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John Kenneth Galbraith The Roads We Take Economics Bookshelf Who Rules America Financial Quotes Financial Humor Etc

“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

"Life is a school of probabilities."

Walter Bagehot

Neoliberal economics (aka casino capitalism) function from one crash to another. Risk is pervasively underpriced under neoliberal system, resulting in bubbles small and large which hit the economy periodically. The problem are not strictly economical or political. They are ideological. Like a country which adopted a certain religion follows a certain path, The USA behaviour after adoption of neoliberalism somewhat correlate with the behaviour of alcoholic who decided to booze himself to death. The difference is that debt is used instead of booze.

Hypertrophied role of financial sector under neoliberalism introduces strong positive feedback look into the economic system making the whole system unstable. Any attempts to put some sand into the wheels in the form of increasing transaction costs or jailing some overzealous bankers or hedge fund managers are blocked by political power of financial oligarchy, which is the actual ruling class under neoliberalism for ordinary investor (who are dragged into stock market by his/her 401K) this in for a very bumpy ride. I managed to observe just two two financial crashed under liberalism (in 2000 and 2008) out of probably four (Savings and loan crisis was probably the first neoliberal crisis). The next crash is given, taking into account that hypertrophied role of financial sector did not changes neither after dot-com crisis of 200-2002 not after 2008 crisis (it is unclear when and if it ended; in any case it was long getting the name of "Great Recession").

Timing of the next crisis is anybody's guess but it might well be closer then we assume. As Mark Twain aptly observed: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes" ;-):

This morning that meant a stream of thoughts triggered by Paul Krugman’s most recent op-ed, particularly this:

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

As most 401K investors are brainwashing into being "over bullish", this page is strongly bearish in "perma-bear" fashion in order to serve as an antidote to "Barrons" style cheerleading. Funny, but this page is accessed mostly during periods of economic uncertainty. At least this was the case during the last two financial crisis(2000 and 2008). No so much during good times: the number of visits drops to below 1K a month.

Still I hope it plays a small but important role: to warn about excessive risk taking by 401K investors in neoliberal economic system. It designed to serve as a warning sign and inject a skeptical note into MSM coverage. There are not many such sites, so a warning about danger of taking excessive risk in 401K accounts under neoliberalism has definite value. The following cartoon from 2008 illustrated this point nicely

As far as I know lot of 401K investors are 100% or almost 100% invested at stocks. Including many of my friends. I came across a very relevant to this situation joke which nicely illustrated the ideas of this page:

Seven habits that help produce the anything-but-efficient markets that rule the world by Paul Krugman in Fortune.

1. Think short term.
2. Be greedy.
3. Believe in the greater fool
4. Run with the herd.
5. Overgeneralize
6. Be trendy
7. Play with other people's money

I would like to stress again that it is very difficult to "guess" when the next wave of crisis stikes us: "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes".

But mispricing of risk in 401K accounts is systemic for "overbullish" 401 investors, who expect that they will be able to jusp of the train in time, before the crash. Usually such expectations are false. And to sell in the market that can lose 10% in one day is not easy psychologically. I remember my feelings in 2001-2002 and again 2008-2009. That's why many people who planned to "jump" stay put and can temporarily lose 30 to 50% of value of their 401k account in a very short period of time (and if you think that S&P500 can't return to 1000, think again; its all depends on FED). At this point some freak out and sell their holdings making paper losses permanent.

Even for those who weathered the storm and held to their stock holdings, it is important to understand that paper losses were eliminated mostly by Fed money printing. As such risks remains as at one point FED might find itself out of ammunition. The fact that S&P500 recovered very nicely it does not diminish the risk of such behavior. There is no guarantee that the third crisis will behave like previous two.

Next crash will have a new key determinant: the attitude toward the US government (and here I mean the current government of Barack Obama) and Wall Street after 2008 is the lack of trust. That means that you need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Injection on so much money into financial system was a novel experiment which is not ended yet. So how it will end is anybody's guess. We are now in uncharted waters. I think when Putin called Bernanke a hooligan, he meant exactly this. Since Bernanke was printing money out of thin air to buy financial paper, his action were tantamount to shoplifting. In some way this probably is more similar to running meth labs inside Fed building. The system was injected with narcotics. Everybody felt better, but the mechanism behind it was not healthy.

The complexity of modern financial system is tremendous and how all those new financial instruments will behave under a new stress is unknown. At the same time in the Internet age we, the great unwashed masses, can't be keep in complete obscurity like in good old time. Many now know ( or at least suspect ) that the neoliberal "show must goes on" after 2008 is actually going strongly at their expense. And while open rebellion is impossible, that results in lack of trust which represents a problem for financial oligarchy which rules the country. The poor working slobs are told be grateful for Walmart's low (poverty-subsidized) prices. Middle class is told that their declining standard of living is a natural result of their lack of competitiveness in the market place. Classic "bread and circuses" policy still works but for how long it will continue to work it is unclear.

But nothing is really new under the sun. To more and more people it is now clear that today the US is trying to stave off the inevitable decline by resorting to all kinds of financial manipulations like previous empires; yesterday, it was the British Empire and if you go further back, you get the USSR, Hapsburg empire, Imperial Russia, Spanish empire, Venetian empire, Byzantium and Roman empire. The current "Secretary of Imperial Wars" (aka Secretary of Defense) Ashton Baldwin Carter is pretty open about this:

“We already see countries in the region trying to carve up these markets…forging many separate trade agreements in recent years, some based on pressure and special arrangements…. Agreements that…..leave us on the sidelines. That risks America’s access to these growing markets. We must all decide if we are going to let that happen. If we’re going to help boost our exports and our economy…and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world; or if, instead, we’re going to take ourselves out of the game.”

For the US elite it might be a time to rethink its neocon stance due to which the US is exposing ourselves to the enmity of the rising economic powers, and blowing serious cash to maintain it hegemony via maintaining huge military budget, financing wars and color revolutions in distant countries. In a way the US foreign policy became a financial racket, and racket can't last forever because it incite strong opposition from other countries.

Neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism) as a social system entered the state of decline after 2008. Like communism before it stopped to be attractive to people. But unlike communism it proved to have greater staying power, surviving in zombie state as finanfial institutions preserved political power and in some cases even enhanced it. It is unclear how long it will say in this state. Much depends on the availability of "cheap oil" on which neoliberal globalization is based.

But the plausible hypothesis is that this social system like socialism in xUSSR space before entered down slope and might well be on its way to the cliff. Attempts to neo-colonize other states by the West became less successful and more costly (Compare Ukraine, Libya and Iraq with previous instances of color revolutions). Some became close to XIX century colonial conquests with a lot of bloodshed (from half million to over a million of Iraqis, by different estimates, died ). As always this is mainly the blood of locals, which is cheap.

Libya and Ukraine are two recent examples. Both countries are now destroyed (which might be the plan). In Ukraine population is thrown in object poverty with income of less that $5 a day for the majority of population. And there is no other way to expand markets but to try to "neo-colonize" new countries by putting them into ominous level of debt while exporting goods to the population on credit. That is not a long term strategy as Greece, Bulgaria, and now Spain and Portugal had shown. With shrinking markets stability of capitalism in general and neoliberalism in particular might decrease.

Several researchers points to increased importance Central banks now play in maintaining of the stability of the banking system. That's already a reversal of neoliberal dogma about free (read "unregulated") markets. Actually the tale about "free markets", as far as the USA is concerned, actually was from the very beginning mainly the product designed for export (read about Washington consensus).

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[Nov 18, 2017] The Willful Mispricing of Risk

Nov 18, 2017 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

Today was a stock options expiry. Gold and silver rallied smartly, back up to the levels where they roughly were before they were bushwhacked on the Comex into the FOMC meeting and Non-Farm Payrolls boogie woogie. I guess the theory that this smackdown of gold to retest 1270 earlier this week was a gambit ahead of stock option expiry was tradeable.

We are in a new era. I am hearing this on TV and in comments and on chat forums. We are in an era where risk has been abolished by the central banks and their free money. So there is little difference between prime and subprime, between 2 year and 10 year Treasuries, and between stocks and bonds. According to some of the Pied Piper pundits stocks are better than riskless cash, because stocks are going to keep rallying forever after, and cash is trash . Buy buy buy, and don't be left behind.

This is the kind of mantra that the sell-side and the wiseguys of the Street too often resort to when they are taking profits from their pool after a big price run higher, and unloading mispriced junk on mom and pop, through the funds and institutions.

Once the selling starts in earnest, and it will beyond any doubt at some point, by whatever event that may happen to trigger it, this is going to get ugly very quickly. But this is the system that we have today. This will be the third bubble and bust since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, one of the highest funded PR and political campaigns in modern history.

And no one could have seen it coming.

Who runs Bartertown?

Have a pleasant weekend.

[Nov 16, 2017] Natural Rate Hypothesid is junk science. There is nothing natural in natural rate of empoyment

Notable quotes:
"... Controlling inflation solely by focusing on workers wages since 1980 but allowing monopoly power and economic rents to skyrocket since 1980 is the main reason for the extreme inequality that has developed ..."
"... Prima facie evidence of distorted labor market where buyers of labor have control. At the very least, the next democratic President should use their weekly address to point out the metrics relating economic gains, net wealth gains, productivity gains, to wage gains. The Presudent should remind employers to fairly share the gains. Once the metrics indicate distortion in the labor markets the President will then introduce corrective legislation using the public communications weight behind this free market notion of a fair labor market, using these metrics. Let us try this bully pulpit, public communications effort with the idea of building public momentum for correctives, and maybe we will return to the 1960s future when gains were more proportionally shared. Perhaps we wont need much legislation at all, afterall we had one generation comport with fairness, you know, rational expectations. ..."
"... if demand cannot be kept up by wages, then the only option is loans and we have seen in 2008 the catastrophic results of that ..."
Nov 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

djb , November 16, 2017 at 01:46 AM

non accelerating inflation rate of unemployment is a better term

there is nothing "natural" about that rate

there are many factors that play a role, but the most important are

1. monopoly power is the most important, without monopoly power, in a perfectly competitive market, excessive inflation is not possible

2. factors that affect bargaining power OF workers

Controlling inflation solely by focusing on workers wages since 1980 but allowing monopoly power and economic rents to skyrocket since 1980 is the main reason for the extreme inequality that has developed

Paine -> djb... , November 16, 2017 at 05:18 AM
These are important conjectures

We may indeed have chosen to repress wage rates while allowing Firms market power over output prices and wages.

And firms share of total Economic rents and E rent rates themselves and thus total gross profits to rise.

Largely unchecked by policy moves

JF -> djb... , November 16, 2017 at 08:26 AM
Prima facie evidence of distorted labor market where buyers of labor have control.

At the very least, the next democratic President should use their weekly address to point out the metrics relating economic gains, net wealth gains, productivity gains, to wage gains. The Presudent should remind employers to fairly share the gains.

Once the metrics indicate distortion in the labor markets the President will then introduce corrective legislation using the public communications weight behind this free market notion of a fair labor market, using these metrics.

Let us try this bully pulpit, public communications effort with the idea of building public momentum for correctives, and maybe we will return to the 1960s future when gains were more proportionally shared. Perhaps we wont need much legislation at all, afterall we had one generation comport with fairness, you know, rational expectations.

We can expect to do that again, especially as all new economists will be trained on the why and on how to accomplish this metric of shared gains. One can only hope.

djb -> JF... , November 16, 2017 at 01:59 PM
I know this may not exactly fit your MMT model

if we don't allow median wages to go up to match production/productivity

and if economic rents continue to go up disproportionally then we need to do a redistribution, ideally by taxes, to get the median wage to keep pace with production/productivity

otherwise demand for products will eventually falter, making us all poorer for it

if demand cannot be kept up by wages, then the only option is loans and we have seen in 2008 the catastrophic results of that

[Nov 16, 2017] Should We Reject the Natural Rate Hypothesis

Nov 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

15, 2017 Should We Reject the Natural Rate Hypothesis? Olivier Blanchard:

Should We Reject the Natural Rate Hypothesis?, by Olivier Blanchard, PIIE : Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman articulated the natural rate hypothesis. It was composed of two sub-hypotheses: First, the natural rate of unemployment is independent of monetary policy. Second, there is no long-run tradeoff between the deviation of unemployment from the natural rate and inflation. Both propositions have been challenged. Blanchard reviews the arguments and the macro and micro evidence against each and concludes that, in each case, the evidence is suggestive but not conclusive. Policymakers should keep the natural rate hypothesis as their null hypothesis but keep an open mind and put some weight on the alternatives. [ paper ]

Posted by Mark Thoma on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 10:22 AM in Academic Papers , Economics , Macroeconomics | Permalink Comments (9)


Comments Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Paine , November 15, 2017 at 03:44 PM

"there is a strong case, although not an overwhelming case, to allow U.S. output to exceed potential for some time, so as to reintegrate some of the workers who left the labor force during the last ten years."

