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Financial skeptic

Notes on "neoliberalism enforced" cruise to Frugality Island for 401K Lemmings

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links Peak cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Secular Stagnation under Neoliberalism Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks: The efficient m hypothesis Casino Capitalism
Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime Neoliberal Attacks on Social Security Unemployment Inflation vs. Deflation Coming Bond Squeeze Notes on 401K plans Vanguard
401K Investing Webliography Retirement scams Stock Market as a Ponzy scheme Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability Neoclassical Pseudo Theories The Great Stagnation Investing in Vanguard Mutual Funds and ETFs
OIL ETNs Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump Notes on 100-your age investment strategy behavior in rigged markets Chasing a trade The Possibility Of No Mean Reversion Junk Bonds For 401K Investors Tax policies
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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[Sep 19, 2017] Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world by Stephen Metcalf

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The word ["neoliberalism"] has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human. ..."
"... Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over "neoliberalism": they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism ..."
"... The paper gently called out a "neoliberal agenda" for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality. ..."
"... In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market. For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left's traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality. ..."
"... Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market ..."
"... Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But "neoliberalism" indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals. ..."
"... In short, "neoliberalism" is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity. ..."
"... No sooner had neoliberalism been certified as real, and no sooner had it made clear the universal hypocrisy of the market, than the populists and authoritarians came to power ..."
"... Against the forces of global integration, national identity is being reasserted, and in the crudest possible terms. What could the militant parochialism of Brexit Britain and Trumpist America have to do with neoliberal rationality? ..."
"... It isn't only that the free market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Brexit and Trump. There was, from the beginning, an inevitable relationship between the utopian ideal of the free market and the dystopian present in which we find ourselves; ..."
"... That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. ..."
"... This last is what makes neoliberalism "neo". It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as "classical liberalism". In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to "leave us alone" – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis. ..."
"... Hayek had only his idea to console him; an idea so grand it would one day dissolve the ground beneath the feet of Keynes and every other intellectual. Left to its own devices, the price system functions as a kind of mind. And not just any mind, but an omniscient one: the market computes what individuals cannot grasp. Reaching out to him as an intellectual comrade-in-arms, the American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote to Hayek, saying: "No human mind has ever understood the whole scheme of a society At best a mind can understand its own version of the scheme, something much thinner, which bears to reality some such relation as a silhouette to a man." ..."
"... The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts. ..."
"... According to the logic of Hayek's Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market ..."
"... ociety reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems. ..."
"... What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics ..."
Aug 18, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

The word ["neoliberalism"] has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human.

Last summer, researchers at the International Monetary Fund settled a long and bitter debate over "neoliberalism": they admitted it exists. Three senior economists at the IMF, an organisation not known for its incaution, published a paper questioning the benefits of neoliberalism . In so doing, they helped put to rest the idea that the word is nothing more than a political slur, or a term without any analytic power. The paper gently called out a "neoliberal agenda" for pushing deregulation on economies around the world, for forcing open national markets to trade and capital, and for demanding that governments shrink themselves via austerity or privatisation. The authors cited statistical evidence for the spread of neoliberal policies since 1980, and their correlation with anaemic growth, boom-and-bust cycles and inequality.

Neoliberalism is an old term, dating back to the 1930s, but it has been revived as a way of describing our current politics – or more precisely, the range of thought allowed by our politics . In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market. For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left's traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality.

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world – podcast

Over the past few years, as debates have turned uglier, the word has become a rhetorical weapon, a way for anyone left of centre to incriminate those even an inch to their right. (No wonder centrists say it's a meaningless insult: they're the ones most meaningfully insulted by it.) But "neoliberalism" is more than a gratifyingly righteous jibe. It is also, in its way, a pair of eyeglasses.

Peer through the lens of neoliberalism and you see more clearly how the political thinkers most admired by Thatcher and Reagan helped shape the ideal of society as a kind of universal market (and not, for example, a polis, a civil sphere or a kind of family) and of human beings as profit-and-loss calculators (and not bearers of grace, or of inalienable rights and duties). Of course the goal was to weaken the welfare state and any commitment to full employment, and – always – to cut taxes and deregulate. But "neoliberalism" indicates something more than a standard rightwing wish list. It was a way of reordering social reality, and of rethinking our status as individuals.

Still peering through the lens, you see how, no less than the welfare state, the free market is a human invention. You see how pervasively we are now urged to think of ourselves as proprietors of our own talents and initiative, how glibly we are told to compete and adapt. You see the extent to which a language formerly confined to chalkboard simplifications describing commodity markets (competition, perfect information, rational behaviour) has been applied to all of society, until it has invaded the grit of our personal lives, and how the attitude of the salesman has become enmeshed in all modes of self-expression.

In short, "neoliberalism" is not simply a name for pro-market policies, or for the compromises with finance capitalism made by failing social democratic parties. It is a name for a premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: that competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity.

No sooner had neoliberalism been certified as real, and no sooner had it made clear the universal hypocrisy of the market, than the populists and authoritarians came to power. In the US, Hillary Clinton, the neoliberal arch-villain, lost – and to a man who knew just enough to pretend he hated free trade . So are the eyeglasses now useless? Can they do anything to help us understand what is broken about British and American politics? Against the forces of global integration, national identity is being reasserted, and in the crudest possible terms. What could the militant parochialism of Brexit Britain and Trumpist America have to do with neoliberal rationality? What possible connection is there between the president – a freewheeling boob – and the bloodless paragon of efficiency known as the free market?

It isn't only that the free market produces a tiny cadre of winners and an enormous army of losers – and the losers, looking for revenge, have turned to Brexit and Trump. There was, from the beginning, an inevitable relationship between the utopian ideal of the free market and the dystopian present in which we find ourselves; between the market as unique discloser of value and guardian of liberty, and our current descent into post-truth and illiberalism.

Moving the stale debate about neoliberalism forward begins, I think, with taking seriously the measure of its cumulative effect on all of us, regardless of affiliation. And this requires returning to its origins, which have nothing to do with Bill or Hillary Clinton. There once was a group of people who did call themselves neoliberals, and did so proudly, and their ambition was a total revolution in thought. The most prominent among them, Friedrich Hayek, did not think he was staking out a position on the political spectrum, or making excuses for the fatuous rich, or tinkering along the edges of microeconomics.

He thought he was solving the problem of modernity: the problem of objective knowledge. For Hayek, the market didn't just facilitate trade in goods and services; it revealed truth. How did his ambition collapse into its opposite – the mind-bending possibility that, thanks to our thoughtless veneration of the free market, truth might be driven from public life altogether?


When the idea occurred to Friedrich Hayek in 1936, he knew, with the conviction of a "sudden illumination", that he had struck upon something new. "How can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds," he wrote, "bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess?"

This was not a technical point about interest rates or deflationary slumps. This was not a reactionary polemic against collectivism or the welfare state. This was a way of birthing a new world. To his mounting excitement, Hayek understood that the market could be thought of as a kind of mind.

Adam Smith's "invisible hand" had already given us the modern conception of the market: as an autonomous sphere of human activity and therefore, potentially, a valid object of scientific knowledge. But Smith was, until the end of his life, an 18th-century moralist. He thought the market could be justified only in light of individual virtue, and he was anxious that a society governed by nothing but transactional self-interest was no society at all. Neoliberalism is Adam Smith without the anxiety.

That Hayek is considered the grandfather of neoliberalism – a style of thought that reduces everything to economics – is a little ironic given that he was such a mediocre economist. He was just a young, obscure Viennese technocrat when he was recruited to the London School of Economics to compete with, or possibly even dim, the rising star of John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge.

The plan backfired, and Hayek lost out to Keynes in a rout. Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, was greeted as a masterpiece. It dominated the public discussion, especially among young English economists in training, for whom the brilliant, dashing, socially connected Keynes was a beau idéal . By the end of the second world war, many prominent free-marketers had come around to Keynes's way of thinking, conceding that government might play a role in managing a modern economy. The initial excitement over Hayek had dissipated. His peculiar notion that doing nothing could cure an economic depression had been discredited in theory and practice. He later admitted that he wished his work criticising Keynes would simply be forgotten.

... Hayek built into neoliberalism the assumption that the market provides all necessary protection against the one real political danger: totalitarianism. To prevent this, the state need only keep the market free.

This last is what makes neoliberalism "neo". It is a crucial modification of the older belief in a free market and a minimal state, known as "classical liberalism". In classical liberalism, merchants simply asked the state to "leave us alone" – to laissez-nous faire. Neoliberalism recognised that the state must be active in the organisation of a market economy. The conditions allowing for a free market must be won politically, and the state must be re-engineered to support the free market on an ongoing basis.

That isn't all: every aspect of democratic politics, from the choices of voters to the decisions of politicians, must be submitted to a purely economic analysis. The lawmaker is obliged to leave well enough alone – to not distort the natural actions of the marketplace – and so, ideally, the state provides a fixed, neutral, universal legal framework within which market forces operate spontaneously. The conscious direction of government is never preferable to the "automatic mechanism of adjustment" – ie the price system, which is not only efficient but maximises liberty, or the opportunity for men and women to make free choices about their own lives.

