Softpanorama
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries

"When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done"

John Maynard Keynes

PseudoScience > Who Rules America > Neoliberalism

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Regulatory Capture & Corruption of regulators Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) The Systemic Instability of Financial Institutions In Goldman Sachs we trust Number racket GDP as a false measure of a country economic output Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA
Neoliberalism and rising inequality Secular Stagnation  Efficient Market Hypothesis Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism Supply side Voodoo Rational expectations scam Monetarism fiasco
Twelve apostles of deregulation Summers Greenspan Rubin Reagan Helicopter Ben: Arsonist Turned into Firefighter Bush II
Chicago school of deification of market Free Market Fundamentalism Free Market Newspeak as opium for regulators The Idea of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium CDS -- weapons of mass financial destruction Phil Gramm Clinton
Zombie state of neoliberalism Insider Trading SEC corruption Fed corruption Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush Regime Wall Street Propaganda Machine American Exceptionalism
Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Theorists Glass-Steagall repeal Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Fiat money, gold and petrodollar Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Buyout Kleptocrats Republican Economic Policy
Principal-agent problem Quiet coup Pecora commission History of Casino Capitalism Casino Capitalism Dictionary :-) Humor Etc
Sine ira et studio

Tacitus, see Wikipedia


Alternatively, we could have spent more time studying the work of Hyman Minsky. We could also have considered the possibility that, just as Keynes’s ideas were tested to destruction in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Milton Friedman’s ideas might suffer a similar fate in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. All gods fail, if one believes too much. Keynes said, of course, that "practical men … are usually the slaves of some defunct economist". So, of course, are economists, even if the defunct economists are sometimes still alive.

Martin Wolf

Speculation and gambling were always a part of Wall Street but since the 1930’s they were just a side-show, now they are the show.

comment to Matt Taibbi article Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue t

Introduction

History

The concept of Quite Coup

Stages of transformation

Casino Capitalism as a result of stagnation of industrial manufacturing

Casino Capitalism and Financial Instability

The Ideology of Casino Capitalism

Early Researchers of Casino Capitalism

Conclusions: From Animal Farm To Animal House


Introduction

“The sense of responsibility in the financial community
for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

-- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

The term Casino Capitalism as a specific phase of neoliberal transformation of capitalism. Politically it was slow motion corporate coup d'état, which started in 70th and is now accomplished in the USA and other Western countries which buries social-democratic (New Deal style) model of capitalism.  It hypertrophied police functions of state (in the form of national-security state)  while completely avoiding economic sphere in ways other then enforcement of laws (with a notable exclusion from this top 1% -- Masters of the Universe). In this sense it is the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) and presupposed a deregulated economy (in a sense of the "law of jungle" as a business environment) , but with extremely strong militarized state, suppressing all the attempts to challenge the new "nomenklatura" (much like was the case in the USSR).  It is also called economic liberalism or neoliberalism

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate “liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

In other words this is a variant of neoliberal model of corporatism used in wealthy Western countries during the period of "cheap hydrocarbons".  The period that is probably near the end and which by some estimate can last only another 50 years or so.  The major crisis of casino capitalism in 2008 was connected both with financial excesses (caused by moving to semi-criminal ways of extracting return on capital, typical for casino capitalism),  but also with the rise of the price of oil and decrease of  Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)In this sense the current low oil price period that started in late 2014 can be viewed as the "last hurrah" of the casino capitalism.

The term itself was coined by Susan Strange who used it as a title of her book Casino Capitalism published in 1986. She was one of the first who realized that

  1. "The roots of the world's economic disorder are monetary and financial";
  2. "The disorder has not come about by accident, but has in fact been nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions." (p. 60). In other words its was a counter-revolution of the part of ruling elite which lost its influence in 30th (dismantling New Deal from above in the USA (Reaganomics) or Thatcherism in the GB).

According to Susan Strange transformation of industrial capitalism into neoliberal capitalism ("casino capitalism") involved five trends. All of them increased the systemic instability of the system and the level of political corruption:

  1. Innovations in the way in which financial markets work due to introduction of computers;
  2. The sheer size of markets;
  3. Commercial banks turned into investment banks;
  4. The emergence of Asian nations as large players;
  5. The shift to self-regulation by banks (pp.9-10).

Now it is pretty much established fact that the conversion from "industrial capitalism" to neoliberal "casino capitalism" is the natural logic of development of capitalism. In early and incomplete matter this trend was noticed at early 1990th by many thinkers. This is just the second iteration of the same trend which was interrupted by the Great Depression and subsequent WWII. So, in a way, replacement of industrial capitalism with financial capitalism in a natural tendency within the capitalism itself and corruption was contributing, but not decisive factor.  The same is true about globalization, especially about globalization of financial flows, typical for casino capitalism.

Also this conversion did not happen due to lack of oversight or as a folly. It was a couscous choice made by the US and GB elite, both of which faced deterioration of rates of return on capital. Also unlike "industrial capitalism" which was more-or-less stable system, able to outcompete the neo-theocratic system of the USSR, the financial capitalism is unstable in the same sense as radioactive elements are unstable.  And this instability tend to increase with time. So there is probably natural half-life period for neoliberalism as a social system. It might be already reached in 2008.  In we assume that global victory of neoliberalism happened in 1990. It is just 18 years.  If we think that it happened in late 60th, then it is closer to 50 years.

The global crisis of neoliberal capitalism which started from bursting the USA subprime housing bubble in 2008 undermined ideological legitimacy of its central claim that "free markets" lead to faster and more uniform economic development of all countries. While the peak of its "ideological" power might be over (much like the peak of attractiveness of "command socialism" was over after WWII), it will exist in a zombie state for a long time due to economic and military power of the USA and G7.  And as we know from Hollywood films, zombies can be especially bloodthirsty. It probably will remain the dominant force for at least the next two decades pursuing the same policy of "forceful" opening of energy rich  and resource countries for western multinationals intact using color revolutions and local wars.  But as Napoleon quipped "You can do anything with bayonets, you just can't sit on them".

Conversion to neoliberal capitalism was a reaction on stagnation of industrial production and as such it was nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions for the last 50 years. Stagnation of industrial production made expansion of financial sector of paramount importance for the ruling elite and by extension for Congress which represents this elite. House vote 377:4 for Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is pretty telling in this respect.

There were also at least two important parallel developments.

Most respectable authors like Henry Giroux in his article in Counterpunch generally consider the term "casino capitalism" to be an equivalent to the term Neoliberalism. Here is a relevant quote from Henry Giroux's Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism :

There is more at work here than simply a ramped up version of social Darwinism with its savagely cruel ethic of “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves,” [ii] there is also a full scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state, economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished. But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of the and civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.

As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty: “its horrific effects on individuals-death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.”[iii]

But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.”[iv] Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized and surrendered to the demands of capital. With religious and market-driven zealots in charge, politics becomes an extension of war; greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others; reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression; and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.

If the Republican candidacy race of 2012 is any indication, then political discourse in the United States has not only moved to the right—it has been introducing totalitarian values and ideals into the mainstream of public life. Religious fanaticism, consumer culture, and the warfare state work in tandem with neoliberal economic forces to encourage privatization, corporate tax breaks, growing income and wealth inequality, and the further merging of the financial and military spheres in ways that diminish the authority and power of democratic governance.[v] Neoliberal interests in freeing markets from social constraints, fueling competitiveness, destroying education systems, producing atomized subjects, and loosening individuals from any sense of social responsibility prepare the populace for a slow embrace of social Darwinism, state terrorism, and the mentality of war — not least of all by destroying communal bonds, dehumanizing the other, and pitting individuals against the communities they inhabit.

Totalitarian temptations now saturate the media and larger culture in the language of austerity as political and economic orthodoxy. What we are witnessing in the United States is the normalization of a politics that exterminates not only the welfare state, and the truth, but all those others who bear the sins of the Enlightenment — that is, those who refuse a life free from doubt. Reason and freedom have become enemies not merely to be mocked, but to be destroyed. And this is a war whose totalitarian tendencies are evident in the assault on science, immigrants, women, the elderly, the poor, people of color, and youth.

What too often goes unsaid, particularly with the media’s focus on inflammatory rhetoric, is that those who dominate politics and policymaking, whether Democrats or Republicans, do so largely because of their disproportionate control of the nation’s income and wealth. Increasingly, it appears these political elite choose to act in ways that sustain their dominance through the systemic reproduction of an iniquitous social order. In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while reinforcing a profound failure of political imagination. The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants. Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.

The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state. And if Romney and his ideological cohorts, now viewed as the most extremists faction of the Republican Party, come to power, surely the existing totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies at work in the United States will be dangerously intensified.

History

Casino capitalism can probably be more properly called financial corporatism. While the key idea of corporatism: that political actors are not individual people, but some associations and first of all corporations (which are officially considered to be "persons" and have rights) and trade unions, remains intact, financial corporatism is different from classic corporatism in several major ways:

Historically corporatism in various modifications became dominant social system after WWII and defeated "command socialism" as was implemented in the USSR. Here is an instructive review of corporatism history (The Economic System of Corporatism):

In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism. The name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation except that both words are derived from the Latin word for body, corpus.

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinful motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.

Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Third Hellenic Civilization Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

In the above table several of the regimes were brutal, totalitarian dictatorships, usually labeled fascist, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist. The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.

It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

Corporatist regime typically promote large governmental projects such as TVA on the basis that they are too large to be funded by private enterprise. In Brazil the Vargas regime created many public enterprises such as in iron and steel production which it felt were needed but private enterprise declined to create. It also created an organized labor movement that came to control those public enterprises and turned them into overstaffed, inefficient drains on the public budget.

Although the above locates the origin of corporatism in 19th century France it roots can be traced much further back in time. Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, The Cruel Dilemmas of Development: Twentieth Century Brazil, says,

Corporatism is based on a body of ideas that can be traced through Aristotle, Roman law, medieval social and legal structures, and into contemporary Catholic social philosophy. These ideas are based on the premise that man's nature can only be fulfilled within a political community.
..........
The central core of the corporatist vision is thus not the individual but the political community whose perfection allows the individual members to fulfill themselves and find happiness.
...............
The state in the corporatist tradition is thus clearly interventionist and powerful.

Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussain. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosophy although not in name.

The concept of Quite Coup

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson, a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. The term was introduced in his article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power iether directly or indirectly (via revolving door mechanism):

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies — lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits — such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight — a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent.

He further researched this theme in his book 2010 book 13 Bankers The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown  (ISBN 978-0307379054), coauthored with James Kwak. They also founded and regularly contributes to the economics blog The Baseline Scenario. See also History of Casino Capitalism

The net effect of the ideological counter-revolution based on market fundamentalism ideology was that it restored the power of financial oligarchy typical for Gilded Age. As Simon Johnson argues that was partially done by subverting regulators and that oversize institutions always disproportionately influence public policy:

The second problem the U.S. faces—the power of the oligarchy—is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

Oversize institutions disproportionately influence public policy; the major banks we have today draw much of their power from being too big to fail. Nationalization and re-privatization would not change that; while the replacement of the bank executives who got us into this crisis would be just and sensible, ultimately, the swapping-out of one set of powerful managers for another would change only the names of the oligarchs.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical—since we’ll want to sell the banks quickly—they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail—a financial weapon of mass self-destruction—explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation. Laws put in place more than 100years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. Wall Street’s main attraction—to the people who work there and to the government officials who were only too happy to bask in its reflected glory—has been the astounding amount of money that could be made. Limiting that money would reduce the allure of the financial sector and make it more like any other industry.

Still, outright pay caps are clumsy, especially in the long run. And most money is now made in largely unregulated private hedge funds and private-equity firms, so lowering pay would be complicated. Regulation and taxation should be part of the solution. Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine.

Two Paths

To paraphrase Joseph Schumpeter, the early-20th-century economist, everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time. If the U.S. were just another country, coming to the IMF with hat in hand, I might be fairly optimistic about its future. Most of the emerging-market crises that I’ve mentioned ended relatively quickly, and gave way, for the most part, to relatively strong recoveries. But this, alas, brings us to the limit of the analogy between the U.S. and emerging markets.

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money—or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world’s most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years—as Japan did during its lost decade—never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering. A clean break with the past—involving the takeover and cleanup of major banks—hardly looks like a sure thing right now. Certainly no one at the IMF can force it.

In my view, the U.S. faces two plausible scenarios. The first involves complicated bank-by-bank deals and a continual drumbeat of (repeated) bailouts, like the ones we saw in February with Citigroup and AIG. The administration will try to muddle through, and confusion will reign.

Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia, struggled for much of the past 20 years against oligarchs, corruption, and abuse of authority in all its forms. He liked to say that confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful—letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity. When inflation is high, who can say what a piece of property is really worth? When the credit system is supported by byzantine government arrangements and backroom deals, how do you know that you aren’t being fleeced?

Our future could be one in which continued tumult feeds the looting of the financial system, and we talk more and more about exactly how our oligarchs became bandits and how the economy just can’t seem to get into gear.

The second scenario begins more bleakly, and might end that way too. But it does provide at least some hope that we’ll be shaken out of our torpor. It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and—because eastern Europe’s banks are mostly owned by western European banks—justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration’s current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks’ balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

Under this kind of pressure, and faced with the prospect of a national and global collapse, minds may become more concentrated.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

It is pretty interesting to see how financial oligarchy filters information provided to the population to fit their biases. For example, the key facts about repeal of Glass-Steagall law  (BTW Joe Biden voted for it) mostly hidden from the public: 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission — under the leadership of Mr. Gramm’s wife, Wendy — had approved rules in 1989 and 1993 exempting some swaps and derivatives from regulation. In December 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed as part of a larger bill by unanimous consent after Senator Gramm dominated the Senate debate...

"He was the architect, advocate and the most knowledgeable person in Congress on these topics," Mr. Donovan said. "To me, Phil Gramm is the single most important reason for the current financial crisis."

"The virtually unregulated over-the-counter market in credit-default swaps has played a significant role in the credit crisis, including the now $167 billion taxpayer rescue of A.I.G.," Christopher Cox, the chairman of the S.E.C. and a former congressman, said Friday.

But you will never find discussion of flaws and adverse consequences Phil Gram (or Greenspan for a change) initiatives in Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks publications.

Stages of transformation

So what we are experiencing is a the completion of the transformation of one phase of capitalism to another. It happened in stages:

  1. Manufacturing stagnated and can't provide the "decent" rate of growth. Competition from re-built Europe and Asian markets severely stressed the US manufacturing. due to competition return of capital dropped and in several industries became negative.
     

  2. Computers brought innovations into financial markets. They make possible real time trading of induces like S&P500, complex financial instruments like derivatives, etc. Later they enables superfast trading (HFT). All those instruments dramatically increased the possibilities of extracting the rent by financial institutions from the society.
     

  3. Globalization kicked in due to new opportunities offered by high speed global communications (Internet). And that is not limited to outsourcing. Due to globalization the sheer size of the financial markets increased to the extent that they started to represent a different, new transnational phenomena allowing new types of redistribution of wealth to be practiced. Integration of Russian elite (oligarchs) is just one example of this process. In case of pro-western oligarchs (fifth column) West went to significant length to protect them and their racket (Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia,)
     

  4. Commercial banks turned into investment banks to exploit this opportunity.
     

  5. Financial sector completely corrupted academic science converting most economists to pay prostitutes which serve their interests.
     

  6. Collapse of the USSR provided the financial sector major shoot in the arm and a golden, once in century opportunity to finance new half-billion consumers and stole for a penny on a dollar huge industrial assets and natural resources as well as put most of those countries in the debt (Latin-Americanization of xUSSR space). Harvard Mafia (with some support from London) did the bidding of western banks in xUSSR space. As more becomes known about the laundering of Russian money in Western banks, many in the United States will likely try to hide behind stories of faraway organized crime. But U.S. policy toward Russia has contributed to that country's sorry conditions--with the Harvard Institute for International Development's Russia project (HIID) playing a major role (Harvard's 'Best and Brightest' Aided Russia's Economic Ruin ). Professor Jeffery Sacks provided a bogus idea of "shock therapy" to achieve spectacular for Western banks result. As a result all xUSSR space became new Latin America with typical for Latin America problems like huge level of inequality, prostitution, child poverty, and prominent role of organized crime.
     

  7. Banks became dominant political force on western societies with no real counterbalance from other parts of the elite. The first president completely subservient to banking elite was elected in the USA in 1992. Bill Clinton regime lasted eight years and along with economic rape of xUSSR space in best colonial powers tradition, it removed what was left of financial regulations after the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s. And they behaved as an occupying force not only in xUSSR space but in the USA as well. They deprived workers out of their jobs, they abolished the US pension system as it impede playing with population money and replaced in with widely inadequate 401K plans. They deprived municipalities out of their revenues and assets, while municipalities became just a den of bond traders looking for then next mark which give them the ability to put municipalities deeper in debt.

  8. Newly acquired political power of financial elite speeded the shift to bank "self-regulation" created huge shadow banking system which dwarf "official" under the smoke screen of "free-market" propaganda and PR from a coterie of corrupts academics (Chicago Scholl, Harvard Mafia, etc) . It engaged in pursuit of short term profits and self-enrichment of top brass which became new elite by-and-large displacing not only the old one, but also the newly minted IT elite of dot-com boom. Using newly acquired power financial elite remove all regulations that hamper their interests. Glass-Steagall was repealed at the last days of Clinton presidency, financial derivatives became unregulated.

  9. Deindustrialization kicked in. As financial speculation proved to be much more profitable to other activities deindustrialization kicked in the USA as the financial center of the world. Outsourcing which first was limited to manufacturing jobs now extent its reach on IT and decimate previously profitable sector and its export potential.

  10. Externalities can no longer be suppressed and economics became unstable. Growth of inequality, job insecurity, as well as frequency of financial crises were natural consequences of financialization of the economy. They create huge imbalances, like bubble in residential real estate which was blown with the help and full support of the USA government as a way to overcome dot-com crisis consequences.

  11. Debt crisis strikes. Growth of debt became unsustainable and produces the financial crisis of enormous proportions. By their reckless policies and greed financial sector caused huge financial crisis of 2008 and now they are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales at prices rigged by twenty-something largest banks, the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

  12. Devastating "local" wars became "new normal". Due to financial crisis, the overconsumption in western economies came under threat. Debt expansion which led to overconsumption within the western economies affected (or infected) by financialization. To sustain the current standard of living financial expansion became the necessity. It took the form of a competition for spheres of influence in the area of energy supplies, which we see in post USSR space, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. And central banks play critical role in financing wars. After all Banks of England was created with this exact purpose.

I think by 2008 when the second major financial crisis hit the USA, the transformation on the USA economy into casino capitalism, which is essentially implementation of neoliberal doctrine (or more correctly the US brand of corporatism) was by-and-large complete.

In short we are living in a new politico-economic system in which financial capital won victory over both labor and industrial capital. We might not like what we got, but financial elite is now a new ruling class and this fact is difficult to dispute. As a result. instead of the robber barons of the early 20th century (some of whom actually created/consolidated new industries), we have the top executives from investment banks, insurers and mortgage industry who represent a new Rentier class, much like old aristocracy.

They are living off parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society (see Rentier capitalism which is a very fuzzy term for neoliberal model of capitalism).

Casino Capitalism as a result of stagnation of industrial manufacturing

Stagnation of industrial manufacturing droved up financial speculation as the method to compensate for falling rate on return on capital. This stagnation became prominent during Reagan administration (which started the major shift toward neoliberalism), although signs of it were present from early 60th.

For example Chicago which was a manufacturing center since 1969 lost approximately 400K manufacturing jobs which were replaced mainly by FIRE-related jobs, In 1995 over 22% of those employed by FIRE industries (66K people) were working in executive and managerial positions. Another 17% are in marketing, sales and processional specialty occupations (computer system analysts, PR specialists, writer and editors).

Those changes in the structure of employment had several consequences:

  1. The stagnation of the underlying economy meant that capitalists were increasingly dependent on the growth of finance to preserve and enlarge their money capital.
  2. The financial superstructure of the capitalist economy could not expand independently of its base -- underlying productive economy — hence the bursting of speculative bubbles became a recurrent and growing problem.
  3. Financialization could never overcome stagnation of industrial production. It is just an opium for rich, not a structural adjustment of the stagnation-prone economy. But like addition to narcotics does to human body it does tremendous damage to real economy.
  4. Rapid increase in inequality is necessary to sustain the appetites of the elite in the system with fixed size of the pie. Politico-economic conditions might became even more unfavorable for labor. Stagnation of industrial production mean shrinking pie, which necessitates redistribution of wealth in favor of a new, all-powerful financial Rentier class. This redistribution resulted in partial wipe-out of large swats of middle class. For the past three decades, America has steadily converted itself into a nation of haves (as Bush II quipped "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores! Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base". ) and have-nots. The cost of a college education rises rapidly at a time when wages for skilled labor stagnate, so access to college became against discriminated in favor of upper class of the society. Repressive apparatus and ideological brainwashing are too strong to mount effective resistance.

The key to understanding of Casino Capitalism is that it was a series of government decisions (or rather non-decisions) that converted the state into neoliberal model. In other words casino capitalism has distinct "Government property" mark. It was the USA elite, which refused to act responsibly in the face of changing economic conditions resulting from its own actions, and instead chose to try to perpetuate, by whatever means it had at its disposal, the institutional advantages of dollar as a reserve currency which it had vis-à-vis its main economic rivals and grab as large part of the world economic pie as it can. And this power grab was supported first of all by the role of dollar as currency in which oil is traded.

There might be some geo-strategically motives as well as the US elite in late 80th perceived that competitiveness is slipping out of the USA and the danger of deindustrialization is real. Many accuse Reagan with the desire to ride dollar status as a world reserve currency (exorbitant privilege) until the horse is dead. That's what real cowboys do in Hollywood movies... But the collapse of the main rival, the USSR vindicated this strategy and give a strong short in the arm to financialization of the economy. Actually for the next ten years can be called a triumphal ascend of financialization in the USA.

Dominance of FIRE industries clustered up and in recent years reached in the USA quite dramatic proportions. The old Bolsheviks saying "When we say Lenin we mean the Party and when we say the Party we mean Lenin" now can be reworded: "Now it we say US banks, we mean the US government and vise versa if we say US government we mean US banks".

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the FIRE sector was and is the biggest contributor to federal candidates in Washington. Companies cannot give directly, so they leave it to bundlers to solicit maximum contributions from employees and families. They might have been brought down to earth this year, but they’ve given like Gods: Goldman Sachs, $4.8 million; Citigroup, $3.7 million; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., $3.6 million; Merrill Lynch, $2.3 million; Lehman Brothers, $2.1 million; Bank of America, $2.1 million. Some think the long-term effect of such contributions to individual candidates was clear in the roll-call votes for the bailout.

Take the controversial first House vote on bailout of major banks on Sept. 29, 2008. According to CRP, the "ayes" had received 53 percent more contributions from FIRE since 1989 than those who voted against the bill, which ultimately failed 228 to 205. The 140 House Democrats who voted for the bill got an average of $188,572 in this election cycle, while the 65 Republicans backing it got an average of $185,461 from FIRE—about 23 percent more than the bill’s opponents received. A tinkered bill was passed four days later, 263 to 171.

According to the article Fire Sale (The American Conservative) half of Obama’s top ten contributors, together giving him nearly $2.2 million, are FIREmen. The $13 million contributed by FIRE executives to Obama campaign is probably an undercount. Democratic committee leaders are also dependent of FIRE contributions. The list includes Sen. Dodd ( please look at Senator Dodd's top donors for 2007-8 on openSecrets.org ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer ($12 million from FIRE since 1989), Rep. Barney Frank ($2.5 million), and Rep. Charlie Rangel ($4 million, the top recipient in the House). All of them have been accused of taking truckloads of contributions while failing to act on the looming mortgage crisis. Dodd finally pushed mortgage reform last year but by then as his hometown paper, The Hartford Courant stated, "the damage was done."

Casino Capitalism and Financial Instability

At the same time rise of financial capital dramatically increased instability. An oversized financial sector produces instability due to multiple positive feedback loops. In this sense we can talk about Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy. The whole society became "House of cards", "Giant Enron" and "extension of Las Vegas". Reckless management, greed and out-right stupidity in playing derivatives games was natural consequence of the oversized financial sector, not just a human folly. In a way it was dramatic manifestation of the oversized financial sector negative influence of the economy. And in 2008 it did brought out economy to the brink of destruction. Peak oil added to suffocating effect on the economy of reckless gambling (and related debts) of financial sector producing the economic calamity that rivals Great Depression. Also, like Socialism, Casino Capitalism demands too much of its elite. And in reality, the financial elite much like Bolsheviks elite, is having its own interests above the interests of the society.

As Kevin Phillips noted "In the United States, political correctness, religious fundamentalism, and other inhibitions sometimes dumb down national debate". And the same statement is true for financial elite that became the center of power under the Casino Capitalism. Due to avalanche of greed the society became one giant Enron as money that are made from value addition in the form of manufacturing fade in significance to the volume of the money that is made from shuffling money around. In other was the Wall Street's locked USA in the situation from which there is no easy exit.

Self-reinforcing ‘positive’ feedback loops prevalent in Casino Capitalism trigger an accelerating creation of various debt instruments, interest of which at some point overwhelm the system carrying capacity. Ability to lend against good collateral is quickly exhausted. At some point apparently there is no good collateral against which lending freely was possible, even at high rates. This means that each new stage of financial innovation involves scam and fraud, on increasing scale. In other words Ponzi economy of "saving and loans" is replaced with Madoff economy.

Whether you shift the resulting huge private debt to public to increase confidence or not, the net result is of this development of events is a crisis and a huge debt that society needs to take. Actually the debt bubble in 2008 can only be compared to the debt bubble of 1933. The liquidation of Bear Sterns and Lehman was only a start of consolidation of finances and we need to find something that replace financial sector dominance in the national economy. It would be nice is some technological breakthrough happened which would lift the country out of this deep hole.

See Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy for more details.

Neoliberalism as the Ideology of Casino Capitalism

Like Bolshevism was marked by deification of teaching of Marx and Lenin, converting them into pseudo-religious doctrine, the Casino Capitalism has its own deified ideological doctrine. It is the ideology of Neoliberalism. The latter as an ideology and an agenda seeks to topple democratic capitalism and replace it with a de facto unaccountable autocratic government which serves as channel of a wealth transfer from the public to a rentier elite. In a way it is a spectacular example of a successful (in a very negative sense) pseudo-religious doctrine.

Addiction of the societies to disastrous politico-economical doctrines are similar to addictions to alcohol and drugs in individuals. It is not easy to recover and it takes a long, long time and a lot of misery. As dissolution of the USSR aptly demonstrated not all societies can make it. In this case the USSR elite (nomenklatura) simply shed the old ideology as it understood that it will be better off adopting ideology of neoliberal capitalism; so it was revolution from above.  this abrupt switch created chaos in economics (which was applauded by Washington which under Clinton administration adopted the stance the Carnage needs to be destroyed and facilitated the process), criminal privatization of major industries, and pushed into object poverty the 99% of population of those countries. For some period under "drunk Yeltsyn" Russia sees to exist as an independent country and became a vassal of Washington.

This also means that "society at large" did not had effective brakes to the assent of financial plutocracy (aka financial oligarchy).  I would add to this the computer revolution and internet that made many financial transaction qualitatively different and often dramatically cheaper that in previous history. Computers also enabled creation of new financial players like mutual funds (which created a shadow banking system with their bond funds) , hedge funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as high-frequency trading and derivatives.

From the historical view Reaganomics also can be considered to be the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of genetics as a target. Here is how Reaganomics is defined in Wikipedia

Reaganomics (a portmanteau of "Reagan" and "economics") refers to the economic policies promoted by United States President Ronald Reagan. The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to:[1]
  1. reduce the growth of government spending,
  2. reduce marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital,
  3. reduce government regulation of the economy,
  4. control the money supply to reduce inflation.

In attempting to cut back on domestic spending while lowering taxes, Reagan's approach was a departure from his immediate predecessors.

Reagan became president during a period of high inflation and unemployment (commonly referred to as stagflation), which had largely abated by the time he left office.

Please not that the Number 1 idea ("reduce government spending") was essentially a scam, a smoke screen designed to attract Rednecks as a powerful voting block. In a way this was a trick similar to one played by Bolsheviks in Russia with its "worker and peasants rule" smokescreen which covered brutal dictatorship. In reality all administrations which preached Reagonomics (including Clinton's) expanded the role of state and government spending. The number two was applied by-and-large to top 1%. The number three means deregulation in the interests of financial oligarchy and dismantling all social program that hamper profit of the latter (including privatizing of Social Security). The number fours is a scam, in the same sense as number one. As soon as financial institutions get in trouble, money are printed as if there is no tomorrow.

While the essence of Reagonomics was financial deregulation, the other important element was restoring the Gilded Age level of power of financial oligarchy which influence was diminished by FDR reforms. In this sense we can say that Reagan revolution was essentially a counter-revolution: an attempt to reverse the New Deal restrictions on financial sector and restore its dominance in the society.

Like it was the case in Bolshevism the ideology was developed and forced upon the society by a very small group of players. The key ideas of Casino Capitalism were formulated and implemented by Reagan administration with some contribution by Nixon (the role of rednecks aka "moral majority", "silent majority" as an important part of republican political base, which can be attracted to detrimental to its economic position policies by the smoke screen of false "moral" promises).

It was supported by each president after Reagan (paradoxically with Clinton having the most accomplished record -- he was the best Republican President in a very perverted way). Like in case of Lysenkoism opponents were purged and economic departments of the country were captured by principless careerists ready to tow the party line for personal enrichment. Like in case of Bolshevism, many of those special breed of careerists rotated from Republican Party into Fed and other government structures. A classic example of compulsive careerists that were used by finance sector to promote its interests was Alan Greenspan.

One of the key ideas of Reaganomics was the rejection of the sound approach that there should be a balance between too much government regulation and too little and that government role is important for smooth functioning of the market. In this area Reagan and its followers can be called Anarchists and their idea of 'free market" is a misnomer that masks the idea of "anarchic market" (corporate welfare to be exact -- as it was implemented). Emergence of corporate welfare Queens such as GS, Citi, AIG, are quite natural consequence of Reaganomics.

Reaganomics was a the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of generics as a target... It can and should be called Economic Lysenkoism.

The most interesting part of Reaganomics was that the power of this ideology made it possible to conditioned "working class" and middle class to act against their own economic interests. It helped to ensure the stagnation of wages during the whole 25 years period, which is close to what Soviets managed to achieve with working class of the USSR, but with much more resentment. This makes it in many ways very similar to Bolshevism as a whole, not just Lysenkoism (extremes meet or in less flattering way: "history repeats, first as a tragedy, then as farce).

Along with the term Reaganimics which implicitly stresses the deregulation, the other close term "market fundamentalism" is often used. Here is how market fundamentalism is defined (Longview Institute):

Market Fundamentalism is the exaggerated faith that when markets are left to operate on their own, they can solve all economic and social problems. Market Fundamentalism has dominated public policy debates in the United States since the 1980's, serving to justify huge Federal tax cuts, dramatic reductions in government regulatory activity, and continued efforts to downsize the government’s civilian programs.

Some level of government coercion (explicit or implicit ) is necessary for proper labeling of any pseudo-scientific theory with the term Lysenkoism. This holds true for both Market Fundamentalism (after all Reagan revolution was "revolution from above" by financial oligarchy and for financial oligarchy and hired guns from academia just do what powers that be expected) and, especially, Supply side economic. The political genius of those ideas is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

In this sense the Republican Party played the role very similar to the Communist Party of the USSR.

For example supply side economics was too bizarre and would never survive without explicit government support. This notion is supported by many influential observers. For example, in the following comment for Krugman article (Was the Great Depression a monetary phenomenon):

Market fundamentalism (neoclassical counter-revolution — to be more academic) was more of a political construct than based on sound economic theory. However, it would take a while before its toxic legacy is purged from the economics departments. Indeed, in some universities this might never happen.

Extreme deregulation and extreme regulation (Brezhnev socialism) logically meets and both represent a variant of extremely corrupt society that cannot be sustained for long (using bayonets as in the case of USSR or using reserve currency and increasing leverage as is the case of the USA). In both cases the societies were economically and ideologically bankrupt at the end.

Actually, elements of market fundamentalism looks more like religious doctrine than political philosophy — and that bonds its even closer to Lysenkoism. In both cases critics were silenced with the help of the state. It is interesting to note that Reaganomics was wiped into frenzy after the dissolution of the USSR, the country which gave birth to the term of Lysenkoism. In a way the last act of the USSR was to stick a knife in the back of the USA. As a side note I would like to stress that contrary to critics the USSR was more of a neo-feudal society with elements of slavery under Stalin. Gulag population were essentially state slaves; paradoxically a somewhat similar status is typical for illegal immigrants in industrialized countries. From this point of view this category of "state slaves" is generally more numerous that gulag inmates. Prison population also can be counted along those lines.

It look like either implicitly or explicitly Reagan's bet was on restoration of gilded Age with its dominance of financial oligarchy, an attempt to convert the USA into new Switzerland on the "exorbitant privilege" of dollar status as the global fiat currency.

Casino Capitalism is characterized by political dominance of FIRE industries (finance, insurance, and real estate) and diminished role of other and first of all manufacturing industries. It was also accompanied by the drastic growth of inequality (New Gilded Age). Its defining feature is "the triumph of the trader in assets over the long-term producer" in Martin Wolf's words.

Voodoo economic theories

Attempts of theoretical justification of Economic Lysenkoism fall into several major categories:

Those can be called pillars, cornerstones of Economic Lysenkoism. Each of the deserves as separate article (see links above).

Historically especially important was Chicago school of market fundamentalism promoted pseudo-scientific theories of Milton Freedman (Chicago School) as well as supply side economics.

Collapse of the USSR as ideological justification of Casino Capitalism superiority

The huge boost of Casino Capitalism was given by the collapse of the USSR in 1991. That gave a second life to Reagan era. Collapse of the USSR was used as a vindication of market fundamentalism. After it New Deal regulations were systematically destroyed. Dumped down variants of Nietzsche philosophy like bastardatized variant promoted by Russian emigrant became fashionable with an individual "creative" entrepreneur as a new Übermensch, which stands above morality.

"The word Übermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the Übermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the Übermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]

Brainwashing

The instability and volatility of active markets can devalue the economic base of real lives, or in more macro-scenarios can lead to the collapse of national and regional economies. In a very interesting and grotesque way it also incorporates the key element of Brezhnev Socialism in everyday life: huge manipulation of reality by mass media to the extend that Pravda and the USSR First TV Channel look pretty objective in comparison with Fox news and Fox controlled newspapers. Complete poisoning of public discourse and relying on the most ignorant part of the population as the political base (pretty much reminiscent of how Bolsheviks played "Working Class Dictatorship" anti-intellectualism card; it can be called "Rednecks Dictatorship").

The "heroes" or transformation of US economy to casino capitalism model

While transformation to casino capitalism was an objective development, there were specific individuals who were instrumental in killing New Deal regulations. We would single out the following twelve figures:

  1. Ronald Reagan (although first steps toward casino capitalism were made under Carter).
  2. Milton Friedman
  3. Alan Greenspan
  4. Phil Gramm
  5. Robert Rubin
  6. Larry Summers
  7. Helicopter Ben
  8. Bush II
  9. Bill Clinton
  10. Sandy Weill
  11. Jeffrey Sachs with his "shock therapy" racket
  12. Martin Feldstein

There is no question that Reagan and most of his followers (Greenspan, Rubin, Phil Gramm, etc) were rabid radicals blinded by ideology. But they were radicals of quite different color then FDR with disastrous consequences for society. Here again the analogy with Bolsheviks looms strong. In a way, they can be called financial terrorists inflicting huge damage on the nation and I wonder if RICO can be use to prosecute at least some of them.

In Bailout Nation (Chapter 19) Barry Ritholtz tried to rank major players that led country into the current abyss:

1. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
2. The Federal Reserve (in its role of setting monetary policy)
3. Senator Phil Gramm
4-6. Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings (rating agencies)
7. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
8-9. Mortgage originators and lending banks
10. Congress
11. The Federal Reserve again (in its role as bank regulator)
12. Borrowers and home buyers
13-17. The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch,Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs
18. President George W. Bush
19. President Bill Clinton
20. President Ronald Reagan
21-22. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
23-24. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers
25. FOMC Chief Ben Bernanke
26. Mortgage brokers
27. Appraisers (the dishonest ones)
28. Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) managers (who produced the junk)
29. Institutional investors (pensions, insurance firms, banks, etc.) for
buying the junk
30-31. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS)
32. State regulatory agencies
33. Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)/hedge funds for buying the junk

Early Researchers of Casino Capitalism

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky argued that a key mechanism that pushes an economy towards a crisis is the accumulation of debt. He identified 3 types of borrowers that contribute to the accumulation of insolvent debt: Hedge Borrowers; Speculative Borrowers; and Ponzi Borrowers. That corresponds to three stages of Casino Capitalism of increasing fragility:

After the collapse of the USSR there were a lot of chest thumping of the status of America as a hyper power (American exceptionalism) and "end of history" where capitalism was supposed to reign supreme followed. But in 2000 the first moment to pay the piper arrives. It was postponed by Iraq war and housing bubble but reappeared in much more menacing form in 2008. It looks like in 2009 the USA arrived to the a classic Minsky moment with high unemployment rate and economy suppressed by (and taken hostage) by Ponzi finance institutions which threaten the very survival of our system and way of life.

The shift from speculative toward Ponzi finance was speed up by increased corruption of major players.

"As Minsky observed, capitalism is inherently unstable. As each crisis is successfully contained, it encourages greater speculation and risk taking in borrowing and lending. Financial innovation makes it easier to finance various schemes. To a large extent, borrowers and lenders operate on the basis of trial and error. If a behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. Thus stable periods naturally lead to optimism, to booms, and to increasing fragility.

A financial crisis can lead to asset price deflation and repudiation of debt. A debt deflation, once started, is very difficult to stop. It may not end until balance sheets are largely purged of bad debts, at great loss in financial wealth to the creditors as well as the economy at large."

Susan Strange

For Strange the speed at which computerized financial markets work combined with new much larger size and their now, near-universal pervasiveness is an important qualitative change. One of the side effects of this change is that volatility extends globally. Approximately $1.5 trillion dollars are invested daily as foreign transactions. It is estimated that 98 per cent of these transactions are speculative. In comparison with this casino Las Vegas looks like a aborigine village in comparison with Manhattan.

Notes:

Susan Strange (June 9, 1923 - October 25, 1998) was a British academic who was influential in the field of international political economy. Her most important publications include Casino Capitalism, Mad Money, States and Markets and The retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy.

For a quarter of a century, Susan Strange was the most influential figure in British international studies. She held a number of key academic posts in Britain, Italy and Japan. From 1978 to 1988, she was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the first woman to hold this chair and a professorial position in international relations at the LSE. She was a major figure in the professional associations of both Britain and the US: she was an instrumental founding member and first Treasurer of the British International Studies Association (BISA) [1] and the first female President of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 1995.

It was predominantly as a creative scholar and a forceful personality that she exercised her influence. She was almost single-handedly responsible for creating ‘international political economy’ and turning it into one of the two or three central fields within international studies in Britain, and she defended her creation with such robustness, and made such strong claims on its behalf, that her influence was felt—albeit not always welcomed—in most other areas of the discipline. She was one of the earliest and most influential campaigners for the closer integration of the study of international politics and international economics in the English language scholarship.

In the later period of her career, alongside the financial analyses offered in Casino Capitalism (the analysis in which she felt was vindicated by the South-East Asian financial crisis) and Mad Money, Strange's contributions to the field include her characterisation of the four different areas (production, security, finance and knowledge) through which power might be exercised in International Relations. This understanding of what she termed "structural power", formed the basis of her argument against the theory of American Hegemonic Decline in the early eighties.

Her analysis particularly in States and Markets focused on what she called the ‘market-authority nexus’, the see-saw of power between the market and political authority. The overall argument of her work suggested that the global market had gained significant power relative to states since the 1970s. This led her to dub the Westphalia system Westfailure. She argued that a ‘dangerous gap’ was emerging between territorially-bound nation states and weak or partial intergovernmental cooperation in which markets had a free hand which could be constructive or destructive.

John K. Galbraith

Among early critiques of casino capitalism was John K. Galbraith. He promoted a pretty novel idea that the major economic function of Governments is to strengthen countervailing powers to achieve some kind of balance between capital and labor. While unions are far from being perfect and his prediction did not materialize in view of sliding to corporatism it may well be that the renewed support of unions right efforts to organize could make a big contribution to a revised, post subprime/derivatives/shadow_banking crisis stage of capitalism.

His critique of Milton Freedman pseudoscience still has its value today.

As Joseph Stiglitz noted (CSMonitor, Dec 28, 2006):

...In many ways, Galbraith was a more critical observer of economic reality.

Driven to understand market realities

Galbraith's vivid depictions of the good, bad, and ugly of American capitalism remain a sorely needed reminder that all is not quite as perfect as the perfect market models – with their perfect competition, perfect information, and perfectly rational consumers – upon which so much of Friedman's analysis depended.

Galbraith, who cut his teeth studying agricultural economics, strove to understand the world as it was, with all the problems of unemployment and market power that simplistic models of competitive markets ignore. In those models, unemployment didn't exist. Galbraith knew that made them fatally flawed

... ... ...

In his early research, Galbraith attempted to explain what had brought on the Great Crash of 1929 – including the role of the stock market's speculative greed fed by (what would today be called) irrational exuberance. Friedman ignored speculation and the failure of the labor market as he focused on the failures of the Federal Reserve. To Friedman, government was the problem, not the solution.

What Galbraith understood, and what later researchers (including this author) have proved, is that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" – the notion that the individual pursuit of maximum profit guides capitalist markets to efficiency – is so invisible because, quite often, it's just not there. Unfettered markets often produce too much of some things, such as pollution, and too little of other things, such as basic research. As Bruce Greenwald and I have shown, whenever information is imperfect – that is, always – markets are inefficient; hence the need for government action.

Galbraith reminded us that what made the economy work so well was not an invisible hand but countervailing powers. He had the misfortune of articulating these ideas before the mathematical models of game theory were sufficiently developed to give them expression. The good news is that today, more attention is being devoted to developing models of these bargaining relationships, and to complex, dynamic models of economic fluctuations in which speculation may play a central role.

Government's role

While Friedman never really appreciated the limitations of the market, he was a forceful critic of government. Yet history shows that in every successful country, the government had played an important role. Yes, governments sometimes fail, but unfettered markets are a certain prescription for failure. Galbraith made this case better than most.

Galbraith knew, too, that people aren't just rational economic actors, but consumers, contending with advertising, political persuasion, and social pressures. It was because of his close touch with reality that he had such influence on economic policymaking, especially during the Kennedy-Johnson years.

Galbraith's penetrating insights into the nature of capitalism – as it is lived, not as it is theorized in simplistic models – has enhanced our understanding of the market economy. He has left an intellectual legacy for generations to come. And he has left a gap in our intellectual life: Who will stand up against the economics establishment to articulate an economic vision that is both in touch with reality and comprehensible to ordinary citizens?

Galbraith was vindicated in his belief that the only economics possible is political economics and as government is always an agent of dominant class it always mixed with politics. Krugman and Stiglitz both have eaten humble pie, because according to neoclassical economics the crises should not have happened. Both should now reread Galbraith's The Great Crash: 1929 (see also extracts). BTW it is interesting that in 1996 Paul Krugman criticized limitations of Galbright vision in the following way:

To be both a liberal and a good economist you must have a certain sense of the tragic--that is, you must understand that not all goals can be attained, that life is a matter of painful tradeoffs. You must want to help the poor, but understand that welfare can encourage dependency. You must want to protect those who lose their jobs, but admit that generous unemployment benefits can raise the long-term rate of unemployment. You must be willing to tax the affluent to help those in need, but accept that too high a rate of taxation can discourage investment and innovation.

To the free-market conservative, these are all arguments for government to do nothing, to accept whatever level of poverty and insecurity the market happens to produce. A serious liberal does not reply to such conservatives by denying that there are any trade-offs at all; he insists, rather, that some trade-offs are worth making, that helping the poor and protecting the unlucky may have costs but will ultimately make for a better society.

The revelation one gets from reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Good Society is that Galbraith--who is one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, and whom one would expect to have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the human condition than a mere technical economist would -- lacks this tragic sense. Galbraith's vision of the economy is one without shadows, in which what is good for social justice always turns out to have no unfavorable side effects. If this vision is typical of liberal intellectuals, the ineffectuality of the tribe is not an accident: It stems from a deep-seated unwillingness to face up to uncomfortable reality.

