lasers are a fifties technology. Phasers that can be set to stun do not appear to be on the drawing boards; and when it comes to infantry combat, the preferred weapon almost everywhere remains the AK-47, a Soviet design named for the year it was introduced: 1947.
The Internet is a remarkable innovation, but all we are talking about is a super-fast and globally accessible combination of library, post office, and mail-order catalogue. Had the Internet been described to a science fiction aficionado in the fifties and sixties and touted as the most dramatic technological achievement since his time, his reaction would have been disappointment. Fifty years and this is the best our scientists managed to come up with? We expected computers that would think!
Overall, levels of research funding have increased dramatically since the seventies. Admittedly, the proportion of that funding that comes from the corporate sector has increased most dramatically, to the point that private enterprise is now funding twice as much research as the government, but the increase is so large that the total amount of government research funding, in real-dollar terms, is much higher than it was in the sixties. “Basic,” “curiosity-driven,” or “blue skies” research—the kind that is not driven by the prospect of any immediate practical application, and that is most likely to lead to unexpected breakthroughs—occupies an ever smaller proportion of the total, though so much money is being thrown around nowadays that overall levels of basic research funding have increased.
Yet most observers agree that the results have been paltry. Certainly we no longer see anything like the continual stream of conceptual revolutions—genetic inheritance, relativity, psychoanalysis, quantum mechanics—that people had grown used to, and even expected, a hundred years before. Why?
Part of the answer has to do with the concentration of resources on a handful of gigantic projects: “big science,” as it has come to be called. The Human Genome Project is often held out as an example. After spending almost three billion dollars and employing thousands of scientists and staff in five different countries, it has mainly served to establish that there isn’t very much to be learned from sequencing genes that’s of much use to anyone else. Even more, the hype and political investment surrounding such projects demonstrate the degree to which even basic research now seems to be driven by political, administrative, and marketing imperatives that make it unlikely anything revolutionary will happen.
Here, our fascination with the mythic origins of Silicon Valley and the Internet has blinded us to what’s really going on. It has allowed us to imagine that research and development is now driven, primarily, by small teams of plucky entrepreneurs, or the sort of decentralized cooperation that creates open-source software. This is not so, even though such research teams are most likely to produce results. Research and development is still driven by giant bureaucratic projects.
What has changed is the bureaucratic culture. The increasing interpenetration of government, university, and private firms has led everyone to adopt the language, sensibilities, and organizational forms that originated in the corporate world. Although this might have helped in creating marketable products, since that is what corporate bureaucracies are designed to do, in terms of fostering original research, the results have been catastrophic.
My own knowledge comes from universities, both in the United States and Britain. In both countries, the last thirty years have seen a veritable explosion of the proportion of working hours spent on administrative tasks at the expense of pretty much everything else. In my own university, for instance, we have more administrators than faculty members, and the faculty members, too, are expected to spend at least as much time on administration as on teaching and research combined. The same is true, more or less, at universities worldwide.
The growth of administrative work has directly resulted from introducing corporate management techniques. Invariably, these are justified as ways of increasing efficiency and introducing competition at every level. What they end up meaning in practice is that everyone winds up spending most of their time trying to sell things: grant proposals; book proposals; assessments of students’ jobs and grant applications; assessments of our colleagues; prospectuses for new interdisciplinary majors; institutes; conference workshops; universities themselves (which have now become brands to be marketed to prospective students or contributors); and so on.
As marketing overwhelms university life, it generates documents about fostering imagination and creativity that might just as well have been designed to strangle imagination and creativity in the cradle. No major new works of social theory have emerged in the United States in the last thirty years. We have been reduced to the equivalent of medieval scholastics, writing endless annotations of French theory from the seventies, despite the guilty awareness that if new incarnations of Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, or Pierre Bourdieu were to appear in the academy today, we would deny them tenure.
There was a time when academia was society’s refuge for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical. No longer. It is now the domain of professional self-marketers. As a result, in one of the most bizarre fits of social self-destructiveness in history, we seem to have decided we have no place for our eccentric, brilliant, and impractical citizens. Most languish in their mothers’ basements, at best making the occasional, acute intervention on the Internet.
If all this is true in the social sciences, where research is still carried out with minimal overhead largely by individuals, one can imagine how much worse it is for astrophysicists. And, indeed, one astrophysicist, Jonathan Katz, has recently warned students pondering a career in the sciences. Even if you do emerge from the usual decade-long period languishing as someone else’s flunky, he says, you can expect your best ideas to be stymied at every point:
You will spend your time writing proposals rather than doing research. Worse, because your proposals are judged by your competitors, you cannot follow your curiosity, but must spend your effort and talents on anticipating and deflecting criticism rather than on solving the important scientific problems. . . . It is proverbial that original ideas are the kiss of death for a proposal, because they have not yet been proved to work.
That pretty much answers the question of why we don’t have teleportation devices or antigravity shoes. Common sense suggests that if you want to maximize scientific creativity, you find some bright people, give them the resources they need to pursue whatever idea comes into their heads, and then leave them alone. Most will turn up nothing, but one or two may well discover something. But if you want to minimize the possibility of unexpected breakthroughs, tell those same people they will receive no resources at all unless they spend the bulk of their time competing against each other to convince you they know in advance what they are going to discover.
In the natural sciences, to the tyranny of managerialism we can add the privatization of research results. As the British economist David Harvie has reminded us, “open source” research is not new. Scholarly research has always been open source, in the sense that scholars share materials and results. There is competition, certainly, but it is “convivial.” This is no longer true of scientists working in the corporate sector, where findings are jealously guarded, but the spread of the corporate ethos within the academy and research institutes themselves has caused even publicly funded scholars to treat their findings as personal property. Academic publishers ensure that findings that are published are increasingly difficult to access, further enclosing the intellectual commons. As a result, convivial, open-source competition turns into something much more like classic market competition.
There are many forms of privatization, up to and including the simple buying up and suppression of inconvenient discoveries by large corporations fearful of their economic effects. (We cannot know how many synthetic fuel formulae have been bought up and placed in the vaults of oil companies, but it’s hard to imagine nothing like this happens.) More subtle is the way the managerial ethos discourages everything adventurous or quirky, especially if there is no prospect of immediate results. Oddly, the Internet can be part of the problem here. As Neal Stephenson put it:
Most people who work in corporations or academia have witnessed something like the following: A number of engineers are sitting together in a room, bouncing ideas off each other. Out of the discussion emerges a new concept that seems promising. Then some laptop-wielding person in the corner, having performed a quick Google search, announces that this “new” idea is, in fact, an old one; it—or at least something vaguely similar—has already been tried. Either it failed, or it succeeded. If it failed, then no manager who wants to keep his or her job will approve spending money trying to revive it. If it succeeded, then it’s patented and entry to the market is presumed to be unattainable, since the first people who thought of it will have “first-mover advantage” and will have created “barriers to entry.” The number of seemingly promising ideas that have been crushed in this way must number in the millions.
And so a timid, bureaucratic spirit suffuses every aspect of cultural life. It comes festooned in a language of creativity, initiative, and entrepreneurialism. But the language is meaningless. Those thinkers most likely to make a conceptual breakthrough are the least likely to receive funding, and, if breakthroughs occur, they are not likely to find anyone willing to follow up on their most daring implications.
Giovanni Arrighi has noted that after the South Sea Bubble, British capitalism largely abandoned the corporate form. By the time of the Industrial Revolution, Britain had instead come to rely on a combination of high finance and small family firms—a pattern that held throughout the next century, the period of maximum scientific and technological innovation. (Britain at that time was also notorious for being just as generous to its oddballs and eccentrics as contemporary America is intolerant. A common expedient was to allow them to become rural vicars, who, predictably, became one of the main sources for amateur scientific discoveries.)
Contemporary, bureaucratic corporate capitalism was a creation not of Britain, but of the United States and Germany, the two rival powers that spent the first half of the twentieth century fighting two bloody wars over who would replace Britain as a dominant world power—wars that culminated, appropriately enough, in government-sponsored scientific programs to see who would be the first to discover the atom bomb. It is significant, then, that our current technological stagnation seems to have begun after 1945, when the United States replaced Britain as organizer of the world economy.
Americans do not like to think of themselves as a nation of bureaucrats—quite the opposite—but the moment we stop imagining bureaucracy as a phenomenon limited to government offices, it becomes obvious that this is precisely what we have become. The final victory over the Soviet Union did not lead to the domination of the market, but, in fact, cemented the dominance of conservative managerial elites, corporate bureaucrats who use the pretext of short-term, competitive, bottom-line thinking to squelch anything likely to have revolutionary implications of any kind.
If we do not notice that we live in a bureaucratic society, that is because bureaucratic norms and practices have become so all-pervasive that we cannot see them, or, worse, cannot imagine doing things any other way.
Computers have played a crucial role in this narrowing of our social imaginations. Just as the invention of new forms of industrial automation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had the paradoxical effect of turning more and more of the world’s population into full-time industrial workers, so has all the software designed to save us from administrative responsibilities turned us into part- or full-time administrators. In the same way that university professors seem to feel it is inevitable they will spend more of their time managing grants, so affluent housewives simply accept that they will spend weeks every year filling out forty-page online forms to get their children into grade schools. We all spend increasing amounts of time punching passwords into our phones to manage bank and credit accounts and learning how to perform jobs once performed by travel agents, brokers, and accountants.
Someone once figured out that the average American will spend a cumulative six months of life waiting for traffic lights to change. I don’t know if similar figures are available for how long it takes to fill out forms, but it must be at least as long. No population in the history of the world has spent nearly so much time engaged in paperwork.
In this final, stultifying stage of capitalism, we are moving from poetic technologies to bureaucratic technologies. By poetic technologies I refer to the use of rational and technical means to bring wild fantasies to reality. Poetic technologies, so understood, are as old as civilization. Lewis Mumford noted that the first complex machines were made of people. Egyptian pharaohs were able to build the pyramids only because of their mastery of administrative procedures, which allowed them to develop production-line techniques, dividing up complex tasks into dozens of simple operations and assigning each to one team of workmen—even though they lacked mechanical technology more complex than the inclined plane and lever. Administrative oversight turned armies of peasant farmers into the cogs of a vast machine. Much later, after cogs had been invented, the design of complex machinery elaborated principles originally developed to organize people.
Yet we have seen those machines—whether their moving parts are arms and torsos or pistons, wheels, and springs—being put to work to realize impossible fantasies: cathedrals, moon shots, transcontinental railways. Certainly, poetic technologies had something terrible about them; the poetry is likely to be as much of dark satanic mills as of grace or liberation. But the rational, administrative techniques were always in service to some fantastic end.
From this perspective, all those mad Soviet plans—even if never realized—marked the climax of poetic technologies. What we have now is the reverse. It’s not that vision, creativity, and mad fantasies are no longer encouraged, but that most remain free-floating; there’s no longer even the pretense that they could ever take form or flesh. The greatest and most powerful nation that has ever existed has spent the last decades telling its citizens they can no longer contemplate fantastic collective enterprises, even if—as the environmental crisis demands— the fate of the earth depends on it.
What are the political implications of all this? First of all, we need to rethink some of our most basic assumptions about the nature of capitalism. One is that capitalism is identical with the market, and that both therefore are inimical to bureaucracy, which is supposed to be a creature of the state.
The second assumption is that capitalism is in its nature technologically progressive. It would seem that Marx and Engels, in their giddy enthusiasm for the industrial revolutions of their day, were wrong about this. Or, to be more precise: they were right to insist that the mechanization of industrial production would destroy capitalism; they were wrong to predict that market competition would compel factory owners to mechanize anyway. If it didn’t happen, that is because market competition is not, in fact, as essential to the nature of capitalism as they had assumed. If nothing else, the current form of capitalism, where much of the competition seems to take the form of internal marketing within the bureaucratic structures of large semi-monopolistic enterprises, would come as a complete surprise to them.
Defenders of capitalism make three broad historical claims: first, that it has fostered rapid scientific and technological growth; second, that however much it may throw enormous wealth to a small minority, it does so in such a way as to increase overall prosperity; third, that in doing so, it creates a more secure and democratic world for everyone. It is clear that capitalism is not doing any of these things any longer. In fact, many of its defenders are retreating from claiming that it is a good system and instead falling back on the claim that it is the only possible system—or, at least, the only possible system for a complex, technologically sophisticated society such as our own.
But how could anyone argue that current economic arrangements are also the only ones that will ever be viable under any possible future technological society? The argument is absurd. How could anyone know?
Granted, there are people who take that position—on both ends of the political spectrum. As an anthropologist and anarchist, I encounter anticivilizational types who insist not only that current industrial technology leads only to capitalist-style oppression, but that this must necessarily be true of any future technology as well, and therefore that human liberation can be achieved only by returning to the Stone Age. Most of us are not technological determinists.
But claims for the inevitability of capitalism have to be based on a kind of technological determinism. And for that very reason, if the aim of neoliberal capitalism is to create a world in which no one believes any other economic system could work, then it needs to suppress not just any idea of an inevitable redemptive future, but any radically different technological future. Yet there’s a contradiction. Defenders of capitalism cannot mean to convince us that technological change has ended—since that would mean capitalism is not progressive. No, they mean to convince us that technological progress is indeed continuing, that we do live in a world of wonders, but that those wonders take the form of modest improvements (the latest iPhone!), rumors of inventions about to happen (“I hear they are going to have flying cars pretty soon”), complex ways of juggling information and imagery, and still more complex platforms for filling out of forms.
I do not mean to suggest that neoliberal capitalism—or any other system—can be successful in this regard. First, there’s the problem of trying to convince the world you are leading the way in technological progress when you are holding it back. The United States, with its decaying infrastructure, paralysis in the face of global warming, and symbolically devastating abandonment of its manned space program just as China accelerates its own, is doing a particularly bad public relations job. Second, the pace of change can’t be held back forever. Breakthroughs will happen; inconvenient discoveries cannot be permanently suppressed. Other, less bureaucratized parts of the world—or at least, parts of the world with bureaucracies that are not so hostile to creative thinking—will slowly but inevitably attain the resources required to pick up where the United States and its allies have left off. The Internet does provide opportunities for collaboration and dissemination that may help break us through the wall as well. Where will the breakthrough come? We can’t know. Maybe 3D printing will do what the robot factories were supposed to. Or maybe it will be something else. But it will happen.
About one conclusion we can feel especially confident: it will not happen within the framework of contemporary corporate capitalism—or any form of capitalism. To begin setting up domes on Mars, let alone to develop the means to figure out if there are alien civilizations to contact, we’re going to have to figure out a different economic system. Must the new system take the form of some massive new bureaucracy? Why do we assume it must? Only by breaking up existing bureaucratic structures can we begin. And if we’re going to invent robots that will do our laundry and tidy up the kitchen, then we’re going to have to make sure that whatever replaces capitalism is based on a far more egalitarian distribution of wealth and power—one that no longer contains either the super-rich or the desperately poor willing to do their housework. Only then will technology begin to be marshaled toward human needs. And this is the best reason to break free of the dead hand of the hedge fund managers and the CEOs—to free our fantasies from the screens in which such men have imprisoned them, to let our imaginations once again become a material force in human history.
Jun 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
200PM Water Cooler 6-14-2019
Warren (D)(1): "Elizabeth Warren to introduce bill cancelling up to $50,000 in student debt for most borrowers" [ MarketWatch ]. "The Democratic Senator of Massachusetts plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that mirrors her presidential campaign proposal
Under the proposal Warren released as part of her presidential campaign in April, borrowers with a household income of less than $100,000 would have $50,000 of their student debt cancelled and borrowers with an income between $100,000 and $250,000 would be eligible for some student debt cancellation -- though not the full $50,000. Borrowers earning $250,000 or more would receive no debt cancellation.
Her campaign estimated the plan would cost $640 billion, which would be paid through a tax on the ultra-wealthy." • I don't think it makes sense to introduce free college without giving relief to those who, because they chose to be born at the wrong time, are subject to a lifetime of debt, so kudos to Warren.
That said, note the complex eligibility requirements; Warren just can't help herself. Also, of course, you can drown in an inch of water, so pragmatically, even $50,000 might not mean all that much, especially since servicers gotta servicer.
Warren (D)(2): "Elizabeth Warren's plan to pass her plans" (interview) [Ezra Klein, Vox ]. Klein: "Do you think that there's a way to sequence your agenda such that you're building momentum as opposed to losing it?" Warren: "Here's my theory: It starts now. That's what true grassroots building is about. Green New Deal. More and more people are in that fight and say that matters to me. Medicare-for-all, that fight that matters to me [No, it doesn't. –lambert]. As those issues over the next year and a quarter get clearer, sharper, they're issues worth fighting for, and issues where we truly have leadership on it, have people out there knocking doors over it . You asked me about my theory about this. This is the importance of engaging everyone. The importance not just of talking to other senators and representatives but the importance of engaging people across this country." • This language seems awfully vague, to me. For example, when Sanders says "Not me, us," I know there's a campaign structured to back the words up. I don't get that sense with Warren. I also know that Sanders knows who his enemies are ("the billionaires"). Here again, Warren feels gauzy to me ("the wealthy"). And then there's this. Warren: "I believe in markets But markets without rules are theft." This is silly. Markets with rules can be theft too! That's what phishing equilibria are all about! (And the Bearded One would would argue that labor markets under capitalism are theft , by definition.) But I'd very much like to hear the views of readers less jaundiced than I am. Clearly Warren has a complex piece of policy in her head, and so she and Klein are soul-mates.
Jun 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Warren (D)(1): [Team Warren, Medium ]. "The rising cost of rent reflects a basic supply-and-demand problem. There aren't enough places to rent that are affordable to lower-income families. That's because developers can usually turn bigger profits by building fancier new units targeted at higher-income families rather than units targeted at lower-income families. The result is a huge hole in the marketplace." •
I'm not a housing maven by any stretch of the imagination, but I think a story that doesn't consider the role of private equity in snapping up distressed housing after the Crash is likely to be a fairy tale.
Warren (D)(2): "The Memo: Warren's rise is threat to Sanders" [ The Hill ]. "'She certainly does seem to be taking votes away from him,' said Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky. 'It seems as if, as she is rising, he is falling.'" • The national averages don't show that.
Jun 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Hepativore , June 12, 2019 at 2:35 pm
As it is, it seems that the corporate Democrats and Clintonites new strategy is to promote Warren and then start leaning on her heavily in an effort to convert Warren to the neoliberal "dark side" or have her not be a problem for them.
Warren has unfortunately shown just how easy it is to get her to back down under pressure and there is also the fact that she has been willing to carry water for the Clintonites before to advance her own political career like she did in the 2016 election.
At this point, I would seriously consider Yang to be my third choice after Sanders and Gabbard if it came down to it. Warren would probably be either incapable or unwilling to face any serious political opposition either from Trump or neoliberal Democrats and would probably cave.
Grant , June 12, 2019 at 2:47 pm
Her stance on single payer is troubling and telling, and her foreign policy positions and worldview are absolutely atrocious. She has good policy ideas (not great political instincts), but none of the ideas at the present time have movements behind them and would need those movements to push them through.
Is she the person to lead movements and to help them grow? I can't see anyone making that case. She has had an impact on issues, with the CFPB, which is good, but that was her work within academia. Different animal than actual movement building. Here, we have single payer and she has backtracked.
So, changes that may happen down the road, great. At least provides some alternatives and possibly a path from here to there. But, the fights we could win in the shorter term? Waffles. No thanks. I think she can play a great role in her current position or if Bernie were to win, in his administration, but I think she would be very problematic as a general election nominee. Just my opinion. I like her more than Biden and a number of others running but that says more about them than her.
nippersmom , June 12, 2019 at 3:08 pm
The first thought that entered my mind when I saw that quote from Biden was that he really is suffering from cognitive decline.
As for Warren, I believe she could have value in a narrowly defined (finance-related) role in a Sanders administration. I will not vote for her for president. Her foreign policy is atrocious, she doesn't support single payer, and she has proven herself to be a garden variety neoliberal on all but her own niche issues.
The only candidates besides Sanders I would vote for (Gabbard and Gravel) have less chance of getting the nomination than he does. If Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, I will once again be voting Green.
Jun 11, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
Lies Owe a Debt to the Truth"There was time when average Americans could be counted upon to know correctly whether the country was going up or down, because in those days when America prospered, the American people prospered as well. These days things are different.One of the older male anchors on financial TV today noted, in a very condescending tone, that for some reason Elizabeth Warren 'has an attitude' when it comes to corporations.
Let's look at it in a statistical sense. If you look at it from the middle of the 1930's (the Depression) up until the year 1980, the lower 90 percent of the population of this country, what you might call the American people, that group took home 70 percent of the growth in the country's income. If you look at the same numbers from 1997 up until now, from the height of the great Dot Com bubble up to the present, you will find that this same group, the American people, pocketed none of this country's income growth at all.
Our share of these great good times was zero, folks. The upper ten percent of the population, by which we mean our country's financiers and managers and professionals, consumed the entire thing. To be a young person in America these days is to understand instinctively the downward slope that so many of us are on."
Thomas Frank, Kansas City Missouri, 6 April 2017
"When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise -- to deny the political character of the modern corporation -- is not merely to avoid the reality. It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error."
John Kenneth Galbraith
I hope she and some of her like minded fellows get their opportunity to extend the hand of equal justice to these smug serial felons, pampered polecats, and corporatist clowns. It has been a long time coming.
Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129
You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "
This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.
Jun 09, 2019 | www.theguardian.com
The senator's 'I have a plan' mantra has become a rallying cry as she edges her way to the top – but is it enough to get past the roadblocks of Biden and Sanders?
Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia, on 16 May. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP Plan by plan, Elizabeth Warren is making inroads and gaining on her rivals in the 2020 Democratic race to take on Donald Trump.
The former Harvard law professor's policy heavy approach made an impression among activists at the She the People forum in Texas last month and was well-received at the California state party convention earlier this month.
Elizabeth Warren's economic nationalism vision shows there's a better way Robert Reich
This week a Morning Consult poll saw Warren break into the double digits at 10%, putting her in third place behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. A recent Economist/YouGov poll found Warren was making gains among liberal voters, with Democrats considering the Massachusetts senator for the Democratic presidential nomination in nearly equal measure with Sanders.
Her intense campaigning on a vast swathe of specific issues has achieved viral moments on the internet – even including one woman whom Warren advised on her love life – as well as playing well during recent television events.
At a televised town hall in Indiana this week, Warren listened intently as a woman who voted for Trump in 2016 described her disillusionment – not only with a president who failed to bring back manufacturing jobs as he said he promised but with an entire political system stymied by dysfunction.
"I feel duped," said the voter, Renee Elliott, who was laid off from her job at the Indianapolis Carrier plant. "I don't have a lot of faith in political candidates much anymore. They make promises. They make them and break them."
Warren rose to her feet. "The thing is, you can't just wave your arms," the she said, gesturing energetically. "You've really got to have a plan – and I do have a plan."
That mantra – a nod to the steady churn of policy blueprints Warren's campaign has released – has become a rallying cry for Warren as she edges her way to the top of the crowded Democratic presidential primary field.
But despite the burst of momentum, Warren's path to the nomination has two major roadblocks: Sanders and Biden. Her success will depend on whether she can deliver a one-two punch: replacing Sanders as the progressive standard bearer while building a coalition broad enough to rival Biden.
Warren began that work this week with a multi-stop tour of the midwest designed to show her strength among working class voters who supported Trump. Ahead of the visit, Warren unveiled a plan she described as "economic patriotism", which earned startling praise from one of Trump's most loyal supporters.
"She sounds like Donald Trump at his best," conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson told his largely Republican audience as he read from Warren's proposal during the opening monologue of his show this week. The plan calls for "aggressive intervention on behalf of American workers" to boost the economy and create new jobs, including a $2tn investment in federal funding in clean energy programs.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson praises Elizabeth Warren's economic policies
His praise was all the more surprising because Warren has vowed not to participate in town halls on Fox News, calling the network a "hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists".
The debate over whether Democrats should appear on Fox News for a town hall has divided the field. Sanders, whose televised Fox News town hall generated the highest viewership of any such event, argued that it is important to speak to the network's massive and heavily Republican audience.
As Warren courts working-class voters in the midwest, she continues to focus heavily on the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. After jumping into the race on New Year's Eve 2018, Warren immediately set to work , scooping up talent and building a massive operation in Iowa. Her campaign is betting a strong showing in the first in the nation caucuses will propel her in New Hampshire, which neighbors Massachusetts, and then boost her in Nevada and South Carolina.