As Keynes jetted between London and Washington, creating the postwar order, Hayek sat pouting in Cambridge. He had been sent there during the wartime evacuations; and he complained that he was surrounded by "foreigners" and "no lack of orientals of all kinds" and "Europeans of practically all nationalities, but very few of real intelligence".

Stuck in England, without influence or respect, Hayek had only his idea to console him; an idea so grand it would one day dissolve the ground beneath the feet of Keynes and every other intellectual. Left to its own devices, the price system functions as a kind of mind. And not just any mind, but an omniscient one: the market computes what individuals cannot grasp. Reaching out to him as an intellectual comrade-in-arms, the American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote to Hayek, saying: "No human mind has ever understood the whole scheme of a society At best a mind can understand its own version of the scheme, something much thinner, which bears to reality some such relation as a silhouette to a man."

It is a grand epistemological claim – that the market is a way of knowing, one that radically exceeds the capacity of any individual mind. Such a market is less a human contrivance, to be manipulated like any other, than a force to be studied and placated. Economics ceases to be a technique – as Keynes believed it to be – for achieving desirable social ends, such as growth or stable money. The only social end is the maintenance of the market itself. In its omniscience, the market constitutes the only legitimate form of knowledge, next to which all other modes of reflection are partial, in both senses of the word: they comprehend only a fragment of a whole and they plead on behalf of a special interest. Individually, our values are personal ones, or mere opinions; collectively, the market converts them into prices, or objective facts.

... ... ...

The more Hayek's idea expands, the more reactionary it gets, the more it hides behind its pretence of scientific neutrality – and the more it allows economics to link up with the major intellectual trend of the west since the 17th century. The rise of modern science generated a problem: if the world is universally obedient to natural laws, what does it mean to be human? Is a human being simply an object in the world, like any other? There appears to be no way to assimilate the subjective, interior human experience into nature as science conceives it – as something objective whose rules we discover by observation.

... ... ...

More than anyone, even Hayek himself, it was the great postwar Chicago economist Milton Friedman who helped convert governments and politicians to the power of Hayek's Big Idea. But first he broke with two centuries of precedent and declared that economics is "in principle independent of any particular ethical position or normative judgments" and is "an 'objective' science, in precisely the same sense as any of the physical sciences". Values of the old, mental, normative kind were defective, they were "differences about which men can ultimately only fight". There is the market, in other words, and there is relativism.

Markets may be human facsimiles of natural systems, and like the universe itself, they may be authorless and valueless. But the application of Hayek's Big Idea to every aspect of our lives negates what is most distinctive about us. That is, it assigns what is most human about human beings – our minds and our volition – to algorithms and markets, leaving us to mimic, zombie-like, the shrunken idealisations of economic models. Supersizing Hayek's idea and radically upgrading the price system into a kind of social omniscience means radically downgrading the importance of our individual capacity to reason – our ability to provide and evaluate justifications for our actions and beliefs.

As a result, the public sphere – the space where we offer up reasons, and contest the reasons of others – ceases to be a space for deliberation, and becomes a market in clicks, likes and retweets. The internet is personal preference magnified by algorithm; a pseudo-public space that echoes the voice already inside our head. Rather than a space of debate in which we make our way, as a society, toward consensus, now there is a mutual-affirmation apparatus banally referred to as a "marketplace of ideas". What looks like something public and lucid is only an extension of our own pre-existing opinions, prejudices and beliefs, while the authority of institutions and experts has been displaced by the aggregative logic of big data. When we access the world through a search engine, its results are ranked, as the founder of Google puts it, "recursively" – by an infinity of individual users functioning as a market, continuously and in real time.

... ... ...

According to the logic of Hayek's Big Idea, these expressions of human subjectivity are meaningless without ratification by the market – as Friedman said, they are nothing but relativism, each as good as any other. When the only objective truth is determined by the market, all other values have the status of mere opinions; everything else is relativist hot air. But Friedman's "relativism" is a charge that can be thrown at any claim based on human reason. It is a nonsense insult, as all humanistic pursuits are "relative" in a way the sciences are not. They are relative to the (private) condition of having a mind, and the (public) need to reason and understand even when we can't expect scientific proof. When our debates are no longer resolved by deliberation over reasons, then the whimsies of power will determine the outcome.

This is where the triumph of neoliberalism meets the political nightmare we are living through now. "You had one job," the old joke goes, and Hayek's grand project, as originally conceived in 30s and 40s, was explicitly designed to prevent a backslide into political chaos and fascism. But the Big Idea was always this abomination waiting to happen. It was, from the beginning, pregnant with the thing it was said to protect against. Society reconceived as a giant market leads to a public life lost to bickering over mere opinions; until the public turns, finally, in frustration to a strongman as a last resort for solving its otherwise intractable problems.

... ... ...

What began as a new form of intellectual authority, rooted in a devoutly apolitical worldview, nudged easily into an ultra-reactionary politics. What can't be quantified must not be real, says the economist, and how do you measure the benefits of the core faiths of the enlightenment – namely, critical reasoning, personal autonomy and democratic self-government? When we abandoned, for its embarrassing residue of subjectivity, reason as a form of truth, and made science the sole arbiter of both the real and the true, we created a void that pseudo-science was happy to fill.

... ... ...

[Sep 19, 2017] Con Of The Century by Rod Dreher

Notable quotes:
"... Within the next 18 months, US Steel announced that the nation's largest steel producer was also shutting down 16 plants across the nation including their Ohio Works in Youngstown, a move that eliminated an additional 4,000 workers here. That announcement came one day before Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. said they were cutting thousands of jobs at their facilities in the Mahoning Valley, too. ..."
"... Within a decade 40,000 jobs were gone. Within that same decade, 50,000 people had left the region, and by the next decade that number was up to 100,000. Today the 22 miles of booming steel mills and the support industries that once lined the Mahoning River have mostly disappeared -- either blown up, dismantled or reclaimed by nature. ..."
"... Candidate Trump promised to create millions of new jobs, vowing to be "the greatest jobs president that God ever created." Cohn, as Goldman Sachs's president and COO, oversaw the firm's mergers and acquisitions business that had, over the previous three years, led to the loss of at least 22,000 U.S. jobs, according to a study by two advocacy groups. Early in his candidacy, Trump described as "disgusting" Pfizer's decision to buy a smaller Irish competitor in order to execute a "corporate inversion," a maneuver in which a U.S. company moves its headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden. The Pfizer deal ultimately fell through. But in 2016, in the heat of the campaign, Goldman advised on a megadeal that saw Johnson Controls, a Fortune 500 company based in Milwaukee, buy the Ireland-based Tyco International with the same goal. A few months later, with Goldman's help, Johnson Controls had executed its inversion. ..."
"... "There was a devastating financial crisis just over eight years ago," Warren said. "Goldman Sachs was at the heart of that crisis. The idea that the president is now going to turn over the country's economic policy to a senior Goldman executive turns my stomach." Prior administrations often had one or two people from Goldman serving in top positions. George W. Bush at one point had three. At its peak, the Trump administration effectively had six. ..."
"... Politically, 2016 would prove a strange year for Goldman. Bernie Sanders clobbered Hillary Clinton for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Goldman, while Trump attacked Ted Cruz for being "in bed with" Goldman Sachs. (Cruz's wife Heidi was a managing director in Goldman's Houston office until she took leave to work on her husband's presidential campaign.) Goldman would have "total control" over Clinton, Trump said at a February 2016 rally, a point his campaign reinforced in a two-minute ad that ran the weekend before Election Day. An image of Blankfein flashed across the screen as Trump warned about the global forces that "robbed our working class." ..."
"... It's Cohn's influence over the country's regulators that worries Dennis Kelleher, the financial reform lobbyist. "To him, what's good for Wall Street is good for the economy," Kelleher said of Cohn. "Maybe that makes sense when a guy has spent 26 years at Goldman, a company who has repaid his loyalties and sweat with a net worth in the hundreds of millions." Kelleher recalls those who lost a home or a chunk of their retirement savings during a financial crisis that Cohn helped precipitate. "They're still suffering," he said. "Yet now Cohn's in charge of the economy and talking about eliminating financial reform and basically putting the country back to where it was in 2005, as if 2008 didn't happen. I've started the countdown clock to the next financial crash, which will make the last one look mild." ..."
"... Trump ( and the GOP generally) are running the William Henry Harrison routine. Talk about the plain common working people, mix in some log cabins and hard cider, describe anyone who wants to raise wages as an effete elitist, and the downsize, merge, consolidate, offshore, the better to profit from the misery of others. ..."
Sep 17, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Michele Paccione/Shutterstock Salena Zito has a moving NYPost piece about the day that began the destruction of Youngstown, Ohio, and "sowed the seeds of Trump." Excerpts:

From then on, this date in 1977 would be known as Black Monday in the Steel Valley, which stretches from Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio eastward toward Pittsburgh. It is the date when Youngstown Sheet and Tube abruptly furloughed 5,000 workers all in one day.