Similar limited understanding of Galbright is demonstrated in London Times (cited from comment to Economist's View blog) :

Some motifs of Galbraith’s work have entered popular consciousness. Galbraith wrote of private opulence amid public squalor, illustrating it with a memorable metaphor of a family that travels by extravagant private car to picnic by a polluted river.

Yet while arguing for increased public expenditure on welfare, Galbraith gave scant attention to the limits of that approach. His writings perpetuate a debilitating weakness of modern liberalism: a reluctance to acknowledge that resources are scarce. In Galbraith’s scheme, said Herbert Stein, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: “The American people were only asked whether they wanted cleaner air and water . . . The answers to such questions seemed obvious — but they were not the right questions.”

Soros contribution to the understanding of growth of financial sector as source of new, global economic instability

This idea of "casino capitalism" as a driver of financial instability was developed further in the book The Crisis of Global Capitalism by George Soros (1998), who highlights the potential for disequilibrium in the financial system, and the inability of non-market sectors to regulate markets.

Although the insights of the Soros critique of global capitalism are scarcely new, they were articulated with such candor and accuracy that the book made a significant impact. The following is a sampling of Soros' insights.
  1. Unregulated financial markets are inherently unstable. Soros observes that, contrary to conventional economic theory, financial markets are not driven toward a relatively stable and rational price by the objective value assessment of such things as the soundness of a company's management, products, or record of profitability. Rather they are constantly driven away from equilibrium by the momentum of self-fulfilling expectations -- a rising stock price attracts buyers who further raise the price-to the point of collapse. The recent massive inflation and subsequent collapse in the price of the shares of unprofitable dot-com companies illustrates Soros' point.

    Bank lending also contributes to the instability, because the price of real and financial assets is set in part by their collateral value. The higher their market price rises the larger the loans banks are willing to make to their buyers to bid up prices. When the bubble bursts, the value of the assets plummets below the amount of the money borrowed against them. This forces banks to call their loans and cut back on the lending, which depresses asset prices and dries up the money supply. The economy then tanks-until credit worthiness is restored and a new boom phase begins.

  2. Financial markets are amoral by definition. Following Napoleon Bonaparte, Soros stressed that there is no meaningful place for individual moral behavior in the context of financial markets, because such behavior has no consequence other than to reduce the financial return to the ethical actor.

    When I bought shares in Lockheed and Northrop after the managements were indicted for bribery, I helped sustain the price of their stocks. When I sold sterling short in 1992, the Bank of England was on the other side of my transactions, and I was in effect taking money out of the pockets of British taxpayers. But if I had tried to take social consequences into account, it would have thrown off my risk-reward calculation, and my profits would have been reduced.

    Soros argues that if he had not bought Lockheed and Northrop, then somebody else would have, and Britain would have devalued sterling no matter what he did. "Bringing my social conscience into the decision-making process would make no difference in the real world; but it may adversely affect my own results." One can challenge the Soros claim that such behavior is amoral rather than immoral, but his basic argument is accurate. His understanding that it is futile to look to individual morality as the solution to the excesses of financial markets is all too accurate.

  3. Corporate employees are duty-bound to serve only corporate financial interests. Soros writes:

    Publicly owned companies are single-purpose organizations-their purpose is to make money. The tougher the competition, the less they can afford to deviate. Those in charge may be well-intentioned and upright citizens, but their room for maneuver is strictly circumscribed by the position they occupy. They are duty-bound to uphold the interests of the company. If they think that cigarettes are unhealthy or that fostering civil war to obtain mining concessions is unconscionable, they ought to quit their jobs. Their place will be taken by people who are willing to carry on.

    Though not specifically mentioned by Soros, this is why corporations were in the past (at least partially) excluded from the political processes (although it was never complete and it is well known fact that Crusades and Siege of Constantinople (1204) were financed by Genoese bankers upset by lack of access to the Byzantium markets). But at least formally other parts of the society can define their goals and the rules of the marketplace. They are incapable of distinguishing between private corporate interests and broader public interests. But that changed with the global dominance of corporatism.

  4. Financial markets are oblivious to externalities and are infected by "short-termism". Specifically the fact that a strategy or policy produces economic returns in the short-term does not mean the long-term results will be beneficial. The focus of financial markets is on short-term individual gain to the exclusion of both social and longer-term consequences. The fact that particular policies and strategies are effective in producing short-term financial returns does not mean they are more generally beneficial or desirable. Soros offers the example that running up a budget or trade deficit "feels good while it lasts, but there can be hell to pay later."

  5. The relationship between the center and the periphery of the capitalist system is profoundly unequal. The powerful countries at the center of the capitalist system are both wealthier and more stable than countries at the periphery because control of the financial system and ownership of productive assets allows them to shape economic and political affairs to their benefit.

    "Foreign ownership of capital deprives peripheral countries of autonomy and often hinders the development of democratic institutions. The international flow of capital is subject to catastrophic interruptions."

    In times of uncertainty financial capital tends to return to its country of origin, thus depriving countries at the periphery of the financial liquidity necessary to the function of monetized economies. "The center's most important feature is that it controls its own economic policies and holds in its hands the economic destinies of periphery countries."

  6. In the capitalist system greed (aka "monetary values") tend to displace social values in sectors where this is destructive of important public interests. Soros writes:

    Monetary values have usurped the role of intrinsic values, and markets have come to dominate spheres of existence where they do not properly belong. Law and medicine, politics, education, science, the arts, even personal relations-achievements or qualities that ought to be valued for their own sake are converted into monetary terms; they are judged by the money they fetch rather than their intrinsic value."

    Because financial "capital is free to go where most rewarded, countries vie to attract and retain capital, and if they are to succeed they must give precedence to the requirements of international capital over other social objectives.

Ha-Joon Chang

One notable later researcher of casino capitalism, especially "free market" fundamentalism propaganda Cambridge University researcher Ha-Joon Chang. In 2011 he published a fascinating book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Here are two Amazon reviews that shed some light at the key ideas of the book:

William Podmore

Ha-Joon Chang, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at Cambridge University, has written a fascinating book on capitalism's failings. He also wrote the brilliant Bad Samaritans. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times says he is `probably the world's most effective critic of globalization'.

Chang takes on the free-marketers' dogmas and proposes ideas like

He notes that the USA does not have the world's highest living standard. Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes eighth, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Sweden have the highest industrial output per person.

Free-market politicians, economists and media have pushed policies of de-regulation and pursuit of short-term profits, causing less growth, more inequality, more job insecurity and more frequent crises. Britain's growth rate in income per person per year was 2.4 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.7 per cent 1990-2009. Rich countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1980-2009. Developing countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 2.6 per cent 1980-2009. Latin America grew by 3.1 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.1 per cent 1980-2009, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 0.2 per cent 1990-2009. The world economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1990-2009.

So, across the world, countries did far better before Thatcher and Reagan's `free-market revolution'. Making the rich richer made the rest of us poorer, cutting economies' growth rates, and investment as a share of national output, in all the G7 countries.

Chang shows how free trade is not the way to grow and points out that the USA was the world's most protectionist country during its phase of ascendancy, from the 1830s to the 1940s, and that Britain was one of world's the most protectionist countries during its rise, from the 1720s to the 1850s.

He shows how immigration controls keep First World wages up; they determine wages more than any other factor. Weakening those controls, as the EU demands, lowers wages.

He challenges the conventional wisdom that we must cut spending to cut the deficit. Instead, we need controls capital, on mergers and acquisitions, and on financial products. We need the welfare state, industrial policy, and huge investment in industry, infrastructure, worker training and R&D.

As Chang points out, "Even though financial investments can drive growth for a while, such growth cannot be sustained, as those investments have to be ultimately backed up by viable long-term investments in real sector activities, as so vividly shown by the 2008 financial crisis."

This book is a commonsense, evidence-based approach to economic life, which we should urge all our friends and colleagues to read.

Loyd E. Eskildson

The 2008 'Great Recession' demands re-examination of prevailing economic thought - the dominant paradigm (post 1970's conservative free-market capitalism) not only failed to predict the crisis, but also said it couldn't occur in today's free markets, thanks to Adam Smith's 'invisible hand.' Ha-Joon Chang provides that re-examination in his "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." Turns out that the reason Adam Smith's hand was not visible is that it wasn't there. Chang, economics professor at the University of Cambridge, is no enemy of capitalism, though he contends its current conservative version should be made better. Conventional wisdom tells us that left alone, markets produce the most efficient and just outcomes - 'efficient' because businesses and individuals know best how to utilize their resources, and 'just' because they are rewarded according to their productivity. Following this advice, countries have deregulated businesses, reduced taxes and welfare, and adopted free trade. The results, per Chang, has been the opposite of what was promised - slower growth and rising inequality, often masked by rising credit expansion and increased working hours. Alternatively, developing Asian countries that grew fast did so following a different version of capitalism, though to be fair China's version to-date has also produced much greater inequality. The following summarizes some of Chang's points:

  1. "There is no such thing as a free market" - we already have hygiene standards in restaurants, ban child labor, pollution, narcotics, bribery, and dangerous workplaces, require licenses for professions such as doctors, lawyers, and brokers, and limit immigration. In 2008, the U.S. used at least $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy up toxic assets, justified by President Bush on the grounds that it was a necessary state intervention consistent with free-market capitalism. Chang's conclusion - free-marketers contending that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict market freedom are simply expressing political opinions, not economic facts or laws.
  2. "Companies should not be run in the interest of their owners." Shareholders are the most mobile of corporate stakeholders, often holding ownership for but a fraction of a second (high-frequency trading represents 70% of today's trading). Shareholders prefer corporate strategies that maximize short-term profits and dividends, usually at the cost of long-term investments. (This often also includes added leverage and risk, and reliance on socializing risk via 'too big to fail' status, and relying on 'the Greenspan put.') Chang adds that corporate limited liability, while a boon to capital accumulation and technological progress, when combined with professional managers instead of entrepreneurs owning a large chunk (e.g.. Ford, Edison, Carnegie) and public shares with smaller voting rights (typically limited to 10%), allows professional managers to maximize their own prestige via sales growth and prestige projects instead of maximizing profits. Another negative long-term outcome driven by shareholders is increased share buybacks (less than 5% of profits until the early 1980s, 90% in 2007, and 280% in 2008) - one economist estimates that had GM not spent $20.4 billion on buybacks between 1986 and 2002 it could have prevented its 2009 bankruptcy. Short-term stockholder perspectives have also brought large-scale layoffs from off-shoring. Governments of other countries encourage longer-term thinking by holding large shares in key enterprises (China Mobile, Renault, Volkswagen), providing greater worker representation (Germany's supervisory boards), and cross-shareholding among friendly companies (Japan's Toyota and its suppliers).
  3. "Free-market policies rarely make poor countries rich." With a few exceptions, all of today's rich countries, including Britain and the U.S., reached that status through protectionism, subsidies, and other policies that they and their IMF, WTO, and World Bank now advise developing nations not to adopt. Free-market economists usually respond that the U.S. succeeded despite, not because of, protectionism. The problem with that explanation is the number of other nations paralleling the early growth strategy of the U.S. and Britain (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan), and the fact that apparent exceptions (Hong Kong, Switzerland, The Netherlands) did so by ignoring foreign patents (a free-market 'no-no'). Chang believes the 'official historians' of capitalism have been very successful re-writing its history, akin to someone trying to 'kick away the ladder' with which they had climbed to the top. He also points out that developing nations that stick to their Ricardian 'comparative advantage,' per the conservatives prescription, condemn themselves to their economic status quo.
  4. "We do not live in a post-industrial age." Most of the fall in manufacturing's share of total output is not due to a fall in the quantity of manufactured goods, but due to the fall in their prices relative to those for services, caused by their faster productivity growth. A small part of deindustrialization is due to outsourcing of some 'manufacturing' activities that used to be provided in-house - e.g.. catering and cleaning. Those advising the newly developing nations to skip manufacturing and go directly to providing services forget that many services mainly serve manufacturing firms (finance, R&D, design), and that since services are harder to export, such an approach will create balance-of-payment problems. (Chang's preceding points directly contradict David Ricardo's law of comparative advantage - a fundamental free market precept. Chang's example of how Korea built Pohang Steel into a strong economic producer, despite lacking experienced managers and natural resources, is another.)
  5. "The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world." True, the average U.S. citizen has greater command over goods and services than his counterpart in almost any other country, but this is due to higher immigration, poorer employment conditions, and working longer hours for many vs. their foreign counterparts. The U.S. also has poorer health indicators and worse crime statistics. We do have the world's second highest income per capita - Luxemburg's higher, but measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) the U.S. ranks eighth. (The U.S. doesn't have the fastest growing economy either - China is predicted to pass the U.S. in PPP this coming decade.) Chang's point here is that we should stop assuming the U.S. provides the best economic model. (This is already occurring - the World Bank's chief economist, Justin Lin, comes from China.)
  6. "Governments can pick winners." Chang cites examples of how the Korean government built world-class producers of steel (POSCO), shipbuilding (Hyundai), and electronics (LG), despite lacking raw materials or experience for those sectors. True, major government failures have occurred - Europe's Concorde, Indonesia's aircraft industry, Korea's promotion of aluminum smelting, and Japan's effort to have Nissan take over Honda; industry, however, has also failed - e.g.. the AOL-Time Warner merger, and the Daimler-Chrysler merger. Austria, China, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore (in numerous other areas), and Taiwan have also done quite well with government-picked winners. Another problem is that business and national interests sometimes clash - e.g.. American firms' massive outsourcing has undermined the national interest of maintaining full employment. (However, greater unbiased U.S. government involvement would be difficult due to the 10,000+ corporate lobbyists and billions in corporate campaign donations - $500 million alone from big oil in 2009-10.) Also interesting to Chang is how conservative free marketing bankers in the U.S. lined up for mammoth low-cost loans from the Federal Reserve at the beginning of the Great Recession. Government planning allows minimizing excess capacity, maximizing learning-curve economies and economies of scale and scope; operational performance is enhanced by also forcing government-owned or supported firms into international competition. Government intervention (loans, tariffs, subsidies, prohibiting exports of needed raw materials, building infrastructure) are necessary for emerging economies to move into more sophisticated sectors.
  7. "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer." 'Trickle-down' economics is based on the belief that the poor maximize current consumption, while the rich, left to themselves, mostly invest. However, the years 1950-1973 saw the highest-ever growth rates in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, despite increased taxation of the rich. Before the 'Golden Age,' per capita income grew at 1-1.5%/year; during the Golden Age it grew at 2-3% in the U.S. Since then, tax cuts for the rich and financial deregulation have allowed greater paychecks for top managers and financiers, and between 1979 and 2006 the top 0.1% increased their share of national income from 3.5% to 11.6%. The result - investment as a ratio of national output has fallen in all rich economies and the pace at which the total economic pie grew decreased.
  8. "U.S. managers are over-priced." First, relative to their predecessors (about 10X those in the 1960s; now 300-400X the average worker), despite the latter having run companies more successfully, in relative terms. Second, compared to counterparts in other rich countries - up to 20X. (Third, compared to counterparts in developing nations - e.g.. JPMorgan Chase, world's 4th largest bank, paid its CEO $19.6 million in 2008, vs. the CEO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest, being paid $234,700. Read more ›

Willem Buiter and the idea of long term after crisis stagnation

Willem Buiter in his FT article After the Crisis Macro Imbalance, Credibility and Reserve-Currency suggested that after financial crisis of 2008 there might be very long a painful deleveraging period aka secular stagnation. In short each financial crisis make recovery longer and longer. That's why the US will most likely face a long period of stagnation: the digestion of huge excessive debt of the private sector might well take a decade:

Since the excess of debt is relative to income and GDP, the lower the rate of growth, the longer the required period of digestion. This explains for the paradox of trying to stimulate consumption when the economy faces a monumental crisis provoked exactly by excessive debt and excessive consumption. A cartoon line best captured the spirit of it: "country addicted to speculative bubbles desperately searches a new bubble to invest in. "

... ... ...

The roots of the crisis are major international macroeconomic imbalances. Despite the fact that the excesses of the financial system were instrumental to lead these imbalances further than otherwise possible, insufficient regulation should not be viewed as the main factor behind the crisis. The expenditure of central countries, spinned by all sort of financial innovations created by a globalized financial system, was the engine of world growth. When debt became clearly excessive in central countries and the debt-financed expenditure cycle came to an end, the ensuing crisis paralyzed the world economy. With the lesson of 1929 well assimilated, American monetary policy became aggressively expansionist. The Fed inundated the economy with money and credit, in the attempt to avoid a deep depression. Even if successful, the economies of the US and the other central countries, given the burden of excessive debt, are likely to remain stagnant under the threat of deflation for the coming years. The assumption of troubled assets by the public sector, in order to avoid the collapse of the financial system, might succeed, but at the cost of a major increase in public debt. Fiscal policy is not efficient to restart the economy when the private sector remains paralyzed by excessive debt. Even if a coordinated effort to increase public expenditure is successful, the central economies will remain stagnant for as long as the excessive indebtedness of the private sector persists. The period of digestion of excess debt will be longer than the usual recessive cycle. Since imports represent a drain in the effort to reanimate domestic demand through public expenditure, while exports, on the contrary, contribute to the recovery of internal demand, the temptation to central economies to also adopt a protectionist stance will be strong.

Willem Buiter also defined ‘cognitive regulatory capture’ which existed during the Greenspan years and when the Fed were just an arm of Wall Street.

This regulatory capture has resulted in an excess sensitivity of the Fed to financial market and financial sector concerns and fears and in an overestimation of the strength of the link between financial market turmoil and financial sector deleveraging and capital losses on the one hand, and the stability and prosperity of the wider economy on the other hand. The paper gives five examples of recent behavior by the Fed that are most readily rationalized with the assumption of regulatory capture. The abstract of the paper follows next. The latest version of the entire enchilada can be found here. Future revisions will also be found there.

Joseph Stiglitz on 5 steps to Casino Capitalism

In his 2008 Vanity Fair article Capitalist Fools Stiglitz identifies five key steps in transformation of American capitalism to Casino Capitalism (moments of failure as he called them):

No. 1: Reagan Fires Fed Chairman Volcker and Replaces Him With Greenspan in 1987:

Volcker also understood that financial markets need to be regulated. Reagan wanted someone who did not believe any such thing, and he found him in a devotee of the objectivist philosopher and free-market zealot Ayn Rand.

snip

If you appoint an anti-regulator as your enforcer, you know what kind of enforcement you’ll get. A flood of liquidity combined with the failed levees of regulation proved disastrous.

Greenspan presided over not one but two financial bubbles.

  1. Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Bill Clinton (Glass-Steagall was a depression-era reform that separated commercial and investment banks)

I had opposed repeal of Glass-Steagall. The proponents said, in effect, Trust us: we will create Chinese walls to make sure that the problems of the past do not recur. As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest—toward short-term self-interest, at any rate, rather than Tocqueville’s "self interest rightly understood."

Stiglitz also refers to a 2004 decision by the SEC "to allow big investment banks to increase their debt-to-capital ratio (from 12:1 to 30:1, or higher) so that they could buy more mortgage-backed securities, inflating the housing bubble in the process."

Once more, it was deregulation run amuck, and few even noticed.

  1. The Bush tax cuts, both on income and capital gains

The Bush administration was providing an open invitation to excessive borrowing and lending—not that American consumers needed any more encouragement.

  1. Faking the Numbers

Here he refers to bad accounting, the failure to address problems with stock options, and the incentive structures of ratings agencies like Moodys that led them to give high ratings to toxic assets.

  1. Paulson and the Flawed Bailout

Valuable time was wasted as Paulson pushed his own plan, "cash for trash," buying up the bad assets and putting the risk onto American taxpayers. When he finally abandoned it, providing banks with money they needed, he did it in a way that not only cheated America’s taxpayers but failed to ensure that the banks would use the money to re-start lending. He even allowed the banks to pour out money to their shareholders as taxpayers were pouring money into the banks.

Stiglitz concludes:

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, "I have found a flaw." Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working." "Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

The flawed economic philosophy brought by Reagan, and embraced by so many, brought us to this day. Ideas have consequences, especially when we stop empirically testing them. Republican economics have created great pain to America and harmed our national interest.

The flaw that Greenspan found was always there: self-regulation does not work. As Stiglitz said:

As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest — toward short-term self-interest

Yes, for all their claims to science, the premise conflicts with tendencies of people.

This is the real legacy of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan:

The whole scheme was kick-started under Ronald Reagan. Between his tax cuts for the rich and the Greenspan Commission’s orchestrated Social Security heist, working Americans lost out in a generational wealth transfer shift now exceeding $1 trillion annually from 90 million working class households to for-profit corporations and the richest 1% of the population. It created an unprecedented wealth disparity that continues to grow, shames the nation and is destroying the bedrock middle class without which democracy can’t survive.

Greenspan helped orchestrate it with economist Ravi Batra calling his economics "Greenomics" in his 2005 book "Greenspan’s Fraud." It "turns out to be Greedomics" advocating anti-trust laws, regulations and social services be ended so "nothing....interfere(s) with business greed and the pursuit of profits."

 Conclusions: From Animal Farm To Animal House

Instead of conclusion I will reproduce the post from Sudden Debt (March 17, 2008):

In Orwell's Animal Farm all animals are equal - except that some are more equal than others. All in the spirit of law, order and the proper functioning of society, of course. Fittingly, the animals that have chosen this role by themselves and for themselves, are the pigs.

Cut to US financial markets today. After years of swinish behavior more reminiscent of Animal House than anything else, the pigs are threatening to destroy the entire farm. As if it wasn't enough that they devoured all the "free market" food available and inundated the world with their excreta, they now wish to be put on the public trough. Truly, some businessmen believe they are more equal than others.

But do not blame the pigs; they are expected to act as swine nature dictates. The fault lies entirely with the farmers, those authorities entrusted by the people to oversee the farm because they supposedly knew better. While the pigs were rampaging and tearing the place apart, they were assuring us all that farms function best when animals are free to do as they please, guided solely by invisible hooves. No regulation, no oversight, no common sense. Oh yes, and pigs fly..

So what is to be done now? Two things:

In other words, the focus from now on should be on adding value by means of work and savings (capital formation), instead of inflating assets and borrowing.

Furthermore, we should realize that in a world already inhabited by close to 7 billion people and beset by resource depletion and environmental degradation, defending growth for growth's sake is a losing proposition. The wheels are already wobbling on the Permagrowth model; pumping harder on the accelerator is not going to make it go any faster and will likely result in a fatal crash.

Debt, and finance in general, should be left to re-size downwards to a level that better reflects the carrying capacity of our world. The Fed's current actions are shortsighted and "conservative" in the worst interpretation of the words: they are designed to artificially maintain debt at levels that myopically projects growth as far as the eye can see.

What level of resizing may be necessary? I hope not as much as at Bear Stearns, which got itself bought by Morgan at buzz-saw prices: $2 per share represents a 98% discount from its $84 book value. What scares me, though, is the statement by Morgan's CFO, who said the price reflected the risk the firm was taking, even though he was comfortable with the valuation of assets in Bear's books. It "...gives us the flexibility and margin of error that's appropriate given the speed at which the transaction came together", he said.

If it takes a 98% discount and the explicit guarantee of the Fed for a large portion of assets to buy one of the largest investment banks in the world, where should all other financial firms be trading at? ....Hello? Anyone? Is that a great big silence I hear, or the sound of credit imploding into a vacuum?


Top updates

Softpanorama Switchboard
Softpanorama Search


NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2015 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2014 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2013 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2012 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2011 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2010 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2009 Casino Capitalism Bulletin, 2008

[Aug 30, 2016] James Pinkerton Globalism Hits a Brick Wall Now, What Will Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Do

Notable quotes:
"... The Guardian ..."
"... it seems fair to say: Globalism isn't quite the Wave of the Future that most observers thought it was, even just a year ago. And so before we attempt to divide the true intentions of Clinton and Trump, we might first step back and consider how we got to this point. ..."
"... An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations . ..."
"... Clinton will say anything then she'll sell you out. I hope we never get a chance to see how she will sell us out on TPP ..."
"... What we would be headed for under Hillary Clinton is fascism--Mussolini's shorthand definition of fascism was the marriage of industry and commerce with the power of the State. That is what the plutocrats who run the big banks (to whom she owes her soul) aim to do. President, Thomas Jefferson knew the dangers of large European-style central banks. ..."
Breitbart
On the surface, it appears that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, for all their mutual antipathy, are united on one big issue: opposition to new trade deals. Here's a recent headline in The Guardian: "Trump and Clinton's free trade retreat: a pivotal moment for the world's economic future."

And the subhead continues in that vein:

Never before have both main presidential candidates broken so completely with Washington orthodoxy on globalization, even as the White House refuses to give up. The problem, however, goes much deeper than trade deals.

In the above quote, we can note the deliberate use of the loaded word, "problem." As in, it's a problem that free trade is unpopular-a problem, perhaps, that the MSM can fix. Yet in the meantime, the newspaper sighed, the two biggest trade deals on the horizon, the well-known Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the lesser-known Trans Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP), aimed at further linking the U.S. and European Union (EU), are both in jeopardy.

Indeed, if TPP isn't doing well, TTIP might be dead: Here's an August 28 headline from the Deutsche Welle news service quoting Sigmar Gabriel, the No. 2 in the Berlin government: "Germany's Vice Chancellor Gabriel: US-EU trade talks 'have failed.'"

So now we must ask broader questions: What does this mean for trade treaties overall? And what are the implications for globalism?

More specifically, we can ask: Are we sure that the two main White House hopefuls, Clinton and Trump, are truly sincere in their opposition to those deals? After all, as has been widely reported, President Obama still has plans to push TPP through to enactment in the "lame duck" session of Congress after the November elections. Of course, Obama wouldn't seek to do that if the president-elect opposed it-or would he?

Yet on August 30, Politico reminded its Beltway readership, "How Trump or Clinton could kill Pacific trade deal." In other words, even if Obama were to move TPP forward in his last two months in office, the 45th president could still block its implementation in 2017 and beyond. If, that is, she or he really wanted to.

Indeed, as we think about Clinton and Trump, we realize that there's "opposition" that's for show and there's opposition that's for real.

Still, given what's been said on the presidential campaign trail this year, it seems fair to say: Globalism isn't quite the Wave of the Future that most observers thought it was, even just a year ago. And so before we attempt to divide the true intentions of Clinton and Trump, we might first step back and consider how we got to this point.

2. The Free Trade Orthodoxy

It's poignant that the headline, "Trump and Clinton's free trade retreat", lamenting the decay of free trade, appeared in The Guardian. Until recently, the newspaper was known as The Manchester Guardian, as in Manchester, England. And Manchester is not only a big city, population 2.5 million, it is also a city with a fabled past: You see, Manchester was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, which transformed England and the world. It was that city that helped create the free trade orthodoxy that is now crumbling.

Yes, in the 18th and 19th centuries, Manchester was the leading manufacturing city in the world, especially for textiles. It was known as "Cottonopolis."

Indeed, back then, Manchester was so much more efficient and effective at mass production that it led the world in exports. That is, it could produce its goods at such low cost that it could send them across vast oceans and still undercut local producers on price and quality.

Over time, this economic reality congealed into a school of thought: As Manchester grew rich from exports, its business leaders easily found economists, journalists, and propagandists who would help advance their cause in the press and among the intelligentsia.

The resulting school of thought became known, in the 19th century, as "Manchester Liberalism." And so, to this day, long after Manchester has lost its economic preeminence to rivals elsewhere in the world, the phrase "Manchester Liberalism" is a well-known in the history of economics, bespeaking ardent support for free markets and free trade.

More recently, the hub for free-trade enthusiasm has been the United States. In particular, the University of Chicago, home to the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, became free trade's academic citadel; hence the "Chicago School" has displaced Manchesterism.

And just as it made sense for Manchester Liberalism to exalt free trade and exports when Manchester and England were on top, so, too, did the Chicago School exalt free trade when the U.S. was unquestionably the top dog.

So back in the 40s and 50s, when the rest of the world was either bombed flat or still under the yoke of colonialism, it made perfect sense that the U.S., as the only intact industrial power, would celebrate industrial exports: We were Number One, and it was perfectly rational to make the most of that first-place status. And if scribblers and scholars could help make the case for this new status quo, well, bring 'em aboard. Thus the Chicago School gained ascendancy in the late 20th century. And of course, the Chicagoans drew inspiration from a period even earlier than Manchesterism,

3. On the Origins of the Orthodoxy: Adam Smith and David Ricardo

The beginnings of an intellectually rigorous discussion of trade can be traced to 1776, when Adam Smith published his famous work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

One passage in that volume considers how individuals might optimize their own production and consumption:

It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.

Smith is right, of course; everyone should always be calculating, however informally, whether or not it's cheaper to make it at home or buy it from someone else.

We can quickly see: If each family must make its own clothes and grow its own food, it's likely to be worse off than if it can buy its necessities from a large-scale producer. Why? Because, to be blunt about it, most of us don't really know how to make clothes and grow food, and it's expensive and difficult-if not downright impossible-to learn how. So we can conclude that self-sufficiency, however rustic and charming, is almost always a recipe for poverty.

Smith had a better idea: specialization. That is, people would specialize in one line of work, gain skills, earn more money, and then use that money in the marketplace, buying what they needed from other kinds of specialists.

Moreover, the even better news, in Smith's mind, was that this kind of specialization came naturally to people-that is, if they were free to scheme out their own advancement. As Smith argued, the ideal system would allow "every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice."

That is, men (and women) would do that which they did best, and then they would all come together in the free marketplace-each person being inspired to do better, thanks to, as Smith so memorably put it, the "invisible hand." Thus Smith articulated a key insight that undergirds the whole of modern economics-and, of course, modern-day prosperity.

A few decades later, in the early 19th century, Smith's pioneering work was expanded upon by another remarkable British economist, David Ricardo.

Ricardo's big idea built on Smithian specialization; Ricardo called it "comparative advantage." That is, just as each individual should do what he or she does best, so should each country.

In Ricardo's well-known illustration, he explained that the warm and sunny climate of Portugal made that country ideal for growing the grapes needed for wine, while the factories of England made that country ideal for spinning the fibers needed for apparel and other finished fabrics.

Thus, in Ricardo's view, we could see the makings of a beautiful economic friendship: The Portuguese would utilize their comparative advantage (climate) and export their surplus wine to England, while the English would utilize their comparative advantage (manufacturing) and export apparel to Portugal. Thus each would benefit from the exchange of efficiently-produced products, as each export paid for the other.

Furthermore, in Ricardo's telling, if tariffs and other barriers were eliminated, then both countries, Portugal and England, would enjoy the maximum free-trading win-win.

Actually, in point of fact-and Ricardo knew this-the relationship was much more of a win for England, because manufacture is more lucrative than agriculture. That is, a factory in Manchester could crank out garments a lot faster than a vineyard in Portugal could ferment wine.

And as we all know, the richer, stronger countries are industrial, not agricultural. Food is essential-and alcohol is pleasurable-but the real money is made in making things. After all, crops can be grown easily enough in many places, and so prices stay low. By contrast, manufacturing requires a lot of know-how and a huge upfront investment. Yet with enough powerful manufacturing, a nation is always guaranteed to be able to afford to import food. And also, it can make military weapons, and so, if necessary, take foreign food and croplands by force.

We can also observe that Ricardo, smart fellow that he was, nevertheless was describing the economy at a certain point in time-the era of horse-drawn carriages and sailing ships. Ricardo realized that transportation was, in fact, a key business variable. He wrote that it was possible for a company to seek economic advantage by moving a factory from one part of England to another. And yet in his view, writing from the perspective of the year 1817, it was impossible to imagine moving a factory from England to another country:

It would not follow that capital and population would necessarily move from England to Holland, or Spain, or Russia.

Why this presumed immobility of capital and people? Because, from Ricardo's early 19th-century perspective, transportation was inevitably slow and creaky; he didn't foresee steamships and airplanes. In his day, relying on the technology of the time, it wasn't realistic to think that factories, and their workers, could relocate from one country to another.

Moreover, in Ricardo's era, many countries were actively hostile to industrialization, because change would upset the aristocratic rhythms of the old order. That is, industrialization could turn docile or fatalistic peasants, spread out thinly across the countryside, into angry and self-aware proletarians, concentrated in the big cities-and that was a formula for unrest, even revolution.

Indeed, it was not until the 20th century that every country-including China, a great civilization, long asleep under decadent imperial misrule-figured out that it had no choice other than to industrialize.

So we can see that the ideas of Smith and Ricardo, enduringly powerful as they have been, were nonetheless products of their time-that is, a time when England mostly had the advantages of industrialism to itself. In particular, Ricardo's celebration of comparative advantage can be seen as an artifact of his own era, when England enjoyed a massive first-mover advantage in the industrial-export game.

Smith died in 1790, and Ricardo died in 1823; a lot has changed since then. And yet the two economists were so lucid in their writings that their work is studied and admired to this day.

Unfortunately, we can also observe that their ideas have been frozen in a kind of intellectual amber; even in the 21st century, free trade and old-fashioned comparative advantage are unquestioningly regarded as the keys to the wealth of nations-at least in the U.S.-even if they are so no longer.

4. Nationalist Alternatives to Free Trade Orthodoxy

As we have seen, Smith and Ricardo were pushing an idea, free trade, that was advantageous to Britain.

So perhaps not surprisingly, rival countries-notably the United States and Germany-soon developed different ideas. Leaders in Washington, D.C., and Berlin didn't want their respective nations to be mere dependent receptacles for English goods; they wanted real independence. And so they wanted factories of their own.

In the late 18th century, Alexander Hamilton, the visionary American patriot, could see that both economic wealth and military power flowed from domestic industry. As the nation's first Treasury Secretary, he persuaded President George Washington and the Congress to support a system of protective tariffs and "internal improvements" (what today we would call infrastructure) to foster US manufacturing and exporting.

And in the 19th century, Germany, under the much heavier-handed leadership of Otto von Bismarck, had the same idea: Make a concerted effort to make the nation stronger.

In both countries, this industrial policymaking succeeded. So whereas at the beginning of the 19th century, England had led the world in steel production, by the beginning of the 20th century century, the U.S. and Germany had moved well ahead. Yes, the "invisible hand" of individual self-interest is always a powerful economic force, but sometimes, the "visible hand" of national purpose, animated by patriotism, is even more powerful.

Thus by 1914, at the onset of World War One, we could see the results of the Smith/Ricardo model, on the one hand, and the Hamilton/Bismarck model, on the other. All three countries-Britain, the US, and Germany, were rich-but only the latter two had genuine industrial mojo. Indeed, during World War One, English weakness became glaringly apparent in the 1915 shell crisis-as in, artillery shells. It was only the massive importing of made-in-USA ammunition that saved Britain from looming defeat.

Yet as always, times change, as do economic circumstances, as do prevailing ideas.

As we have seen, at the end of World War II, the U.S. was the only industrial power left standing. And so it made sense for America to shift from a policy of Hamiltonian protection to a policy of Smith-Ricardian export-minded free trade. Indeed, beginning in around 1945, both major political parties, Democrats and Republicans, solidly embraced the new line: The U.S. would be the factory for the world.

Yet if times, circumstances, and ideas change, they can always change again.

5. The Contemporary Crack-Up

As we have seen, in the 19th century, not every country wanted to be on the passive receiving end of England's exports. And this was true, too, in the 20th century; Japan, notably, had its own ideas.

If Japan had followed the Ricardian doctrine of comparative advantage, it would have focused on exporting rice and tuna. Instead, by dint of hard work, ingenuity, and more than a little national strategizing, Japan grew itself into a great and prosperous industrial power. Its exports, we might note, were such high-value-adds as automobiles and electronics, not mere crops and fish.

Moreover, according to the same theory of comparative advantage, South Korea should have been exporting parasols and kimchi, and China should have settled for exporting fortune cookies and pandas.

Yet as the South Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang has chronicled, these Asian nations resolved, in their no-nonsense neo-Confucian way, to launch state-guided private industries-and the theory of comparative advantage be damned.

Yes, their efforts violated Western economic orthodoxy, but as the philosopher Kant once observed, the actual proves the possible. Indeed, today, as we all know, the Asian tigers are among the richest and fastest-growing economies in the world.

Leading them all, of course, is China. As the economic historian Michael Lind recounted recently,

China is not only the world's largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), but also the world's largest manufacturing nation-producing 52 percent of color televisions, 75 percent of mobile phones and 87 percent of the world's personal computers. The Chinese automobile industry is the world's largest, twice the size of America's. China leads the world in foreign exchange reserves. The United States is the main trading partner for seventy-six countries. China is the main trading partner for 124.

In particular, we might pause over one item in that impressive litany: China makes 87 percent of the world's personal computers.

Indeed, if it's true, as ZDNet reports, that the Chinese have built "backdoors" into almost all the electronic equipment that they sell-that is to say, the equipment that we buy-then we can assume that we face a serious military challenge, as well as a serious economic challenge.

Yes, it's a safe bet that the People's Liberation Army has a good handle on our defense establishment, especially now that the Pentagon has fully equipped itself with Chinese-made iPhones and iPads.

Of course, we can safely predict that Defense Department bureaucrats will always say that there's nothing to worry about, that they have the potential hacking/sabotage matter under control (although just to be sure, the Pentagon might say, give us more money).

Yet we might note that this is the same defense establishment that couldn't keep track of lone internal rogues such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Therefore, should we really believe that this same DOD knows how to stop the determined efforts of a nation of 1.3 billion people, seeking to hack machines-machines that they made in the first place?

Yes, the single strongest argument against the blind application of free- trade dogma is the doctrine of self defense. That is, all the wealth in the world doesn't matter if you're conquered. Even Adam Smith understood that; as he wrote, "Defense . . . is of much more importance than opulence."

Yet today we can readily see: If we are grossly dependent on China for vital wares, then we can't be truly independent of China. In fact, we should be downright fearful.

Still, despite these deep strategic threats, directly the result of careless importing, the Smith-Ricardo orthodoxy remains powerful, even hegemonistic-at least in the English-speaking world.

Why is this so? Yes, economists are typically seen as cold and nerdy, even bloodless, and yet, in fact, they are actual human beings. And as such, they are susceptible to the giddy-happy feeling that comes from the hope of building a new utopia, the dream of ushering in an era of world harmony, based on untrammeled international trade. Indeed, this woozy idealism among economists goes way back; it was the British free trader Richard Cobden who declared in 1857,

Free trade is God's diplomacy. There is no other certain way of uniting people in the bonds of peace.

And lo, so many wars later, many economists still believe that.

Indeed, economists today are still monolithically pro-fee trade; a recent survey of economists found that 83 percent supported eliminating all tariffs and other barriers; just 10 percent disagreed.

We might further note that others, too, in the financial and intellectual elite are fully on board the free-trade train, including most corporate officers and their lobbyists, journalists, academics, and, of course, the mostly for-hire think-tankers.

To be sure, there are always exceptions: As that Guardian article, the one lamenting the sharp decrease in support for free trade as a "problem," noted, not all of corporate America is on board, particularly those companies in the manufacturing sector:

Ford openly opposes TPP because it fears the deal does nothing to stop Japan manipulating its currency at the expense of US rivals.

Indeed, we might note that the same Guardian story included an even more cautionary note, asserting that support for free trade, overall, is remarkably rickety:

Some suggest a "bicycle theory" of trade deals: that the international bandwagon has to keep rolling forward or else it all wobbles and falls down.

So what has happened? How could virtually the entire elite be united in enthusiasm for free trade, and yet, even so, the free trade juggernaut is no steadier than a mere two-wheeled bike? Moreover, free traders will ask: Why aren't the leaders leading? More to the point, why aren't the followers following?

To answer those questions, we might start by noting the four-decade phenomenon of wage stagnation-that's taken a toll on support for free trade. But of course, it's in the heartland that wages have been stagnating; by contrast, incomes for the bicoastal elites have been soaring.

We might also note that some expert predictions have been way off, thus undermining confidence in their expertise. Remember, this spring, when all the experts were saying that the United Kingdom would fall into recession, or worse, if it voted to leave the EU? Well, just the other day came this New York Post headline: "Brexit actually boosting the UK economy."

Thus from the Wall Street-ish perspective of the urban chattering classes, things are going well-so what's the problem?

Yet the folks on Main Street have known a different story. They have seen, with their own eyes, what has happened to them, and no fusillade of op-eds or think-tank monographs will persuade them to change their mind.

So we can see that there's been a standoff: Wall Street vs. Main Street; nor is this the first time this has happened.

However, because the two parties have been so united on the issues of trade and globalization-the "Uniparty," it's sometimes called-the folks in the boonies have had no political alternative. And as they say, the only power you have in this world is the power of an alternative. And so, lacking an alternative, the working/middle class has just had to accept its fate.

Indeed, it has been a bitter fate, particularly bitter in the former industrial heartland. In a 2013 paper, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) came to some startling conclusions:

Growing trade with less-developed countries lowered wages in 2011 by 5.5 percent-or by roughly $1,800-for a full-time, full-year worker earning the average wage for workers without a four-year college degree.

The paper added, "One-third of this total effect is due to growing trade with just China."

Continuing, EPI found that even as trade with low-wage countries caused a decrease in the incomes for lower-end workers, it had caused an increase in the incomes of high-end workers-so no wonder the high-end thinks globalism in great.

To be sure, some in the elite are bothered by what's been happening. Peggy Noonan, writing earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal-a piece that must have raised the hackles of her doctrinaire colleagues-put the matter succinctly: There's a wide, and widening, gap between the "protected" and the "unprotected":

The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

Of course, Noonan was alluding to the Trump candidacy-and also to the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Those two insurgents, in different parties, have been propelled by the pushing from all the unprotected folks across America.

We might pause to note that free traders have arguments which undoubtedly deserve a fuller airing. Okay. However, we can still see the limits. For example, the familiar gambit of outsourcing jobs to China, or Mexico-or 50 other countries-and calling that "free trade" is now socially unacceptable, and politically unsustainable.

Still, the broader vision of planetary freedom, including the free flow of peoples and their ideas, is always enormously appealing. The United States, as well as the world, undoubtedly benefits from competition, from social and economic mobility-and yes, from new blood.

As Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, notes, "77 percent of the full-time graduate students in electrical engineering and 71 percent in computer science at U.S. universities are international students." That's a statistic that should give every American pause to ask: Why aren't we producing more engineers here at home?

Moreover, Reuters reported in 2012 that 44 percent of all Silicon Valley startups were founded by at least one immigrant, and a 2016 study found that more than half of all billion-dollar startups were founded by immigrants. No doubt some will challenge the methodology of these studies, and that's fine; it's an important national debate in which all Americans might engage.

We can say, with admiration, that Silicon Valley is the latest Manchester; as such, it's a powerful magnet for the best and the brightest from overseas, and from a purely dollars-and-cents point of view, there's a lot to be said for welcoming them.

So yes, it would be nice if we could retain this international mobility that benefits the U.S.-but only if the economic benefits can be broadly shared, and patriotic assimilation of immigrants can be truly achieved, such that all Americans can feel good about welcoming newcomers.

The further enrichment of Silicon Valley won't do much good for the country unless those riches are somehow widely shared. In fact, amidst the ongoing outsourcing of mass-production jobs, total employment in such boomtowns as San Francisco and San Jose has barely budged. That is, new software billionaires are being minted every day, but their workforces tend to be tiny-or located overseas. If that past pattern is the future pattern, well, something will have to give.

We can say: If America is to be one nation-something Mitt "47 percent" Romney never worried about, although it cost him in the end-then we will have to figure out a way to turn the genius of the few into good jobs for the many. The goal isn't socialism, or anything like that; instead, the goal is the widespread distribution of private property, facilitated, by conscious national economic development, as I argued at the tail end of this piece.

If we can't, or won't, find a way to expand private ownership nationwide, then the populist upsurges of the Trump and Sanders campaigns will be remembered as mere overtures to a starkly divergent future.

6. Clinton and Trump Say They Are Trade Hawks: But Are They Sincere?

So now we come to a mega-question for 2016: How should we judge the sincerity of the two major-party candidates, Clinton or Trump, when they affirm their opposition to TPP? And how do we assess their attitude toward globalization, including immigration, overall?

The future is, of course, unknown, but we can make a couple of points.

First, it is true that many have questioned the sincerity of Hillary's new anti-TPP stance, especially given the presence of such prominent free-traders as vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine and presidential transition-planning chief Ken Salazar. Moreover, there's also Hillary's own decades-long association with open-borders immigration policies, as well as past support for such trade bills as NAFTA, PNTR, and, of course, TPP. And oh yes, there's the Clinton Foundation, that global laundromat for every overseas fortune; most of those billionaires are globalists par excellence-would a President Hillary really cross them?