But as Warren gains momentum, moderate candidates are becoming more vocal about their concern that choosing a nominee from the party's populist wing will hand Trump the election.
"If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer," former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper told Democrats in California last weekend. Though his comments were met with boos and jeers among the convention's liberal crowd, his warning is at the heart of the debate over who should be the Democratic presidential nominee.
Warren has pointedly distinguished herself as a capitalist as opposed to a socialist or a democratic socialist, but she has not backed away from a populist platform that embraces sweeping economic reforms.
In her address to the California Democratic party, Warren rejected appeals for moderation.
"Some say if we all calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses," she said. "But our country is in a time of crisis. The time for small ideas is over."
Jun 04, 2019 | archive.foThe disappearance of the Soviet Union left a big hole. The "war on terror" was an inadequate replacement. But China ticks all boxes. For the US, it can be the ideological, military and economic enemy many need. Here at last is a worthwhile opponent. That was the main conclusion I drew from this year's Bilderberg meetings.
Across-the-board rivalry with China is becoming an organising principle of US economic, foreign and security policies.
Whether it is Donald Trump's organizing principle is less important. The US president has the gut instincts of a nationalist and protectionist. Others provide both framework and details. The aim is US domination. The means is control over China, or separation from China.
Anybody who believes a rules-based multilateral order, our globalised economy, or even harmonious international relations, are likely to survive this conflict is deluded. The astonishing white paper on the trade conflict , published on Sunday by China, is proof. The -- to me, depressing -- fact is that on many points Chinese positions are right.
The US focus on bilateral imbalances is economically illiterate. The view that theft of intellectual property has caused huge damage to the US is questionable . The proposition that China has grossly violated its commitments under its 2001 accession agreement to the World Trade Organization is hugely exaggerated.
Accusing China of cheating is hypocritical when almost all trade policy actions taken by the Trump administration are in breach of WTO rules, a fact implicitly conceded by its determination to destroy the dispute settlement system .
The US negotiating position vis-à-vis China is that "might makes right". This is particularly true of insisting that the Chinese accept the US role as judge, jury and executioner of the agreement .
A dispute over the terms of market opening or protection of intellectual property might be settled with careful negotiation. Such a settlement might even help China, since it would lighten the heavy hand of the state and promote market-oriented reform.
But the issues are now too vexed for such a resolution. This is partly because of the bitter breakdown in negotiation. It is still more because the US debate is increasingly over whether integration with China's state-led economy is desirable. The fear over Huawei focuses on national security and technological autonomy.
[Neo]liberal commerce is increasingly seen as "trading with the enemy".
A framing of relations with China as one of zero-sum conflict is emerging. Recent remarks by Kiron Skinner, the US state department's policy planning director (a job once held by cold war strategist George Kennan) are revealing. Rivalry with Beijing, she suggested at a forum organised by New America , is "a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology, and the United States hasn't had that before".
She added that this would be "the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian". The war with Japan is forgotten.
But the big point is her framing of this as a civilizational and racial war and so as an insoluble conflict. This cannot be accidental. She is also still in her job. Others present the conflict as one over ideology and power.
Those emphasising the former point to President Xi Jinping's Marxist rhetoric and the reinforced role of the Communist party . Those emphasising the latter point to China's rising economic might. Both perspectives suggest perpetual conflict.
This is the most important geopolitical development of our era. Not least, it will increasingly force everybody else to take sides or fight hard for neutrality. But it is not only important. It is dangerous. It risks turning a manageable, albeit vexed, relationship into all-embracing conflict, for no good reason. China's ideology is not a threat to liberal democracy in the way the Soviet Union's was. Rightwing demagogues are far more dangerous.
An effort to halt China's economic and technological rise is almost certain to fail. Worse, it will foment deep hostility in the Chinese people. In the long run, the demands of an increasingly prosperous and well-educated people for control over their lives might still win out. But that is far less likely if China's natural rise is threatened.
Moreover, the rise of China is not an important cause of western malaise. That reflects far more the indifference and incompetence of domestic elites. What is seen as theft of intellectual property reflects, in large part, the inevitable attempt of a rising economy to master the technologies of the day. Above all, an attempt to preserve the domination of 4 per cent of humanity over the rest is illegitimate.
This certainly does not mean accepting everything China does or says. On the contrary, the best way for the west to deal with China is to insist on the abiding values of freedom, democracy, rules-based multilateralism and global co-operation. These ideas made many around the globe supporters of the US in the past.
They still captivate many Chinese people today. It is quite possible to uphold these ideas, indeed insist upon them far more strongly, while co-operating with a rising China where that is essential, as over protecting the natural environment, commerce and peace.
A blend of competition with co-operation is the right way forward. Such an approach to managing China's rise must include co-operating closely with like-minded allies and treating China with respect.
The tragedy in what is now happening is that the administration is simultaneously launching a conflict between the two powers, attacking its allies and destroying the institutions of the postwar US-led order.
Today's attack on China is the wrong war, fought in the wrong way, on the wrong terrain. Alas, this is where we now are.
Jun 07, 2019 | www.realclearpolitics.com
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Good evening and welcome to Tucker Carlson Tonight. Let's begin tonight with a thought experiment: What if the Republican leadership here in Washington had bothered to learn the lessons of the 2016 election? What if they'd cared enough to do that. What if they'd understood, and embraced, the economic nationalism that was at the heart of Donald Trump's presidential campaign? What would the world look like now, two and a half years later? For starters, Republicans in congress would regularly be saying things like this. Quote:
"I'm deeply grateful for the opportunities America has given me. But the giant 'American' corporations who control our economy don't seem to feel the same way. They certainly don't act like it. Sure, these companies wave the flag -- but they have no loyalty or allegiance to America. Levi's is an iconic American brand, but the company operates only 2% of its factories here. Dixon Ticonderoga -- maker of the famous №2 pencil -- has 'moved almost all of its pencil production to Mexico and China.' And General Electric recently shut down an industrial engine factory in Wisconsin and shipped the jobs to Canada. The list goes on and on. These 'American' companies show only one real loyalty: to the short-term interests of their shareholders, a third of whom are foreign investors. If they can close up an American factory and ship jobs overseas to save a nickel, that's exactly what they will do -- abandoning loyal American workers and hollowing out American cities along the way. Politicians love to say they care about American jobs. But for decades, those same politicians have cited 'free market principles' and refused to intervene in markets on behalf of American workers. And of course, they ignore those same supposed principles and intervene regularly to protect the interests of multinational corporations and international capital. The result? Millions of good jobs lost overseas and a generation of stagnant wages, growing inequality, and sluggish economic growth. If Washington wants to put a stop to this, it can. If we want faster growth, stronger American industry, and more good American jobs, then our government should do what other leading nations do and act aggressively to achieve those goals instead of catering to the financial interests of companies with no particular allegiance to America.... The truth is that Washington policies -- not unstoppable market forces -- are a key driver of the problems American workers face. From our trade agreements to our tax code, we have encouraged companies to invest abroad, ship jobs overseas, and keep wages low. All in the interest of serving multinational companies and international capital with no particular loyalty to the United States....It's becoming easier and easier to shift capital and jobs from one country to another. That's why our government has to care more about defending and creating American jobs than ever before -- not less. We can navigate the changes ahead if we embrace economic patriotism and make American workers our highest priority, rather than continuing to cater to the interests of companies and people with no allegiance to America."
End quote. Now let's say you regularly vote Republican. Ask yourself: what part of that statement did you disagree with? Was there a single word that seemed wrong? Probably not. Here's the depressing part: Nobody you voted for said that, or would ever say it. Republicans in congress can't promise to protect American industries. They wouldn't dare. It might violate some principle of Austrian economics. It might make the Koch brothers angry. It might alienate the libertarian ideologues who, to this day, fund most Republican campaigns. So, no, a Republican did not say that. Sadly.
Instead, the words you just heard are from, and brace yourself here, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Yesterday, Warren released what she's calling her "plan for economic patriotism." Amazingly, that's pretty much exactly what it is: economic patriotism. There's not a word about identity politics in the document. There are no hysterics about gun control or climate change. There's no lecture about the plight of transgender illegal immigrants. It's just pure old fashioned economics: how to preserve good-paying American jobs. Even more remarkable: Many of Warren's policy prescriptions make obvious sense: she says the US government should buy American products when it can. Of course it should. She says we need more workplace apprenticeship programs, because four-year degrees aren't right for everyone. That's true. She says taxpayers ought to benefit from the research and development they fund. And yet, she writes, "we often see American companies take that researchand use it to manufacture products overseas, like Apple did with the iPhone. The companies get rich, and American taxpayers have subsidized the creation of low-wage foreign jobs." And so on. She sounds like Donald Trump at his best. Who is this Elizabeth Warren, you ask? Not the race hustling, gun grabbing, abortion extremist you thought you knew. Unfortunately Elizabeth Warren is still all of those things too. And that is exactly the problem, not just with Warren, but with American politics. In Washington, almost nobody speaks for the majority of voters. You're either a libertarian zealot controlled by the banks, yammering on about entrepreneurship and how we need to cut entitlements. That's one side of the aisle. Or, worse, you're some decadent trust fund socialist who wants to ban passenger cars and give Medicaid to illegal aliens. That's the other side. There isn't a caucus that represents where most Americans actually are: nationalist on economics, fairly traditional on the social issues. Imagine a politician who wanted to make your healthcare cheaper, but wasn't ghoulishly excited about partial birth abortion. Imagine someone who genuinely respected the nuclear family, and sympathized with the culture of rural America, but at the same time was willing to take your side against rapacious credit card companies bleeding you dry at 35 percent interest. Would you vote for someone like that? My gosh. Of course. Who wouldn't? That candidate would be elected in a landslide. Every single time. Yet that candidate is the opposite of pretty much everyone currently serving in congress. Our leadership class remains resolutely libertarian: committed to the rhetoric of markets when it serves them; utterly libertine on questions of culture. Republicans will lecture you about how payday loan scams are a critical part of a market economy. Then they'll work to make it easier for your kids to smoke weed because, hey, freedom. Democrats will nod in total agreement. They're on the same page.
Just last week, the Trump administration announced an innovative new way to protect American workers from the ever-cascading tidal wave of cheap third-world labor flooding this country. Until the Mexican government stops pushing illegal aliens north over our border, we will impose tariffs on all Mexican goods we import. That's the kind of thing you'd do to protect your country if you cared about your people. The Democrats, of course, opposed it. They don't even pretend to care about America anymore. Here's what the Republicans said:
MITCH MCCONNELL: Look, I think it's safe to say – you've talked to all of our members and we're not fans of tariffs. We're still hoping this can be avoided.
"We're not fans of tariffs." Imagine a more supercilious, out of touch, infuriating response. You can't, because there isn't one. In other words, says Mitch McConnell, the idea may work in practice. But we're against it, because it doesn't work in theory. That's the Republican Party, 2019. No wonder they keep losing. They deserve it. Will they ever change?
Jun 06, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org
Voters looking ahead to 2020 are being bombarded with soundbites from the twenty plus Democratic would-be candidates. That Joe Biden is apparently leading the pack according to opinion polls should come as no surprise as he stands for nothing apart from being the Establishment favorite who will tirelessly work to support the status quo.
The most interesting candidate is undoubtedly Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is a fourth term Congresswoman from Hawaii, where she was born and raised. She is also the real deal on national security, having been-there and done-it through service as an officer with the Hawaiian National Guard on a combat deployment in Iraq. Though in Congress full time, she still performs her Guard duty.
Tulsi's own military experience notwithstanding, she gives every indication of being honestly anti-war. In the speech announcing her candidacy she pledged "focus on the issue of war and peace" to "end the regime-change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda." She referred to the danger posed by blundering into a possible nuclear war and indicated her dismay over what appears to be a re-emergence of the Cold War.
In a recent interview with Fox News's Tucker Carlson, Gabbard doubled down on her anti-war credentials, telling the host that war with Iran would be "devastating, " adding that "I know where this path leads us and I'm concerned because the American people don't seem to be prepared for how devastating and costly such a war would be So, what we are facing is, essentially, a war that has no frontlines, total chaos, engulfs the whole region, is not contained within Iran or Iraq but would extend to Syria and Lebanon and Israel across the region, setting us up in a situation where, in Iraq, we lost over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniform. A war with Iran would take far more American lives, it would cost more civilian lives across the region Not to speak of the fact that this would cost trillions of taxpayer dollars coming out of our pockets to go and pay for this endless war that begs the question as a soldier, what are we fighting for? What does victory look like? What is the mission?"
Gabbard, and also Carlson, did not hesitate to name names among those pushing for war, one of which begins with B-O-L-T-O-N. She then asked "How does a war with Iran serve the best interest of the American people of the United States? And the fact is it does not," Gabbard said. "It better serves the interest of people like [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Bibi Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia who are trying to push us into this war with Iran."
Clearly not afraid to challenge the full gamut establishment politics, Tulsi Gabbard had previously called for an end to the "illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government," also observing that "the war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria – which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world." She then backed up her words with action by secretly arranging for a personal trip to Damascus in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad, saying it was important to meet adversaries "if you are serious about pursuing peace." She made her own assessment of the situation in Syria and now favors pulling US troops out of the country as well as ending American interventions for "regime change" in the region.
In 2015, Gabbard supported President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran and in 2016 she backed Bernie Sanders' antiwar candidacy. More recently, she has criticized President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Last May, she criticized Israel for shooting "unarmed protesters" in Gaza, a very bold step indeed given the power of the Israel Lobby.
Tulsi Gabbard could well be the only genuine antiwar candidate that might truly be electable in the past fifty years, and that is why the war party is out to get her. Two weeks ago, the Daily Beast displayed a headline : "Tulsi Gabbard's Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists." The article also had a sub-headline: "The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood."
The obvious smear job was picked by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, television's best known Hillary Clinton clone, who brought it up in an interview with Gabbard shortly thereafter. He asked whether Gabbard was "softer" on Putin than were some of the other candidates. Gabbard answered: "It's unfortunate that you're citing that article, George, because it's a whole lot of fake news." Politico the reported the exchange and wrote: "'Fake news' is a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump ," putting the ball back in Tulsi's court rather than criticizing Stephanopoulos's pointless question. Soon thereafter CNN produced its own version of Tulsi the Russophile , observing that Gabbard was using a Trump expression to "attack the credibility of negative coverage."
Tulsi responded "Stephanopoulos shamelessly implied that because I oppose going to war with Russia, I'm not a loyal American, but a Putin puppet. It just shows what absurd lengths warmongers in the media will go, to try to destroy the reputation of anyone who dares oppose their warmongering."
Tulsi Gabbard had attracted other enemies prior to the Stephanopoulos attack. Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept described how NBC news published a widely distributed story on February 1 st , claiming that "experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard."
But the expert cited by NBC turned out to be a firm New Knowledge, which was exposed by no less than The New York Times for falsifying Russian troll accounts for the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to suggest that the Kremlin was interfering in that election. According to Greenwald, the group ultimately behind this attack on Gabbard is The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), which sponsors a tool called Hamilton 68 , a news "intelligence net checker" that claims to track Russian efforts to disseminate disinformation. The ASD website advises that "Securing Democracy is a Global Necessity."
ASD was set up in 2017 by the usual neocon crowd with funding from The Atlanticist and anti-Russian German Marshall Fund. It is loaded with a full complement of Zionists and interventionists/globalists, to include Michael Chertoff, Michael McFaul, Michael Morell, Kori Schake and Bill Kristol. It claims, innocently, to be a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group that seeks to identify and counter efforts by Russia to undermine democracies in the United States and Europe but it is actually itself a major source of disinformation.
No doubt stories headlined "Tulsi Gabbard Communist Stooge" are in the works somewhere in the mainstream media. The Establishment politicians and their media component have difficulty in understanding just how much they are despised for their mendacity and unwillingness to support policies that would truly benefit the American people but they are well able to dominate press coverage.
Given the flood of contrived negativity towards her campaign, it is not clear if Tulsi Gabbard will ever be able to get her message across.
But, for the moment, she seems to be the "real thing," a genuine anti-war candidate who is determined to run on that platform. It might just resonate with the majority of Americans who have grown tired of perpetual warfare to "spread democracy" and other related frauds perpetrated by the band of oligarchs and traitors that run the United States
Jun 07, 2019 | www.youtube.com
Rob Crz , 1 week agosion7111 , 1 week ago
Geez!!! Obama is awfully quiet lately🤔🤔🤔🤔....."?????P Pumpkin , 1 week ago
Tucker is the best journo in cable television news rigth nowMonkeywrench542 , 1 week ago
When the FBI was "investigating" thousands of individuals in the 60's the press called it spying.Liddy G , 1 week ago
declassify it all. anyone in the federal government shown to be breaking the law should be charged and vigorously prosecuted.TominBach , 1 week ago (edited)
They spied on Trump because they thought it was a guaranteed win and Hillary could cover it up. They started the witch hunt to make it look like it was a legit investigation.Maryland Bass Hunter , 1 week ago
"Surveillance". Would you buy a used car from Jim Comey?. Time for issuing a number of orange jumpsuits and for the ones at the top?. A sharp drop and a sudden stop.Shade Tree Solar , 1 week ago
James Comey is basically screaming I'M GUILTY! You can tell this man is scared about whats to come. The rats are not sleeping well at night.Edson Silva , 1 week ago
All Security Clearances for all bureaucrats should be immediately revoked up termination of serviceMezmerized4Life Jay , 1 week ago (edited)
Who is loving Trump's Presidency like 👇🏻David Sanders , 1 week ago
My fav part is watching the globalists turn on each other 😂Tom Korte , 1 week ago
Time for sunlight to cleanse these dark agencies political partisanship!bahamabrz , 1 week ago
Please keep the MSNBC clips a bit shorter. They're painful to watch and I almost didn't make it through that one.Rob Crz , 1 week ago
I wasn't robbing that bank. I was just having a discussion with the bank teller with a gun in my hand.sion7111 , 1 week ago
Geez!!! Obama is awfully quiet lately🤔🤔🤔🤔....."?????P Pumpkin , 1 week ago
Tucker is the best journo in cable television news rigth nowMonkeywrench542 , 1 week ago
When the FBI was "investigating" thousands of individuals in the 60's the press called it spying.Daniel Cunningham , 1 week ago
declassify it all. anyone in the federal government shown to be breaking the law should be charged and vigorously prosecuted.Liddy G , 1 week ago
Tucker, you are a MINORITY in the news these days. Keep on telling the TRUTH.TominBach , 1 week ago (edited)
They spied on Trump because they thought it was a guaranteed win and Hillary could cover it up. They started the witch hunt to make it look like it was a legit investigation.James Mana , 1 week ago
"Surveillance". Would you buy a used car from Jim Comey?. Time for issuing a number of orange jumpsuits and for the ones at the top?. A sharp drop and a sudden stop.In CogNito , 1 week ago
Spying Work for a government or other organization by secretly collecting information about enemies or competitors. investigating Carry out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of (an incident, allegation, etc.) so as to establish the truth. What a bunch of idiotsMarkus Rodriguez , 1 week ago
If you have to make up reasons to investigate, it becomes spying. With this logic, we can investigate anyone! As long as we make sure to cover our tracks in lies! Perfect!monkeygraborange , 1 week ago
How dare they! How dare they! How dare our "government" turn tail like this They at this point are nothing more then dirty DIRTY smear merchant's!Maria Farfan , 1 week ago
Of course it was spying! Weasel Comey is just clutching at whatever straws he can to try to avoid prison.Chuck Haney , 1 week ago
Prayers,prayers, Venezuela,and AMERICA 🌹 🌹🌹 🌹🙌 🙌🏼 Prayersbill fupps , 1 week ago
"Finding out about me is irresponsible." - BrennanR. Mercado , 1 week ago
Keep pushing Trump. These demons are screaming louder. What you're doing is workingMaryland Bass Hunter , 1 week ago
Another outstanding commentary. Bravo Zulu. Semper FiKohoko , 1 week ago
James Comey is basically screaming I'M GUILTY! You can tell this man is scared about whats to come. The rats are not sleeping well at night.Leesa Gomez , 1 week ago
I will check with Guy Smiley of Sesame Street News before I go to MSNBC....Guy Smiley's got way more street cred!MsDebbiepolak , 1 week ago
And those EVIL DARK SECRETS, Will soon be Revealed. It's different when those things come to lightleslie franssen , 1 week ago
Thank you Tucker for all your truth!!! You and Tom. Fitton rock!!LEILE S , 1 week ago
Dirty birds Dems get Wright with the people. Just tell the truth it will set you free🤢🐍🕸🕸🦎🐸Swamp thingsBlueFox94 , 1 week ago
So he admits they spied, I mean investigated Trumps campaign? 🤔Gmonkey , 1 week ago
Tucker's "okay" has been a legendary put-down for some time now. ^_^Shade Tree Solar , 1 week ago
shine the light on the roaches Trumpy. God Bless USA from UK.Cid Sapient , 1 week ago
All Security Clearances for all bureaucrats should be immediately revoked up termination of serviceRick Care , 1 week ago
this is my fave part lol 1:20 i laughed out loud towards the endknowTRUTH2013 , 1 week ago
If you take away I.C.E . : then You'll have Globle Warming!!••¿¿□●°°!!!Phil Bingham , 1 week ago
the deep state kabal is covering themselves, including 99% of all politicans and 100% of all the lib media.sullyz girl89 , 1 week ago
THE BUCK STOPS WITH BARR - THAT'S THE BEST SOLUTIONCooter Campbell , 1 week ago
Investigating a non crime. Show me the man and I'll find a crimekyle wolfe , 1 week ago
Chris Hayes, and Rachel Maddow are the same person.beo wulf , 1 week ago
"aiding the Enemy" should come to your mind.... And your Right, It IS Treason.Bella Biesel , 1 week ago
YA KNOW ... IF THESE POLITICOS WERE IN THE WORK PLACE THEY WOULD BE BROKE! MORONS EVERY ONE!Just Me , 1 week ago
This should be mandatory viewing by EVERY U.S. citizen.Happy Tripper , 1 week ago (edited)
It's to protect, and shield the multiple treason committing Obama. PERIOD.TotPYsera , 1 week ago
When you make up lies to trick a judge into letting you watch your political opponents, that is SPYING. You cannot talk your way out of this Comey.Jonathan Sterling , 1 week ago
Why does John Brennan look like every Bond villain's henchman?
That's Judicial Watch's definition of the Deep State! It's not just a few politicians and judges, it's almost all of Washington and many in government around the country. The Deep State will just take its time, put it off, forget about it, make mistakes implementing it, and so on and so forth.
Jun 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
venturen , 2 hours ago linkventuren , 3 hours ago link
finance...is not value added....it is value SUBTRACTED!Handful of Dust , 2 hours ago link
when you can create $10 Trillion out of thin air and then give it to a select few...what did you think would happen. Instead of arresting the criminal bankers....we rescued them!
They are criminal by nature and are programmed to steal ever more! I know hundreds of NYC bankers and lawyers.....they are NOT NICE PEOPLE!CatInTheHat , 2 hours ago link
Between Bush and Obama bailing them out, and then destroying the middle class with regulations, Obamacare, ZIRP, offshoring, etc.....exlcus , 2 hours ago link
...Narcissists/sociopaths in America now outnumber empathsCatInTheHat , 2 hours ago link
America's Demise In One Simple Chart
This is one time that a ZH headline was not click bait. Not only is FIRE bigger than manufacturing, even .GOV is bigger than manufacturing now too. We're fucked, big time.RasinResin , 1 hour ago link
Another boomer who lives in a state of alternate reality. Boomers were privy to government jobs and manufacturing in the US aplenty. They also were privy to government subsidies that don't exist today.
A job at McDonald's then was merely a job you had to make a little money on the side while attending colleges that were FREE to very low cost. Now, McDonald's is one of many low wage jobs in this GIG economy that are utilized as life sustaining.
Offshoring, the disappearance of government subsidies and social programs (thanks to boomers love for BILL CLINTON), wealth inequality (See the FED/Obama bank bailout/QE), stagnant wages, student loan debt, 22 TRILLION US DEBT, & 9/11 & 17 years of WAR & MORE WAR, has caused this country to become BANKRUPT.
Living in your parents basement, or with roommates, one paycheck from the streets to living on the streets is how it is for that kid YOU destroyed through your voting for sociopaths who took away the very jobs and entitlements YOU were privy to that no longer exist.Handful of Dust , 1 minute ago link
I like your sarcasm, but the truth is something different entirely. Median home in 2000 - 164K. Now - 313K. Median income during the same period rose 3k. Clarified.Expat , 3 hours ago link
If interest rates ever correct, those houses will be $164k again.j0nx , 1 hour ago link
LOL. All hail Donald! Our Real Estate Over-Lord and King of Low Interest Rates!