The bleeding never stopped.

Within the next 18 months, US Steel announced that the nation's largest steel producer was also shutting down 16 plants across the nation including their Ohio Works in Youngstown, a move that eliminated an additional 4,000 workers here. That announcement came one day before Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. said they were cutting thousands of jobs at their facilities in the Mahoning Valley, too.

Within a decade 40,000 jobs were gone. Within that same decade, 50,000 people had left the region, and by the next decade that number was up to 100,000. Today the 22 miles of booming steel mills and the support industries that once lined the Mahoning River have mostly disappeared -- either blown up, dismantled or reclaimed by nature.

If a bomb had hit this region, the scar would be no less severe on its landscape.

More:

The events of Black Monday forever changed not only the Steel Valley, but her people and eventually American culture and politics. Just last year the reverberations were felt in the presidential election when many hard-core Democrats from this area broke from their party to vote for Donald Trump, a Republican who promised to bring jobs back to the Heartland.

Even today, after the election, the Washington establishment still hasn't processed or properly dissected its effects. Economic experts predicted that the service industry would be the employment of the future. Steel workers were retrained to fill jobs in that sector, which was expected to sustain the middle class in the same way that manufacturing did.

It did not. According to a study done by the Midwest Center for Research the average salary of a steel worker in the late 1970s was $24,772.80. Today, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics, the medium household income in the Mahoning Valley is $24,133.

Now that they have the working man's champion in the White House, what's he doing for them? Here are Gary Rivlin and Michael Hudson, writing in The Intercept , about how Goldman Sachs more or less runs the Trump administration. Excerpts:

Trump raged against "offshoring" by American companies during the 2016 campaign. He even threatened "retribution,"­ a 35 percent tariff on any goods imported into the United States by a company that had moved jobs overseas. But [Gary] Cohn laid out Goldman's very different view of offshoring at an investor conference in Naples, Florida, in November. There, Cohn explained unapologetically that Goldman had offshored its back-office staff, including payroll and IT, to Bangalore, India, now home to the firm's largest office outside New York City: "We hire people there because they work for cents on the dollar versus what people work for in the United States."

Candidate Trump promised to create millions of new jobs, vowing to be "the greatest jobs president that God ever created." Cohn, as Goldman Sachs's president and COO, oversaw the firm's mergers and acquisitions business that had, over the previous three years, led to the loss of at least 22,000 U.S. jobs, according to a study by two advocacy groups. Early in his candidacy, Trump described as "disgusting" Pfizer's decision to buy a smaller Irish competitor in order to execute a "corporate inversion," a maneuver in which a U.S. company moves its headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden. The Pfizer deal ultimately fell through. But in 2016, in the heat of the campaign, Goldman advised on a megadeal that saw Johnson Controls, a Fortune 500 company based in Milwaukee, buy the Ireland-based Tyco International with the same goal. A few months later, with Goldman's help, Johnson Controls had executed its inversion.

With Cohn's appointment [as his economic adviser], Trump now had three Goldman Sachs alums in top positions inside his administration: Steve Bannon, who was a vice president at Goldman when he left the firm in 1990, as chief strategist, and Steve Mnuchin, who had spent 17 years at Goldman, as Treasury secretary. And there were more to come. A few weeks later, another Goldman partner, Dina Powell, joined the White House as a senior counselor for economic initiatives. Goldman was a longtime client of Jay Clayton, Trump's choice to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission; Clayton had represented Goldman after the 2008 financial crisis, and his wife Gretchen worked there as a wealth management adviser. And there was the brief, colorful tenure of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director: Scaramucci had been a vice president at Goldman Sachs before leaving to co-found his own investment company.

Even before Scaramucci, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had joked that enough Goldman alum were working for the Trump administration to open a branch office in the White House.

"There was a devastating financial crisis just over eight years ago," Warren said. "Goldman Sachs was at the heart of that crisis. The idea that the president is now going to turn over the country's economic policy to a senior Goldman executive turns my stomach." Prior administrations often had one or two people from Goldman serving in top positions. George W. Bush at one point had three. At its peak, the Trump administration effectively had six.

Ex-Goldmanista Steve Bannon's White House agenda was not in Goldman's interest, though. But now he's gone. More:

The Trump economic agenda, it turns out, is largely the Goldman agenda, one with the potential to deliver any number of gifts to the firm that made Cohn colossally rich. If Cohn stays, it will be to pursue an agenda of aggressive financial deregulation and massive corporate tax cuts -- he seeks to slash rates by 57 percent -- that would dramatically increase profits for large financial players like Goldman. It is an agenda as radical in its scope and impact as Bannon's was.

The story tracks Gary Cohn's impressive rise from an aluminum siding salesman to a Goldman Sachs top leader. In the mid-2000s, Goldman saw that the housing market was a bubble waiting to pop, and arranged its position to take advantage of the coming collapse. The Intercept continues:

Cohn was a member of Goldman's board of directors during this critical time and second in command of the bank. At that point, Cohn and Blankfein, along with the board and other top executives, had several options. They might have shared their concerns about the mortgage market in a filing with the SEC, which requires publicly traded companies to reveal "triggering events that accelerate or increase a direct financial obligation" or might cause "impairments" to the bottom line. They might have warned clients who had invested in mortgage-backed securities to consider extracting themselves before they suffered too much financial damage. At the very least, Goldman could have stopped peddling mortgage-backed securities that its own mortgage trading desk suspected might soon collapse in value.

Instead, Cohn and his colleagues decided to take care of Goldman Sachs.

Goldman would not have suffered the reputational damage that it did -- or paid multiple billions in federal fines -- if the firm, anticipating the impending crisis, had merely shorted the housing market in the hopes of making billions. That is what investment banks do: spot ways to make money that others don't see. The money managers and traders featured in the film "The Big Short" did the same -- and they were cast as brave contrarians. Yet unlike the investors featured in the film, Goldman had itself helped inflate the housing bubble -- buying tens of billions of dollars in subprime mortgages over the previous several years for bundling into bonds they sold to investors. And unlike these investors, Goldman's people were not warning anyone who would listen about the disaster about to hit. As federal investigations found, the firm, which still claims "our clients' interests always come first" as a core principle, failed to disclose that its top people saw disaster in the very products its salespeople were continuing to hawk.

What follows is an amazing, very detailed story about how Goldman maneuvered successfully through the rubble of the economic collapse, and came out on top. And then, get this:

Politically, 2016 would prove a strange year for Goldman. Bernie Sanders clobbered Hillary Clinton for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Goldman, while Trump attacked Ted Cruz for being "in bed with" Goldman Sachs. (Cruz's wife Heidi was a managing director in Goldman's Houston office until she took leave to work on her husband's presidential campaign.) Goldman would have "total control" over Clinton, Trump said at a February 2016 rally, a point his campaign reinforced in a two-minute ad that ran the weekend before Election Day. An image of Blankfein flashed across the screen as Trump warned about the global forces that "robbed our working class."

So Trump won -- and staffed up with Goldman machers -- Gary Cohn most important of all:

There's ultimately no great mystery why Donald Trump selected Gary Cohn for a top post in his administration, despite his angry rhetoric about Goldman Sachs. There's the high regard the president holds for anyone who is rich -- and the instant legitimacy Cohn conferred upon the administration within business circles. Cohn's appointment reassured bond markets about the unpredictable new president and lent his administration credibility it lacked among Fortune 100 CEOs, none of whom had donated to his campaign. Ego may also have played a role. Goldman Sachs would never do business with Trump, the developer who resorted to foreign banks and second-tier lenders to bankroll his projects. Now Goldman's president would be among those serving in his royal court.

Finally:

It's Cohn's influence over the country's regulators that worries Dennis Kelleher, the financial reform lobbyist. "To him, what's good for Wall Street is good for the economy," Kelleher said of Cohn. "Maybe that makes sense when a guy has spent 26 years at Goldman, a company who has repaid his loyalties and sweat with a net worth in the hundreds of millions." Kelleher recalls those who lost a home or a chunk of their retirement savings during a financial crisis that Cohn helped precipitate. "They're still suffering," he said. "Yet now Cohn's in charge of the economy and talking about eliminating financial reform and basically putting the country back to where it was in 2005, as if 2008 didn't happen. I've started the countdown clock to the next financial crash, which will make the last one look mild."

Read the whole thing. Please, do. It is staggering to think that here we are, a decade after the crash, and here we are.

Tonight (Sunday), PBS begins airing Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's long Vietnam War documentary. I'll write more about it this week. I've watched it, and to call it landmark television is to vastly undersell it. It comes to mind reading the Goldman-Trump piece because it revealed, however inadvertently, how little we Americans learned from the Vietnam experience when it came time to invade Iraq.