Blanchard calls for exploring the unknown regions
of lower and lower unemployment

Lower UE rates
Instead of accelerating output price inflation
Or even wage inflation
Given possible productivity pick ups
We may discover
We get a return to higher and higher participation
Not an unhappy result after all

Paine -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 03:49 PM
The parting of the ways with the likes of Blanchard and krugman might come
When at long last wage rates do begin to rise faster then
Say
labor productivity plus three percent

But if the acceleration of the expected rate of change
of the rate of output price change
accelerates slowly

We'll have plenty of policy means and time to moderate the expansion of demand
Given the political will

Paine -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 03:51 PM
Or better consider the imposition of a mark up warrant system
On selected firms and sectors
Paine -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 03:58 PM
What is completely missed by looking at the impact of a slump on long run output capacity
Is the actual lost output out of existing capacity
And the misery this inflicts now
for many too many


Ten years of sub possible output
Contain How many weeks upon weeks
of reduced Welfare for too many souls ?

Paine -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 04:01 PM
If average slack is now 7%
And could
with aggressive macro nautics
be reduced to 2%

We
each of us only live in the now
and for only a single all too brief life time

anne -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 03:58 PM
This is arguing well, I agree and am grateful.
Paine -> anne... , November 15, 2017 at 04:08 PM
Blanchards uses the definition of potential output
That suggests over production has to be off set by under production

I.e. Potential output is not technical maximum output by any means

PO
Is more like a rate of output and consequent rate of existing factor utilization
That does not unduly
stress
the various institutional arrangements and practices
Or overly tax
the stability of existing social norms
Considered necessary
to sustaining the good of society
thru
It's gradual development over time

Paine -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 04:11 PM
There is another set of conflicting visions
One of which
That any class pov might hatch

A vision
Perhaps too Faustian for most souls of that class
That is restless
to push faster
To Venture more
Face uncertainty with boldness even audacity

anne -> Paine ... , November 15, 2017 at 04:11 PM
Nice, nice.

[Nov 15, 2017] Alex Azar Can There Be Uglier Scenarios than the Revolving Door naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether ..."
"... So should Mr Azar be confirmed as Secretary of DHHS, the fox guarding the hen house appears to be a reasonable analogy. ..."
"... In this post, I'd like to add two additional factors to our consideration of Azar. The first: Democrat credentialism makes it hard for them to oppose Azar. The second: The real ..."
Nov 15, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Alex Azar: Can There Be Uglier Scenarios than the Revolving Door? Posted on November 15, 2017 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether

Clearly, Alex Azar, nominated yesterday for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services by the Trump Administration, exemplifies the case of the "revolving door," through which Flexians slither on their way to (or from) positions of public trust. Roy Poses ( cross-posted at NC ) wrote, when Azar was only Acting Secretary:

Last week we noted that Mr Trump famously promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Last week, despite his previous pledges to not appoint lobbyists to powerful positions, he appointed a lobbyist to be acting DHHS Secretary. This week he is apparently strongly considering Mr Alex Azar, a pharmaceutical executive to be permanent DHHS Secretary, even though the FDA, part of DHHS, has direct regulatory authority over the pharmaceutical industry, and many other DHHS policies strongly affect the pharmaceutical industry. (By the way, Mr Azar was also in charge of one lobbying effort.)

So should Mr Azar be confirmed as Secretary of DHHS, the fox guarding the hen house appears to be a reasonable analogy.

Moreover, several serious legal cases involving bad behavior by his company, and multiple other instances of apparently unethical behavior occurred on Mr Azar’s watch at Eli Lilly. So the fox might be not the most reputable member of the species.

So you know the drill…. The revolving door is a species of conflict of interest . Worse, some experts have suggested that the revolving door is in fact corruption. As we noted here , the experts from the distinguished European anti-corruption group U4 wrote ,

The literature makes clear that the revolving door process is a source of valuable political connections for private firms. But it generates corruption risks and has strong distortionary effects on the economy , especially when this power is concentrated within a few firms.

The ongoing parade of people transiting the revolving door from industry to the Trump administration once again suggests how the revolving door may enable certain of those with private vested interests to have excess influence, way beyond that of ordinary citizens, on how the government works, and that the country is still increasingly being run by a cozy group of insiders with ties to both government and industry. This has been termed crony capitalism.

Poses is, of course, correct. (Personally, I've contained my aghastitude on Azar, because I remember quite well how Liz Fowler transitioned from Wellpoint to being Max Baucus's chief of staff when ObamaCare was being drafted to a job in Big Pharma , and I remember quite well the deal with Big Pharma Obama cut, which eliminated the public option , not that the public option was anything other than a decreasingly gaudy "progressive" bauble in the first place.)

In this post, I'd like to add two additional factors to our consideration of Azar. The first: Democrat credentialism makes it hard for them to oppose Azar. The second: The real damage Azar could do is on the regulatory side.[1]

First, Democrat credentialism. Here is one effusive encomium on Azar. From USA Today, "Who is Alex Azar? Former drugmaker CEO and HHS official nominated to head agency" :

"I am glad to hear that you have worked hard, and brought fair-minded legal analysis to the department," Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said at Azar's last confirmation hearing.

And:

Andy Slavitt, who ran the Affordable Care Act and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, said he has reason to hope Azar would be a good secretary.

"He is familiar with the high quality of the HHS staff, has real-world experience enough to be pragmatic, and will hopefully avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessor," Slavitt said.

So, if Democrats are saying Azar is "fair-minded" and "pragmatic" -- and heaven forfend that the word "corruption"[2] even be mentioned -- how do they oppose him, even he's viscerally opposed to everything Democrats supposedly stand for? (Democrats do this with judicial nominations, too.) Azar may be a fox, alright, but the chickens he's supposedly guarding are all clucking about how impeccable his qualifications are!

Second, let's briefly look at Azar's bio. Let me excerpt salient detail from USA Today :

1. Azar clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia .

2. Azar went to work for his mentor, Ken Starr , who was heading the independent counsel investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton's Whitewater land deal.

3. Azar had a significant role in another major political controversy when the outcome of the 2000 presidential election hinged on a recount in Florida . Azar was on the Bush team of lawyers whose side ultimately prevailed [3]

For any Democrat with a memory, that bio provokes one of those "You shall know them by the trail of the dead" moments. And then there's this:

When Leavitt replaced Thompson in 2005 and Azar became his deputy, Leavitt delegated a lot of the rule-making process to Azar.

So, a liberal Democrat might classify Azar as a smooth-talking reactionary thug with a terrible record and the most vile mentors imaginable, and on top of it all, he's an effective bureaucratic fixer. What could the Trump Administration possibly see in such a person? Former (Republican) HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt explains:

"Understanding the administrative rule process in the circumstance we're in today could be extraordinarily important because a lot of the change in the health care system, given the fact that they've not succeeded legislatively, could come administratively."

We outlined the administration strategy on health care in "Trump Adminstration Doubles Down on Efforts to Crapify the Entire Health Care System (Unless You're Rich, of Course)" . There are three prongs:

1) Administratively, send ObamaCare into a death spiral by sabotaging it

2) Legislatively, gut Medicaid as part of the "tax refom" package in Congress

3) Through executive order, eliminate "essential health benefits" through "association health plans"

As a sidebar, it's interesting to see that although this do-list is strategically and ideologically coherent -- basically, your ability to access health care will be directly dependent on your ability to pay -- it's institutionally incoherent, a bizarre contraption screwed together out of legislation, regulations, and an Executive order. Of course, this incoherence mirrors to Rube Goldberg structure of ObamaCare itself, itself a bizarre contraption, especially when compared to the simple, rugged, and proven single payer system. ( Everything Obama did with regulations and executive orders, Trump can undo, with new regulations and new executive orders . We might compare ObamaCare to a child born with no immune system, that could only have survived within the liberal bubble within which it was created; in the real world, it's not surprising that it's succumbing to opportunistic infections.[2])

On #1, The administration has, despite its best efforts, not achieved a controlled flight into terrain with ObamaCare; enrollment is up. On #2, the administration and its Congressional allies are still dickering with tax reform. And on #3 . That looks looks like a job for Alex Azar, since both essential health benefits and association health plans are significantly affected by regulation.

So, yes, there are worse scenarios than the revolving door; it's what you leave behind you as the door revolves that matters. It would be lovely if there were a good old-fashioned confirmation battle over Azar, but, as I've pointed out, the Democrats have tied their own hands. Ideally, the Democrats would junk the Rube Goldberg device that is ObamaCare, rendering all of Azar's regulatory expertise null and void, but that doesn't seem likely, given that they seem to be doing everything possible to avoid serious discussion of policy in 2018 and 2020.

NOTES

[1] I'm leaving aside what will no doubt be the 2018 or even 2020 issue of drug prices, since for me that's subsumed under the issue of single payer. If we look only at Azar's history in business, real price decreases seem unlikely. Business Insider :

Over the 10-year period when Azar was at Lilly, the price of insulin notched a three-fold increase. It wasn't just Lilly's insulin product, called Humalog. The price of a rival made by Novo Nordisk has also climbed, with the two rising in such lockstep that you can barely see both trend lines below.

The gains came despite the fact that the insulin, which as a medication has an almost-century-long history, hasn't really changed since it was first approved.

Nice business to be in, eh? Here's that chart:

It's almost like Lilly (Azar's firm) and Novo Nordisk are working together, isn't it?

[2] Anyhow, as of the 2016 Clinton campaign , the Democrat standard -- not that of Poses, nor mine -- is that if there's no quid pro quo, there's no corruption.

[3] And, curiously, "[HHS head Tommy] Thompson said HHS was in the eye of the storm after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and Azar had an important role in responding to the resulting public health challenges, as well as the subsequent anthrax attacks "

MedicalQuack , November 15, 2017 at 10:31 am

Oh please, stop quoting Andy Slavitt, the United Healthcare Ingenix algo man. That guy is the biggest crook that made his money early on with RX discounts with his company that he and Senator Warren's daughter, Amelia sold to United Healthcare. He's out there trying to do his own reputation restore routine. Go back to 2009 and read about the short paying of MDs by Ingenix, which is now Optum Insights, he was the CEO and remember it was just around 3 years ago or so he sat there quarterly with United CEO Hemsley at those quarterly meetings. Look him up, wants 40k to speak and he puts the perception out there he does this for free, not so.

diptherio , November 15, 2017 at 11:25 am

I think you're missing the context. Lambert is quoting him by way of showing that the sleazy establishment types are just fine with him. Thanks for the extra background on that particular swamp-dweller, though.

a different chris , November 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Not just the context, it's a quote in a quote. Does make me think Slavitt must be a real piece of work to send MQ so far off his rails

petal , November 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Alex Azar is a Dartmouth grad (Gov't & Economics '88) just like Jeff Immelt (Applied Math & Economics '78). So much damage to society from such a small department!

sgt_doom , November 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Nice one, petal !!!

Really, all I need to know about the Trumpster Administration:

From Rothschild to . . . .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Ross

Since 2014, Ross has been the vice-chairman of the board of Bank of Cyprus PCL, the largest bank in Cyprus.

He served under U.S. President Bill Clinton on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund. Later, under New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ross served as the Mayor's privatization advisor.

Jen , November 15, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Or from a "small liberal arts college" (which is a university in all but name, because alumni).

Tim Geitner ('82 – Goverment)
Hank Paulson ('68 – English)

jo6pac , November 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Well it's never ending game in the beltway and we serfs aren't in it.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/15/trump-adds-to-washingtons-swamp/

Alfred , November 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I don't believe that the President's "swamp" ever consisted of crooked officials, lobbyists, and cronies I think it has always consisted of those regulators who tried sincerely to defend public interests.

It was in the sticky work of those good bureaucrats that the projects of capitalists and speculators bogged down. It is against their efforts that the pickup-driving cohort of Trumpism (with their Gadsden flag decals) relentlessly rails.

Trump has made much progress in draining the regulatory swamp (if indeed that is the right way to identify it), and no doubt will make considerably more as time wears on, leaving America high and dry. The kind of prevaricator Trump is may simply be the one who fails to define his terms.

Henry Moon Pie , November 15, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I think we've moved past the revolving door. We hear members of the United States Senate publicly voice their concerns about what will happen if they fail to do their employers' bidding (and I'm not talking about "the public" here). In the bureaucracy, political appointees keep accruing more and more power even as they make it clearer and clearer that they work for "the donors" and not the people. Nowhere is this more true than the locus through which passes most of the money: the Pentagon. The fact that these beribboned heroes are, in fact, setting war policy on their own makes the knowledge that they serve Raytheon and Exxon rather than Americans very, very troubling.

I suspect Azar's perception is that he is just moving from one post to another within the same company.

Watt4Bob , November 15, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Perfect cartoon over at Truthout

I'm amazed there is enough private security available on this planet to keep these guys safe.