... ... ...yogibear , 1 hour ago link
Bs. If they feared that then they wouldn't have ever raised rates effectively killing the refi market and putting downward pressure on prices for the past 2 years.desirdavenir , 1 hour ago link
Production of debt instead of production of things. US is one of the largest producers of debt. Financialization as planned by the bankers.CatInTheHat , 27 minutes ago link
Financialization as embraced by the boomers, eager to go for the fast money with no skills and no hard work.besnook , 1 hour ago link
Yeah it is. I wouldn't have a kid and raise it in this country today if my life depended on it. May be that's why birth rates in the US are at historic lows.wonger , 1 hour ago link
if the country was run by shoe shine boys there would be shoe shine palaces on every corner and a law requiring everyone to get a shoeshine 3 times/day. the usa is run by banksters. you get the result described.HideTheWeenie , 1 hour ago link
ADP just missed by 153,000 jobs, bye bye real estateBuyDash , 3 hours ago link
Real Estate:They're mot making more of it ... Because they made too much of it.Teja , 1 hour ago link
It happened in the blink of an eye. I told you, soon Caucasian areas will just start dying out. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.TeethVillage88s , 1 hour ago link
Curse of consumerist car-focussed societies everywhere. Same for Japan, China. Don't think that skin pigments will protect against it, though.
The only counter-trends are societies like the Amish, or maybe orthodox Jews. Their inoculation against most aspects of consumer society has the side effect of exponential population growth.
Via Global Macro Monitor,
We originally posted this chart in February 2011 , which we just updated also breaking out the real estate industry from FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate). It is still just as shocking as it was back when we first produced it.
Economy Jumps The Shark. The U.S. economy jumped the shark in 1990 when FIRE overtook the manufacturing sector in terms of its contribution to GDP.
So... Finance Capitalism is real, Mises?
Jun 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Warren (D)(1): "Elizabeth Warren's latest big idea is 'economic patriotism'" [ Vox ].
"The specific Warren proposal on this score has three parts, a Green Apollo Program, a Green Marshall Plan, and a Green Industrial Mobilization. The Apollo Program is a ten-fold increase in clean energy R&D funding, the Marshall Plan is a $100 billion program to help foreign countries buy American-made clean technology, and the Industrial Mobilization (which it would perhaps be more natural to call a 'Green New Deal,' were that name not already taken) proposes a massive $1.5 trillion federal procurement initiative over 10 years to buy 'American-made clean, renewable, and emission free products for federal, state, and local use and for export.'
That's roughly the scale of federal spending on defense acquisition and would of course turn the federal government into a huge player in this market."
• I bet Warren's policy shop didn't copy and paste from other proposals either
Jun 05, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
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michigan independant , 50 seconds ago linkEthan Allen Hawley , 2 minutes ago link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvFKU62-FPkSeaMonkeys , 19 minutes ago link
Return to wampum belt economy! It's the only fair and just economy!DEDA CVETKO , 23 minutes ago link
Readers here are brainwashed. Industrial policy is based on a partnership between manufacturing, banks and finance, government, and workers. All of these relationships are built on trust and all the members stand to profit. This is the secret of Germany's and Scandinavia's over 200 years of success. It is called stakeholder capitalism. It includes all members of society. Germany is the world's largest exporter for a reason. It has approximately 1,500 banks, 70% of them are non-profit and restricted to lending for loans that are productive - create jobs and add value.
The English/American model of capitalism is called shareholder capitalism. Shareholder because the owners are absentee landlords. The financial markets rule, all other members serve. The communities are shells - people are distrustful of each other and of the social institutions. Shareholders don't live in the communities that add the value. They are the elites, and are spread throughout the world.
Readers here might not like Elizabeth Warren, and that's ok. I don't really like her. But her ideas are good. No Republican or corporate Democrat would ever embrace her ideas.
The irony is that Trump campaigned on similar ideas as Warren's. Why do you people think Trump is engaging in all the trade war rhetoric? It's for the same ends as Warren's ideas, except her ideas are more complete. Trump doesn't bring enough to the table. He needs to include labor, banks, manufacturers, and government. He hasn't because his ideas are not developed.
All the blabber mouths on Zero Hedge complaining about how full of **** academia is and now is your chance to actually stand for something. Do you think industrial policy is built on "snowflake" studies in Harvard?
No, it's in vocational schools and mentoring. Apprenticeships, and so forth.
Un-*******-believable. Zero Hedge is no different from Rush Limbaugh, a big fat closeted queen.-- ALIEN -- , 29 minutes ago link
Dear Squaw: aggressive market intervention is old news. Been there, done that since at least Richard Nixon's first term.
Ditto dollar intervention.
Have you something new and original to offer?Headwinds of Reality , 34 minutes ago link
"...wide-ranging proposal for aggressive, socialist-style government intervention in U.S. markets..."
So, basically more of the same **** that's been going on since 2008?
Where is the Billions for Banksters rider?
Nothing to see here, move along.Celotex , 35 minutes ago link
She's gone full anti semite, she's done hereReal Estate Guru , 36 minutes ago link
"Hey, look at my great new conjured-from-nothing ideas and forget about my racial identity fraud."devnickle , 44 minutes ago link
Fake Pochahontass Slut-Bunwalla is a total whackjob!Let it Go , 55 minutes ago link
What ever happened to states rights? Ever increasing central governmental control is not the answer, and was never intended to be. The Democrats spout about "Democracy!!!". This is nothing of the sort. They are perfectly happy to tell someone in Nebraska what to do, even if they have no idea corn grows in dirt. Narcissistic sociopaths is what they are. It's time to neuter them.thegekko , 1 hour ago link
Unfortunately, a fair number of people are listening to her. The article below warns that her push towards socialism as many progressives, liberals, or those simply left of center are proposing, would be a grave mistake. Socialism is not the answer to combating inequality.
https://Inequality Is A Growing Pox Upon Our Economic System! htmlspoonful , 1 hour ago link
Well, down here in Australia we had a Federal election a couple of weeks ago, and the opposition party, the Labor Party(ie the equivalent of your Democrats) was soundly defeated partially because of their radical "climate change" policies.
Quite obviously the left cannot grasp the fact that not everybody buys into the climate change hoax/industry. After the election many "journalists" who work for our national broadcaster, the ABC, which is funded by the Feds, came out on social media describing the result as a catastrophe for the climate and branded Australians as stupid. Sound familiar, just like a certain someone who labeled half of America as deplorables.
Australians are not stupid, and realised that the changes Labor were proposing were too radical. Their plan called for a 45 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. It should be noted that despite rhetoric to the contrary by Labor, it is a well established fact that Australia is far exceeding it's Kyoto & Paris targets.
Yet, the Labor party wanted to take these steps.
Labor, a party which is supposed to be in support of the workers, had they have won governmengt, would have no doubt done everything in their power to prevent the Adani coal mine in Queensland going ahead!
FFS, what sort of a world are we living in where coal mining is viewed by the left as a criminal activity?
The result of Labor's insanity, they did not win back a single seat in Qld, and in the Hunter Valley in NSW, a massive coal mining town, one particular seat there has been held by Labor for 25 years with a healthy margin. The local Labor candidate, Joel Fitzgibbon, managed to still hold onto the seat despite a 20 percent swing against him!
The fact is, as I am sure you are all aware being intelligent people on ZH, is you cannot take radical steps like what was proposed by Labor & in the process destroy the economy. These changes, if they are to be implemented, need to happen over the course of decades, four, five, maybe six, I don't know.
But more importantly, there needs to be serious discussion as to whether man made "climate change" is real because it does not seem to be, and obviously the vast majority of people are not buying into it. much to the chagrin of the left.
In Australia, and I am sure the same happens in America, the only people buying the climate change ******** are the cafe latte/upper class inner city snobs.
The other thing that escapes the minds of the left in Australia is simple mathematics. We are a population of 24 million in a world of 7.5 billion, that makes us 0.33 of 1 percent of the world population. Even if Australia cut it's emissions to zero tomorrow, it will make no difference to the world when we have China & India building coal fired power stations.
Ironically, the high priest of climate change, Al Gore, is down here at the moment, in Queensland of all places where voters told the left where to get off, on a $300,000 taxpayer funded love-in. From memory, didn't Al Gore state in his doco in 2006 that within 10 years the Earth would be facing a climate catastrophe? lolVince Clortho , 1 hour ago link
Aggressive Market Interventions, Active Dollar Management . . . you mean the PPT?Goodsport 1945 , 1 hour ago link
She has all the credibility of a Fake Indian Bolshevik.EenuschOne , 1 hour ago link
She isn't going away, and neither is her brand of voodoo economics, because too many ignorant Massholes will continue to return the squaw to office.e_goldstein , 1 hour ago link
Chief Shitting ********A Nanny Moose , 2 hours ago link
The Communist Fauxcohantus.
(Practicing for when Skankles runs again.)TAALR Swift , 2 hours ago link
Moar management will solve problems created by management.
Duct tape cannot fix stupid, but it can muffle the screams.40MikeMike , 2 hours ago link
Too late Fauka-haunt-us. The interventions and active management has been going on for years.
Dumb biatch does not deserve to collect a Gov salary, gibmes or pension.40MikeMike , 2 hours ago link
Democrats sunk and going to prison on collusion.
what's the next snake oil?
How about dealing with awful illigitamacy?
They own 1st and 2nd Black Slavery.
So fix it?
Forfeit the election and see what a debt conscious America is capable?
We can do with less, or less of more.
Only speaking for non-elites.LOL123 , 2 hours ago link
$1.5 trillion on renewables?
As in abandoned babies in a certain community?Jessica6 , 2 hours ago link
You go girl.... Lynn Rothschild will back you once she counts con-tracts and loans filtered back into her " All Inclusive Capitalism" banking system... She's got your back. She was was only kiddig about rewrting an ecconomic plan for Hillary and ditching yours....xoxo Lynn
"on Tuesday Elizabeth Warren proposed spending $2 trillion on a new "green manufacturing" program that would invest in research and exporting American clean energy technology."StheNine , 2 hours ago link
These people are control freaks. And the trouble with control freaks is they always make things worse.Carefulboy23 , 2 hours ago link
Indian giver....Lie_Detector , 2 hours ago link
Capitalism is man preying on his fellow man. Socialism is the exact opposite.El Oregonian , 2 hours ago link
Blah blah blah!DeePeePDX , 2 hours ago link
"In my administration, we will stop making excuses. We will pursue aggressive new government policies to support American workers."
"In my administration, we will NOT stop making excuses. We will pursue aggressive new government TOTALITARIAN policies to support American Stalinist ideals ."
FIXED.Wild Bill Steamcock , 2 hours ago link
Let's just reset the calendar to year zero, go all-agrarian, and march all dissent into the killing fields.
It's like these dumbfux read "Atlas Shrugged" and stole every idea of the antagonists.CaptainMoonlight , 2 hours ago link
Warren's Official Campaign song: NO CHANCE IN HELL!lisa.roy39 , 2 hours ago link
Go away , fake PocohontusMona Lisa , 2 hours ago link
𝐆𝐨𝐨𝐠𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝟗𝟕$ 𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫,𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐚𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐬.𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐚𝐯𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬.𝐎𝐧 𝐭𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐈 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐑𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 $𝟏𝟏𝟕𝟓𝟐 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤𝐬..𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡-𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭-𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐣𝐨𝐛 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐞 .. 𝐈𝐭 𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤 𝐢𝐭.
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Jun 03, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Alex (the one that likes Ike), says: May 30, 2019 at 1:30 pmAndrew , says: May 30, 2019 at 2:41 pm
While the European Parliament doesn't have too much real power, the most important thing is that it was the dress rehearsal of its countries' national elections. And this rehearsal shows that the establishment is in a bad trouble. Though it was crystally clear since Italy '18.Stephen J. , says: May 30, 2019 at 3:26 pm
What's needed here is a REAL and ACCURATE defining of "center", particularly "center-right" and "fringe". What "center-right"? There is no real "center-right" when it comes to the EU and bowing before the Commission, as the "center-right" agree with pulling in even the marxist in all but name Greens of all countries just so they can keep the real right, the Eurosceptics and Leavers out. All the more reason, Nigel Farage, far from being some right-wing lunatic the BBC would have you believe, is actually at this point being FAR too politically correct, refusing to ally with Le Pen and Salvini. The right HAS TO ally with each other, across Europe, to have any influence. Whining about past statements by old man Le Pen that are 40 years old or crying about the roots of some who support the AfD holds nothing productive for their cause. The "center-right" is nothing but the center-left, incorrectly labeled.EarlyBird , says: May 30, 2019 at 3:56 pm
"the Mainstream Establishment" may have been "Smashed" by "Voters" but the reins of power are still in the hands of the Money Changers and Globalists and their New World Order conspiracy
https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2016/06/brexit-are-serfs-finally-rebelling.htmlmark_be , says: May 30, 2019 at 3:58 pm
A very healthy development. My concern about it all, however, are the characters of the individuals who lead such revolts against the Establishment. You need outsiders and often obnoxious people to lead such movements, but they often don't make great leaders once they are in. (My biggest problem with Trump is Trump.)
I hope the Establishment gets it – really gets it – and this change in Western politics moves the whole body politic in the correct/reformist direction.JohnT , says: May 30, 2019 at 4:57 pm
"Smashed"? Not even close. A major reshuffling, sure, but the combination of anti-EU parties, eurosceptics, and outright racists hasn't grown all that much. In fact, in the light of how the Brits have mishandled Brexit, certain major anti-EU figures now campaigned on "reform from within" platforms rather than their long-held exit positions. Those who still want to see the EU broken up, or reduced to the next best thing, a neoliberal free-trade zone, remain a tiny minority.
On the other hand, I'll never forgive neither Tories nor Labour that thanks to their stupidity, we still have that bloviating joke of a pied piper running around. He is quite fitting, though, in the era of brainless populism, a Churchill for our time, the man who goads Britain into war against nazi Germany (in his own tiny mind, obviously), then jumps ship when hostilities begin, his job complete: "I have nothing to offer but your blood, toil, tears, and sweat. You shall fight on the beaches, you shall fight on the landing grounds, you shall fight in the fields and in the streets, you shall fight in the hills. If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, nincompoops will still say, 'This was his finest hour.'"Bannerman , says: May 30, 2019 at 5:44 pm
If lunatics and scoundrels dress in fine attire they are merely better dressed lunatics and scoundrels.Alex (the one that likes Ike) , says: May 31, 2019 at 10:28 am
Even when they move into the living room, leaders of fringe and former fringe parties tend to be ego maniacal prima donas, and have a very hard time getting along, leave alone cooperating for mutual gain.SteveK9 , says: May 31, 2019 at 11:05 am
If lunatics and scoundrels dress in fine attire they are merely better dressed lunatics and scoundrels.
What an apt definition of those, who, among other things, robbed the Greek economy and flooded the EU countries with "refugees", most of whom have never even been in any war zone. let alone Syria.MikeP , says: May 31, 2019 at 11:29 am
Farage's win will lead to the Conservatives under Johnson providing a 'hard Brexit'. When Britain survives and thrives, that will be the nail in the coffin of the EU, at least as it is currently constituted.Stephen J. , says: May 31, 2019 at 3:08 pm
French Foreign Minister Talleyrand had it right when, commenting on Napoleon's defeat, he said of the reconstituted Bourbon Dynasty
"Personne n'est corrigé; personne n'a su ni rien oublié ni rien apprendre"
or as is commonly quoted in English, "They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing."
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, or so our would-be European totalitarians would have it.Mark B. , says: June 1, 2019 at 5:15 pm
The Globalists and their "Establishment" are not "Smashed" yet.
The Evil Union (EU)
There is an evil union called the E.U.
That tells other countries what to do
Many people of these countries did not get to vote
On whether their country should join this huge "lifeboat"
Instead their "leaders" signed their countries away
And now these peoples' are forced to obey
The dictums that emanate from an E.U. cabal
Are they now prisoners of these globalist rascals?
This Evil Union (EU) was planned many years ago
There is evidence to prove this: Do the people know?
They could be the "guinea pigs" of the New World Order
The one world government: the end game of the traitors
How can countries escape from this undemocratic EU?
Are they now prisoners, being told what to do?
By bureaucrats and, an EU, "Unelected Commission"
Has "democracy" been subverted by getting E.U. "admission"?
[more info at links below]
-- -- -- -- -
https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2019/04/is-globalist-new-world-order-satanic.htmlEliteCommInc. , says: June 2, 2019 at 5:12 am
Excellent outcome for Europe and the EU. The establishment is not smashed. It is put on hold (a bit). The greens are a welcome new block in the parliament. The nationalist-right did win a bit but certainly not as much as predicted.
So now we have a more diverse parliament where discussions and fights will get much harder and for real. Voter outcome is rising too. Just like a real democracy with a real electorat and a real parliament. The EU is growing up. Hurray.EliteCommInc. , says: June 2, 2019 at 5:15 am
" . . . that will be the nail in the coffin of the EU, at least as it is currently constituted."
Make no mistake the "Common Market" is not going anywhere.Siarlys Jenkins , says: June 2, 2019 at 8:19 am
. . . good for them and
"God save the Queen."
If lunatics and scoundrels dress in fine attire they are merely better dressed lunatics and scoundrels.
Ah, but exactly who ARE the lunatics and scoundrels here? There seems to be a wide range of opinions about that.
Jun 03, 2019 | caucus99percent.com
@Raggedy Ann linkJust look at the record. Trump -- a cross between a carney barker and a conman -- beat a neoliberal in 2016. Right-wing populists have scored big in Austria, Italy, Britain, and Brazil since then. Just recently, Australia's right-of-center Labor coalition won their election. And in the European Union's latest contest, Greens won big while right-wing parties made gains in some areas. All these victories came at the expense of neoliberal centrists.up 12 users have voted.
Bottom line: Across the world, people are finally wising up to the fact that neoliberalism has failed them economically, politically, and environmentally. In fact, the climate crisis -- an existential threat to human civilization -- is a direct result of the global neoliberal juggernaut that has swept the developed world. So are the record levels of income and wealth disparity, and the subversion of democracy by a powerful oligarchy -- particularly in the US.
The only folks who didn't get the memo on this appears to be the neoliberal mafia that runs the Democratic Party and the mainstream media here in the US.
At a time when neoliberalism is all but dead, Democrats and the mainstream media are pushing Joe Biden, a neoliberal with a track record of supporting corporations and financial interests above the people's interests; a man who's backed by PACs; a man whose small-bore response to the climate crisis amounts to mass genocide for people and the species we share the planet with.
According to The Hill's media reporter, Joe Concha, Biden is getting more media coverage than all the other Democratic candidates combined, and the month after he announced, in one week alone, Biden was mentioned 1400 times, to 400 for Sanders, who is running second in the polls. This kind of backing by the party and the press is reminiscent of how they treated Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the results will probably be the same.
span ed by ggersh on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 5:29pmThe only problem with w/neoliberalism being deadspan ed by WoodsDweller on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:10pm
@gjohnsit it only leaves us with right wing nut jobs,
no other alternative is contemplated.
We're so fucked
And the D's will go the way of the Whigs after
Little donnie will be our last presidentNot dead, but dying.span ted by gjohnsit on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:14pm
@gjohnsit Like a brontosaurus with a fatal wound, it thrashes in the swamp, crushing anything nearby, while the nerve impulses crawl towards it's plum-sized brain. Like a blind drunk man whose life is making its final spin around the drain picking a bar fight with a bunch of tough guys half his age. Like a gambler going all in on one last hand. Dying, but not dead, and dangerous because it has nothing left to lose.You can say the same about our empirespan tted by Raggedy Ann on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:47pm
@WoodsDwellerLike a gambler going all in on one last hand.
Empire - Imperialism - Neoliberalism
It's all connected.That ISspan ed by Raggedy Ann on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:52pm
what WD is saying ~ and quite eloquently, I must add.Neoliberalism is notspan d by polkageist on Mon, 06/03/2019 - 4:54pm
going quietly - it is being dragged out kicking and screaming!I agree.span ed by Raggedy Ann on Mon, 06/03/20
I find the Democrats far more repulsive than the Republicans. At least the Republicans openly avow their evil intentions while the Democrats hide the dagger and poison the chalice (a little hyperbole hurts no one) in order to harm those who trust them. I won't register as a Democrat this time but I will vote for Bernie if the DNC somehow fails to stop him. However, I don't think the Democrats will be that incompetent in obeying the oligarchy's wishes.
Is there a third party candidate? People want to know.
Jun 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Ralph Nader: Society Is In Decay – When The Worst Is First & The Best Is Last
by Tyler Durden Sat, 06/01/2019 - 21:30 2 SHARES Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print
Authored by Ralph Nader via CommonDreams.org,
If you want to see where a country's priorities lie, look at how it allocates its money
Plutocrats like to control the range of permissible public dialogue. Plutocrats also like to shape what society values. If you want to see where a country's priorities lie, look at how it allocates its money.
While teachers and nurses earn comparatively little for performing critical jobs, corporate bosses including those who pollute our planet and bankrupt defenseless families, make millions more. Wells Fargo executives are cases in point. The vastly overpaid CEO of General Electric left his teetering company in shambles. In 2019, Boeing's CEO got a bonus (despite the Lion Air Flight 610 737 Max 8 crash in 2018). Just days before a second deadly 737 Max 8 crash in Ethiopia.
This disparity is on full display in my profession. Public interest lawyers and public defenders, who fight daily for a more just and lawful society, are paid modest salaries. On the other hand, the most well compensated lawyers are corporate lawyers who regularly aid and abet corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. Many corporate lawyers line their pockets by shielding the powerful violators from accountability under the rule of law.
Physicians who minister to the needy poor and go to the risky regions, where Ebola or other deadly infectious diseases are prevalent, are paid far less than cosmetic surgeons catering to human vanities. Does any rational observer believe that the best movies and books are also the most rewarded? Too often the opposite is true. Stunningly gripping documentaries earn less than 1 percent of what is garnered by the violent, pornographic, and crude movies at the top of the ratings each week.
On my weekly radio show, I interview some of the most dedicated authors who accurately document perils to health and safety. The authors on my program expose pernicious actions and inactions that jeopardize people's daily lives. These guests offer brilliant, practical solutions for our widespread woes (see ralphnaderradiohour.com). Their important books, usually go unnoticed by the mass media, barely sell a few thousand copies, while the best-seller lists are dominated by celebrity biographies. Ask yourself, when preventable and foreseeable disasters occur, which books are more useful to society?
The monetary imbalance is especially jarring when it comes to hawks who beat the drums of war. For example, people who push for our government to start illegal wars (eg. John Bolton pushing for the war in Iraq) are rewarded with top appointments. Former government officials also get very rich when they take jobs in the defense industry. Do you remember anyone who opposed the catastrophic Iraq War getting such lucrative rewards?
The unknown and unrecognized people who harvest our food are on the lowest rung of the income ladder despite the critical role they play in our lives. Near the top of the income ladder are people who gamble on the prices of food via the commodities market and those who drain the nutrients out of natural foods and sell the junk food that remains, with a dose of harmful additives. Agribusiness tycoons profit from this plunder.
Those getting away with major billing fraud grow rich. While those people trying to get our government to do something about $350 billion dollars in health care billing fraud this year – like Harvard Professor Malcolm K. Sparrow – live on a college professor's salary.
Hospital executives, who each make millions of dollars a year, preside over an industry where about 5,000 patients die every week from preventable problems in U.S. hospitals, according to physicians at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The watchdogs who call out this deadly hazard live on a fraction of that amount as they try to save lives.
Even in sports, where people think the best athletes make the most money, the reverse is more often true. Just ask a red-faced Brian Cashman, the Yankees GM, who, over twenty years, has spent massive sums on athletes who failed miserably to produce compared to far lesser-paid baseball players. Look at today's top ranked Yankees – whose fifteen "stars" are injured, while their replacements are playing spectacularly for much smaller compensation than their high priced teammates.
A major reason why our society's best are so often last while our worst are first is the media's infatuation with publicizing the worst and ignoring the best. Warmongers get press. The worst politicians are most frequently on the Sunday morning TV shows – not the good politicians or civic leaders with proven records bettering our society.