Twenty, thirty years from now, don't be surprised if some American president proposes a "this time, it's different" invasion of another foreign country. And don't be surprised if we the people cheer for him. We're suckers for this kind of thing. Here's Kevin Williamson, on Trump's epic flip-flop on immigration and DACA:

What did they expect? Trump is a serial bankrupt who has betrayed at least two-thirds of the wives he's had and who lies compulsively -- who invented an imaginary friend to lie to the press on his behalf. He has screwed over practically everyone who has ever trusted him or done business with him, and his voters were just another in a long series of marks. They gave him that 280ZX with no down payment -- and no prospect of repossessing it until 2020 at the earliest. Poor Ann Coulter is somewhere weeping into her gin: "I bet on a loser," she explains.

It was a dumb bet.

With no market-oriented health-care reform and no hawkish immigration reform and the prospects of far-reaching tax reform looking shaky -- even though Republicans exist for no obvious purpose other than cutting taxes -- Trump is still looking for his big win. Even those who were willing to suspend the fully formed adult parts of their brains and give him the benefit of the doubt are coming around to the realization that he has no beliefs and no principles, and that he will sell out any ally, cause, or national interest if doing so suits his one and only true master in this life: his vanity. He didn't get rolled by Pelosi and Schumer: His voters got rolled by him. That's the real deal.

Cheers to you, Youngstown!

When Youngstown (so to speak) figures out what's been done to it, politics in this country is going to get very, very interesting. In the meantime:

Some of Trump's base is happy to let him cut deals with Pelosi and Schumer so long as he tweets gifs of Hillary and CNN logos. WWE BS.

! Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 17, 2017

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js 116 Responses to Con Of The Century ← Older Comments Newer Comments →

grumpy realist , says: September 18, 2017 at 10:30 am

Given Trump's history of betraying everyone he's been involved with (wives, businesses, family members) why are people surprised?

And no, I don't suspect Trump supporters to ever turn on him. Whatever he does, they'll find a way to excuse it and cast the blame of "the media", "those liberals", "those people", and "them" instead. It's easier for them to allow themselves to be ripped off, over and over again, than to admit to themselves that they were fools who fell victim to a con man.

(And no, I don't place much credence in Ann Coulter's hissy fit. She's just trying to keep the TV cameras on her as long as possible. Like usual.)

Roy Fassel , says: September 18, 2017 at 10:32 am
The world has changed. It used to be ."what is good for General Motors is good for America."

Multinational corporations tend to have most of their revenue growth outside of the USA today. Some companies like Apple manufacture their phones overseas, and most sales are overseas. This complicates all historical comparisons. The world is much more interconnected these days and we are all "God's children" living in all parts of the globe. Nationalism that is practiced by Trump eventually ends with a 1930s in Europe. BLAME creates hatred which then becomes to great uniter.

This all will not end on the plus side.

Sam M , says: September 18, 2017 at 10:33 am
Matt W

"Be charitable. It's VERY hard for someone to admit that they were fooled. It will be interesting to see all the mechanisms of denial."

Will it be interesting? Or entirely predictable? We have a model: All the ostensibly progressive people who for years voted Democrat and essentially ended up with a huge bait and switch. Which is not the divide in the Democratic Party, with the social justice left now ascendant and angry, because they got an awful lot of Dont Ask, Don't Tell and Clinton-era mass incarceration for their loyalty. While the union-wing got Goldman Sachs stuff.

All those people got rolled the same way Trump is rolling people now. So now we have BLM and Bernie Sanders and basically nothing in between.

So yeah. That's what we will get on the right.

Roger II , says: September 18, 2017 at 10:39 am
Trump has always been an ethically-challenged con man. I would still like to hear someone identify an actual policy that would help Youngstown. The truth is that steel industry jobs are gone, and they aren't coming back. Illegal immigration had nothing (or next to nothing) to do with that and has next to nothing to do with the fact that Youngstown has not developed other jobs for its citizens. Trump never proposed any concrete solutions, but quite frankly neither has JD Vance. Democrats have -- Obamacare, training programs, increased minimum wage, financial aid, more support for unions -- but by and large the white working class has rejected those policies. So maybe Youngstown should figure out what it wants from Trump or anyone else.
Allen , says: September 18, 2017 at 10:51 am
"The faithful man has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; every man hunts his brother with a net. That they may successfully do evil with both hands-the prince asks for gifts, the judge seeks a bribe, and the great man utters his evil desire; so they scheme together." Micah 7:2-3 (NKJV)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

collin , says: September 18, 2017 at 11:14 am
Trump raged against "offshoring" by American companies during the 2016 campaign. He even threatened "retribution,"­ a 35 percent tariff on any goods imported into the United States by a company that had moved jobs overseas.

Again, can somebody explain to me how in the hell this is going to be done as free trade is 50%+ popular and any changes in a deal, such as NAFTA, will have serious negative economic consequences in certain parts of the nation. Rip up NAFTA, Iowas LOSES BIG!

Also, in terms of employment the steel industry is not that large anymore. It has about 80K workers today which is significantly about 90% less in the 1980s. And we produce almost (about ~95%) as much steel today as in the 1980s. So steel tariffs will increase steel jobs by 10% which is 8K workers and construction will lose 1% of 730K which is almost 8K workers. So somebody has to show me the benefit of steel tariffs as I don't see it.

Purple Tortoise , says: September 18, 2017 at 11:29 am
[NFR: But that's not really the point. The point is that Trump *specifically* ran against Goldman Sachs and what it represents. And now look. It simply won't do to say, "But Hillary would have been worse." Maybe so, but at this point, that strikes me as a way of rationalizing Trump's failure to keep his promises. -- RD]

Actually, I see it as rationalizing on the part of the NeverTrumpers for why they were justified in offering the voters a sh*t sandwich and why the voters were wrong to go with Trump in the hope of not being forced to eat a sh*t sandwich. Now that Trump has gone back on his promises, the NeverTrumpers are rationalizing that it proves they were right all along because the voters didn't escape the promised sh*t sandwich.

Jeff R , says: September 18, 2017 at 11:35 am
I would dearly love to help them out, and rebuild their cities. It would be the right thing to do. But as long as they keep voting for republicans (and yes, republicans are more corporate and Wall Street friendly then the democrats, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding), they are going to continue to decline.

As a Baltimore resident, I find this statement hilarious.

BlairBurton , says: September 18, 2017 at 11:37 am
http://www.thedailybeast.com/i-told-you-so-trump-is-a-conman-in-chief

"As members of the reviled Never Trump movement, it's not just an end-zone celebration play to say we warned you. We warned you over and over that Trump's brand isn't success; it's betrayal. We warned you that he believes in nothing, and so he will break any promise, shaft any ally, and abandon any position. Hate us all you want, but if you think this is the last time he'll shank his faithful, you might want to review the last 40 years of his personal and business behavior."

Donald , says: September 18, 2017 at 11:37 am
"There is a subset of voters who look upon their politician in an unhealthy God-like/3rd world fashion; much more tangible on the Left, but there on the Right as well."

This is correct, except for that ludicrous claim that it is worse on the Left. It's obvious on both sides and it's been that way forever.

I despise Trump. I am glad he is making deals with Democrats, but the Goldman Sachs thing is horrible. There was always a faint chance he could have governed as a populist, pushing massive infrastructure projects to create jobs, for instance. I thought that would appeal to his vanity as someone who builds things. No such luck.

Sawbuck , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:02 pm
It isn't just the steel industry. You underestimate the level of rage out there in flyover country – and the towns where the service workers live next to the towns where the 1% live because the workers cannot afford the uptown costs – they really will be fine if the whole system burns to ash.

They are used to being poor and will last longer.

Richard Morton , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:05 pm
VikingLS (at 10:19pm) hits the mark, IMO. I'd be interested to hear more. Playing the "con man" card gets stale & tiresome fast. Thanks also to Rob G for recommended reading (at 7:08am). So, Rod, won't a good shot of Ben Op faith and virtue also help make America industrious again? It is hard work, but is it impossible to imagine or too complex to do? If you think so, I think you underestimate us–and our Lord.
Captain P , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:15 pm
So long as the Clintonistas don't find a new figurehead, bet on Sanders winning in 2020. If anyone's a true opponent of neoliberal economic policies, he is.
Phillip , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:16 pm
Yes, Trump is bad, is going back on promises, etc. etc.

But what's the freaking alternative?

Give me an actual name that is not worse.

Siarlys Jenkins , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:31 pm
Trump ( and the GOP generally) are running the William Henry Harrison routine. Talk about the plain common working people, mix in some log cabins and hard cider, describe anyone who wants to raise wages as an effete elitist, and the downsize, merge, consolidate, offshore, the better to profit from the misery of others.

Now, what could have been done in 1977? That was the beginning of Jimmy Carter's term, his first year in office. At the time, he was a conservative southern Democrat, America's first born-again Christian president, despised by liberals, who tried to run Ted Kennedy against him in the 1980 Democratic primary, producing plenty of material for Ronald Reagan campaign commercials in the general election.