Larry , November 15, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Big pharma indeed has so much defense from the supposed left. It combines their faith in technological progress, elite institutions, and tugs on the heart strings with technology that can save people from a fate of ill health or premature death. Of course, the aspect of the laws being written to line the pockets of corrupt executives is glossed over. While drug prices and medical costs spiral ever higher, our overall longevity and national health in the US declines. That speaks volumes about what Democrats really care about.

[Nov 10, 2017] annbeaker

Nov 10, 2017 | annbeaker.livejournal.com
http://bitecharge.com/play/advgram#q26 Congratulations, you are a grammar master! You have a superb understanding of even the trickiest grammar rules. Not only do you know the difference between affect and effect, but you also never confuse your tenses. You must be an English scholar because only 4% of Americans can get a perfect score on this test.

[Nov 08, 2017] Harvey Weinstein's Stasi by Rod Dreher

Notable quotes:
"... Perhaps men and women who enter into service in a national military or intelligence agency should be required to sign a life-time oath NOT to accept employment in any investigative or paramilitary outfit in the private sector, enforceable by a life prison sentence? ..."
"... The two are by and large antithetical. Now the weakness of socialism, to date, is that without a sense of community and ethics, it looks an awful lot like monopoly capitalism. Fidel Castro understood that, but his error was thinking he could inculcate community and ethics by decree (and if necessary force). ..."
"... There are all kinds of reasons why Harvey W. was not outed earlier, some having to do with the culture at large, some having to do with the extreme insecurity of anyone in show business. But I am a little uneasy with the frenzy of accusations across the country that have followed. Some have got to be opportunistic rather than real. ..."
"... Anybody who goes to the show right now, knowing what we know or will eventually discover – Weinstein is just the tip of the iceberg – is simply subsidizing evil. ..."
"... Anybody who's lived in Hollywood, knows that the lure of fame is such that any compromise will be acceded to as the cost of obtaining it. Of course, those who prostituted themselves and violated their consciences, won't mind getting revenge if the opportunity someday arises. ..."
"... What David Boies did was just about the worse thing a lawyer can do which is to betray a client. Not even a former client, a current one, and not by accident either. This was intentional betrayal made with a sober mind. This Harvey guy is so important to him that Boies has basically thrown away his integrity, hopefully his law license, and his reputation forever just to stop some rumors. ..."
"... The Mossad (or "ex-Mossad") angle brings in the hint of state action on behalf of individuals. Groups like that one do not work for everyone, and how do we know if those agents really are "ex-" or not. ..."
Nov 07, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Here's more reporting by Ronan Farrow that suggests a good reason why people were afraid to speak out about Harvey Weinstein's sexual assaults:

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world's largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives "highly experienced and trained in Israel's elite military and governmental intelligence units," according to its literature.

Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women's-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.

The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker . Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies "target," or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.

Weinstein's lawyer, the cream-of-the-croppy David Boies, knew a lot about this. Farrow also reports about how Weinstein allegedly conspired with the owner of the National Enquirer to dig up dirt on those who accused him.

Read the whole thing.

Harvey Weinstein is a monster. After reading this piece, it is easier to understand why people stayed quiet about his behavior.

Centralist ,, November 7, 2017 at 10:22 am

The sins of capitalism without ethics and a man without ethics, in perfect harmony.

The joke that this brings to mind is "What is the worst thing for capitalism?" "A pure capitalist". To have a good capitalist system you need sense of community and ethics to guide them. The sense of only "I" is the greatest cause of such abuse. Sadly though this is more in line with a return to old power politics of city states that use to dominate the Italy, Greece, and the Mideast. While often apart of larger empires with their own security forces individual wealth magnates and nobles had their own private forces to keep the rift raft in check because of legal grey area and coupled with official leadership to weak or to in the pocket of the rich to do anything about it.

The further forward we go, the more we go back. I think Mr. Dreher and interesting idea for a novel from you would be a Benedict Option Society in a cyberpunk post nation-state world. Just an idea.

Siarlys Jenkins , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:43 am
The monstrosity is hardly unique to Weinstein. After all, Black Cube must have quite a few other well-heeled clients with similar needs or it wouldn't be in business on several continents. That seems to be more of a threat to peace and freedom and democracy and liberty and public morality than one man's particular sins, or his desires to cover them up.

Perhaps men and women who enter into service in a national military or intelligence agency should be required to sign a life-time oath NOT to accept employment in any investigative or paramilitary outfit in the private sector, enforceable by a life prison sentence?

To have a good capitalist system you need sense of community and ethics to guide them.

The two are by and large antithetical. Now the weakness of socialism, to date, is that without a sense of community and ethics, it looks an awful lot like monopoly capitalism. Fidel Castro understood that, but his error was thinking he could inculcate community and ethics by decree (and if necessary force).

TR , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:53 am
I suggest opening the TAC link to Joseph Epstein's take-down of Leon Wieseltier in the Weekly Standard. A masterpiece.

There are all kinds of reasons why Harvey W. was not outed earlier, some having to do with the culture at large, some having to do with the extreme insecurity of anyone in show business. But I am a little uneasy with the frenzy of accusations across the country that have followed. Some have got to be opportunistic rather than real.

For those interested in tales of the cssting couch of old, check out the life of Harry Cohn, the longtime head of Columbia Pictures.

Potato , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:05 am
I am concerned about the part in all this played by attorney David Boies, and I think the Bar should initiate an investigation into his involvement. This falls seriously short of the ethical behavior we expect of people who are, after all, officers of the Court.

I also believe that any claim of attorney-client privilege as to these materials, in a situation where Boies is claiming that he and his firm did not direct the investigative agencies involved and did not know much about their findings, is farcical, and would never have held up in court. Assuming that he is telling the truth about this ignorance of his, Mr. Boies should surely have known that a claim of privilege would not hold up, and should so have advised his client at the beginning of this entire transaction.

Or, alternatively, he is lying his head off about how much he knew, which is worse.

David Boies is now very understandably backing quickly away from this whole situation, but I believe that it may be too late for him to be in the clear.

One wonders, or I do, why Mr. Boies consented to be involved in the first place. Surely he personally and his firm both have plenty of money, so financial desperation cannot play a part. Is a man in his position so blinded by Fame and Fortune that his good judgment was compromised to this degree? He seems to be at least marginally good, at this late date, at naming all the reasons this was a bad idea for him. One wonders why all this did not occur to him sooner.

Another possibility is that Weinstein or someone closely connected to Weinstein "has the goods" on Mr. Boies, and was able to in effect blackmail him. Weinstein and his associates seem uncommonly good at that.

Or, I wonder, is it just One Of Those Things? You do things, then you do something that is a tiny bit questionable (but hugely profitable), and then the next thing is a tiny bit more questionable until, without really thinking about it, you find yourself in the position David Boies is now in, or worse, in commission of a felony. This kind of thing happens all the time, sadly, when someone like Boies has a moral compass which is a bit out of adjustment.

Jason , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:23 am
Anybody who goes to the show right now, knowing what we know or will eventually discover – Weinstein is just the tip of the iceberg – is simply subsidizing evil.
charles cosimano , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:43 am
Seems he did everything right except the execution. He never would have made it in the mafia.
Sam M , says: November 7, 2017 at 11:54 am
"After reading this piece, it is easier to understand why people stayed quiet about his behavior."

But also easier to believe that, "I didn't know."

This matters. It's one thing for a young aspiring starlet getting off a bus in Hollywood with $20 in her pocket to fall in line. But it's quite another for multi-millionaire power brokers who worked with Weinstein to sit back and watch him abuse one such aspiring starlet after another for 20 years.

There were plenty of producers and actors and directors who knew plenty and never raised a finger, despite having the financial and professional wherewithal to take that risk.

Captain P , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm
Potato

> I am concerned about the part in all this played by attorney David Boies, and I think the Bar should initiate an investigation into his involvement. This falls seriously short of the ethical behavior we expect of people who are, after all, officers of the Court.

Sounds like the NYT is going to be suing Boies for his unethical behavior:

"We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm's lawyers were representing us in other matters," Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokesperson, told TheWrap.

"We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe," she continued. "It is inexcusable, and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies."

https://www.thewrap.com/new-york-times-david-boies-harvey-weinstein/

Fran Macadam , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm
Anybody who's lived in Hollywood, knows that the lure of fame is such that any compromise will be acceded to as the cost of obtaining it. Of course, those who prostituted themselves and violated their consciences, won't mind getting revenge if the opportunity someday arises.

And whatever happens on casting couches, is simply the behind the scenes sideplay of the same things acted out onscreen.

In a way, it's consensual if that is the bargain you agreed with yourself to make to get what you wanted.

We've already determined what you are, now we're just negotiating about the price.

theMann , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm
Weinstein is stone cold via RICO on extortion, multiple times. Any prosecutor worth his salt (very few of them actually, but another subject) can and should start rolling out the counts. All the people covering up for him, launch discovery and see just how far their accessory goes, also prosecutable under RICO.

hum .Hollywood. Lets all hold our breath until it happens.

ludo , says: November 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm
At least he didn't have anybody disappeared, unlike routinely happens in Mexico and so many other increasingly neo-medieval places in the world, so credit for that.
pitchfork , says: November 7, 2017 at 2:02 pm
"The monstrosity is hardly unique to Weinstein. After all, Black Cube must have quite a few other well-heeled clients with similar needs or it wouldn't be in business on several continents. That seems to be more of a threat to peace and freedom and democracy and liberty and public morality than one man's particular sins, or his desires to cover them up."

Indeed. And a common tactic seems to be to run everything through a law firm, thereby putting it all under attorney-client privilege. The cyber-security team that Bank of America hired to take down Glenn Greenwald a few years back was apparently organized through Hunton and Williams. At the DOJ's suggestion, no less.

https://wikileaks.org/hbgary-emails/emailid/13730

And this kind of thing isn't confined to media moguls and banks, either. When I was a PhD student I was involved in organizing against certain development plans at my university. On one of the emails between myself, other organizers, and the university vice president, the VP had copied some university employees that had nothing apparent to do with the issue we were protesting. When I researched who _they_ were, one of them had just been hired away from Booz Allen Hamilton. Later on, after the protests were over (we lost, by the way), an insider in the administration told me directly, in great detail, that I, my wife, and other organizers had been carefully watched the whole time. Lucky for me, I'm a good boy with a squeaky clean past, but that's how this university VP rolled.

Lllurker , says: November 7, 2017 at 2:19 pm
Shades of Roger Ailes. One more story that shows how ignorant some of us who live out our lives in flyover country can be about this sort of thing. Until the Roger Ailes thing broke I pretty much assumed that hiring "security firms" of this nature was something that just took place in spy novels and westerns.

I wonder if these hired guns who stalk and intimidate people for a living are ever convicted of crimes like stalking and intimidating.

Countme-a-Demon , says: November 7, 2017 at 2:20 pm
Odd that the title of the article reads "Harvey Weinstein's Stasi", when "Harvey Weinstein's Mossad" was right there for the picking. Is Mossad a different kind of Stasi? Those agents should be arrested and charged as well. Then deported, if ICE isn't too overworked.
JCM , says: November 7, 2017 at 3:20 pm
I wonder why Mr. Weinstein didn't save himself the trouble and hooked himself up with A-list call girls. I can't imagine that a sense of morality would have kept him from consorting with prostitutes. He would have saved himself a word of trouble and money if he had been inclined to pay for services from the outset. Perhaps, he felt the need to denigrate the women that he so callously approached. Not a nice man, this Mr. Weinstein.
Potato , says: November 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm
a common tactic seems to be to run everything through a law firm, thereby putting it all under attorney-client privilege.

Allegedly. Actually you have to do more than just get a lawyer involved somehow, or other in some capacity or other, to invoke the privilege. I haven't researched this transaction specifically, but it sounds to me like the assertion of privilege in this Weinstein business would have had more holes in it than a colander.

Sounds like the NYT is going to be suing Boies for his unethical behavior:

"We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm's lawyers were representing us in other matters," Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokesperson, told TheWrap. "We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe," she continued. "It is inexcusable, and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies."

Good, they have it coming. Among everything else that was wrong with it, this business was a very serious conflict of interest, and worse, Boies was well aware of the conflict at the time. (Actually the Bar will whap you good for conflicts of interest whether you were aware of them or not, taking the position that attorneys are supposed to keep track of such things. But doing it knowingly is worse.)

More cause for head-shaking. Why why why did David Boies consent to become involved?? What did these people have to threaten him with, if that's what happened?

xx

As an irrelevancy, may I say yet again that Harvey Weinstein is one of the most physically unattractive men I have ever seen or seen pictures of. To call him a "pig" is an insult to pigs everywhere.

Dan Green , says: November 7, 2017 at 4:35 pm
Hooray for Hollywood, is anybody really surprised what goes on in that fantasy world?
cka2nd , says: November 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm
TR "But I am a little uneasy with the frenzy of accusations across the country that have followed. Some have got to be opportunistic rather than real."

I agree, some are. Corey Haim's mom is calling out Corey Feldman for trying to raise a millions of dollars for some documentary instead of just naming the names of those he claims abused him and her son, who she says was abused by just one person, not the hordes Feldman alleges.