Ever see Congressman Pascrell (Dem. N.J.) on the Sunday morning news shows? Probably not. He's a leader who is trying to reform Congress so that it is open, honest, capable and represents you the people. Surely you have heard of Senator Lindsey Graham (Rep. S.C.) who is making ugly excuses for Donald Trump, always pushing for war and bloated military budgets, often hating Muslims and Arabs and championing the lawless American Empire. He is always in the news, having his say.
Take the 162 people who participated in our Superbowl of Civic Action at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. in May and September 2016. These people have and are changing America. They are working to make food, cars, drugs, air, water, medical devices, and drinking water safer. Abuses by corporations against consumers, workers and small taxpayers would be worse without them. Our knowledge of solutions and ways to treat people fairly and abolish poverty and advance public services is greater because of their courageous hard work. (see breakingthroughpower.org).
The eight days of this Civic Superbowl got far less coverage than did Tiger Woods losing another tournament that year or the dismissive nicknames given by the foul-mouth Trump to his mostly wealthy Republican opponents on just one debate stage.
All societies need play, entertainment, and frivolity. But a media obsessed with giving 100 times the TV and radio time, using our public airwaves for free, to those activities than to serious matters crucial to the most basic functioning of our society is assuring that the worst is first and the best is last. Just look at your weekly TV Guide.
If the whole rotted-out edifice comes crashing down, there won't be enough coerced taxpayer dollars anymore to save the Plutocrats, with their limitless greed and power. Maybe then the best can have a chance to be first.
May 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.orgAnne Jaclard , May 30, 2019 7:33:37 PM | 31
Bilderberg 2019 Meeting Information Revealed
Stacey Abrams, Eric Schmidt, Mike Pompeo, and Mattel Renzi, among others, will be attending the top-secret Bilderberh meetings from today through the weekend.
Topics to be discussed include the weaponisation of social media, the future of capitalism, Brexit, China, and threats to the neoliberal world order.
Held since 1954, Bilderberg has acted as a meeting point for high-level establishment politicians and corporate elites to promote the interests of Atlanticism and global corporations.
Many attendees of Bilderberg have gone on to play major roles in their countries' politics, including Angela Merkel and Barack Obama.
The presence of Abrams at the event is another sign that she may act as a vice-presidential candidate for Joe Biden, who himself has attended corporate-linked summits including Davos and the Munich Security Conference this year and who has seen his narratives bolstered by think tanks such as More in Common and the Trilateral Commission.
Abrams is herself a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has pursued a neoliberal agenda while in office.
May 23, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
" Capitalism's gratuitous wars and sanctioned greed have jeopardized the planet and filled it with refugees. Much of the blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the government of the United States. Seventeen years after invading Afghanistan, after bombing it into the 'stone age' with the sole aim of toppling the Taliban, the US government is back in talks with the very same Taliban. In the interim it has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives to war and sanctions, a whole region has descended into chaos, ancient cities -- pounded into dust."
– Arundhati Roy
"As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than did the rulers themselves, the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done to them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities. "
― Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments
"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism ."
― Smedley Butler, War is a Racket
"It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, 31 March 1968
Empire understands nothing except ruthless expansion. It has no other raison d'etre. In the past this meant the violent acquisition of lands and territories by a militarized system where [miliraty] caste was very apparent and visible. But today the dealings of empire are far more duplicitous. The ruling order of this age expands empire via the acquisition of capital while using the military industrial complex to police its exploits. But there is an insidious social conditioning at work which has led the general public to where it is today, a state of "inverted totalitarianism" as political philosopher Sheldon Wolin explained. Indeed, capitalism has morphed into the unassailable religion of the age even among the working class. Its tenets are still viewed as sacrosanct.
Violence is the sole language of empire. It is this only currency it uses to enforce its precepts and edicts, both at home and abroad. Eventually this language becomes internalized within the psyche of the subjects. Social and cultural conditioning maintained through constant subtle messaging via mass media begins to mold the public will toward that of authoritarian conformity. The American Empire is emblematic of this process. There is mass compliance to the dictates of the ruling class and this occurs most often without any prompting or debate whatsoever. In this dictatorship of money the poor are looked at with ridicule and contempt, and are often punished legally for their imposed poverty.
But the social conditioning of the American public has led toward a bizarre allegiance to its ruling class oppressors. Propaganda still works here and most are still besotted with the notion of America being a bastion of "freedom and democracy." The growing gap between the ultra-wealthy and the poor and the gutting of civil liberties are ignored. And blind devotion is especially so when it comes to US foreign policy.
Most Americans still believe they live in the greatest country on the planet. They believe the American military to be noble and that they always reluctantly go into or are forced into war. Indeed, both the Democrats and Republicans possess an uncanny ability to bridge their ideological distances when it comes to defending US militarism, the Pentagon and the war machine of imperialism. But this is tied to the defense of capitalism, the ruling class, and the ultimate reason for war: the protection of that class's global capital investments.
The persecution of Chelsea Manning, much like the case of Julian Assange, is demonstrative of this. It is a crusade against truth tellers that has been applauded from both sides of the American establishment, liberal and conservative alike. It does not matter that she helped to expose American war crimes. On the contrary, this is seen as heresy to the Empire itself. Manning's crime was exposing the underbelly of the beast. A war machine which targeted and killed civilians and journalists by soldiers behind a glowing screen thousands of miles away, as if they were playing a video game.
Indeed, those deadened souls pulling the virtual trigger probably thought they were playing a video game since this is how the military seduced them to serve in their ranks in the first place. A kind of hypnotic, addictive, algorithmic tyranny of sorts. It is a form of escapism that so many young Americans are enticed by given their sad prospects in a society that has denuded the commons as well as their future. That it was a war based on lies against an impoverished nation already deeply weakened from decades of American led sanctions is inconsequential....
... ... ...
Today Iran and Venezuela are once again in the crosshairs of the American Empire's belligerence. Their defiance to the dominant [neoliberal] socioeconomic order will simply not be tolerated by the global ruling caste, represented as the unquestioned "interests" of the United States. The imposed suffering on these nations has been twisted as proof that they are now in need of American salvation in the form of even more crippling sanctions, coups, neoliberal austerity and military intervention. As the corporate vultures lie in wait for the next carcass of a society to feed upon, the hawks are busy building the case for the continuation and expansion of capitalist wars of conquest.
Bolton and Pompeo are now the equivalent of the generals who carved up Numidia for the wealthy families of ancient Rome, with Trump, the half-witted, narcissistic and cruel emperor, presiding over the whole in extremis farce. Indeed, the bloated orange Emperor issued the latest of his decrees in his usual banal fashion, via tweet:
"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"
One can query when Iran, or any other nation has ever "threatened" the United States, but that question will never be asked by the corporate press who are also in service to Empire. They are, in fact, its mouthpiece and advocate. The US has at least 900 military bases and colonial outposts scattered around the planet, yet this is never looked at as imperialistic in the least by the establishment, including its media. Scores of nations lie in ruins or are besieged with chaos and misery thanks to American bellicosity , from Libya to Iraq and beyond. But the US never looks back in regret at any of its multiple forays, not even a few years back.
To be sure the American Empire, which has seldom seen a year without pillage of another nation or region, is now facing its greatest nemesis. Unheeded lessons of the past have made it thoroughly inoculated to its own demise. In short, it is drunk on its hubris and unable to grapple with its inevitable descent.
... ... ...
American Empire knows no other language sans brutality, deceit and belligerence...
... ... ...
The American Empire, one of the shortest lived in human history, has become the biggest threat to humanity ...
But like all empires it will eventually fall. Its endless and costly wars on behalf of capital investments and profiteering are contributing to that demise . After all, billions of dollars are spent to keep the bloated military industrial complex afloat in service to the ruling class while social and economic safety nets are torn to shreds...
Comments from The Belligerence Of Empire Zero Hedge9 hours ago
Nowadays the US has a massive military and little else. And "when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail" - Wesley Clark, Former US General.
14 hours ago
Twaddle. Capitalism has lifted out of poverty more people around the globe than all other "successful" systems combined; and in a fraction of the time. Education. Health. Wealth. Not to mention Arts and Sciences.
Go demand a refund for your liberal education. And stop spreading lies.
11 hours ago (Edited)
Poppycock! Capitalism has traded real sovereign wealth for fiat debt backed funny money at the barrel of a gun! You assholes have been forcing otherwise healthy communities into poverty for decades so you could steal their resources and molest their children! Why? Because children are the only people impressed by your tiny d!cks!
The white male gaze that drives child sex tourism Feelings of disempowerment lead to vulnerable families, children
The organization described the average sex tourist as a middle-aged white male from either Europe or North America who often goes online to find the " best deals. " One particular Web site promised "nights of sex with two young Thai girls for the price of a tank of gas."
Sowmia Nair, a Department of Justice agent, said the Thai government often "turns a blind eye" to child sex tourism because of the country's economic reliance on the tourist trade in general . He also said police officers are often corrupt.
" Police have been known to guard brothels and even procure children for prostitution," Nair said. "Some police directly exploit the children themselves."
A report from the International Bureau for Children's Rights said the majority of child prostitutes come from poor families in northern Thailand, referred to as the "hill tribes." With limited economic opportunities and bleak financial circumstances, these families, out of desperation, give their children to "recruiters," who promise them jobs in the city and then force the children into prostitution.
Sometimes families themselves even prostitute their children or sell them into the sex trade for a minuscule sum of money.
This is not by accident! This is by design!
14 hours ago
Capitalism has nothing to do with this. For the average American the empire is a losing proposition.
13 hours ago (Edited)
Empire good. Emperor bad. Kingdom good. King bad. Country good. President bad. Village good. Idiot bad.
13 hours ago (Edited)
Empire is cancer. Especially the present one that leaves a trail of failed states and antangonism in its wake.
16 hours ago
We are part of a scientific dictatorship - the 'Ultimate Revolution' Huxley spoke of in 1962 where the oppressed willingly submit to their enslavement. Social conditioning - promoted by continuous propaganda stressing that the state is their protector, reinforced by endless 'terrorist threats' to keep the masses fearful is but one part of the system.
The state no longer has to use threats and fear of punishment to keep the masses under control - the masses have been convinced that they are better off as slaves and serfs than they were as free men.
The US Republic has come and gone - the Empire is failing rapidly despite massive spending to support it. Cecil Rhodes and his heirs dreamed of restoring Anglo American domination of the world yet despite all of the technology employed the US is losing grip. By sheer numbers (and a far more efficient dictatorship) China is moving to a dominant role.
18 hours ago
Capitalism and corporatism are not the same. When corporate interests effectively wield gov power, you have corporatism, not Capitalism.
14 hours ago
18 hours ago 'Muricanism is the gee-gaw of the chattering classes.
18 hours ago (Edited)
The US is its own worst enemy. They have no idea what they are doing. 2008 – "Oh dear, the global economy just blew up" Its experts investigate and conclude it was a black swan.
It is a black swan if you don't consider debt. They use neoclassical economics that doesn't consider debt.
They can't work out why inflation isn't coming back and the real economy isn't recovering faster.
Look at the debt over-hang that's still left after 2008 in the graph above, that's the problem. The repayment on debt to banks destroy money pushing the economy towards debt deflation.
QE can't enter the real economy as so many people are still loaded up with debt and there are too few borrowers.
QE can get into the markets inflating them and the US stock market is now at 1929 levels. They have created another asset price bubble that is ready to collapse leading to another financial crisis.
We need a new scientific economics for globalisation, got any ideas?
What if we just stick some complex maths on top of 1920s neoclassical economics?
No one will notice.
They didn't either, but it's still got all its old problems.
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.
What's the problem?
- The belief in the markets gets everyone thinking you are creating real wealth by inflating asset prices.
- Bank credit pours into inflating asset prices rather than creating real wealth (as measured by GDP) as no one is looking at the debt building up
1929 and 2008 look so similar because they are; it's the same economics and thinking.
What was just a problem in the 1920s in the US is now global.
At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.
The 1920s problem in the US is now everywhere, UK, US, Euro-zone, Japan and China.
20 hours ago (Edited)
Capitalism is based on darwinian economic competition driven by a desire to accumulate material wealth. When a capitalist becomes sufficiently rich, he can (and does) buy politicians and armies to do his bidding. Ironically, although capitalism is based on the assumption of competition, capitalists actually hate competition and harbor the urge to put competitors out of business. The true goal of a capitalists is monopoly-- as long as it is them.
Imperialism is a logical (and historically predictable) expansion of capitalism.
18 hours ago
Capitalism may not be the path to peace, but just about every other ism, including socialism and communism delivered worse.
Attacking capitalism for common failings is off base.
15 hours ago
Socialism and ultimately communism appear when capitalism goes rampant, and it is normal for the socium to embrace socialism when the inequality becomes too large.
In the end, the elite has no problem to rebrand themselves any color it needs to take to rule again, and become totalitarian state. As it becomes in the Soviet Union and China.
So don't mistake the people's desire for equal world with totalitarian capitalism masked as socialism.
14 hours ago
the real issue is NO GROUP OF HUMANS can be trusted will any form of power. ever. period.
so it goes that no "xyz"ism" will ever work out for the whole. yet humans are social animals and seek to be in groups governed by the very people that strive to lead that exhibit sociopathic tendencies, which are the worst possible leaders. how fuked up is that?
so how can that work? it does for a while. then we end up in the same spot every time, turmoil, the forth turning.
the luck of life is the period of time you live during, where and what stage of human turmoil the society is in...
21 hours ago (Edited)
" Capitalism's gratuitous wars and sanctioned greed have jeopardized the planet and filled it with refugees".
Capitalism did all that huh? It had nothing to do with corrupt politicians in bed with corporations and banks. Now they even have the military singing the same stupidity. Governments make these messes, not capitalism. Someone who risked their life for a corrupt government giving the pieces of **** that put him there a free pass by blaming it on capitalism. What a moron. When politicians hear this stupidity, it's like music to their ears. They know they've successfully shifted the blame to a simple ISM. Governments want to blame the very thing that will fix all of this, for the sake of self-preservation.
18 hours ago
Every system acts to centralise power, even anarchism. So you say it was wealth that enabled what was to follow but it was really power.. something every -ism will centralise and enable.
22 hours ago
Another blame America article that fails to mention the International Banksters. They have the finger-pointing thingy down to an art form.
16 hours ago
Really! Did you miss the Smedley Butler quote?
22 hours ago
Could you please distinguish between capitalism and political, monetary, fiscal, press, and legal aberrations that can occur in capitalist systems because of government sloth and malfeasance? Media monopoly, mass illegal immigration, and offshoring are not the essence of capitalism. And socialist systems can see hideous abuses.
Please read something more than **** and Jane adventures.
23 hours ago
"... is still the owner of the world's biggest nuclear arsenal."
Here is the list of all nine countries with nuclear weapons in descending order, starting with the country that has the most nuclear weapons at hand and ending with the country that has the least amount of nuclear weapons
- Russia, 6,850 nuclear warheads
- The United States of America, 6,550 warheads
- France, 300 warheads
- China, 280 warheads
- The United Kingdom, 215 warheads
- Pakistan, 145 warheads
- India, 135 warheads
- Israel, 80 warheads
- North Korea, 15 warheads
23 hours ago
It is now building a $100 million dollar drone base in Africa...
China 'negotiates military base' in Djibouti | News | Al Jazeera
China is negotiating a military base in a strategic port of Djibouti, the president said, according to the AFP news agency. The move raises the prospect of US and Chinese bases side-by-side in the ...
China May Consider These Countries For Its Next Overseas ...
Oct 10, 2017 · China and the small African nation of Djibouti reached an agreement in July to let the People's Liberation Army establish up its first overseas military base there. The base on Africa's east ...
China is building its first military base in Africa . America ...
China is building its first military base in Africa . America should be very nervous. ... In Africa , China has found not just a market for money but for jobs and land -- crucial components of ...
23 hours ago (Edited)
Oh noes! 1 base in Africa.....meanwhile the empire has 800 outposts around the world and despite that, like a snowflake, is bitching about China's one.
Isn't it fascinating how the Chinese do not find it necessary to resort to retarded regime change projects and stoopid kikery to "win" influence? Easy peasy. Methinks the Anglo-Zionists can learn a trick or two from China.
23 hours ago
The empire of 800 outposts is puny compared to the 1960's and 1970's. I can provide the information if you'd like. Almost all the 800 have company sized or smaller contingents. Still, I'd like to see much of it dismantled. No world Policeman.
23 hours ago
The entire world is in favor of a more peaceful planet Earth, except the military-industrial complex. Ron Paul
War puts money in their pockets. Lots of money. It's in the trillions of dollars.
23 hours ago (Edited)
How do you begin to change that? Most Americans have been brainwashed and zombified by Hollywood and MSM into revering and lionizing the military without question. The sheer amount of waste in the MIC is not only negligent, but criminal. By the time the sheep awaken, the empire will have run out of their money to pillage. The beast of empire requires new victims to feed off in order to sustain - it devours entire nations, pilfers resources and murders people. Is this really what the founding fathers wanted?
Now you know why wars happen. If "we the people" can't stop this beast, another nation's military will.
21 hours ago
Precisely right. It's as if we've painted ourselves into the proverbial corner. The only way out of the morass is to find men of very high character to correctly lead the way out. America needs a Socrates.
May 23, 2019 | www.unz.com
No other country in the Middle East is as important in countering America's rush to provide Israel with another war than Iraq. Fortunately for Iran, the winds of change in Iraq and the many other local countries under similar threat, thus, make up an unbroken chain of border to border support. This support is only in part due to sympathy for Iran and its plight against the latest bluster by the Zio-American bully.
In the politics of the Middle East, however, money is at the heart of all matters. As such, this ring of defensive nations is collectively and quickly shifting towards the new Russo/Sino sphere of economic influence. These countries now form a geo-political defensive perimeter that, with Iraq entering the fold, make a US ground war virtually impossible and an air war very restricted in opportunity.
If Iraq holds, there will be no war in Iran.
In the last two months, Iraq parliamentarians have been exceptionally vocal in their calls for all foreign military forces- particularly US forces- to leave immediately. Politicians from both blocs of Iraq's divided parliament called for a vote to expel US troops and promised to schedule an extraordinary session to debate the matter ."Parliament must clearly and urgently express its view about the ongoing American violations of Iraqi sovereignty," said Salam al-Shimiri, a lawmaker loyal to the populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr .
Iraq's ambassador to Moscow, Haidar Mansour Hadi, went further saying that Iraq "does not want a new devastating war in the region." He t old a press conference in Moscow this past week, "Iraq is a sovereign nation. We will not let [the US] use our territory," he said. Other comments by Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi agreed. Other MPs called for a timetable for complete US troop withdrawal.
Then a motion was introduced demanding war reparations from the US and Israel for using internationally banned weapons while destroying Iraq for seventeen years and somehow failing to find those "weapons of mass destruction."
As Iraq/Iran economic ties continue to strengthen, with Iraq recently signing on for billions of cubic meters of Iranian natural gas, the shift towards Russian influence- an influence that prefers peace- was certified as Iraq sent a delegation to Moscow to negotiate the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system.
To this massive show of pending democracy and rapidly rising Iraqi nationalism, US Army spokesman, Colonel Ryan Dillon, provided the kind of delusion only the Zio-American military is known for, saying,
"Our continued presence in Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to need, in coordination with and by the approval of the Iraqi government."
Good luck with that.
US influence in Iraq came to a possible conclusion this past Saturday, May 18, 2019, when it was reported that the Iraqi parliament would vote on a bill compelling the invaders to leave . Speaking about the vote on the draft bill, Karim Alivi, a member of the Iraqi parliament's national security and defense committee, said on Thursday that the country's two biggest parliamentary factions -- the Sairoon bloc, led by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Fatah alliance, headed by secretary general of the Badr Organization, Hadi al-Ameri -- supported the bill. Strangely, Saturday's result has not made it to the media as yet, and American meddling would be a safe guess as to the delay, but the fact that this bill would certainly have passed strongly shows that Iraq well understands the weakness of the American bully: Iraq's own US militarily imposed democracy.
Iraq shares a common border with Iran that the US must have for any ground war. Both countries also share a similar religious demographic where Shia is predominant and the plurality of cultures substantially similar and previously living in harmony. Both also share a very deep seeded and deserved hatred of Zio- America. Muqtada al-Sadr, who, after coming out first in the 2018 Iraqi elections, is similar to Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah in his religious and military influence within the well trained and various Shia militias. He is firmly aligned with Iran as is Fattah Alliance. Both detest Zio- America.
A ground invasion needs a common and safe border. Without Iraq, this strategic problem for US forces becomes complete. The other countries also with borders with Iran are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All have several good reasons that they will not, or cannot, be used for ground forces.
With former Armenian President Robert Kocharian under arrest in the aftermath of the massive anti-government 2018 protests, Bolton can check that one off the list first. Azerbaijan is mere months behind the example next door in Armenia, with protests increasing and indicating a change towards eastern winds. Regardless, Azerbaijan, like Turkmenistan, is an oil producing nation and as such is firmly aligned economically with Russia. Political allegiance seems obvious since US influence is limited in all three countries to blindly ignoring the massive additional corruption and human rights violations by Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow .
However, Russian economic influence pays in cash. Oil under Russian control is the lifeblood of both of these countries. Recent developments and new international contracts with Russia clearly show whom these leaders are actually listening to.
Turkey would appear to be firmly shifting into Russian influence. A NATO member in name only. Ever since he shot down his first- and last – Russian fighter jet, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thumbed his nose at the Americans. Recently he refused to succumb to pressure and will receive Iranian oil and, in July, the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft/missile system. This is important since there is zero chance Putin will relinquish command and control or see them missiles used against Russian armaments. Now, Erdogan is considering replacing his purchase of thirty US F-35s with the far superior Russian SU- 57 and a few S-500s for good measure.
Economically, America did all it could to stop the Turk Stream gas pipeline installed by Russia's Gazprom, that runs through Turkey to eastern Europe and will provide $billions to Erdogan and Turkey . It will commence operation this year. Erdogan continues to purchase Iranian oil and to call for Arab nations to come together against US invasion in Iran. This week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar renewed Turkey's resolve, saying his country is preparing for potential American sanctions as a deadline reportedly set by the US for Ankara to cancel the S-400 arms deal with Russia or face penalties draws near.
So, Turkey is out for both a ground war and an air war since the effectiveness of all those S-400's might be put to good use if America was to launch from naval positions in the Mediterranean. Attacking from the Black Sea is out since it is ringed by countries under Russo/Sino influence and any attack on Iran will have to illegally cross national airspace aligned with countries preferring the Russo/Sino alliance that favours peace. An unprovoked attack would leave the US fleet surrounded with the only safe harbours in Romania and Ukraine. Ships move much slower than missiles.
Afghanistan is out, as the Taliban are winning. Considering recent peace talks from which they walked out and next slaughtered a police station near the western border with Iran, they have already won. Add the difficult terrain near the Iranian border and a ground invasion is very unlikely
Although new Pakistani President Amir Khan has all the power and authority of a primary school crossing guard, the real power within the Pakistani military, the ISI, is more than tired of American influence . ISI has propagated the Taliban for years and often gave refuge to Afghan anti-US forces allowing them to use their common border for cover. Although in the past ISI has been utterly mercenary in its very duplicitous- at least- foreign allegiances, after a decade of US drone strikes on innocent Pakistanis, the chance of ground-based forces being allowed is very doubtful. Like Afghanistan terrain also increases this unlikelihood.
Considerations as to terrain and location for a ground war and the resulting failure of not doing so was shown to Israel previously when, in 2006 Hizbullah virtually obliterated its ground attack, heavy armour and battle tanks in the hills of southern Lebanon. In further cautionary detail, this failure cost PM Ehud Olmert his job.
For the Russo/Sino pact nations, or those leaning in their direction, the definition of national foreign interest is no longer military, it is economic. Those with resources and therefore bright futures within the expanding philosophy and economic offerings of the Russo/Sino pact have little use any longer for the "Sorrows of Empire." These nation's leaders, if nothing more than to line their own pockets, have had a very natural epiphany: War is not, for them, profitable.
For Iran, the geographic, economic and therefore geo-political ring of defensive nations is made complete by Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Syria, like Iraq, has every reason to despise the Americans and similar reasons to embrace Iran, Russia, China and border neighbour Lebanon. Syria now has its own Russian S-300 system which is already bringing down Israeli missiles. It is surprising that Lebanon has not requested a few S-300s of their own. No one knows what Hizbullah has up its sleeve, but it has been enough to keep the Israelis at bay. Combined with a currently more prepared Lebanese army, Lebanon under the direction of Nasrallah is a formidable nation for its size. Ask Israel.