It would have taken a VERY comprehensive plan and some long-term investments. The steel plants were aging and uncompetitive. The companies laid off thousands because they didn't think it worth investing billions in new plants, new technology, etc. A few plants that employees pooled their hard-earned savings to buy turned out to be unsustainable too. A good stop TOWARD a more sensible socialist economy would have been a law providing that IF a company employing more than 1000 workers wanted to shut a plant, a government agency has first option to buy, at a price no greater than original investment minus all depreciation taken on corporate tax returns (that is, next to nothing).

Then it would have taken billions in federal financing to do the upgrade. Why do this? Well, considering the economic and social costs of all the crime, drug networks, drug treatment, alcoholism, etc. in the forty years since, it might have been a net cost savings. This is how socialism becomes a paying proposition, rather than "running out of other people's money."

But a sustainable program has to be geared to production people will actually need and use and want and buy. Production of stuff that piles up because there is no market for it is not sustainable. Something could have been done, but there was no will. Democrats were, then as now, afraid of their own shadow, and addicted to putting band-aids on long-term problems. Republicans, then as now, were addicted to "market forces," which, of course, are what triggered the catastrophe. What passed for a "left" at that time was too busy debating whether Deng or the Gang of Four were the true heroes of proletarian revolution and holding May Day picnics where 90 percent of participants were college graduates. They weren't reading the business pages.

It is also the case that Hillary Clinton was in bed with Goldman.

True, and relevant, but hardly in contradiction with what Dux Bellorum said.

Dux Bellorum, Austinopole , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm

[NFR: This is simplistic trolling and you know it. It is also the case that Hillary Clinton was in bed with Goldman. Remember the private Wall Street speech she gave, released by Wikileaks, in which she talked about how one needed to have "a public and a private position"? We would have been equally screwed by a Clinton.2 presidency, and a conventional Republican one. My anger at Trump over this is that he promised to be something different -- and, being fabulously wealthy, he didn't depend on the largesse of financial titans to make his living. He was in a position to change things -- yet on economic issues, he's turned out to be as bad or worse than those he ran against in both parties. -- RD]

It would be trolling if we were describing a single election, sure, but the comment refers to the very, very long alliance between social conservatives and business conservatives, which, in the south, goes back to the nineteenth century. Institutional Christian powers have been taking money and power from business interests to enforce their particular visions of what everyone should live like, and it's had the effect of giving them more and more power over an ever-shrinking and ever more miserable kingdom.

There's that lovely idea that by their fruits shall one know ideas, I think that Youngstown, in synecdoche, is a great example of the fruits of that particular idea.

$0.02,

DBA

Weldon , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:44 pm
The problem with this line of thought is that it would lead you to expect that Trump won Rust Belt voters whose chief concern was jobs and the economy. But he didn't; Clinton (narrowly) did. Trump won Rust Belt voters whose chief concern was "cultural decline".

Somehow the economic narrative got way off from what the data actually show: on election day, Trump underperformed recent Republican candidates in every economic cohort *except* households making $70K-$100K. This is the group you need to look at to explain his appeal.

Donald , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm
"Just shocking that a politician went back on a campaign promise. Throw the bum out. Shocking."

And this silly sort of cynicism is exactly why politicians think they can get away with breaking any and every promise they make.

Deplorable MD , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:50 pm
These can be true:

1. I am unhappy with certain (even "many") Trump decisions.
2. I remain happy I voted for Trump over Clinton.

What would it take for me to instead have wished I voted Clinton over Trump?..some combination of the following:

1. An increase in taxes on the working and professional class.
2. An offensive ground invasion of foreign country.
3. The nomination and Senate approval of a doctrinaire Liberal to the Supreme Court.
4. Policies that would lead to increased working class and poor immigrants to our country.

I imagine there are more, but these are some of the important points. I can muddle through a temporary ill mannered President and don't have a problem getting dirty to avoid the above.

BD , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:54 pm
Judging from the reaction of Trumpers in this comment thread it's pretty clear that there is literally nothing he could do that would cause them to abandon him. They will rationalize anything he does.

During the campaign, some of them said "well if he betrayed us on immigration then we'd leave him" and the biggest crimes committed by the Rubios of the world was that they cut deals far better (from restrictionist points of view) than this. So it's clear how they react to a betrayal–simply pretend it's not a betrayal, or that any non-Trump alternative would have been worse.

It's looking like they have become a cult.

Venice , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:56 pm
I'm always amazed at how loyal Trump supporters are. At times he was voted in to totally disrupt Washington, at other times he was supposed to make deals to keep the peace.
Look, Trump was always part of Wall Street. This was always going to happen. I don't think it's a bad thing but I do feel bad for the people who voted for him expecting anything different.
BD , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm
"It's not whether he makes deals. It's on whether they are good deals. The DACA deal would not be a good one if it follows what has been outlined."

That's not true. It's an excellent deal for the Democrats and Republican immigration doves.

For immigration restrictionists? Well, for them this puts them next on the long list of people who made the mistake of trusting Donald Trump.

BD , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm
"It's easy to criticize but a lot more difficult to say what they should have done. So tell me, who should they have supported? And don't say "Anybody but Trump" – that's not an answer."

This is a fair question, but they easily could have organized around another candidate who represented what they believed in (surely Trump is not the only person in the world who favored cutting back immigration–it's a very popular position in the GOP grass roots). Pat Buchanan ran on it in the '90s.

But to say "let's get behind the guy whose track record practically screams at you that you're going to get backstabbed" seems worse than even staying home. What are the chances now that next time a candidate runs on those issues anyone is going to believe him?

TR , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm
I suggest taking Wes seriously ("Could be better, could be much worse"). I have a suspicion his position is probably the norm.

In any case, some politicians pay for their "sins," some don't. I have an awful feeling, Trump will fall into the latter category.

TR , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:22 pm
A side note: John_M's correction of the steel plant closures makes sense. At the time they happened, it was not unusual to point out that American steel was uncompetitive even in a fair market (which didn't exist). Failure to modernize was a big factor.

And even if evil capitalism and elitist government may have been behind the closings, one should point out that a lot of less bright capitalists lost their shirts.

Potato , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:30 pm
They know they're getting screwed, in Youngstown and elsewhere. For some reason they don't care. They'll stick with Trump to the bitter end.
EngineerScotty , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:33 pm
And the standards keep getting lower and lower
Loudon is a Fool , says: September 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm
+1000 @ Old West

Any legislation. Congress doesn't need to pass some thing. They could pass any thing. Except they can't pass any thing. Not a single thing. They're incapable of governing. It's thoroughly depressing. As Williamson has noted previously, the wily McConnell is just the wrong man for the job. Trump's broken promises are nearly 100% McConnell's leadership failures. Could any other GOP president overcome McConnell's incompetence? Maybe. But that's a lot of incompetence to overcome. The Democrats are terrible human beings. But they know how to pass legislation. So if you want to pass some legislation and your choices are the Democrats or McConnell do you really have a choice as to the party you're going to approach?

Rosita , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm
Have to agree with all the Trump voters and supporters on this thread. None of them voted on principles; as they have stated, more on emotion, affinity and bread and butter issues. Your points about Trump's betrayals ring hollow. Everybody understood that Trump's positions are malleable and that was part of the package. Even when his policies begin to hurt his supporters, that will be a necessary evil to shore up the cultural and social solidarity that Trump represents. Plain and simple.
Polichinello , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm
All of this info was there–and being spouted loudly by the left–during the campaign.

This is the deal you (not you, Rod, since you didn't vote for him..) made for Gorsuch. We'll all get to see how bad a deal it was in the next years.

Given the Left's attitude to free speech these days and judicial overreach, totally worth it. Totally.

Hound of Ulster , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:23 pm
Everyone who voted for Trump based on ANYTHING he said during the campaign is a sucker. We warned you, but you wouldn't listen and just wanted to watch the 'libtards' cry.

Fools

Polichinello , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:25 pm
To be honest, I never understood how Trump was going to bring these jobs back as automation was the primary cause and the connection of Illegal Immigrants was not significant. Please show the direct lines of DACA Immigrants to manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt?

They increase the labor pool that will compete with those people whose jobs have been eliminated by automation. Moreover, they require the same public spending (actually more), so now those people affected by automation are left with less government succour, as resource now have to be diverted to people who entered the country illegally.

I, for one, understand that some sort of compromise solution will need to be reached to deal with the Dacaritos, but let's not wave our hands and pretend this is all the fault of Skynet and that inflating the number of no- to low-skilled people in the pool will have no effect.

Be aware, too, that we're NOT discussing just a few hundred thousand people here, as the deals being thrown around will go up into the millions, once you factor in chain migration, as well as the knock on effect of encouraging yet more illegal immigration with the promise of future amnesties.

Alex Curbelo , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:26 pm
Mr. Dreher routinely gets into the pitfall of context denial when it comes to Trump.

Given the state of the country, and especially what the Republican and Democratic parties have given us for the last 40 years, no one (including Mr. Dreher) will ever be able to make the case that supporting Trump was not the rational way to go despite the risks. It was the right way to go under the circumstances and given the horrid alternatives that the GOP gave us in the primaries and the Democratic Party gave us for the general.