By the way, I'm with Luke and Conewago on being careful about using the dehumanizing term "monster."

Our Thing , says: November 7, 2017 at 8:42 pm
"After all, Black Cube must have quite a few other well-heeled clients with similar needs or it wouldn't be in business on several continents. "

Anybody who hires a company called "Black Cube" deserves whatever bad things happen to them. And what stupid ex-Mossad hack chose the name? I can't imagine one better calculated to call forth an all-out international investigation. I mean, why not just call it SPECTRE and have done with it?

Philly guy , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:29 pm
Am pretty sure Uncle Chuckie said something about Weinstein's henchmen on a previous thread. In 2017 this must be outsourced i.e. Black cube. The words "private" and "security" when used together, make me cringe.
Ben H , says: November 7, 2017 at 10:41 pm
This story just gets more and more extraordinary.
Elijah , says: November 8, 2017 at 7:33 am
"Why why why did David Boies consent to become involved?? What did these people have to threaten him with, if that's what happened?"

You really have to wonder if the lure of Weinstein's fund-raising prowess was that strong or if he was investigating and blackmailing hundreds of people all over the nation.

The more you read about this wretched Weinstein, the less outlandish the conspiracy theories sound.

[Nov 07, 2017] These casino capitalist toilet plungers and the US stock market performance in 2017

Nov 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Caro Amico Ti Scrivo , November 07, 2017 at 10:50 AM

since the surprise election results one year ago :

34.5% from inflation? with 5% house price inflation? What about the other 29%? The election surprise that was advertised as an event that would crash the market?

When you lie lie big!

DrDick -> Caro Amico Ti Scrivo... , November 07, 2017 at 11:15 AM
Complete nonsense. Trump and the Republican Congress have been colossally ineffective and have not accomplished anything, saving us from complete disaster so far. As for the stock market, of course it is up, rich folks and big corporations are rolling in cash, with expectations of more and not controls on them.
Paine -> DrDick... , November 07, 2017 at 12:53 PM
Trump wins and we find Wall Street operating once more on the booze

So much for the viability of the reign of these short sighted hogs of Gaderene, these capitalist toilet plungers. These later day green saurian minions of GOG and MAGOG

And yet behold. the new Jerusalem doth not descend upon us. We are to be punished for sure. But not finally judged. ixion's wheel will keep on turning and turning and turning

[Nov 05, 2017] Matt Taibbi Exposes The Great College Loan Swindle

Nov 05, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole...

On a wind-swept, frigid night in February 2009, a 37-year-old schoolteacher named Scott Nailor parked his rusted '92 Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Fireside Inn in Auburn, Maine. He picked this spot to have a final reckoning with himself. He was going to end his life.

Beaten down after more than a decade of struggle with student debt, after years of taking false doors and slipping into various puddles of bureaucratic quicksand, he was giving up the fight. "This is it, I'm done," he remembers thinking. "I sat there and just sort of felt like I'm going to take my life. I'm going to find a way to park this car in the garage, with it running or whatever."

Nailor's problems began at 19 years old, when he borrowed for tuition so that he could pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Maine. He graduated summa cum laude four years later and immediately got a job in his field, as an English teacher.

Bu t he graduated with $35,000 in debt, a big hill to climb on a part-time teacher's $18,000 salary. He struggled with payments, and he and his wife then consolidated their student debt, which soon totaled more than $50,000. They declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans. From there he found himself in a loan "rehabilitation" program that added to his overall balance. "That's when the noose began to tighten," he says.

The collectors called day and night, at work and at home. "In the middle of class too, while I was teaching," he says. He ended up in another rehabilitation program that put him on a road toward an essentially endless cycle of rising payments. Today, he pays $471 a month toward "rehabilitation," and, like countless other borrowers, he pays nothing at all toward his real debt, which he now calculates would cost more than $100,000 to extinguish. "Not one dollar of it goes to principal," says Nailor. "I will never be able to pay it off. My only hope to escape from this crushing debt is to die."

After repeated phone calls with lending agencies about his ever-rising interest payments, Nailor now believes things will only get worse with time. "At this rate, I may easily break $1 million in debt before I retire from teaching," he says.

Nailor had more than once reached the stage in his thoughts where he was thinking about how to physically pull off his suicide. "I'd been there before, that just was the worst of it," he says. "It scared me, bad."

He had a young son and a younger daughter, but Nailor had been so broken by the experience of financial failure that he managed to convince himself they would be better off without him. What saved him is that he called his wife to say goodbye. "I don't know why I called my wife. I'm glad I did," he says. "I just wanted her or someone to tell me to pick it up, keep fighting, it's going to be all right. And she did."

From that moment, Nailor managed to focus on his family. Still, the core problem – the spiraling debt that has taken over his life, as it has for millions of other Americans – remains.

Horror stories about student debt are nothing new. But this school year marks a considerable worsening of a tale that ought to have been a national emergency years ago. The government in charge of regulating this mess is now filled with predatory monsters who have extensive ties to the exploitative for-profit education industry – from Donald Trump himself to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who sets much of the federal loan policy, to Julian Schmoke, onetime dean of the infamous DeVry University, whom Trump appointed to police fraud in education.

Americans don't understand the student-loan crisis because they've been trained to view the issue in terms of a series of separate, unrelated problems.

They will read in one place that as of the summer of 2017, a record 8.5 million Americans are in default on their student debt, with about $1.3 trillion in loans still outstanding.

In another place, voters will read that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, soaring in a seemingly market-defying arc that for nearly a decade now has run almost double the rate of inflation. Tuition for a halfway decent school now frequently surpasses $50,000 a year. How, the average newsreader wonders, can any child not born in a yacht afford to go to school these days?

In a third place, that same reader will see some heartless monster, usually a Republican, threatening to cut federal student lending. The current bogeyman is Trump, who is threatening to slash the Pell Grant program by $3.9 billion, which would seem to put higher education even further out of reach for poor and middle-income families. This too seems appalling, and triggers a different kind of response, encouraging progressive voters to lobby for increased availability for educational lending.

But the separateness of these stories clouds the unifying issue underneath: The education industry as a whole is a con. In fact, since the mortgage business blew up in 2008, education and student debt is probably our reigning unexposed nation-wide scam.

It's a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a "big store scheme," like in the movie The Sting : a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie – sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate – have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams – that's the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He's the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements.

It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don't. "A bachelor's degree is worth $2.8 million on average over a lifetime" is how Georgetown University put it. The Census Bureau tells us similarly that a master's degree is worth on average about $1.3 million more than a high school diploma.

But these stats say more about the increasing uselessness of a high school degree than they do about the value of a college diploma. Moreover, since virtually everyone at the very highest strata of society has a college degree, the stats are skewed by a handful of financial titans. A college degree has become a minimal status marker as much as anything else. "I'm sure people who take polo lessons or sailing lessons earn a lot more on average too," says Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice, which advocates for debt forgiveness and other reforms. "Does that mean you should send your kids to sailing school?"

But the pitch works on everyone these days, especially since good jobs for Trump's beloved "poorly educated" are scarce to nonexistent. Going to college doesn't guarantee a good job, far from it, but the data show that not going dooms most young people to an increasingly shallow pool of the very crappiest, lowest-paying jobs. There's a lot of stick, but not much carrot, in the education game.

It's a vicious cycle. Since everyone feels obligated to go to college, most everyone who can go, does, creating a glut of graduates. And as that glut of degree recipients grows, the squeeze on the un-degreed grows tighter, increasing further that original negative incentive: Don't go to college, and you'll be standing on soup lines by age 25.

With that inducement in place, colleges can charge almost any amount, and kids will pay – so long as they can get the money. And here we run into problem number two: It's too easy to find that money.

Parents, not wanting their kids to fall behind, will pay every dollar they have. But if they don't have the cash, there is a virtually unlimited amount of credit available to young people. Proposed cuts to Pell Grants aside, the landscape is filled with public and private lending, and students gobble it up. Kids who walk into financial-aid offices are often not told what signing their names on the various aid forms will mean down the line. A lot of kids don't even understand the concept of interest or amortization tables – they think if they're borrowing $8,000, they're paying back $8,000.

Nailor certainly was unaware of what he was getting into when he was 19. "I had no idea [about interest]," he says. "I just remember thinking, 'I don't have to worry about it right now. I want to go to school.' " He pauses in disgust. "It's unsettling to remember how it was like, 'Here, just sign this and you're all set.' I wish I could take the time machine back and slap myself in the face."

The average amount of debt for a student leaving school is skyrocketing even faster than the rate of tuition increase.

In 2016, for instance, the average amount of debt for an exiting college graduate was a staggering $37,172. That's a rise of six percent over just the previous year. With the average undergraduate interest rate at about 3.7 percent, the interest alone costs around $115 per month, meaning anyone who can't afford to pay into the principal faces the prospect of $69,000 in payments over 50 years.

So here's the con so far.

You must go to college because you're screwed if you don't.

Costs are outrageously high, but you pay them because you have to, and because the system makes it easy to borrow massive amounts of money

The third part of the con is the worst: You can't get out of the debt.

Since government lenders in particular have virtually unlimited power to collect on student debt – preying on everything from salary to income-tax returns – even running is not an option. And since most young people find themselves unable to make their full payments early on, they often find themselves perpetually paying down interest only, never touching the principal. Our billionaire president can declare bankruptcy four times, but students are the one class of citizen that may not do it even once.

October 2017 was supposed to represent the first glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, one of the few avenues for wiping out student debt. The idea, launched by George W. Bush, was pretty simple: Students could pledge to work 10 years for the government or a nonprofit and have their debt forgiven. In order to qualify, borrowers had to make payments for 10 years using a complex formula. This month, then, was to start the first mass wipeouts of debt in the history of American student lending. But more than half of the 700,000 enrollees have already been expunged from the program for, among other things, failing to certify their incomes on time, one of many bureaucratic tricks employed to limit forgiveness eligibility. To date, fewer than 500 participants are scheduled to receive loan forgiveness in this first round.

Moreover, Trump has called for the program's elimination by 2018, meaning that any relief that begins this month is likely only temporary. The only thing that is guaranteed to remain real for the immediate future are the massive profits being generated on the backs of young people, who before long become old people who, all too often, remain ensnared until their last days in one of the country's most brilliant and devious moneymaking schemes.

Everybody wins in this madness, except students. Even though many of the loans are originated by the state, most of them are serviced by private or quasi-private companies like Navient – which until 2014 was the student-loan arm of Sallie Mae – or Nelnet, companies that reported a combined profit of around $1 billion last year (the U.S. government made a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016!). Debt-collector companies like Performant (which generated $141.4 million in revenues; the family of Betsy DeVos is a major investor), and most particularly the colleges and universities, get to prey on the desperation and terror of parents and young people, and in the process rake in vast sums virtually without fear of market consequence.

About that: Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago.

In that incident, UW raised tuition by 5.5 percent six years in a row after 2007. The school blamed stresses from the financial crisis and decreased state aid. But when pressed during a state committee hearing in 2013 about the university's finances, UW system president Kevin Reilly admitted they held $648 million in reserve, including $414 million in tuition payments. This was excess hidey-hole cash the school was sitting on, separate and distinct from, say, an endowment fund.

After the university was showered with criticism for hoarding cash at a time when it was gouging students with huge price increases every year, the school responded by saying, essentially, it only did what all the other kids were doing. UW released data showing that other major state-school systems across the country were similarly stashing huge amounts of cash. While Wisconsin's surplus was only 25 percent of its operating budget, for instance, Minnesota's was 29 percent, and Illinois maintained a whopping 34 percent reserve.

When Collinge, of Student Loan Justice, looked into it, he found that the phenomenon wasn't confined to state schools. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees. "They're all doing it," he says.

While universities sit on their stockpiles of cash and the loan industry generates record profits, the pain of living in debilitating debt for many lasts into retirement. Take Veronica Martish. She's a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. She's also a grandmother who's never been in trouble and consid?ers herself a patriot. "The thing is, I tried to do everything right in my life," she says. "But this ruined my life."

This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Five years later, after deaths in her family, she fell behind on her payments and entered a loan-rehabilitation program. "That's when my nightmare began," she says.

In rehabilitation, Martish's $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since. She says she's paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. "By the time I die," she says, "I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000 loan." She pauses. "It's a scam, you see. Nothing ever comes off the loan. It's all interest and fees. And they chase you until you're old, like me. They never stop. Ever."

And that's the other thing about lending to students: It's the safest grift around.