Second, since there's still no way to see inside another person's mind, the best we can do is look for external clues-by which we mean, external pressures. And so we might ask a basic question: Would the 45th president, whoever she or he is, feel compelled by those external pressures to keep their stated commitment to the voters? Or would they feel that they owe more to their elite friends, allies, and benefactors?

As we have seen, Clinton has long chosen to surround herself with free traders and globalists. Moreover, she has raised money from virtually every bicoastal billionaire in America.

So we must wonder: Will a new President Clinton really betray her own class-all those Davos Men and Davos Women-for the sake of middle-class folks she has never met, except maybe on a rope line? Would Clinton 45, who has spent her life courting the powerful, really stick her neck out for unnamed strangers-who never gave a dime to the Clinton Foundation?

Okay, so what to make of Trump? He, too, is a fat-cat-even more of fat-cat, in fact, than Clinton. And yet for more than a year now, he has based his campaign on opposition to globalism in all its forms; it's been the basis of his campaign-indeed, the basis of his base. And his campaign policy advisers are emphatic. According to Politico, as recently as August 30, Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro reiterated Trump's opposition to TPP, declaring,

Any deal must increase the GDP growth rate, reduce the trade deficit, and strengthen the manufacturing base.

So, were Trump to win the White House, he would come in with a much more solid anti-globalist mandate.

Thus we can ask: Would a President Trump really cross his own populist-nationalist base by going over to the other side-to the globalists who voted, and donated, against him? If he did-if he repudiated his central platform plank-he would implode his presidency, the way that Bush 41 imploded his presidency in 1990 when he went back on his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge.

Surely Trump remembers that moment of political calamity well, and so surely, whatever mistakes he might make, he won't make that one.

To be sure, the future is unknowable. However, as we have seen, the past, both recent and historical, is rich with valuable clues.

[Aug 30, 2016] Democrat Tom Coyne : Trump Challenging 'Institutional Elites' in Both Parties

Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump is challenging the very fabric of the institutional elites in this country on both sides that have, quite frankly, just straight up screwed this country up and made the world a mess. ..."
"... Breitbart News Daily ..."
www.breitbart.com
Tom Coyne, a lifelong Democrat and the mayor of Brook Park, Ohio, spoke about his endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump with Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM host Matt Boyle.

Coyne said:

The parties are blurred. What's the difference? They say the same things in different tones. At the end of the day, they accomplish nothing. Donald Trump is challenging the very fabric of the institutional elites in this country on both sides that have, quite frankly, just straight up screwed this country up and made the world a mess.

Regarding the GOP establishment's so-called Never Trumpers, Coyne stated, "If it's their expertise that people are relying upon as to advice to vote, people should go the opposite."

Coyne has been described as "a blue-collar populist, blunt and politically incorrect":

In an interview last week, Coyne said that Democrats and Republicans have failed the city through inaction and bad trade policies, key themes Trump often trumpets.

"He understands us," Coyne said of Trump. "He is saying what we feel, and therefore, let him shake the bedevils out of everyone in the canyons of Washington D.C. The American people are responding to him."

Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

[Aug 29, 2016] T he "Charter Schools" as a classic neoliberal and libertarian wet dream

Aug 29, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

steelhead , August 29, 2016 at 2:49 pm

As a individual who graduated from Nampa(Idaho) High School before 1980, I find the "Charter School" as a classic neoliberal and libertarian wet dream. No collective contract interference, the support of Bill Gates(educated exclusively in private schools) and another crony capitalism scheme. The public education system has been fu**ked.

Adam Eran , August 29, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Worth noting: The "reformers" (like Michelle Rhee) promote merit pay (because teachers are so financially motivated), (union-busting) charter schools and testing, testing, testing as the means to improve educational outcomes. No science validates this.

Yet with billionaire funding, "reformers" have even made a propaganda film: "Waiting for Superman" touting Michelle Rhee's "tough love" approach to school management (she fired lots of D.C. teachers), and holding up Finnish schools as the ones to emulate.

Don't get me wrong, the Finns have great schools. But Waiting for Superman neglects to mention that the Finnish teachers are well-paid, tenured and unionized. Curious omissions, no?

So while the "reformers'" tactics fail scientific validation when compared to educational outcomes, one thing does not fail: Educational outcomes correlate strongly with levels of childhood poverty.

Finland's childhood poverty rate: 2%. Meanwhile, in the U.S., it's 23% (and headed north).

Could this entire focus on schools out of their social context, without any reference to what science says, be a gigantic campaign of misdirection, distracting Joe Public from the plutocracy we live in?

…and is that pope fellow still catholic? (for more, see http://www.notwaitingforsuperman.org/ )

jo6pac , August 29, 2016 at 6:33 pm

The other cool thing about schools in Finland is the teachers stay with their students as they move up in grades.

Years ago the gentleman who created the Finnish system was asked why he didn't come to Amerika and help our system. The answer was Amerika is head down and no one in power cares. Doomed

Benedict@Large , August 29, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Chaster schools are about one thing, and one thing only. Wall street gets access to (and takes a cut of) the cash flow stream of our tax money before it gets to where we wanted it spent. All privatization efforts are about this same thing.

Secure steady cash flows (and tax levies are one of the largest) have a valur, and that value can be sold to private investors. That's what Wall Street does with privatization; sell off the value of our taxes as cash flow.

All of this means less of your tax money gets to where you want it to go.

[Aug 29, 2016] Commnets to the article Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe

Notable quotes:
"... As disgusted and determined as we might be, we still have to operate within the 'neoliberal' system. We are all 'us' in this context and we are all a product of our environment to some extent. however crap that environment might be. ..."
"... Combined with offshoring of as many jobs abroad as possible, free movement of unskilled workers and the use of agency labour to undercut pay and conditions, the future looks bleak. ..."
"... There is nothing meritocratic about neoliberlaism. Its about who you know. ..."
"... I understand what you say, and there is definitely an element within society which values Success above all else, but I do not personally know anyone like that. ..."
"... .....By "us" of course, you mean commies. I think you are inadvertently demonstrating another of Hares psychopath test features; a lack of empathy and self awareness. ..."
"... I've worked in a few large private companies over the years, and my experience is they increasingly resemble some sort of cult, with endless brainwashing programmes for the 'members', charismatic leaders who can do no wrong, groupthink, mandatory utilisation of specialist jargon (especially cod-psychological terminology) to differentiate those 'in' and those 'out', increased blurring of the lines between 'private' and 'work' life (your ass belongs to us 24-7) and of course, constant, ever more complex monitoring of the 'members' for 'heretical thoughts or beliefs'. ..."
"... And the most striking idea here: Our characters are partly moulded by society. And neo-liberal society, and it's illusions of freedom, has moulded many of us in ways that bring out the worst in us. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism has however killed off post war social mobility. In fact according to the OECD report into social mobility, the more egalitarian a developed society is, the more social mobility there is, the more productivity and the less poverty and social problems there are. ..."
Aug 29, 2016 | discussion.theguardian.com

Happytobeasocialist, 2014-09-29 09:07:21

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

Less of the 'us' please. there are plenty of people who are disgusted by neoliberalism and are determined to bring it down

Pasdabong Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:28:58
As disgusted and determined as we might be, we still have to operate within the 'neoliberal' system. We are all 'us' in this context and we are all a product of our environment to some extent. however crap that environment might be.
InconvenientTruths Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:39:02
Neo-Liberal Elephant

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only chaned

If you have no mandate for such change, it breeds resentment.

For example, race & immigration was used by NuLabour in a blatant attempt at mass societal engineering (via approx 8%+ increase in national population over 13 years).

It was the most significant betrayal in modern democratic times, non mandated change extraordinaire, not only of British Society, but the core traditional voter base for Labour.

To see people still trying to deny it took place and dismiss the fallout of the cultural elephant rampaging around the United Kingdom is as disingenuous as it is pathetic.

Labour are the midwives of UKiP.

This cultural elephant has tusks.

SaulZaentz , 2014-09-29 09:10:36
It's a race to the bottom, and has lead to such "success stories" as G4S, Serco, A4E, ATOS, Railtrack, privatised railways, privatised water and so on.

It's all about to get even worse with TTIP, and if that fails there is always TISA which mandates privatisation of pretty much everything - breaking state monopolies on public services.

Combined with offshoring of as many jobs abroad as possible, free movement of unskilled workers and the use of agency labour to undercut pay and conditions, the future looks bleak.

Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:13:38

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents

There is nothing meritocratic about neoliberlaism. Its about who you know. In the UK things have gone backwards almost to the 1950s. Changes which were brought about by the expansion of universities have pretty much been reversed. The establishment - politics, media, business is dominated by the better=off Oxbridge elite.

AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:16:42
It is difficult for me to agree. I have grown up within Neoliberalism being 35, but you describe no one I know. People I know weigh up the extra work involved in a promotion and decide whether the sacrifice is worth the extra money/success.

People I know go after their dreams, whether that be farming or finance. I understand what you say, and there is definitely an element within society which values Success above all else, but I do not personally know anyone like that.

JamesValencia AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:25:40
He's saying people's characters are changed by their environment. That they aren't set in stone, but are a function of culture. And that the socio-cultural shift in the last few decades is a bad thing, and is bad for our characters. In your words: The dreams have changed.

It's convincing, except it isn't as clear as it could be.

AntiTerrorist JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 09:38:49
I understand his principle but as proof, he sites very specific examples...

A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

This is used as an example to show the shifting mindset. But as I stated, this describes no one I know. We, us, commenting here are society. I agree that there has been a shift in culture and those reaping the biggest financial rewards are the greedy. But has that not always been the way, the self interested have always walked away with the biggest slice, perhaps at the moment that slice has become larger still, but most people still want to have a comfortable life, lived their way. People haven't changed as much as the OP believes.

The great lie is that financial reward is success and happiness.

CityBoy2006 AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:52:05

This is used as an example to show the shifting mindset. But as I stated, this describes no one I know

Indeed even in the "sociopathic" world of fund management and investment banking, the vast majority of people establish a balance for how they wish to manage their work and professional lives and evaluate decisions in light of them both.

GordonLiddle , 2014-09-29 09:17:21
One could use another word or two, crony capitalism being a particularly good pair. Not what you know but who.
SaulZaentz GordonLiddle , 2014-09-29 09:36:48
Indeed. How come G4S keep winning contracts despite their behaviour being incompetent and veering on criminal, and the fact they are despised pretty much universally. Hardly a meritocracy.
dreamer06 SaulZaentz , 2014-09-29 13:40:16
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3862998.ece
(paywall)

You can add A4E to that list and now Capita who have recruited all of 61 part time soldiers in their contract to replace all the thousands of sacked professionals

Pasdabong ElQuixote , 2014-09-29 09:33:20
.....By "us" of course, you mean commies. I think you are inadvertently demonstrating another of Hares psychopath test features; a lack of empathy and self awareness.
KatieL dieterroth , 2014-09-29 09:58:16
"Since the living standards of majority in this country are on a downward trend"

The oil's running out. Living standards, on average, will continue to decline until either it stops running out or fusion power turns out to work after all.

Whether you have capitalism or socialism won't make any difference to the declining energy input.

dieterroth , 2014-09-29 09:19:32
I'm sure I read an article in the 80s predicting what the author has written. Economics and cultural environment is bound to have an effect on behaviour. We now live in a society that worships at the altar of the cult of the individual. Society and growth of poverty no longer matters, a lone success story proves all those people falling into poverty are lazy good for nothing parasites. The political class claims to be impotent when it comes to making a fairer society because the political class is made up of people who were affluent in the first place or benefited from a neo-liberal rigged economy. The claim is, anything to do with a fair society is social engineering and bound to fail. Well, neo-liberal Britain was socially engineered and it is failing the majority of people in the country.

There is a cognitive dissonance going on in the political narrative of neo-liberalism, not everyone can make it in a neo-liberal society and since neo-liberalism destroys social mobility. Ironically, the height of social mobility in the west, from the gradual rise through the 50s and 60s, was the 70s. The 80s started the the downward trend in social mobility despite all the bribes that went along with introducing the property owning democracy, which was really about chaining people to capitalism.

Johanni dieterroth , 2014-09-29 10:24:23

I'm sure I read an article in the 80s predicting what the author has written.

Well, a transformation of human character was the open battle-cry of 1980s proponents of neoliberalism. Helmut Kohl, the German prime minister, called it the "geistig-moralische Wende", the "spiritual and moral sea-change" - I think people just misunderstood what he meant by that, and laughed at what they saw as empty sloganeering. Now we're reaping what his generation sowed.

thebogusman Johanni , 2014-09-29 13:15:54
Tatcher actually said that the goal of neoliberalism is not new economics but to "change the soul"!
arkley dieterroth , 2014-09-29 18:10:04
OK, now can you tell us why individual freedom is such a bad thing?

The previous period of liberal economics ended a century ago, destroyed by the war whose outbreak we are interminably celebrating. That war and the one that followed a generation later brought in strict government control, even down to what people could eat and wear. Orwell's dystopia of 1984 actually describes Britain's wartime society continuing long after the real wars had ended. It was the slow pace of lifting wartime controls, even slower in Eastern Europe, and the lingering mindset that economies and societies could be directed for "the greater good" no matter what individual costs there were that led to a revival of liberal economics.

Febo , 2014-09-29 09:21:28
Neoliberalism is a mere offshoot of Neofeudalism. Labour and Capital - those elements of both not irretrievably bought-out - must demand the return of The Commons . We must extend our analysis back over centuries , not decades - let's strike to the heart of the matter!
Febo undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:49:03
Both neofeudalism - aka neocolonialism-abroad-and-at-home - and neoliberalism rest on the theft of the Commons - they both support monopoly.
callaspodeaspode undersinged , 2014-09-29 10:11:05
Collectivist ideologies including Fascism, Communism and theocracy are all similar to feudalism.

I've worked in a few large private companies over the years, and my experience is they increasingly resemble some sort of cult, with endless brainwashing programmes for the 'members', charismatic leaders who can do no wrong, groupthink, mandatory utilisation of specialist jargon (especially cod-psychological terminology) to differentiate those 'in' and those 'out', increased blurring of the lines between 'private' and 'work' life (your ass belongs to us 24-7) and of course, constant, ever more complex monitoring of the 'members' for 'heretical thoughts or beliefs'.

'Collectivism' is not as incompatible with capitalism as you seem to think.
You sound like one of those 'libertarians'. Frankly, I think the ideals of such are only realisable as a sole trader, or operating in a very small business.

Progress is restricted because the people are made poor by the predations of the state

Neoliberalism is firmly committed to individual liberty, and therefore to peace and mutual toleration

It is firmly committed to ensuring that the boundaries between private and public entities become blurred, with all the ensuing corruption that entails. In other words, that the state becomes (through the taxpayers) a captured one, delivering a never ending, always growing, revenue stream for favoured players in private enterprise. This is, of course, deliberate. 'Individual liberties and mutual toleration' are only important insomuch as they improve, or detract, from profit-centre activity.

You have difficulty in separating propaganda from reality, but you're barely alone in this.

Lastly, you also misunderstand feudalism, which in the European context, flourished before there was a developed concept of a centralised nation state, indeed, the most classic examples occurred after the decentralisation of an empire or suchlike. The primary feudal relation was between the bondsman/peasant and his local magnate, who in turn, was subject to his liege.

In other words a warrior class bound by vassalage to a nobility, with the peasantry bound by manorialism and to the estates of the Church.

Apart from that though, you're right on everything.

JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 09:21:56
I completely agree with the general sentiment.
The specifics aren't that solid though:

- That we think our characters are independent of context/society: I certainly don't.
- That statement about "bullying is more widespread" - lacks justification.

The general theme of "meritocracy is a fiction" is compelling though.
As is "We are free-er in many ways because those ways no longer have any significance" .

And the most striking idea here: Our characters are partly moulded by society. And neo-liberal society, and it's illusions of freedom, has moulded many of us in ways that bring out the worst in us.

UnironicBeard JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 10:39:08
The Rat Race is a joke. Too many people waste their lives away playing the capitalist game. As long as you've got enough money to keep living you can be happy. Just ignore the pathetic willy-wavers with their flashy cars and logos on their shirts and all that guff
CharlesII JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 13:27:30

- That statement about "bullying is more widespread" - lacks justification.

Absolutely. I stopped reading there. Bullying is noticed now, and seen as a 'bad thing'. In offices 30, 50, years ago, it was standard .

JamesValencia UnironicBeard , 2014-09-29 13:42:50
Preaching to the converted, there, Beard :)

All we need is "enough" - Posession isn't that interesting. More a doorway to doing interesting stuff.
I prefer to cut out the posession and go straight to "do interesting stuff" myself. As long as the rent gets paid and so on, obviously.

Doesn't always work, obviously, but I reckon not wanting stuff is a good start to the good life (ref. to series with Felicity Kendall (and some others) intended :)
That, and Epicurus who I keep mentioning on CIF.

dieterroth undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:26:28
Rather naive. History is full of brilliant individuals who made it. Neo-liberalism has however killed off post war social mobility. In fact according to the OECD report into social mobility, the more egalitarian a developed society is, the more social mobility there is, the more productivity and the less poverty and social problems there are.
dieterroth undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:28:55
"Collectivism gave us Communism, Nazism and universalist religions that try to impose uniformity through the method of mass murder."

Capitalism and free markets gave us them as all were reactions to economic failure and having nothing to lose.

Febo undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:34:05
I agree - the central dilemma is that neither individualism nor collectiviism works.

But is this dilemma real? Is there a third system? Yes there is - Henry George.

George's paradigm in nothing funky, it is simply Classical Liberal Economics - society works best when individuals get to keep the fruits of thier labour, but pay rent for the use of The Commons.
At present we have the opposite - labour and capital are taxed heavily and The commons are monopolised by the 1%.
Hence unemployment
Hence the wealth gap
Hence the environmental crisis
Hence poverty

checkreakity , 2014-09-29 09:23:39
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards . Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs .
RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:24:11
So the values and morals that people have are so wafer thin that a variation in the political system governing them can strip them away? Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?
NinthLegion RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:26:57
But it's because these values and moralities are so wafer thin that the Right can swing them in precisely the direction they want to. Greed is good!
LouSnickers RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:28:35
They dont like us!

But then, I dont care for them, either!

dieterroth RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:32:10
"Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?"

Open your eyes and take a lokk at the world. There is enough wealth in the world for everyone to live free from poverty. Yet, the powerful look after themselves and allow poverty to not only exist but spread.

yamba , 2014-09-29 09:30:07
Reminds me very much of No Country for Old Men , by Cormac McCarthy.
annabelle123 yamba , 2014-09-29 11:00:22
That's a good description of the NHS.
WinstonThatcher , 2014-09-29 09:30:58
It's certainly brought out the worst in the Guardian, publishing as it does oodles of brainless clickbate.
nishville WinstonThatcher , 2014-09-29 11:13:50
>If you've ever dithered over the question of whether the UK needs a written constitution, dither no longer. Imagine the clauses required to preserve the status of the Corporation. "The City of London will remain outside the authority of parliament. Domestic and foreign banks will be permitted to vote as if they were human beings, and their votes will outnumber those cast by real people. Its elected officials will be chosen from people deemed acceptable by a group of medieval guilds …".<
paul643 , 2014-09-29 09:31:59

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.

I don't believe that bullying is new to the workplace., in fact I'd imagine it was worse before the days of elf 'n' safety.

vivientoft paul643 , 2014-09-29 13:05:01
Why do you say that?
annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:32:23
I agree with much of this. Working in the NHS, as a clinical psychologist, over the past 25 years, I have seen a huge shift in the behaviour of managers who used to be valued for their support and nurturing of talent, but now are recognised for their brutal and aggressive approach to those beneath them. Reorganisations of services, which take place with depressing frequency, provide opportunities to clear out the older, experienced members of the profession who would have acted as mentors and teachers to the less experienced staff.
saltash1920 annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:39:31
I worked in local authority social care, I can certainly see the very close similarities to what you describe in the NHS, and my experience in the local authority.
Davai annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:48:06
Yes those were the days when you had people and personnel departments, rather than 'human resources' I suspect. You can blame the USA for that.

Constant reorgs are a sure sign of inept management.

They're also a sure sign of managers who want to 'hang out' with highly-paid, sexy management consultants and hopefully get offered a job.

But you're a psychologist so you know that already!

David Craig's books are worth a read.

annabelle123 saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 10:58:42
I can well imagine there are big similarities. Friends of mine who work in education say the same - there is a complete mismatch between the aims of the directors/managers and that of the professionals actually providing the teaching/therapy/advice to the public. When I go to senior meetings it is very rare that patients are even mentioned.
StVitusGerulaitis , 2014-09-29 09:32:59

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.

This is an incredibly broad generalisation. I remember my grandfather telling me about what went on in the mills he worked in in Glasgow before the war, it sounded like a pretty savage environment if you didn't fit in. It wasn't called bullying, of course.

I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

Isn't this true of pretty much any system? And human relationships in general? I cannot think of a system that is completely blind to the differences between people. If you happen to be lazy or have a problem with authority you will never do as "well" (for want of a better term).

MickGJ StVitusGerulaitis , 2014-09-29 16:15:49

Isn't this true of pretty much any system?

Don't be silly my saintly chum: who ever heard of a psychopath rising to the top in any other system than neo-liberal capitalism?
Socratese , 2014-09-29 09:33:25
I have always said to people who claim they are Liberals that you must support capitalism,the free market,free trade, deregulation etc etc when most of them deny that, I always say you are not a Liberal then you're just cherry-picking the [Liberal] policies you like and the ones you don't like,which is dishonest.
There is nothing neo about Liberalism,it has been around since the 19th century[?].People have been brainwashed in this country [and the USA] since the 1960's to say they are liberals for fear of being accused of being fascists,which is quite another thing.
I have never supported any political ideology,which is what Liberalism is,and believe all of them should be challenged.By doing so you can evolve policies which are fair and just and appropriate to the issue at hand.
pinniped Socratese , 2014-09-29 10:24:59
Ah yes, No True Liberal.
saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 09:34:32
Neoliberalism has only benefited a minority. Usually those with well connected and wealthy families. And of course those who have no hesitation to exploit other's.

In my view, it is characterized by corruption, exploitation and a total lack of social justice. Economically, the whole system is fully dependent on competition not co-operation. One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.

rivendel saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 17:40:04
One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.

And if we keep consuming all our resources on this finite planet in pursuit of profit and more profit there will be no human race we will all be extinct.,and all that will be left is an exhausted polluted planet that once harbored a vast variety of life.
Isent neolibral capitalism great.

Highlights saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 21:52:03

One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.

Violence has already begun, in wars and protests, beheadings and wage cuts which leave people more and more desperate.

PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 09:36:18

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces

Which is exactly what we've been led to believe, by outside forces.

For other related films, please see:

The Corporation http://www.thecorporation.com/

and

The Century of the Self http://www.thecorporation.com/

PonyBoyUK PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 10:09:55
(doh!)

The Century of the Self - http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/

NinthLegion , 2014-09-29 09:40:58
As Marx so often claimed, values, ethics, morality and behaviours are themselves determined by the economic and monetary system under which people live. Stealing is permitted if you are a banker and call it a bonus or interest, murder is permitted if your government sends you to war, surveillance and data mining is permitted if your state tells you there is a danger from terrorists, crime is overlooked if it makes money for the perpetrator, benefit claimants are justified if they belong to an aristocratic caste or political elite.......

There is no universal right or wrong, only that identified as such by the establishment at that particular instance in history, and at that specific place on the planet. Outside that, they have as much relevance today as scriptures instructing that slaves can be raped, adulterers can be stoned or the hands of thieves amputated. Give me the crime and the punishment, and I will give you the time and the place.

Jack3 NinthLegion , 2014-09-29 10:44:31
For a tiny elite sitting on the top everything has been going exactly as it was initially planned.

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men
living together in Society, they create for themselves in the
course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a
moral code that glorifies it".
F. Bastiat.

Finn_Nielsen Jack3 , 2014-09-29 10:58:47
Bastiat was closer to a neoliberal than a Marxist...
skagway Jack3 , 2014-09-30 14:48:40
very true.
Pasdabong , 2014-09-29 09:41:24
Excellent article.
I'm amazed that more isn't made of the relationship between political environment/systems and their effect on the individual. Oliver James Affluenza makes a compelling case for the unhappiness outputs of societies who've embraced neo liberalism yet we still blindly pursue it.
The US has long been world leader in both the demand and supply of psychotherapy and the relentless pursuit of free market economics. these stats are not unconnected.
abugaafar , 2014-09-29 09:42:40
I once had a colleague with the knack of slipping into his conversation complimentary remarks that other people had made about him. It wasn't the only reason for his rapid ascent to great heights, but perhaps it helped.
ThroatWobblaMangrove abugaafar , 2014-09-29 22:58:31
That's one of my favourite characteristics of David Brent from 'The Office'. "You're all looking at me, you're going, "Well yeah, you're a success, you've achieved you're goals, you're reaping the rewards, sure. But, OI, Brent. Is all you care about chasing the Yankee dollar?"
crasspymctabernacle , 2014-09-29 09:42:47
This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes

Not when applied to IDS and other members of the cabinet.

BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 09:43:50
Neoliberalism is another Social Darwinist driven philosophy popularised after leading figures of our times (or rather former times) decided Malthus was probably correct.

So here we have it, serious growth in population, possibly unsustainable, and a growing 'weak will perish, strong will survive' mentality. The worst thing is I used to believe in neoliberal policies, until of course I understood the long term ramifications.

PonyBoyUK BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 10:11:45
It's a really good idea, - until you start thinking about it...
AlbertaRabbit BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 10:27:02
And then there's reality.

And the reality is that "neoliberalism" has, in the last few decades, freed hundreds of millions in the developing word from a subsistence living to something resembling a middle class lifestyle.

This has resulted in both plummeting global poverty statistics and in greatly reduced fecundity, so that we will likely see a leveling off of global population in the next few decades. And this slowing down of population growth is the most critical thing we could for increasing sustainability.

BlueBrightFuture PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 10:33:06
I suspect the logical conclusion of the free market is that the State will become formally superseded by an oligopoly - perhaps the energy sector.

I also suspect at least one third of the population in over-developed countries will simply become surplus to requirement.

Everybody wants an iPhone, nobody wants to work in Foxconn.

jimcol , 2014-09-29 09:44:45
It is rooted, I think, in the prevailing idea that what we own is more important than what we do. Consumerism grown and fostered by the greedy.
vacuous jimcol , 2014-09-29 19:17:20
The problem is a judeo-christian idea of "free choice" when experiments, undertaken by Benjamin Libet and since, indicate that it is near to unlikely for there to be volitionally controlled conscious decisions.

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v11/n5/abs/nn.2112.html

If we are not even free to intend and control our decisions, thoughts and ambitions, how can anyone claim to be morally entitled to ownership of their property and have a 'right' to anything as a reward for what decisions they made? Happening is pure luck: meaningful [intended] responsibility and accountability cannot be claimed for decisions and actions and so entitlement cannot be claimed for what acquisitions are causally obtained from those decisions and actions.There is no 'just desserts' or decision-derived entitlement justification for wealth and owning property unless the justifier has a superstitious and scientifically unfounded belief in free choice.

CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 09:47:04

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace

Compared to say, that experienced by domestic staff in big houses, small children in factories, perhaps even amongst miners, dockers and steel workers in the halcyon days of the post-war decade when apparently everything was rosy?

This whole article is a hodge podge of anecdote and flawed observations designed to shoehorn behaviour into a pattern that supports an economic hypothesis - it is factually groundless.

Catonaboat CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 10:09:47
Well I'd say he was spot on, when someone with the handle CityBoy2006 his a classic work place tantrum over the article.
HarryTheHorse CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 11:13:24

Compared to say, that experienced by domestic staff in big houses, small children in factories

Yes, but if it was left to people like you, children would still be working in factories. So please do not take credit for improvements that you would fight tooth and nail against

perhaps even amongst miners, dockers and steel workers in the halcyon days of the post-war decade when apparently everything was rosy?

They had wages coming to them and didn't need to rely on housing benefit to keep a roof over their head. Now people like you bitterly complain about poorly paid workers getting benefits to sustain them.

Slapchips , 2014-09-29 09:47:28
People who "work hard and play hard" are nearly always kidding themselves about the second bit.

It seems to me that the trend in the world of neoliberalism is to think that "playing hard" is defined as "playing with expensive, branded toys" during your two week annual holiday.

Davai Slapchips , 2014-09-29 09:52:24
'Playing hard' in the careerist lexicon = getting blind drunk to mollify the feelings of despair and emptiness which typify a hollow, debt-soaked life defined by motor cars and houses.

All IM(NVH)O, of course. DYOR.

Sammy_89 Davai , 2014-09-29 09:56:06
Pays for schools and hospitals, though
Davai Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 09:59:43
Oh we had those before 1989.

It isn't a binary 'naked selfish captalist/socialist decision'. There is middle ground.

eldorado99 , 2014-09-29 09:49:50
"support any political movement we like."

Except those which have privacy from state surveillance as their core tenet.

ID12345 , 2014-09-29 09:50:07
Green Party: We need to fight Neoliberalism.
Loadsofspace , 2014-09-29 09:51:42
The "Max Factor" life. Selfishness and Greed. The compaction of life. Was it not in a scripture in text?. The Bible. We as humans and followers of "Faith" in christian beliefs and the culture of love they fellow man. The culture of words are a root to all "Evil. Depending on "Who's" the Author and Scrolling the words; and for what reason?. The only way we can save what is left on this planet and save man kind. Is eradicate the above "Selfishness and Greed" ?
ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 09:51:50

We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference.

These changes listed (and then casually dismissed) are monumental social achievements. Many countries in the world do not permit their 'citizens' such freedom of choice and I for one am very grateful to live in a country where these things are possible.

Of course there is much more to be done. But I would suggest that to be born in Western Europe today is probably about as safe, comfortable, and free than at any time and any place in human history. I'm not being complacent about what we still have to achieve. But we won't achieve anything if we take such a flippant attitude towards all the amazing things that have been bequeathed to us.

CityBoy2006 ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 09:55:24
Excellent observation, it's the same way that technology that has quite clearly changed our lives and given us access to information, opportunity to travel and entertainment that would have been beyond the comprehension of our grandparents is dismissed as irrelevant because its just a smart phone and a not a job for life in a British Leyland factory.
Finn_Nielsen ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 10:09:36
It takes a peculairly spoilt and arrogant Westerner to claim that the freedom to criticise religion isn't significant or that we're only allowed to do so because it's no longer important. Tell that to a girl seeking to escape an arranged marriage in Bradford...
HarryTheHorse CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 11:15:51
So being able to have a smart phone compensates for not having a secure place to live? What an absurd bubble you metropolitan types live in.
Harry Palmer , 2014-09-29 09:52:22
OK. Now off you go and apply the same methodology to people living in statist societies, or just have a go at our own civil service or local government workers. Try social workers or the benefits agency or the police.

Let us know what you find.

WindTurbine , 2014-09-29 09:53:31
The author makes some good points, although I wouldn't necessarily call our system a meritocracy.
I guess the key one is how unaware we are about the influence of economic policy on our values.
This kind of systems hurts everyday people and rewards psychopaths, and is damaging to society as a whole over the long term.
Targetising everything is really insidious.
jclucas , 2014-09-29 09:53:32
That neoliberalism puts tremendous pressure on individuals to conform to materialistic norms is undeniable, but for a psychotherapist to disallow the choice of those individuals to nevertheless choose how to live is an admission of failure.

In fact, many people today experience the shallowness and corrupt character of market society and elect either to be in it, but not of it, or to opt out early having made enough money, often making a conscious choice to relinquish the 'trappings' in return for a more meaningful existence. Some do selfless service to their fellow human beings, to the environment or both, and thereby find a degree of fulfillment that they always wanted.

To surrender to the external demands of a superficial and corrupting life is to ignore the tremendous opportunity human life offers to all: self realization.

WindTurbine jclucas , 2014-09-29 10:01:42
It's not either-or, system or individual, but some combination of the two.
Decision making may be 80% structure and 20% individual choice for the mainstream - or maybe the other way round for the rebels amongst us that try to reject the system.

The theory of structuration (Giddens) provides one explanation of how social systems develop through the interactions between the system and actors in it.

I partly agree with you but I think examples of complete self realisation are extremely rare. That means stepping completely out of the system and out of our own personality. Neither this nor that.

jclucas WindTurbine , 2014-09-29 10:21:57
The point is that the individual has the choice to move in the right direction. When and if they do make a decision to change their life, it will be fulfilling for them and for the system.
AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 09:54:07

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success.

I have been in the private sector for generations, and know tons of people who have behaved precisely as described above. I don't know anyone who calls them crazy. In fact, I see the exact opposite tendency - the growing acceptance that money isn't everything, and that once one has achieved a certain level of success and financial security that it is fine to put other priorities first rather than simply trying to acquire ever more.

arkley AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 09:59:50
The ATL article is rather stuffed full of stereotypes.

And speaking personally, I have turned down two offers of promotion to a management position in the last ten years and neither time did I get the sense people thought I was crazy. They might have done if I were in my late twenties rather than mid-fifties but that does reinforce the notion that people - even bosses - can accept that there is more to life than a career.

Sammy_89 arkley , 2014-09-29 10:04:29
I agree about the stereotypes. Also, has anyone ever seriously advised a primary school teacher that they need a masters degree of economics?! I highly doubt that that is the norm!
MickGJ Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 16:18:57

Also, has anyone ever seriously advised a primary school teacher that they need a masters degree of economics?! I

Sounds more like parents advising an exceptionally bright child to go as far as she can with her education before she starts work.

I can't see why a primary school teacher should be dissuaded from doing a master's degree.

arkley , 2014-09-29 09:55:46
How does that navel look today?

I hate to break it to you but no matter how you organise society the nasty people get to the top and the nice people end up doing all the work. "Neo-liberalism" is no different.

Sammy_89 arkley , 2014-09-29 10:02:10
Or you could put it another way - 'neoliberalism' is the least worst economic/social system, because most people are far more powerless and far more worse off under any other system that has ever been developed by man...
TeddyFrench arkley , 2014-09-29 10:06:38
For a start you need a system that is not based on rewarding and encouraging the worst aspects of our characters. I try to encourage my kids not to be greedy, to be honest and to care about others but in this day and age it's an uphill struggle.
Finn_Nielsen Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 10:11:42
It's a funny kind of neoliberalism we're supposedly suffering under when you consider the ratio of state spending to GDP...
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 09:57:13
"A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal."

In the UK we have nothing like a meritocracy with a privately educated elite.

Success and failure are just about parental wealth.

Willhelm123 , 2014-09-29 09:57:41
I kind of see the point of this. What's the alternative though?
MickGJ Willhelm123 , 2014-09-29 16:23:10

I kind of see the point of this. What's the alternative though?

Doing some research?
gcarth , 2014-09-29 09:57:45
"So the values and morals that people have are so wafer thin that a variation in the political system governing them can strip them away? Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?"

RidleyWalker, I can assue you that it is not the left but the right who consistently have a low opinion of humanity. Anyway, what has left and right got to do with this? There are millions of ordinary decent people whose lives are blighted by the obscentity that is neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is designed to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor. Neo-liberalism is responsible for the misery for millions across the globe. The only happy ones are those at the top of the heap...until even their bloated selfish world inevitably implodes.
Of course these disgusting parasites are primitive thinkers and cannot see that we could have a better, happier world for everyone if societies become more equal. Studies demonstrate that more equal societies are more stable and content than those with ever-widening gaps in wealth between rich and poor.

injinoo gcarth , 2014-09-29 10:01:41
Which studies and which equal societies are you referring to. It would be good to know in order to cheer us all up a bit.
Sammy_89 gcarth , 2014-09-29 10:08:52
Neoliberalism...disgusting parasites...primitive thinkers...misery of millions...bloated selfish world

This reads like a Soviet pamphlet from the 1930's. Granted you've replaced the word 'capitalism' with 'neoliberalism' - in other words subsstituted one meaningless abstraction for another. It wasn't true then and it certainly isnt true now...

injinoo , 2014-09-29 09:59:38
Not sure why you think all this is new or attributable to neoliberalism. Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's. All that has changed is that instead of working on assembly lines in factories under the watchful gaze of a foreman we now have university degrees and sit in cubicles pressing buttons on keyboards. Micromanagement, bureaucracy, rules and regulations are as old as the hills. Office politics has replaced shop floor politics; the rich are still rich and the poor are still poor.
Sammy_89 injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:10:20
Well, except that people have more money, live longer and have more opportunities in life than before - most people anyway. The ones left behind are the ones we need to worry about
rosemary152 injinoo , 2014-09-29 14:32:18

Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's.

There is a difference. We now have the psychopathic-tendency merchants in charge, both of the banks, multinationals and our government.

MickGJ injinoo , 2014-09-29 16:24:51

Not sure why you think all this is new or attributable to neoliberalism. Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's.

And you can read far more excoriating critiques of our shallow materialistic capitalism, culture from those decades, now recast as some sort of prelapsarian Golden Age.
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 10:00:59
The psychopaths have congregated in Wall Street and the City.

One of the problems with psychopaths is that they never learn form mistakes.

Anyone that is watching will realise we are well on our way to the next Wall Street Crash - part 3.

Wall Street Crash Part 1 - 1929
Wall Street Crash Part 2 - 2008
Wall Street Crash Part 3 - soon

Each is bigger and better than the last - there may not be much left after Part 3.

injinoo regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 10:03:58
Actually, the 1929 crash was not the first by any means. The boom and bust cycle of modern economics goes back a lot further. When my grandparents talked about the "Great Depression" they were referring to the 1890's.
regfromdagenham injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:05:24
The financial psychopaths never learn!
Isiodore injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:49:57
The nineteenth century saw major financial crises in almost every decade, 1825, 1837, 1847, 1857, 1866 before we even get to the Great Depression of 1873-96.
harrogateandrew , 2014-09-29 10:01:24
And Socialism doesn't!

Socialism seems to be happy home of corruption & nepotism. The old saw that Tory MP's are brought down by sex scandals whilst Labour MP's have issues with money still holds.

Portman23 harrogateandrew , 2014-09-29 10:06:13
Why is that relevant? This is a critique of neo liberalism and it is a very accurate one at that. It isn't suggesting that Socialism is better or even offers an alternative, just that neo liberalism has failed society and explores some of how and why.
TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 10:01:25
The main problem is that neoliberalism is a faith dressed up as a science and any evidence that disproves the hypothesis (e.g. the 2008 financial collapse) only helps to reinforce the faith of the fundamentalists supporting it.
AlbertaRabbit TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 10:10:36
The reason why "neoliberalism" is so successful is precisely because the evidence shows it does work. It has not escaped peoples' notice that nations where governments heavily curtail individual and commercial freedom are often rather wretched places to live.
TeddyFrench AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 10:31:54
You conflate individual freedom with corporate freedom.

Also, what happened in 2008 then? Anything to do with the hubris over free markets and de-regulation or was it just a blip?

JonPurrtree TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 11:16:25
It would be nice to curtail coprorate freedom without curtailing the freedom of individuals. I don't see how that might work.

"hubris over free markets" might well be it.
But I might be understanding that in a different way from you. People were making irrational decisions that didn't seem to take on basic logic of a free market, or even common sense. Such as "where is all this money coming from" (madoff, house ladder), "of course this will work" (fred goodwin and his takeovers) and even "will i get my money back" (sub-prime lending).

hansen , 2014-09-29 10:02:14
So why don't we do something about it....genuinely? There appears to be no power left in voting unless people are given an actual choice....Is it not time then to to provide a well grounded articulate choice? The research, in many different disciplines, is already out there.
menedemus hansen , 2014-09-29 10:27:39
What can we do? It appears we are stuck between the Labour party and the Conservatives. Is it even possible for another party to come to power with the next couple of elections?
ElDanielfire menedemus , 2014-09-29 11:41:06
The Lib Dems? ;)
gandrew hansen , 2014-09-29 13:04:53
the Greens, clearly.
AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 10:03:31

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

Verhaeghe begins by criticizing free markets and "neo-liberalism", but ends by criticizing the huge, stifling government bureaucracy that endeavours to micro-manage every aspect of its citizens lives, and is the opposite of true classic liberalism.

Must be confusing for him.

Oscar Mandiaz AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-30 01:37:24
probably not as confusing as it seems to be for you.
this is just the difference between neoliberalism in theory and in practise.
like the "real existierende sozialismus" in eastern germany fell somewhat short of the brilliant utopia of the theorists.
verhaeghe does not criticise the theoretical model, but the practical outcome. And the worst governmant and corporate bureaucracy that mankind has ever seen is part of it. The result of 30+ years of neoliberal policies.
In my experience this buerocracy is gets worse in anglo saxon countries closest to the singularity at the bottom of the neolib black hole.
I am aware that this is only a correlation, but correlations, while they do not prove causation, still require explanation.
Bloreheath , 2014-09-29 10:03:35
Some time ago, and perhaps still, it was/is fashionable for Toryish persons to denigrate the 1960s. I look back to that decade with much nostalgia. Nearly everyone had a job of sorts, not terribly well paid but at least it was a job. And now? You are compelled to toil your guts out, kiss somebody's backside, run up unpayable debts - and, in the UK, live in a house that in many other countries would have been demolished decades ago. Scarcely a day passes when I am not partly disgusted at what has overtaken my beloved country.
LargeMarvin Bloreheath , 2014-09-29 11:25:19
And scooters were 150s and 200s.
capchaos , 2014-09-29 10:04:26
An excellent article! The culture of the 80's has ruled for too long and its damage done.... its down to our youth to start to shape things now and I think that's beginning to happen.
Davai capchaos , 2014-09-29 10:20:12
Is it?

I think the levels of debt amongst young 'consumers' would suggest otherwise.

They are after all, only human. Prone to want the baubles dangled in front of them, as are we all.

Gogoh , 2014-09-29 10:06:33
Brilliant article.
IGrumble , 2014-09-29 10:13:27
Neo-Liberalism as operated today. "Greed is Good" and senior bankers and those who sell and buy money, commodities etc; are diven by this trait of humankind.

But we, the People are just as guilty with our drives for 'More'. More over everything, even shopping at the supermarket - "Buy one & get ten free", must have.

Designer ;bling;, clothes, shoes, bags, I-Pads etc etc, etc. It is never ending. People seem to be scared that they haven't got what next has, and next will think that they are 'Not Cool'.

We, the people should be satisfied with what have got, NOT what what we havn't got. Those who "want" (masses of material goods) usually "Dont get!"

The current system is unsustainable as the World' population rises and rises. Nature (Gaia) will take care of this through disease, famine, and of course the stupidity of Humankind - wars, destruction and general stupidity.

pinniped , 2014-09-29 10:13:49
What's a meritocracy? Oh, that's right - a fable that people who have a lot of money deserve it somehow because they're so much better than the people who work for a living.
Keo2008 , 2014-09-29 10:13:54

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

Speak for yourself.

Some of us are just as kind and tolerant as we have always been.

Huples Keo2008 , 2014-09-29 10:37:19
The world is nastier than it was before outsourcing and efficiencies.
I am glad you have emerged unscathed

However be happy he is speaking as it allows your natural tolerance to shine ;-)

AlbertaRabbit Huples , 2014-09-29 11:34:05
The world was an even nastier place before the current era. During the 1970s and early 1980s there was huge inflation which robbed people of their saving, high unemployment, and (shudder) Disco.

People tend to view the past with rose-coloured glasses.

Finn_Nielsen , 2014-09-29 10:15:28
What neoliberalism? We've got a mixed economy, which seemingly upsets both those on the right who wish to cut back the state and those on the left who'd bolster it.
Isiodore , 2014-09-29 10:16:21
I work in a law firm specialising in M&A, hardly the cuddliest of environments, but I recognise almost nothing here as a description of my work place. Sure, some people are wankers but that's true everywhere.
alazarin , 2014-09-29 10:16:26
I'm enjoying watching the logical and conceptual contortions of Kippers on CiF attempting to positions themselves as being against neo-liberalism.
Finn_Nielsen , 2014-09-29 10:17:26

You don't need to look far for examples.

Indeed not, you just made a few up.

Babartov , 2014-09-29 10:19:39
human socieity has always rewarded aggressive individuals willing to tread on others.

it's how we roll

pauledwards1000 , 2014-09-29 10:20:17

"Bullying used to be confined to schools".

That is patently untrue. Have you ever been outside your home and do you actually know anyone?

PeteCW pauledwards1000 , 2014-09-29 10:32:52
Have you ever been outside your home and do you actually know anyone?

This sentence could usefully be applied to the entire article.