More importantly, just because Trump may be fake doesn't mean he did not tap into real issues. The reason Trump won is that, again, he tapped into very real issues.

YM , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:31 pm
Since I discovered your blog, Rod, I have wondered, why would you have your blog on such a lame website. Now I know – its your way or the highway. No choosing between imperfect choices.
ludo , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm
Just as the Clinton campaign disintegrated into a vacuous, visionless, vapor which the ultimately voters did not care to inhale, so too the Trump administration is in the premature process of decay into an amorphous, gelatinously unrecognizable politico-administrative life-form ("neither fish nor foul," "because you are lukewarm!neither hot nor cold "), perhaps to better camouflage and disguise the creedless (nihilistic) plutocratic pillaging of what remains of the non-oligarchically captured corpse (or, at least, despoiled and desecrated body) of a once proud and productively positive Middle Class government and state.
The Color of Celery , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:46 pm
Maybe Elizabeth Warren needs to be president if there is going to be something done about Goldman Sachs.

[NFR: If she weren't so fanatically down-the-line liberal on social issues, I'd strongly consider voting for her. -- RD]

Alex Curbelo , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm
A deal with Pelosi/Schumer would make sense on infrastructure but not DACA. Trump will not survive this betrayal on DACA. People aren't stupid.

There is a debate in the informed pro-Trump community -- is Trump a con artist, sell out, traitor, or man who means well but whose hands are tied. On one side, you have people bending over backwards to defend pretty transparently treacherous moves by Trump's on the grounds that he has little real choice. The argument is that because Trump's Jacksonian agenda is being monolithically and implacably opposed by the top leadership of both parties, the courts, the military, the IC, the banks and big corps, etc. (our true rulers), Trump has to bide his time, cut deals, and play Nth dimensional chess until he can move forward with his real populist agenda.

The other side of the argument is that Trump is just a con artist. When pro-Trump people try to argue to me that Trump's hands are tied, I also counter by pointing out the factors that are under Trump's control. Trump can't control Ryan, McConnell, etc. but what can he control. Trump can certainly control who works for him! Which means the strongest evidence that Trump never meant it can be found just by looking at who he has working for him. He gave top jobs to establishment figures like McMaster, Kelly and Cohn.

I can understand the claim that CIA and other deep state figures, McConnell, etc. won't go along with Trump and have been working overtime to sabotage Trump -- those things are true -- but what then is Trump's excuse for giving jobs to people like McMaster and Cohn?

Kushner and Cohn (and really most likely Lloyd Blankfein himself) have mostly neutralized Trump's economic, immigration and trade agenda in areas where the president has a lot to autonomy to act independent of the courts and Congress, while McMaster has done the same on the foreign policy front. And John Kelly, by all accounts, now has Trump under de facto house arrest, having reportedly cut off Trump from all of his remaining advisors that support the original MAGA agenda.

These are dark days for anyone who recognizes that the issues that propelled Trump to victory are real. Nothing ever changes because our true rulers are not the people we elect.

Finally, the idea that Trump pulled off the con of the century does not hold up. That honor belongs to the post-1980 Republican party for pulling off the longest and greatest con over the largest number of people ever. Trump can't come close.

Noah172 , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm
Who did Kevin Williamson favor in the 2016 primaries? Jeb? Rubio? Cruz?

Here is the reality that Williamson and his ilk refuse to acknowledge. If any of Trump's Republican rivals were in his position now:

The federal government would not be appreciably smaller.

Obamacare would not be fully repealed/replaced.

A bigger amnesty would be at least under consideration, if not already enacted.

The personal income tax would not be abolished or turned into a flat tax.

We'd be in a regime change war with Assad (and thus Putin).

Paul Ryan-ish "entitlement reform" would not be enacted.

Latinos and millenials would not love the Republican Party.

Homosexual marriage would not be rolled back.

These other Republicans (most to all of whom would have lost to HRC) would not have been so successful enacting the movement con agenda, which is unpopular and internally contradictory.

Voucherize Medicare + open borders + neocon wars + free trade + PC pandering = balanced budgets, prosperity for all, and a "permanent Republican majority"?

And Trump is the con man?

walking horse , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm
"Just shocking that a politician went back on a campaign promise. Throw the bum out. Shocking."

This is in fact shocking. It's shocking at least on the order of Bush the Elder's reversal of "read my lips: no new taxes", which cost him a second term.

I see that Trump has opened a US military base in Israel, the first ever, which is one of the stupidest acts in recent American history.

all of which suggests that Trump will soon be history himself

swb , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:59 pm
Given the comment section, there is no indication that his voters are judging his progress based on any criteria that is usually applied to normal politicians. Real benefits are not actually a criterion used by his voters. If trump can find enough scapegoats to blame for things, I believe that qualifies as progress for his voters because that makes them feel better. Since he is adapt at generating controversy and thereby creating appropriate new groups to blame I do not really see reason why this virtuous cycle could not continue for two terms.

I mean seriously, bush junior sent off their sons and daughters to vacation in the desert and thousands of them did not come back and he got two terms. Trumps voters are not going to be upset just because he lies to them.

lllurker , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm
"Or cancelling Obama regulations such as the one that required any buildings re-built with federal money needs to take rising sea levels into account?"

I didn't even know that was a thing. (The regs themselves.)

As I followed the Houston and then FL news, once I would get past all the human suffering my mind always seemed to end up in the same place: "We're not really so stupid that we're actually gonna rebuild in these same low-lying places?"

I know this only applies to certain areas, and that the storm over Houston was pretty freakish and perhaps a one-of-a-kind. But some of these areas are destined to flood so much over the coming decades that they will eventually have to be abandoned, at least as building sites. So in the meantime how many billions are we going to put on Uncle Sam's credit card, to be paid by coming generations, for rebuilding doomed structures?

I hope there are controls in place that at least force the people who in the worst places to move elsewhere.

Mike Alexander , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:05 pm
Kronstein1963 writes:
It's easy to criticize but a lot more difficult to say what they should have done. So tell me, who should they have supported?

They should have voted for Sanders in the primaries and then the GOP nominee in the general. By doing this they would have helped further the economic nationalist message by demonstrating significant support for a serious anti-Wall street message. By putting Trump in there they established empirically that

populist economic nationalism = Goldman Sachs.

Populist economic nationalism is now a dead letter

Noah172 , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm
I'm in holding mode on Trump right now. I'm wait-and-see on where DACA negotiations go, and I'll call my Representative and Senators to voice my opposition to amnesty (and support for some of the restrictionist bills pending). Here's the possibilities of what the past week's DACA drama means to me:

Looks, quacks like a duck: Trump sincerely wanted to agree to amnesty, with little in return, with the Democrats, got blowback from his troops, and backtracked by seeming to insist on tougher demands.

Total sellout: Trump will go for amnesty, with no meaningful concessions, base voters (and small donors) be damned.

4D chess: Trump was using talk of amnesty and delaying a fight over the wall to lure the Democrats into negotiation so he could then drop tougher demands on them (end to chain migration), which he knows they will reject, setting them up to look like extremists and have a government shutdown fight (which, e.g., Congressman Luis Gutierrez openly wants) right before Christmas.

In the first possibility, I'm upset and undecided for 2020, but at least Trump listened to his troops after only a few days of Breitbart and Twitter screaming at him. That's more than you can say for GWB, John McCain, or Paul Ryan.

In the second possibility, I'm through with Trump, for good.

In the third, I'm OK with political chess-playing in principle, but you gotta do it right. It's dangerous, especially for Trump, hated as he is by all TPTB, even in his own party, to demoralize and confuse your core fan base (and small donation base, I repeat) in attempt to lure the opposition into a political trap.

I can't tell if possibility 1 or 3 is the truth (2 is unlikely but frighteningly possible). In any case, I don't see a DACA amnesty happening because too few Republicans will risk it, Trump seems to be offering a trade which the Democrats will never ever accept (only DACA applicants for RAISE Act and maybe wall or some interior enforcement), and some Democrats (Gutierrez and company) are so stupid and greedy and fanatical that they think they are entitled to a massive amnesty with literally nothing in return, not even fake border enforcement (Schumer and Pelosi are trying to talk sense into their backbenchers, we'll see to what avail).