Lebanon and Syria also take away the chance of a ground-based attack, leaving the US Marines and Army to stare longingly across the Persian Gulf open waters from Saudi Arabia or one of its too few and militarily insignificant allies in the southern Gulf region.
Friendly airspace will also be vastly limited, so also gone will be the tactical element of surprise of any incoming attack. The reality of this defensive ring of nations means that US military options will be severely limited. The lack of a ground invasion threat and the element of surprise will allow Iranian defences to prioritize and therefore be dramatically more effective. As shown in a previous article, "The Return of the Madness of M.A.D," Iran like Russia and China, after forty years of US/Israeli threats, has developed new weapons and military capabilities, that combined with tactics will make any direct aggression towards it by American forces a fair fight.
If the US launches a war it will go it alone except for the few remaining US lapdogs like the UK, France, Germany and Australia, but with anti-US emotions running as wild across the EU as in the southern Caspian nations, the support of these Zionist influenced EU leaders is not necessarily guaranteed.
Regardless, a lengthy public ramp-up to stage military assets for an attack by the US will be seen by the vast majority of the world- and Iran- as an unprovoked act of war. Certainly at absolute minimum Iran will close the Straits of Hormuz, throwing the price of oil skyrocketing and world economies into very shaky waters. World capitalist leaders will not be happy. Without a friendly landing point for ground troops, the US will either have to abandon this strategy in favour of an air war or see piles of body bags of US servicemen sacrificed to Israeli inspired hegemony come home by the thousands just months before the '20 primary season. If this is not military and economic suicide, it is certainly political.
Air war will likely see a similar disaster. With avenues of attack severely restricted, obvious targets such as Iran's non-military nuclear program and major infrastructure will be thus more easily defended and the likelihood of the deaths of US airmen similarly increased.
In terms of Naval power, Bolton would have only the Mediterranean as a launch pad, since using the Black Sea to initiate war will see the US fleet virtually surrounded by nations aligned with the Russo/Sino pact. Naval forces, it should be recalled, are, due to modern anti-ship technologies and weapons, now the sitting ducks of blusterous diplomacy. A hot naval war in the Persian Gulf, like a ground war, will leave a US death toll far worse than the American public has witnessed in their lifetimes and the US navy in tatters.
Trump is already reportedly seething that his machismo has been tarnished by Bolton and Pompeo's false assurances of an easy overthrow of Maduro in Venezuela. With too many top generals getting jumpy about him initiating a hot war with Iraq, Bolton's stock in trade-war is waning. Trump basks in being the American bully personified, but he and his ego will not stand for being exposed as weak. Remaining as president is necessary to stoke his shallow character. When Trump's limited political intelligence wakes up to the facts that his Zio masters want a war with Iran more than they want him as president, and that these forces can easily replace him with a Biden, Harris, Bernie or Warren political prostitute instead, even America's marmalade Messiah, will lose the flavor of his master's blood lust for war.
In two excellent articles in Asia times by Pepe Escobar, he details the plethora of projects, agreements, and cooperation that are taking place from Asia to the Mid-East to the Baltics . Lead by Russia and China this very quickly developing Russo/Sino pact of economic opportunity and its intentions of "soft power" collectively spell doom for Zio-America's only remaining tactics of influence: military intervention. States, Escobar:
"We should know by now that the heart of the 21 st Century Great Game is the myriad layers of the battle between the United States and the partnership of Russia and China. The long game indicates Russia and China will break down language and cultural barriers to lead Eurasian integration against American economic hegemony backed by military might."
The remaining civilized world, that which understands the expanding world threat of Zio-America, can rest easy. Under the direction of this new Russo/Sino influence, without Iraq, the US will not launch a war on Iran.
This growing Axis of Sanity surrounds Iran geographically and empathetically, but more importantly, economically. This economy, as clearly stated by both Putin and Xi, does not benefit from any further wars of American aggression. In this new allegiance to future riches, it is Russian and China that will call the shots and a shooting war involving their new client nations will not be sanctioned from the top.
However, to Putin, Xi and this Axis of Sanity: If American wishes to continue to bankrupt itself by ineffective military adventures of Israel's making, rather than fix its own nation that is in societal decline and desiccated after decades of increasing Zionist control, well
That just good for business!
About the Author: Brett Redmayne-Titley has published over 170 in-depth articles over the past eight years for news agencies worldwide. Many have been translated and republished. On-scene reporting from important current events has been an emphasis that has led to his many multi-part exposes on such topics as the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, NATO summit, Keystone XL Pipeline, Porter Ranch Methane blow-out, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Erdogan's Turkey and many more. He can be reached at: live-on-scene ((at)) gmx.com. Prior articles can be viewed at his archive: www.watchingromeburn.uk
RealAmerican , says: May 23, 2019 at 11:40 pm GMTWhen Trump's limited political intelligence wakes up to the facts that his Zio masters want a war with Iran more than they want him as president, and that these forces can easily replace him with a Biden, Harris, Bernie or Warren political prostitute instead, even America's marmalade Messiah, will lose the flavor of his master's blood lust for war.Jim Christian , says: May 24, 2019 at 3:45 am GMT
I believe you are far too generous in your estimation of his ability to distinguish between flavors of any type. Otherwise, your analysis is insightful and thorough.The U.S. is in the same position today that we were aboard Nimitz back in 1980. Too far from Tehran to start a war or even to find our people. We are perhaps in even a far worse position in that today, Iran holds no hostages. There's nothing so 'noble' as 44 hostages to inspire war today. This here is merely at the behest of Israel and the deep state profit centers for mere fun and games and cash and prizes. Iran, overall, is nothing. Obama put Iran away for what, a billion-five? And Jared, Bolton and Pompeo dredged it all back up again? Care to guess the first-night expense of a shock and awe on Tehran? It's unthinkable.Alfred , says: May 24, 2019 at 4:56 am GMT
I used to like Israel. The Haifa-Tel Av-iv-Jerusalem-Galili loop was pretty cool. The PLO hadn't quite started their game, we could move freely about the country. It's where the whole thing started. And, unlike Italy and Spain, they treated us Americans ok. They were somewhat war torn. But now? They're a destructive monolith, they're good at hiding it and further, they make disastrous miscalculations. Eliminating Saddam was huge. Turns out, Saddam was the only sane one. The last vestiges of Saddam's nuclear program went up in the attacks on the Osirak reactor that Israel bombed in 1981. Why did they push for the elimination of Saddam afterwards? Why the lies? Miscalculation.
This here with Iran won't travel further than threats and horseshit. I hope. Lots of bleating and farting. Someone agrees. Oil dropped three or four bucks today."the resulting failure of not doing so was shown to Israel previously when, in 2016 Hezbollah virtually obliterated its ground attack, heavy amour and battle tanks in the hills of southern Lebanon."Ilyana_Rozumova , says: May 24, 2019 at 5:22 am GMT
2006 please!I do particularly agree that elimination of Sadam was the greatest mistake US committed in Middle East. Devastating mistake for US policy. In the final evaluation it did create the most powerful Shi_ite crescent that now rules the Levant. Organizing failing uprising in Turkey against Erdogan was probably mistake of the same magnitude. Everything is lost for US now in the ME.animalogic , says: May 24, 2019 at 7:10 am GMT
Threatening Iran is now simply grotesque.
Concerning the article. The article evaluating the situation in ME is outstanding and perfect. Every move of US is a vanity. There is no more any opportunity to achieve any benefit for US. Who is responsible for all those screw ups ? US or Israel?Great article, cheered me up enormously.Apex Predator , says: May 24, 2019 at 7:37 am GMT
However, the other side of the military coin is economic -- specifically sanctions on Iran (& China). Here ( I suspect) the US has prospects. Iran has said it has a "PhD" in sanctions busting. I hope that optimism is not misplaced. That US sanctions amount to a declaration of war on Iran is widely agreed. Sadly, it seems the EU in its usual spineless way will offer Iran more or less empty promises.Is the author unaware of the nation of Saudi Arabia and the fact that they are new BFFs with Israel. They have come out quite openly they'd like to see Iran attacked. That whole Sunni Wahabism vs. Shia thing is a heck of alot older than this current skirmish.peter mcloughlin , says: May 24, 2019 at 8:21 am GMT
Being that SA has a border w/ the Persian Gulf and that Kuwait who is even CLOSER may be agreeable to be a staging area, why the hand wringing about this nation & that nation, etc. The US would be welcome to stage an air and sea assault using Saudi bases followed up by amphibious troop deployment if need be. But given the proximity they could probably strong arm Kuwait to act as a land bridge, in a pinch.
So will we expect the follow up article discussing this glaring omission, or am I missing some great development re: S.Arabia's disposition and temperament regarding all this.The transformed relationship between Russia and Turkey illustrates perfectly the shifting sands of strategic alliances as we cross the desert towards destiny. https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/The Alarmist , says: May 24, 2019 at 8:24 am GMTI don't know if Russia and China have been showing restraint or still don't feel up to taking Uncle on very publicly or even covertly. The author assumes they might be willing to step up now for Iran, but the action in places like Syria suggests they might not.joeshittheragman , says: May 24, 2019 at 9:47 am GMT
As for the costs of taking on Iran, while one cannot underestimate the cocksuredness of Uncle to take on Iran with a 2003 "Iraq will be a cakewalk" attitude, the resulting air war will likely not be as costly to Uncle as the author believes, but the thought of flag-draped coffins in the thousands will certainly deter a land invasion. If there is any action at all, it will be air interdiction and missile attack.
It is curious that Uncle has not already resorted to his favorite tactic of declaring a No-Fly zone already but instead merely hinted that airliner safety cannot be guaranteed; this is likely just another form of sanction since Iran receives money for each airliner that transits its airspace, and a couple of Uncle's putative allies supply Iran with ATC equipment and services.
Uncle's Navy has already demonstrated a willingness to shoot down an airliner in Iranian airspace, so it is no idle threat, kind of like the mobster looking at a picture of your family and saying, "Nice family you have there; it would be a shame if anything happened to them.""War is a Racket" by Gen Smedley Butler (USMC – recipient of two Medals of Honor – no rear echelon pogue) is a must read. As true today as it was back when he wrote it.Tom Welsh , says: May 24, 2019 at 11:18 am GMT"The Axis of Sanity" – I like it, I like it! Probably quite closely related to the "reality-based community".Amerimutt Golems , says: May 24, 2019 at 11:29 am GMTWalter , says: May 24, 2019 at 11:46 am GMT
If the US launches a war it will go it alone except for the few remaining US lapdogs like the UK, France, Germany and Australia, but with anti-US emotions running as wild across the EU as in the southern Caspian nations, the support of these Zionist influenced EU leaders is not necessarily guaranteed.
Stasi " Merkel muss weg " (Merkel must go) is too weak to even think about taking Germanstan into such a foolish adventure.
Maybe the Kosher Kingdom of simpletons, especially under American-born Turkish "Englishman" (((Boris Kemal Bey))), another psycho like (((Baron Levy's))) Scottish warmonger Blair.built-up in Iraq geewhiz!sarz , says: May 24, 2019 at 11:51 am GMT
Iraqi MP: US after Turning Ain Al-Assad into Central Airbase in Iraq
"Karim al-Mohammadawi told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website that the US wants to turn Ain al-Assad airbase which is a regional base for operations and command into a central airbase for its fighter jets.
He added that a large number of forces and military equipment have been sent to Ain al-Assad without any permission from the Iraqi government, noting that the number of American forces in Iraq has surpassed 50,000.
Al-Mohammadawi said that Washington does not care about Iraq's opposition to using the country's soil to target the neighboring states.
In a relevant development on Saturday, media reports said that Washington has plans to set up military bases and increasing its troops in Iraq, adding the US is currently engaged in expanding its Ain al-Assad military base in al-Anbar province."The prime minister of Pakistan is IMRAN Khan, not AMIR Khan. Makes you wonder about all the other assertions.The scalpel , says: Website May 24, 2019 at 12:03 pm GMT@Apex Predatorsally , says: May 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm GMT
The US would be welcome to stage an air and sea assault using Saudi bases followed up by amphibious troop deployment if need be. But given the proximity they could probably strong arm Kuwait to act as a land bridge, in a pinch.
Sea assault? Amphibious troop deployment? Are you serious? This is not WWII Normandy, Dorothy. That would be an unmitigated massacre. Weapons have improved a bit in the last 70 years if you have not noticed.
Also minor point, LOL, but Kuwait is a "landbridge" between Saudi Arabia and Iraq Unless you are proposing the US attacks Iraq (again!) which it would have to do to achieve a "landbridge" to Iran. Another good reason Iraq is acquiring the S-400.
More minor points: 1. South Iraq is ALL shiite. 2. Kuwait is SMALL i.e. a BIG target for thousands of missiles@Ilyana_Rozumova your question of responsibility is very intuitive.. two general answers.. both need deep analysis..follyofwar , says: May 24, 2019 at 12:28 pm GMT
first is a conspiracy of Israeli owned, Wall Street financed, war profiteering privatizing-pirate corporations These corporations enter, invade or control the war defeated place and privatize all of its infrastructure construction contracts from the defeated place or state (reason for massive destruction by bombing) and garner control over all the citizen services: retail oil and gas distribution, food supplies, electric power, communications, garbage and waste collection and disposal, street cleaning, water provisioning. traffic control systems, security, and so on.. Most of these corporations are privately owned public stock companies, controlled by the same wealthy Oligarchs that control "who gets elected and what the elected must do while in sitting in one of the seats of power at the 527 person USA.
2nd is the impact of the laws that deny competition in a nation sworn to a method of economics (capitalism) that depends on competition for its success. Another group of massive in size mostly global corporations again owned from Jerusalem, NYC, City of London, etc. financed at wall street, use rule of law to impose on Americans and many of the people of the world, a blanket of economic and anti competitive laws and monopoly powers. These monopolist companies benefit from the copyright and patent laws, which create monopolies from hot thin air. These laws of monopolies coupled to the USA everything is a secret government have devastated competitive capitalism in America and rendered American Universities high school level teaching but not learning bureaucracies.
Monopolies and state secrets between insider contractors were suppose to deny most of the world from competing; but without competition ingenuity is lost. Monopoly lordships and state secrets were supposed to make it easy for the monopoly powered corporations to overpower and deny any and all would be competition; hence they would be the only ones getting rich.. But China's Huawei will be Linux based and Tin not Aluminium in design, far superior technology to anything these monopoly powered retards have yet developed especially in the high energy communications technologies (like 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics). In other words copyrights, patents and the US military were suppose to keep the world, and the great ingenuity that once existed in the person of every American, from competing, but the only people actually forced out of the technology competition were the ingenious, for they were denied by copyright and patents to compete. Now those in power at the USA will make Americans pay again as the corporations that run things try to figure out how to catch up to the Chinese and Russian led Eastern world. Modi's election in India is quite interesting as both China and Russia supported it, yet, Modi says he is going to switch to the USA for copyrighted and patented stuff?
on the issue of continued USA presence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, ..
"Our continued presence in Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to need, in coordination with and by the approval of the Iraqi government." <that's a joke, first off, I never desired to be in Iraq, and I do not desire USA military or American presence in Iraq, do You? <blatant disregard for the needs of America.. IMO. Bring the troops home. If the USA would only leave Iraq to the Iraqis and get to work making America competitive again they would once again enjoy a great place in the world. But one thing i can tell you big giant wall street funded corporations, and reliance on degree credentials instead of job performance, will never be the reason America is great.This article by Mr. Titley is the most hopeful article I've yet read demonstrating the coming death of US hegemony, with most of the rest of the civilized world apparently having turned against the world's worst Outlaw Nation.
Trump has allowed madmen Bolton and Pompeo to get this country into an awful mess – all for the sake of Israel and the Zionists.
He needs to find a face-saving way to get out before Washington gets its long needed comeuppance. But how can Trump accomplish this as long as Bolton, in particular, continues to be the man who most has his ear? If Titley is correct, then Trump had better start listening to his military leaders instead.
Netanyahu and the Ziocons better think twice about their longed for dream of the destruction of Iran. The Jews always push things too far. Karma can be a bitch.
May 22, 2019 | www.youtube.com
Axle Grind , 4 hours agoMary Czarnik , 6 hours ago
liz warren gains traction. she's built low to the ground for torque.G Watsittoyaa , 1 day ago
Dems only need few select states to campaign in and they will win elections all the time. Everybody is playing the racists card when they do not like what is said or done!!
Demoncrats run on Identity Politics ; thats all they see.
May 16, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Warren (D)(1): "Trump backers applaud Warren in heart of MAGA country" [ Politico ]. West Virginia: "It was a startling spectacle in the heart of Trump country: At least a dozen supporters of the president -- some wearing MAGA stickers -- nodding their heads, at times even clapping, for liberal firebrand Elizabeth Warren . LeeAnn Blankenship, a 38-year-old coach and supervisor at a home visitation company who grew up in Kermit and wore a sharp pink suit, said she may now support Warren in 2020 after voting for Trump in 2016.
'She's a good ol' country girl like anyone else,' she said of Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma. 'She's earned where she is, it wasn't given to her. I respect that.'"
Also: "The 63-year-old fire chief, Wilburn 'Tommy' Preece, warned Warren and her team beforehand that the area was 'Trump country' and to not necessarily expect a friendly reception. But he also told her that ." ( More on West Virginia in 2018 .
Best part is a WaPo headline: "Bernie Sanders Supporter Attends Every DNC Rule Change Meeting. DNC Member Calls Her a Russian Plant." • Lol. I've been saying "lol" a lot, lately.)
Warren (D)(2): "Our military can help lead the fight in combating climate change" [Elizabeth Warren, Medium ]. "In short, climate change is real, it is worsening by the day, and it is undermining our military readiness. And instead of meeting this threat head-on, Washington is ignoring it -- and making it worse . That's why today I am introducing my Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act to harden the U.S. military against the threat posed by climate change, and to leverage its huge energy footprint as part of our climate solution.
It starts with an ambitious goal: consistent with the objectives of the Green New Deal, the Pentagon should achieve net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030 .. We don't have to choose between a green military and an effective one . Together, we can work with our military to fight climate change -- and win." • On the one hand, the Pentagon's energy footprint is huge, and it's a good idea to do something about that. On the other, putting solar panels on every tank that went into Iraq Well, there are larger questions to be asked. A lot of dunking on Warren about this. It might play in the heartland, though.
May 16, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com
says: 05/15/2019 at 9:51 amGlobal fossil fuel subsidies hit record $5.2 trillion –
The Free Market in action.
May 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com,
Global energy investment "stabilised" at just over $1.8 trillion in 2018, ending three years of declines.
Higher spending on oil, natural gas and coal was offset by declines in fossil fuel-based electricity generation and even a dip in renewable energy spending. China was the largest market for energy investment, even as the U.S. closed the gap.
After the 2014-2016 oil market bust, spending on oil and gas plunged, and only started to tick up last year. But the oil industry is not returning to its old spending ways. New investment is increasingly concentrated in short-cycle projects, namely, U.S. shale, "partly reflecting investor preferences for better managing capital at risk amid uncertainties over the future direction of the energy system," the IEA wrote in its report.
Upstream spending rose by a modest 4 percent, which only partially repairs the savage cuts following the 2014 bust, which saw upstream spending fall by about 30 percent. However, the IEA said that 2019 could be a bit of a turning point, with a "new wave of conventional projects" in the works.
Despite the increase in spending on new oil projects, "today's investment trends are misaligned with where the world appears to be heading," the IEA said. "Notably, approvals of new conventional oil and gas projects fall short of what would be needed to meet continued robust demand growth."
... ... ...
The good news is that costs continue to fall. Solar PV has seen costs decline by 75 percent since 2010, and onshore wind and battery storage costs are down by 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. As such, a dollar spent on renewables buys a lot more energy than it used to, so flat investment is not entirely negative. And in a growing number of places, solar and wind are the cheapest option for power generation – increasingly cheaper than existing coal plants .
Geographically, investment [in solar and wind] is concentrated in rich countries. Roughly 90 percent of total energy investment – both for fossil fuels and for renewable energy – was funneled into high- and upper-middle income regions. Rich countries alone accounted for 40 percent of total energy investment, despite only making up 15 percent of the global population.
... ... ...
peakpeat , 1 hour ago linkEvil Liberals , 1 hour ago link
Nothing, no EV's, solar, wind, coal or uranium is going to help. No tight shale, Arctic or North Slope oil is going to lift this sinking ship. There are no more new oil reserves to find and all the old fields are in a state of desperate high-tech extraction. We took all the easy stuff, Bakken and Permian are the last ditch effort. That's why all the playas have negative cash flow. That's why we are fecked.peakpeat , 59 minutes ago link
Saudi Ghawar Field, admitted in declineEvil Liberals , 2 hours ago link
That was the last great elephant field. The largest resource ever discovered on the planet. Finally in decline. So goes Saudi Arabia. So goes OPEC. So goes mankind.RDouglas , 2 hours ago link
Should have been building Nuclear Plants the last 20 years - that is Clean Energy.
Just don't build near the shore along the Ring of Fire or along Earthquake Fault Lines.peakpeat , 57 minutes ago link
Cheap crude was a 100 year party, the hangover has already begun. Fracked oil, tar sands, were a rescue remedy, funded by low interest rates, (debt). The massive population boom of the last century and a half directly coordinates with increasing oil production. If you aren't preparing yourself and your children for energy-down/population-down, you are insuring that YOUR decedents won't be among the 100 million or so people scratching out a living in North America in 100 years.SilverSphinx , 5 hours ago link
Before 1850 and the discovery of oil and coal, there were 1 billion people on the planet. Now there are 7 billion. 6 billion will die as the oil economy and oil infrastructure grinds to a halt. Better make you peace. Your plans are too late.Solarstone , 3 hours ago link
Nuclear power generation is still King.
The use of nuclear power has resumed since the Fukushima disaster.
All the countries that swore off of nuclear power have returned to it and restarted their nuclear power plants and resumed construction on new plants.-- ALIEN -- , 3 hours ago link
Let's hope you are right. It's the only viable option to oiliSage , 2 hours ago link
2 words; Peak Uranium
"...Declining uranium production will make it impossible to obtain a significant increase in electrical power from nuclear plants in the coming decades."
"...A similar fate was encountered by another idea that involved "breeding" a nuclear fuel from a naturally existing element -- thorium. The concept involved transforming the 232 isotope of thorium into the fissile 233 isotope of uranium, which then could be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor (or for nuclear warheads). The idea was discussed at length during the heydays of the nuclear industry, andit is still discussed today; but so far, nothing has come out of it and the nuclear industry is still based on mineral uranium as fuel..."
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-01-18/peak-uranium-the-uncertain-future-of-nuclear-energy/Cloud9.5 , 8 hours ago link
There is a 1,000 years worth of uranium out west. I don't like the waste, used rods are hot for a long long time.peakpeat , 1 hour ago link
Mexican oil production is in decline. North Sea production is in decline. Alaskan production is in decline. There is a trend here.JimmyJones , 8 hours ago link
OPEC was the necessary cartel that helped to stabilize production and prices.
Now all of it including Saudi Arabia, Iran and the rest, all 14 nations past and present, is defunct. Output has been in decline since Nov. 2016. See IEA data or peakoilbarrel for a summaryafronaut , 8 hours ago link
US has enough coal to power us for over 200 years.Ignorance is bliss , 8 hours ago link
Not to mention natural gasBangDingOw , 7 hours ago link
Cool..How do I fill my BMW up with coal? How about that just in time delivery. Anyone ever try to power a semi-truck with coal? Eactly what do we pave the road ways with? Coal?
Yeesh. All wrong. Most important, slick Willie gave us our china trade problems, and then demand for raw commods in china soared. In response, his geniuses gave us the cfma, which was passed to let the JPMs of the world naked short commodities till the cows came home. However, china demand growth was so far in excess of supply growth that several of the WS firms saw the writing on the wall and went long. Thus the pols amazement when finding out v=bear stearns was actually long oil. Finally prices got high enough that supply growth started overtaking demand growth. We have been going down , on average, since. china demand late 90s oil wa 3Mbpd, currently 13Mbpd
May 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Originally from: Pepe Escobar Warns Over US-China Tensions The Hardcore Is Yet To Come
... ... ...Where are our jobs?
Pause on the sound and fury for necessary precision. Even if the Trump administration slaps 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, the IMF has projected that would trim just a meager slither – 0.55% – off China's GDP. And America is unlikely to profit, because the extra tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs to the US – something that Steve Jobs told Barack Obama eons ago.