There's probably no better symbol of the bankruptcy of the education industry than Trump University. The half-literate president's effort at higher learning drew in suckers with pathetic promises of great real-estate insights (for instance, that Trump "hand-picked" the instructors) and then charged them truckfuls of cash for get-rich-quick tutorials that students and faculty later described as "almost completely worthless" and a "total lie." That Trump got to settle a lawsuit on this matter for $25 million and still managed to be elected president is, ironically, a remarkable testament to the failure of our education system. About the only example that might be worse is DeVry University, which told students that 90 percent of graduates seeking jobs found them in their fields within six months of graduation. The FTC found those claims "false and unsubstantiated," and ordered $100 million in refunds and debt relief, but that was in 2016 – before Trump put DeVry chief Schmoke, of all people, in charge of rooting out education fraud. Like a lot of things connected to politics lately, it would be funny if it weren't somehow actually happening.?"Yeah, it's the fox guarding the henhouse," says Collinge. "You could probably find a worse analogy."

But the real problem with the student-loan story is that it's so poorly understood by people not living the nightmare. There's so much propaganda that blames the borrowers for taking on the debt in the first place that there's often little sympathy for people in hopeless situations. To make matters worse, band-aid programs that supposedly offer help hypnotize the public into thinking there are ways out, when the "help" is usually just another trick to add to the balance.

"That's part of the problem with the narrative," says Nailor, the schoolteacher. "People think that there's help, so what are you complaining about? All you got to do is apply for help."

But the help, he says, coming from a for-profit predatory system, often just makes things worse. "It did for me," he says. "It does for a lot of people."

[Nov 05, 2017] Explaining the Spread of White Anger by Robert Weissberg

Please buy Robert Weissberg book Bad Students, Not Bad Schools
Affirmative action in education also applies to children of the elite. This is the way to limit vertical mobility and entrench the existing elite structures making the elite status inheritable, like under feudalism.
Notable quotes:
"... As the barriers between the overpopulated third world and the United States continue to be swept away, it may soon be the children of liberal upper-middle class white Americans who are clamoring for affirmative action – or at least, for less reliance on standardized test scores. ..."
"... That law should have had a sunset built into it, though. To keep it "forever" invites abuse that grows over time. ..."
"... As always, identifiers of the main murderous, narcissitic, psychopaths making this anti-merit based agenda happen is necessary. They've used the old divide and conquer strategy of group blame for millennia, "It's them whites, or it's them blacks, or Jews, or etc.etc etc. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

Whether this anger is somehow justified is, of course, a question of immense complexity but let me offer three observations that explain its scope regardless of its justification. My point is that affirmative action and other egalitarian social engineering nostrums inescapably spreads antagonisms beyond those immediately affected by the policies. And the anger will only grow as government keeps pushing the egalitarian fantasy.

First, violating the merit principle, whether in college admissions or hiring police officers guarantees disgruntled white males far in excess of its true victims. Consider hiring five firefighters strictly according to civil service exam scores. Let's assume that a hundred men apply for the position and can be ranked by test scores. The top four are white and are hired. Now, thanks to a Department of Justice consent decree, the fire department must hire at least one African American from the list and if the highest ranking black scores at 20 in the array he will be hired despite his middling score.

How many white males have actually lost their job to a black? The correct answer is exactly one, the fifth ranking applicant. But how many whites will mistakenly believe that they lost out to an affirmative action candidate? The answer is 14 since this is the number of rejected white candidates between 6 and 19 and, to be honest, all can make a legitimate claim of being passed over to satisfy the diversity bean counters. Further fueling this anger is that each of those fourteen "unfairly" rejected applicants may complain to family and friends and thus tales of the alleged injustice multiply though, in fact, only a single white applicant lost out to a less qualified black.

Affirmative action is thus a white grievance multiplier if this information is public (as is often the case in university admissions and in reverse discrimination litigation). No doubt, every Spring when colleges and professional schools such as law and medicine mail out their acceptance/rejection letters, millions of white males can honestly complain that they would have been admitted to their first choice if they had only been black or Hispanic and judged exclusively by test scores. Of course, if the university admitted all those whites who exceeded the scores of the least qualified black, the university would have to dramatically increase the freshman class, a policy that possibly tantamount to admitting nearly every white applicant.

Second, the greater the pressure to increase "diversity" via adding additional under-qualified blacks and Hispanics and not expanding enrollment, the greater the visible gap between affirmative action admittees and all others. Again, everything is purely statistical. For example, in the pre-affirmative action era only a few blacks attended college, nearly all of whom got there on merit. Whites (and Asians) would likely view them as equals, no small benefit in a society obsessed with expunging "racist stereotypes" regarding black intellectual ability.

Now imagine that due to government pressure the number of blacks admitted substantially grew and, unless overall enrollment correspondently expanded, fewer academically borderline whites would be admitted so college life became an experience where smart whites encountered lots of intellectually challenged blacks.

Ironically, as per claims that campus racial diversity provides wonderful learning experiences, what might a white student with, say, a total SAT reading/math score of 1350 learn from his black dorm mate who scored 1150? (This is the average white/black SAT gap.) I'd guess that the white student would learn that it's good to be a favored minority in terms of obtaining full-ride scholarships, internship programs, and job offers from top firms. Try to imagine a better way of teaching about white privilege.

Third, as the political pressure for yet more diversity increases, coercion will correspondingly become more draconian and thus more odious since it takes extra effort to force employers or universities to dig deeper into a thinner and thinner talent pool. A parallel is a parent faced with a child reluctant to eat vegetables. The pressure may begin softly -- enticing junior to eat a few French fries but it will grow stronger as Mom adds disliked turnips, lima beans and cauliflower. At some point, promoting "good nutrition" may require force feeding.

I have personally observed this escalating pressure to diversify college faculty, pressure that even liberal faculty find objectionable. During the 1970s the emphasis was on relatively painless voluntary measures: recruitment committees would append "applicants from previously under-represented groups are encouraged to apply" on job postings, tweaking teaching responsibilities to attract minority candidates, or Deans providing extra funds for the job slot if a black or Hispanic could be hired. Gradually, however, as these benign tactics failed to make the numbers, the apparatchiki tightened the screws -- Provosts would independently scour the market for minority job candidates or appoint a non-departmental "political commissar" to monitor faculty recruitment committee deliberations to insure that no promising minority candidate was overlooked.

Hiring discussions were soon filled with euphemisms such as "targets" or "goals" since quotas were illegal under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Increasingly, the push for faculty diversity has come to resemble Chinese political indoctrination where even the term "affirmative action" is verboten since it implies unequal ability. At the University of California -- Riverside, for example, all candidates for faculty jobs (including the sciences) must submit a statement describing how they've worked to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in previous positions as graduate students or professors and how they planned to continue to do so once on campus. And guess what? Those who give superior answers to these questions surprisingly turn out to be from historically under-represented groups! Cynthia Larive, Riverside's interim provost, said that avoiding numerical targets "gets people out of thinking about a quota system. We want to hire outstanding faculty members who can help the institution continue to be successful and, most importantly, who can mentor students."

Needless to say, the diversity apparatchiki assume that all liberal white faculty, even those in the hard sciences, are debilitated by implicit bias so they have to be pushed to overcome their doubts about possibly hiring a black physicist from a third-tier school. At Boston College faculty receive special training through the Office of Institutional Diversity to develop strategies to promote diversity and are thus instructed, for example, to avoid "narrow professional networks" (i.e., contacting colleagues at other schools) in seeking out top job candidates. After all, why assume that the next Richard Feynman will have been trained at a MIT or Princeton?

What makes this coerced diversity so hard to swallow is that its purpose rests on a plain-to-see but impossible to express fraud -- the alleged benefits of diversity. Indeed, the elite's obsessive proclamations of this lie far more closely resemble propaganda than celebrating a cliché-like truth. Simply put, if diversity is so wonderful, and in the self-interest of universities and businesses, why must it be imposed forcefully? Surely if it was as beneficial as advertised, there would be no need for disparate impact lawsuits, training to overcome implicit bias and similar measures that resemble mothers punishing junior for not eating his lima beans. Does government and the social justice camp followers really believe that diversity is akin to chocolate or red wine whose consumption hardly needs coercion?

Now for what really fuels the anger over coerced diversity: it is one thing to demand sacrifices

geokat62 , November 5, 2017 at 4:59 am GMT

What makes this coerced diversity so hard to swallow is that its purpose rests on a plain-to-see but impossible to express fraud -- the alleged benefits of diversity. Indeed, the elite's obsessive proclamations of this lie far more closely resemble propaganda than celebrating a cliché-like truth and it is hard to imagine a bigger lie than "Diversity is Our Strength."

Why the use of the nebulous term "elites"? Why not call a spade a spade and admit that "Diversity is Our Strength" is a tagline of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)?

Why not tell your readers that, after working away at it for 100 years, it was the domestic wing of The Lobby that was responsible for getting the non-restrictionist immigration act passed in 1965, which is the biggest reason the US has become such a multicultural society?

This information would have been a useful backdrop to this article.

mr.wiffle , November 5, 2017 at 9:24 am GMT
The real problem with AA isn't the occasional less competitive white applicant losing out to an even lower scoring minority. It's the subjective aspects of AA that cause constant inconvenience, conflict and even ridiculous manipulations to level the playing field. The most recent and ridiculous example being the expansion of gender categories along with custom pronouns.
Stephen Paul Foster , Website November 5, 2017 at 10:58 am GMT
"Racism" is he lynch-pin of this massive shake-down. Proposal: make an operational definition of "racism" and punish anyone who misuses it. Suddenly, the accusations would stop.

See: http://fosterspeak.blogspot.com/2017/07/against-anti-racism-and-hemeneutics-of.html

TonyVodvarka , November 5, 2017 at 12:28 pm GMT
When I became a New York City firefighter in 1962, the entrance exam was a multiple choice test on civics and science. The physical exam was a rigorous challenge that most people would have to train for months before, for instance, to get the top score, one had to lift ninety pounds with one arm and seventy pounds with the other. Both tests were graded and the average of the two determined your place on the list. Nowadays, because of a court order to diversify, the written exam tests are largely questions supposedly probing the psychological makeup of the applicant that one would have to be an idiot not to recognize the response wanted. The physical has been largely degraded so that more women can pass it and it is not graded, one simply has to do the minimum to pass. Recently, a black recruit failed probationary school three times and was given a fourth chance. Make of it what you will.
OilcanFloyd , November 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm GMT
You are making a huge mistake if you limit the effects of affirmative action to elite college hiring and admissions. Affirmative action cuts through every level of society, and I argue that it's far more of an issue at the lower and middle rungs of society, where most Americans work and live. In many companies, this is the level where you will find their black employees, supervisors, and managers. It's not exactly pleasant to be white in such a situation, and your chances of working your way up from the bottom are slim, no matter how competent or willing to work you are. You could also examine how whites are treated in minority majority cities. Reverse discrimination is just the tip of the iceberg.

To gloss over the full scope and scale of affirmative action is to mock the situation of many of the victims of affirmative action. If you really wish to be honest about "white anger," you would look at the racial violence and rapes directed at whites, and ignored or justified, by the elites and media, as well as the completely unwarranted, unwanted, and undemocratic cultural and demographic changes forced upon the nation/whites over the last 50 years.

JackOH , November 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm GMT

@jacques sheete

Good points, js. You put a good brake on some of the arguments made here, including my own. Reality is that an unknown percentage of people who are hired by irregular means, such as crony and patronage practices, including ethnic affinity and family relations, do okay, grow into their jobs, and earn the reasonable respect of their peers, superiors, and subordinates. Likewise, the determination of quality of applicant by ordinary standards of merit and seniority can be a bear.

TG , November 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm GMT
Indeed – but be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

India has a terrible educational system – about half the country is illiterate. But the other half is still bigger than the entire United States, they are desperately poor, and there are tens if not hundreds of millions of children who have been trained from birth only to excel at standardized tests for just the slim change of escaping that overpopulated land. And unlike the much more prosperous Chinese, they speak English and there is no language barrier! All by themselves, Indian nationals could soon fill every academic position in the United States with people who have perfect test scores.

As the barriers between the overpopulated third world and the United States continue to be swept away, it may soon be the children of liberal upper-middle class white Americans who are clamoring for affirmative action – or at least, for less reliance on standardized test scores.

vera , November 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm GMT
@animalogic

I was once one of those women who were hired into and trained for a job that had been reserved for males. I was so proud, and so happy the system was changing. My male colleagues were a mix -- some supported me, some less so. But I think all accepted that changes needed to be made.

That law should have had a sunset built into it, though. To keep it "forever" invites abuse that grows over time.

Joe Hide , November 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm GMT
As always, identifiers of the main murderous, narcissitic, psychopaths making this anti-merit based agenda happen is necessary. They've used the old divide and conquer strategy of group blame for millennia, "It's them whites, or it's them blacks, or Jews, or etc.etc etc.

Cell phone aps which identify these creeps with retinal scanning, pulse rate changes, facial and body language indicators is an easy & cheap development given today's level of technological advancement. Guess who will oppose its inevitable adoption the most?

macilrae , November 5, 2017 at 2:07 pm GMT
@Nepemnr

Two others I can think of are the other firemen who must now suffer him, and the community who feels less secure (I personally avoid black doctors, sorry).

Just so – reminds my of how my mom, presenting at emergency with a partially paralyzed left arm and leg, was told "I don't think this is a stroke" by the African resident – and left to wait it out until the CT confirmation the following day.