Rusty , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm
It's almost as though the last 40 years of Youngstown citizens felt *entitled* to having those good jobs replaced, in their town, w/o having to move or re-invent themselves.
cdugga , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:38 pm
I am not buying the we were fooled thing in the least. Like, the don is putting health care and DACA in the hands of republican legislators and all they have to do is legislate. They have not and cannot. Now we are reading about the don's betrayal of labor on TAC? This is not any sort of news whatsoever. Someday, maybe after some environmental disaster in appalachia, we will read about how the don betrayed the amerian people by crippleing regulations designed to protect their air and water. As if that was something new too. No, what we are seeing here is what I have been seeing since the rise of the don. If he is successful, it is because we supported and voted for him. If he does what anyone paying attention saw him doing already, then we can say, well, he never was a true conservative anyway. All this, is just more of the same ole lies of omission and lies to deny responsibility and place blame on anyone but ourselves. How many columns have I read here about how the don was the fault, not of the people that actually voted for him, but the fault of those gay transgender mexican muslim blacks and their secularist enablers. And the beat goes on.
Oh, and I was mortified when trump was elected but not at all surprised. He followed every standard GOP strategy including the tried and true decisive pander to the NRA. If he did do anything different, it was to claim in a much more outright manner that we were being victimized by immigrants and all those other non-deserving people. He even set the bait for people like me, by saying he would go after wall street and the hedge funds that shorted the whole world in the financial collapse.
But in this pile on, we should give the don credit where it is due. He has successfully exposed the republican party for what it has always been about. And putting healthcare and DACA into republican legislator's hands is going to be much more revealing about who has been fooling the fools than anything the don himself has done.
lllurker , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm
"Steel workers were retrained to fill jobs in that sector, which was expected to sustain the middle class in the same way that manufacturing did.

It did not. According to a study done by the Midwest Center for Research the average salary of a steel worker in the late 1970s was $24,772.80. Today, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics, the medium household income in the Mahoning Valley is $24,133."

There seems to be some misperceptions regarding the wages that were paid in old-line manufacturing industries vs modern service jobs. The most important thing to understand is that the once strong wages and benefits in the steel and auto and other similar industries had nothing to do with the sort of work the people were doing. The pay and benefits were a direct result of the employees having strong unions and the unions having favorable federal legislation in place.

The truth is that the jobs themselves were often awful, especially in steel. And dangerous. But the jobs didn't require any more experience or ability from a new hire than the fast food industry requires today.

It is just a quirk of the way the industrialization of the country played out that the industrial sector ended up, at least for awhile, with employee-friendly compensation packages. In fact had it all gone the other way, and the service sector grown first, before manufacturing, many of the problems the non-college educated crowd face today wouldn't even exist. Manufacturing has become especially sensitive to labor costs because companies can choose to build factories in other countries where salaries are low. Most of the country's service industry isn't like that.

VikingLS , says: September 17, 2017 at 8:59 pm
"When Youngstown (so to speak) figures out what's been done to it, politics in this country is going to get very, very interesting."

Rod what are you going to do to change this? The Ben Op doesn't help.

[NFR: I dunno, Viking, I guess I'm waiting on you to tell me what to do. You know perfectly well that the Benedict Option is not about changing American politics, but about the life of the church. Besides, it is not the case that I or anybody else has to have a "solution" to offer before we can criticize what we see. I doubt very much you apply that standard to your own judgments of the world. -- RD]

Planet Albany , says: September 17, 2017 at 9:03 pm
Since I voted for Trump and you did not, doesn't that put me in a better position to judge whether Trump's willingness to make deals with Dems on DACA, taxes and infrastructure amounts to betrayal? Answer: It doesn't. It's what I want him to do. He campaigned on making deals, including with Russia, which I also want to see to keep the peace. Just hold the line on social issues, and we're good.
Trey , says: September 17, 2017 at 9:08 pm
But I thought we were a bunch of hicks that did not understand the constitutional checks and balances and the need for compromise and when we found out Trump was not able to be a dictator we would turn on him.
Corwin , says: September 17, 2017 at 9:35 pm
The problem is Youngstown won't figure it out. They, and so many other small and industrial towns across the country, are looking for a solution on their terms. They have had the last 30 plus years to update, and some have, like Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the people who have figured this out left for greener pastures a long time ago.

I would dearly love to help them out, and rebuild their cities. It would be the right thing to do. But as long as they keep voting for republicans (and yes, republicans are more corporate and Wall Street friendly then the democrats, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding), they are going to continue to decline.

Francis E Blangeard , says: September 17, 2017 at 9:36 pm
To a large extent Goldman Sachs is the 'Deep State'.
Adamant , says: September 17, 2017 at 9:40 pm
I was in Youngstown just the other week. You could no more thoroughly destroy a city than if you had the Air Force flyover and reduce it to rubble via saturation bombing. You could say the exact same thing about 1000 other towns here in the Rust Belt. The main source of economic activity is methamphetamine production and heroin trafficking, and the ruination of generations yet unborn is baked in.

"So Trump won -- and staffed up with Goldman machers -- Gary Cohn most important of all"

As did Obama, and Bush, and Clinton, and on and on unti the heat death of the universe. Wall. Street. Always. Wins. Like the Military Industrial Complex always wins.

And they will continue to win until we can decide as a people to put our cultural distinctions and differences aside and defeat them. Because they are going to exsanguinate your tribe of traditionalist Christian conservatives as surely as they will my tribe. Say what you want about the political praxis of Occupy Wall Street, at least they were yelling at the right buildings.

I'd like to bring an old word back into our political currency: solidarity.

Wes , says: September 17, 2017 at 10:17 pm
Still a happy Trump supporter here; unphased by the presence of Goldman Sachs employees (the horror!) or of deals with Democrats. Could be better, could be much worse.
VikingLS , says: September 17, 2017 at 10:19 pm
[NFR: I dunno, Viking, I guess I'm waiting on you to tell me what to do. You know perfectly well that the Benedict Option is not about changing American politics, but about the life of the church. Besides, it is not the case that I or anybody else has to have a "solution" to offer before we can criticize what we see. I doubt very much you apply that standard to your own judgments
of the world. -- RD]

Actually I do try and hold myself to a standard along those lines. People don't always like my suggestions, but I do have them. I wouldn't have asked you that question if I didn't have an idea what I think you, or at least somebody at TAC, needs to do.

Someone needs to talk about what Trump getting elected as a Republican with his platform says about the voters, even if he himself seems to have pulled a bait and switch. Not what liberals say it means ("Clinton was a bad candidate" at best "America is racist" at worst.) This is conference worthy.

Nothing against you and Larrison, you're both fine writers, but is it possible to get the other writers here to write more? What's the difference between yourself and say, Bill Kaufman in TAC's structure?

Someone, it doesn't have to be you, but someone, needs to spend serious time looking at the Conservative movement in new media. That's looking like where the future is, not the New York Times op-ed page. There really are people who supported Trump who are both aware that Trump isn't keeping his campaign promises, and are discussing what their next move is going to be.

Try and resist the temptation to write variations of "Trump voters must feel stupid now". As opposed to what? Having Clinton as president? Do you honestly think if Clinton was president you wouldn't be writing some version of "Wow, I knew Clinton was going to be bad, but I didn't realize she'd be THIS bad." In a little over 3 years, it will be a different story, but for a lot of people a Clinton presidency where she kept her promises would be worse.

I am going to write you a personal email. I actually have taken a pretty serious personal professional hit because of this election, and I STILL don't regret my vote. This is not all academic for me.

Old West , says: September 17, 2017 at 10:41 pm
Trump would have signed any legislation a GOP controlled House and Senate passed.

ANY.

It wouldn't even need to have been good.

Making a deal with the Dems is his way of punishing the GOP for being incompetent.

At this point I'm still feeling betrayed by them. But I reserve the option of adding him to the list.

Sam M , says: September 17, 2017 at 10:42 pm
It's hilarious how selective people are about economics. Nothing to be done about the steel industry. Just how markets work. Too bad so sad Youngsville.

Unless you are cool. Like Amazon. And cities will slobber all over themselves to say to hell with the market, we need to subsidize development. And give the richest guy in the world free stuff:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/technology/amazon-headquarters-north-america.amp.html

Elon Musk has received at least $5 billion in subsidies:

https://www.google.com/amp/www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story,amp.html

Hmm. It's almost like it's only poor schmucks who have to suffer the ups and downs of the free market.

collin , says: September 17, 2017 at 10:51 pm
I am sorry but this happened almost 40 years ago and I remember when conservatives like Reagan were dancing on the death of union graves in the 1980s. Conservative loved when Reagan fired union air traffic controllers. And one reason why I voted for Bill Clinton because in 1992 he campaigned on the jobs of tomorrow as was honest to the American people that many of these jobs were not coming. (And the second fall in manufacturing was occurring in 1992 as well.) To be honest, I never understood how Trump was going to bring these jobs back as automation was the primary cause and the connection of Illegal Immigrants was not significant. Please show the direct lines of DACA Immigrants to manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt?

Agreed, as long as he rub in his Grand Victory over HRC, conservatives will take anything from Trump.

The Sicilian Woman , September 17, 2017 at 11:16 pm
Just hold the line on social issues, and we're good.

Such was/is the hope of social conservatives with whom I share the same values but who voted for Trump and whom I suspect will be badly betrayed.