Gogoh , 2014-09-29 10:20:46
FDR, the Antichrist of the American Right, famously said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And here we are with this ideology which in many ways stokes the fear. The one thing these bastards don't want most of us to feel is secure.
freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 10:23:16
There is no "free market" anywhere. That is a fantasy. It is a term used when corporations want to complain about regulations. What we have in most industrialized countries is corporate socialism wherein corporations get to internalize profits and externalize costs and losses. It has killed of our economies and our middle class.
dr8765 freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 11:35:11
True. All markets are constructs. Each simply operates according to the parameters put in place by those who have constructed it.

Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor has almost become a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true.

iruka , 2014-09-29 10:26:05
Socialism or barbarism -- a starker choice today than when the phrase was coined.

So long, at least, as we have an evolved notion of what socialism entails. Which means, please, not the state capitalism + benign paternalism that it's unfortunately come to mean for most people, in the course of its parasitical relationship with capitalism proper, and so with all capitalism's inventions (the 'nation', the modern bureaucracy, ever-more-efficient exploitation to cumulatively alienating ends......)

It's just as unfortunate, in this light, that the term 'self-management' has been appropriated by the ideologues of pseudo-meritocracy, in just the way the article describes..

Because it's also a term (from the French autogestion) used to describe what I'd argue is the most nuanced and sophisticated collectivist alternative to capitalism -- an alternative that is at one and the same time a rejection of capitalism.... and of the central role of the state and 'nation' (that phony, illusory community that plays a more central role in empowering the modern state than does its monopoly on violence)... and of the ideology of growth, and of the ideal of monolithic, ruthlessly efficient economic totalities organised to this end....

It's a rejection, in other words, of all those things contemplation of which reminds us just how little fundamental difference there is between capitalism and the system cobbled together on the fly by the Bolsheviks -- same vertical organisation to the ends of the same exploitation, same exploitation to the ends of expanding the scope and scale of vertical organisation, all of it with the same destructive effects on the sociabilities of everyday life....

Self-management in this sense goes beyond 'workers control'; (I'd argue that) it envisions a society in which most aspects of life have been cut free from the ties that bind people vertically to sources of influence and control, however they're constituted (private and public bureaucracies, market pressures, the illusory narratives of nation, mass media and commodity...).

The horizontal ties of workplace and local community would thus be constitutive, by default, and society as a whole would become very little more than the sum of its parts -- mutating on a molecular local level as people collectively and democratically decided, in circumstances that actually granted them the power to do so, how to balance the conflicting needs and desires and necessities that a complex society and a complex division of labour present. 'Balance' because there really isn't any prospect of a utopian resolution of these conflicts -- they come with civilisation -- or with barbarism, for than matter, in any of its modern incarnations.

Etc. etc.. Avoiding work again.....

Finn_Nielsen iruka , 2014-09-29 10:44:27
What about those who disagree with such a radical reordering of society? How would the collective deal with those who wished to exploit it?
I'm genuinely interested, beats working...
AlbertaRabbit iruka , 2014-09-29 11:18:41

The horizontal ties of workplace and local community would thus be constitutive, by default, and society as a whole would become very little more than the sum of its parts -- mutating on a molecular local level as people collectively and democratically decided, in circumstances that actually granted them the power to do so, how to balance the conflicting needs and desires and necessities that a complex society and a complex division of labour present.

Why do socialists so often resort to such turgid, impenetrable prose? Could it be an attempt to mask the vacuity of their position?

Catonaboat , 2014-09-29 10:26:13
I read this article skeptically, but then realised how accurately he described my workplace. Most people I know on the outside have nice middle class lives, but underneath it suffer from anxiety, about 1 not putting enough into their careers 2 not spending enough time with their kids. When I decided to cut my work hours in half when I had a child, 2 of my colleagues were genuinely concerned for me over things like, I might be let go, how would I cope with the drop in money, I was cutting my chances of promotion, how would it look in a review. The level of anxiety was frightening.

People on the forum seem to be criticizing what they see as the authors flippant attitude to sexual freedom and lack of religious hold, but I see the authors point, what good are these freedoms when we are stuck in the stranglehold of no job security and huge mortgage debt. Yes you can have a quick shag with whoever you want and don't need to answer to anyone over it on a Sunday, but come Monday morning its back to the the ever sharpening grindstone.

Norfolk , 2014-09-29 10:26:18
This reminds me of the world I started to work in in 1955. I accept that by 1985 it was ten times worse and by the time I retired in 2002, after 47 years, I was very glad to have what I called "survived". At its worst was the increasing difference between the knowledge base of "the boss" when technology started to kick in. I was called into the boss's office once to be criticised for the length of a report. It had a two page summery of the issue and options for resolving the problem. I very meekly inquired if he had decided on any of the options to resolve the problem. What options are you talking about? was his response, which told me that either he had not read the report or did not understand the problem. This was the least of my problems as I later had to spend two days in his office explaining the analysis we (I) were submitting to the Board.
Fooster , 2014-09-29 10:26:35

A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

Ladies, step away from the jobs.
MissingInActon , 2014-09-29 10:27:29
Speak for yourself.
The current economic situation affects each of us as much as we allow it to. Some may well love neo-liberalism and the concomitant dog eat dog attitude, but there are some of us who regard it as little more than a culture of self-enrichment through lies and aggression. I see it as such, and want nothing to do with it.
If you live by money and power, you'll die by money and power. I prefer to live and work with consensus and co-operation.
I'll never be rich, but I'll never have many enemies.
Jack3 MissingInActon , 2014-09-29 11:30:37

I see it as such, and want nothing to do with it.

Spot on. Neither I.

fanofzapffe , 2014-09-29 10:28:07
I have a book to promote against the 'success narrative'. I'm hoping it fails.
slorter , 2014-09-29 10:30:18
Hedge-fund and private-equity managers, investment bankers, corporate lawyers, management consultants, high-frequency traders, and top lobbyists.They're getting paid vast sums for their labors. Yet it seems doubtful that society is really that much better off because of what they do. They play zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another. They demand ever more cunning innovations but they create no social value. High-frequency traders who win by a thousandth of a second can reap a fortune, but society as a whole is no better off. the games consume the energies of loads of talented people who might otherwise be making real contributions to society - if not by tending to human needs or enriching our culture then by curing diseases or devising new technological breakthroughs, or helping solve some of our most intractable social problems. Robert Reich said this and I am compelled to agree with him!
nishville , 2014-09-29 10:33:03
Brilliant article. It is not going to change anything, of course, because majority of people of this planet would cooperate with just about any psychopath clever enough not to take away from them that last bit of stinking warm mud to wallow in.

Proof? Read history books and take a look around you. We are the dumbest animals on Earth.

PeteCW nishville , 2014-09-29 10:38:25
Yeah - people are stupid scum aren't they? 'Take a look around you' - wallowing in stinking warm mud all the time. Dumb animals.

Elsewhere in this comment - being a clever psychopath is not nice.

Finn_Nielsen PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:45:42
I'm not sure I want anything changed by those who hold humanity in contempt...
petrolheadpaul nishville , 2014-09-29 11:22:14
Rubbish. We are the most intelligent and successful creature that this planet has ever seen. We have become capable of transforming it, leaving it and destroying it.

No other species has come close to any of those.

SpursSupporter , 2014-09-29 10:34:29

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.

I started work nearly 40 years ago and there were always some bullies in the workplace. Maybe there are more now, I don't know but I suspect it is more widely reported now. Workplace bullies were something of a given when I started work and it was an accepted part of the working environment.

Be careful about re-inventing history to suit your own arguments.

richiep40 , 2014-09-29 10:35:01
I'm surprised the normalization of debt was not mentioned. If you are debt free you have more chance of making decisions that don't fit into the model.

So what do we do now, we train nearly 50% of our young that having large amounts of debt is perfectly normal. When I was a student I lived off the grant and had a much lower standard of living than I can see students having now, but of course I had no debt when I graduated. I know student debt is administered differently, I'm talking about the way we are training them to accept debt of all sorts.

Same applies to consumerism inducing the 'I want it and I want it now', increases personal debt, therefore forcing people to fit in, same applies to credit cards and lax personal lending.

Although occasionally there are economic questions about large amounts of personal debt, politically high personal debt is ideal.

PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:35:45
All this article proves is that you've read, and can quote from, books written by other academics that you agree with.
TheKernel PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:41:36
Not sure if you're in the sector, in large parts that's kind of how academia works?

This is also what's referred to in the trade as an opinion piece, where an author will be presenting his views and substantiating them with reference to the researches of others.

Quite simple, really.

Sputnikchaser , 2014-09-29 10:38:33
There is no mystery to neoliberalism -- it is an economic system designed to benefit the 0.1% and leave the rest of us neck deep in shit. That's why our children will be paying for the bankers' bonuses to the day they die. Let's celebrate this new found freedom with all the rest of the Tory lickspittle apologists. Yippee for moral bankruptcy -- three cheers!
Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 10:39:51
David Harvey wrote the best book ever written on the subject.

http://www.sok.bz/web/media/video/ABriefHistoryNeoliberalism.pdf

It's only 200 pages but by god did he nail it.


The Simple Summary is the state/ royality used to hold all the power over the merchants and the public for centuries. Bit by bit the merchants stripped that power away from royality, until eventually the merchants have now taken over everybody. The merchants hold all the power now and they will never give that up as there is nobody to take it from them. By owning the state the merchants now have everything that go with it. The army, police and the laws and the media.

David Harvey puts it all under the microscope and explains in great detail how they've achieved their end game over the last 40 years.

There are millions of economists and many economic theories in our universities. Unfortunately, the merchants will only fund and advertise and support economic theories that further their power and wealth.

As history shows time and time again it will be the public who rip this power from their hands. If they don't give it up it is only a matter of time. The merchants may now own the army, the police, the laws and the parliament. They'll need all of that and more if the public decide to say enough is enough.

Sidefill , 2014-09-29 10:40:51
Bullying used to be confined to schools? Can't agree with that at all. Bullying is an ingrained human tendency which manifests in many contexts, from school to work to military to politics to matters of faith. It is only bad when abused, and can help to form self-confidence.

I am not sure what "neo" means but liberal economics is the basis of the Western economies since the end of feudalism. Some countries have had periods of pronounced social democracy or even socialism but most of western Europe has reverted to the capitalist model and much of the former east bloc is turning to it. As others have noted in the CiF, this does not preclude social policies designed to alleviate the unfair effects of the liberal economies.

But this ship has sailed in other words, the treaties which founded the EU make it clear the system is based on Adam Smith-type free market thinking. (Short of leaving the EU I don't see how that can be changed in its essentials).

Finally, socialist countries require much more conformity of individuals than capitalist ones. So you have to look at the alternatives, which this article does not from what I could see.

jet199 , 2014-09-29 10:42:40
To be honest I don't think Neoliberalism has made much of a difference in the UK where personal responsibility has always been king. In the Victorian age people were quite happy to have people staving to death on the streets and before that people's problems were usually seen as either their own fault or an act of God (which would also be your own fault due to sin). If anything we are kinder to strangers now, than we have been, but are slipping back into our old habits.
I think the best way to combat extreme liberalism is to be knowing about our culture and realise that liberalism is something which is embedded in British culture and is not something imposed on us from else where or by some -ism. It is strengthen not just by politics but also by language and the way we deal with personal and social issues in our own lives. We also need to acknowledge that we get both good and bad things out of living in a liberal society but that doesn't mean we have to put up with the bad stuff. We can put measures in place to prevent the bad stuff and still enjoy the positives even though some capitalists may throw their toys out of the pram.
ForgottenVoice jet199 , 2014-09-29 10:46:38
Personal responsibility is EXACTLY what neoliberalism avoids, even as it advocates it with every breath.

What it means is that you get as much responsibility as you can afford to foist onto someone else, so a very wealthy person gets none at all. It's always someone else's fault.

Neoliberalism has actually undermined personal responsibility at every single step, delegating it according to wealth or perceived worth.

dairymaid jet199 , 2014-09-29 11:37:13
If Liberalism is the mindset of the British how come we created the NHS, Legal Aid, universal education and social security? These were massive achievements of a post war generation and about as far removed from today's evil shyster politics as it is possible to be.
NaturalOutswing , 2014-09-29 10:43:32
"Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens"

What to people mean when they use the word "society" in this context?

gjjwatson , 2014-09-29 10:46:23
When we stopped having jobs and had careers instead, the rot set in. A career is the promotion of the self and a job the means to realise that goal at the expense of everyone else around you.
The description of psychopathic behaviour perfectly describes a former boss of mine (female). I liked her but knew how dangerous she was. She went easy on me because she knew that I could do the job that she would claim credit for.
The pressure and stress of, for example open plan offices and evaluation reports are all part of the conscious effort on behalf of employers to ensure compliance with this poisonous attitude.
The greatest promoter of this philosophy is the Media, step forward Evan Davies, the slobbering lap dog of the rich and powerful.
On the positive side I detect a growing realisation among normal people of the folly of this worldview.
RamjetMan gjjwatson , 2014-09-29 10:53:56
Self promoters are generally psychopaths who don't have any empathy for the people around them who carry them everyday and make them look good. We call these people show bags. Full of shit and you have to carry them all the time....
anorak , 2014-09-29 10:46:37
No shit Sherlock. Did you get a grant for this extensive research?
ID8665572 , 2014-09-29 10:49:43
"meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others..."
I put to you the simple premsie that you can substitute "meritocratic neoliberalism" with any political system (communism, fascism, social democracy even) and it the same truism would emerge.
Martyn Blackburn , 2014-09-29 10:50:06
"Neoliberalism promotes individual freedom, limited government, and deregulation of the economy...whilst individual freedom is a laudable idea, neoliberalism taken to a dogmatic extreme can be used to justify exploitation of the less powerful and pillaging of the natural environment." - Don Ambrose.

Contrast with this:

"Neoliberal democracy, with its notion of the market uber alles ...instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralised and socially powerless." - Robert W. McChesney in Profit over People, Noam Chomsky.

It is fairly clear that the neoliberal system is designed to exploit the less powerfull when it becomes dogmatic, and that is exactly what it has become: beaurocracy, deregulation, privatisation, and government power .

ForgottenVoice , 2014-09-29 10:50:10
Neoliberalism is a virus that destroys people's power of reason and replaces it with extra greed and self entitlement. Until it is kicked back to the insane asylum it came from it will only keep trying to make us it's indentured labourers. The only creeds more vile were Nazism and Apartheid. Eventually the neoliberals will kill us all, so they can have the freedom to have everything they think they're worth.
pagey23 , 2014-09-29 10:50:48
Liberal Socialism is what we have, how is 45% of the economy run by government and a 1 trillion pound debt economic liberalism
RamjetMan pagey23 , 2014-09-29 10:57:08
Yes we have big government and a finance system which prop each other up. Why it's called neoliberalism is beyond me.
MSP1984 , 2014-09-29 10:51:35

Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Isn't a key feature of neo-liberalism that governments de-regulate? It seems you're willing to blame absolutely everything on neoliberalism, even those things that neoliberalism ostensibly opposes.

Sandra Mae , 2014-09-29 10:52:53
The Professor is correct. We have crafted a nightmare of a society where what is considered good is often to the detriment of the whole community. It is reflected in our TV shows of choice, Survivor, Big Brother, voting off the weakest or the greatest rival. A half a million bucks for being the meanest most sociopathic person in the group, what great entertainment.
Jem Bo , 2014-09-29 10:53:35
articulateness - not much fluency in a sentence when using that word is there?
Choller21 Jem Bo , 2014-09-29 10:58:30
Articulocity.
illeist , 2014-09-29 10:54:39
Always a treat to read your articles, Mr Verhaeghe; well written and supported with examples and external good links. I especially like the link to Hare's site which is a rich resource of information and current discussions and presentations on the subject.

The rise of the psychopath in society has been noted for some time, as have the consequences of this behaviour in wider society and and a growing indifference and increased tolerance for this behaviour.

But what are practical solutions? MRI brain scans and early intervention? We know that behaviour modification does not work, we know that antipsychotic and other psychiatric medication does not alter this behaviour, we know little of genetic causes or if diet and nutrition play a role.

Maybe it is because successful psychopaths leverage themselves into positions of influence and power and reduce the voice, choices and influence of their victims that psychopathy has become such an unsolvable problem, or at least a problem that has been removed from the stage of awareness. It is so much easier to see the social consequences of psychopathy than it is to see the causal activity of psychopaths themselves.

Jack3 illeist , 2014-09-29 11:54:12
To deal with this problem is the most urgent and crucial for humanity if we hope for any future at all.
dr8765 , 2014-09-29 10:54:46
Great article. Thanks.
tufsoft , 2014-09-29 11:00:33
People are pretty much bound to behave this way when you replace the family with the individual as the primary unit of society
quark007 , 2014-09-29 11:02:51
Neoliberalism has entered centre stage politics not as a solution, it is just socialism with a crowd pleasing face. What could the labour party do to get voted in when the leadership consisted of self professed intellectuals in Donkey Jackets which they wore to patronise the working classes. Like the animal reflected in the name they became a laughing stock. Nobody understood their language or cared for it. The people who could understand it claimed that it was full of irrelevant hyperbole and patronising sentiment.

It still is but with nice sounding buzz words and an endless sound bites, the face of politics has been transformed into a hollow shell. Neither of the party's faithful are happy with their leaders. They have become centre stage by understanding process more than substance. As long as your face fits, a person has every chance of success. Real merit on the other hand is either sadly lacking or non existant.

gman1 , 2014-09-29 11:05:43
banxters blah blah
LargeMarvin , 2014-09-29 11:06:40
As one who was a working class history graduate in 1970, this is not exactly news.
Andyz , 2014-09-29 11:08:13
Most people's personalities and behaviour are environment driven, they are moulded by the social context in which they find themselves. The system we currently inhabit is one which is constructed on behalf of the holders of capital, it is a construct of the need to create wealth through interest bearing debt.

The values of this civilisation are consumer ones, we validate and actualise ourselves through ownership of goods, and also the middle-class norms of family life, which are in and of themselves constructs of a liberal consumer based society.

We pride ourselves on tolerance, which is just veiled indifference to anything which we feel as no importance to our own desires. People are becoming automatons, directed through media devices and advertising, and also the implanted desires which the consumer society needs us to act upon to maintain the current system of economy.

None of this can of course survive indefinitely, hence the constant state of underlying anxiety within society as it ploughs along on this suicidal route.

Finn_Nielsen Andyz , 2014-09-29 11:13:15
WAKE UP SHEEPLE
Fence2 , 2014-09-29 11:09:28
Good article, however I would just like to add that the new breed of 'business psychopath' you allude to are fairly easy to spot these days, and as such more people are aware of them, so they could be displaced quite soon, hopefully.
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:10:22
Cameron and the Conservatives have long been condemning the lazy and feckless at the bottom of society, but has Cameron ever looked at his aristocratic in-laws.

His father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, can be checked out on Wikipedia.

His only work seems to have been eight years as a conservative councillor (lazy).

He is a member of three clubs, so he likes to go pissing it up with his rich friends (feckless).

This seems to be total sum of his life's achievements.

He also gets Government subsidies for wind turbines on his land (on benefits).
His estate has been in the family since the 16th Century and the family have probably done very little since, yet we worry about the lower classes having two generations without work, in the upper classes this can go on for centuries.

Wasters don't just exist at the bottom of society.

Mr. Cameron have a closer look at your aristocratic in-laws.

colddebtmountain , 2014-09-29 11:12:39

This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

Fundamentally the whole concept is saying "real talent is to be hunted down since, if you do not destroy it, it will destroy you". As a result we have a whole army of useless twats in high positions with not an independent thought between them. The concept of the old boys network has really taken over except now the members are any mental age from zero upwards.

And then we wonder why nothing is done prperly these days....

regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:13:44
If you want to get into this in a bit more depth:

"Status Anxiety" by Alain de Botton is worth a read.

Also, a better insight into the psychopaths amongst us, including bankers, can be gained from Robert Hare's book:

"Without Conscience"

yoghurt2 , 2014-09-29 11:14:19
Neoliberalism is fine in some areas of self-development and actualization of potential, but taken as a kind of religion or as the be-all and end-all it is a manifest failure. For a start it neglects to acknowledge what people have in common, the idea of shared values, the notion of society, the effects of synergy and the geo-biological fact that we are one species all inhabiting the same single planet, a planet that is uniquely adapted to ourselves, and to which we are uniquely adapted.

Generally it works on the micro-scale to free up initiative, but on the macro-scale it is hugely destructive, since its goals are not the welfare of the entire human race and the planet but something far more self-interested.

undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:14:37

I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

This is inevitable. All societies have this property. A warrior society rewards brave fighters and inspiring leaders, while punishing weaklings and cowards. A theocracy rewards those who display piety and knowledge of religious tradition, and punishes skeptics and taboo-breakers. Tyrannies reward cunning, ruthless schemers while punishing the squeamish and naive. Bureaucratic societies reward pernickety types who love rules and regulationsn, and punish those who are careless of jots and tittles. And so on.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents

It does. In fact, it does in all societies to some extent, even societies that strive to be egalitarian, and societies that try to restrict social mobility by imposing a rigid caste system. There are always individuals who fall or rise through society as a result of their abilities or lack thereof. The freer society is, the more this happens.

For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom.

Straw man. Even anarchists don't believe in completely unrestricted choice, let alone neoliberals. Neoliberalism accepts that people are inevitably limited by their abilities and their situation. Personal responsibility does not depend on complete freedom. It depends on there being some freedom. If you have enough freedom to make good or bad choices, then you have personal responsibility.

Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The idea of the perfectible individual has nothing to do with neoliberalism. On the other hand, it is one of the central pillars of Marxism. In philosophy, Marx is noted as an example of thinker who follows a perfectionist ethical theory.
undersinged undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:18:55
One more: Socialist societies reward lazy and feckless people, and punish strivers who display initiative.
gjjwatson undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:22:15
You miss the point. Neoliberalism promotes negative values and is used consciously to control personal freedom and undermine positive individuality.
Vanillaicetea undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:39:22
An excellent demolition of this piece of whiny idiocy.
variation31 , 2014-09-29 11:16:27
A frightening article, detailing now the psychological strenngths of people are recruited, perverted and rotted by this rat-race ethic.

Ironic that the photo, of Canary Wharf, shows one of the biggest "socialist" gifts of the country (was paid largely by the British taxpayer, if memory serves me correctly, and more or less gifted to the merchant bankers by Thatcher).

66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:16:34
Meritocratic neoliberalism; superficial articulateness which I used to call 'the gift of the gab'. In my job, I was told to be 'extrovert' and I bucked against this, as a prejudice against anyone with a different personality and people wanting CLONES. Not sensible people, or people that could do a job, but a clone; setting the system up for a specific type of person as stated above. Those who quickly tell you, you are wrong. Those that make you think perhaps you are, owing to their confidence. Until your quietness proves them to be totally incorrect, and their naff confidence demonstrates the falseness of what they state.
JonPurrtree 66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:17:25
I call it the bullshit based economy.
undersinged JonPurrtree , 2014-09-29 11:23:55
Most of the richest people in the world are not bullshitters. There are some, to be sure, but the majority are either technical or financial engineers of genius, and they've made their fortune through those skills, rather than through bullshit.
JonPurrtree undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:30:52
Plenty of bullshit keeping companies afloat.

Apart from tetra brik. Thats a useful product.

66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:19:11
Hague lied to the camera about GCHQ having permission to access anyone's electronic devices. He did not blush, he merely stated that a warrant was required. Only the night before we were shown a letter from GCHQ stating that they had access without any warrant.

The ability to LIE has become a VIRTUE that all of us could well LIVE WITHOUT.

undersinged 66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 17:34:47

The ability to LIE has become a VIRTUE

That's not new. It has been widely held that rulers have a right (and sometimes a duty) to lie ever since Machiavelli's Prince was published some 500 years ago.
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:19:34
The thinking behind our age was covered in a three part BBC documentary "The Trap".

It was made in 2006, before the financial crisis.

http://thoughtmaybe.com/the-trap/

Why was Iraq such a disaster?
Find out in Part 3.

seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:26:02

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference.

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose.
-Janice Joplin

RaymondDance seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:45:35

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose.
-Janice Joplin

Kris Kristofferson actually,

LargeMarvin seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 14:46:09
Actually it was written by Kris Kristofferson and, having a house, a job pension and an Old Age Pension, frankly, I disagree. The Grateful Dead version is better anyway.
mjhunbeliever seamuspadraig , 2014-09-30 15:46:19
This little video may throw some light on that for you, Paradox of Choice.
dr8765 , 2014-09-29 11:26:23

.... economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities.

I have long thought that introverts are being marginalised in our society. Being introvert seems to be seen by some as almost an illness, by others as virtually a crime.

Not keen on attending that "team bonding" weekend? There must be something wrong with you. Unwilling to set out your life online for all to see? What have you got to hide?

A few very driven and talented introverts have managed to find a niche in the world of IT and computers, earnig fortunes from their bedrooms. But for most, being unwilling or unable to scream their demands and desires across a crowded room is interpreted as "not trying" or being not worth listening to.

seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:28:28

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

Perfectly describes our new ruling-class, doesn't it!

Monchberter , 2014-09-29 11:30:05
Neoliberalism:

'Get on', or get f*****d.
Be hard working, or be dispensable.

Trilbey Monchberter , 2014-09-29 12:32:14
Does neoliberalism = fascism = brutality?
Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:30:29

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

Sounds like a perfect description of newspaper columnists to me.

illogicalcaptain , 2014-09-29 11:33:08
It's just the general spirit of the place: it's on such a downer and no amount of theorising and talking will ever solve anything. There isn't a good feeling about this country anymore just a lot of tying everyone up in in repressive knots with a lot of hooey like talk and put downs. We need to find freedom again or maybe shove all the pricks into one part of the country and leave them there to fuck each other over so the rest of us can create a new world free of bullcrap. I don't know. Place is a superficial mess: 'look at me; look at what I own; I can cook Coq Au Vin and drink bottles of expensive plonk and keep ten cars on my driveway'
Nah. Fortuneately there are still some decent people left but it's been like Hamlet now for quite some time - "show me an honest man and I'll show you one man in ten thousand" Sucks.
chriskilby , 2014-09-29 11:33:17
So it's official. We are ruled by psychopaths. Figures.
Trilbey chriskilby , 2014-09-29 12:35:58
Perhaps I can help out. There's some good research here:

Are CEOs and Entrepreneurs psychopaths? Multiple studies say "Yes

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/drishtikone/2013/10/are-ceos-and-entrepreneurs-psychopaths-multiple-studies-say-yes/

Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 11:33:31
This article is spot on and reflects Karl Marx's analysis regarding the economic base informing and determining the superstructure of a given society, that is, its social, cultural aspects. A neo-liberal, monetarist economy will shape and influence social and work relationships in ways that are not beneficial for the many but as the commentator states, will benefit those possessed of certain thrusting,domineering character traits. The common use of the word "loser" in contemporary society to describe those who haven't "succeeded" financially is in itself telling.
Trilbey Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 12:37:59
Some people are brave enough to buck the system, I'm not, I just keep going to work everyday to get slaughtered.
LargeMarvin Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 14:48:16
Freud's model of the mind is pretty good too, though psychoanalysis itself is controversial. The Krel forgot one thing.................
qwertboi , 2014-09-29 11:34:29
What an incisive article!

It would be the perfect first chapter (foreword/introduction) in a best seller that goes on, chapter by chapter, to show that neoliberalism destroys everything it touches:

Personal relationships;
trust;
personal integrity;
trust;
relationships;
trust;
transactions and trade;
trust;
market systems;
trust;
communities;
trust;
political relationships;
trust;

Etc., etc., etc..
trust;
society;
trust;

Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 11:35:37
This analysis can be found in Marx's critique of the economy published in 1859.
lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 11:36:17
James Meek seems to have nailed it in his recent book, where he pointed out that the socially conservative Thatcher, who wanted a society based on good old fashioned values, helped to create the precise opposite with her enthusiasm for the neoliberal model. Now we are sinking into a dog-eat-dog dystopia.
Trilbey lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 12:53:48
Many of the good old fashioned conservatives had time honoured values. They believed in taking care of yourself but they also believed in integrity and honesty. They believed in living modestly and would save much of their money rather than just spend it, and so would put some aside for a rainy day. They believed in the community and were often active about local issues. They cared about the countryside and the wildlife. They often recycled which went along with their thriftiness and hatred of waste.

This all vanished when Thatcher came in with her selfish 'greed is good' brigade. Loads of money!

LargeMarvin lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 14:49:34
Even shampoo and sets have not come back, though unfortunately slickbacks have.
PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 11:36:31

We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance –

Ha Ha!...

Oh, wait, now I'm sad.... Damn it.

freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 11:38:34
There is nothing "neo" nor "liberal" about neoliberalism. It is a cover for corporations and the wealthy elite to get more corporate welfare .
PonyBoyUK freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 12:28:59
Take what you do, define it in a word or two and then use the most concise antonym. - That is what you will tell the public.

State-protected oligopolies = "The Free Market"

Aggressive wars on civilian populations = "The war on Terror" / "The Ministry of Defence"

Age-old economic oppression = "Neoliberal economics"

Public Manipulation = "Public Relations"

Political Oppression = "Democracy"

LargeMarvin freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 14:50:47
In practice yes, but on the theoretical level the title is valid. It is the resurrection of policies from the 1860s.
Toeparty , 2014-09-29 11:38:44
Capitalist alienation is a daily practise. The daily practise of competing with and using people. This gives rise to the ideology that society and other people are but a means to an end rather than an end in themselves that is of course when they are not a frightening a existential competitive threat. Contempt and fear. That is what we are reduced to by the buying and selling of labour power and yes, only a psychopath can thrive under such conditions.
Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:42:49
According to the left if your only ambition is to watch Jeremy Kyle, pick up a welfare cheque once a week and vote for which ever party will promise to give you £10 a week more in welfare: you're an almost saint like figure.

If you actually do something to try to create a better and more independent life for yourself, your family and your community: you're "displaying psychopathic tendencies" .

Raymond Ashworth Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:49:07
Strawman.
Themiddlegound Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:49:49
If you actually do something to try to create a better and more independent life for yourself, your family and your community: you're "displaying psychopathic tendencies".

So how do you create a better community ?

By paying your taxes on your wealth that so many of you try to avoid. Here lies the crux of the matter. There would be no deficit if taxes were paid.

Some of the rich are so psychpathic they think jsut because they employ people they shouldn't pay any tax. They think the employees should pay thier tax for them.

Why has tax become such a dirty word ? Think about it before you answer.

RaymondDance Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:54:25

There would be no deficit if taxes were paid.

Of course there would.

Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:45:14
I've studied neoliberalism for nearly 20 years.

The conclusion is for me is that it is a brilliant economic model. It is the sheer apathy of the voters and that they are cowards because they don't make it work for them. They allow the people who own the theory to run it for themselves and thus they get all the benefits from it.

I'll try and explain.

Their business plan.

The truth is neoliberalism has infact made the rich western countries poorer and helped so many other poorer countries around the world get richer. Let's face facts here giving to charities would never have achieved this and something needed to be done to even up this world inequality. The only way you are ever going to achieve world peace is if everybody is equal. It's not by chance this theory was introduced by America. They are trying to bring that equality to everyone so that world peace can be achieved. How many more illegal wars and deaths this will take and for how long nobody knows. They are also very sinister and selfish and greedy because if the Americans do achieve what they are trying to do. They will own and countrol the world via washington and the dollar. The way the Americans see it is that the inequality created within each country is a bribe to each power structure within that country which helps America achieve it's long term goals. It creates inequality within each country but at the same time creates equality on the world stage. It might take 100 years to achieve and millions of deaths but eventually every country will be another state of America and look and act like any American state. Once that is achieved world peace will follow. America see it as a war and they also see millions of deaths as acceptable to achieve their end game. I of course disagree there must be a better way. How will history look at this dark period in history in 300 years time if it does achieve world peace in 150 years time ?

In each country neoliberalism works but at the moment it only works for the few because the voters allow it. The voters allow them to get away with it through submission. They've allowed their parliaments to be taken over without a fight and allowed their brains to be brainwashed by the media controlled by the few. Which means the the whole story of neoliberalism has been skewed into a very narrow view which always suits and promotes the voices of the few.

Why did the voters allow that to happen ?

Their biggest success the few had over the many was to create an illusion that made tax a toxic word. They attacked tax with everything they had to form an illusion in the voters minds that paying tax was a bad thing and it was everybodys enemy. Then they passed laws to enhance that view and trotted out scare stories around tax and that if they had to pay it then everybody would leave that country. They created a world set up for them and ulitimately destroyed any chance at all, for the success of neoliberalism to be shared by the many. This was their biggest success to make sure the wealth of neoliberalism stayed with them.

As the author of this piece says quite clearly. "An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities"

One of these traits is that they believe they shouldn't pay tax because they are creating jobs and the tax their employees pay should be the amount of tax these companies pay. Again this makes sure that the wealth is not shared.

Since they now own and control parliaments they also use the state to pay these wages in the way of tax credits and subsidies and grants as they refuse to pay their employees a living wage. It is our taxes they use to do this. Again this is to make sure that the wealth is not shared.

There are too many examples to list of how they make sure that the wealth generated by neoliberalism is not shared. Then surely it is up to the voters to make sure it does. Neoliberalism works and it would work for everybody if the voters would just grow a set of balls. Tax avoidance was the battle that won the war for the few. It is time the voters revisited that battle and re write it so that the outcome was that the many won not just the few. For example there would be no deficit if the many had won that battle. Of course they wouldn't have left a market of 60 million people with money in their pockets, it would have been business suicide.

This is a great example of how they created an illusion, a false culture, a world that does not exist. The focus is all on the deficit and how to fix it, as they socialise the losses and privatise the profits. There is no eyes or light shed on why there is a deficit due to tax avoidance. It's time we changed that and made Neoliberlaism work for us. If we don't then we can't complain when it only works for the few.

Neoliberlaism works. It's about time we owned it for ourselves. Otherwise we'll always be slaves to it. It's not the theory that is corrupt it is the people who own it.

RaymondDance Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:53:29

There is no eyes or light shed on why there is a deficit due to tax avoidance.

... or because politicians have discovered that you can buy votes by giving handouts even to those who don't need them, thereby making everyone dependent on the largesse of the state and, by extension, promoting the interests of the most irresponsible politicians and the bureaucracies they represent.

dr8765 Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 12:02:36
You seem to regard what you call neoliberalism as a creator of wealth. You then claim that the reason for this wealth accruing almost entirely to an elite few is the "the voters" have prevented neoliberalism from distributing the wealth more equitably.

I can't really follow the logic of your argument.

Neoliberalism seems to be working perfectly for those few who are in a position to exploit it. It's doing what it's designed to do.

I agree that the ignorance of "the voters" is allowing the elite to get away with it. But the voters should be voting for those who propose an alternative economic model. Unfortunately, in the western world at the present time, they have no viable alternative to vote for, because the neoliberals have captured all of the mainstream political parties and institutions.

Themiddlegound RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 12:03:10
That's all fine and dandy and I agree.

However, you missed one of the main points. Our parliament has been taken over by the few.

One man used to and probably still does strike fear into the government. Murdoch. Problem is there are millions like him that lobby and control policy and the media.

foralltime , 2014-09-29 11:46:59
..."There are regulations about everything,"... Yes, but higher up the scale you go, the less this regulation is enforced, less individual accountability and less transparency. Neoliberalism has turned society on its head. We see ever growing corporate socialism subsidising the top 1% and heavily regulated hard nosed market capitalism for the rest of us resulting in massive inequality in wealth distribution. This inequality by design makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. We've created a society where people who were once valued as an individual part of that society are now treated as surplus to requirements and somehow need to be eliminated.
RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 11:50:02

Bullying used to be confined to schools

Blimey - and people like this constantly accuse conservatives of being nostalgic for a past that never existed.

LargeMarvin RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 14:54:59
Fair comment. I went to a grammar school where there was, luckily, very little bullying. The bullying happened when I got back to the 'hood.
zavaell , 2014-09-29 11:51:37
All I know is that when I read the comments on cif, I cannot believe that these are people who would be expected to read the Guardian.
RaymondDance zavaell , 2014-09-29 11:56:26

I cannot believe that these are people who would be expected to read the Guardian.

One of the best things about cif is that it allows a wider audience to see just how deluded and narcissistic Guardian readers are.

busyteacher zavaell , 2014-09-29 12:23:12
They're mostly tight g*ts who refuse to pay to use the Mail/Telegraph sites. This is just about the last free forum left now and it's attracting all kinds of undesirables. The level of personal insult has gone up enormously since they came here. Most of us traditional Ciffers don't bother with many posts here any more, it's too boring now.
LargeMarvin zavaell , 2014-09-29 14:55:44
It's called Revenge of the Killer Clerks.
WarwickC , 2014-09-29 11:53:18

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves.

That's always been the way, I think. It's life.
We are all of us the descendants of a million generations of successful organisms, human and pre-human.
The ones that didn't succeed fel by the wayside.
We're the ones left to tell the tale.

Stephen Porter WarwickC , 2014-09-29 12:34:35
We're the ones left to tell the tale"

and what a tale it will be for the last human standing!

EstebanMurphy WarwickC , 2014-09-29 13:14:33

That's always been th

[Aug 29, 2016] Its remarkable how rarely the immigration debate is prefaced with an explicit prior that we should give absolute priority to what is best for the receiving county and their citizens.

Notable quotes:
"... As you note, its not clear that we in the US need ANY immigration; it's hard to claim that 300 million people is not enough. If we choose to allow immigration, it should be few and strongly selective, i.e. the cream of the crop and selected to benefit the US. ..."
"... But it benefits the Mandarin class, so opposition or even debate been defined by them as heresy. It appears that the non-Mandarin class, who has to live with the downsides, is staring to reject this orthodoxy. ..."
"... We import, legally, 50,000 people (plus families IIRC) via a random visa lottery. This verges on insanity. ..."
"... H1-B applicants require a BA or equivalent, but are then selected by lottery. Hardly selected specifically for the needs of the country. In 2015, 6 of the top 10 firms by number of applications approved were Indian IT firms (i.e. outsourcing. I'm sure you are aware of the long term and recent complaints concerning direct replacement of US citizens by these workers. ..."
"... I find the system you describe which relies, by design, on perpetually importing new waves of a helot underclass to be both immoral and unsustainable. ..."
Aug 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Observer -> ken melvin... Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 09:04 AM

It's remarkable how rarely the immigration debate is prefaced with an explicit prior that we should give absolute priority to what is best for the receiving county and their citizens.

As you note, its not clear that we in the US need ANY immigration; it's hard to claim that 300 million people is not enough. If we choose to allow immigration, it should be few and strongly selective, i.e. the cream of the crop and selected to benefit the US.

Its not credible to complain about low employment/population ratios, limited wage pressures, high poverty rates, overburdened social safety nets, limited prospects for those on the left side of the bell curve, and inequality, and simultaneously support more immigration of the poor, unskilled, or difficult to assimilate.

But it benefits the Mandarin class, so opposition or even debate been defined by them as heresy. It appears that the non-Mandarin class, who has to live with the downsides, is staring to reject this orthodoxy.

Observer -> DeDude... , Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:46 AM
We import, legally, 50,000 people (plus families IIRC) via a random visa lottery. This verges on insanity.

H1-B applicants require a BA or equivalent, but are then selected by lottery. Hardly selected specifically for the needs of the country. In 2015, 6 of the top 10 firms by number of applications approved were Indian IT firms (i.e. outsourcing. I'm sure you are aware of the long term and recent complaints concerning direct replacement of US citizens by these workers.

I'm in favor of significant penalties for employing illegal workers.

DeDude -> Observer... , Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 10:34 AM
Yes lets debate who is going to take care of washing and changing adult diapers on 80 million baby boomers as they deteriorate towards their final resting place, and who is going to dig the holes if we have deported all those who know which end of a shovel is the business end.
Observer -> DeDude... , Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:24 AM
I find the system you describe which relies, by design, on perpetually importing new waves of a helot underclass to be both immoral and unsustainable.

But I can see the short term attraction for the Mandarins.

The fact that a helot class makes many of our citizens effectively unemployable is just, I suppose, collateral damage?

People can learn which end of shovel works.

[Aug 29, 2016] The power of neoliberal brainwashing and indoctrination of population via MSM, schools and universities.

economistsview.typepad.com

nikbez: August 28, 2016 at 10:06 AM

That's simply naïve:

=== quote ===
It has recently become commonplace to argue that globalization can leave people behind, and that this can have severe political consequences. Since 23 June, this has even become conventional wisdom. While I welcome this belated acceptance of the blindingly obvious, I can't but help feeling a little frustrated, since this has been self-evident for many years now. What we are seeing, in part, is what happens to conventional wisdom when, all of a sudden, it finds that it can no longer dismiss as irrelevant something that had been staring it in the face for a long time.
=== end of quote ==

This is not about "conventional wisdom". This is about the power of neoliberal propaganda, the power of brainwashing and indoctrination of population via MSM, schools and universities.

And "all of a sudden, it finds that it can no longer dismiss as irrelevant something that had been staring it in the face for a long time." also has nothing to do with conventional wisdom.

This is about the crisis of neoliberal ideology and especially Trotskyism part of it (neoliberalism can be viewed as Trotskyism for the rich). The following integral elements of this ideology no longer work well and are starting to cause the backlash:

1. High level of inequality as the explicit, desirable goal (which raises the productivity). "Greed is good" or "Trickle down economics" -- redistribution of wealth up will create (via higher productivity) enough scrapes for the lower classes, lifting all boats.

2. "Neoliberal rationality" when everything is a commodity that should be traded at specific market. Human beings also are viewed as market actors with every field of activity seen as a specialized market. Every entity (public or private, person, business, state) should be governed as a firm. "Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices." People are just " human capital" who must constantly tend to their own present and future market value.

3. Extreme financialization or converting the economy into "casino capitalism" (under neoliberalism everything is a marketable good, that is traded on explicit or implicit exchanges.

4. The idea of the global, USA dominated neoliberal empire and related "Permanent war for permanent peace" -- wars for enlarging global neoliberal empire via crushing non-compliant regimes either via color revolutions or via open military intervention.

5. Downgrading ordinary people to the role of commodity and creating three classes of citizens (moochers, or Untermensch, "creative class" and top 0.1%), with the upper class (0.1% or "Masters of the Universe") being above the law like the top level of "nomenklatura" was in the USSR.

6. "Downsizing" sovereignty of nations via international treaties like TPP, and making transnational corporations the key political players, "the deciders" as W aptly said. Who decide about level of immigration flows, minimal wages, tariffs, and other matters that previously were prerogative of the state.

So after 36 (or more) years of dominance (which started with triumphal march of neoliberalism in early 90th) the ideology entered "zombie state". That does not make it less dangerous but its power over minds of the population started to evaporate. Far right ideologies now are filling the vacuum, as with the discreditation of socialist ideology and decimation of "enlightened corporatism" of the New Deal in the USA there is no other viable alternatives.

The same happened in late 1960th with the Communist ideology. It took 20 years for the USSR to crash after that with the resulting splash of nationalism (which was the force that blow up the USSR) and far right ideologies.

It remains to be seen whether the neoliberal US elite will fare better then Soviet nomenklatura as challenges facing the USA are now far greater then challenges which the USSR faced at the time. Among them is oil depletion which might be the final nail into the coffin of neoliberalism and, specifically, the neoliberal globalization.

[Aug 29, 2016] [Aug 29, 2016]Commnets to the article Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us by Paul Verhaeghe

Notable quotes:
"... As disgusted and determined as we might be, we still have to operate within the 'neoliberal' system. We are all 'us' in this context and we are all a product of our environment to some extent. however crap that environment might be. ..."
"... Combined with offshoring of as many jobs abroad as possible, free movement of unskilled workers and the use of agency labour to undercut pay and conditions, the future looks bleak. ..."
"... There is nothing meritocratic about neoliberlaism. Its about who you know. ..."
"... I understand what you say, and there is definitely an element within society which values Success above all else, but I do not personally know anyone like that. ..."
"... .....By "us" of course, you mean commies. I think you are inadvertently demonstrating another of Hares psychopath test features; a lack of empathy and self awareness. ..."
"... I've worked in a few large private companies over the years, and my experience is they increasingly resemble some sort of cult, with endless brainwashing programmes for the 'members', charismatic leaders who can do no wrong, groupthink, mandatory utilisation of specialist jargon (especially cod-psychological terminology) to differentiate those 'in' and those 'out', increased blurring of the lines between 'private' and 'work' life (your ass belongs to us 24-7) and of course, constant, ever more complex monitoring of the 'members' for 'heretical thoughts or beliefs'. ..."
"... And the most striking idea here: Our characters are partly moulded by society. And neo-liberal society, and it's illusions of freedom, has moulded many of us in ways that bring out the worst in us. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism has however killed off post war social mobility. In fact according to the OECD report into social mobility, the more egalitarian a developed society is, the more social mobility there is, the more productivity and the less poverty and social problems there are. ..."
Aug 29, 2016 | discussion.theguardian.com

Happytobeasocialist, 2014-09-29 09:07:21

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

Less of the 'us' please. there are plenty of people who are disgusted by neoliberalism and are determined to bring it down

Pasdabong Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:28:58
As disgusted and determined as we might be, we still have to operate within the 'neoliberal' system. We are all 'us' in this context and we are all a product of our environment to some extent. however crap that environment might be.
InconvenientTruths Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:39:02
Neo-Liberal Elephant

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only chaned

If you have no mandate for such change, it breeds resentment.