It would be instructive to see how some of the hardened advocates of affirmative action would behave if given the black-or-white choice on a critical medical issue.

[Nov 05, 2017] China and the US Rational Planning and Lumpen Capitalism by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Please buy the author books Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire Bankers, Zionists and Militanta and The Politics of Empire The US, Israel and the Middle East both book contain material which the US corporate media will never tell you. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand world economics and current problem with neoliberalism in the USA
Notable quotes:
"... "China is the world leader in payments made by mobile devices", ..."
"... 80% recognize that the Congress is dysfunctional and 86% believe that Washington is dishonest. Never has an empire of such limitless power crumbled and declined with so few accomplishments. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

Lumpen Capitalism refers to an economic system in which the financial and military sector exploits the state treasury and productive economy for the 1% of the population.)

Introduction

US journalists and commentators, politicians and Sinologists spend considerable time and space speculating on the personality of China's President Xi Jinping and his appointments to the leading bodies of the Chinese government, as if these were the most important aspects of the entire 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (October 18-24, 2017) .

(The 19th National Congress was attended by 2,280 delegates representing 89 million members.)

Mired down in gossip, idle speculation and petty denigration of its leaders, the Western press has once again failed to take account of the world-historical changes which are currently taking place in China and throughout the world.

World historical changes, as articulated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, are present in the vision, strategy and program of the Congress. These are based on a rigorous survey of China's past, present and future accomplishments.

The serious purpose, projections and the presence of China's President stand in stark contrast to the chaos, rabble-rousing demagogy and slanders characterizing the multi-billion dollar US Presidential campaign and its shameful aftermath.

The clarity and coherence of a deep strategic thinker like President Xi Jinping contrasts to the improvised, contradictory and incoherent utterances from the US President and Congress. This is not a matter of mere style but of substantive content.

We will proceed in the essay by contrasting the context, content and direction of the two political systems.

China: Strategic Thinking and Positive Outcomes

China, first and foremost, has established well-defined strategic guidelines that emphasize macro-socio-economic and military priorities over the next five, ten and twenty years.

China is committed to reducing pollution in all of its manifestations via the transformation of the economy from heavy industry to a high-tech service economy, moving from quantitative to qualitative indicators.

Secondly, China will increase the relative importance of the domestic market and reduce its dependence on exports. China will increase investments in health, education, public services, pensions and family allowances.

Thirdly, China plans to invest heavily in ten economic priority sectors. These include computerized machinery, robotics, energy saving vehicles, medical devices, aerospace technology, and maritime and rail transport. It targets three billion (US) dollars to upgrade technology in key industries, including electrical vehicles, energy saving technology, numerical control (digitalization) and several other areas. China plans to increase investment in research and development from .95% to 2% of GDP.

Moreover, China has already taken steps to launch the 'petro-Yuan', and end US global financial dominance.

China has emerged as the world's leader in advancing global infrastructure networks with its One Belt One Road (Silk Road) across Eurasia. Chinese-built ports, airports and railroads already connect twenty Chinese cities to Central Asia, West Asia, South-East Asia, Africa and Europe. China has established a multi-lateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (with over 60 member nations) contributing 100 billion dollars for initial financing.

China has combined its revolution in data collection and analysis with central planning to conquer corruption and improve the efficiency in credit allocation. Beijing's digital economy is now at the center of the global digital economy. According to one expert, "China is the world leader in payments made by mobile devices", (11 times the US). One in three of the world's start-ups, valued at more than $1 billion, take place in China ( FT 10/28/17, p. 7). Digital technology has been harnessed to state-owned banks in order to evaluate credit risks and sharply reduce bad debt. This will ensure that financing is creating a new dynamic flexible model combining rational planning with entrepreneurial vigor (ibid).

As a result, the US/EU-controlled World Bank has lost its centrality in global financing. China is already Germany's largest trading partner and is on its way to becoming Russia's leading trade partner and sanctions-busting ally.

China has widened and expanded its trade missions throughout the globe, replacing the role of the US in Iran, Venezuela and Russia and wherever Washington has imposed belligerent sanctions.

While China has modernized its military defense programs and increased military spending, almost all of the focus is on 'home defense' and protection of maritime trade routes. China has not engaged in a single war in decades.

China's system of central planning allows the government to allocate resources to the productive economy and to its high priority sectors. Under President Xi Jinping, China has created an investigation and judicial system leading to the arrest and prosecution of over a million corrupt officials in the public and private sector. High status is no protection from the government's anti-corruption campaign: Over 150 Central Committee members and billionaire plutocrats have fallen. Equally important, China's central control over capital flows (outward and inward) allows for the allocation of financial resources to high tech productive sectors while limiting the flight of capital or its diversion into the speculative economy.

As a result, China's GNP has been growing between 6.5% – 6.9% a year – four times the rate of the EU and three times the US.

As far as demand is concerned, China is the world's biggest market and growing. Income is growing – especially for wage and salaried workers. President Xi Jinping has identified social inequalities as a major area to rectify over the next five years.

The US: Chaos, Retreat and Reaction

In contrast, the United States President and Congress have not fashioned a strategic vision for the country, least of all one linked to concrete proposals and socio-economic priorities, which might benefit the citizenry.

The US has 240,000 active and reserve armed forces stationed in 172 countries. China has less than 5,000 in one country – Djibouti. The US stations 40,000 troops in Japan, 23,000 in South Korea, 36,000 in Germany, 8,000 in the UK and over 1,000 in Turkey. What China has is an equivalent number of highly skilled civilian personnel engaged in productive activity around the world. China's overseas missions and its experts have worked to benefit both global and Chinese economic growth.

The United States' open-ended, multiple military conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Niger, Somalia, Jordan and elsewhere have absorbed and diverted hundreds of billions of dollars away from productive investments in the domestic economy. In only a few cases, military spending has built useful roads and infrastructure, which could be counted a 'dual use', but overwhelmingly US military activities abroad have been brutally destructive, as shown by the deliberate dismemberment of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.

The US lacks the coherence of China's policy making and strategic leadership. While chaos has been inherent in the politics of the US 'free market' financial system, it is especially widespread and dangerous during the Trump regime.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans, united and divided, actively confront President Trump on every issue no matter how important or petty. Trump improvises and alters his policies by the hour or, at most, by the day. The US possesses a party system where one party officially rules in the Administration with two militarist big business wings.

US has been spending over 700 billion dollars a year to pursue seven wars and foment 'regime changes' or coups d'état on four continents and eight regions over the past two decades. This has only caused disinvestment in the domestic economy with deterioration of critical infrastructure, loss of markets, widespread socioeconomic decline and a reduction of spending on research and development for goods and services.

The top 500 US corporations invest overseas, mainly to take advantage of low tax region and sources of cheap labor, while shunning American workers and avoiding US taxes. At the same time, these corporations share US technology and markets with the Chinese.

Today, US capitalism is largely directed by and for financial institutions, which absorb and divert capital from productive investments, generating an unbalanced crisis-prone economy. In contrast, China determines the timing and location of investments as well as bank interest rates, targeting priority investments, especially in advanced high-tech sectors.

Washington has spent billions on costly and unproductive military-centered infrastructure (military bases, naval ports, air stations etc.) in order to buttress stagnant and corrupt allied regimes. As a result, the US has nothing comparable to China's hundred-billion-dollar 'One Belt-One Road' (Silk Road) infrastructure project linking continents and major regional markets and generating millions of productive jobs.

The US has broken global linkages with dynamic growth centers. Washington resorts to self-defecating, mindless chauvinistic rhetoric to impose trade policy, while China promotes global networks via joint ventures. China incorporates international supply linkages by securing high tech in the West and low cost labor in the East.

Big US industrial groups' earnings and rising stock in construction and aerospace are products of their strong ties with China. Caterpillar, United Technologies 3M and US car companies reported double-digit growth on sales to China.

In contrast, the Trump regime has allocated (and spent) billions in military procurement to threaten wars against China's peripheral neighbors and interfere with its maritime commerce.

US Decline and Media Frenzy

The retreat and decline of US economic power has driven the mass media into a frenzy of idiotic ad hominem assaults on China's political leader President Xi Jinping. Among the nose pickers in print, the scribes of the Financial Times take the prize for mindless vitriol. Mercenaries and holy men in Tibet are described as paragons of democracy and 'victims' of a flourishing modernizing Chinese state lacking the 'western values' (sic) of floundering Anglo-American warmongers!

To denigrate China's system of national planning and its consequential efforts to link its high tech economy with improving the standard of living for the population, the FT journalists castigate President Xi Jinping for the following faults:

For not being as dedicated a Communist as Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaopeng For being too 'authoritarian' (or too successful) in his campaign to root out corrupt officials. For setting serious long-term goals while confronting and overcoming economic problems by addressing the 'dangerous' level of debt.

While China has broadened its cultural horizon, the Anglo-Saxon global elite increases possibility of nuclear warfare. China's cultural and economic outreach throughout the world is dismissed by the Financial Times as 'subversive soft power'. Police-state minds and media in the West see China's outreach as a plot or conspiracy. Any serious writer, thinker or policymaker who has studied and praised China's success is dismissed as a dupe or agent of the sly President Xi Jinping. Without substance or reflection, the FT (10/27/17) warns its readers and police officials to be vigilant and avoid being seduced by China's success stories!

China's growing leadership in automobile production is evident in its advance towards dominating the market for electric vehicles. Every major US and EU auto company has ignored the warnings of the Western media ideologues and rushed to form joint ventures with China.

China has an industrial policy. The US has a war policy. China plans to surpass the US and Germany in artificial intelligence, robotics, semi-conductors and electric vehicles by 2025. And it will -- because those are its carefully pronounced scientific and economic priorities.

Shamelessly and insanely, the US press pursues the expanding stories of raging Hollywood rapists like the powerful movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, and the hundreds of victims, while ignoring the world historic news of China's rapid economic advances.

The US business elites are busy pushing their President and the US Congress to lower taxes for the billionaire elite, while 100 million US citizens remain without health care and register decreased life expectancy! Washington seems committed to in State-planned regression.

As US bombs fall on Yemen and the American taxpayers finance the giant Israeli concentration camp once known as 'Palestine', while China builds systems of roads and rail linking the Himalayas and Central Asia with Europe.

While Sherlock Holmes applies the science of observation and deduction, the US media and politicians perfect the art of obfuscation and deception.

In China, scientists and innovators play a central role in producing and increasing goods and services for the burgeoning middle and working class. In the US, the economic elite play the central role in exacerbating inequalities, increasing profits by lowering taxes and transforming the American worker into poorly-paid temp-labor – destined to die prematurely of preventable conditions.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping works in concert with the nation's best technocrats to subordinate the military to civilian goals, President Trump and his Administration subordinate their economic decisions to a military-industrial-financial-Israeli complex. Beijing invests in global networks of scientists, researchers and scholars. The US 'opposition' Democrats and disgruntled Republicans work with the giant corporate media (including the respectable Financial Times ) to fund and fabricate conspiracies and plots under Trump's Presidential bed.

Conclusion

China fires and prosecutes corrupt officials while supporting innovators. Its economy grows through investments, joint ventures and a great capacity to learn from experience and powerful data collection. The US squanders its domestic resources in pursuing multiple wars, financial speculation and rampant Wall Street corruption.

China investigates and punishes its corrupt business and public officials while corruption seems to be the primary criteria for election or appointment to high office in the US. The US media worships its tax-dodging billionaires and thinks it can mesmerize the public with a dazzling display of bluster, incompetence and arrogance.

China directs its planned economy to address domestic priorities. It uses its financial resources to pursue historic global infrastructure programs, which will enhance global partnerships in mutually beneficial projects.

It is no wonder that China is seen as moving toward the future with great advances while the US is seen as a chaotic frightening threat to world peace and its publicists as willing accomplices.

China is not without shortcomings in the spheres of political expression and civil rights. Failure to rectify social inequalities and failure to stop the outflow of billions of dollars of illicit wealth, and the unresolved problems with regime corruption will continue to generate class conflicts.

But the important point to note is the direction China has chosen to take and its capacity and commitment to identify and correct the major problems it faces.

The US has abdicated its responsibilities. It is unwilling or unable to harness its banks to invest in domestic production to expand the domestic market. It is completely unwilling to identify and purge the manifestly incompetent and to incarcerate the grossly corrupt officials and politicians of both parties and the elites.

Today overwhelming majorities of US citizens despise, distrust and reject the political elite. Over 70% think that the inane factional political divisions are at their greatest level in over 50 years and have paralyzed the government.

80% recognize that the Congress is dysfunctional and 86% believe that Washington is dishonest. Never has an empire of such limitless power crumbled and declined with so few accomplishments.

China is a rising economic empire, but it advances through its active engagement in the market of ideas and not through futile wars against successful competitors and adversaries. As the US declines, its publicists degenerate.

The media's ceaseless denigration of China's challenges and its accomplishments is a poor substitute for analysis. The flawed political and policy making structures in the US and its incompetent free-market political leaders lacking any strategic vision crumble in contrast to China's advances.