What happens is that global supply chains will be redirected to economies that offer comparative advantages in relation to China, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. And this redirection is already happening anyway – including by Chinese companies.
BRI represents a massive geopolitical and financial investment by China, as well as its partners; over 130 states and territories have signed on. Beijing is using its immense pool of capital to make its own transition towards a consumer-based economy while advancing the necessary pan-Eurasian infrastructure development – with all those ports, high-speed rail, fiber optics, electrical grids expanding to most Global South latitudes.
The end result, up to 2049 – BRI's time span – will be the advent of an integrated market of no less than 4.5 billion people, by that time with access to a Chinese supply chain of high-tech exports as well as more prosaic consumer goods.
Anyone who has followed the nuts and bolts of the Chinese miracle launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in 1978 knows that Beijing is essentially exporting the mechanism that led China's own 800 million citizens to, in a flash, become members of a global middle class.
As much as the Trump administration may bet on "maximum pressure" to restrict or even block Chinese access to whole sectors of the US market, what really matters is BRI's advance will be able to generate multiple, extra US markets over the next two decades.We don't do 'win-win'
There are no illusions in the Zhongnanhai, as there are no illusions in Tehran or in the Kremlin. These three top actors of Eurasian integration have exhaustively studied how Washington, in the 1990s, devastated Russia's post-USSR economy (until Putin engineered a recovery) and how Washington has been trying to utterly destroy Iran for four decades.
Beijing, as well as Moscow and Tehran, know everything there is to know about Hybrid War, which is an American intel concept. They know the ultimate strategic target of Hybrid War, whatever the tactics, is social chaos and regime change.
The case of Brazil – a BRICS member like China and Russia – was even more sophisticated: a Hybrid War initially crafted by NSA spying evolved into lawfare and regime change via the ballot box. But it ended with mission accomplished – Brazil has been reduced to the lowly status of an American neo-colony.
Let's remember an ancient mariner, the legendary Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng He, who for three decades, from 1405 to 1433, led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, reaching Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Mogadiscio, Mombasa, bringing tons of goods to trade (silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, iron tools, leather utensils).
That was the original Maritime Silk Road, progressing in parallel to Emperor Yong Le establishing a Pax Sinica in Asia – with no need for colonies and religious proselytism. But then the Ming dynasty retreated – and China was back to its agricultural vocation of looking at itself.
They won't make the same mistake again. Even knowing that the current hegemon does not do "win-win". Get ready for the real hardcore yet to come.
Tachyon5321 , 35 minutes ago linkBT , 46 minutes ago link
The Swine fever is sweeping china hog farms and since the start of 2019 200+ millions hogs have been culled. Chinese hog production is down from 2016 high of 700 million to below 420 million by the end of the year. The fever is not under control.
Soybeans from Ukraine are unloaded at the port in Nantong, in eastern China. Imports of soy used to come from the US, but have slumped since the trade war began. Should point out that the Ukraine soy production matures at a different time of the year than the US soybean. The USA planting season starts in Late april, may and june. Because of the harvest time differences worldwide the USA supplies 80% of the late maturing soybeans needed by October/Nov and December.
A propaganda story by the Asian TimesSon of Captain Nemo , 52 minutes ago link
Orange Jesus just wants to be re-elected in 2020 and MIGA.joego1 , 52 minutes ago link
Perhaps this is one of the "casualties" ( https://www.rt.com/news/459355-us-austria-embassy-mcdonalds/ ) of economic war given the significance of China and just how important it is to the U.S. in it's purchases of $USD to maintain the illusion of it's reserve currency status and "vigor"...
Surprised this didn't happen first at the U.S. Embassies in Russia and China?... Obviously Ronald McDonald has turned into a charity of sorts helping out Uncle $am in his ailing "health" these dayz!...
SUPER SIZE ME!... Cause I'm not lovin it anymore!... I'm needin it!!!!ElBarto , 1 hour ago link
If Americans want to wear shoes they can make them or have a robot make them. Manufacturing can happen in the U.S. **** what Steve Jobs told Oblamy .ZakuKommander , 1 hour ago link
I've never understood this "jobs aren't coming back" argument. Do you really think that it will stop tariffs? They're happening. Better start preparing.Haboob , 1 hour ago link
Oh, right, tariffs WILL bring back American jobs! Then why didn't the Administration impose them fully in 2017? Why negotiate at all; just impose all the tariffs!?! lolGonzogal , 41 minutes ago link
Pepe is correct as usual. Even if America tariffs the world the jobs aren't coming back as corporations will be unable to turn profits in such a highly taxed country like America would be. What could happen however is America can form an internal free market again going isolationist with new home grown manufacturing.
You VERY obviously have ZERO knowledge of Chinas history and its discoveries/inventions etc USED BY THE WEST.
I suggest that you keep your eyes open for "History Erased-China" on Y Tube. The series shows what would happen in todays world if countries and their contributions to the world did not happen.
here is a preview: https://youtu.be/b6PJxuheWfk
Apr 16, 2019 | www.youtube.com
He's a pathetic dork. I have never given audience to Beto except I heard him say he was going to end slavery. Did I miss the re-enactment of slavery
Deborah Kate , 3 weeks ago
I love Tucker.. Christopher Hitchens was right... the most brilliant Tucker Carlson...
Chris montgomery , 2 days agoHarry Brown , 16 hours ago
Rats always end up eating each other.Doctor BeBop , 4 weeks ago
this is just pure entertainmentRob Manzoni , 3 weeks ago
Tucker: YOU are on FIRE, my Brother! Keep up up the good work. You are nailing it!The Cold Poet , 4 weeks ago
Stop calling it the "Democratic" party - it's the "Democrat" party... "Democrat" is a NAME . "Democratic" is a description; and doesn't describe them at allOhSwaggerBadger , 3 weeks ago
"Every last drop of Buttigieg." Hilarious!GoogleModerator , 4 weeks ago
"He's like Beto's smarter brother, a little bit." Super savage 😂👊😂
Thank God for Tucker Carlson. Hilarious & Brilliant!
Jul 12, 2017 | www.youtube.com
Fox News contributor Ralph Peters suggested Tucker was like a Nazi sympathizer for wondering whether Russia and the US should work together against ISIS. Another critic mostly agrees with Peters - and Tucker takes him on
James Lamoureux , 2 weeks agoElijah Sims , 2 months ago
The "empire" Reagan warned us about was the Obama admin.Jordan Smith , 5 months ago
Max Boot is an example of someone who takes himself so seriously that they become a joke.TD TOPPDAWG , 1 month ago
I love tucker❤️Joseph Duplaga , 2 months ago
Wasn't it Ronald Reagan who said "if fascism comes it will come in the name of liberalism"jeroliver , 3 weeks ago
Keep up the good work Tucker a voice of reason in a room full of lunatics .Maverick Watch Reviews , 8 months ago
Who in their right mind would take advice about ANYTHING from Max Boot?Geoff M , 2 months ago
Tucker sure gave Max the boot in that segment.Gdurant , 2 months ago
Max Boot is never right! He had so many idiotic opinions! A man who wants to intervene in every part of the world and sod the consequences! He's a real neo con extremist! Dangerous!Francis Wargirai , 2 months ago
These idiots want us to go and start more wars?dagmastr , 3 weeks ago
Selling insurance, house painting, something you're good at. Hahaha.. Gold..jućub 111 , 5 months ago
One thing is Tucker is excellent in a debate. He just made max look very stupid.omar rashid , 2 months ago
Tucker rest of world love and support you...keep rollin 💪💪 regards from Serbia 🇷🇸Leonardo Espino , 1 week ago
Good God, you can feel the anger off this guy.D Redacted , 3 weeks ago
I have to say that... dam ... I love tucker and he's a good tv anchor and he's hilarious when he takes any opponentVani Vasil , 1 week ago
Max debates like a spoilt child.... Remind me of the Kurt Echinwald interviewJermano Mayfield , 1 week ago
who the hell established this guy as a foreign policy expert ??Kay Scott , 1 week ago
Tucker Rocks! Gets them triggered so THE TRUTH can come outJames Burton , 2 days ago
Flakes like this Boot guy has destroyed our foreign policyWilliam Miller , 2 days ago
I WOULD LIKE TO JUST KNOCK HELL OUTTA THAT BALD HEADED SUMBITCH.
When you don't have an answer, just attack the person asking the question. Nice goin' Max, you fool.
May 14, 2019 | consortiumnews.com
Originally from: Russia-gate’s Monstrous Offspring by Daniel Lazare
Besides Fox News – whose ratings have soared while Russia-obsessed CNN’s have plummeted – the chief beneficiary is Trump. Post-Mueller, the man has the wind in his sails. Come 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders could cut through his phony populism with ease. But if Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post succeeds in tarring him with Russia the same way it tried to tar Trump, then the Democratic nominee will be a bland centrist whom the incumbent will happily bludgeon.
Former Vice President Joe Biden – the John McCain-loving, speech-slurring, child-fondler who was for a wall along the Mexican border before he was against it – will end up as a bug splat on the Orange One’s windshield.
Beto O'Rourke, the rich-kid airhead who declared shortly before the Mueller report was released that Trump, "beyond the shadow of a doubt, sought to collude with the Russian government," will not fare much better.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren meanwhile seems to be tripping over her own two feet as she predicts one moment that Trump is heading to jail , declares the next that voters don't care about the Mueller report because they're too concerned with bread-and-butter issues, and then calls for dragging Congress into the impeachment morass regardless.
Such "logic" is lost on voters, so it seems to be a safe bet that enough will stay home next Election Day to allow the rough beast to slouch towards Bethlehem yet again.
May 07, 2019 | www.youtube.com
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., became a household name in 2016 when he ran a progressive campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination -- and came close to securing it. He's back in the 2020 race, but this time up against more than 20 other candidates. Sanders sits down with Judy Woodruff to discuss trade with China, health care, student debt, Russian election interference and more.
May 14, 2019 | www.theguardian.com
4.56pm EDT 16:56Here's a summary of the day thus far: Donald Trump praised attorney general William Barr for opening what appears to be a broad investigation of the Russia counterespionage investigation that swept up the Trump campaign. Barr appointed a US attorney to lead the inquiry and reportedly has got the CIA and DNI involved.
Senator Elizabeth Warren took a "hard pass" on an offer to do a Fox News town hall event, calling the network "hate-for-profit".
May 14, 2019 | www.youtube.com
Marduk of Nexus , 55 seconds agoTheBreaker OfWalls , 1 minute ago
I knew the establishment Dems would fight against the progressives, but this is so blatant...Ronn Thomason , 2 minutes ago
It's called Anti-Trust laws not her "opinions"...molson12oz , 11 minutes ago
Let's be honest, Booker isn't fit to shine Warren's shoes! I wonder if Cory's ass is jealous of all the shit that just came out of his mouth!! SMDHBRIAN , 11 minutes ago (edited)
Cory- .Most Americans will NOT think you are Presidential Caliber.Where's the MONEY coming from? Small donor contributions? I don't even think you'll get the Black & hispanic vote.Why do this?
You are stealing the votes from way more qualified candidates. Bad idea if you want to have Democratic POTUS in 2020Scott Price , 12 minutes ago
CB bought and paid for by drug companies. Of course he doesn't like Warren. But ask him about Americans right to free speech and he puts after the needs of any foriegn countryWilliam MARDER , 15 minutes ago
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren need to form a Democratic ticket.Mitchel Evans , 16 minutes ago
He who looks like a slick bouncer for the big money monopolies, is looking to get a piece of itPierre Lefrançois , 18 minutes ago
After that Trump remark, Cory can bite my butt. Whatever disagreements I may have with Warren, she has some very daring, intelligent, and discussion-worthy policies. We need her in the next administration, whether as potus or in the cabinet. Sheesh, Cory, burn your bridges, sir.Peter Krug , 23 minutes ago
Don't worry about C Booker, he's a light weight with talking points and no virtuous convictions.
Cory Booker is a lot more like Trump than Elizabeth Warren is.
May 04, 2019 | angrybearblog.com
likbez, May 4, 2019 8:24 pmlikbez , May 4, 2019 10:11 pm
The F.B.I. surveillance didn't come out until after the election. Therefore it couldn't impact the election. McConnell threatened to shriek "partisan politics!" if Obama said anything publicly about the Russian issue. Obama didn't. Claims of partisan behavior? Bullshit.
What about proven attempts of entrapments and inserting spies into Trump campaign?
Mifsud and Halper's stories come to mind (Halper's story has an interesting "seduction" subplot with undercover FBI informant Azra Turk). FBI and Justice Department brass acted as dirty mafia style politicians. McCabe and Brennan are two shining examples here. Probably guided personally by Obama, who being grown in a family of CIA operatives probably know this color revolutions "kitchen" all too well.
BTW Hillary did destroy evidence from her "bathroom server" while under subpoena.
Looks like Robert Mueller was a dirty cop hired to confirm fairy tales of Russian collusion peddled by a Clinton wing of Dems (DemoRats) sing Trump. And he enjoyed the full support of several intelligence agencies brass (especially FBI brass; initially Stzkok was one of his investigators)
Before that Mueller was in charge of 9/11 and Anthrax scare investigations. So he is a card caring member of the neoliberal elite which converted the USA into what can be called the "National Security State"
Which looks like classic Mussolini Italy with two guiding principles of jurisprudence applied to political enemies:
(1) To my friends, everything; to my enemies, the law (originated in 1933) .
(2) Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime (that actually comes from Stalinism period of the USSR, but the spirit is the same) .
It was actually Barr who saved Trump from obstruction of justice charge. He based his defense on the interpretation of the statuses the following (actually very elegant) way:
In order for a person to obstruct justice, there must be some justice to obstruct. Hence, if the alleged obstructer did not commit the underlying crime being investigated, then his so-called obstruction did not impair justice; it just impaired a fruitless investigation
Of course, that upset DemoRats who want President Pence to speed up the destruction of the USA and adding a couple of new wars to list the USA is involved.
Mueller was extremely sloppy and one-sided in writing his final report. Which is given taking into account his real task: to sink Trump. As Nunes aptly observed about his treatment of Mifsud as a Russian agent :
"If he is, in fact, a Russian agent, it would be one of the biggest intelligence scandals for not only the United States, but also our allies like the Italians and the Brits and others. Because if Mifsud is a Russian agent, he would know all kinds of our intelligence agents throughout the globe
Yes, of course, in the current neo-McCarthyism atmosphere merely passing the salt to a Russian guest at a dinner party makes you "an unregistered foreign agent" of Russia bent on implementing Putin's evil plans and colliding with Russian government ;-).
It looks like you are unable/unwilling to understand the logic behind my post. With all due respect, the situation is very dangerous -- when the neoliberal elite relies on lies almost exclusively as a matter of policy (look at Kamala Harris questioning Barr -- she is not stupid, she is an evil, almost taken from Orwell 1984, character), IMHO the neoliberal society is doomed. Sooner or later.
Currently, the USA squabble over Parteigenosse Mueller Final Report between two factions of neoliberal elite makes the USA a joke in the eyes of the whole world and Democrats look like Italian Fascists in 30th: a party hell-bent of dominance which does not care about laws or legitimacy one bit and can use entrapment and other dirty methods to achieve its goals.
Hopefully, a more sound part of the USA elite, which Barr represents, will put some sand into those wheels. His decision to investigate the origin of Russiagate produced almost a heart attack for Pelosi. And the fact that he decided to skip his auto-da-fé at the House adds insult to injury. Poor Pelosi almost lost her mind.
Neoliberals and neoconservatives joined ranks behind Russiagate and continue to push it because otherwise they need to be held accountable for all the related neoliberal disasters in the USA since 1980th including sliding standard of living, disappearance of "good" jobs, sky-high cost of university education and medical insurance, and the last but not least, Hillary fiasco.
Trump ran to the left of Clinton in foreign policy and used disillusionment of working close with neoliberal Democratic Party to his advantage promising jobs, end of outsourcing, end of uncontrolled immigration, and increased standard of living. He betrayed all those promises, but, still, that's why he won.
And that why the neoliberal establishment must present his election as de facto illegitimate, because otherwise they would be forced to admit that the bipartisan consensus around both financialization driven economics (casino capitalism) and imperial, war on terror based interventionism that are the foundation of the USA neoliberal elite politics since Clinton has been a disaster for most ordinary Americans -- of all political persuasions.
Out of democratic challengers IMHO only Tulsi Gabbard can probably attract a sizable faction of former Trump supporters and she is the most reviled, ignored, and slandered by DNC liberals and neocons alike candidate.
The truth is that the color revolution against Donald Trump (a soft coup if you wish) failed. Now he badly needs to win in 2020 to avoid an indictment in NY State when he leaves the Presidency. It is just a matter of survival for him.
Neoliberal Democrats will help him by putting their weakest pro-war candidate like the aged, apparently slightly demented neocon Joe Biden. With his rabid neoliberal past, neocon foreign policy past, Ukrainian skeletons in the closet and probably participation in the Obama administration dirty and criminal attempt to derail Trump using intelligence agencies as the leverage.
Just like is the case with Boeing the situation for neoliberal democrats does not look promising. The world is starting to crash all around them.
May 13, 2019 | peakoilbarrel.com
Boomer II x Ignored says: 05/12/2019 at 9:09 pmAs many of you, I don't expect business as usual to continue. We get projections based on past trends, but with oil being finite and the globe already showing the effects of climate change, I think we are in for a tumultuous future.
Samuelson points out how flawed economists are.
May 10, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
... ... ...
Trump was after a good deal from Russia. A new partnership would have reversed deteriorating relations between the powers by encouraging their alliance against ISIS and recognising the importance of Ukraine to Russia's security. Current US paranoia about everything Kremlin-related has encouraged amnesia about what President Barack Obama said in 2016, after the annexation of the Crimea and Russia's direct intervention in Syria. He too put the danger posed by President Vladimir Putin into perspective: the interventions in Ukraine and the Middle East were, Obama said, improvised 'in response to a client state that was about to slip out of his grasp' ( 5 ).
Obama went on: 'The Russians can't change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn't produce anything that anybody wants to buy, except oil and gas and arms.' What he feared most about Putin was the sympathy he inspired in Trump and his supporters: '37% of Republican voters approve of Putin, the former head of the KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave' ( 6 ).
By January 2017, Reagan's eternal rest was no longer threatened. 'Presidents come and go but the policy never changes,' Putin concluded ( 7 ). Historians will study this period when there was a convergence in the objectives of the US intelligence agencies, the leaders of the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, the majority of Republican politicians and the anti-Trump media. That common objective was stopping any entente between Moscow and Washington.
Each group had its own motive. The intelligence community and elements in the Pentagon feared a rapprochement between Trump and Putin would deprive them of a 'presentable' enemy once ISIS's military power was destroyed. The Clinton camp was keen to ascribe an unexpected defeat to a cause other than the candidate and her inept campaign; Moscow's alleged hacking of Democratic Party emails fitted the bill. And the neocons, who 'promoted the Iraq war, detest Putin and consider Israel's security non-negotiable' ( 8 ), hated Trump's neo-isolationist instincts.
The media, especially the New York Times and Washington Post, eagerly sought a new Watergate scandal and knew their middle-class, urban, educated readers loathe Trump for his vulgarity, affection for the far right, violence and lack of culture ( 9 ). So they were searching for any information or rumour that could cause his removal or force a resignation. As in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, everyone had his particular motive for striking the same victim.
The intrigue developed quickly as these four areas have fairly porous boundaries. The understanding between Republican hawks such as John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the military-industrial complex was a given. The architects of recent US imperial adventures, especially Iraq, had not enjoyed the 2016 campaign or Trump's jibes about their expertise. During the campaign, some 50 intellectuals and officials announced that, despite being Republicans, they would not support Trump because he 'would put at risk our country's national security and wellbeing.' Some went so far as to vote for Clinton ( 10 ).
Ambitions of a 'deep state'?
The press feared that Trump's incompetence would threaten the US-dominated international order. It had no problem with military crusades, especially when emblazoned with grand humanitarian, internationalist or progressive principles. According to the press criteria, Putin and his predilection for rightwing nationalists were obvious culprits. But so were Saudi Arabia or Israel, though that did not prevent the Saudis being able to count on the ferociously anti-Russian Wall Street Journal, or Israel enjoying the support of almost all US media, despite having a far-right element in its government.
Just over a week before Trump took office, journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Edward Snowden story that revealed the mass surveillance programmes run by the National Security Agency, warned of the direction of travel. He observed that the US media had become the intelligence services' 'most valuable instrument, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials.' This at a time when 'Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing -- eager -- to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviours might be' ( 11 ).
The anti-Russian coalition hadn't then achieved all its objectives, but Greenwald already discerned the ambitions of a 'deep state'. 'There really is, at this point,' he said 'obvious open warfare between this unelected but very powerful faction that resides in Washington and sees presidents come and go, on the one hand, and the person that the American democracy elected to be the president on the other.' One suspicion, fed by the intelligence services, galvanised all Trump's enemies: Moscow had compromising secrets about Trump -- financial, electoral, sexual -- capable of paralysing him should a crisis between the two countries occur ( 12 ).
Covert opposition to Trump
The suspicion of such a murky understanding, summed up by the pro-Clinton economist Paul Krugman as a 'Trump-Putin ticket', has transformed the anti-Russian activity into a domestic political weapon against a president increasingly hated outside the ultraconservative bloc. It is no longer unusual to hear leftwing activists turn FBI or CIA apologists, since these agencies became a home for a covert opposition to Trump and the source of many leaks.
This is why the Democratic Party data hack, which the US intelligence services allege is the work of the Russians, obsesses the party, and the press. It strikes two targets: delegitimising Trump's election and stopping his promotion of a thaw with Russia. Has Washington's aggrieved reaction to a foreign power's interference in a state's domestic affairs, and its elections, struck no one as odd? Why do just a handful of people point out that, not long ago, Angela Merkel's phone was tapped not by the Kremlin but by the Obama administration?
The silence was once broken when the Republican representative for North Carolina, Tom Tillis, questioned former CIA director James Clapper in January: 'The United States has been involved in one way or another in 81 different elections since World War II. That doesn't include coups or the regime changes, some tangible evidence where we have tried to affect an outcome to our purpose. Russia has done it some 36 times.' This perspective rarely disturbs the New York Times 's fulminations against Moscow's trickery.
The Times also failed to inform younger readers that Russia's president Boris Yeltsin, who picked Putin as his successor in 1999, had been re-elected in 1996, though seriously ill and often drunk, in a fraudulent election conducted with the assistance of US advisers and the overt support of President Bill Clinton. The Times hailed the result as 'a victory for Russian democracy' and declared that 'the forces of democracy and reform won a vital but not definitive victory in Russia yesterday For the first time in history, a free Russia has freely chosen its leader.'
Now the Times is in the vanguard of those preparing psychologically for conflict with Russia. There is almost no remaining resistance to its line. On the right, as the Wall Street Journal called for the US to arm Ukraine on 3 August, Vice-President Mike Pence spoke on a visit to Estonia about 'the spectre of [Russian] aggression', encouraged Georgia to join NATO, and paid tribute to Montenegro, NATO's newest member.
No longer getting his way
But the Times, far from worrying about these provocative gestures coinciding with heightened tensions between great powers (trade sanctions against Russia, Moscow's expulsion of US diplomats), poured oil on the fire. On 2 August it praised the reaffirmation of 'America's commitment to defend democratic nations against those countries that would undermine them' and regretted that Mike Pence's views 'aren't as eagerly embraced and celebrated by the man he works for back in the White House.'
At this stage, it doesn't matter any more what Trump thinks. He is no longer able to get his way on the issue. Moscow has noted this and is drawing its own conclusions.
... ... ...
Sep 12, 2018 | www.youtube.com
The Agenda with Steve Paikin
The Agenda welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who over the past decade and a half has made his name as a columnist, activist and author. He's been a vociferous public critic of presidents on both sides of the American political spectrum, and his latest book, 'America, the Farewell Tour,' is nothing short of a full-throated throttling of the political, social, and cultural state of his country.
Sep 05, 2018 | www.amazon.comChapter 1 - DECAY 1Chapter 2 - HEROIN______________________________________________59Chapter 3 - WORK________________________________________________83Chapter 4 - SADISM_____________________________________________112Chapter 5 - HATE_______________________________________________150Chapter 6 - GAMВIING___________________________________________203Chapter 7 - KKh KDOM___________________________________________230Acknowledgments________________________________________________311Notes----------------------------------------------------------315Bibliography___________________________________________________351Index----------------------------------------------------------359
I walked down a long service road into the remains of an abandoned lace factory. The road was pocked with holes Pilled with fetid water. There were saplings and weeds poking up from the cracks in the asphalt. Wooden crates, rusty machinery, broken glass, hulks of old Piling cabinets, and trash covered the grounds. The derelict complex, 288,000 square feet, consisted of two huge brick buildings connected by overhead, enclosed walkways.