For example, race & immigration was used by NuLabour in a blatant attempt at mass societal engineering (via approx 8%+ increase in national population over 13 years).

It was the most significant betrayal in modern democratic times, non mandated change extraordinaire, not only of British Society, but the core traditional voter base for Labour.

To see people still trying to deny it took place and dismiss the fallout of the cultural elephant rampaging around the United Kingdom is as disingenuous as it is pathetic.

Labour are the midwives of UKiP.

This cultural elephant has tusks.

SaulZaentz , 2014-09-29 09:10:36
It's a race to the bottom, and has lead to such "success stories" as G4S, Serco, A4E, ATOS, Railtrack, privatised railways, privatised water and so on.

It's all about to get even worse with TTIP, and if that fails there is always TISA which mandates privatisation of pretty much everything - breaking state monopolies on public services.

Combined with offshoring of as many jobs abroad as possible, free movement of unskilled workers and the use of agency labour to undercut pay and conditions, the future looks bleak.

Happytobeasocialist , 2014-09-29 09:13:38

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents

There is nothing meritocratic about neoliberlaism. Its about who you know. In the UK things have gone backwards almost to the 1950s. Changes which were brought about by the expansion of universities have pretty much been reversed. The establishment - politics, media, business is dominated by the better=off Oxbridge elite.

AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:16:42
It is difficult for me to agree. I have grown up within Neoliberalism being 35, but you describe no one I know. People I know weigh up the extra work involved in a promotion and decide whether the sacrifice is worth the extra money/success.

People I know go after their dreams, whether that be farming or finance. I understand what you say, and there is definitely an element within society which values Success above all else, but I do not personally know anyone like that.

JamesValencia AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:25:40
He's saying people's characters are changed by their environment. That they aren't set in stone, but are a function of culture. And that the socio-cultural shift in the last few decades is a bad thing, and is bad for our characters. In your words: The dreams have changed.

It's convincing, except it isn't as clear as it could be.

AntiTerrorist JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 09:38:49
I understand his principle but as proof, he sites very specific examples...

A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

This is used as an example to show the shifting mindset. But as I stated, this describes no one I know. We, us, commenting here are society. I agree that there has been a shift in culture and those reaping the biggest financial rewards are the greedy. But has that not always been the way, the self interested have always walked away with the biggest slice, perhaps at the moment that slice has become larger still, but most people still want to have a comfortable life, lived their way. People haven't changed as much as the OP believes.

The great lie is that financial reward is success and happiness.

CityBoy2006 AntiTerrorist , 2014-09-29 09:52:05

This is used as an example to show the shifting mindset. But as I stated, this describes no one I know

Indeed even in the "sociopathic" world of fund management and investment banking, the vast majority of people establish a balance for how they wish to manage their work and professional lives and evaluate decisions in light of them both.

GordonLiddle , 2014-09-29 09:17:21
One could use another word or two, crony capitalism being a particularly good pair. Not what you know but who.
SaulZaentz GordonLiddle , 2014-09-29 09:36:48
Indeed. How come G4S keep winning contracts despite their behaviour being incompetent and veering on criminal, and the fact they are despised pretty much universally. Hardly a meritocracy.
dreamer06 SaulZaentz , 2014-09-29 13:40:16
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3862998.ece
(paywall)

You can add A4E to that list and now Capita who have recruited all of 61 part time soldiers in their contract to replace all the thousands of sacked professionals

Pasdabong ElQuixote , 2014-09-29 09:33:20
.....By "us" of course, you mean commies. I think you are inadvertently demonstrating another of Hares psychopath test features; a lack of empathy and self awareness.
KatieL dieterroth , 2014-09-29 09:58:16
"Since the living standards of majority in this country are on a downward trend"

The oil's running out. Living standards, on average, will continue to decline until either it stops running out or fusion power turns out to work after all.

Whether you have capitalism or socialism won't make any difference to the declining energy input.

dieterroth , 2014-09-29 09:19:32
I'm sure I read an article in the 80s predicting what the author has written. Economics and cultural environment is bound to have an effect on behaviour. We now live in a society that worships at the altar of the cult of the individual. Society and growth of poverty no longer matters, a lone success story proves all those people falling into poverty are lazy good for nothing parasites. The political class claims to be impotent when it comes to making a fairer society because the political class is made up of people who were affluent in the first place or benefited from a neo-liberal rigged economy. The claim is, anything to do with a fair society is social engineering and bound to fail. Well, neo-liberal Britain was socially engineered and it is failing the majority of people in the country.

There is a cognitive dissonance going on in the political narrative of neo-liberalism, not everyone can make it in a neo-liberal society and since neo-liberalism destroys social mobility. Ironically, the height of social mobility in the west, from the gradual rise through the 50s and 60s, was the 70s. The 80s started the the downward trend in social mobility despite all the bribes that went along with introducing the property owning democracy, which was really about chaining people to capitalism.

Johanni dieterroth , 2014-09-29 10:24:23

I'm sure I read an article in the 80s predicting what the author has written.

Well, a transformation of human character was the open battle-cry of 1980s proponents of neoliberalism. Helmut Kohl, the German prime minister, called it the "geistig-moralische Wende", the "spiritual and moral sea-change" - I think people just misunderstood what he meant by that, and laughed at what they saw as empty sloganeering. Now we're reaping what his generation sowed.

thebogusman Johanni , 2014-09-29 13:15:54
Tatcher actually said that the goal of neoliberalism is not new economics but to "change the soul"!
arkley dieterroth , 2014-09-29 18:10:04
OK, now can you tell us why individual freedom is such a bad thing?

The previous period of liberal economics ended a century ago, destroyed by the war whose outbreak we are interminably celebrating. That war and the one that followed a generation later brought in strict government control, even down to what people could eat and wear. Orwell's dystopia of 1984 actually describes Britain's wartime society continuing long after the real wars had ended. It was the slow pace of lifting wartime controls, even slower in Eastern Europe, and the lingering mindset that economies and societies could be directed for "the greater good" no matter what individual costs there were that led to a revival of liberal economics.

Febo , 2014-09-29 09:21:28
Neoliberalism is a mere offshoot of Neofeudalism. Labour and Capital - those elements of both not irretrievably bought-out - must demand the return of The Commons . We must extend our analysis back over centuries , not decades - let's strike to the heart of the matter!
Febo undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:49:03
Both neofeudalism - aka neocolonialism-abroad-and-at-home - and neoliberalism rest on the theft of the Commons - they both support monopoly.
callaspodeaspode undersinged , 2014-09-29 10:11:05
Collectivist ideologies including Fascism, Communism and theocracy are all similar to feudalism.

I've worked in a few large private companies over the years, and my experience is they increasingly resemble some sort of cult, with endless brainwashing programmes for the 'members', charismatic leaders who can do no wrong, groupthink, mandatory utilisation of specialist jargon (especially cod-psychological terminology) to differentiate those 'in' and those 'out', increased blurring of the lines between 'private' and 'work' life (your ass belongs to us 24-7) and of course, constant, ever more complex monitoring of the 'members' for 'heretical thoughts or beliefs'.

'Collectivism' is not as incompatible with capitalism as you seem to think.
You sound like one of those 'libertarians'. Frankly, I think the ideals of such are only realisable as a sole trader, or operating in a very small business.

Progress is restricted because the people are made poor by the predations of the state

Neoliberalism is firmly committed to individual liberty, and therefore to peace and mutual toleration

It is firmly committed to ensuring that the boundaries between private and public entities become blurred, with all the ensuing corruption that entails. In other words, that the state becomes (through the taxpayers) a captured one, delivering a never ending, always growing, revenue stream for favoured players in private enterprise. This is, of course, deliberate. 'Individual liberties and mutual toleration' are only important insomuch as they improve, or detract, from profit-centre activity.

You have difficulty in separating propaganda from reality, but you're barely alone in this.

Lastly, you also misunderstand feudalism, which in the European context, flourished before there was a developed concept of a centralised nation state, indeed, the most classic examples occurred after the decentralisation of an empire or suchlike. The primary feudal relation was between the bondsman/peasant and his local magnate, who in turn, was subject to his liege.

In other words a warrior class bound by vassalage to a nobility, with the peasantry bound by manorialism and to the estates of the Church.

Apart from that though, you're right on everything.

JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 09:21:56
I completely agree with the general sentiment.
The specifics aren't that solid though:

- That we think our characters are independent of context/society: I certainly don't.
- That statement about "bullying is more widespread" - lacks justification.

The general theme of "meritocracy is a fiction" is compelling though.
As is "We are free-er in many ways because those ways no longer have any significance" .

And the most striking idea here: Our characters are partly moulded by society. And neo-liberal society, and it's illusions of freedom, has moulded many of us in ways that bring out the worst in us.

UnironicBeard JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 10:39:08
The Rat Race is a joke. Too many people waste their lives away playing the capitalist game. As long as you've got enough money to keep living you can be happy. Just ignore the pathetic willy-wavers with their flashy cars and logos on their shirts and all that guff
CharlesII JamesValencia , 2014-09-29 13:27:30

- That statement about "bullying is more widespread" - lacks justification.

Absolutely. I stopped reading there. Bullying is noticed now, and seen as a 'bad thing'. In offices 30, 50, years ago, it was standard .

JamesValencia UnironicBeard , 2014-09-29 13:42:50
Preaching to the converted, there, Beard :)

All we need is "enough" - Posession isn't that interesting. More a doorway to doing interesting stuff.
I prefer to cut out the posession and go straight to "do interesting stuff" myself. As long as the rent gets paid and so on, obviously.

Doesn't always work, obviously, but I reckon not wanting stuff is a good start to the good life (ref. to series with Felicity Kendall (and some others) intended :)
That, and Epicurus who I keep mentioning on CIF.

dieterroth undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:26:28
Rather naive. History is full of brilliant individuals who made it. Neo-liberalism has however killed off post war social mobility. In fact according to the OECD report into social mobility, the more egalitarian a developed society is, the more social mobility there is, the more productivity and the less poverty and social problems there are.
dieterroth undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:28:55
"Collectivism gave us Communism, Nazism and universalist religions that try to impose uniformity through the method of mass murder."

Capitalism and free markets gave us them as all were reactions to economic failure and having nothing to lose.

Febo undersinged , 2014-09-29 09:34:05
I agree - the central dilemma is that neither individualism nor collectiviism works.

But is this dilemma real? Is there a third system? Yes there is - Henry George.

George's paradigm in nothing funky, it is simply Classical Liberal Economics - society works best when individuals get to keep the fruits of thier labour, but pay rent for the use of The Commons.
At present we have the opposite - labour and capital are taxed heavily and The commons are monopolised by the 1%.
Hence unemployment
Hence the wealth gap
Hence the environmental crisis
Hence poverty

checkreakity , 2014-09-29 09:23:39
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards . Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs .
RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:24:11
So the values and morals that people have are so wafer thin that a variation in the political system governing them can strip them away? Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?
NinthLegion RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:26:57
But it's because these values and moralities are so wafer thin that the Right can swing them in precisely the direction they want to. Greed is good!
LouSnickers RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:28:35
They dont like us!

But then, I dont care for them, either!

dieterroth RidleyWalker , 2014-09-29 09:32:10
"Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?"

Open your eyes and take a lokk at the world. There is enough wealth in the world for everyone to live free from poverty. Yet, the powerful look after themselves and allow poverty to not only exist but spread.

yamba , 2014-09-29 09:30:07
Reminds me very much of No Country for Old Men , by Cormac McCarthy.
annabelle123 yamba , 2014-09-29 11:00:22
That's a good description of the NHS.
WinstonThatcher , 2014-09-29 09:30:58
It's certainly brought out the worst in the Guardian, publishing as it does oodles of brainless clickbate.
nishville WinstonThatcher , 2014-09-29 11:13:50
>If you've ever dithered over the question of whether the UK needs a written constitution, dither no longer. Imagine the clauses required to preserve the status of the Corporation. "The City of London will remain outside the authority of parliament. Domestic and foreign banks will be permitted to vote as if they were human beings, and their votes will outnumber those cast by real people. Its elected officials will be chosen from people deemed acceptable by a group of medieval guilds …".<
paul643 , 2014-09-29 09:31:59

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.

I don't believe that bullying is new to the workplace., in fact I'd imagine it was worse before the days of elf 'n' safety.

vivientoft paul643 , 2014-09-29 13:05:01
Why do you say that?
annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:32:23
I agree with much of this. Working in the NHS, as a clinical psychologist, over the past 25 years, I have seen a huge shift in the behaviour of managers who used to be valued for their support and nurturing of talent, but now are recognised for their brutal and aggressive approach to those beneath them. Reorganisations of services, which take place with depressing frequency, provide opportunities to clear out the older, experienced members of the profession who would have acted as mentors and teachers to the less experienced staff.
saltash1920 annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:39:31
I worked in local authority social care, I can certainly see the very close similarities to what you describe in the NHS, and my experience in the local authority.
Davai annabelle123 , 2014-09-29 09:48:06
Yes those were the days when you had people and personnel departments, rather than 'human resources' I suspect. You can blame the USA for that.

Constant reorgs are a sure sign of inept management.

They're also a sure sign of managers who want to 'hang out' with highly-paid, sexy management consultants and hopefully get offered a job.

But you're a psychologist so you know that already!

David Craig's books are worth a read.

annabelle123 saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 10:58:42
I can well imagine there are big similarities. Friends of mine who work in education say the same - there is a complete mismatch between the aims of the directors/managers and that of the professionals actually providing the teaching/therapy/advice to the public. When I go to senior meetings it is very rare that patients are even mentioned.
StVitusGerulaitis , 2014-09-29 09:32:59

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.

This is an incredibly broad generalisation. I remember my grandfather telling me about what went on in the mills he worked in in Glasgow before the war, it sounded like a pretty savage environment if you didn't fit in. It wasn't called bullying, of course.

I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

Isn't this true of pretty much any system? And human relationships in general? I cannot think of a system that is completely blind to the differences between people. If you happen to be lazy or have a problem with authority you will never do as "well" (for want of a better term).

MickGJ StVitusGerulaitis , 2014-09-29 16:15:49

Isn't this true of pretty much any system?

Don't be silly my saintly chum: who ever heard of a psychopath rising to the top in any other system than neo-liberal capitalism?
Socratese , 2014-09-29 09:33:25
I have always said to people who claim they are Liberals that you must support capitalism,the free market,free trade, deregulation etc etc when most of them deny that, I always say you are not a Liberal then you're just cherry-picking the [Liberal] policies you like and the ones you don't like,which is dishonest.
There is nothing neo about Liberalism,it has been around since the 19th century[?].People have been brainwashed in this country [and the USA] since the 1960's to say they are liberals for fear of being accused of being fascists,which is quite another thing.
I have never supported any political ideology,which is what Liberalism is,and believe all of them should be challenged.By doing so you can evolve policies which are fair and just and appropriate to the issue at hand.
pinniped Socratese , 2014-09-29 10:24:59
Ah yes, No True Liberal.
saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 09:34:32
Neoliberalism has only benefited a minority. Usually those with well connected and wealthy families. And of course those who have no hesitation to exploit other's.

In my view, it is characterized by corruption, exploitation and a total lack of social justice. Economically, the whole system is fully dependent on competition not co-operation. One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.

rivendel saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 17:40:04
One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.

And if we keep consuming all our resources on this finite planet in pursuit of profit and more profit there will be no human race we will all be extinct.,and all that will be left is an exhausted polluted planet that once harbored a vast variety of life.
Isent neolibral capitalism great.

Highlights saltash1920 , 2014-09-29 21:52:03

One day, the consequences of this total failure will end in violence.

Violence has already begun, in wars and protests, beheadings and wage cuts which leave people more and more desperate.

PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 09:36:18

We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces

Which is exactly what we've been led to believe, by outside forces.

For other related films, please see:

The Corporation http://www.thecorporation.com/

and

The Century of the Self http://www.thecorporation.com/

PonyBoyUK PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 10:09:55
(doh!)

The Century of the Self - http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/

NinthLegion , 2014-09-29 09:40:58
As Marx so often claimed, values, ethics, morality and behaviours are themselves determined by the economic and monetary system under which people live. Stealing is permitted if you are a banker and call it a bonus or interest, murder is permitted if your government sends you to war, surveillance and data mining is permitted if your state tells you there is a danger from terrorists, crime is overlooked if it makes money for the perpetrator, benefit claimants are justified if they belong to an aristocratic caste or political elite.......

There is no universal right or wrong, only that identified as such by the establishment at that particular instance in history, and at that specific place on the planet. Outside that, they have as much relevance today as scriptures instructing that slaves can be raped, adulterers can be stoned or the hands of thieves amputated. Give me the crime and the punishment, and I will give you the time and the place.

Jack3 NinthLegion , 2014-09-29 10:44:31
For a tiny elite sitting on the top everything has been going exactly as it was initially planned.

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men
living together in Society, they create for themselves in the
course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a
moral code that glorifies it".
F. Bastiat.

Finn_Nielsen Jack3 , 2014-09-29 10:58:47
Bastiat was closer to a neoliberal than a Marxist...
skagway Jack3 , 2014-09-30 14:48:40
very true.
Pasdabong , 2014-09-29 09:41:24
Excellent article.
I'm amazed that more isn't made of the relationship between political environment/systems and their effect on the individual. Oliver James Affluenza makes a compelling case for the unhappiness outputs of societies who've embraced neo liberalism yet we still blindly pursue it.
The US has long been world leader in both the demand and supply of psychotherapy and the relentless pursuit of free market economics. these stats are not unconnected.
abugaafar , 2014-09-29 09:42:40
I once had a colleague with the knack of slipping into his conversation complimentary remarks that other people had made about him. It wasn't the only reason for his rapid ascent to great heights, but perhaps it helped.
ThroatWobblaMangrove abugaafar , 2014-09-29 22:58:31
That's one of my favourite characteristics of David Brent from 'The Office'. "You're all looking at me, you're going, "Well yeah, you're a success, you've achieved you're goals, you're reaping the rewards, sure. But, OI, Brent. Is all you care about chasing the Yankee dollar?"
crasspymctabernacle , 2014-09-29 09:42:47
This description is, of course, a caricature taken to extremes

Not when applied to IDS and other members of the cabinet.

BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 09:43:50
Neoliberalism is another Social Darwinist driven philosophy popularised after leading figures of our times (or rather former times) decided Malthus was probably correct.

So here we have it, serious growth in population, possibly unsustainable, and a growing 'weak will perish, strong will survive' mentality. The worst thing is I used to believe in neoliberal policies, until of course I understood the long term ramifications.

PonyBoyUK BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 10:11:45
It's a really good idea, - until you start thinking about it...
AlbertaRabbit BlueBrightFuture , 2014-09-29 10:27:02
And then there's reality.

And the reality is that "neoliberalism" has, in the last few decades, freed hundreds of millions in the developing word from a subsistence living to something resembling a middle class lifestyle.

This has resulted in both plummeting global poverty statistics and in greatly reduced fecundity, so that we will likely see a leveling off of global population in the next few decades. And this slowing down of population growth is the most critical thing we could for increasing sustainability.

BlueBrightFuture PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 10:33:06
I suspect the logical conclusion of the free market is that the State will become formally superseded by an oligopoly - perhaps the energy sector.

I also suspect at least one third of the population in over-developed countries will simply become surplus to requirement.

Everybody wants an iPhone, nobody wants to work in Foxconn.

jimcol , 2014-09-29 09:44:45
It is rooted, I think, in the prevailing idea that what we own is more important than what we do. Consumerism grown and fostered by the greedy.
vacuous jimcol , 2014-09-29 19:17:20
The problem is a judeo-christian idea of "free choice" when experiments, undertaken by Benjamin Libet and since, indicate that it is near to unlikely for there to be volitionally controlled conscious decisions.

http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v11/n5/abs/nn.2112.html

If we are not even free to intend and control our decisions, thoughts and ambitions, how can anyone claim to be morally entitled to ownership of their property and have a 'right' to anything as a reward for what decisions they made? Happening is pure luck: meaningful [intended] responsibility and accountability cannot be claimed for decisions and actions and so entitlement cannot be claimed for what acquisitions are causally obtained from those decisions and actions.There is no 'just desserts' or decision-derived entitlement justification for wealth and owning property unless the justifier has a superstitious and scientifically unfounded belief in free choice.

CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 09:47:04

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace

Compared to say, that experienced by domestic staff in big houses, small children in factories, perhaps even amongst miners, dockers and steel workers in the halcyon days of the post-war decade when apparently everything was rosy?

This whole article is a hodge podge of anecdote and flawed observations designed to shoehorn behaviour into a pattern that supports an economic hypothesis - it is factually groundless.

Catonaboat CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 10:09:47
Well I'd say he was spot on, when someone with the handle CityBoy2006 his a classic work place tantrum over the article.
HarryTheHorse CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 11:13:24

Compared to say, that experienced by domestic staff in big houses, small children in factories

Yes, but if it was left to people like you, children would still be working in factories. So please do not take credit for improvements that you would fight tooth and nail against

perhaps even amongst miners, dockers and steel workers in the halcyon days of the post-war decade when apparently everything was rosy?

They had wages coming to them and didn't need to rely on housing benefit to keep a roof over their head. Now people like you bitterly complain about poorly paid workers getting benefits to sustain them.

Slapchips , 2014-09-29 09:47:28
People who "work hard and play hard" are nearly always kidding themselves about the second bit.

It seems to me that the trend in the world of neoliberalism is to think that "playing hard" is defined as "playing with expensive, branded toys" during your two week annual holiday.

Davai Slapchips , 2014-09-29 09:52:24
'Playing hard' in the careerist lexicon = getting blind drunk to mollify the feelings of despair and emptiness which typify a hollow, debt-soaked life defined by motor cars and houses.

All IM(NVH)O, of course. DYOR.

Sammy_89 Davai , 2014-09-29 09:56:06
Pays for schools and hospitals, though
Davai Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 09:59:43
Oh we had those before 1989.

It isn't a binary 'naked selfish captalist/socialist decision'. There is middle ground.

eldorado99 , 2014-09-29 09:49:50
"support any political movement we like."

Except those which have privacy from state surveillance as their core tenet.

ID12345 , 2014-09-29 09:50:07
Green Party: We need to fight Neoliberalism.
Loadsofspace , 2014-09-29 09:51:42
The "Max Factor" life. Selfishness and Greed. The compaction of life. Was it not in a scripture in text?. The Bible. We as humans and followers of "Faith" in christian beliefs and the culture of love they fellow man. The culture of words are a root to all "Evil. Depending on "Who's" the Author and Scrolling the words; and for what reason?. The only way we can save what is left on this planet and save man kind. Is eradicate the above "Selfishness and Greed" ?
ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 09:51:50

We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference.

These changes listed (and then casually dismissed) are monumental social achievements. Many countries in the world do not permit their 'citizens' such freedom of choice and I for one am very grateful to live in a country where these things are possible.

Of course there is much more to be done. But I would suggest that to be born in Western Europe today is probably about as safe, comfortable, and free than at any time and any place in human history. I'm not being complacent about what we still have to achieve. But we won't achieve anything if we take such a flippant attitude towards all the amazing things that have been bequeathed to us.

CityBoy2006 ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 09:55:24
Excellent observation, it's the same way that technology that has quite clearly changed our lives and given us access to information, opportunity to travel and entertainment that would have been beyond the comprehension of our grandparents is dismissed as irrelevant because its just a smart phone and a not a job for life in a British Leyland factory.
Finn_Nielsen ForwardMarch , 2014-09-29 10:09:36
It takes a peculairly spoilt and arrogant Westerner to claim that the freedom to criticise religion isn't significant or that we're only allowed to do so because it's no longer important. Tell that to a girl seeking to escape an arranged marriage in Bradford...
HarryTheHorse CityBoy2006 , 2014-09-29 11:15:51
So being able to have a smart phone compensates for not having a secure place to live? What an absurd bubble you metropolitan types live in.
Harry Palmer , 2014-09-29 09:52:22
OK. Now off you go and apply the same methodology to people living in statist societies, or just have a go at our own civil service or local government workers. Try social workers or the benefits agency or the police.

Let us know what you find.

WindTurbine , 2014-09-29 09:53:31
The author makes some good points, although I wouldn't necessarily call our system a meritocracy.
I guess the key one is how unaware we are about the influence of economic policy on our values.
This kind of systems hurts everyday people and rewards psychopaths, and is damaging to society as a whole over the long term.
Targetising everything is really insidious.
jclucas , 2014-09-29 09:53:32
That neoliberalism puts tremendous pressure on individuals to conform to materialistic norms is undeniable, but for a psychotherapist to disallow the choice of those individuals to nevertheless choose how to live is an admission of failure.

In fact, many people today experience the shallowness and corrupt character of market society and elect either to be in it, but not of it, or to opt out early having made enough money, often making a conscious choice to relinquish the 'trappings' in return for a more meaningful existence. Some do selfless service to their fellow human beings, to the environment or both, and thereby find a degree of fulfillment that they always wanted.

To surrender to the external demands of a superficial and corrupting life is to ignore the tremendous opportunity human life offers to all: self realization.

WindTurbine jclucas , 2014-09-29 10:01:42
It's not either-or, system or individual, but some combination of the two.
Decision making may be 80% structure and 20% individual choice for the mainstream - or maybe the other way round for the rebels amongst us that try to reject the system.

The theory of structuration (Giddens) provides one explanation of how social systems develop through the interactions between the system and actors in it.

I partly agree with you but I think examples of complete self realisation are extremely rare. That means stepping completely out of the system and out of our own personality. Neither this nor that.

jclucas WindTurbine , 2014-09-29 10:21:57
The point is that the individual has the choice to move in the right direction. When and if they do make a decision to change their life, it will be fulfilling for them and for the system.
AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 09:54:07

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves. You don't need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success.

I have been in the private sector for generations, and know tons of people who have behaved precisely as described above. I don't know anyone who calls them crazy. In fact, I see the exact opposite tendency - the growing acceptance that money isn't everything, and that once one has achieved a certain level of success and financial security that it is fine to put other priorities first rather than simply trying to acquire ever more.

arkley AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 09:59:50
The ATL article is rather stuffed full of stereotypes.

And speaking personally, I have turned down two offers of promotion to a management position in the last ten years and neither time did I get the sense people thought I was crazy. They might have done if I were in my late twenties rather than mid-fifties but that does reinforce the notion that people - even bosses - can accept that there is more to life than a career.

Sammy_89 arkley , 2014-09-29 10:04:29
I agree about the stereotypes. Also, has anyone ever seriously advised a primary school teacher that they need a masters degree of economics?! I highly doubt that that is the norm!
MickGJ Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 16:18:57

Also, has anyone ever seriously advised a primary school teacher that they need a masters degree of economics?! I

Sounds more like parents advising an exceptionally bright child to go as far as she can with her education before she starts work.

I can't see why a primary school teacher should be dissuaded from doing a master's degree.

arkley , 2014-09-29 09:55:46
How does that navel look today?

I hate to break it to you but no matter how you organise society the nasty people get to the top and the nice people end up doing all the work. "Neo-liberalism" is no different.

Sammy_89 arkley , 2014-09-29 10:02:10
Or you could put it another way - 'neoliberalism' is the least worst economic/social system, because most people are far more powerless and far more worse off under any other system that has ever been developed by man...
TeddyFrench arkley , 2014-09-29 10:06:38
For a start you need a system that is not based on rewarding and encouraging the worst aspects of our characters. I try to encourage my kids not to be greedy, to be honest and to care about others but in this day and age it's an uphill struggle.
Finn_Nielsen Sammy_89 , 2014-09-29 10:11:42
It's a funny kind of neoliberalism we're supposedly suffering under when you consider the ratio of state spending to GDP...
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 09:57:13
"A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal."

In the UK we have nothing like a meritocracy with a privately educated elite.

Success and failure are just about parental wealth.

Willhelm123 , 2014-09-29 09:57:41
I kind of see the point of this. What's the alternative though?
MickGJ Willhelm123 , 2014-09-29 16:23:10

I kind of see the point of this. What's the alternative though?

Doing some research?
gcarth , 2014-09-29 09:57:45
"So the values and morals that people have are so wafer thin that a variation in the political system governing them can strip them away? Why do the left consistently have such a low opinion of humanity?"

RidleyWalker, I can assue you that it is not the left but the right who consistently have a low opinion of humanity. Anyway, what has left and right got to do with this? There are millions of ordinary decent people whose lives are blighted by the obscentity that is neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is designed to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor. Neo-liberalism is responsible for the misery for millions across the globe. The only happy ones are those at the top of the heap...until even their bloated selfish world inevitably implodes.
Of course these disgusting parasites are primitive thinkers and cannot see that we could have a better, happier world for everyone if societies become more equal. Studies demonstrate that more equal societies are more stable and content than those with ever-widening gaps in wealth between rich and poor.

injinoo gcarth , 2014-09-29 10:01:41
Which studies and which equal societies are you referring to. It would be good to know in order to cheer us all up a bit.
Sammy_89 gcarth , 2014-09-29 10:08:52
Neoliberalism...disgusting parasites...primitive thinkers...misery of millions...bloated selfish world

This reads like a Soviet pamphlet from the 1930's. Granted you've replaced the word 'capitalism' with 'neoliberalism' - in other words subsstituted one meaningless abstraction for another. It wasn't true then and it certainly isnt true now...

injinoo , 2014-09-29 09:59:38
Not sure why you think all this is new or attributable to neoliberalism. Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's. All that has changed is that instead of working on assembly lines in factories under the watchful gaze of a foreman we now have university degrees and sit in cubicles pressing buttons on keyboards. Micromanagement, bureaucracy, rules and regulations are as old as the hills. Office politics has replaced shop floor politics; the rich are still rich and the poor are still poor.
Sammy_89 injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:10:20
Well, except that people have more money, live longer and have more opportunities in life than before - most people anyway. The ones left behind are the ones we need to worry about
rosemary152 injinoo , 2014-09-29 14:32:18

Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's.

There is a difference. We now have the psychopathic-tendency merchants in charge, both of the banks, multinationals and our government.

MickGJ injinoo , 2014-09-29 16:24:51

Not sure why you think all this is new or attributable to neoliberalism. Things were much the same in the 1960's and 1970's.

And you can read far more excoriating critiques of our shallow materialistic capitalism, culture from those decades, now recast as some sort of prelapsarian Golden Age.
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 10:00:59
The psychopaths have congregated in Wall Street and the City.

One of the problems with psychopaths is that they never learn form mistakes.

Anyone that is watching will realise we are well on our way to the next Wall Street Crash - part 3.

Wall Street Crash Part 1 - 1929
Wall Street Crash Part 2 - 2008
Wall Street Crash Part 3 - soon

Each is bigger and better than the last - there may not be much left after Part 3.

injinoo regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 10:03:58
Actually, the 1929 crash was not the first by any means. The boom and bust cycle of modern economics goes back a lot further. When my grandparents talked about the "Great Depression" they were referring to the 1890's.
regfromdagenham injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:05:24
The financial psychopaths never learn!
Isiodore injinoo , 2014-09-29 10:49:57
The nineteenth century saw major financial crises in almost every decade, 1825, 1837, 1847, 1857, 1866 before we even get to the Great Depression of 1873-96.
harrogateandrew , 2014-09-29 10:01:24
And Socialism doesn't!

Socialism seems to be happy home of corruption & nepotism. The old saw that Tory MP's are brought down by sex scandals whilst Labour MP's have issues with money still holds.

Portman23 harrogateandrew , 2014-09-29 10:06:13
Why is that relevant? This is a critique of neo liberalism and it is a very accurate one at that. It isn't suggesting that Socialism is better or even offers an alternative, just that neo liberalism has failed society and explores some of how and why.
TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 10:01:25
The main problem is that neoliberalism is a faith dressed up as a science and any evidence that disproves the hypothesis (e.g. the 2008 financial collapse) only helps to reinforce the faith of the fundamentalists supporting it.
AlbertaRabbit TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 10:10:36
The reason why "neoliberalism" is so successful is precisely because the evidence shows it does work. It has not escaped peoples' notice that nations where governments heavily curtail individual and commercial freedom are often rather wretched places to live.
TeddyFrench AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 10:31:54
You conflate individual freedom with corporate freedom.

Also, what happened in 2008 then? Anything to do with the hubris over free markets and de-regulation or was it just a blip?

JonPurrtree TeddyFrench , 2014-09-29 11:16:25
It would be nice to curtail coprorate freedom without curtailing the freedom of individuals. I don't see how that might work.

"hubris over free markets" might well be it.
But I might be understanding that in a different way from you. People were making irrational decisions that didn't seem to take on basic logic of a free market, or even common sense. Such as "where is all this money coming from" (madoff, house ladder), "of course this will work" (fred goodwin and his takeovers) and even "will i get my money back" (sub-prime lending).

hansen , 2014-09-29 10:02:14
So why don't we do something about it....genuinely? There appears to be no power left in voting unless people are given an actual choice....Is it not time then to to provide a well grounded articulate choice? The research, in many different disciplines, is already out there.
menedemus hansen , 2014-09-29 10:27:39
What can we do? It appears we are stuck between the Labour party and the Conservatives. Is it even possible for another party to come to power with the next couple of elections?
ElDanielfire menedemus , 2014-09-29 11:41:06
The Lib Dems? ;)
gandrew hansen , 2014-09-29 13:04:53
the Greens, clearly.
AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-29 10:03:31

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

Verhaeghe begins by criticizing free markets and "neo-liberalism", but ends by criticizing the huge, stifling government bureaucracy that endeavours to micro-manage every aspect of its citizens lives, and is the opposite of true classic liberalism.

Must be confusing for him.

Oscar Mandiaz AlbertaRabbit , 2014-09-30 01:37:24
probably not as confusing as it seems to be for you.
this is just the difference between neoliberalism in theory and in practise.
like the "real existierende sozialismus" in eastern germany fell somewhat short of the brilliant utopia of the theorists.
verhaeghe does not criticise the theoretical model, but the practical outcome. And the worst governmant and corporate bureaucracy that mankind has ever seen is part of it. The result of 30+ years of neoliberal policies.
In my experience this buerocracy is gets worse in anglo saxon countries closest to the singularity at the bottom of the neolib black hole.
I am aware that this is only a correlation, but correlations, while they do not prove causation, still require explanation.
Bloreheath , 2014-09-29 10:03:35
Some time ago, and perhaps still, it was/is fashionable for Toryish persons to denigrate the 1960s. I look back to that decade with much nostalgia. Nearly everyone had a job of sorts, not terribly well paid but at least it was a job. And now? You are compelled to toil your guts out, kiss somebody's backside, run up unpayable debts - and, in the UK, live in a house that in many other countries would have been demolished decades ago. Scarcely a day passes when I am not partly disgusted at what has overtaken my beloved country.
LargeMarvin Bloreheath , 2014-09-29 11:25:19
And scooters were 150s and 200s.
capchaos , 2014-09-29 10:04:26
An excellent article! The culture of the 80's has ruled for too long and its damage done.... its down to our youth to start to shape things now and I think that's beginning to happen.
Davai capchaos , 2014-09-29 10:20:12
Is it?

I think the levels of debt amongst young 'consumers' would suggest otherwise.

They are after all, only human. Prone to want the baubles dangled in front of them, as are we all.

Gogoh , 2014-09-29 10:06:33
Brilliant article.
IGrumble , 2014-09-29 10:13:27
Neo-Liberalism as operated today. "Greed is Good" and senior bankers and those who sell and buy money, commodities etc; are diven by this trait of humankind.

But we, the People are just as guilty with our drives for 'More'. More over everything, even shopping at the supermarket - "Buy one & get ten free", must have.

Designer ;bling;, clothes, shoes, bags, I-Pads etc etc, etc. It is never ending. People seem to be scared that they haven't got what next has, and next will think that they are 'Not Cool'.

We, the people should be satisfied with what have got, NOT what what we havn't got. Those who "want" (masses of material goods) usually "Dont get!"

The current system is unsustainable as the World' population rises and rises. Nature (Gaia) will take care of this through disease, famine, and of course the stupidity of Humankind - wars, destruction and general stupidity.

pinniped , 2014-09-29 10:13:49
What's a meritocracy? Oh, that's right - a fable that people who have a lot of money deserve it somehow because they're so much better than the people who work for a living.
Keo2008 , 2014-09-29 10:13:54

Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

Speak for yourself.

Some of us are just as kind and tolerant as we have always been.

Huples Keo2008 , 2014-09-29 10:37:19
The world is nastier than it was before outsourcing and efficiencies.
I am glad you have emerged unscathed

However be happy he is speaking as it allows your natural tolerance to shine ;-)

AlbertaRabbit Huples , 2014-09-29 11:34:05
The world was an even nastier place before the current era. During the 1970s and early 1980s there was huge inflation which robbed people of their saving, high unemployment, and (shudder) Disco.

People tend to view the past with rose-coloured glasses.

Finn_Nielsen , 2014-09-29 10:15:28
What neoliberalism? We've got a mixed economy, which seemingly upsets both those on the right who wish to cut back the state and those on the left who'd bolster it.
Isiodore , 2014-09-29 10:16:21
I work in a law firm specialising in M&A, hardly the cuddliest of environments, but I recognise almost nothing here as a description of my work place. Sure, some people are wankers but that's true everywhere.
alazarin , 2014-09-29 10:16:26
I'm enjoying watching the logical and conceptual contortions of Kippers on CiF attempting to positions themselves as being against neo-liberalism.
Finn_Nielsen , 2014-09-29 10:17:26

You don't need to look far for examples.

Indeed not, you just made a few up.

Babartov , 2014-09-29 10:19:39
human socieity has always rewarded aggressive individuals willing to tread on others.

it's how we roll

pauledwards1000 , 2014-09-29 10:20:17

"Bullying used to be confined to schools".

That is patently untrue. Have you ever been outside your home and do you actually know anyone?

PeteCW pauledwards1000 , 2014-09-29 10:32:52
Have you ever been outside your home and do you actually know anyone?

This sentence could usefully be applied to the entire article.

Gogoh , 2014-09-29 10:20:46
FDR, the Antichrist of the American Right, famously said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And here we are with this ideology which in many ways stokes the fear. The one thing these bastards don't want most of us to feel is secure.
freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 10:23:16
There is no "free market" anywhere. That is a fantasy. It is a term used when corporations want to complain about regulations. What we have in most industrialized countries is corporate socialism wherein corporations get to internalize profits and externalize costs and losses. It has killed of our economies and our middle class.
dr8765 freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 11:35:11
True. All markets are constructs. Each simply operates according to the parameters put in place by those who have constructed it.

Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor has almost become a cliche, but that doesn't make it any less true.

iruka , 2014-09-29 10:26:05
Socialism or barbarism -- a starker choice today than when the phrase was coined.

So long, at least, as we have an evolved notion of what socialism entails. Which means, please, not the state capitalism + benign paternalism that it's unfortunately come to mean for most people, in the course of its parasitical relationship with capitalism proper, and so with all capitalism's inventions (the 'nation', the modern bureaucracy, ever-more-efficient exploitation to cumulatively alienating ends......)

It's just as unfortunate, in this light, that the term 'self-management' has been appropriated by the ideologues of pseudo-meritocracy, in just the way the article describes..

Because it's also a term (from the French autogestion) used to describe what I'd argue is the most nuanced and sophisticated collectivist alternative to capitalism -- an alternative that is at one and the same time a rejection of capitalism.... and of the central role of the state and 'nation' (that phony, illusory community that plays a more central role in empowering the modern state than does its monopoly on violence)... and of the ideology of growth, and of the ideal of monolithic, ruthlessly efficient economic totalities organised to this end....

It's a rejection, in other words, of all those things contemplation of which reminds us just how little fundamental difference there is between capitalism and the system cobbled together on the fly by the Bolsheviks -- same vertical organisation to the ends of the same exploitation, same exploitation to the ends of expanding the scope and scale of vertical organisation, all of it with the same destructive effects on the sociabilities of everyday life....

Self-management in this sense goes beyond 'workers control'; (I'd argue that) it envisions a society in which most aspects of life have been cut free from the ties that bind people vertically to sources of influence and control, however they're constituted (private and public bureaucracies, market pressures, the illusory narratives of nation, mass media and commodity...).

The horizontal ties of workplace and local community would thus be constitutive, by default, and society as a whole would become very little more than the sum of its parts -- mutating on a molecular local level as people collectively and democratically decided, in circumstances that actually granted them the power to do so, how to balance the conflicting needs and desires and necessities that a complex society and a complex division of labour present. 'Balance' because there really isn't any prospect of a utopian resolution of these conflicts -- they come with civilisation -- or with barbarism, for than matter, in any of its modern incarnations.

Etc. etc.. Avoiding work again.....

Finn_Nielsen iruka , 2014-09-29 10:44:27
What about those who disagree with such a radical reordering of society? How would the collective deal with those who wished to exploit it?
I'm genuinely interested, beats working...
AlbertaRabbit iruka , 2014-09-29 11:18:41

The horizontal ties of workplace and local community would thus be constitutive, by default, and society as a whole would become very little more than the sum of its parts -- mutating on a molecular local level as people collectively and democratically decided, in circumstances that actually granted them the power to do so, how to balance the conflicting needs and desires and necessities that a complex society and a complex division of labour present.

Why do socialists so often resort to such turgid, impenetrable prose? Could it be an attempt to mask the vacuity of their position?

Catonaboat , 2014-09-29 10:26:13
I read this article skeptically, but then realised how accurately he described my workplace. Most people I know on the outside have nice middle class lives, but underneath it suffer from anxiety, about 1 not putting enough into their careers 2 not spending enough time with their kids. When I decided to cut my work hours in half when I had a child, 2 of my colleagues were genuinely concerned for me over things like, I might be let go, how would I cope with the drop in money, I was cutting my chances of promotion, how would it look in a review. The level of anxiety was frightening.

People on the forum seem to be criticizing what they see as the authors flippant attitude to sexual freedom and lack of religious hold, but I see the authors point, what good are these freedoms when we are stuck in the stranglehold of no job security and huge mortgage debt. Yes you can have a quick shag with whoever you want and don't need to answer to anyone over it on a Sunday, but come Monday morning its back to the the ever sharpening grindstone.

Norfolk , 2014-09-29 10:26:18
This reminds me of the world I started to work in in 1955. I accept that by 1985 it was ten times worse and by the time I retired in 2002, after 47 years, I was very glad to have what I called "survived". At its worst was the increasing difference between the knowledge base of "the boss" when technology started to kick in. I was called into the boss's office once to be criticised for the length of a report. It had a two page summery of the issue and options for resolving the problem. I very meekly inquired if he had decided on any of the options to resolve the problem. What options are you talking about? was his response, which told me that either he had not read the report or did not understand the problem. This was the least of my problems as I later had to spend two days in his office explaining the analysis we (I) were submitting to the Board.
Fooster , 2014-09-29 10:26:35

A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master's degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

Ladies, step away from the jobs.
MissingInActon , 2014-09-29 10:27:29
Speak for yourself.
The current economic situation affects each of us as much as we allow it to. Some may well love neo-liberalism and the concomitant dog eat dog attitude, but there are some of us who regard it as little more than a culture of self-enrichment through lies and aggression. I see it as such, and want nothing to do with it.
If you live by money and power, you'll die by money and power. I prefer to live and work with consensus and co-operation.
I'll never be rich, but I'll never have many enemies.
Jack3 MissingInActon , 2014-09-29 11:30:37

I see it as such, and want nothing to do with it.

Spot on. Neither I.

fanofzapffe , 2014-09-29 10:28:07
I have a book to promote against the 'success narrative'. I'm hoping it fails.
slorter , 2014-09-29 10:30:18
Hedge-fund and private-equity managers, investment bankers, corporate lawyers, management consultants, high-frequency traders, and top lobbyists.They're getting paid vast sums for their labors. Yet it seems doubtful that society is really that much better off because of what they do. They play zero-sum games that take money out of one set of pockets and put it into another. They demand ever more cunning innovations but they create no social value. High-frequency traders who win by a thousandth of a second can reap a fortune, but society as a whole is no better off. the games consume the energies of loads of talented people who might otherwise be making real contributions to society - if not by tending to human needs or enriching our culture then by curing diseases or devising new technological breakthroughs, or helping solve some of our most intractable social problems. Robert Reich said this and I am compelled to agree with him!
nishville , 2014-09-29 10:33:03
Brilliant article. It is not going to change anything, of course, because majority of people of this planet would cooperate with just about any psychopath clever enough not to take away from them that last bit of stinking warm mud to wallow in.