[Nov 05, 2017] China's Great Leap Forward Western Frogs Croak Dismay

China is a neoliberal country which plays by the rules of neoliberalism. that means tremendous level of corruption within Communist Party. So the levers remains in Washington hands. I think the article is too optimistic. Washington definitely can put same sand into China industrial wheels. Right now they simply concentrate on "regime change" in Russia as the weakest link in Russo-Chinese alliance and leave China alone. China growing class of billionaires now represent a potent fifth column within the country and can be played. Attempt to do this were already evident in Hong Hong failed color revolution. Hong Cong remain is heir lines of US color revolution specialist and intelligence agencies.
Notable quotes:
"... The 'China doomsters' with 'logs in their own eyes' have systematically distorted reality, fabricated whimsical tales and paint vision, which, in truth, reflect their own societies. ..."
"... As each false claim is refuted, the frogs alter their tunes: When predictions of imminent collapse fail to materialize, they add a year or even a decade to their crystal ball. When their warnings of negative national social, economic and structural trends instead move in a positive direction, their nimble fingers re-calibrate the scope and depth of the crisis, citing anecdotal 'revelations' from some village or town or taxi driver conversation. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction:

From their dismal swamps, US academic and financial journal editorialists, the mass media and contemporary 'Asia experts', Western progressive and conservative politicians croak in unison about China's environmental and impending collapse.

They have variably proclaimed (1) China's economy is in decline; (2) the debt is overwhelming; a Chinese real estate bubble is ready to burst; (3) the country is rife with corruption and poisoned with pollution; and (4) Chinese workers are staging paralyzing strikes and protests amid growing repression -- the result of exploitation and sharp class inequality. The financial frogs croak about China as an imminent military threat to the security of the US and its Asian partners. Other frogs leap for that fly in the sky -- arguing that the Chinese now threatens the entire universe!

The 'China doomsters' with 'logs in their own eyes' have systematically distorted reality, fabricated whimsical tales and paint vision, which, in truth, reflect their own societies.

As each false claim is refuted, the frogs alter their tunes: When predictions of imminent collapse fail to materialize, they add a year or even a decade to their crystal ball. When their warnings of negative national social, economic and structural trends instead move in a positive direction, their nimble fingers re-calibrate the scope and depth of the crisis, citing anecdotal 'revelations' from some village or town or taxi driver conversation.

As long-predicted failures fail to materialize, the experts re-hash the data by questioning the reliability of China's official statistics.

Worst of all, Western 'Asia' experts and scholars try 'role reversal': While US bases and ships increasingly encircle China, the Chinese become the aggressors and the bellicose US imperialists whine about their victim-hood.

Cutting through the swamp of these fabrications, this essay aims to outline an alternative and more objective account of China's current socio-economic and political realty.

China: Fiction and Fact

We repeatedly read about China's 'cheap wage' economy and the brutal exploitation of its slaving workers by billionaire oligarchs and corrupt political officials. In fact, the average wage in China's manufacturing sector has tripled during this decade. China's labor force receives wages which exceed those of Latin America countries, with one dubious exception. Chinese manufacturing wages now approach those of the downwardly mobile countries in the EU. Meanwhile, the neo-liberal regimes, under EU and US pressure, have halved wages in Greece, and significantly reduced incomes in Brazil, Mexico and Portugal. In China, workers wages now surpass Argentina, Colombia and Thailand. While not high by US-EU standards, China's 2015 wages stood at $3.60 per hour -- improving the living standards of 1.4 billion workers. During the time that China tripled its workers 'wages, the wages of Indian workers stagnate at $0.70 per hour and South African wages fell from $4.30 to $3.60 per hour.

This spectacular increase in Chinese worker's wages are largely attributed to skyrocketing productivity, resulting from steady improvements in worker health, education and technical training, as well as sustained organized worker pressure and class struggle. President Xi Jinping's successful campaign for remove and arrest of hundreds of thousands of corrupt and exploitative officials and factory bosses has boosted worker power. Chinese workers are closing the gap with the US minimum wage. At the current rate of growth, the gap, which had narrowed from one tenth to one half the US wage in ten years, will disappear in the near future.

China is no longer merely a low-wage, unskilled, labor intensive, assembly plant and export-oriented economy. Today twenty thousand technical schools graduate millions of skilled workers. High tech factories are incorporating robotics on a massive scale to replace unskilled workers. The service sector is increasing to meet the domestic consumer market. Faced with growing US political and military hostility, China has diversified its export market, turning from the US to Russia, the EU, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Despite these impressive objective advances, the chorus of 'crooked croakers' continue to churn out annual predictions of China's economic decline and decay. Their analyses are not altered by China's 6.7% GNP growth in 2016; they jump on the 2017 forecast of 'decline' to 6.6% as proof of its looming collapse! Not be dissuaded by reality, the chorus of 'Wall Street croakers' wildly celebrate when the US announces a GNP increase from 1% to 1.5%!

While China has acknowledged its serious environmental problems, it is a leader in committing billions of dollars (2% of GNP) to reduce greenhouse gases -- closing factories and mines. Their efforts far exceed those of the US and EU.

China, like the rest of Asia, as well as the US, needs to vastly increase investments in rebuilding its decaying or non-existent infrastructure. The Chinese government is alone among nations in keeping up with and even exceeding its growing transportation needs -- spending $800 billion a year on high speed railroads, rail lines, sea- ports, airports subways and bridges.

While the US has rejected multi-national trade and investment treaties with eleven Pacific countries, China has promoted and financed global trade and investment treaties with more than fifty Asia-Pacific (minus Japan and the US), as well as African and European states.

China's leadership under President Xi Jinping has launched an effective large-scale anti-corruption campaign leading to the arrest or ouster of over 200,000 business and public officials, including billionaires, and top politburo and Central Committee members. As a result of this national campaign, purchases of luxury items have significantly declined. The practice of using public funds for elaborate 12 course dinners and the ritual of gift giving and taking are on the wane.

Meanwhile, despite the political campaigns to 'drain the swamp' and successful populist referenda, nothing remotely resembling China's anticorruption campaign have taken root in the US and the UK despite daily reports of swindles and fraud involving the hundred leading investment banks in the Anglo-American world. China's anti- corruption campaign may have succeeded in reducing inequalities. It clearly has earned the overwhelming support of the Chinese workers and farmers.

Journalists and academics, who like to parrot the Anglo-American and NATO Generals, warn that China's military program poses a direct threat to the security of the US, Asia and indeed the rest of world.

Historical amnesia infects these most deep diving frogs. Forgotten is how the post WW2 US invaded and destroyed Korea and Indo-China (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) killing over nine million inhabitants, both civilian and defenders. The US invaded, colonized and neo-colonized the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, killing up to one million inhabitants. It continues to build and expands its network of military bases encircling China, It recently moved powerful, nuclear armed THADD missiles to the North Korean border, capable of attacking Chinese and even Russian cities. The US is the worlds' largest arms exporter, surpassing the collective production and sale of the next five leading merchants of death.

In contrast, China has not unilaterally attacked, invaded or occupied anyone in hundreds of years. It does not place nuclear missiles on the US coast or borders. In fact, it does not have a single overseas military base. Its own military bases, in the South China Sea, are established to protect its vital maritime routes from pirates and the increasingly provocative US naval armada. China's military budget, scheduled to increase by 7% in 2017, is still less than one-fourth of the US budget.

For its part, the US promotes aggressive military alliances, points radar and satellite guided missiles at China, Iran and Russia, and threatens to obliterate North Korea. China's military program has been and continues to be defensive. Its increase is based on its response to US provocation. China's foreign imperial thrust is based on a global market strategy while Washington continues to pursue a militarist imperial strategy, designed to impose global domination by force.

Conclusion

The frogs of the Western intelligentsia have crocked loud and long. They strut and pose as the world's leading fly catchers -- but producing nothing credible in terms of objective analyses.

China has serious social, economic and structural problems, but they are systematically confronting them. The Chinese are committed to improving their society, economy and political system on their own terms. They seek to solve immensely challenging problems, while refusing to sacrifice their national sovereignty and the welfare of their people.

In confronting China as a world capitalist competitor, the US official policy is to surround China with military bases and threaten to disrupt its economy. As part of this strategy, Western media and so-called 'experts' magnify China's problems and minimize their own.

Unlike China, the US is wallowing at less than 2% annual growth. Wages stagnate for decades; real wages and living standards decline. The costs of education and health care skyrocket, while the quality of these vital services decline dramatically. Costs are growing, un-employment is growing and worker suicide and mortality is growing. It is absolutely vital that the West acknowledge China's impressive advances in order to learn, borrow and foster a similar pattern of positive growth and equity. Co-operation between China and the US is essential for promoting peace and justice in Asia.

Unfortunately, the previous US President Obama and the current President Trump have chosen the path of military confrontation and aggression. The two terms of Obama's administration present a record of failing wars, financial crises, burgeoning prisons and declining domestic living standards. But for all their noise, these frogs, croaking in unison, will not change the real world.

WorkingClass , March 24, 2017 at 6:07 pm GMT

China is ascendant. The Anglo/Zio Empire is in steep decline. The frogs bark. The caravan moves on.
Robert Magill , March 24, 2017 at 7:15 pm GMT
There is about as much Communism in the Peoples Communist Party of China as there is Democracy in the US Democratic Party. Therein lies the problem. Old words and slogans are used to obfuscate power plays by willful participants and to pretend the US is still vital in the world. Empire stops at the bottom line which was broached in about 1986 when we became a Debtor Nation. When China tires of lending us the money to build bases to harass them, it all ends. Our troops will have to find their own way home to put down all the incredible unrest here, then join the bread lines.

http://robertmagill.wordpress.com

Gross Terry , March 24, 2017 at 7:44 pm GMT

In contrast, China has not unilaterally attacked, invaded or occupied anyone in hundreds of years. It does not place nuclear missiles on the US coast or borders. In fact, it does not have a single overseas military base. Its own military bases, in the South China Sea, are established to protect its vital maritime routes from pirates and the increasingly provocative US naval armada. China's military budget, scheduled to increase by 7% in 2017, is still less than one-fourth of the US budget.

lol whats the sino-Vietnamese war?

Si1ver1ock , March 25, 2017 at 12:23 am GMT
One solution to China's "ghost cities" is to put a university there. China is also leading the way on LFTR reactors. So you combine the two with a major college or university that has a LFTR based industry like an advanced ceramics or solar cells or fuels manufacturing facility and you have recipe for growth.

Modular LFTR reactors will allow China to replace coal burning with nuclear reactors.

Astuteobservor II , March 25, 2017 at 12:52 am GMT

It recently moved powerful, nuclear armed THADD missiles to the North Korean border, capable of attacking Chinese and even Russian cities.

isn't this wrong? isn't THAAD a missile defense system? reason china is pissed off about it is because it can scan 2000km into china.

Astuteobservor II , March 25, 2017 at 12:55 am GMT
@Si1ver1ock

The ghost cities is mostly propaganda. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/world/asia/chinas-great-uprooting-moving-250-million-into-cities.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 250 million people is going to need alot of "ghost cities"

DB Cooper , March 25, 2017 at 4:02 am GMT
@Gross Terry

The 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war occurred during the cold war. From the beginning China made it clear that the war will be short and it is meant to punish Vietnam. The war has several objectives. First it is to demonstrate the then Soviet Union's impotency. Soviet Union and Vietnam signed a mutual defense agreement several months before the war. Soviet Union did nothing when the war happened. Second the war is meant to put pressure on Vietnam to withdrew from Cambodia. Third it is a reaction to Vietnam's belligerence border aggression. Before the war Vietnam constantly lobbed grenade across the border into China. After the war peace and tranquility at the border restored.

After China made its point, China swiftly withdrew its troops back to its border. China and Vietnam has no land border disputes but China and Vietnam has maritime boundary disputes. Vietnam is the most aggressive of all the parties in the South China Sea disputes by a wide margin.

China's Great Leap Forward: Western Frogs Croak Dismay • Zhi Chinese , March 25, 2017 at 6:39 am GMT
[ ] by /u/Hbd-investor [link] [comments] Source: Reddit Permalink: China's Great Leap Forward: Western Frogs Croak [ ]
Anonymous , Disclaimer March 25, 2017 at 6:50 am GMT
@Astuteobservor II

It is an offensive system in the sense that it will allow first strike capability without fear or with less fear of being hit back.

Anonymous , Disclaimer March 25, 2017 at 6:54 am GMT
@Gross Terry

Yeah, I guess that is a legit war. But to compare that to what America does is highly suspect.

Lots of countries have skirmishes along their border, but only America has encircled the world in bases and is always at war.

That is the gist of heat he was saying.

Renoman , March 25, 2017 at 2:24 pm GMT
I buy a lot of stuff from China, mostly aliexpress.com and I have noticed that since the American election the delivery times on most items have doubled or worse. I live in Canada, how did he do that? I don't see the bargains that I did previously as well. All very spooky.
anonymous , Disclaimer March 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm GMT
"Vietnam is the most aggressive of all the parties in the South China Sea disputes by a wide margin."