The towering walls of the two buildings, with the service road running between them, were covered with ivy. The window panes were empty or had frames jagged with shards of glass. The thick wooden doors to the old loading docks stood agape. I entered the crumbling complex through a set of double wooden doors into a cavernous hall.
The wreckage of industrial America lay before me, home to flocks of pigeons that, startled by my footsteps over the pieces of glass and rotting floorboards, swiftly left their perches in the rafters and air ducts high above my head. They swooped, bleating and clucking, over the abandoned looms.
The Scranton Lace Company was America. It employed more than 1,200 workers on its imported looms, some of the largest ever built.
Gary Moreau, Author TOP 500 REVIEWER, September 5, 2018
Washington is fiddling but it is the capitalist collective that is setting the fires
Throughout history, all great civilizations have ultimately decayed. And America will not be an exception, according to former journalist and war correspondent, Chris Hedges. And while Hedges doesn't offer a date, he maintains we are in the final throes of implosion -- and it won't be pretty.
The book is thoroughly researched and the author knows his history. And despite some of the reviews it is not so much a political treatise as it is an exploration of the American underbelly -- drugs, suicide, sadism, hate, gambling, etc. And it's pretty dark; although he supports the picture he paints with ample statistics and first person accounts.
There is politics, but the politics provides the context for the decay. And it's not as one-dimensional as other reviewers seemed to perceive. Yes, he is no fan of Trump or the Republican leadership. But he is no fan of the Democratic shift to identity politics, or antifa, either.
One reviewer thought he was undermining Christianity but I didn't get that. He does not support "prosperity gospel" theology, but I didn't see any attempt to undermine fundamental religious doctrine. He is, after all, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and an ordained Presbyterian minister.
He puts the bulk of the blame for the current state of decay, in fact, where few other writers do -- squarely on the back of capitalist America and the super-companies who now dominate nearly every industry. The social and political division we are now witnessing, in other words, has been orchestrated by the capital class; the class of investors, banks, and hedge fund managers who don't create value so much as they transfer it to themselves from others with less power. And I think he's spot on right.
We have seen a complete merger of corporate and political America. Politicians on both sides of the aisle serve at the pleasure of the capitalist elite because they need their money to stay in power. Corporations enjoy all the rights of citizenship save voting, but who needs to actually cast a ballot when you can buy the election.
And what the corpocracy, as I call it, is doing with all that power is continuing to reshuffle the deck of economic opportunity to insure that wealth and income continue to polarize. It's a process they undertake in the name of tax cuts for the middle class (which aren't), deregulation (which hurts society as a whole), and the outright transfer of wealth and property (including millions of acres of taxpayer-owned land) from taxpayers to shareholders (the 1%).
I know because I was part of it. As a former CEO and member of four corporate boards I had a front row seat from the 1970s on. The simplest analogy is that the gamblers rose up and took control of the casinos and the government had their backs in a kind of quid pro quo, all having to do with money.
They made it stick because they turned corporate management into the ultimate capitalists. The people who used to manage companies and employees are now laser focused on managing the companies' stock price and enhancing their own wealth. Corporate executives, in a word, became capitalists, not businessmen and women, giving the foxes unfettered control of the hen house.
They got to that position through a combination of greed -- both corporate management's and that of shareholder activists -- but were enabled and empowered by Washington. Beginning in the 1970s the Justice Department antitrust division, the Labor Department, the EPA, and other institutions assigned the responsibility to avoid the concentration of power that Adam Smith warned us about, and to protect labor and the environment, were all gutted and stripped of power.
They blamed it on globalism, but that was the result, not the cause. Gone are the days of any corporate sense of responsibility to the employees, the collective good, or the communities in which they operate and whose many services they enjoy. It is the corporate and financial elite, and they are now one and the same, who have defined the "me" world in which we now live.
And the process continues: "The ruling corporate kleptocrats are political arsonists. They are carting cans of gasoline into government agencies, the courts, the White House, and Congress to burn down any structure or program that promotes the common good." And he's right. And Trump is carrying those cans.
Ironically, Trump's base, who have been most marginalized by the corpocracy, are the ones who put him there to continue the gutting. But Hedges has an explanation for that. "In short, when you are marginalized and rejected by society, life often has little meaning. There arises a yearning among the disempowered to become as omnipotent as the gods. The impossibility of omnipotence leads to its dark alternative -- destroying like the gods." (Reference to Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death.)
The economic history and understanding of economic theory here is rich and detailed. Capitalism, as Marx and others pointed out, creates great wealth in the beginning but is doomed to failure due to its inability to continue to find sources of growth and to manage inequities in wealth creation. And you don't have to be a socialist to see that this is true. Capitalism must be managed. And our government is currently making no attempt to do so. It is, in fact, dynamiting the institutions responsible for doing so.
All told, this is a very good book. If you don't like reading about underbellies (I found the chapter devoted to sadism personally unsettling, being the father of two daughters.) you will find some of it pretty dark. Having said that, however, the writing is very good and Hedges never wallows in the darkness. He's clearly not selling the underbelly; he's trying to give it definition.
I did think that some of the chapters might have been broken down into different sub-chapters and there is a lack of continuity in some places. All told, however, I do recommend the book. There is no denying the fundamental thesis.
The problem is, however, we're all blaming it on the proverbial 'other guy.' Perhaps this book will help us to understand the real culprit -- the capitalist collective. "The merging of the self with the capitalist collective has robbed us of our agency, creativity, capacity for self-reflection, and moral autonomy." True, indeed.
S. Ferguson , September 1, 2018"Justice is a manifestation of Love..."Amazon Customer , September 7, 2018
The inimitable Hedges is not only a saint with a penetrating intelligence, but also a man of superior eloquence with the power to pull you into his descriptions of the collapse of western civilization. Hedges says that the new American Capitalism no longer produces products -- rather America produces escapist fantasies. I found this paragraph [page 233] particularly relevant. The act of being dedicated to the 'greater good' has in itself become dangerous.
Chris Hedges: "We do not become autonomous and free human beings by building pathetic, tiny monuments to ourselves. It is through self-sacrifice and humility that we affirm the sanctity of others and the sanctity of ourselves. Those who fight against cultural malice have discovered that life is measured by infinitesimal and often unacknowledged acts of solidarity and kindness. These acts of kindness spin outward to connect our atomized and alienated souls to others. The good draws to it the good. This belief -- held although we may never see empirical proof -- is profoundly transformative. But know this: when these acts are carried out on behalf of the oppressed and the demonized, when compassion defines the core of our lives, when we understand that justice is a manifestation of love, we are marginalized and condemned by our sociopathic elites."Great (Recycled) Hedges Rantsswisher , August 21, 2018
If you've never read Hedges - get it now. If you've read him before - there's nothing new here.
Chris Hedges is a writer who has a knack for seeing the big picture and connecting the dots. A chronic pessimist in the best sense, a bitter prophet warning us of the last days of the decaying empire, his page-turning prose carving through the morass of today's mania and derangement. For that, he's in the company somewhere between Cornel West and Morris Berman (the later, whose book Why America Failed, is better than this. If you're familiar with Hedges, but not Morris Berman, go find Berman instead).
I give this three stars only because there isn't much new here if you're familiar with his material. I felt this book to be an update of Empire of Illusion, punched up by old articles from his weekly column at Truthdig. Aside from the introductory chapter, he revisits themes of sadism, the decline of literacy, of labor, of democratic institutions, and so on, which are too familiar. The pages and pages detailing the BDSM craze I felt were excessive in their prurient voyeurism which journalistic approaches can fall into. Not saying he's wrong at all, but this tone could put off some readers, erring on excessive preacherly seminarian virtue signaling as he points out the sins of the world and shouts - "Look! Look at what we've done!"I'd give a million stars if possibleChrisD , September 5, 2018
Heartbreaking to read but so true. In our "truth is not truth" era Mr. Hedges once again writes the sad and shocking obituary for American Democracy and sounds the prophetic alarm to those revelers while Rome burns. All empires come and go but I never thought I'd be a witness to one. Something sick and traitorous has infected the soul of America and I fear it's going to be some demented combination of the worst elements in 1984 and Brave Bew World. The most important work currently published but will anyone listen? Will anything change?Well worth reading - an important perspective
The author is honest and intelligent. When you take a detailed look at reality it can seem harsh.
Don't shoot the messenger who has brought bad news. We need to know the truth. Read, listen, learn. Engage in positive actions to improve the situation.
Chris has given us a wake-up call.
May 11, 2019 | crookedtimber.org
Is Warren's college plan progressive?
by Harry on May 6, 2019 Ganesh Sitaraman argues in the Garun that, contrary to appearances, and contrary to the criticism that it has earned, Elizabeth Warren's college plan really is progressive, because it is funded by taxation that comes exclusively from a wealth tax on those with more than $50 million in assets. Its progressive, he says, because it redistributes down. In some technical sense perhaps he's right.
But this, quite odd, argument caught my eye:But the critics at times also suggest that if any significant amount of benefits go to middle-class or upper-middle class people, then the plan is also not progressive. This is where things get confusing. The critics can't mean this in a specific sense because the plan is, as I have said, extremely progressive in the distribution of costs. They must mean that for any policy to be progressive that it must benefit the poor and working class more than it benefits the middle and upper classes. T his is a bizarre and, I think, fundamentally incorrect use of the term progressive .
The logic of the critics' position is that public investments in programs that help everyone, including middle- and upper-class people, aren't progressive. This means that the critics would have to oppose public parks and public K-12 education, public swimming pools and public basketball courts, even public libraries. These are all public options that offer universal access at a low (or free) price to everyone.
But the problem isn't that the wealthy get to benefit from tuition free college. I don't think anyone objects to that. Rather, the more affluent someone is, on average, the more they benefit from the plan. This is a general feature of tuition-free college plans and it is built into the design. Sandy Baum and Sarah Turner explain:But in general, the plans make up the difference between financial aid -- such as the Pell Grant and need-based aid provided by states -- and the published price of public colleges. This means the largest rewards go to students who do not qualify for financial aid. In plans that include four-year colleges, the largest benefits go to students at the most expensive four-year institutions. Such schools enroll a greater proportion of well-heeled students, who have had better opportunities at the K-12 level than their peers at either two-year colleges or less-selective four-year schools. (Flagship institutions have more resources per student, too.) .
For a clearer picture of how regressive these policies are, consider how net tuition -- again, that's what most free-tuition plans cover -- varies among students at different income levels at four-year institutions. For those with incomes less than $35,000, average net tuition was $2,300 in 2015-16; for students from families with incomes between $35,000 and $70,000, it was $4,800; for those between $70,000 and $120,000, it was $8,100; and finally, for families with incomes higher than $120,000, it was more than $11,000. (These figures don't include living expenses.)
Many low-income students receive enough aid from sources like the Pell Grant to cover their tuition and fees. At community colleges nationally, for example, among students from families with incomes less than $35,000, 81 percent already pay no net tuition after accounting for federal, state and institutional grant aid, according to survey data for 2015-16. At four-year publics, almost 60 percent of these low-income students pay nothing.
Mike Huben 05.06.19 at 1:16 pm ( 1 )If you take progressivism to mean "improvement of society by reform", Warren's plan is clearly progressive. It reduces the pie going to the rich, greatly improves the lot of students who are less than rich, and doesn't harm the poor.nastywoman 05.06.19 at 1:37 pm ( 2 )
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.@Trader Joe 05.06.19 at 1:49 pm ( 3 )
"Is Warren's college plan progressive"?
Who cares – as long as this plan -(and hopefully an even more extended plan) puts an end to a big part of the insanity of the (stupid and greedy) US education system?
In other words – let's call it "conservative" that might help to have it passed!The difficulty with the plan as proposed is not whether it is progressive or not but that it targets the wrong behavior – borrowing for education. If the goal is to make education more accessible – subsidize the university directly to either facilitate point of admission grants in the first place or simply bring down tuition cost to all attendees.L2P 05.06.19 at 1:50 pm ( 4 )
Under this proposal (assuming one thinks Warren would win and it could get passed) the maximizing strategy is to borrow as much as one possibly can with the hope/expectation that it would ultimately be forgiven. If that's the "right" strategy, then it would benefit those with the greatest borrowing capacity which most certainly is not students from low income families but is in fact families which could probably pay most of the cost themselves but would choose not to in order to capture a benefit they couldn't access directly by virtue of being 'too rich' for grants or other direct aid.bianca steele 05.06.19 at 2:02 pm ( 5 )"Rather, the more affluent someone is, on average, the more they benefit from the plan. "
This doesn't seem like a fair description of what's going on. If Starbucks gives a free muffin to everyone who buys a latte, it's theoretically helping the rich more than the poor under this way of looking at things. The rich can afford the muffin; the poor can't. So the rich will get more free muffins. But the rich don't give a crap. They can easily just buy the damn muffin in the first place. They're not really being helped, because the whole damn system helps them already. They're just about as well off with or without the free muffin.
Same here. My kid's going to Stanford. I'm effin rich and I don't give a crap about financial aid. If it was free I'd have an extra 75k a year, but how many Tesla's do I need really? How many houses in Hawaii do I need? But when I was a kid I was lower middle class. I didn't even apply to Stanford because it was just too much. Yeah, I could have gone rotc or gotten aid, but my parents just couldn't bust out their contribution. Stanford just wasn't in the cards. And Stanford's a terrible example, it had needs blind admissions and can afford to just give money away if it wants.
This sort of analysis is one step above bullshit.I don't understand the fear, in certain areas of what's apparently the left, of giving benefits to people in the middle of the income/wealth curve.Ben 05.06.19 at 2:12 pm ( 7 )
The expansion of the term "middle class" doesn't help with this, nor does the expansion of education. These debates often sound as if some of the participants think of "middle class" as the children of physicians and attorneys, who moreover are compensated the way they were in the 1950s.
The ability to switch between "it's reasonable to have 100% college attendance within 5 years from now" and "of course college is only for the elite classes" is not reassuring to the average more or less educated observer (who may or may not be satisfied, depending on temperament and so on, with the answer that of course such matters are above her head).The actual plan is for free tuition at public colleges. So not "the most expensive four-year institutions" that Baum and Turner discuss. [HB: they're referring to the most expensive 4-year public institutions]Dave 05.06.19 at 2:17 pm ( 9 )
There's also expanded support for non-tuition expenses, means-tested debt cancellation, and a fund for historically black universities, all of which make the plan more progressive. And beyond that, I could argue that, for lower-income students on the margin of being able to attend and complete school, we should count not only the direct financial aid granted, but also the lifetime benefits of the education the aid enables. But suffice it to say, I think you're attacking a caricature.Michael Glassman 05.06.19 at 3:46 pm ( 16 )the college plan does not actually offer 'universal access'
Given that something like one third of Americans gets a college degree, Warren's plan seems good enough. It's not obvious to me that universal access to college education is a progressive goal.I think it is extremely important to understand where Warren is coming from on this. Warren initially became active in politics because she recognized the pernicious nature of debt and the impact it had on well-being. If you are trying to get out from under the burden of debt your capabilities for flourishing are severely restricted, and these restrictions can easily become generational. One of the more difficult debts that people are facing are student debts. This was made especially difficult by the 2005 bankruptcy bill which made it close to impossible for individuals to get out from under student debt by entering in to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.nastywoman 05.06.19 at 5:28 pm ( 22 )
Warren's emphasis in this particular initiative, it seems to me, is to alleviate debt so that individuals can pursue more advanced functionings/capabilities. So if you think that the definition of progressive is creating situations where more individuals in a society are given greater opportunities for flourishing then the plan does strike me as progressive (an Aristotelian interpretation of Dewey such as promoted by Nussbaum might fall in this direction). There is another issue however that might be closer to the idea of helping those from lowest social strata, something that is not being discussed near enough. Internet technologies helped to promote online for profit universities which has (and I suppose continues to) prey and those most desperate to escape poverty with limited resources. The largest part of their organizations are administrators who help students to secure loans with promises of high paying jobs once they complete their degrees. These places really do prey on the most vulnerable (homeless youth for instance) and they bait individuals with hope in to incurring extremely high debt. The loan companies are fine with this I am guess because of the bankruptcy act (they can follow them for life). This is also not regulated (I think you can thank Kaplan/Washington Post for that). Warren's initiative would help them get out from under debt immediately and kick start their life.
I agree k-12 is more important, but it is also far more complicated. This plan is like a shot of adrenaline into the social blood stream and it might not even be necessary in a few years. I think it dangerous to make the good the enemy or the perfect, or the perfect the critic of the good.– and how cynical does one have to be – to redefine a plan canceling the vast majority of outstanding student loan debt – as some kind of ("NON-progressive") present for "the rich"?Sam Tobin-Hochstadt 05.06.19 at 5:59 pm ( 25 )I think this work by Susan Dynarski and others really makes the case that reducing price will change access and populations significantly: https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-U-of-Michigan-Appealed-to/245294Leo Casey 05.06.19 at 7:31 pm ( 29 )
But even apart from that, the argument of the post seems like it would suggest that many things that we currently fund publicly are not progressive in a problematic way. Everything from arts to national parks to math research "benefits" the rich more than the poor. There's possibly a case that public provision of these goods is problematic when we as a society could spend that money on those who are more disadvantaged. But that's a very strong claim and implicates far more than free college.
Finally, it's worth comparing the previous major expansion of education in the US. The point at which high school attendance was as widespread as college attendance is now (about 70% of high school graduates enroll in college of some form right away) was around 1930, well after universal free high school was available. I think moving to universal free college is an important step to raise those rates, just as free high school was.It strikes me that the argument made here against a universal program of tuition free college is not all that different than an argument made against social security -- that the benefits go disproportionately to middle class and professional class individuals. Since in the case of Social Security, one has to be in gainfully employed to participate and one's benefits are, up to a cap, based on one's contributions, middle class and professional class individuals receive greater benefits. Poor individuals, including those who have not been employed for long periods of time, receive less benefits. (There are quirks in this 10 second summary, such as disability benefits, but not so much as to alter this basic functioning.)christian h. 05.06.19 at 9:15 pm ( 31 )
Every now and again, there are proposals to "means test" social security, using this functioning as the reasoning. A couple of points are worth considering.
First, it is the universality of social security that makes it a political 'third rail,' such that no matter how it would like to do away with such a 'socialist' program, the GOP never acts on proposals to privatize it, even when they have the Presidency and the majorities that would allow it to get through Congress. The universality thus provides a vital security to the benefits that poor and working people receive from the program, since it makes it politically impossible to take it away. Since social security is often the only pension that many poor and working people get (unlike middle class and professional class individuals who have other sources of retirement income), the loss of it would be far more devastating to them. There is an important way, therefore, that they are served by the current configuration of the system, even given its skewing.
Second, and following from the above, it is important to recognize that the great bulk of proposals to "means test" Social Security come from the libertarian right, not the left, and that they are designed to undercut the support for Social Security, in order to make its privatization politically viable.
Most colleges and universities "means test" financial aid for their students, which is one of the reasons why it is generally inadequate and heavily weighted toward loans as opposed to grants. I think it is a fair generalization of American social welfare experience history to say that "means tested" programs are both more vulnerable politically (think of the Reagan 'welfare queen' narrative) and more poorly funded than universal programs.
There are additional argument about the skewing of Social Security benefits, such as the fact that they go disproportionately to the elderly, while those currently living in poverty are disproportionately children. This argument mistakes the positive effects of the program -- before Social Security and Medicare the elderly were the most impoverished -- for an inegalitarian design element.
The solution to the fact that children bear the brunt of poverty in the US is not to undermine the program that has lifted the elderly out of poverty but to institute programs that address the problem of childhood poverty. Universal quality day care, for example, provides the greatest immediate economic benefits to middle class and professional class families who are now paying for such services, but it provides poor and working class kids with an education 'head start' that would otherwise go only to the children of those families that could afford to pay for it. And insofar as day care is provided, it makes it easier for poor and working class parents (often in one parent households) to obtain decent employment.
So the failings of universal programs are best addressed, I would argue, by filling in the gaps with more universal programs, not 'means testing' them.
To the extent that Warren's 'free tuition' proposal addresses only some of the financial disadvantages of poor and working people obtaining a college education, the response should not be "oh, this is not progressive," but what do we do to address the other issues, such as living expenses. It is not as if there are no models on how to do this. All we need to do is look at Nordic countries that provide post-secondary students both free tuition and living expenses.Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the U.S. It's true that free college isn't universal in the same sense free K-12 education is. But neither are libraries (they exclude those who are functionally illiterate completely, and their services surely go mostly to upper middle class people who have opportunity and education to read regularly), for example. Neither are roads – the poor overwhelmingly live in inner cities, often take public transport – it's middle class suburbanites that mostly profit. Speaking of public transport, I assume Henry opposes rail; it is very middle class, the poor use buses. (The last argument actually has considerable traction in Los Angeles, it's not completely far fetched.)SamChevre 05.06.19 at 11:57 pm ( 40 )I agree that Warren's free college and debt forgiveness plans would not be very progressive, but I'd propose that I think the dynamic mechanism built in would make it worse than a static analysis shows.Dr. Hilarius 05.07.19 at 12:39 am ( 42 )
(Note that most of my siblings and in-laws do not have college degrees; this perspective is based on my own observations.)
The more a college degree is the norm, the worse things are for people without one. Making it easier to get a college degree increases the degree to which its the norm, and will almost inevitably have the same impact on the value of a college degree as the growth in high-school attendance (noted by Sam Tobin-Hochstadt above) had on the value of a high school degree. (We're already seeing this: many positions that used to require a college degree now require a specific degree, or a masters degree.) This will increase age discrimination, and further worsen the position of the people for whom college is unattractive for reasons other than money.
To give a particular example of a mechanism (idiosyncratic, but one I know specifically). Until a couple decades ago, getting a KY electrician's license required 4 years experience under a licensed electrician, and passing the code test. Then the system changed; now it requires a 2-year degree and 2 years experience, OR 8 years experience. This was great for colleges. The working electricians don't think the new electricians are better prepared as they used to be, but all of a sudden people who don't find sitting in a classroom for an additional 2 years attractive are hugely disadvantaged. Another example would be nursing licenses; talk to any older LPN and you'll get an earful about how LPN's are devalued as RNs and BSNs have become the norm.I suspect tuition reform will be complex, difficult and subject to gaming. Being simple minded I offer an inadequate but simple palliative. Make student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. You can max out your credit cards on cars, clothes, booze or whatever and be able to discharge these debts but not for higher education. The inability to even threaten bankruptcy gives all the power to collection companies. Students have no leverage at all. The threat of bankruptcy would allow for negotiated reductions in principal as well as payments.John Quiggin 05.07.19 at 1:44 am ( 44 )
Bankruptcy does carry a lot of negative consequences so it would offset the likely objections about moral hazards, blah, blah. I would also favor an additional method of discharging student debt. If your debt is to a for-profit school that can't meet some minimum standards for student employment in their field of study then total discharge without the need for bankruptcy. For-profit vocational schools intensively target low income and minority students without providing significant value for money.Progressivity looks much better if the program sticks to free community college, at least until there is universal access to 4-year schools. That's what Tennessee did (IIRC the only example that is actually operational).Gabriel 05.07.19 at 3:03 am ( 47 )Harry: it doesn't seem as if you responded to my comment. I'll try again.Nia Psaka 05.07.19 at 4:01 am ( 48 )
1. A policy is progressive if it is redistributive.
2. Warren's plan is redistributive.
3. Thus, Warren's plan is progressive.
Comments about how effective the redistribution is are fine, but to claim a non-ideal distribution framework invalidates the program's claims to being progressive seems spurious. And I don't think this definition of progressive is somehow wildly ideosyncratic.To whine that free college is somehow not progressive because not everyone will go to college is a ridiculous argument, one of those supposedly-left-but-actually-right arguments that I get so tired of. To assume that the class makeup of matriculators will be unchanged with free college is to discount knock-on effects. This is a weird, weird post. I guess I'm going back to ignoring this site.Kurt Schuler 05.07.19 at 4:04 am ( 49 )The debate on this subject strikes me as misguided because it says nothing about what students learn. A good high school education should be enough to prepare young people for most kinds of work. In most jobs, even those allegedly requiring college degrees, the way people learn most of what they need to know is through on the job training. Many high school graduates have not received a good education, though, and go to college as, in effect, remedial high school.