Proof? Read history books and take a look around you. We are the dumbest animals on Earth.

PeteCW nishville , 2014-09-29 10:38:25
Yeah - people are stupid scum aren't they? 'Take a look around you' - wallowing in stinking warm mud all the time. Dumb animals.

Elsewhere in this comment - being a clever psychopath is not nice.

Finn_Nielsen PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:45:42
I'm not sure I want anything changed by those who hold humanity in contempt...
petrolheadpaul nishville , 2014-09-29 11:22:14
Rubbish. We are the most intelligent and successful creature that this planet has ever seen. We have become capable of transforming it, leaving it and destroying it.

No other species has come close to any of those.

SpursSupporter , 2014-09-29 10:34:29

Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace.

I started work nearly 40 years ago and there were always some bullies in the workplace. Maybe there are more now, I don't know but I suspect it is more widely reported now. Workplace bullies were something of a given when I started work and it was an accepted part of the working environment.

Be careful about re-inventing history to suit your own arguments.

richiep40 , 2014-09-29 10:35:01
I'm surprised the normalization of debt was not mentioned. If you are debt free you have more chance of making decisions that don't fit into the model.

So what do we do now, we train nearly 50% of our young that having large amounts of debt is perfectly normal. When I was a student I lived off the grant and had a much lower standard of living than I can see students having now, but of course I had no debt when I graduated. I know student debt is administered differently, I'm talking about the way we are training them to accept debt of all sorts.

Same applies to consumerism inducing the 'I want it and I want it now', increases personal debt, therefore forcing people to fit in, same applies to credit cards and lax personal lending.

Although occasionally there are economic questions about large amounts of personal debt, politically high personal debt is ideal.

PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:35:45
All this article proves is that you've read, and can quote from, books written by other academics that you agree with.
TheKernel PeteCW , 2014-09-29 10:41:36
Not sure if you're in the sector, in large parts that's kind of how academia works?

This is also what's referred to in the trade as an opinion piece, where an author will be presenting his views and substantiating them with reference to the researches of others.

Quite simple, really.

Sputnikchaser , 2014-09-29 10:38:33
There is no mystery to neoliberalism -- it is an economic system designed to benefit the 0.1% and leave the rest of us neck deep in shit. That's why our children will be paying for the bankers' bonuses to the day they die. Let's celebrate this new found freedom with all the rest of the Tory lickspittle apologists. Yippee for moral bankruptcy -- three cheers!
Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 10:39:51
David Harvey wrote the best book ever written on the subject.

http://www.sok.bz/web/media/video/ABriefHistoryNeoliberalism.pdf

It's only 200 pages but by god did he nail it.


The Simple Summary is the state/ royality used to hold all the power over the merchants and the public for centuries. Bit by bit the merchants stripped that power away from royality, until eventually the merchants have now taken over everybody. The merchants hold all the power now and they will never give that up as there is nobody to take it from them. By owning the state the merchants now have everything that go with it. The army, police and the laws and the media.

David Harvey puts it all under the microscope and explains in great detail how they've achieved their end game over the last 40 years.

There are millions of economists and many economic theories in our universities. Unfortunately, the merchants will only fund and advertise and support economic theories that further their power and wealth.

As history shows time and time again it will be the public who rip this power from their hands. If they don't give it up it is only a matter of time. The merchants may now own the army, the police, the laws and the parliament. They'll need all of that and more if the public decide to say enough is enough.

Sidefill , 2014-09-29 10:40:51
Bullying used to be confined to schools? Can't agree with that at all. Bullying is an ingrained human tendency which manifests in many contexts, from school to work to military to politics to matters of faith. It is only bad when abused, and can help to form self-confidence.

I am not sure what "neo" means but liberal economics is the basis of the Western economies since the end of feudalism. Some countries have had periods of pronounced social democracy or even socialism but most of western Europe has reverted to the capitalist model and much of the former east bloc is turning to it. As others have noted in the CiF, this does not preclude social policies designed to alleviate the unfair effects of the liberal economies.

But this ship has sailed in other words, the treaties which founded the EU make it clear the system is based on Adam Smith-type free market thinking. (Short of leaving the EU I don't see how that can be changed in its essentials).

Finally, socialist countries require much more conformity of individuals than capitalist ones. So you have to look at the alternatives, which this article does not from what I could see.

jet199 , 2014-09-29 10:42:40
To be honest I don't think Neoliberalism has made much of a difference in the UK where personal responsibility has always been king. In the Victorian age people were quite happy to have people staving to death on the streets and before that people's problems were usually seen as either their own fault or an act of God (which would also be your own fault due to sin). If anything we are kinder to strangers now, than we have been, but are slipping back into our old habits.
I think the best way to combat extreme liberalism is to be knowing about our culture and realise that liberalism is something which is embedded in British culture and is not something imposed on us from else where or by some -ism. It is strengthen not just by politics but also by language and the way we deal with personal and social issues in our own lives. We also need to acknowledge that we get both good and bad things out of living in a liberal society but that doesn't mean we have to put up with the bad stuff. We can put measures in place to prevent the bad stuff and still enjoy the positives even though some capitalists may throw their toys out of the pram.
ForgottenVoice jet199 , 2014-09-29 10:46:38
Personal responsibility is EXACTLY what neoliberalism avoids, even as it advocates it with every breath.

What it means is that you get as much responsibility as you can afford to foist onto someone else, so a very wealthy person gets none at all. It's always someone else's fault.

Neoliberalism has actually undermined personal responsibility at every single step, delegating it according to wealth or perceived worth.

dairymaid jet199 , 2014-09-29 11:37:13
If Liberalism is the mindset of the British how come we created the NHS, Legal Aid, universal education and social security? These were massive achievements of a post war generation and about as far removed from today's evil shyster politics as it is possible to be.
NaturalOutswing , 2014-09-29 10:43:32
"Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens"

What to people mean when they use the word "society" in this context?

gjjwatson , 2014-09-29 10:46:23
When we stopped having jobs and had careers instead, the rot set in. A career is the promotion of the self and a job the means to realise that goal at the expense of everyone else around you.
The description of psychopathic behaviour perfectly describes a former boss of mine (female). I liked her but knew how dangerous she was. She went easy on me because she knew that I could do the job that she would claim credit for.
The pressure and stress of, for example open plan offices and evaluation reports are all part of the conscious effort on behalf of employers to ensure compliance with this poisonous attitude.
The greatest promoter of this philosophy is the Media, step forward Evan Davies, the slobbering lap dog of the rich and powerful.
On the positive side I detect a growing realisation among normal people of the folly of this worldview.
RamjetMan gjjwatson , 2014-09-29 10:53:56
Self promoters are generally psychopaths who don't have any empathy for the people around them who carry them everyday and make them look good. We call these people show bags. Full of shit and you have to carry them all the time....
anorak , 2014-09-29 10:46:37
No shit Sherlock. Did you get a grant for this extensive research?
ID8665572 , 2014-09-29 10:49:43
"meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others..."
I put to you the simple premsie that you can substitute "meritocratic neoliberalism" with any political system (communism, fascism, social democracy even) and it the same truism would emerge.
Martyn Blackburn , 2014-09-29 10:50:06
"Neoliberalism promotes individual freedom, limited government, and deregulation of the economy...whilst individual freedom is a laudable idea, neoliberalism taken to a dogmatic extreme can be used to justify exploitation of the less powerful and pillaging of the natural environment." - Don Ambrose.

Contrast with this:

"Neoliberal democracy, with its notion of the market uber alles ...instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralised and socially powerless." - Robert W. McChesney in Profit over People, Noam Chomsky.

It is fairly clear that the neoliberal system is designed to exploit the less powerfull when it becomes dogmatic, and that is exactly what it has become: beaurocracy, deregulation, privatisation, and government power .

ForgottenVoice , 2014-09-29 10:50:10
Neoliberalism is a virus that destroys people's power of reason and replaces it with extra greed and self entitlement. Until it is kicked back to the insane asylum it came from it will only keep trying to make us it's indentured labourers. The only creeds more vile were Nazism and Apartheid. Eventually the neoliberals will kill us all, so they can have the freedom to have everything they think they're worth.
pagey23 , 2014-09-29 10:50:48
Liberal Socialism is what we have, how is 45% of the economy run by government and a 1 trillion pound debt economic liberalism
RamjetMan pagey23 , 2014-09-29 10:57:08
Yes we have big government and a finance system which prop each other up. Why it's called neoliberalism is beyond me.
MSP1984 , 2014-09-29 10:51:35

Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Isn't a key feature of neo-liberalism that governments de-regulate? It seems you're willing to blame absolutely everything on neoliberalism, even those things that neoliberalism ostensibly opposes.

Sandra Mae , 2014-09-29 10:52:53
The Professor is correct. We have crafted a nightmare of a society where what is considered good is often to the detriment of the whole community. It is reflected in our TV shows of choice, Survivor, Big Brother, voting off the weakest or the greatest rival. A half a million bucks for being the meanest most sociopathic person in the group, what great entertainment.
Jem Bo , 2014-09-29 10:53:35
articulateness - not much fluency in a sentence when using that word is there?
Choller21 Jem Bo , 2014-09-29 10:58:30
Articulocity.
illeist , 2014-09-29 10:54:39
Always a treat to read your articles, Mr Verhaeghe; well written and supported with examples and external good links. I especially like the link to Hare's site which is a rich resource of information and current discussions and presentations on the subject.

The rise of the psychopath in society has been noted for some time, as have the consequences of this behaviour in wider society and and a growing indifference and increased tolerance for this behaviour.

But what are practical solutions? MRI brain scans and early intervention? We know that behaviour modification does not work, we know that antipsychotic and other psychiatric medication does not alter this behaviour, we know little of genetic causes or if diet and nutrition play a role.

Maybe it is because successful psychopaths leverage themselves into positions of influence and power and reduce the voice, choices and influence of their victims that psychopathy has become such an unsolvable problem, or at least a problem that has been removed from the stage of awareness. It is so much easier to see the social consequences of psychopathy than it is to see the causal activity of psychopaths themselves.

Jack3 illeist , 2014-09-29 11:54:12
To deal with this problem is the most urgent and crucial for humanity if we hope for any future at all.
dr8765 , 2014-09-29 10:54:46
Great article. Thanks.
tufsoft , 2014-09-29 11:00:33
People are pretty much bound to behave this way when you replace the family with the individual as the primary unit of society
quark007 , 2014-09-29 11:02:51
Neoliberalism has entered centre stage politics not as a solution, it is just socialism with a crowd pleasing face. What could the labour party do to get voted in when the leadership consisted of self professed intellectuals in Donkey Jackets which they wore to patronise the working classes. Like the animal reflected in the name they became a laughing stock. Nobody understood their language or cared for it. The people who could understand it claimed that it was full of irrelevant hyperbole and patronising sentiment.

It still is but with nice sounding buzz words and an endless sound bites, the face of politics has been transformed into a hollow shell. Neither of the party's faithful are happy with their leaders. They have become centre stage by understanding process more than substance. As long as your face fits, a person has every chance of success. Real merit on the other hand is either sadly lacking or non existant.

gman1 , 2014-09-29 11:05:43
banxters blah blah
LargeMarvin , 2014-09-29 11:06:40
As one who was a working class history graduate in 1970, this is not exactly news.
Andyz , 2014-09-29 11:08:13
Most people's personalities and behaviour are environment driven, they are moulded by the social context in which they find themselves. The system we currently inhabit is one which is constructed on behalf of the holders of capital, it is a construct of the need to create wealth through interest bearing debt.

The values of this civilisation are consumer ones, we validate and actualise ourselves through ownership of goods, and also the middle-class norms of family life, which are in and of themselves constructs of a liberal consumer based society.

We pride ourselves on tolerance, which is just veiled indifference to anything which we feel as no importance to our own desires. People are becoming automatons, directed through media devices and advertising, and also the implanted desires which the consumer society needs us to act upon to maintain the current system of economy.

None of this can of course survive indefinitely, hence the constant state of underlying anxiety within society as it ploughs along on this suicidal route.

Finn_Nielsen Andyz , 2014-09-29 11:13:15
WAKE UP SHEEPLE
Fence2 , 2014-09-29 11:09:28
Good article, however I would just like to add that the new breed of 'business psychopath' you allude to are fairly easy to spot these days, and as such more people are aware of them, so they could be displaced quite soon, hopefully.
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:10:22
Cameron and the Conservatives have long been condemning the lazy and feckless at the bottom of society, but has Cameron ever looked at his aristocratic in-laws.

His father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, can be checked out on Wikipedia.

His only work seems to have been eight years as a conservative councillor (lazy).

He is a member of three clubs, so he likes to go pissing it up with his rich friends (feckless).

This seems to be total sum of his life's achievements.

He also gets Government subsidies for wind turbines on his land (on benefits).
His estate has been in the family since the 16th Century and the family have probably done very little since, yet we worry about the lower classes having two generations without work, in the upper classes this can go on for centuries.

Wasters don't just exist at the bottom of society.

Mr. Cameron have a closer look at your aristocratic in-laws.

colddebtmountain , 2014-09-29 11:12:39

This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

Fundamentally the whole concept is saying "real talent is to be hunted down since, if you do not destroy it, it will destroy you". As a result we have a whole army of useless twats in high positions with not an independent thought between them. The concept of the old boys network has really taken over except now the members are any mental age from zero upwards.

And then we wonder why nothing is done prperly these days....

regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:13:44
If you want to get into this in a bit more depth:

"Status Anxiety" by Alain de Botton is worth a read.

Also, a better insight into the psychopaths amongst us, including bankers, can be gained from Robert Hare's book:

"Without Conscience"

yoghurt2 , 2014-09-29 11:14:19
Neoliberalism is fine in some areas of self-development and actualization of potential, but taken as a kind of religion or as the be-all and end-all it is a manifest failure. For a start it neglects to acknowledge what people have in common, the idea of shared values, the notion of society, the effects of synergy and the geo-biological fact that we are one species all inhabiting the same single planet, a planet that is uniquely adapted to ourselves, and to which we are uniquely adapted.

Generally it works on the micro-scale to free up initiative, but on the macro-scale it is hugely destructive, since its goals are not the welfare of the entire human race and the planet but something far more self-interested.

undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:14:37

I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.

This is inevitable. All societies have this property. A warrior society rewards brave fighters and inspiring leaders, while punishing weaklings and cowards. A theocracy rewards those who display piety and knowledge of religious tradition, and punishes skeptics and taboo-breakers. Tyrannies reward cunning, ruthless schemers while punishing the squeamish and naive. Bureaucratic societies reward pernickety types who love rules and regulationsn, and punish those who are careless of jots and tittles. And so on.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents

It does. In fact, it does in all societies to some extent, even societies that strive to be egalitarian, and societies that try to restrict social mobility by imposing a rigid caste system. There are always individuals who fall or rise through society as a result of their abilities or lack thereof. The freer society is, the more this happens.

For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom.

Straw man. Even anarchists don't believe in completely unrestricted choice, let alone neoliberals. Neoliberalism accepts that people are inevitably limited by their abilities and their situation. Personal responsibility does not depend on complete freedom. It depends on there being some freedom. If you have enough freedom to make good or bad choices, then you have personal responsibility.

Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The idea of the perfectible individual has nothing to do with neoliberalism. On the other hand, it is one of the central pillars of Marxism. In philosophy, Marx is noted as an example of thinker who follows a perfectionist ethical theory.
undersinged undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:18:55
One more: Socialist societies reward lazy and feckless people, and punish strivers who display initiative.
gjjwatson undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:22:15
You miss the point. Neoliberalism promotes negative values and is used consciously to control personal freedom and undermine positive individuality.
Vanillaicetea undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:39:22
An excellent demolition of this piece of whiny idiocy.
variation31 , 2014-09-29 11:16:27
A frightening article, detailing now the psychological strenngths of people are recruited, perverted and rotted by this rat-race ethic.

Ironic that the photo, of Canary Wharf, shows one of the biggest "socialist" gifts of the country (was paid largely by the British taxpayer, if memory serves me correctly, and more or less gifted to the merchant bankers by Thatcher).

66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:16:34
Meritocratic neoliberalism; superficial articulateness which I used to call 'the gift of the gab'. In my job, I was told to be 'extrovert' and I bucked against this, as a prejudice against anyone with a different personality and people wanting CLONES. Not sensible people, or people that could do a job, but a clone; setting the system up for a specific type of person as stated above. Those who quickly tell you, you are wrong. Those that make you think perhaps you are, owing to their confidence. Until your quietness proves them to be totally incorrect, and their naff confidence demonstrates the falseness of what they state.
JonPurrtree 66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:17:25
I call it the bullshit based economy.
undersinged JonPurrtree , 2014-09-29 11:23:55
Most of the richest people in the world are not bullshitters. There are some, to be sure, but the majority are either technical or financial engineers of genius, and they've made their fortune through those skills, rather than through bullshit.
JonPurrtree undersinged , 2014-09-29 11:30:52
Plenty of bullshit keeping companies afloat.

Apart from tetra brik. Thats a useful product.

66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 11:19:11
Hague lied to the camera about GCHQ having permission to access anyone's electronic devices. He did not blush, he merely stated that a warrant was required. Only the night before we were shown a letter from GCHQ stating that they had access without any warrant.

The ability to LIE has become a VIRTUE that all of us could well LIVE WITHOUT.

undersinged 66Applicationsperjob , 2014-09-29 17:34:47

The ability to LIE has become a VIRTUE

That's not new. It has been widely held that rulers have a right (and sometimes a duty) to lie ever since Machiavelli's Prince was published some 500 years ago.
regfromdagenham , 2014-09-29 11:19:34
The thinking behind our age was covered in a three part BBC documentary "The Trap".

It was made in 2006, before the financial crisis.

http://thoughtmaybe.com/the-trap/

Why was Iraq such a disaster?
Find out in Part 3.

seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:26:02

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: "Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless." We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference.

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose.
-Janice Joplin

RaymondDance seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:45:35

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left lose.
-Janice Joplin

Kris Kristofferson actually,

LargeMarvin seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 14:46:09
Actually it was written by Kris Kristofferson and, having a house, a job pension and an Old Age Pension, frankly, I disagree. The Grateful Dead version is better anyway.
mjhunbeliever seamuspadraig , 2014-09-30 15:46:19
This little video may throw some light on that for you, Paradox of Choice.
dr8765 , 2014-09-29 11:26:23

.... economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities.

I have long thought that introverts are being marginalised in our society. Being introvert seems to be seen by some as almost an illness, by others as virtually a crime.

Not keen on attending that "team bonding" weekend? There must be something wrong with you. Unwilling to set out your life online for all to see? What have you got to hide?

A few very driven and talented introverts have managed to find a niche in the world of IT and computers, earnig fortunes from their bedrooms. But for most, being unwilling or unable to scream their demands and desires across a crowded room is interpreted as "not trying" or being not worth listening to.

seamuspadraig , 2014-09-29 11:28:28

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

Perfectly describes our new ruling-class, doesn't it!

Monchberter , 2014-09-29 11:30:05
Neoliberalism:

'Get on', or get f*****d.
Be hard working, or be dispensable.

Trilbey Monchberter , 2014-09-29 12:32:14
Does neoliberalism = fascism = brutality?
Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:30:29

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

Sounds like a perfect description of newspaper columnists to me.

illogicalcaptain , 2014-09-29 11:33:08
It's just the general spirit of the place: it's on such a downer and no amount of theorising and talking will ever solve anything. There isn't a good feeling about this country anymore just a lot of tying everyone up in in repressive knots with a lot of hooey like talk and put downs. We need to find freedom again or maybe shove all the pricks into one part of the country and leave them there to fuck each other over so the rest of us can create a new world free of bullcrap. I don't know. Place is a superficial mess: 'look at me; look at what I own; I can cook Coq Au Vin and drink bottles of expensive plonk and keep ten cars on my driveway'
Nah. Fortuneately there are still some decent people left but it's been like Hamlet now for quite some time - "show me an honest man and I'll show you one man in ten thousand" Sucks.
chriskilby , 2014-09-29 11:33:17
So it's official. We are ruled by psychopaths. Figures.
Trilbey chriskilby , 2014-09-29 12:35:58
Perhaps I can help out. There's some good research here:

Are CEOs and Entrepreneurs psychopaths? Multiple studies say "Yes

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/drishtikone/2013/10/are-ceos-and-entrepreneurs-psychopaths-multiple-studies-say-yes/

Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 11:33:31
This article is spot on and reflects Karl Marx's analysis regarding the economic base informing and determining the superstructure of a given society, that is, its social, cultural aspects. A neo-liberal, monetarist economy will shape and influence social and work relationships in ways that are not beneficial for the many but as the commentator states, will benefit those possessed of certain thrusting,domineering character traits. The common use of the word "loser" in contemporary society to describe those who haven't "succeeded" financially is in itself telling.
Trilbey Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 12:37:59
Some people are brave enough to buck the system, I'm not, I just keep going to work everyday to get slaughtered.
LargeMarvin Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 14:48:16
Freud's model of the mind is pretty good too, though psychoanalysis itself is controversial. The Krel forgot one thing.................
qwertboi , 2014-09-29 11:34:29
What an incisive article!

It would be the perfect first chapter (foreword/introduction) in a best seller that goes on, chapter by chapter, to show that neoliberalism destroys everything it touches:

Personal relationships;
trust;
personal integrity;
trust;
relationships;
trust;
transactions and trade;
trust;
market systems;
trust;
communities;
trust;
political relationships;
trust;

Etc., etc., etc..
trust;
society;
trust;

Menscheit11 , 2014-09-29 11:35:37
This analysis can be found in Marx's critique of the economy published in 1859.
lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 11:36:17
James Meek seems to have nailed it in his recent book, where he pointed out that the socially conservative Thatcher, who wanted a society based on good old fashioned values, helped to create the precise opposite with her enthusiasm for the neoliberal model. Now we are sinking into a dog-eat-dog dystopia.
Trilbey lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 12:53:48
Many of the good old fashioned conservatives had time honoured values. They believed in taking care of yourself but they also believed in integrity and honesty. They believed in living modestly and would save much of their money rather than just spend it, and so would put some aside for a rainy day. They believed in the community and were often active about local issues. They cared about the countryside and the wildlife. They often recycled which went along with their thriftiness and hatred of waste.

This all vanished when Thatcher came in with her selfish 'greed is good' brigade. Loads of money!

LargeMarvin lexcredendi , 2014-09-29 14:49:34
Even shampoo and sets have not come back, though unfortunately slickbacks have.
PonyBoyUK , 2014-09-29 11:36:31

We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance –

Ha Ha!...

Oh, wait, now I'm sad.... Damn it.

freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 11:38:34
There is nothing "neo" nor "liberal" about neoliberalism. It is a cover for corporations and the wealthy elite to get more corporate welfare .
PonyBoyUK freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 12:28:59
Take what you do, define it in a word or two and then use the most concise antonym. - That is what you will tell the public.

State-protected oligopolies = "The Free Market"

Aggressive wars on civilian populations = "The war on Terror" / "The Ministry of Defence"

Age-old economic oppression = "Neoliberal economics"

Public Manipulation = "Public Relations"

Political Oppression = "Democracy"

LargeMarvin freepedestrian , 2014-09-29 14:50:47
In practice yes, but on the theoretical level the title is valid. It is the resurrection of policies from the 1860s.
Toeparty , 2014-09-29 11:38:44
Capitalist alienation is a daily practise. The daily practise of competing with and using people. This gives rise to the ideology that society and other people are but a means to an end rather than an end in themselves that is of course when they are not a frightening a existential competitive threat. Contempt and fear. That is what we are reduced to by the buying and selling of labour power and yes, only a psychopath can thrive under such conditions.
Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:42:49
According to the left if your only ambition is to watch Jeremy Kyle, pick up a welfare cheque once a week and vote for which ever party will promise to give you £10 a week more in welfare: you're an almost saint like figure.

If you actually do something to try to create a better and more independent life for yourself, your family and your community: you're "displaying psychopathic tendencies" .

Raymond Ashworth Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:49:07
Strawman.
Themiddlegound Vanillaicetea , 2014-09-29 11:49:49
If you actually do something to try to create a better and more independent life for yourself, your family and your community: you're "displaying psychopathic tendencies".

So how do you create a better community ?

By paying your taxes on your wealth that so many of you try to avoid. Here lies the crux of the matter. There would be no deficit if taxes were paid.

Some of the rich are so psychpathic they think jsut because they employ people they shouldn't pay any tax. They think the employees should pay thier tax for them.

Why has tax become such a dirty word ? Think about it before you answer.

RaymondDance Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:54:25

There would be no deficit if taxes were paid.

Of course there would.

Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:45:14
I've studied neoliberalism for nearly 20 years.

The conclusion is for me is that it is a brilliant economic model. It is the sheer apathy of the voters and that they are cowards because they don't make it work for them. They allow the people who own the theory to run it for themselves and thus they get all the benefits from it.

I'll try and explain.

Their business plan.

The truth is neoliberalism has infact made the rich western countries poorer and helped so many other poorer countries around the world get richer. Let's face facts here giving to charities would never have achieved this and something needed to be done to even up this world inequality. The only way you are ever going to achieve world peace is if everybody is equal. It's not by chance this theory was introduced by America. They are trying to bring that equality to everyone so that world peace can be achieved. How many more illegal wars and deaths this will take and for how long nobody knows. They are also very sinister and selfish and greedy because if the Americans do achieve what they are trying to do. They will own and countrol the world via washington and the dollar. The way the Americans see it is that the inequality created within each country is a bribe to each power structure within that country which helps America achieve it's long term goals. It creates inequality within each country but at the same time creates equality on the world stage. It might take 100 years to achieve and millions of deaths but eventually every country will be another state of America and look and act like any American state. Once that is achieved world peace will follow. America see it as a war and they also see millions of deaths as acceptable to achieve their end game. I of course disagree there must be a better way. How will history look at this dark period in history in 300 years time if it does achieve world peace in 150 years time ?

In each country neoliberalism works but at the moment it only works for the few because the voters allow it. The voters allow them to get away with it through submission. They've allowed their parliaments to be taken over without a fight and allowed their brains to be brainwashed by the media controlled by the few. Which means the the whole story of neoliberalism has been skewed into a very narrow view which always suits and promotes the voices of the few.

Why did the voters allow that to happen ?

Their biggest success the few had over the many was to create an illusion that made tax a toxic word. They attacked tax with everything they had to form an illusion in the voters minds that paying tax was a bad thing and it was everybodys enemy. Then they passed laws to enhance that view and trotted out scare stories around tax and that if they had to pay it then everybody would leave that country. They created a world set up for them and ulitimately destroyed any chance at all, for the success of neoliberalism to be shared by the many. This was their biggest success to make sure the wealth of neoliberalism stayed with them.

As the author of this piece says quite clearly. "An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities"

One of these traits is that they believe they shouldn't pay tax because they are creating jobs and the tax their employees pay should be the amount of tax these companies pay. Again this makes sure that the wealth is not shared.

Since they now own and control parliaments they also use the state to pay these wages in the way of tax credits and subsidies and grants as they refuse to pay their employees a living wage. It is our taxes they use to do this. Again this is to make sure that the wealth is not shared.

There are too many examples to list of how they make sure that the wealth generated by neoliberalism is not shared. Then surely it is up to the voters to make sure it does. Neoliberalism works and it would work for everybody if the voters would just grow a set of balls. Tax avoidance was the battle that won the war for the few. It is time the voters revisited that battle and re write it so that the outcome was that the many won not just the few. For example there would be no deficit if the many had won that battle. Of course they wouldn't have left a market of 60 million people with money in their pockets, it would have been business suicide.

This is a great example of how they created an illusion, a false culture, a world that does not exist. The focus is all on the deficit and how to fix it, as they socialise the losses and privatise the profits. There is no eyes or light shed on why there is a deficit due to tax avoidance. It's time we changed that and made Neoliberlaism work for us. If we don't then we can't complain when it only works for the few.

Neoliberlaism works. It's about time we owned it for ourselves. Otherwise we'll always be slaves to it. It's not the theory that is corrupt it is the people who own it.

RaymondDance Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 11:53:29

There is no eyes or light shed on why there is a deficit due to tax avoidance.

... or because politicians have discovered that you can buy votes by giving handouts even to those who don't need them, thereby making everyone dependent on the largesse of the state and, by extension, promoting the interests of the most irresponsible politicians and the bureaucracies they represent.

dr8765 Themiddlegound , 2014-09-29 12:02:36
You seem to regard what you call neoliberalism as a creator of wealth. You then claim that the reason for this wealth accruing almost entirely to an elite few is the "the voters" have prevented neoliberalism from distributing the wealth more equitably.

I can't really follow the logic of your argument.

Neoliberalism seems to be working perfectly for those few who are in a position to exploit it. It's doing what it's designed to do.

I agree that the ignorance of "the voters" is allowing the elite to get away with it. But the voters should be voting for those who propose an alternative economic model. Unfortunately, in the western world at the present time, they have no viable alternative to vote for, because the neoliberals have captured all of the mainstream political parties and institutions.

Themiddlegound RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 12:03:10
That's all fine and dandy and I agree.

However, you missed one of the main points. Our parliament has been taken over by the few.

One man used to and probably still does strike fear into the government. Murdoch. Problem is there are millions like him that lobby and control policy and the media.

foralltime , 2014-09-29 11:46:59
..."There are regulations about everything,"... Yes, but higher up the scale you go, the less this regulation is enforced, less individual accountability and less transparency. Neoliberalism has turned society on its head. We see ever growing corporate socialism subsidising the top 1% and heavily regulated hard nosed market capitalism for the rest of us resulting in massive inequality in wealth distribution. This inequality by design makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. We've created a society where people who were once valued as an individual part of that society are now treated as surplus to requirements and somehow need to be eliminated.
RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 11:50:02

Bullying used to be confined to schools

Blimey - and people like this constantly accuse conservatives of being nostalgic for a past that never existed.

LargeMarvin RaymondDance , 2014-09-29 14:54:59
Fair comment. I went to a grammar school where there was, luckily, very little bullying. The bullying happened when I got back to the 'hood.
zavaell , 2014-09-29 11:51:37
All I know is that when I read the comments on cif, I cannot believe that these are people who would be expected to read the Guardian.
RaymondDance zavaell , 2014-09-29 11:56:26

I cannot believe that these are people who would be expected to read the Guardian.

One of the best things about cif is that it allows a wider audience to see just how deluded and narcissistic Guardian readers are.

busyteacher zavaell , 2014-09-29 12:23:12
They're mostly tight g*ts who refuse to pay to use the Mail/Telegraph sites. This is just about the last free forum left now and it's attracting all kinds of undesirables. The level of personal insult has gone up enormously since they came here. Most of us traditional Ciffers don't bother with many posts here any more, it's too boring now.
LargeMarvin zavaell , 2014-09-29 14:55:44
It's called Revenge of the Killer Clerks.
WarwickC , 2014-09-29 11:53:18

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, "make" something of ourselves.

That's always been the way, I think. It's life.
We are all of us the descendants of a million generations of successful organisms, human and pre-human.
The ones that didn't succeed fel by the wayside.
We're the ones left to tell the tale.

Stephen Porter WarwickC , 2014-09-29 12:34:35
We're the ones left to tell the tale"

and what a tale it will be for the last human standing!

EstebanMurphy WarwickC , 2014-09-29 13:14:33

That's always been th

[Aug 29, 2016] Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us

Notable quotes:
"... the financial crisis illustrated at a macro-social level (for example, in the conflicts between eurozone countries) what a neoliberal meritocracy does to people. Solidarity becomes an expensive luxury and makes way for temporary alliances, the main preoccupation always being to extract more profit from the situation than your competition. Social ties with colleagues weaken, as does emotional commitment to the enterprise or organisation. ..."
"... Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it's known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other. ..."
"... Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms ..."
Sep 29, 2014 | www.theguardian.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy

more on this story

[Aug 29, 2016] Reply

Aug 29, 2016 | onclick="TPConnect.blogside.reply('6a00d83451b33869e201b8d216908d970c'); return false;" href="javascript:void 0"
Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 10:55 AM

Patricia Shannon said... The disregard of the winners towards the losers helps to bring about the popularity of people like Trump. I am not at all surprised at the level of his popularity, even though I personally despise him. Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 10:55 AM pgl said in reply to Patricia Shannon ... Agreed. If those who lost from trade think Trump will help them - I have a bridge to sell them. Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 11:07 AM ilsm said in reply to pgl... If those who have not lost to trade think Hillary might help them.....

I just wasted* 2+ hours with a bunch of Hilbots.... all I heard is Trump is so evil and his supports are so dumb or racist or anti Planned Parenthood.

Not a word to defend Killary except she could not be evil she is watched so much. And Obama called off the DoJ.

A room full of cognitive dissonance and brainwashed.

*horts du orvees was okay! Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 04:13 PM cm said in reply to Patricia Shannon ... It is not only disregard, but active mockery and defamation - accusing the "losers" of hedonism, entitlement thinking, irresposibility, lack of virtue, merit, striving, intelligence, etc.
Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:10 PM cm said in reply to cm... I.e. reverse puritanism of sorts - lack of success is always to be explained in terms of lack in virtue and striving.
Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:12 PM Paine said in reply to cm... Yes

This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too
Their support for the tax and transfer system
Humanist noblesse " oblige "


The system of merit rewards is largely

Firm but fair
Reply Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 01:57 PM cm said in reply to Paine... "This include the bulk of the liberal merit class winners too"

This is where the "limousine liberal" meme comes from (or more precisely gets it support and success from).

Of course all the claimed demerits exist plenty among the people so accused (as well as among the winners) - though they always did, but I'm under the impression that before globalization/technology supported loss of leverage and thus prestige, it wasn't a *public* narrative (in private circles there has always been "if you don't make an effort in school you will end up sweeping the streets", and looking down on the "unskilled", etc. - with the hindsight irony that even street sweeping has been automated).

[Aug 29, 2016] Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

www.theguardian.com

[Aug 28, 2016] Human beings are now considered consumer goods in "job market" to be used and then discarded. As a consequence, a lot of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape" (pope Francis)

Aug 28, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

R.L.Love : August 27, 2016 at 09:49 AM

PK has nearly lost all of his ability to see things objectively. Ambition got him, I suppose, or maybe he has always longed to be popular. He was probably teased and ridiculed too much in his youth. He is something of a whinny sniveler after-all.

Then too, I doubt if PK has ever used a public restroom in the Southwest, or taken his kids to a public park in one of the thousands of small towns where non-English speaking throngs take over all of the facilities and parking.Or had his children bullied at school by a gang of dark-skinned kids whose parents believe that whites took their land, or abused or enslaved their distant ansestors. It might be germane here too... to point out that some of this anti-white sentiment gets support and validation from the very rhetoric that Democrats have made integral to their campaigns.

As for not knowing why crime rates have been falling, the incarceration rates rose in step, so duh, if you lock up those with propensities for crime, well, how could crime rates not fall? And while I'm on the subject of crime, the statistical analysis that is commonly used focuses too much on violent crime and convictions. Thus, crimes of a less serious nature, that being the type of crimes committed by poor folks, is routinely ignored. Then too, those who are here illegally are often transient and using assumed names, and so they are, presumably, more difficult to catch. So, statistics are all too often not as telling as claimed.

And, though I'm not a Trump supporter, I fully understand his appeal. As would PK if he were more travelled and in touch with those who have seen their schools, parks, towns, and everything else turn tawdry and dysfunctional. But of course the nation that most of us live in is much different than the one that PK knows.

likbez -> R.L.Love

> And, though I'm not a Trump supporter, I fully understand his appeal

I wonder why everybody is thinking about this problem only in terms of identity politics.

This is a wrong, self-defeating framework to approach the problem. which is pushed by neoliberal MSM and which we should resist in this forum as this translates the problems that the nation faces into term of pure war-style propaganda ("us vs. them" mentality). To which many posters here already succumbed

IMHO the November elections will be more of the referendum on neoliberal globalization (with two key issues on the ballot -- jobs and immigration) than anything else.

If so, then the key question is whether the anger of population at neoliberal elite that stole their jobs and well-being reached the boiling point or not. The level of this anger might decide the result of elections, not all those petty slurs that neoliberal MSM so diligently use as a smoke screen.

All those valiant efforts in outsourcing and replacing permanent jobs with temporary to increase profit margin at the end have the propensity to produce some externalities. And not only in the form "over 50 and unemployed" but also by a much more dangerous "globalization of indifference" to human beings in general.

JK Galbraith once gave the following definition of neoliberal economics: "trickle down economics is the idea that if you feed the horse enough oats eventually some will pass through to the road for the sparrows." This is what neoliberalism is about. Lower 80% even in so-called rich countries are forced to live in "fear and desperation", forced to work "with precious little dignity".

Human beings are now considered consumer goods in "job market" to be used and then discarded. As a consequence, a lot of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape" (pope Francis).

And that inevitably produces a reaction. Which in extreme forms we saw during French and Bolsheviks revolutions. And in less extremist forms (not involving lampposts as the placeholders for the "Masters of the Universe" (aka financial oligarchy) and the most obnoxious part of the "creative class" aka intelligentsia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligentsia ) in Brexit vote.

Hillary and Trump are just symbols here. The issue matters, not personalities.

[Aug 27, 2016] It sounds like the rentiers are beginning to get a little nervou

Notable quotes:
"... It sounds like the rentiers are beginning to get a little nervous. Good. Whatever we can do to drain some money out of the FIRE sector is a good thing. I wonder what those fund managers think about the folks over at Vanguard. ..."
Aug 27, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
voteforno6 , August 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Re: Passive Investing Is Worse for Society Than Marxism

It sounds like the rentiers are beginning to get a little nervous. Good. Whatever we can do to drain some money out of the FIRE sector is a good thing. I wonder what those fund managers think about the folks over at Vanguard.

[Aug 27, 2016] Our Society Is Sick, Our Economy Exploitive and our Politics Corrupt

Aug 22, 2016 | Of Two Minds

Any society that tolerates this systemic exploitation and corruption as "business as usual" is not just sick--it's hopeless.

In noting that our society is sick, our economy exploitive and our politics corrupt, I'm not saying anything you didn't already know. Everyone who isn't being paid to deny the obvious in public (while fuming helplessly about the phony cheerleading in private) knows that our society is a layer-cake of pathologies, our economy little more than institutionalized racketeering and our politics a corrupt auction-house of pay-for-play, influence-peddling, money-grubbing and brazen pandering for votes.

The fantasy promoted by do-gooders and PR hacks alike is that this corrupt system can be reformed with a few minor policy tweaks. If you want a brief but thorough explanation of Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, please take a look at my book (link above).

If you want an example of how the status quo has failed and is beyond reform, it's instructive to examine the pharmaceutical industry, which includes biotech corporations, specialty pharmaceutical firms and the global corporate giants known as Big Pharma.

I hope it won't come as too great a surprise that the pharmaceutical industry isn't about cures or helping needy people--it's about profits. As a Big Pharma CEO reported in a brief moment of truthfulness, We're in Business of Shareholder Profit, Not Helping the Sick

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Already this year, Valeant has increased the price of 56 of the drugs in its portfolio an average of 66 percent, highlighted by their recent acquisition, Zegerid, which they promptly raised 550 percent. Not only does this have the unfortunate side effect of placing the price of life-saving drugs out of reach for even moderately-insured people, but it has now begun to call into question the sustainability of this rapidly-spreading business model.

Since being named CEO in 2008, Valeant has acquired more than 100 drugs and seen their stock price rise more than 1,000 percent with Pearson at the helm."

[Aug 27, 2016] The Commons As The Response To The Structural Crises Of The Global System Countercurrents

Notable quotes:
"... Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
www.countercurrents.org

The Connecting the Dots series has convincingly shown a number of interconnected reasons why the global system is in crisis, and why there is no way out without a structural transformation of the dominant neoliberal system. In our contribution, we want to stress the key importance of what we call a "value regime," or simply put, the rules that determine what society and the economy consider to be of value. We must first look at the underlying modes of production - i.e. how value is created and distributed - and then construct solutions must that help create these changes in societal values. The emerging answer for a new mode of value creation is the re-emergence of the Commons.

With the growing awareness of the vulnerability of the planet and its people in the face of the systemic crises created by late-stage capitalism, we need to ready the alternatives and begin creating the next system now. To do so, we need a full understanding of the current context and its characteristics. In our view, the dominant political economy has three fatal flaws.

Pseudo-Abundance

The first is the characteristic need for the capitalist system to engage in continuous capital accumulation and growth. We could call this pseudo-abundance, i.e. the fundamental article of faith, or unconscious assumption, that the natural world's resources are infinite. Capitalism creates a systemic ecological crisis marked by the overuse and depletion of natural resources, endangering the balance of the environment (biodiversity extinction, climate change, etc).

Scarcity Engineering

The second characteristic of capitalism is that it requires scarce commodities that are subject to a tension between supply and demand. Scarcity engineering is what we call this continuous attempt to undo natural abundance where it occurs. Capitalism creates markets by the systemic re-engineering of potentially or naturally abundant resources into scarce resources. We see this happening with natural resources in the development of "terminator seeds" that undo the seeds' natural regeneration process. Crucially, we also see this in the creation of artificial scarcity mechanisms for human culture and knowledge. "Intellectual property" is imposed in more and more areas, privatizing common knowledge in order to create artificial commodities and rents that create profits for a privileged "creator class."

These first two characteristics are related and reinforce each other, as the problems created by pseudo-abundance are made quite difficult to solve due to the privatization of the very knowledge required to solve them. This makes solving major ecological problems dependent on the ability of this privatized knowledge to create profits. It has been shown that the patenting of technologies results in a systemic slowdown of technical and scientific innovation, while un-patenting technologies accelerates innovation. A good recent example of this "patent lag" effect is the extraordinary growth of 3D printing, once the technology lost its patents.

Perpetually Increasing Social Injustice

The third major characteristic is the increased inequality in the distribution of value, i.e. perpetually increasing social injustice.

As Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century shows us, the logic of capital is to concentrate more and more wealth into fewer hands through compound interest, rent seeking, purchasing legislation, etc. Our current set of rules are hardwired to increase inequality and injustice.

[Aug 27, 2016] The Deep States Catch-22

www.oftwominds.com

August 16, 2016 | Of Two Minds

What happens if the Deep State pursues the usual pathological path of increasing repression? The system it feeds on decays and collapses.

Catch-22 (from the 1961 novel set in World War II Catch-22) has several shades of meaning (bureaucratic absurdity, for example), but at heart it is a self-referential paradox: you must be insane to be excused from flying your mission, but requesting to be excused by reason of insanity proves you're sane.

The Deep State in virtually every major nation-state is facing a form of Catch-22: the Deep State needs the nation-state to feed on and support its power, and the nation-state requires stability above all else to survive the vagaries of history.

The only possible output of extreme wealth inequality is social and economic instability.

The financial elites of the Deep State (and of the nation-state that the Deep State rules) generate wealth inequality and thus instability by their very existence, i.e. the very concentration of wealth and power that defines the elite.

So the only way to insure stability is to dissipate the concentrated wealth and power of the financial Deep State. This is the Deep State's Catch-22.

What happens when extremes of wealth/power inequality have been reached? Depressions, revolutions, wars and the dissolution of empires. Extremes of wealth/power inequality generate political, social and economic instability which then destabilize the regime.

Ironically, elites try to solve this dilemma by becoming more autocratic and repressing whatever factions they see as the source of instability.

The irony is they themselves are the source of instability. The crowds of enraged citizens are merely manifestations of an unstable, brittle system that is cracking under the strains of extreme wealth/power inequality.

Can anyone not in Wall Street, the corporate media, Washington D.C., K Street or the Fed look at this chart and not see profound political disunity on the horizon?

[Aug 26, 2016] Lots of Smoke Here, Hillary

Notable quotes:
"... If Hillary Clinton wins, within a year of her inauguration, she will be under investigation by a special prosecutor on charges of political corruption, thereby continuing a family tradition. ..."
"... Of 154 outsiders whom Clinton phoned or met with in her first two years at State, 85 had made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and their contributions, taken together, totaled $156 million. ..."
"... Conclusion: access to Secretary of State Clinton could be bought, but it was not cheap. Forty of the 85 donors gave $100,000 or more. Twenty of those whom Clinton met with or phoned dumped in $1 million or more. ..."
"... On his last day in office, January 20, 2001, Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon to financier-crook and fugitive from justice Marc Rich, whose wife, Denise, had contributed $450,000 to the Clinton Library. ..."
Aug 26, 2016 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Prediction: If Hillary Clinton wins, within a year of her inauguration, she will be under investigation by a special prosecutor on charges of political corruption, thereby continuing a family tradition.