Curious about this. How do you draw that conclusion.

Separately, while I agree with the tone of the article and general direction, a few comments:

- China has an overseas military base under construction in Djibouti. Brigade strength force will be deployed there.
- China's national (not provincial or locally published GDP numbers) GDP growth figures are approximately correct. However, currently there is lots of state directed lending to keep the growth up. The credit bubble might not pop but down the line dealing with so many bad loans will prevent fresh loans and that will slow down growth.
- While the economy is a miracle for blue collar workers, for non-workers in the most hard up parts of the country, social conditions are horrendous for a middle income country with lots of central revenue and administrative ability. In the western hills of Guangxi 10% of the kids are malnourished.
- China hasn't been expansionist in 250 years (not since Qing Empire into present day southwest Xinjaing in the 1760s) however there are still a few black marks: Sino-Vietnamese War, supporting nuclear proliferation in Pakistan, not doing enough to control North Korea (this is the stupidest blunder of all and leaves Beijing vulnerable to nuclear attack one day if the Kim family is about to go), and threatening war publicly against Philippines at one point during the South China Sea crisis of the past several years (all forms of pressure are permitted but its uncivilized to outright threaten war).

DB Cooper , March 26, 2017 at 1:12 am GMT
@anonymous

"Vietnam is the most aggressive of all the parties in the South China Sea disputes by a wide margin."
Curious about this. How do you draw that conclusion.

I draw my conclusion on this article and here is the excerpt:

"In 1996, Vietnam occupied 24 features in the Spratly Islands (source). At that time, according to the same source, China occupied nine. By 2015, according to the United States government, Vietnam occupied 48 features, and China occupied eight.
On May 13, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, David Shear, said this to the Senate Foreign relations Committee: "Vietnam has 48 outposts; the Philippines, 8; China, 8; Malaysia, 5, and Taiwan, 1."
In the past 20 years, according to the United States, China has not physically occupied additional features. By contrast, Vietnam has doubled its holdings, and much of that activity has occurred recently. The Vietnamese occupations appear to have increased from 30 to 48 in the last six years.

Shear also pointed out that as of his speech, China did not have an airfield as other claimants did. He said:
All of these same claimants have also engaged in construction activity of differing scope and degree. The types of outpost upgrades vary across claimants but broadly are comprised of land reclamation, building construction and extension, and defense emplacements. Between 2009 and 2014, Vietnam was the most active claimant in terms of both outpost upgrades and land reclamation, reclaiming approximately 60 acres. All territorial claimants, with the exception of China and Brunei, have also already built airstrips of varying sizes and functionality on disputed features in the Spratlys."

Here is the source.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/06/who-is-the-biggest-aggressor-in-the-south-china-sea/

RobinG , March 27, 2017 at 4:07 am GMT
@Fran Macadam

How droll. Your characteristic pessimism works better as dark humor.

Alfa158 , March 27, 2017 at 5:23 am GMT
@Robert Magill

Seems like they are operating as a National Socialist system now. The means of production are owned by corporations but a powerful government keeps close control and directs business activities to the benefit of the nation. The owners are rewarded with wealth and the government advances their mutual interests for national progress.
They also place a heavy emphasis on cultural and racial pride.
Downside of course is that the types of civil liberties we enjoy are constricted and getting out of line gets you smacked real good, sometimes supposedly up to the point of bullet to the back of your head, and your family gets billed for the bullet.
A tough system to compete against unless the powers-that-be lacking effective external checks and balance do something stupid like invade Russia or bomb Pearl Harbor.

Backwoods Bob , March 27, 2017 at 7:17 am GMT
Well done.

The USA is character disordered. Demonize, belittle, bellicosity, and outright war. All we need is liberty and enforcement of property rights and we'd be leaving the Chinese and everyone else in the dust.

With the strangulation of our economy at home through the unconstitutional regulatory/administrative law colossus, instead of outgrowing our competitors we wish to shoot them down.

The term "Contain China" aptly demonstrates our stupidity insofar as forward thinking is concerned. You don't improve your lot by dedicating yourself to holding others down. It doesn't work in athletics, education, in relationships, or in free enterprise.

So it is odd to see nary a whit of protest to the idea when it should be ridiculed on the face of it.

I do of course see the same worn-out playbook of demonize, demonize, demonize being used by the Washington establishment. We have to "do something" about China. Not do something to our appalling education performance, savings and capital formation, strangulatory laws, etc.

I married into a Filipino family and have a house there. The Filipinos were fond of saying that the USA wanted to fight to the last Filipino over the South China Sea. They've been smart enough to work with the Chinese, who are investing billions of dollars there developing hydrocarbons and ports for transhipment like Singapore instead of launching a foolhardy war with China.

When I encounter people screeching about Chinese aggression against the poor little Filipinos or fiction about threats to international shipping it really strikes me how out of their minds people can be. We want to see our family working on ships there, not dying in a foolhardy confrontation. The Chinese have a long history of trading and running businesses in the Philippines. It is only our invincible ignorance, arrogance, and narcissism that results in a failure to see why the Philippines has turned towards China.

I go through Shanghai Pudong a lot and over the years it has been obvious how the people have become wealthier, how the infrastructure has stepped up to first world standards, and how smart/snappy the people are. We are really underestimating the Chinese and making a lot of self-serving rationalizations for their success.

We need to fix our own failings instead of trying to cut others down. China is already larger in GDP and can easily be twice ours before 2030 with relative growth rates the way they are.

Ram , March 27, 2017 at 8:52 am GMT
@Gross Terry

It succeeded in ending the killing machine in Laos.

Sergey Krieger , March 27, 2017 at 8:58 am GMT
@DB Cooper

China showed own impotence and lack of serious military capabilities in that war. Vietnamese forces were not even participating while local militia was kicking Chinese military back side. They obviously had to withdraw telling they gave a lesson. It is typical Chinese way to cut losses and avoid total loss of face aka du lian.

Ram , March 27, 2017 at 8:59 am GMT
@anonymous

Djibouti already "hosts" a US military base used against Yemen today.

Sergey Krieger , March 27, 2017 at 9:05 am GMT
It looks like lots of people think that country with 1.4 billion population can prosper long term and keep rising living standards of her population in the future on limited planet. They so far have managed to achieve improvements but at a cost of long term sustainability. Their ecological troubles are of huge magnitude and so are debt and demographic issues. We are already at each other throats fighting for diminishing resources, so it is highly doubtful Chinese or Indian projects can last.
Kimppis , March 27, 2017 at 9:26 am GMT
To be fair, comparing nominal military budgets can be very misleading and just dumb.

Sure, they are an easy way to rank different different militaries, but when you compare Western vs. Emerging powers and their military budgets, or countries with their large-scale MICs (which to be fair, there are only a few USA, Russia, China, France to some extent, India in the future, but certainly not today) vs. weapons exporters, the results are largely BS. Price levels are so different. Not to mention that the maintenance costs in the US military are absolutely massive.

Currently Russia is a great example. The devaluation is basically irrelevant for the Russian military. It should be obvious that Saudi Arabian military doesn't have a higher budget. The US certainly doesn't have 10-15 times more resources at its disposal. Russia spends rubles, it doesn't import weapons. So in reality the difference vs. the US something like 4x at most.

China is the same. The yuan has devalued vs. the dollar, so in dollar terms their growth has stagnated, which doesn't have anything to do with reality.

So overall, in comparable terms, let's say that the US spends $600 billion. In that case:
Russia spends atleast 120-150 billion
China spends atleast 250 billion, probably closer to 300 billion
And whereas the US capabilities are spread all around the world, Russia and China are focused on their backyards.

So in reality China's "real" military spending is atleast something like 40% of the US level already, not less than 1/4,.

The Alarmist , March 27, 2017 at 10:41 am GMT
The Sovs or the Chicoms would have sent Petras to the gulag ages ago. In the enlightened West, we merely consign him to places like UR, thus marginalising him and making it increasingly difficult to eke out a living. See Fred Reed's piece on columnists and wonder why more of them don't end up sucking on the business end of a firearm when they fail to toe the party line.
Brabantian , Website March 27, 2017 at 10:50 am GMT
Hard to get balance on this topic because it is human nature to favour false champions & heroes & rivals fake 'opposition' Don't like USA-Nato? Why then, plenty of fanboys to offer you Russia, China, Iran etc James Petras as above, André Vltchek, Andrei 'The Saker' Raevsky, Dick Cheney's hoaxer friend 'Edward Snowden', Netanyahu's hoaxer friend Julian Assange etc all selling 'opposition hero' tickets

The West has lots of stupid anti-China rubbish, sure but let's recall the Chinese official who said they learned how to do fake statistics & propaganda from Yank Americans The China reality is as follows:

China was the prime beneficiary of the global credit bubble 1990s-2000s, they will crash along with the rest of the world when all blows up, but crash worse because bad China debt is so huge think USA 1929, it won't stop China's long-term rise, but they will have a horrible decade & maybe ChiComs will lose power in the upheaval

China is a huge US-style bully, ask ASEAN people privately, or other Asians but as seen with the USA, other countries feel they must kiss up to the bully whilst e.g., Vietnam has been a bully to Cambodia on smaller scale

China, Russia, Iran do some things right, principally working to see that middle classes rise & expand & most people are better off economically, for as long as they were able to do this, Turkey's Erdogan too, it is a magic formula, like Hitler's 1930s Germany economic success

But all of these US 'rivals' have skeletons in the closet, hundreds of slow-torture hangings & killing women by stones annually in Iran, China's thousands of executions & ethnic repression & sea-lane bullying, Russia's past killing of perhaps 100,000 Muslims just to keep Chechnya-Dagestan oil & gas income

But pundits need someone to love & admire & promote the fake 'hero' the fake 'opposition' in the West the mafia gangsterism we know best is the US-Nato kind, so we go gaga over fake 'dissident' or foreign 'heroes' served up to us There are 'good things' in the West despite the bullying mass-killing horrors ditto with China Russia etc,, & people ignore the bad when they hero-worship, either East or West

The fake 'hero opposition' is the most successful of all oligarch memes It's plain as day, for example, that Dick Cheney's little friend, anti-9-11-truth, nothing-really-new 'Edward Snowden' is a fraud along with Rothschild employee & ex-gay-p-rnographer Glenn Greenwald Snowden maybe already having helped identify, silence, kill real dissidents duped into contacting Greenwald or his NY Times or UK Guardian pumpers yet most still eagerly hold on to fake 'opposition hero' themes, China or Russia, or Assange or 'Snowden' -

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/09/21/russia-govt-report-snowden-greenwald-are-cia-frauds/

Randal , March 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm GMT
@Anonymous

Yes that's true, but Astuteobservor is also correct that the paragraph as written is inaccurate and misleading. It should be amended, imo, as it's a blot on an otherwise very good and timely piece. It's an anti-missile system, not one that can attack cities, and it's kinetic not nuclear armed.

Ilyana_Rozumova , March 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm GMT
I love prof. Petraus. But wages itself do not reflect reality. (Growth of the wages maybe)
Wages must be accompanied by price of bread and price of rent.
Volume of production allows larger engineering and research and development sections.
That is the most significant factor in the competition in the world.
Joe Wong , March 27, 2017 at 12:57 pm GMT
@Gross Terry

After the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese claimed they were the 3rd strongest nation in the world based on the the amount of military hardware left behind by the US, and the Vietnamese started to invade China to reclaim their "entitled land, " and conqure Laos and Cambodia to build their Great Indo-China Federation. The Sino-Vietnam war was the war Chinese repelled Vietnamese invadors just like war in 1962, China repelled Indian invadors in Tibet.

jacques sheete , March 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm GMT
@Alfa158

Downside of course is that the types of civil liberties we enjoy are constricted and getting out of line gets you smacked real good

Where do people get the romantic notion that we enjoy civil liberties?

Anyone who reads of Lincoln's, Wilson's, FDR's and GWB's ( to name a few) wholesale dismissal of civil liberties could write a book on the subject.

I'd like to know how we can possibly have much by way of said liberties in a centralized, bureaucratized, militarized, police state effectively owned and ruled by vicious oligarchs.

Our loss of civil liberties began long ago.

"But while I beheld with pleasure the dawn of liberty rising in Europe, I saw with regret the lustre of it fading in America

But a faction, acting in disguise, was rising in America; they had lost sight of first principles. They were beginning to contemplate government as a profitable monopoly, and the people as hereditary property ."

THOMAS PAINE TO THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES,
And particularly to the Leaders of the Federal Faction.
LETTER I, Nov 15,1802

"The enlightened part of Europe have given us the greatest credit for inventing the instrument of security for the rights of the people and have been not a little surprised to see us so soon give it up."

Thomas Jefferson letter to Francis Hopkinson of March 13, 1789

Men haven't got the freedom today that they had when the Constitution was