Readers who attended an average American high school, as I did long ago, will know that there are certain students, especially boys, who are itching to be done with school. It is far more productive to give them a decent high school education and have them start working than to tell them they need another two to four years of what to them is pointless rigamarole.
Rather than extending the years of education, I would reduce the high school graduation age to 17 and reduce summer vacations by four weeks, so that a 17 year old would graduate with as many weeks of schooling as an 18 year old now. (Teachers would get correspondingly higher pay, which should make them happy.)
Harry Truman never went to college. John Major became a banker and later prime minister of Britain without doing so. Neither performed noticeably worse than their college-educated peers. If a college education is not necessary to rise to the highest office in the land, why is it necessary for lesser employment except in a few specialized areas?
An experiment that I would like to see tried is to bring back the federal civil service exam, allowing applicants without college degrees who score high enough to enter U.S. government jobs currently reserved for those with college degrees.
May 09, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
I would love to have a social conservative who was as red-hot on the abuse of corporate power as she is. Of course there's no way she would ever win the Democratic nomination if she were a social conservative, nor would she be a US Senator from Massachusetts.
Back in 2011, when she announced for the Massachusetts Senate race on an anti-big business platform, I wrote in this space that she was "a Democrat I could vote for." In 2014, observing how far gone she is on cultural leftism, I lamented that I wanted so bad for her to be good -- but hey, you can't always get what you want.
The Week 's Matthew Walther recently wrote a piece praising her from the Right as a "forgotten reactionary." Excerpt:
Warren's vision of human flourishing is fundamentally a conservative one -- or at least it would be if the family were still at the center of the conservative conception of politics. What she argues for is the right of families to thrive, not be the slave of financial interests, corporate power, housing monopolies, the educational establishment, or any other external force. She believes, radically, alas, in 2018, that we all have a right to food, water, housing, education, and medical care. The idea that hard-working Americans should be able to raise their children in comfort and with a sense of dignity is not, or at least should not be, the exclusive purview of any one politician or party. The fact that Warren very frequently does seem to be among the only elected officials in this country who both affirms these things and has taken the trouble to think carefully about them is a reminder that the centrism rejected by her and fellow travelers on the left and the right alike is not only noxious but omnipresent.
Warren's economic vision of human flourishing -- that is, the economic conditions she believes must be in place for people to flourish -- is fundamentally conservative, in an older, more organic sense. Old-fashioned Catholic reactionaries understand exactly what she's talking about, and so would the kind of Christian conservatives who read Wendell Berry and Crunchy Cons (which, alas, came out about 13 years too early).
Lo, Fox News star Tucker Carlson riled up the Right the other night with his tour de force criticism of right-wing free market orthodoxies (among other things).
Last night, he praised Elizabeth Warren for having written a 2003 book about how the US economy traps families. He points out that in her book, Warren made an economic case that the mass entry of women into the workplace has been a financial disaster for families. More:
Elizabeth Warren said that out loud. Nobody seemed to mind. She'd never say that today. It's not allowed like so much else that is true and important. She can't talk about the things that she believed 10 years ago. No modern Democrat can.
Can Republicans? In a follow-up column, Matthew Walther thinks they should, and that Tucker Carlson's commentaries so far this year have been galvanizing. More:
If anyone had suggested to me five years ago that the most incisive public critic of capitalism in the United States would be Tucker Carlson, I would have smiled blandly and mentioned an imaginary appointment I was late for. But that is exactly what the Fox News host revealed himself to be last week with an extraordinary monologue about the state of American conservative thinking. In 15 minutes he denounced the obsession with GDP, the tolerance of payday lending and other financial pathologies, the fetishization of technology, the guru-like worship of CEOs, and the indifference to the anxieties and pathologies of the poor and the vulnerable characteristic of both of our major political parties. It was a masterpiece of political rhetoric. He ended by calling upon the GOP to re-examine its attitude towards the free market.
Carlson's monologue is valuable because unlike so many progressive critics of our social and economic order he has gone beyond the question of the inequitable distribution of wealth to the more important one about the nature of late capitalist consumer culture and the inherently degrading effects it has had on our society. The GOP's blinkered inability to see beyond the specifications of the new iPhone or the latest video game or the infinite variety of streaming entertainment and Chinese plastic to the spiritual poverty of suicide and drug abuse is shared with the Democratic Socialists of America, whose vision of authentic human flourishing seems to be a boutique eco-friendly version of our present consumer society. This is lipstick on a pig.
It is difficult for me to understand exactly why conservatives have come around to their present uncritical attitude toward unbridled capitalism. It cannot be for electoral reasons. Survey after survey reveals that a vast majority of the American people hold views that would be described as socially conservative and economically moderate to progressive. A presidential candidate who spoke capably to both of these sets of concerns would be the greatest political force in three generations.
The answer is that for conservatives the market has become a cult. No book better explains the appeal of classical liberal economics than The Golden Bough , Sir James Frazer's history of magic. Frazer identified certain immutable principles that have governed magical thinking throughout the ages. Among these is the imitative principle according to which a favorable outcome is obtained by mimicry -- the endless chants of entrepreneurship, vague nonsense about charter schools, calls for tax cuts for people who don't make enough money to benefit from them. There also is taboo, the primitive assumption that by not speaking the name of a thing, the thing itself will be thereby be exorcised. This is one reason that any attempt to criticize the current consensus is met with whingeing about "socialism." This catch-all talisman is meant to protect against everything from the Cultural Revolution to modest restrictions on overdraft fees imposed at the behest of consultants.
Read the whole thing.
Haigha January 9, 2019 at 9:34 am"In the real world you are going to have to keep companies from getting too powerful if you want a free(ish) market."Franklin Evans , says: January 9, 2019 at 12:22 pm
"So, is it possible that in this everything-can-be-bought-and-sold culture that the massive corporations made the very rational choice to buy themselves a government?"
... ... ...Noah makes an excellent point about the differences between public- and private-sector unions and collective bargaining units. I would personally add that public-sector unions would never have been necessary if governments were not run under the same philosophy as private-sector employers: minimize the cost of employees by any means possible. I've always held that regardless of any definition of necessity, public-sector unionization was and remains a bad idea.Gertrude , says: January 9, 2019 at 1:12 pm
I also don't know of a better alternative. Sometimes it's the evil you must handle, rather than the lesser of two evils.
As for the shifts in the socio-economic realities, there's a necessary categorization necessary when discussing women in the workforce. I offer these broad categories which are likely arguable. It's a starting point, not a line in the sand.
Families at or below the poverty line: when you control for the benefits of a stay-at-home parent, these families only ever had one option to get above the poverty line enough to no longer need public assistance, and that was a second income. The entire motivation for minimum wage, stable work hours and such was an attempt to mitigate the need for a second income. It gets politicized and complicated from there, partially for good reasons, but unless you look at a given family's income limitations before criticizing the woman's working instead of being at home, you are ignoring the consequences of poverty, which cannot be mitigated by parenting.
The woman has a higher income potential: it started well before the employment argument, as in decades previous women were "permitted" to attain higher education in skill and content areas beyond nursing and teaching. One reaction to that, an analysis conclusion I arrive at personally, was to routinely discriminate against female employees in both compensation and promotion. The prevailing "wisdom" (again, my personal POV) was that women are going to get pregnant anyway, why encourage them away from that? If the only disparity in compensation was for unpaid leave due to pregnancy and childbirth, you might have avoided a large part of the feminist revolution.
The broad mix of "women belong in " arguments based on some moral construct (religious or other): this is where the feminist revolution was inevitable. It comes down to personal agency and choice. I have an Orthodox Jewish relative whose wife fully, happily and creatively embraces her religiously mandated role. She's very intelligent, an erudite writer and speaker, and is as much a pillar of her community as any male in it. We should avoid extreme examples like Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, but her plight without fatal consequences is precisely what many women face, and want to escape. Feminism simply states that such women have the right to make that different choice, and the power the men of their community have over them is a denial of a human right.
I'm sure other broad categories need to be described. I'll leave this before it gets beyond being too long.@kgasmart "I defy Elizabeth Warren, or any other prominent lefty, to publicly restate her thesis that the entry of women into the workforce has ultimately harmed the family.KD , says: January 9, 2019 at 2:24 pm
Imagine the furious tweetstorms. How dare she suggests it's been anything but wonderful for women themselves – and thus, for society as a whole. Evidence to the contrary be damned as 'hateful,' of course."
You don't understand the left. And no, having once been in favor of SSM doesn't mean you understand the left. I and many others will happily say the following: "Society was not prepared for the mass entry of women into the workplace. Childcare suffered, work-life balance suffered, male-female relations suffered."
The problem here is that we follow that up with: "The problem was not women having basic aspirations to the dignity and relative economic security work offers. The problem was a government captured by the rich who don't understand what policy for families that can't afford nannies would look like. The problem was also a social structure which valued families less than it valued proscribed gender roles. Time to chart a different course."
Trust me, feminists talk all the time about how much harder it is to have a family these days. We just don't think the problem exists because women selfishly wanted basic economic security.Warren is a smart, informed academic with some solid views on economic issues.Zgler , says: January 9, 2019 at 3:28 pm
On the other hand, she is a terrible politician, and not suited for high executive office. She lacks gravitas and has no intuition for the optics of what she does, going from gaffe to gaffe. She'd be chewed up and spit out before she became a contender.
While I think HRC had terrible ideas, I never questioned her capacity to project authority and credibility, that is, "act presidential". In contrast, Obama's dork factor got him in trouble on a number of occasions (although his "communist salute" stands out), and Warren is many times more a dork than Obama."I confess I have never understood her appeal. She is the very model of a useless New England scold, constantly seeking to regulate just about everything. There is almost no problem that more government, more regulation – usually with no oversight – cannot fix. No, thank you."Hector_St_Clare , says: January 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm
This sounds like someone who has not researched Warren's writings and positions
and just does not like her style (i.e. New England Scold). I think her style, which would be fine in a man (e.g. who is a scold if not Bernie) will primary her out.The market is not a Platonic deity, floating in the sky and imposing goodness and prosperity from on high. It is the creation of our choices, our laws, and our democratic process. We know, for instance, that pornography has radically altered how young boys perceive their relationships with women and sex, and that the pornography industry has acquired a lot of wealth in the process of creating and distributing that content. Just last month, we learned that a Chinese entity created the first gene-edited baby, using a technology developed in the United States. Some company, here or there, will eventually create a lot of prosperity by using this gene-editing technology (called CRISPR) in an unethical way, quite literally playing God with the most sacred power in the universe -- the creation of human life. In the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that Apple -- despite self-righteously refusing to cooperate with American security officials -- has willingly complied with the requirements of the Chinese surveillance state, even as China builds concentration camps for dissidents and religious minorities. And, as Carlson mentioned, there are marijuana companies pushing for legalization, though we know from the Colorado experience that legalization increases use, and from other studies that use is concentrated among the lower class, causing a host of social problems in the process.EarlyBird , says: January 9, 2019 at 4:37 pm
I'm an anti-capitalist so of course I'd agree with JD Vance that there's no good reason to trust the free market or the owners of capitalist enterprises. Nonetheless, I can't join him in his specific criticisms of free markets here, and I think this kind of underscores the difficulties there may be in building bridges between social conservatives and social liberals. Bridges can certainly be built, for sure, but it will take some work and some painful compromises, and this is a good example of why: several of the things that JD Vance points to as examples of free markets gone wrong, are things that I'd say are good things, not bad ones.
I'm not going to defend pornography (although I'm not particularly going to criticize it that much either: while I distrust conservative / orthodox Christian sexual ethics, I don't really care about pornography per se and would be happy if the more violent / weird / disturbing stuff was banned). Gene editing of humans though strikes me as a clearly good thing: why wouldn't we want our species to be more peaceful, better looking, more pro-social and more healthy? And why wouldn't we, at the margins, want to raise people who might otherwise be born with serious physical or mental handicaps to be 'fixed'? I have a lot of fears for the future of the world, but the idea that gene editing of our species might become commonplace is one of the things that makes me hopeful. I also think it's a good thing that tech companies are cooperating with the Chinese state: not because I like China and its government, particularly, but because I believe strongly in the sovereign nation state and in the right of national governments to decide how foreign companies are going to behave on their territory. I'd much rather a world in which companies in China are constrained by the Chinese state than one in which they're constrained by no rules at all other than their own will. Finally, the legalization of marijuana and other soft drugs seems to me to be a good thing as well.
I'm sure that JD Vance and I can come to lots of agreement over other issues, but I did want to point out there may be stumbling blocks over social issues as well- precisely because these issues do matter. They don't matter as much as the economic issues, but they do matter somewhat.All of these critiques of capitalism from social conservatives hews exactly to the platform of a tiny little party, the American Solidarity Party:Haigha , says: January 9, 2019 at 4:43 pm
Among the planks in their platform:
"We believe that family, local communities, and voluntary associations are the first guarantors of human dignity, and cultivate mutual care. National institutions and policies should support, not supplant them."
Quite seriously, the entire party could have been invented by Rod, and I mean that as the highest endorsement."You think creating a power vacuum will prevent big businesses from imposing their will on the population? Go back and look at your beloved 19th century and tell me that absent government intervention corporations won't crush peoples lives for a few extra cents."
Absolutely. Absent government help, businesses can't do anything except offer people goods or services, or offer to purchase their labor or goods or services, on terms the individuals may or may not find advantageous compared to the status quo. When Big Business ran roughshod over people in the 19th Century, it was because government helped them (e.g., court cases letting businesses off the hook for their liabilities because of the supposed need for "progress").
May 08, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren recently jolted the Democratic presidential primary race by tackling one of the most important issues of our time: student loans and the cost of higher education. Warren called for canceling up to $50,000 of student loan debt for every American making under $100,000 a year. In addition, she would make two- and four-year public college tuitions free for all new students.
The total cost of Warren's plan would be $1.25 trillion over 10 years, with the debt forgiveness portion consisting of a one-time cost of $640 billion. Warren plans to pay for her plan by imposing an annual tax of 2 percent on all families that have $50 million or more in wealth.
Warren is right to focus attention on the matter of student loans. This is a major issue for young people and experts have been warning of a crisis for years.
But in most cases, it isn't right to blame student loan borrowers for their predicaments. After all, they are victims of a scam perpetrated by the education cartel and the federal government.
Here's how it works: the education cartel sells the lie that only those with four-year college degrees can succeed in life. Then they steer everyone with a pulse towards a university.
The government steps in and subsidizes student loans that allow almost anyone to go to college, regardless of their ability to pay the loans back. These loans are a trap, and not just with regard to their cost. The government, which took over the student loan industry , forbids borrowers from discharging that debt in bankruptcy proceedings.
How do such cheap and easy student loans affect universities? For starters, they have caused a proliferation of degrees that offer poor returns on investment . In addition, they have led to the dilution of the value of previously marketable degrees such as those in the humanities and international relations, as more students enter those programs than could ever hope to work in their respective fields. For example, in 2013, half of all those who had graduated from college were working in jobs that did not require degrees .
But worst of all, the easy access to student loans has destroyed the price mechanism, which is so important for determining the real supply and demand of a product. Since government is the ultimate payer, tuition has been pushed sky high. The rate of tuition increase has actually outpaced inflation threefold .
Is Elizabeth Warren's plan the solution? No! It will only make things worse.
For starters, the wealth tax that she would use to fund her plan is likely unconstitutional . But even if it was upheld by the Supreme Court, it would still be bad policy. Countries that have imposed wealth taxes like France and Sweden have found that the rich simply leave and take their assets with them rather than pay more.
As for the idea of universal student loan debt forgiveness, it is a bad policy on the merits. For starters, it does not make economic sense to forgive the debts of those who will earn at least $17,500 more a year than those who don't go to college.
Also, although the student loan bubble has been inflated by the actions of both the education cartel and government, at the end of the day, loans are a contract. Those who are able to pay them down should and not be bailed out.
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Finally, we need to promote alternatives to college. There are many well-paying jobs out there that don't require degrees . There are also apprentice programs offered by organizations like Praxis . We should encourage entrepreneurship, which is how so many in this country have lifted themselves out of poverty. College is not for everyone and there's no reason to keep promoting that idea.
Kevin Boyd is a freelance writer based in Louisiana. He is a contributor to The Hayride, a southern news and politics site. He has also been published in , The Federalist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution , and The New York Observer among other publications.
Lert345, says: May 8, 2019 at 3:14 pmHow to make college cost effective. Two major reformsmrscracker, says: May 8, 2019 at 4:04 pm
1. Reduce the overabundance of administrators. The number has exploded since the 1990s.
2. Restructure college. Most programs don’t need to be four years long. Most can be cut to 2 1/2 – 3 years. A chemistry student should be taking courses required for a chemistry degree, nothing more (unless he/she wants to). A lot of required courses are just padding to make the experience drag on for four years. That creates unneeded expenditures of time and money.
After doing the above, then maybe we can talk about “free” college.I personally believe that we should each pay our own way through life as much as possible, but several nations currently do offer virtually free college educations & I don’t believe their diplomas are of less value for it.DavidE, says: May 8, 2019 at 5:46 pm
I agree with you that other avenues like trades should be encouraged. A four year degree isn’t necessary for everyone.@workingdad. If a wealth tax is unconstitutional, do you consider a property tax also unconstitutional?
May 08, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Too often caught between Randian individualism on one hand and big-government collectivism on the other, America's working-class parents need a champion.
They might well have had one in Elizabeth Warren, whose 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap , co-authored with her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, was unafraid to skewer sacred cows. Long a samizdat favorite among socially conservative writers, the book recently got a new dose of attention after being spotlighted on the Right by Fox News's Tucker Carlson and on the Left by Vox's Matthew Yglesias .
The book's main takeaway was that two-earner families in the early 2000s seemed to be less, rather than more, financially stable than one-earner families in the 1970s. Whereas stay-at-home moms used to provide families with an implicit safety net, able to enter the workforce if circumstances required, the dramatic rise of the two-earner family had effectively bid up the cost of everyday life. Rather than the additional income giving families more breathing room, they argue, "Mom's paycheck has been pumped directly into the basic costs of keeping the children in the middle class."
Warren and Warren Tyagi report that as recently as the late 1970s, a married mother was roughly twice as likely to stay at home with her children than work full-time. But by 2000, those figures had almost reversed. Both parents had been pressed into the workforce to maintain adequate standards of living for their families -- the "two-income trap" of the book's title. Advertisement
What caused the trap to be sprung? Cornell University economist Francine Blau has helpfully drawn a picture of women's changing responsiveness to labor market wages during the 20th century. In her work with Laurence Kahn, Blau found that women's wage elasticities -- how responsive their work decisions were to changes in their potential wages -- used to be far more heavily driven by their husband's earning potential or lack thereof (what economists call cross-wage elasticity). Over time, Blau and Kahn found, women's responsiveness to wages -- their own or their husbands -- began to fall, and their labor force participation choices began to more closely resemble men's, providing empirical backing to the story Warren and Warren Tyagi tell.
Increasing opportunity and education were certainly one driver of this trend. In 1960, just 5.8 percent of all women over age 25 had a bachelor's degree or higher. Today, 41.7 percent of mothers aged 25 and over have a college degree. Many of these women entered careers in which they found fulfillment and meaning, and the opportunity costs, both financially and professionally, of staying home might have been quite high.
But what about the plurality of middle- and working-class moms who weren't necessarily looking for a career with a path up the corporate ladder? What was pushing them into full-time work for pay, despite consistently telling pollsters they wished they could work less?
The essential point, stressed by Warren and Warren Tyagi, was the extent to which this massive shift was driven by a desire to provide for one's children. The American Dream has as many interpretations as it does adherents, but a baseline definition would surely include giving your children a better life. Many women in America's working and middle classes entered the labor force purely to provide the best possible option for their families.
Fran Macadam April 4, 2019 at 4:34 pmShe Woke up.Tim , says: April 4, 2019 at 7:19 pm
Careerism trumps sanity. In the age of #MeToo, it's got to be all about me.Warren's academic work and cheeky refusal to fold under pressure when her nomination as Obama's consumer ('home ec.'?) finance czar was stymied by the GOP are worthy of respect. I'd like to see her make a strong run at the dem nomination, but am put off by her recent tendency to adopt silly far-left talking points and sentiments (her Native DNA, advocating for reparations, etc.). Nice try, Liz, but I'm still leaning Bernie's direction.K squared , says: April 5, 2019 at 7:05 am
As far as the details of the economic analysis related above, though, I am unqualified to make any judgment – haven't read the book. But one enormously significant economic development in the early 70s wasn't mentioned at all, so I assume she and her daughter passed it over as well. In his first term R. Milhouse Nixon untethered, once & for all, the value of the dollar from traditional hard currency. The economy has been coming along nicely ever since, except for one problematic aspect: with a floating currency we are all now living in an economic environment dominated by the vicissitudes of supplies and demands, are we not? It took awhile to effect the housing market, but signs of the difference it made began to emerge fairly quickly, and accelerated sharply when the tides of globalism washed lots of third world lucre up on our western shores. Now, as clearly implied by both Warren and the author of this article, young Americans whose parents may not have even been born back then – the early 70s – are probably permanently priced out of the housing market in places that used to have only a marginally higher cost of entry – i.e. urban California, where I have lived and worked for most of my nearly 60 years. In places like this even a 3-earner income may not suffice! Maybe we should bring back the gold standard, because it seems to me that as long as unfettered competition coupled to supply/demand and (EZ credit $) is the underlying dynamic of the American economy we're headed for the New Feudalism. Of course, nothing could be more conservative than that, right? What say you, TAColytes?"Funny that policy makers never want to help families by taking a little chunk out of hedge funds and shareholders and vulture capitalists and sharing it with American workers."
Funny that Warren HAS brought up raising taxes on the rich.
May 07, 2019 | www.laprogressive.com
The military sucks up 54% of discretionary federal spending. Pentagon bloat has a huge effect on domestic priorities; the nearly $1 trillion a year that goes to exploiting, oppressing, torturing, maiming and murdering foreigners could go to building schools, college scholarships, curing diseases, poetry slams, whatever. Anything, even tax cuts for the rich, would be better than bombs. But as then GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said in 2015, "The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things ." If you're like me, you want as little killing and breaking as possible.
Unfortunately, no major Democratic presidential candidate favors substantial cuts to Pentagon appropriations.
Current frontrunner Joe Biden ( 33% in the polls) doesn't talk much about defense spending. He reminds us that his son served in Iraq (so he cares about the military) and that we shouldn't prioritize defense over domestic programs. Vague. Though specific programs might get trimmed, Lockheed Martin could rest easy under a President Biden.
"Since he arrived in Congress, [runner-up] Bernie Sanders [19%] has been a fierce crusader against Pentagon spending , calling for defense cuts that few Democrats have been willing to support," The Hill reported in 2016. "As late as 2002, he supported a 50 percent cut for the Pentagon." Bernie is still a Pentagon critic but he won't commit to a specific amount to cut. He wouldn't slash and Bern. He'd trim.
Elizabeth Warren (8%) wants "to identify which programs actually benefit American security in the 21st century, and which programs merely line the pockets of defense contractors -- then pull out a sharp knife and make some cuts ."
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Kamala Harris (5%) has not weighed in on military spending. She has received substantial campaign contributions from the defense industry, though.The Democrats on Wars for Fun
As senator, Biden voted for the optional wars against Afghanistan and Iraq . He lied about his votes so maybe he felt bad about them. He similarly seems to regret his ro le in destroying Libya.
Sanders voted to invade Afghanistan . His comment at the time reads as hopelessly naïve about the bloodthirsty Bush-Cheney regime: "The use of force is one tool that we have at our disposal to fight against the horror of terrorism and mass murder it is something that must be used wisely and with great discretion." Sanders voted against invading Iraq , favored regime change in Libya ( albeit nonviolently ) and voted to bomb Syria .
There have been no major new wars since 2013, when Warren joined the Senate so her antiwar bona fides have not been tested. Like many of her colleagues, she wants an end to the "forever war" against Afghanistan. She also wants us out of Syria .Democrats on NSA Spying Against Americans
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Joe Biden, though to the right on other foreign-policy issues, was a critic of NSA spying for years, going back at least to 2006. Under Obama, however, he backtracked . Even worse, Biden called the president of Ecuador in 2013 to request that he deny asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Bernie Sanders alone would end warrantless mass surveillance and said Snowden " did this country a great service ." Warren doesn't discuss it much except to say it would be nice to have " an informed discussion ." Harris favors some limits but generally keeps quiet.