... ... ...

Of 154 outsiders whom Clinton phoned or met with in her first two years at State, 85 had made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and their contributions, taken together, totaled $156 million.

Conclusion: access to Secretary of State Clinton could be bought, but it was not cheap. Forty of the 85 donors gave $100,000 or more. Twenty of those whom Clinton met with or phoned dumped in $1 million or more.

To get to the seventh floor of the Clinton State Department for a hearing for one's plea, the cover charge was high. Among those who got face time with Hillary Clinton were a Ukrainian oligarch and steel magnate who shipped oil pipe to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions and a Bangladeshi economist who was under investigation by his government and was eventually pressured to leave his own bank.

The stench is familiar, and all too Clintonian in character.

Recall. On his last day in office, January 20, 2001, Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon to financier-crook and fugitive from justice Marc Rich, whose wife, Denise, had contributed $450,000 to the Clinton Library.

The Clintons appear belatedly to have recognized their political peril.

Bill has promised that, if Hillary is elected, he will end his big-dog days at the foundation and stop taking checks from foreign regimes and entities, and corporate donors. Cash contributions from wealthy Americans will still be gratefully accepted.

One wonders: will Bill be writing thank-you notes for the millions that will roll in to the family foundation-on White House stationery?

[Aug 26, 2016] In Trump We Trust E Pluribus Awesome! Ann Coulter

Notable quotes:
"... Donald Trump isn't a politician -- he's a one-man wrecking ball against our dysfunctional and corrupt establishment. We're about to see the deluxe version of the left's favorite theme: Vote for us or we'll call you stupid. It's the working class against the smirking class. ..."
"... He understands that if we're ever going to get our economy back on its feet the wage-earning middle class will have to prosper along with investors ..."
"... Trump that really "gets" the idea that the economy is suffering because the middle class can't find employment at livable wages ..."
"... Ms. Coulter says it more eloquently: "The Republican establishment has no idea how much ordinary voters hate both parties." Like me, she's especially annoyed with Republicans, because we think of the Republican Party as being our political "family" that has turned against us: ..."
"... The RNC has been forcing Republican candidates to take suicidal positions forever…They were happy to get 100 percent of the Business Roundtable vote and 20 percent of the regular vote. ..."
"... American companies used free trade with low-wage countries as an opportunity to close their American factories and relocate the jobs to lower-paying foreign workers. Instead of creating product and exporting it to other countries, our American companies EXPORTED American JOBS to other countries and IMPORTED foreign-made PRODUCTS into America! Our exports have actually DECLINED during the last five years with most of the 20 countries we signed free trade with. Even our exports to Canada, our oldest free trade partner, are less than what they were five years ago. ..."
"... Trade with Japan, China, and South Korea is even more imbalanced, because those countries actively restrict imports of American-made products. We run a 4x trade imbalance with China, which cost us $367 billion last year. We lost $69 billion to Japan and $28 billion to South Korea. Our exports to these countries are actually DECLINING, even while our imports soar! ..."
"... Why do Establishment Republicans join with Democrats in wanting to diminish the future with the WRONG kind of "free trade" that removes jobs and wealth from the USA? As Ms. Coulter reminds us, it is because Republican Establishment, like the Democrat establishment, is PAID by the money and jobs they receive from big corporations to believe it. ..."
"... The donor class doesn't care. The rich are like locusts: once they've picked America dry, they'll move on to the next country. A hedge fund executive quoted in The Atlantic a few years ago said, "If the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile [that] means one American drops out of the middle class, that's not such a bad trade." ..."
Aug 26, 2016 | www.amazon.com

Donald Trump isn't a politician -- he's a one-man wrecking ball against our dysfunctional and corrupt establishment. We're about to see the deluxe version of the left's favorite theme: Vote for us or we'll call you stupid. It's the working class against the smirking class.

Frank A. Lewes

No pandering! The essence of Trump in personality and issues , August 23, 2016

Ms. Coulter explains the journey of myself and so many other voters into Trump's camp. It captures the essence of Trump as a personality and Trump on the issues. If I had to sum Ms. Coulter's view of the reason for Trump's success in two words, I'd say "No Pandering!" I've heard many people, including a Liberal tell me, "Trump says what needs to be said."

I've voted Republican in every election going back to Reagan in 1980, except for 2012 when I supported President Obama's re-election. I've either voted for, or financially supported many "Establishment Republicans" like Mitt Romney and John McCain in 2008. I've also supported some Conservative ones like Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani. In this election I'd been planning to vote for Jeb Bush, a superb governor when I lived in Florida.

Then Trump announced his candidacy. I had seen hints of that happening as far back as 2012. In my Amazon reviews in 2012 I said that many voters weren't pleased with Obama or the Republican Establishment. So the question became: "Who do you vote for if you don't favor the agendas of either party's legacy candidates?" In November 2013 I commented on the book DOUBLE DOWN: GAME CHANGE 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heileman:

=====
Mr. Trump occupies an important place in the political spectrum --- that of being a Republican Populist.

He understands that if we're ever going to get our economy back on its feet the wage-earning middle class will have to prosper along with investors, who are recovering our fortunes in the stock market.

IMO whichever party nominates a candidate like Trump that really "gets" the idea that the economy is suffering because the middle class can't find employment at livable wages, will be the party that rises to dominance.

Mr. Trump, despite his flakiness, at least understood that essential fact of American economic life.

November 7, 2013
=====

Ms. Coulter says it more eloquently: "The Republican establishment has no idea how much ordinary voters hate both parties." Like me, she's especially annoyed with Republicans, because we think of the Republican Party as being our political "family" that has turned against us:

=====
The RNC has been forcing Republican candidates to take suicidal positions forever…They were happy to get 100 percent of the Business Roundtable vote and 20 percent of the regular vote.

…when the GOP wins an election, there is no corresponding "win" for the unemployed blue-collar voter in North Carolina. He still loses his job to a foreign worker or a closed manufacturing plant, his kids are still boxed out of college by affirmative action for immigrants, his community is still plagued with high taxes and high crime brought in with all that cheap foreign labor.

There's no question but that the country is heading toward being Brazil. One doesn't have to agree with the reason to see that the very rich have gotten much richer, placing them well beyond the concerns of ordinary people, and the middle class is disappearing. America doesn't make anything anymore, except Hollywood movies and Facebook. At the same time, we're importing a huge peasant class, which is impoverishing what remains of the middle class, whose taxes support cheap labor for the rich.

With Trump, Americans finally have the opportunity to vote for something that's popular.

=====

That explains how Trump won my vote --- and held on to it through a myriad of early blunders and controversies that almost made me switch my support to other candidates.

I'm no "xenophobe isolationist" stereotype. My first employer was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. What I learned working for him launched me on my successful career. I've developed and sold computer systems to subsidiaries of American companies in Europe and Asia. My business partners have been English and Canadian immigrants. My family are all foreign-born Hispanics. Three of my college roommates were from Ecuador, Germany, and Syria.

BECAUSE of this international experience I agree with the issues of trade and immigration that Ms. Coulter talks about that have prompted Trump's rising popularity.

First, there is the false promise that free trade with low-wage countries would "create millions of high-paying jobs for American workers, who will be busy making high-value products for export." NAFTA was signed in 1994. GATT with China was signed in 2001. Since then we've signed free trade with 20 countries. It was said that besides creating jobs for Americans, that free trade would prosper the global economy. In truth the opposite happened:

American companies used free trade with low-wage countries as an opportunity to close their American factories and relocate the jobs to lower-paying foreign workers. Instead of creating product and exporting it to other countries, our American companies EXPORTED American JOBS to other countries and IMPORTED foreign-made PRODUCTS into America! Our exports have actually DECLINED during the last five years with most of the 20 countries we signed free trade with. Even our exports to Canada, our oldest free trade partner, are less than what they were five years ago.

We ran trade SURPLUSES with Mexico until 1994, when NAFTA was signed. The very next year the surplus turned to deficit, now $60 billion a year. Given that each American worker produces an average of $64,000 in value per year, that is a loss of 937,000 American jobs to Mexico alone. The problem is A) that Mexicans are not wealthy enough to be able to afford much in the way of American-made product and B) there isn't much in the way of American-made product left to buy, since so much of former American-made product is now made in Mexico or China.

Trade with Japan, China, and South Korea is even more imbalanced, because those countries actively restrict imports of American-made products. We run a 4x trade imbalance with China, which cost us $367 billion last year. We lost $69 billion to Japan and $28 billion to South Korea. Our exports to these countries are actually DECLINING, even while our imports soar!

Thus, free trade, except with a few fair-trading countries like Canada, Australia, and possibly Britain, has been a losing proposition. Is it coincidence that our economy has weakened with each trade deal we have signed? Our peak year of labor force participation was 1999. Then we had the Y2K collapse and the Great Recession, followed by the weakest "recovery" since WWII? As Trump would say, free trade has been a "disaster."

Why do Establishment Republicans join with Democrats in wanting to diminish the future with the WRONG kind of "free trade" that removes jobs and wealth from the USA? As Ms. Coulter reminds us, it is because Republican Establishment, like the Democrat establishment, is PAID by the money and jobs they receive from big corporations to believe it. Ms. Coulter says:

=====
The donor class doesn't care. The rich are like locusts: once they've picked America dry, they'll move on to the next country. A hedge fund executive quoted in The Atlantic a few years ago said, "If the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile [that] means one American drops out of the middle class, that's not such a bad trade."
=====

Then there is immigration. My wife, son, and extended family legally immigrated to the USA from Latin America. The first family members were recruited by our government during the labor shortage of the Korean War. Some fought for the United States in Korea. Some of their children fought for us in Vietnam, and some grandchildren are fighting in the Middle East. Most have become successful professionals and business owners. They came here LEGALLY, some waiting in queue for up to 12 years. They were supported by the family already in America until they were on their feet.

Illegal immigration has been less happy. Illegals are here because the Democrats want new voters and the Republicans want cheap labor. Contrary to business propaganda, illegals cost Americans their jobs. A colleague just old me, "My son returned home from California after five years, because he couldn't get construction work any longer. All those jobs are now done off the books by illegals."

It's the same in technology. Even while our high-tech companies are laying off 260,000 American employees in 2016 alone, they are banging the drums to expand the importation of FOREIGN tech workers from 85,000 to 195,000 to replace the Americans they let go. Although the H1-B program is billed as bringing in only the most exceptional, high-value foreign engineers, in truth most visas are issued to replace American workers with young foreigners of mediocre ability who'll work for much less money than the American family bread-winners they replaced.

Both parties express their "reverse racism" against the White Middle Class. Democrats don't like them because they tend to vote Republican. The Republican Establishment doesn't like them because they cost more to employ than overseas workers and illegal aliens. According to them the WMC is too technologically out of date and overpaid to allow our benighted business leaders to "compete internationally."

Ms. Coulter says "Americans are homesick" for our country that is being lost to illegal immigration and the removal of our livelihoods overseas. We are sick of Republican and Democrat Party hidden agendas, reverse-racism, and economic genocide against the American people. That's why the Establishment candidates who started out so theoretically strong, like Jeb Bush, collapsed like waterlogged houses of cards when they met Donald Trump. As Ms. Coulter explains, Trump knows their hidden agendas, and knows they are working against the best interests of the American Middle Class.

Coulter keeps coming back to Mr. Trump's "Alpha Male" personality that speaks to Americans as nation without pandering to specific voter identity groups. She contrasts his style to the self-serving "Republican (Establishment) Brain Trust that is mostly composed of comfortable, well-paid mediocrities who, by getting a gig in politics, earn salaries higher than a capitalist system would ever value their talents." She explains what she sees as the idiocy of those Republican Establishment political consultants who wrecked the campaigns of Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz by micromanaging with pandering.

She says the Republican Establishment lost because it served itself --- becoming wealthy by serving the moneyed interests of Wall Street. Trump won because he is speaking to the disfranchised American Middle Class who loves our country, is proud of our traditions, and believes that Americans have as much right to feed our families through gainful employment as do overseas workers and illegal aliens.

"I am YOUR voice," says Trump to the Middle Class that until now has been ignored and even sneered at by both parties' establishments.

I've given an overview of the book here. The real delight is in the details, told as only Anne Coulter can tell them. I've quoted a few snippets of her words, that relate most specifically to my views on Trump and the issues. I wish there were space to quote many more. Alas, you'll need to read the book to glean them all!

Frank A. Lewes
Bruce, I would also add that the Republican Establishment chose not to represent the interests of the White Middle Class on trade, immigration, and other issues that matter to us. They chose to represent the narrow interests of:

1. The corporate 1% who believe that the global labor market should be tapped in order to beat American workers out of their jobs; and that corporations and the 1% who own them should be come tax-exempt organizations that profit by using cheap overseas labor to product product that is sold in the USA, and without paying taxes on the profit. Ms. Coulter calls this group of Republican Estblishmentarians "locusts: once they've picked America dry, they'll move on to the next country."

2. Pretending to care about the interests of minorities. Of course, the Republican Establishment has even less appeal to minorities than to the White Middle Class (WMC) they abandoned. Minorities are no more interested in losing their jobs to foreigners or to suffer economic stagnation while the rich have their increasing wealth (most of which is earned at the expense of the middle class) tax-sheltered, than do the WMC.

The Republican Establishment is in a snit because Trump beat them by picking up the WMC votes that the Establishment abandoned. What would have happened if Trump had not come on the scene? The probable result is that the Establishment would have nominated a ticket of Jeb Bush and John Kasich. These candidates had much to recommend them as popular governors of key swing states. But they would have gone into the election fighting the campaign with Republican Establishment issues that only matter to the 1%. They would have lost much of the WMC vote that ultimately rallied around Trump, while gaining no more than the usual 6% of minorities who vote Republican. It would have resulted in a severe loss for the Republican Party, perhaps making it the minority party for the rest of the century.

Trump has given Republicans a new lease on life. The Establishment doesn't like having to take a back seat to him, but perhaps they should understand that having a back seat in a popular production is so much better than standing outside alone in the cold.

Frank A. Lewes
It's funny how White Men are supposed to be angry. But I've never seen any White men:

1. Running amok, looting and burning down their neighborhood, shooting police and other "angry White men." There were 50 people shot in Chicago last weekend alone. How many of those do you think were "angry white men?" Hint: they were every color EXCEPT white.

2. Running around complaining that they aren't allowed into the other gender's bathroom, then when they barge their way in there complain about being sexually assaulted. No, it's only "angry females" (of any ethnicity) who barge their way into the men's room and then complain that somebody in there offended them.

Those "angry white men" are as legendary as "Bigfoot." They are alleged to exist everywhere, but are never seen. Maybe that's because they mostly hang out in the quiet neighborhoods of cookie-cutter homes in suburbia, go to the lake or bar-be-que on weekends, and take their allotment of Viagra in hopes of occassionally "getting lucky" with their wives. If they're "angry" then at least they don't take their angry frustrations out on others, as so many other militant, "in-your-face" activist groups do!

[Aug 25, 2016] Credentialism and Corruption Vile College Presidents Edition

Welcome to Neoliberal U!
Notable quotes:
"... The corruption I'm going to describe seems more along the lines of converting a public institution to serve private purposes (assuming higher education to be a public institution, which I do, because education is a public good)[3]. ..."
"... Now, human nature being what it is, a certain amount of empire-building and concern for one's rice bowl has always been inevitable, but when greed for one's self, or one's class, becomes the institutional driver, it's time for a thorough cleansing. ..."
"... New York University students carry some of the highest debt loads in the nation, a fact they are bound to remember through gritted teeth when they read the New York Times report about the school's loans to top faculty for vacation homes in places like Fire Island and the Hamptons. ..."
"... The house, which is owned by John Sexton, the president of New York University, was bought with a $600,000 loan from an N.Y.U. foundation that eventually grew to be $1 million, according to Suffolk County land records. ..."
"... I think this perfectly describes what I've observed with public school superintendents also. They are like 'The Music Man.' Selling dreams that our children will be smarter, better looking, and above average if we just get with the program. While our school district has a local in charge who appears to be here for the long term, a neighboring district had a 'Music Man' or rather, woman, who got the city to float a $10 million bond issue so every fourth grader could have an I-Pad. She then left to do the same (for a higher salary) in another state. Another, much poorer, district nearby wanted to get rid of a super who had allegedly threatened subordinates with bodily harm: they bought out her contract for $300,000. In a county with a population of 20,000 and ten percent unemployment. ..."
"... It is not only at the college level that those in charge are engaging is questionable behavior. It is a society wide problem. ..."
"... To a naive student with no experience in institutional politics, their stories of resentment, gossip, backbiting, and the politics of personal reputational destruction were like a glimpse into an unimagined world. ..."
"... It used to be that there was a saying in academe: the competition is so great because the stakes are so low. But, if there is a path to six or seven figures, now I see that there is serious cash to be banked to justify working in the university racket. ..."
Aug 24, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

I haven't posted on higher education before, and a series of posts on credentialism really should focus on the institutions where those credentials are, in the main, granted. But rather than a serious analytical piece on the state of the university, this will be a light-hearted romp through some spectacular examples of executive malfeasance at NYU, Baylor, and Penn State.[1] (Tomorrow I'll look at the adjunct system, and potential effects of yesterday's NLRB decision . And there will be more posts to come on this topic, as I come to understand it better.)

Before I begin, though, let's recall Zephyr Teachout's definition of corruption. Not a quid pro quo - that's the Citizen's United doctrine, now supported by the Clinton campaign - but the use of public office for private ends. What does corruption look like in a university setting, given that some universities are private to begin with, and that "ends," in the ancient and tricky academe, may not always be immediately evident?

Here's a story from the University of Maine, Maine's "flagship" university. Our last President, Robert Kennedy, gave the contract for sports broadcasting to ClearChannel, thereby moving the profits out of state, because he took the contract away from Stephen King's radio station (yes, that Stephen King). Naturally, this ticked King off, and King - up to that point the university's largest donor, and the funder of many good works round the state, like dental clinics and libraries - decided he would no longer give to the university. (Kennedy then rotated out to the University of Connecticut, for a hefty salary increase, where he was shortly axed by the Regents for a cronyism scandal . Dodged a bullet, there, Maine!)

Dollying back to the larger picture, King came up through the much despised and derided English Department, in the humanities, which powerful institution forces in the administration and the Board of Trustees are shifting resources away from, in favor of more pragmatic, "business-friendly," corporate majors (graduates, that is, that they themselves can hire[2]. Even though King was the university's largest donor.)

Is there corruption here? I would argue yes, but I'm not sure that Teachout's definition quite meets the case. The corruption I'm going to describe seems more along the lines of converting a public institution to serve private purposes (assuming higher education to be a public institution, which I do, because education is a public good)[3]. This is evident from the King story in two ways. First, Kennedy is only one of many university administrators who stay a couple years at an institution, punch their ticket, and move on to a higher salaried position elsewhere. Second, optimizing university curricula, grounds, personnel decisions, etc. for corporate ends is about as corrupt as you can get (as are the concomitant rationalizations and cover-ups that occur when scandal breaks). Now, human nature being what it is, a certain amount of empire-building and concern for one's rice bowl has always been inevitable, but when greed for one's self, or one's class, becomes the institutional driver, it's time for a thorough cleansing.

With that, let's look at the case of John Sexton, once President of NYU. (NYU is an important nexus for the Democrat nomenklatura , so we'll have more to say about NYU in the future.)

John Sexton, NYU

John Sexton (salary: $1.5 million ) was President of New York University from 2002 to 2015, and for a portion of that time doubel-dipped as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For the connoisseur of corruption, his long tenure provides an embarrassment of riches - the union busting , the faculty no-confidence votes , the Abu Dhabi debacle (among other issues, the campus was built using slave labor ), the lavish compensation packages , the tacos made from endangered shark meat - but I'm going to focus on just one. The apartments. No, I don't mean the faculty apartment NYU remodeled for Sexton's son :

NYU gave president's aspiring actor son apartment on campus

Jed Sexton, whose sole affiliation with NYU was his status as the president's son, for years enjoyed a spacious faculty apartment while the university experienced a "severe" housing shortage, The Post has learned.

In spring 2002, NYU ordered that a pair of one-bedroom apartments normally reserved for law school faculty be combined into a lavish, two-story spread in the heart of Greenwich Village, property records show.

The Harvard-educated Sexton, who was a 33-year-old aspiring actor at the time, shared the new duplex with his newlywed wife, Danielle Decrette, for the next five years, according to documents and people briefed on the situation.

That's despite the fact that NYU officials, just weeks earlier, had warned in a written report of a "severe housing shortage" for faculty, "especially of larger units."

How cozy! No, I mean the vacation properties, plural, that NYU under Sexton doled out as perks to insiders :

NYU Offers Top Talent a Path to Beachfront Property

New York University students carry some of the highest debt loads in the nation, a fact they are bound to remember through gritted teeth when they read the New York Times report about the school's loans to top faculty for vacation homes in places like Fire Island and the Hamptons. The loans, which have gone to at least five faculty members in the medical and law schools as well as university president John Sexton, sometimes get forgiven over time as their recipients continue to work at the university. Mortgage loans apparently aren't unheard of as compensation packages for professors and executives in tight real estate markets, but they're usually for homes, not vacation properties.

From the New York Times , which broke the story, it seems that Sexton gifted himself a house, an "an elegant modern beach house that extends across three lots":

The house, which is owned by John Sexton, the president of New York University, was bought with a $600,000 loan from an N.Y.U. foundation that eventually grew to be $1 million, according to Suffolk County land records.

Others, too :

Since the late 1990s, at least five medical or law school faculty members at N.Y.U. have received loans on properties in the Hamptons or Fire Island, in addition to Dr. Sexton.

NYU's Chief Financial Officer Martin Dorph argued that arrangements like this are necessary to retain top personnel :

While that feeling is understandable, it is important to note the economic truth that the markets for different positions often dictate different levels of compensation, whether that is embodied in salary payments, loans, or an overarching agreement about terms of employment. And, when we commit to provide such compensation, we do so only when we are sure

that the benefit to the University far exceeds the cost.

First, CEO compensation and shareholder returns are inversely correllated ; even if we grant Dorph's premise, and a corporate model for the university, it's just not clear that top compensation means top talent. Second, why doesn't NYU simply pay its talent more? Why complicate matters by bringing in vacation housing? Why not just write a fatter check? The answer can only be arbitrage of some sort: NYU giving access to property that otherwise isn't on the market, tax advantages of some kind, a better rate on the mortgage, or whatever; some way in which NYU uses its muscle on behalf of the compensated. But that is, precisely, converting a public institution to serve private purposes. Not to mention Sexton openly using NYU facilities to house his son and for his own vacation home on Fire Island. Come on. Why is that not self-dealing? And the rest of looks suspiciously like powerful faculty members feathering their own nests. "Why not? We deserve it."

Naturally, NYU has learned nothing, and is in fact doubling down: " N.Y.U. President's Penthouse Gets a Face-Lift Worth $1.1 Million (or More) ." For Sexton's successor, Andrew Hamilton (salary: not disclosed):

The 19th and topmost floor of the building will be turned into a master-bedroom suite, where Dr. Hamilton will have private exits - one from the bedroom and one from the bathroom - onto a terrace overlooking Washington Square and, to the south, the financial district skyline, according to documents filed with New York City.

"Private exits." Perhaps he'll need them.

Ken Starr, Baylor University

We now turn to the simpler case of Baylor President Ken Starr (salary: $1 million ), last seen unloading a dumpster-load of lascivious footnotes onto the steps of Capitol Hill during the Lewinsky matter (thank you, Monica, for helping to save Social Security from Bill Clinton ). Former Manhattan assistant DA Bennett L. Gershman has a good summation, in full "What did he know, and when did he know it?" mode:

Baylor University, the country's largest Baptist university and a bastion of Christian values, has just been denounced in a blistering report by the University's Board of Regents for "mishandling" - covering up might be a more apt description - credible allegations of horrific sexual violence against female students, especially alleged assaults by members of the football team. The Board of Regents said it was "shocked," "outraged" and "horrified" by the extent of the acts of sexual violence on the campus, which covered years 2012 through 2015, and the failure of the University to take appropriate action to punish violators and prevent future violations. The Board issued an "apology to Baylor Nation," fired the football coach, and "transitioned" (the Regents' term) Baylor's President, Kenneth Starr, to the role of Chancellor. Starr also was allowed to retain his lucrative Chair and Professorship of constitutional law at Baylor's law school….

As Baylor's president from 2010 to 2016, the vexing question is the level of Starr's culpability for the "shocking," "outrageous," and "horrendous" sex scandal. What exactly did Starr know? The allegations of sexual violence on the campus were rampant and notorious, especially by the football players. Starr had to know something about the extent of the University's response to the complaints, and most likely the failure to address these complaints properly. Indeed, there were several Title IX investigations by the Justice Department at the time that Starr must have known about. Moreover, there are plenty of egregious examples of sexual violence on the campus that had to have been reported. In one egregious case, an All-Big 12 football player was accused in 2013 of sexual violence against a student. Although Waco police contacted university officials, nobody in the university investigated the case until two years later, after a Title IX investigation was underway, and media reports highlighted the case. This was after several other Baylor football players were indicted and convicted of sexual assaults. It was only then that the University hired an outside investigator. Notably, the headlines also prompted a public outcry, and a candlelight vigil at Starr's residence.

The Board of Regents Report describes the breadth of the independent investigation into the university's failure to properly address the University's dereliction. The investigators interviewed numerous University officials, but there is no mention whether they interviewed Starr, and if so, what he may have said. … Starr may have claimed to be unaware of the repeated failures of university officials to investigate these complaints, but is that contention credible? Starr presumably had to know that aggressively investigating these allegations - indeed, as aggressively as he investigated the sexual misdeeds of President Clinton - might have interfered with his intensive multi-million dollar fundraising efforts to build a new and lavish football stadium, which opened in 2014. And Starr may have believed that getting too deep into the mud of the roiling sexual scandal would undermine the public perception of Baylor's "Christian commitment within a caring community" - again the Board of Regents' description - as well as compromise the heroic efforts of the Baylor football team to win a national championship.

So Starr is no longer the university's president. To be sure, it's a demotion of sorts. He was allowed to keep his Chancellorship, which he just relinquished, but he still gets to keep his Chair and Professorship at the Law School. One might think this is not a very harsh result, certainly not if Starr knowingly violated federal law, or by his deliberate indifference allowed serious criminal conduct to take place at the university he led.

Alternet is, as one would expect, a bit more direct in connecting the dots :

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but Ken Starr is accused of ignoring sexual violence at Baylor University mostly because doing something about it would have jeopardized a cash cow.

(Note that the disgraced Baylor football coach's salay, $6 million , was six (6) times college President "Judge Starr." Starr will also retain his position on the faculty. Priorities!) The New York Times says what Alternet says , in its own more muffled language:

[Baylor] also fired the football coach, Art Briles, whose ascendant program brought in millions of dollars in revenue but was dogged by accusations of sexual assault committed by its players - an increasingly familiar combination in big-time college sports.

"Was dogged by." What we have here is a football team acting as a standalone, dominating entity , rather like a parasite controlling the behavior of the host univeristy:

Among the firm's findings was that football coaches and athletics administrators at the school in the central Texas city of Waco had run their own improper investigations into rape claims and that in some cases they chose not to report such allegations to an administrator outside of athletics.

By running their own "untrained" investigations and meeting directly with a complainant, football staff "improperly discredited" complainants' claims and "denied them a right to a fair, impartial and informed investigation."

Starr wanted the revenues. Briles wanted the revenues, the facilities, the salaries, the ticket to be punched, etc. Again, this is quite directly converting a public institution to serve private purposes. And like NYU, Baylor appears to have learned nothing. Starr still has a job, and was never censured. The full report was never released. And from an ad taken out by Baylor alumni : "Thank You Judge Ken Starr - For your integrity, leadership, character and humble nature."

Eric Barron, Penn State

Finally, we come to Eric Barron, President of Penn State (salary: $1.2 million with incentives ). I'm not going to focus on whether Penn State hiring Barron in the wake of his dubious handling of a festering rape scandal at Florida State was odd , or not. And I'm not going to focus on climatologist Barron's relationship with Koch Brothers funding . Or his conflation of "incredulous" with "incredible"; who among us, etc. No, I'm going to focus on this amazing piece of puffery. From an interview with Barron on "entrepreneurship" and "proactive leadership" :

ERIC J. BARRON: We actually have launched a whole program, which is titled " Invent Penn State ," and there are several different elements of this. One is to do more to incentivize people on campus to get their ideas out into the marketplace. We have many, many student events that are competitions and have scholarship funds at the end of it. The second part of it is to add more visibility to our intellectual property. A third part is to build an ecosystem around our campuses that promote startups and partnerships with communities.

A general view, in my opinion, is that many universities are focused on this topic as a source of revenue, not as educational experiences for students and opportunities for them to do startups. We have a lot of effort on the student side. The minors have expanded. I think we have six or seven entrepreneurship minors now that are embedded in curriculum for different colleges if you want. Last year, we started having any student with any major to be able to get all the credits equivalent to a minor in business. There's a lot on that side plus startup weeks and other activities with a scholarship side of it.

We have funded but have not yet cut the ribbon on a total of 20 incubators and accelerators around the state of Pennsylvania associated with our campuses. In March, we cut the ribbon on what's called Happy Valley Launch Box, which is here in State College, with the idea of having 30 startups in there at any one time. I think we had about 15 before even 30 days. All of these have gone through some sort of vetting process or competition for which they were winners. It's growing just left and right. Many of them, we've given them seed money and they've gotten many times more money from their community and other partners that want to enable the students.

Never mind converting an entire student population into "winners" and "losers." Never mind that 90% of start-ups fail . Never mind that when startups succeed, it's as much a matter of luck, and especially the luck of having been born into the right social network. Thomas Frank has already described Barron's program, and where it leads. This is the innovation cult ! Quoting Frank once more:

I just finished Thomas Frank's excellent Listen, Liberal , and he has a great rant about "innovation," of which I will show a great slab here, from p 186 et seq. Frank even helpfully quotes the more egregious bullshit tells, so I don't have to highlight them! Do read it in full. After visiting hollowed out mill town Fall River, Frank goes to Boston:

And:

1_frank
2_frank

Let's also leave aside the issue of whether "innovation" culture increases "income inequality." Suppose Penn State structures its curriculum to optimize for startups (and not for education as such; critical thinking skills, the construction of narratives, the sciences, research, even (relatively) humdrum majors like accounting). What happens to the students when 90% of their startups fail, as history tells us they will? What will they have to fall back on, if everything has been optimized for startups, and the rest of the university's assets have been stripped?

The future lies ahead on that question. For now, I'm uncertain whether "the innovation" cult is corrupt as such, or not. Certainly it provides almost limitles opportunities for backscratching, logrolling, bezzle creation, and so forth. And Barron seems to conceive of it as a big revenue generating opportunity for Penn State (rather like the football team, if it comes to that). If the program fails, and is seen to fail, will Penn State learn from the experience? It's hard to know, but Barron's handling of the fallout from the Sandusky matter does not inspire confidence .

Conclusion

So, what we've got here is an NYU President handing a New York apartment, meant for faculty, to his son, and what looks rather like powerful faculty members feathering their own nests with cheap housing; we've got a Baylor President not wanting to cross a powerful and wealthy football team, even to the extent of failing to handle a rape scandal; and at Penn State we've got a President who's a member of the "innovation cult," when it's not at all clear this will benefit the student body as a whole. Have any of these institutions learned from these experiences? No. Are these college Presidents personally responsible for corruption at their universities - for converting a public institution to serve private purposes? Sexton and Start, yes. For Barron, the jury is still out.

And these are the institutions of higher education that are granting credentials. Not a good look. More examples from readers welcome!

NOTES

pretzelattack, August 24, 2016 at 1:11 pm

iirc starr's work as independent counsel helped (was the biggest factor maybe) in getting the job at baylor.

Anonymous, August 24, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Lambert:

'First, Kennedy is only one of many university administrators who stay a couple years at an institution, punch their ticket, and move on to a higher salaried position elsewhere.'

I think this perfectly describes what I've observed with public school superintendents also. They are like 'The Music Man.' Selling dreams that our children will be smarter, better looking, and above average if we just get with the program. While our school district has a local in charge who appears to be here for the long term, a neighboring district had a 'Music Man' or rather, woman, who got the city to float a $10 million bond issue so every fourth grader could have an I-Pad. She then left to do the same (for a higher salary) in another state. Another, much poorer, district nearby wanted to get rid of a super who had allegedly threatened subordinates with bodily harm: they bought out her contract for $300,000. In a county with a population of 20,000 and ten percent unemployment.

It is not only at the college level that those in charge are engaging is questionable behavior. It is a society wide problem.

trent, August 24, 2016 at 2:47 pm

'The Music Man.'

so fraud?

Anonymous, August 24, 2016 at 3:06 pm

For willing dupes.

Jagger, August 24, 2016 at 8:51 pm

It is not only at the college level that those in charge are engaging is questionable behavior. It is a society wide problem.

That is my impression as well-corruption is a society wide problem from top to bottom. The small town mayors, courts, police, newspapers, insiders, etc may be playing with small potatoes but corruption is corruption whether it is $1000 or a $1,000,000. I know it can't be everyone with a little power but way too many. Makes you doubt the whole system.

Arizona Slim, August 24, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Greetings from one of those coworking spaces that Mr. Frank took to task in Listen, Liberal .

Let me tell you a dirty little secret about this place. And, no, I'm not talking about who left a lunch in the fridge for too long. This is an even dirtier secret. Here it is:

Most of us are not innovators.

That's right. I said it.

The truth is, most of us are working on things that are, well, pretty run of the mill. Guy behind me is doing digital marketing work for his out-of-state employer, an ad agency. Lady over there is doing marketing for a resort in Mexico. Oh, and the guy who's my best friend here? We're both photographers. His other main hustle is graphic design and mine is writing for business.

We have a handful of what could be described as startups, but those businesses are definitely in the minority.

a different chris, August 24, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Well we don't need a sh&t pot full of "innovators"…. we need people that can do what they do well. Does everybody have to create something "new"?? I don't think so.* Edison wasn't the greatest guy in the world overall, but as he said getting something up is 99% perspiration and only 1% inspiration – I think he would have spit at the word "innovation", btw.

In fact, he has another lesson for the "innovators" in that a lot of his perspiration was generated due to his efforts in stealing ideas from other people. Which is going to happen to almost all of the (if we take their optimistic slices) 10% that do come up with something anybody cares about.

*For a good example, I love the improvement of the American pub scene over the past few decades. But the best beer and grub isn't the best because it is "innovative" - sometimes it is a bit different, sometimes not - but because it is very, very well done.

Wait, we pay you enrich yourself?, August 24, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Slim, in your home town town there is one of the perfumed princes that could have fit nicely into Lambert's post. Us AZ residents are paying neoliberal scumbag a premium price for their "talents" of enriching themselves.

Super scum: https://www.azpm.org/p/featured-news/2016/4/6/85310-arizona-lawmakers-call-for-ua-presidents-resignation-following-board-appointment-to-for-profit-college-company/

Oh, and if you are referring to the same work space, I worked for a total pump and dump "startup", there.

Arizona Slim, August 24, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Oh, brother. Ann Weaver Hart. Don't get me started.

Okay, I am started. So, here goes …

A couple of summers ago, I was meeting with a longtime acquaintance and potential client on the University of Arizona campus. Madame Presidente was about to move her office into Old Main, which is the UA's oldest building. It's revered as this sacred space. Or something like that.

Any-hoo, I was in a pretty spacious office in a building near Old Main. But my meeting host told me that Ann Weaver Hart's Old Main *bathroom* was bigger than that office.

Yeesh.

Oh, as for the work space, were you involved in the one that had a pirate theme? Because that place was - and is - full of pump -n- dump startups.

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I considered writing Anne Weaver Hart up, but the other ones were worse. There's only so much one can do to shovel back the tide…

Jim Haygood, August 24, 2016 at 1:23 pm

'King came up through the much despised and derided English Department, in the humanities.'

Although not a product of the English department at my alma mater, Whatsamatta U., I knew some professors in the department.

To a naive student with no experience in institutional politics, their stories of resentment, gossip, backbiting, and the politics of personal reputational destruction were like a glimpse into an unimagined world.

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 2:50 pm

I know, I know. So totally unlike the corporate environment.

Wait, we pay you to enrich yourself?, August 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm

It used to be that there was a saying in academe: the competition is so great because the stakes are so low. But, if there is a path to six or seven figures, now I see that there is serious cash to be banked to justify working in the university racket.

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 3:41 pm

And if you're an administrator, you can redistribute the budget to your own advantage by screwing the faculty, especially adjuncts.

Uahsenaa, August 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Nowadays I bristle when someone describes me as "faculty," even though it's technically correct, because it papers over the fact that some of the people doing the exact same job as me have full employment, a full salary, and fringe benefits, where the people in my position get paid per credit with no benefits. We are "permitted" to buy into university health insurance, at full cost, but that's the extent of our bennies.

If you're getting to the employment situation in a further post, I'll save my more extensive comments for that.

DanB, August 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Update: one of the articles cited in this essay says Ken Starr resigned from Baylor Law School and severed all ties with the university this past Friday.
As someone who has a university background, as a grad student in three different universities, and short stints as a faculty member and an administrator (I was shoved out/left in disgust from administration)- I attest that this kind of neoliberal thinking, which automatically generates converting public responsibility to private advantage, is commonplace. As readers here know, the university is a place where one must strive to present oneself - and simultaneously fool oneself - as creative and independent-minded within the confines of the matrix. This is most pronounced in the professional school because they are most beholden to corporate money. A final note: you will find the best to the worst of humanity in universities.

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 2:51 pm

So, karma works. Thanks for the update.

Torsten, August 24, 2016 at 6:45 pm

David Riesman: "I would never advise anyone to go into teaching because the people are so nice."

allan, August 24, 2016 at 2:35 pm

One more for the honor roll: West Virginia University's former president Michael Garrison, who ordered the granting of an M.B.A. to moral leper Mylan CEO and Epi-Pen price optimizer Heather Bresch in 2007,

even though she had fewer than half the credits required.

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Blue Dog Joe Manchin's daughter . All things work together for good, don't they?

trent, August 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm

seems like she's only where she is because of daddy

DrBob, August 24, 2016 at 4:17 pm

This particular CEO (and Senator's daughter) has a history of using Congress for favorable outcomes:

https://theintercept.com/2016/08/24/epipen-uproar-highlights-companys-family-ties-to-congress/

allan, August 24, 2016 at 4:37 pm

To paraphrase Harry Reid, Joe's with us on everything except the war basic human decency.

KurtisMayfield, August 24, 2016 at 3:21 pm

You forgot to mention she was a Senator's daughter. That one is a combo of both government, corporate, and university corruption. Well done!

Torsten, August 24, 2016 at 2:39 pm

I have to repeat my favorite historical anecdote here (h/t the late, great Paul Goodman, from his Compulsory Miseducation, I believe).

It seems that in the summer of 1650, while the faculty was away helping in the fields, Henry Dunster sold Harvard to a group of Boston businessmen, creating the first Corporation in the New World, and making himself "President" thereof.

Now Wikipedia claims that Dunster "set up as well as taught Harvard's entire curriculum alone for many years, graduating the first college class in America, the Class of 1642". So perhaps Dunster was simply ahead of his time in creating the prototype for Trump University.

Ulysses, August 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Administrators in academia hold themselves to the same high ethical standards as officials in government. In other words, they do whatever they can get away with, and then sputter about future "transparency," and "doing better," when their misdeeds come to light.

This blather from Austin, Texas, could just as well have come from Washington, D.C.:

"I've read the report a half-dozen times in totality, and I found no willful misconduct , no criminal activity on the part of any of the folks at the University of Texas at Austin, and have told the Board of Regents that I intend to take no disciplinary action," he said.

"Can we do things better? You bet," he continued. "Should we have been more transparent? Absolutely. Are we going to get this fixed? No doubt about it."

Mr. Powers pushed back against the report's suggestion that he had not been forthcoming, saying he had been "truthful and not evasive" in his dealings with investigators.

Investigators took a different view…. "

http://chronicle.com/article/Admissions-Report-Chips-at/190021/

ekstase, August 24, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Just a hypothetical question: what would one do if they felt they were losing some of their idealism?

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm

I very rarely laugh out loud; thanks, it's good for the health!

Foppe, August 24, 2016 at 4:22 pm

My $2c; apologies that they're a bit unpolished: One question you/we might ponder is how (a desire for) obvious nepotism engenders privatization, versus more "principled" demands for privatization of public goods/services. To give a very brief summary of the developments since WWII inspired by my reading of David Harvey's The Enigma of Capital : privatization became important once western economies 'matured', because of how this meant that there were ever fewer (obvious) opportunities for growth. And secondly because, once more and more people started getting degrees, there was an explosion in the number of people who were "trained" (only) for middle/upper management positions; for who there was fairly little demand in public institutions, probably because workers had decent unions/voice, so that the people who ran those places couldn't easily justify managerial metastasis and the taking away of job-related autonomy (to create demand for "decision-makers") by creating cultures of institutionalized distrust (via yammering about the importance of "accountability"). (Though the latter was/is still an issue, it gets worse the more neoliberalized the organizational mode gets, because of neoliberalisms implicit (rational-actor) misanthropic world view.) Those developments strike me as separate from the more narcissistic ( professional class/meritocratic-reasoning )-related forms of corruption/grift/etc. that you discuss above, though.

Foppe, August 24, 2016 at 4:44 pm

(To clarify, Harvey doesn't talk about professionalization; that's just me combining observations made by Graeber with those made by Tom Frank in Listen, Liberal .)

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Graeber, or Harvey? The Harvey book looks interesting.

Foppe, August 24, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Harvey's book is great; as for Frank & Graeber, I was thinking of Graeber's remarks about what he (in Debt) calls the crisis of inclusion (which he's also talked about elsewhere, e.g. in the Army of Altruists essay in Revolutions in Reverse ). Graeber there (as I assume you recall) only talks about the fact that those who don't belong to what Frank calls the professional class (and those who self-identify with them), only have the army and the church open to them if they wish to pursue goals other than accumulating money/power; yet the higher-ed explosion must've also had enormous consequences for the supply of people with managerial and similar training. But I only started pondering that question recently, after reading Frank woke me up to the obvious.

petal, August 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Ugh can we tack The World Bank's Jim Kim(former Dartmouth pres) on there, too?

Lord Koos, August 24, 2016 at 4:37 pm

How about Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha - who managed to screw up the school's endowment that had been in place since 1859. Check out the movie "Ivory Tower".

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 4:51 pm

See here .

Fool, August 24, 2016 at 4:38 pm

NYU is a school run by money, and it's so transparent that for a board populated by billionaires, run by a press-shy guy who helped a lot of them become billionaires, that they prop up the flamboyant Sexton's supposed fundraising abilities and "imperial" presidency. Fortunately for Sexton and NYU, he's paid enough money to take the press's lashings like a good boy.

But surely such a mediocre pedant isn't the mastermind behind the bloated, technocratic, real estate development company and vanity project (which also offers classes, which are taught by #publicintellectuals).

Lambert Strether Post author , August 24, 2016 at 4:54 pm

New York real estate is a clean business, right? No story there….

Michael Fiorillo, August 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm

NYU: a real estate development company with a tax-exempt higher education subsidiary.

relstprof, August 24, 2016 at 7:41 pm

http://columbiaspectator.com/spectrum/2016/04/07/concerned-residents-push-back-against-jts-uts-plans-sell-property-developers

Carolinian, August 24, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Pam Martens has written several posts at Wallstreetonparade talking about NYU's corruption, connections to Wall St, and Jack Lew. Don't have links handy but easy to Google.

Anon, August 24, 2016 at 6:37 pm

I would like to point out that Chancellors Linda Katehi (UC Davis)and Nicholas Dirks (UC Berkeley) have both recently resigned under pressure from UC Top Honcho Janet Napolitano. It seems Administrator transgressions (impunity and self-dealing) are finding its way into the "sunlight".

relstprof, August 24, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Good stuff. Really looking forward to future posts.

Knute Rife, August 24, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Some people starting up can get "small loans" of $1,000,000 from the old man and have those kinds of resources to fall back on if they flop. The other 99.99% of us? Not so much. How is this innovation dogma supposed to work for those of us who can't buy our way into the Creative Class?

[Aug 25, 2016] The current oil prices is a typical Wall Street racket. In this case oil producers are victims

Aug 25, 2016 | peakoilbarrel.com
George Kaplan, 08/16/2016 at 7:41 am
BHP went from $8 billion profit to $6 billion loss based on latest results:

http://www.bhpbilliton.com/~/media/bhp/documents/investors/news/2016/160816_bhpbillitonresultsyearended30june2016.pdf?la=en

Capital cuts to be expanded next year.

"Capital and exploration expenditure declined by 42% to US$6.4 billion and is expected to decrease further to US$5.0 billion in the 2017 financial year (BHP Billiton share)(5)."

I don't know if there is enough detail to say how much came from oil and gas operations. The Samarco dam accident seems to be budgeted at $1.2 billion so far.

Petrobras made a small profit but less than expected:

http://marketrealist.com/2016/08/petrobrass-2q16-earnings-miss-estimates/

"In 2Q16, Petrobras's earnings attributable to its shareholders stood at $106 million compared to $171 million in 2Q15. This was on account of a fall in crude oil and natural gas prices, which impacted upstream earnings. Plus, crude oil and natural gas production volumes fell by 6.3% over 2Q15 to 2.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2Q16."

Production has picked up recently though and there is more to come with several FPSOs in the pipeline, as long as they can avoid major unplanned outages.

likbez, 08/16/2016 at 8:14 pm
George,

This is a typical Wall Street racket. In this case oil producers are victims. As Kunstler said

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-16/kunstler-rages-racketeering-ruining-us

=== quote ===
Societies have a really hard time understanding what they're doing, articulating the problems that they face and coming up with a coherent consensus about what's happening, and coming up with a coherent consensus about what to do about it. Combine that with another quandary, the relationships between energy and the dead racket for concealing real capital formation. I like to reduce it to one particular formula that is pretty easy for people to understand.

It's a classic quandary: that oil priced at over $75 a barrel in today's dollars tends to crush economies, and oil priced under $75 a barrel in today's dollars tends to crush oil companies. There is no real sweet spot between those two places. We're ratcheting between them and each one of them entails a lot of destruction.

That's a terrible quandary that we're in and it's being expressed in banking and finance…and the people in charge of those things don't really know what else to do except continue the deformation of institutions and instruments.

[Aug 25, 2016] Trump University Was a Massive Scam

Aug 25, 2016 | www.nationalreview.com
Mitt Robmey

Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam

Many people believe that higher education is a de facto scam. Trump University, Donald Trump's real-estate institution, was a de jure one.

First thing first, Trump University was never a university. When the "school" was established in 2005, the New York State Education Department warned that it was in violation of state law for operating without a NYSED license. Trump ignored the warnings. (The institution is now called, ahem, "Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.") Cue lawsuits.

Trump University is currently the defendant in three lawsuits - two class-action lawsuits filed in California, and one filed in New York by then-attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who told CNN's New Day in 2013: "We started looking at Trump University and discovered that it was a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university."

Trump U "students" say the same. In his affidavit, Richard Hewson reported that he and his wife "concluded that we had paid over $20,000 for nothing, based on our belief in Donald Trump and the promises made at the [organization's] free seminar and three-day workshop." But "the whole thing was a scam."

In fact, $20,000 is only a mid-range loss. The lead plaintiff in one of the California suits, yoga instructor Tarla Makaeff, says she was "scammed" out of $60,000 over the course of her time in Trump U.

How could that have happened? The New York suit offers a suggestion:

'The free seminars were the first step in a bait and switch to induce prospective students to enroll in increasingly expensive seminars starting with the three-day $1495 seminar and ultimately one of respondents' advanced seminars such as the "Gold Elite" program costing $35,000. At the "free" 90-minute introductory seminars to which Trump University advertisements and solicitations invited prospective students, Trump University instructors engaged in a methodical, systematic series of misrepresentations designed to convince students to sign up for the Trump University three-day seminar at a cost of $1495.'

The Atlantic, which got hold of a 41-page "Private & Confidential" playbook from Trump U, has attested to the same:

'The playbook says almost nothing about the guest speaker presentations, the ostensible reason why people showed up to the seminar in the first place. Instead, the playbook focuses on the seminars' real purpose: to browbeat attendees into purchasing expensive Trump University course packages.'

To do that, instructors touted Trump's own promises: that students would be "mentored" by "handpicked" real-estate experts, who would use Trump's own real-estate strategies.

But according to the New York complaint, none of the instructors was "handpicked" by Trump, many of them came from fields having nothing to do with real estate, and Trump "'never' reviewed any of Trump University's curricula or programming materials." The materials were "in large part developed by a third-party company that creates and develops materials for an array of motivational speakers and seminar and timeshare rental companies."

Furthermore, Trump's promises that the three-day seminar ($1,495) would include "access to 'private' or 'hard money' lenders and financing," that it would include a "year-long 'apprenticeship support' program," and that it would "​improve the credit scores"​ of students were empty.

Those empty promises are the subject of a new series of anti-Trump ads by superPAC American Future Fund. According to Bob, "I never heard from anybody about giving me a list of hard-money lenders". Kevin, another Trump U "student," says Trump University "ruined" his credit score. And according to Sherri, a single mother who participated in Trump U: "It was all supposedly supervised by Donald Trump, run by Donald Trump. All of it was just a fake."

In fact, Sherri isn't alone. No student ever met the Donald. Despite hints from Trump University instructors that Trump was "going to be in town," "often drops by," or "might show up," he never did. As Matt Labash recounted in The Weekly Standard: "At one seminar, attendees were told they'd get to have their picture taken with Trump. Instead, they ended up getting snapped with his cardboard cutout." Bob, above, had such an "opportunity".

There could be many more ads to come. The New York lawsuit alone represents some 5,000 victims.

Meanwhile, Trump - who maintains that Trump University was "a terrific school that did a fantastic job" - has tried to bully his opponents out of the suit. Lawyers for Tarla Makaeff have requested a protective order from the court "to protect her from further retaliation." According to court documents, Trump has threatened to sue Makaeff personally, as well as her attorneys. He's already brought a $100 million counterclaim against the New York attorney general's office.

But it's not working. Trump himself will have to take the witness stand in San Diego federal court sometime during the election season - and because of the timeline of the cases, a "President Trump" would be embroiled in these suits long after November.

Meanwhile, if there is any doubt that Trump U was designed to be a scam, The Atlantic puts that to rest with a few other choice tidbits from that "Private & Confidential" playbook used by Trump presenters:

'Every university has admission standards and Trump University was no exception. The playbook spells out the one essential qualification in caps: "ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED IN FULL." Basically, anyone with a valid credit card was "admitted" to Trump University. . . . If a member of the media happened to approach the registration table, Trump staffers were instructed not to talk to him or her under any circumstance. "Reporters are rarely on your side and they are not sympathetic," the playbook advises.'

And: At one point, the playbook advises Trump staffers: "If a district attorney arrives on the scene, contact the appropriate media spokesperson immediately." Sounds legit.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/432010/trump-university-scam

[Aug 25, 2016] If shock market crashes we will get Trump in November, otherwise probably Hillary

Aug 25, 2016 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
This market looks precarious. It may continue on higher as long as real, versus manufactured, volume remains unusually low.

There are enough corporate buyback programs and sovereign entities, including central banks, willing to buy US equities at these levels. The general public and institutions seem to be sitting this one out.

I suspect that when an event of sufficient magnitude or type occurs, as they do from time to time, a slide will be triggered, and the wash and rinse of the general public, their pensions and their savings, will begin once again.

The longer this goes on, the broader the set of events that can trigger the unlikely slide of consequence seems to grow.

Still, an outright crash would favor the orange-haired presidential contender, and not the poster child for the financial establishment. So that may be an unlikely bet to make before November. They seem to be going all out to sustain the unsustainable.

This is exciting only if you can see the tensions growing beneath the surface, which is dullsville to the casual observer to say the least. I have to admit I have been growing jaded on this nonsense of late. But a whiff of Autumn is in the air, and after many a Summer, dies the swan.

So let's see what happens.

Have a pleasant evening.

[Aug 24, 2016] Good jobs disaappered and middle class had shruk dramatically in the USA

Notable quotes:
"... That said, what I believe is needed in the USA is a doubling down on Corporate Boards of Directors and CEOs to create a crisis, an American intervention, if you will, that demands companies bring back the idea that Profits alone are not all that matters. Serving the Nation you are born in, raised in, educated in, and then making a profitable income from certainly needs to be focused in on. ..."
"... An additional factor in the financial woes of the falling middle class is the changing demographics here in the US - the growing numbers of single mothers, who are far more likely to struggle financially than a two income household. I make no judgment regarding how people form their family units, but life is especially hard for single mothers. ..."
"... Its even more difficult for journalists in Guardian. They have to destroy chances of only candidate addressing inequality and climate change (Bernie), completely surrender their integrity to corporations, lament over those issues post factum, and yet be paid miserably only in hundreds of thousands for such colossal betrayal of humanity. Its worth at billions to actively participate in destroying future of your kids. Or is it? ..."
"... We need a new Federal Minimum Wage, and the wealthiest need to start paying up. Trump claims that business in the US pay the highest tax rate. That's just not true. I'm not talking about putting the burden on small business, but the multi-nationals and Wall Street. ..."
"... And we can blame Billary and Hussein for it. Their "free-trade" decisions, along with their shameful endorsement of open-borders, have lowered wages for everyone, except for financiers. Interestingly, it was those who've suffered the brunt of the elites' decisions who voted for Britain to leave the EU. Ironically, those who professed to stand for the middle and lower classes, revealed their hypocrisy when they joined the Mandarins in opposing for Britain to leave the totalitarian EU. ..."
"... Like the Trojans fearing present-giving presents, so should the working man loath the elites who promised to have their best interests at heart. That is the same promise communism gave the workers, only to turn on and enslave them. Today the workers don't stand a chance: the Marxists and bankers are on the same side sneering at the working classes who are demeaned as being racist, jingoistic xenophobes. ..."
"... An article in Forbes that explains why Obamacare is a scam. ObamaCare Enriches Only The Health Insurance Giants and Their Shareholders ..."
"... I agree with you that he never did. Obama is a corporatist and globalist. If you think Obamacare is bad wait until his trade deals are past. He sold Americans out for the profits of multinational corporations. Hillary will continue his work. I understand the true meaning of his words now. ..."
"... The US middle class has been disintegrating for decades as inequity grows ..."
"... Clinton is in hiding. I can't find her in the Guardian today. She is a habitual liar and the whole world has all the evidence it needs. All of her promises are bullshit. Bernie has been right the whole time and he is smart not to endorse. Bernie has always known what she is and Bernie's supporters have no reason to support her. ..."
"... It means she is corrupt, dishonest, and unqualified to be anything but an inmate. ..."
"... the middle class has been decimated.. This financial category is only about 35% of was it was in the early 70's.. additionally the definition of middle class has changed drastically as well.. believe it or not your middle class if your earn more than 50k a year!.. this is part of the reason we are as a nation borrowing a trillion dollars a year.. when will the silenced majority wake up and start voting and stop spending on products that are vastly over priced. ..."
"... My kid had a persistent tummy ache. Doc said intestinal blockage; take him to the ER immediately. Seven hours and one inconclusive CAT scan later, he's home again with symptoms unchanged. Two days later the pain went away. Cost: $12,000 with about $10,000 covered by union health insurance. So that's at least $2,000 out of pocket to me for seven hours in hospital, zero diagnosis and zero relief from symptoms. Medicine as a criminal enterprise? So what? Who's gonna stop it? The press? The law? ..."
"... I sympathize. I also agree with you. The US medical system is criminal. It is cruel, discriminatory, ruthless, often ineffective, and often incompetent. The only reason the administrators ("health" maintenance corporations) aren't in jail is because they use some of their obscene profits to buy Congress -- which passes laws like Obama's ACA or Bush's big Pharma swindle. I have no idea what to do about it though -- maybe if everyone refused to pay their premiums and medical bills, the money managers would notice. A sort of strike. ..."
"... SIngle-payer is the answer. Of course, the insurance companies and big pharma use scare tactics to stop that from happening. They talk about government waste, completely ignoring their own waste. They ignore the billions of dollars that they skim off of the top each year before applying any money for actual medical care. Wake up, people. Medical care should be run by the government or non-profit organizations, not by for-profit corporations. ..."
"... Despite the financial situation in middle-and lower income families that has been steadily declining under the past 8 years of the Obama administration, most in that group will support Hillary and propagate the Same problems for 4 more years. They stand no hope unless they break from the knee-jerk support of the "Democratic" Party. ..."
"... So they should support Donald Trump and the conservative party? Last time I checked raising taxes on the middle class while lowering taxes on the rich didn't really help anyone but the rich. The Republican party never gave two shits about middle and lower class, and there's no point believing they will start now. ..."
"... Isn't choosing to have three children very selfish if you cannot support them financially. People always find someone else to blame. ..."
"... "Race" card!!?? Where the hell did I mention anything about race or are you really as dumb as your reply suggests. Plus, you don't require a test to decide if you can afford children or not. It basic family planning. It's people like you in society that has the place in a mess with your "blame anyone but meself attitude" If I'm considered horrible, at least I'm not totally dumb and irrisponsible like you. ..."
"... Bill Maher recently (July 1, 2016; Overtime) editorialized about the state "laboratories" where new ideas are tested and evaluated. Maher compared the divergent fates of California and Kansas plus Louisiana. ..."
"... It's interesting. According to my household income I'm in the "upper" tier for the DC-metro region. But it really doesn't feel that way. Even those of us who make a good income are more and more stretched. In comparison to most of the country, I am well off. I own a car, just bought a house, I can afford to go out to eat a couple times a week. But, I even get to the end of the month with only $100 in the bank. That's because other downward pressures on pay aren't taken into account, such as student debt. My expensive undergraduate and graduate education didn't come cheap, and while that education affords people higher pay, if you end up taking less of it home. It kinda equals out. ..."
"... Sometimes my husband and I think about having kids, and then we realise that even with our good paying jobs, we can't afford day care in our area. I get paid the most, so I can't quit my job but if my husband quit to care for a child, we would really be strapped. Can I really be considered an upper tier household if I can't afford to have kids? If I can't afford to go on vacation once a year? If I haven't bought new clothes in two years? If I have no savings and a freak medical bill might just tip me over the edge? ..."
"... Suggest you give Andrew Tobias' book a read to think outside the box a good education often constructs for us: https://www.amazon.com/Only-Investment-Guide-Youll-Ever/dp/0544781937?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc ..."
"... You can cut student debt in the U.S. by attending a good community college for two years and then transferring to a state university. Most kids are unwilling to do this--no frats or prestige in community colleges! ..."
"... Beginning in the 1970s, a majority of the middle class began to resent the taxation needed to continue support for these liberal policies, and they began to vote for conservative politicians who promised to remove them as they "only helped the undeserving poor." White racism played a role in this as the lower class was invariably portrayed in political speeches and advertising as group of lazy black people. ..."
"... No, it was created in response to the Bolshevik revolution, in particular, to that genius who said "Let's just shoot the royal family and be done with this." ..."
"... All of these things have come under attack since the USSR fell apart, probably on that exact day. And who overthrew the USSR? Overeducated middle class, not the poor or the rich. Who was Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring... the recent protests against the French labor law tightenings, ALL the middle class. ..."
"... The greatest threat to governments has, and always will be, from within. And this threat is from the middle class, almost exclusively. Therefore, we are to be crushed and controlled tightly ..."
"... funny how this media outlet didn't publish these types of reports while the primary was hot. It was all "Hilary is inevitable and supporting Bernie is supporting Trump" type garbage. ..."
"... Probably he means to say Americans habitually ask new acquaintances, "What do you do for a living?" That's absolutely a query about income and personal worth, though slightly disguised, and it's a question I have never widely encountered anywhere else in the world, nor while living overseas the last ten years. ..."
"... This article is extremely dishonest. First, it claims that she has 'three other jobs'. Second, she has children, for whom she presumably gets child support. So what's her *real* income? ..."
"... When those in poverty or on the verge of it are single mothers, you tend to wonder if there are some other issues as well. I don't recall a time in American history where a single mother of several children could take care of herself when completely on her own. ..."
"... I teach in inner city schools. There are so many problems, money is one of them but all the money won't solve the problem of poor learning attitudes, disaffection, poor discipline and nonexistent work ethic . ..."
"... A lot of the students get no discipline at home and their parents don't expect them to learn anything. They are resistant to the whole process of focus on new knowledge , absorb, drill, recall , deploy newly learned thing. ..."
"... I don't know what solution there is to this. My nieces and nephews did well in school, studied hard, and went on to university. They didn't do drugs, rape or be raped, and stayed away from unsavory kids. BUT--they went home to two parents every night, a father and mother, which I think would have made them successful at school no matter what their income. ..."
"... The US economy isn't competitive anymore. It started with the labor cost being too high, so factories moved out. Then the entire supply chain moved out. Now the main consumer market is also moving out. Once that is gone, we will have no more leverage. ..."
"... The US education is good, but students are lazy, undisciplined, and incurious. In silicon valley, more than 75% of highly paid technical personnel are foreign born. Corporations making money with foreign workers here and abroad, on foreign markets. Taking these away and you will see the economy crash. ..."
"... Labor costs were too high. Have some more kool-aid. The elite didn't want labor to have any bargaining power whatsoever . They wanted to dictate the terms to labor believing that they were the only ones who should have any say in matters. The elite wanted to maximize their profits at the expense of their own citizens. They wanted slave labor . They wanted powerless people to dance to their tune. How could an advanced nation's labor possibly compete with slave labor . ..."
"... Sadly ..... thee isn't any hope for these people in the foreseeable future . Their economic decline has been happening for quite some time now and shows no sign of abating whatsoever . The economic foundations of their lives have been steadily pulled out from under them by the financial elite and their subservient political cultures , the Republican and Democratic Parties . The Republicans have never really given a damn about them and the Democrats have long abandoned them . These poor people of North Carolina are adrift on a sinking raft on easy ocean of indifference by the political cultures of America . To those in power , they don't exist . They don't count . They don't matter . ..."
"... The trend in the U.S, along with almost every other major nation in the world over the past 35 years has been to exclusively serve the interests of the financial elite and only their needs . All sense of fairness , justice and decency have been totally discarded . ..."
"... Tax breaks after tax breaks , tax shelters , free movement of capital , etc., etc. would sum up the experience of the financial elite over the past 35 years . They have become incredibly wealthy now and are still not satisfied . They want more . They want it all . They want what little you have and their political servants which help them get . ..."
"... Political discourse pertaining to the plight of those like these folks in North Carolina is all window dressing . In the end , you can be certain that it will amount to nothing . Just like it has for decades now . The financial elite are in control and they are not going to give any of that control up . As a matter of fact , they are going to tighten their grip . They will invent crisis to have their agendas imposed upon an increasingly powerless and bewildered public . They will take advantage of every naturally occurring crisis to advance their agenda . ..."
"... The problem is the job exporting American elite class. NAFTA was an economics, political, and social experiment with all the downside on the former, mostly lower middle class. Non-aligned examination of the available data shows how disastrous NAFTA has been to America's bubbas. Thanks to Bush 41 and Bill Clinton. WTO was all Bill. Of the mistakes Obama has made TPP would be the worst. The question is, really, do we favor global fairness (an even playing field for all earth's peoples) and a climate-killing consumerist world, or our own disadvantaged (courtesy of our financial and political elite) citizens. Not an easy choice. Death by poison or hanging. No treaty can benegotiated fairly in secret. ..."
"... The tragic irony is that the anger against rule by the 1% manifests in things like support for Trump, a typical example of the greed and excess of the 1%. Americans need to question outside their desperately constrained paradigms more. It will help focus their anger more strategically, and possibly lead to solutions. Don't hold your breath, the inequality gap is accelerating the wrong way. ..."
"... I think the US is heDing for trouble. It is the middle class that maintains civil society and gives a sense of hope. This is an interesting open letter by a zillionaire to his peers warning them what happens without a string middle class. A thought provoking read. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014 ..."
"... The elite of the USA have done exactly what the Romans did and what the Pre-Revolutionary French did.... drain the lower classes while enriching themselves. "Taxes are for little people" is not just a pithy quote, it has become the reality as the elite rig the system so they benefit and the lower classes pay. They need to wake up or they will get exactly what the Romans Got (collapsed empire) or the French got (Violent Revolution). Wake up America! It is time to choose your side in the class war the elite continue to execute while telling us there is no "Class War" - you can't pull yourself up by your boot straps while they are pulling the rug out from under you! ..."
"... My wife used to employ recent graduates from Georgetown University with poli. sci., psychology, sociology degrees, to stack books for $10/hr. It took them on average 2-3 years, before finding work in their field. ..."
"... Education is NOT about finding a job! It's about learning ways to seek wisdom and rationality, and to assimilate (not deny) new knowledge throughout your life--and that's exactly what's lacking in the US! Our schools are factories to turn out standard robots to be used by the owners of this country, whether they practice law or flip burgers. ..."
Aug 24, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
HopeWFaith, 9 Jul 2016 16:04

I was stumped by the very idea that someone has the $money, the time, the energy to go out and study for 3 bachelor degrees. This woman doesn't look old enough to have had time to get 3 degrees.

That said, what I believe is needed in the USA is a doubling down on Corporate Boards of Directors and CEOs to create a crisis, an American intervention, if you will, that demands companies bring back the idea that Profits alone are not all that matters. Serving the Nation you are born in, raised in, educated in, and then making a profitable income from certainly needs to be focused in on.

Why on earth isn't Main Stream Media doing this, along with all of CONGRESS and the President? What is their excuse? Even if you brought back all the robotic jobs to US soil, you would also end up bringing a large number of administrative jobs back here, too, just to keep up with the business at hand. It is critical that we rebuild our infrastructure, yet we see NO immediate or Long-term plans to do so. How can we, without the support of the Business Class to support the whole nation through Paying their Taxes to the US Tax System? There is no excuse that will do, in my book. Profits to the top tier need to be STOPPED so long as businesses are going outside of the United States Borders. Period.

SluethforTruth , 2016-07-07 12:39:08

Typical of what's happening around the world. The trillions of dollars lurking in tax havens is the reason why economies are stagnating. Money makes the world go round, however detouring to the Cayman Islands, the flow stops and the poverty begins. Spend locally and reject multi national corporations. Give your local communities a chance to prosper,
Snaggletooth718 , 2016-07-07 12:40:07
An additional factor in the financial woes of the falling middle class is the changing demographics here in the US - the growing numbers of single mothers, who are far more likely to struggle financially than a two income household. I make no judgment regarding how people form their family units, but life is especially hard for single mothers.
saladbowl , 2016-07-07 12:46:52
"The 2016 presidential race has superficially been dominated by talk of this declining middle. First from Bernie Sanders, then Hillary Clinton and even Donald Trump's promise to Make America Great Again"

"And even"??? What a laugh. Even if you hate Trump its clear The Guardian has written every article possible to prevent his rise and they have failed miserably. Hillary amd Sanders are dominating conversatiin. Trump is by far.

One thing us for sure. 15 million illegals and thousands more every month is not making the middle class more secure.

They are shrinking, and you expect them to tolerate "Make America Mexico Again"? In these times?

Donor money is ruining the country. They hate Trump because he doesnt need these arrogant donors who have never heard "no" their whole lives.

peonyrose , 2016-07-07 12:47:08
If ordinary people have to work three jobs to make ends meet, then you need to say that wages in the US are too low.
Slavenko Sucur -> peonyrose , 2016-07-07 14:29:52
Its even more difficult for journalists in Guardian. They have to destroy chances of only candidate addressing inequality and climate change (Bernie), completely surrender their integrity to corporations, lament over those issues post factum, and yet be paid miserably only in hundreds of thousands for such colossal betrayal of humanity. Its worth at billions to actively participate in destroying future of your kids. Or is it?
SusanPrice58 , 2016-07-07 12:53:59
It isn't immigration that costing jobs - it's employers who know they can pay these people less for their work. We need a new Federal Minimum Wage, and the wealthiest need to start paying up. Trump claims that business in the US pay the highest tax rate. That's just not true. I'm not talking about putting the burden on small business, but the multi-nationals and Wall Street.
RaceOfStalwarts -> SusanPrice58 , 2016-07-07 14:06:02
You can see in western Europe at the moment that a minimum wage desn't work without a whole host of other protective legislation. A minimum wage doesn't reach to the self employed, and it doesn't prevent the use of flexible or non-guaranteed hours contracts making use of a larger than is required labour pool. Not to mention the black market / cash in hand trade.
BritainFirst2016 , 2016-07-07 12:55:21
And we can blame Billary and Hussein for it. Their "free-trade" decisions, along with their shameful endorsement of open-borders, have lowered wages for everyone, except for financiers. Interestingly, it was those who've suffered the brunt of the elites' decisions who voted for Britain to leave the EU. Ironically, those who professed to stand for the middle and lower classes, revealed their hypocrisy when they joined the Mandarins in opposing for Britain to leave the totalitarian EU.

Like the Trojans fearing present-giving presents, so should the working man loath the elites who promised to have their best interests at heart. That is the same promise communism gave the workers, only to turn on and enslave them. Today the workers don't stand a chance: the Marxists and bankers are on the same side sneering at the working classes who are demeaned as being racist, jingoistic xenophobes.

pawildcat -> BritainFirst2016 , 2016-07-07 13:51:28
You realize most of the votes in favor of NAFTA were Republican and most against were Democratic, right? You know that "free trade" has been an item in the Republican platform (and increasingly the Democratic one) for years before Clinton and Obama were ever in office, right? Know some elementary facts about U.S, politics before posting nonsense.
daWOID -> Ed Thurmann , 2016-07-07 13:47:41
Ed Thurmann: it's not teacher-bashing, it's just the old recycled "black family values" spiel that was introduced into the poverty debate in the '60s by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan, not so BTW, is Hillary Clinton's intellectual hero. So you can expect a hell of a lot more of these cliches after January of next year.
Juillette , 2016-07-07 13:26:03
An article in Forbes that explains why Obamacare is a scam. ObamaCare Enriches Only The Health Insurance Giants and Their Shareholders

Robert Lenzner , CONTRIBUTOR
I'm trying to wise up 300 million people about money & finance

So far in 2013 the value of the S& P health insurance index has gained 43%. Thats more than double the gains made in the broad stock market index, the S & P 500. The shares of CIGNA are up 63%, Wellpoint 47% and United Healthcare 28%. And if you go back to the early 2010 passage of ObamaCare, you will find that Obama's sellout of the public interest has allowed the public companies the ability to raise their premiums, especially on small business, dramatically multiply their profits and send the value of their common stocks up by 200%-300%. This is bloody scandalous and should be a cause for concern even as the Republican opponents of the bill threaten the close-down of the government.

We warned you back on December4, 2009 in my blog " The Horrendous Truth About Health Care Reform" that the Obama White House was handing a " free ride for the health insurance industry" that would allow premium hikes of 8%-10% a year by CIGNA, Humana HUM +1.56%, Aetna AET +0.45%, UnitedHealth Group UNH +0.58% and Wellpoint, and as well a $500 billion taxpayer subsidy, a half trillion dollars without any requirement that the health insurers had to spend the subsidy on medical care. Several US Senators including Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia spoke to me openly of the outrageous sellout being foisted on the nation's uninsured citizens.

At the time I wrote, Goldman Sachs research operation estimated that the 5 giants would increase profits by 10% a year from 2010 to 2019, sending their shares up an average of 59%. In truth, the shares of CIGNA and some others are up a multiple of several times since the contest was resolved by a very tight vote in early 2010. One startling reason for this amazing performance was that Obama took off the table "proposals to significantly reduce health care costs" as the giveaway in getting the bill through, according to Ron Susskind's best-selling book ,"Confidence Men," which I wrote about in a blog on September 24, 2011. ( "Obama's Incoherent Policy-Making") Some 3 years later, UnitedHealthCare Group(UNH) was rewarded by being added to the elite list of the Dow 30 industrials.

I understood belatedly that there would have been no Affordable Care Act of 2010 if the White House had not given into demands from the giant profit-making health insurance companies. Had he not done so, I am being assured that there would have been no bill passed, a priority goal that Obama promised in his 2008 Presidential campaign. How the profits have risen so impressively requires further investigation as the bill is meant to limit the profits earned to 20% of the revenues.

One of the other downsides to the supposed reform bill was the surprisingly unfair treatment of small business owners who faced even larger potential premiums for their employees. It has been the fear of these higher health costs that has resulted in the overwhelming trend toward hiring part-time employees whom the employers need not offer healthcare insurance.

So much for the reforms embedded in the mis-labeled Affordable Care Act of 2010. It may not die a bloody demise this month, but it is certain to be reformed itself, let's hope for the benefit of the 300 million, not just the millions of lucky shareholders who may have understood the ramification of ObamaCare, which was to multiply the profits of five giant insurance companies, just as the major bank oligopoly was rewarded by the federal bailouts and Fed monetary policy.

Juillette -> Andrew Kac , 2016-07-07 14:16:34
I agree with you that he never did. Obama is a corporatist and globalist. If you think Obamacare is bad wait until his trade deals are past. He sold Americans out for the profits of multinational corporations. Hillary will continue his work. I understand the true meaning of his words now.

"We are a nation of immigrants" meaning he prefers cheap illegal labor when 46 million Americans live in poverty. Soon cheap foriegn will be unlimited and legal in the US with worker mobility. Even for professional jobs. Can you imagine competing with foreigners in the US who make 30 cents an hour? It's depressing really. Here are some of the highlights of the TPP that will throw Americans further into poverty.

http://www.citizen.org/TPP

Also research Tisa.

barbkay , 2016-07-07 13:49:42
My heart goes out to these beleaguered families. In the late 1970s/80s I held down a full-time job in DC and freelanced feverishly to make ends meet. I lived below the official poverty line in an expensive, yet thoroughly crappy, flat. That recession-riddled era of energy chaos, leading into Reagan's 'voodoo' economics regime (the risible idea of 'trickle-down', the US becoming the world's largest debtor), was another hot mess.

The US middle class has been disintegrating for decades as inequity grows, thanks in large part to the poor governance of Republican presidents (Nixon's stagflation, the disastrous shifts under GW Bush).

FugitiveColors , 2016-07-07 13:53:22
Clinton is in hiding. I can't find her in the Guardian today. She is a habitual liar and the whole world has all the evidence it needs. All of her promises are bullshit. Bernie has been right the whole time and he is smart not to endorse. Bernie has always known what she is and Bernie's supporters have no reason to support her.

Her disapproval ratings will top Trump now. The voters are now going to show her what the meaning of is, really is.

It means she is corrupt, dishonest, and unqualified to be anything but an inmate.

MasonInNY -> FugitiveColors , 2016-07-07 16:08:57
Her disapproval ratings are high, but not up with Trump's and they never will be. You can vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, in November. Or Gary Johnson, the Libertarian. But Bernie will not be a candidate, and he will eventually endorse Clinton -- after he is sure he's won certain concessions in the Democratic platform. That's your reality in July 2016, not in February.
brianBT , 2016-07-07 14:16:48
the middle class has been decimated.. This financial category is only about 35% of was it was in the early 70's.. additionally the definition of middle class has changed drastically as well.. believe it or not your middle class if your earn more than 50k a year!.. this is part of the reason we are as a nation borrowing a trillion dollars a year.. when will the silenced majority wake up and start voting and stop spending on products that are vastly over priced..Turn off your phone, stop buying all but essentials.. we need to force prices down until we complain and start voting with our dollars little will change
MtnClimber -> ojeemabalzitch , 2016-07-07 15:37:37
What about the millions of married couples with kids..when the parents lose their jobs? That happens very frequently. Should we take the kids away? Are you suggesting that poor people not be allowed to have children?

Then we have the religious nutcases that are against contraception and abortion, yet demonize poor women for having children.

NYbill13 , 2016-07-07 14:34:59
My kid had a persistent tummy ache. Doc said intestinal blockage; take him to the ER immediately. Seven hours and one inconclusive CAT scan later, he's home again with symptoms unchanged. Two days later the pain went away. Cost: $12,000 with about $10,000 covered by union health insurance. So that's at least $2,000 out of pocket to me for seven hours in hospital, zero diagnosis and zero relief from symptoms. Medicine as a criminal enterprise? So what? Who's gonna stop it? The press? The law?

Hahahahahahahaha.

ojeemabalzitch -> NYbill13 , 2016-07-07 14:58:00
So? If your car breaks down it will cost a fortune to repair. Same if you have to replace the roof on your house. Life ain't fair, is it?
MiltonWiltmellow -> NYbill13 , 2016-07-07 15:14:26

Medicine as a criminal enterprise? So what? Who's gonna stop it? The press? The law?

I sympathize. I also agree with you. The US medical system is criminal. It is cruel, discriminatory, ruthless, often ineffective, and often incompetent. The only reason the administrators ("health" maintenance corporations) aren't in jail is because they use some of their obscene profits to buy Congress -- which passes laws like Obama's ACA or Bush's big Pharma swindle. I have no idea what to do about it though -- maybe if everyone refused to pay their premiums and medical bills, the money managers would notice. A sort of strike.

MtnClimber -> MiltonWiltmellow , 2016-07-07 15:35:28
SIngle-payer is the answer. Of course, the insurance companies and big pharma use scare tactics to stop that from happening. They talk about government waste, completely ignoring their own waste. They ignore the billions of dollars that they skim off of the top each year before applying any money for actual medical care. Wake up, people. Medical care should be run by the government or non-profit organizations, not by for-profit corporations.

Corporations have only one goal...to make as much money as possible for themselves. Health care is just a necessary nuisance.

Ykuos1 , 2016-07-07 14:37:56
Despite the financial situation in middle-and lower income families that has been steadily declining under the past 8 years of the Obama administration, most in that group will support Hillary and propagate the Same problems for 4 more years. They stand no hope unless they break from the knee-jerk support of the "Democratic" Party.
Sam Ahmed -> Ykuos1 , 2016-07-07 14:45:51
So they should support Donald Trump and the conservative party? Last time I checked raising taxes on the middle class while lowering taxes on the rich didn't really help anyone but the rich. The Republican party never gave two shits about middle and lower class, and there's no point believing they will start now.
KMdude , 2016-07-07 14:43:46
This article mentions Latonia Best and her three children. Is there a Mr Best around? It has always been tough to raise a family on the salary of a single parent.

The breakdown of the American family is a probably the biggest reason for the supposed struggles of the middle class. People have to take responsibility for their lives.

Elephantmoth -> KMdude , 2016-07-07 14:56:57
Sure, because every misfortune can be blamed on the individual. You have no idea why Mr Best isn't around so please spare us your moralising.
rebeccazg -> KMdude , 2016-07-07 14:57:51
traditionally, the middle class had the guy going out to work, and his wife staying at home to look after the kids. Once children are in school and childcare is reduced, I don't see how a woman working and raising her kids alone, is any more expensive than a man supporting himself, his wife and their kids.

It used to be possible. It used to be doable. wealth disparity ind income inequality mean that is no longer the case, at least certainly not for the average middle class. In the UK anyway, it's now a sign of wealth. This has nothing top do with the family and everything to do with income disparity.

Liverpooljack1 , 2016-07-07 15:02:53
Isn't choosing to have three children very selfish if you cannot support them financially. People always find someone else to blame.
MtnClimber -> Liverpooljack1 , 2016-07-07 15:27:08
Ah. I was waiting for some "bubba" to pull the race card. Congratulations. Maybe we should make everyone take a test to prove that they can afford children. No children for poor people. Nice.

You are a horrible person.

Liverpooljack1 -> MtnClimber , 2016-07-07 16:05:10
"Race" card!!?? Where the hell did I mention anything about race or are you really as dumb as your reply suggests.
Plus, you don't require a test to decide if you can afford children or not. It basic family planning. It's people like you in society that has the place in a mess with your "blame anyone but meself attitude" If I'm considered horrible, at least I'm not totally dumb and irrisponsible like you.
Quesera -> Donald Inks , 2016-07-07 16:00:32
$3,333.33 is actually not a lot of money to raise a family of four on. Let's do some math, shall we?!

Taxes: $800 (rough estimate)
Health Insurance: I'm going to estimate $300 because she probably has dependents on her coverage and that's what I paid one dependent a while back.
Car: I'm going to estimate $150. My car payment is $300, but let's say she got a cheaper, used car.
Rent: Let's say $1,000/month (I did a quick search and found that this seemed like a good price for a two bedroom)
Bills: Let's round up to $150/month for gas, electricity, water, sewage
Food: Let's say she spends $80/week, so roughly $320 a month (you know, she's a thrifty shopper)

All of that leaves about $313 left for gas, phone, college tuition, maybe internet and cable at home. I don't know how she does it.

MiltonWiltmellow , 2016-07-07 15:04:56

Worst of all was the town of Goldsboro – one of three metropolitan areas in North Carolina at the bottom of the national league table.

North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma ... more ...

Sad stories in states run by Republicans. Toxic rivers, shootings, poisoned tap water, bankruptcy, daily earthquakes ...

Bill Maher recently (July 1, 2016; Overtime) editorialized about the state "laboratories" where new ideas are tested and evaluated. Maher compared the divergent fates of California and Kansas plus Louisiana.

Kansas is going bankrupt under the Republican governor and legislature, the Louisiana economy is a basket case thanks to Republican Bobby Jindal while just a few years ago, under Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, California was billions in debt.

In California they threw out the Republicans, put Democrats in charge, raised taxes on the rich and voila -- now with a surplus, California is ranked as the sixth largest economy in the world:

Only five countries produced more last year than California: the U.S., China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

So -- North Carolina with fouled rivers, a collapsing middle class, discriminatory laws -- or a thriving California?

Goldsboro remains far from the sort of economic catastrophe seen in parts of the rust belt, but these are signs of financial stress that are hard to ignore. The strain on the middle class across much of the country may not have gone unnoticed by politicians, but locals here fear there is little talk of the investment in skills, high-paying jobs and civic infrastructure needed to arrest the slide.

Republican shills will have to admit -- finally that Republican policies ruin lives, ruin the economy and ruin the environment. Truth appears more powerful than slogans and slanders. Who knows? They might even acknowledge climate change.

Profhambone -> MiltonWiltmellow , 2016-07-07 15:47:30
I believe it is the wars and needs of the military-industrial-banking complex that sap far too much from the economy. Both parties are guilty of supporting them.
ehmaybe -> MiltonWiltmellow , 2016-07-07 15:52:52
North Carolina with fouled rivers, a collapsing middle class, discriminatory laws -- or a thriving California?

Since 2013, North Carolina has the fastest GDP growth of any state. The NC economy is not in bad shape. This lady lives in one of the poorest areas in the state, she should move 45 minutes north to thriving Raleigh or Durham - the population in that area is booming, they need teachers.

The dumping of coal ash into the Dan river was a corporate crime, not a policy decision. Neither party is responsible for criminal actions by individuals or corporations, that's just silly. (The republicans have been too lax in holding Duke Energy to account but the damage done is not a political issue)

HB2 is a disgrace but the legislature is in the process of correcting it and the Governor is likely to lose the election in the fall which bodes well for anti-HB2 people. Don't forget that California voters voted to ban gay marriage not even 10 years ago. It's not a paradise of wealth and enlightenment, no place is.

Voltaire21 , 2016-07-07 15:16:57
Why should we feel sorry for the American middle class they have elected for all the misery that has befallen them!

If America was a fascist state I could sympathise but it's not. Americans have let their social rights being eroded by a mendacious and cunning establishment.

One good example of how Americans don't give a shit is the very expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which have cost gazillions to the US taxpayer and not a whimper from the US population.

If one can compare that to the Vietnam war which created its own critical cinema genre, protest songs, large demonstrations etc...you know that todays average Americans responsibility for the mess they find themselves in is non existent. They just bend over and take it and have little whine about it from time to time.

Quesera -> Voltaire21 , 2016-07-07 15:48:37
What about the people that didn't vote for the "misery" as you call it?

What about the fact that whichever way you vote in the US you're screwed?

And I don't know about you, but you must not know many Americans. The number of my friends who have been tear gassed during marches against the Iraq war flies in the face of your argument. Have you, yourself, even uttered a whimper against it?

Bardolphe , 2016-07-07 15:20:20
I will support proper child-support and healthcare and everything that can be done to make this woman's life easier and secure her kids' futures BUT

Three kids is a LOT for two people to handle, let alone one.

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell, to raise one child alone may be regarded as a misfortune; to attempt to raise three looks like carelessness. To try to raise three alone in the United States is MADNESS.

I live in the USA. I'm in a stable long-term relationship. I don't make much money. I can't afford kids.

2 + 2 = 4

Poor me. I don't say I have a right to kids because I need them or I have so much love to give or blah, blah, blah. I just can't. Not here. This is a cruelly individualistic country. It is built to serve those who serve themselves. Namely, the young, healthy, smart, motivated and single. There is no political foundation or tradition of altruism here. Maybe back in Ireland where there's a system to support me and some healthcare and family. Not here. Madness.

Happyduckling -> Bardolphe , 2016-07-07 15:36:41
But she's got the kids now. What is she supposed to do? Hand them back to someone? If she and the childrens' father had them when life was looking more stable and she didn't have to work 4 jobs to make ends meet, she can hardly be blamed now for their existence.

You are living in the now and choose not to have children because you feel you can't afford them. However, in the future, you may find that you can afford them, and therefore choose to conceive. If your circumstances change after that and you are no longer able to afford to care for them without working excessive hours and living in poverty, there's not a lot you can do other than get on with it. No point blaming her for something that is irreversible.

Bardolphe -> OinkImSammy , 2016-07-07 15:41:05
That is not my point and you absolutely know it is not my point.

Stop pretending that birth control doesn't exist. It exists.

Quesera , 2016-07-07 15:42:11
It's interesting. According to my household income I'm in the "upper" tier for the DC-metro region. But it really doesn't feel that way. Even those of us who make a good income are more and more stretched. In comparison to most of the country, I am well off. I own a car, just bought a house, I can afford to go out to eat a couple times a week. But, I even get to the end of the month with only $100 in the bank. That's because other downward pressures on pay aren't taken into account, such as student debt. My expensive undergraduate and graduate education didn't come cheap, and while that education affords people higher pay, if you end up taking less of it home. It kinda equals out.

Sometimes my husband and I think about having kids, and then we realise that even with our good paying jobs, we can't afford day care in our area. I get paid the most, so I can't quit my job but if my husband quit to care for a child, we would really be strapped. Can I really be considered an upper tier household if I can't afford to have kids? If I can't afford to go on vacation once a year? If I haven't bought new clothes in two years? If I have no savings and a freak medical bill might just tip me over the edge?

There's something very, very wrong. How rich do you need to be before you don't feel like you're struggling?

Scott Plantier -> Quesera , 2016-07-07 15:55:19
Thanks for the great post, but whatever will be, will be, unless you get in front of it and plan.

Suggest you give Andrew Tobias' book a read to think outside the box a good education often constructs for us: https://www.amazon.com/Only-Investment-Guide-Youll-Ever/dp/0544781937?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

Spunky325 -> Quesera , 2016-07-07 20:31:21
You can cut student debt in the U.S. by attending a good community college for two years and then transferring to a state university. Most kids are unwilling to do this--no frats or prestige in community colleges!
Nash25 , 2016-07-07 15:48:56
The huge middle class in the USA was created by the liberal economic polices of the 1930s, which were designed to help the lower class.

Beginning in the 1970s, a majority of the middle class began to resent the taxation needed to continue support for these liberal policies, and they began to vote for conservative politicians who promised to remove them as they "only helped the undeserving poor." White racism played a role in this as the lower class was invariably portrayed in political speeches and advertising as group of lazy black people.

What the middle class did not understand was that their continued existence depended on these liberal programs, as most of the benefits went to the middle class, not the lower class as they assumed. As the liberal programs began to disappear, so did the economic security of the middle class.

One would think they would have figured all of this out by now, but they have not, and they continue to vote for conservatives.

pbalrick -> DrSallyWinterton , 2016-07-07 17:21:27
No, it was created in response to the Bolshevik revolution, in particular, to that genius who said "Let's just shoot the royal family and be done with this." When that happened, the ruling class got scared, and said "OK, minimum wage, vacation, sick pay, 40 hr work week, no child labor, great schooling, etc"

All of these things have come under attack since the USSR fell apart, probably on that exact day. And who overthrew the USSR? Overeducated middle class, not the poor or the rich. Who was Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring... the recent protests against the French labor law tightenings, ALL the middle class.

The greatest threat to governments has, and always will be, from within. And this threat is from the middle class, almost exclusively. Therefore, we are to be crushed and controlled tightly.

Scott Plantier , 2016-07-07 15:49:55
" squeezed middle class tell tales of struggle " Too bad they voted for the big squeeze herself -- Bernie could have set them free from the path of exploitation she has planned for them immediately after her election by imposing the TPP upon the very fools who will elect her. Stop watching the Kartrashians and read about actual policy implications for your family and especially your children, if you had, none of you would have supported Clinton.
pbalrick ->