Purple Tortoise , September 17, 2017 at 11:16 pm
I didn't vote for or against Trump -- the election winner was foreordained in my state -- but I am surprised to hear these "I told you sos". Despite Trump's betrayals, I am not at all convinced that the situation would be any better now had Hillary Clinton or an establishment Republican been elected. In fact, being cozy with Wall Street and immigration amnesty is exactly what Hillary Clinton or an establishment Republican would have done. So I can see how Trump is now and always has been a worse alternative from the viewpoint of the Republican establishment, but I can't see how Trump even now is a worse alternative than the Republican establishment or Hillary Clinton from the viewpoint of the typical Trump voter.

[NFR: But that's not really the point. The point is that Trump *specifically* ran against Goldman Sachs and what it represents. And now look. It simply won't do to say, "But Hillary would have been worse." Maybe so, but at this point, that strikes me as a way of rationalizing Trump's failure to keep his promises. -- RD]

The Owners , says: September 17, 2017 at 11:19 pm
@Planet Albany – "Since I voted for Trump [ ] Trump's willingness to make deals with Dems on DACA, taxes and infrastructure amounts to betrayal? Answer: It doesn't. It's what I want him to do. He campaigned on making deals, including with Russia, which I also want to see to keep the peace. Just hold the line on social issues, and we're good."

I voted for him too. Making deals witn Dems on DACA isn't "holding the line on social issues", obviously.

Trump's a total prisoner of DC, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley now. We need a new president. Thanks for Neil Gorsuch, Donnie. 'Bye.

Kronsteen1963 , September 17, 2017 at 11:19 pm
So, who were the people of Youngstown supposed to support? Hillary Clinton and a Democratic party that is visciously hostile to their social values? Jeb Bush and a Republican Party that's indifferent to their plight, and considers them to be lazy losers? Both parties support immigration and trade policies that are killing these people because it benefits their corporate and Chamber of Commerce contributors. Only one guy spoke to their situation: Donald Trump.

I don't like Trump – never have. And I didn't vote for him. I lived in Maryland – Clinton was going to win that state easily. My vote didn't matter so I voted 3rd party as a protest vote. But, I understand why people voted for Trump. They were desperate and he was THE ONLY CANDIDATE in either party that talked to their struggles. This is not a failure of the voters. It's the criminally negligent failure of both political parties to address the problems facing ordinary America.

It's easy to criticize but a lot more difficult to say what they should have done. So tell me, who should they have supported? And don't say "Anybody but Trump" – that's not an answer.

Walter Sobchak , September 17, 2017 at 11:24 pm
Shapiro is right. Planet Albany is one of the Trumpeters who love the personality, and who would not care if Trump shot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue. Their problem is that Trump can flip the Bird at the Media and the Cultural elite all he wants, but he will not affect system in the slightest, because he has no understanding of its structure and no plane to affect it in any way.
Glaivester , says: September 17, 2017 at 11:32 pm
Since I voted for Trump and you did not, doesn't that put me in a better position to judge whether Trump's willingness to make deals with Dems on DACA, taxes and infrastructure amounts to betrayal? Answer: It doesn't. It's what I want him to do.

It's not whether he makes deals. It's on whether they are good deals. The DACA deal would not be a good one if it follows what has been outlined.

John_M , says: September 17, 2017 at 11:47 pm
Trump is taking his supporters for a ride.

When I got out of graduate school I was offered a job by a steel company research lab – so yes, I was somewhat of a steel metallurgist. I went into micro-electronics instead. When I turned down their job offer, I told them that they would survive the Japanese competition, but that I thought that the mini-mills would decimate them.

The research lab closed down 3 years later as the steel company restructured.

Even without import competition, the steel industry we knew in the 1970's was doomed. The facilities were antique and the development of the basic oxygen furnace and the sophisticated electric arc remelt furnaces obsoleted much of the existing infrastructure. If you look at a Nucor mill now, you won't see many employees.

Even without any import issues, there would not have been many employees left.

Imports were – and are – a problem. But the carnage was done by technology and automation. The politicians do not seem to be very willing to discuss this – automation doesn't give the simple villain of the Chinese, Indians, Ukrainians, .

Philly guy , says: September 17, 2017 at 11:53 pm
If you look at the present day, we are still fighting over theVietnam war, as the pro and con sides are roughly the same as 40 years ago, middle class hippies vs "working class whites".
ANDREW ALLADIN , September 17, 2017 at 11:53 pm
Hillary Clinton would have easily defeated Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush. Cruz is still stuck in his Reagan impersonation; Rubio wants to go to war with Russia over Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, Syria, etc; and Jeb couldn't even bring himself to criticize the war in Iraq because of family loyalty.

Ben Shapiro charges $10,000 to give the same speech over and over again to college students. It's always the same: SJWs are whiny children, Millennials need to grow up, socialism sucks, the Alt-Right are losers, blah! blah! blah! A nice living if you can get it and he's got it.

Trump was and is still the lesser of two evils. I think of Trump the same way Christians in Syria think of Assad. Or Christians in Iraq thought about Saddam Hussein. There's always someone worse waiting to take over.

Some fellow Christians are facing bankruptcy because they refuse to provide services for a gay wedding. This isn't some whiny college campus SJW showdown. That's where my concern is. I really couldn't care less about Goldman Sachs. I don't earn enough to care. Don't care about DACA or The Wall either. Sorry.

Christian liberty is the only issue I'm voting on. And Trump will always be the lesser of two evils. Always. Always. Always.

Alex Brown , says: September 17, 2017 at 11:54 pm
So Trump is a crook, and Hillary too. I suspect much of 'Youngstown' knew that. When other choice did the system offered, from 150 millions eligible potential candidates?

Yes, things may get even more interesting. Haven't tried Sanderistas yet, have we?

ADC Wonk , says: September 18, 2017 at 12:44 am
Just hold the line on social issues, and we're good.

@Planet Albany -- how do you feel about tax "reform" that blows the budget even more, and gives the bulk of the benefit to the top 1%-ers? Or cancelling Obama regulations such as the one that required any buildings re-built with federal money needs to take rising sea levels into account? Or p!ssing off Mexico so much that that they are turning to Argentina and Brazal to purchase their wheat and corn (NAFTA uncertainties).

cecelia , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:10 am
good Rod get angry see what is happening maybe when people see how they have been betrayed then maybe they will be open to something honest
KS , says: September 18, 2017 at 2:13 am
@planet Albany,

What would Trump have to do that would make you feel he has betrayed you? Don't worry he will do it, but somehow I suspect you and the rest of the Trump faithful will stick by him anyway. This is a cult, not a political following. He is one of 'you' and so anything he does is ok.

Dux Bellorum, Austinopole , says: September 18, 2017 at 3:09 am
Those people who are dying in Youngstown because of a government working in cooperation with corporate interests to enrich shareholders no matter the cost of American lives may take great solace in the knowledge that the people making those decisions and benefitting from them said some words sometimes about how gay relationships are objectively disordered, and those outside of the zones of suffering may feel sad for those deaths, but must understand that they are martyrs who gave their lives in the war to prevent gay people from getting health insurance for their families.

$0.02,

DBA

[NFR: This is simplistic trolling and you know it. It is also the case that Hillary Clinton was in bed with Goldman. Remember the private Wall Street speech she gave , released by Wikileaks, in which she talked about how one needed to have "a public and a private position"? We would have been equally screwed by a Clinton.2 presidency, and a conventional Republican one. My anger at Trump over this is that he promised to be something different -- and, being fabulously wealthy, he didn't depend on the largesse of financial titans to make his living. He was in a position to change things -- yet on economic issues, he's turned out to be as bad or worse than those he ran against in both parties. -- RD]

Deplorable MD , September 18, 2017 at 6:51 am
Con? We are always being conned by politicians. There is a subset of voters who look upon their politician in an unhealthy God-like/3rd world fashion; much more tangible on the Left, but there on the Right as well.

I voted Trump fully expecting to be conned, hopeful that one or two promises would become reality. So far I am pleased with the level of duplicity.

Ping Lin , says: September 18, 2017 at 6:55 am

Twenty, thirty years from now, don't be surprised if some American president proposes a "this time, it's different" invasion of another foreign country. And don't be surprised if we the people cheer for him.

20 or 30 years?? Try three. We're barreling towards war with North Korea and half the country will be cheering the President (whoever it is) on.

Sam (A Different One) , says: September 18, 2017 at 6:59 am
So because Trump has failed to deliver on promises to the working class, said working class should abandon Trump for whom? The Liberals, who hate them? The GOP types, like Williamson, who also hate them?
Rob G , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:08 am
re: Youngstown, etc., The New Minority by Justin Gest is worth a read. It's a sociological study of the white working class in two comparable areas, Youngstown and East London, and what happened when industry failed. The book was written before DT won the GOP nomination, but it does take Trump's primary run into consideration. The work that Gest did is based on survey results and interviews he conducted with residents during time spent as an "embedded" researcher.
Liam , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:18 am
None of which should be a surprise to anyone who paid even a modicum of critical attention.
markw , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:33 am
For many years we have heard U.S. politicians sanctimoniously intoning that Chinese politicians legitimacy depended on their creating jobs. This last election Jeb Bush and others found out this applies to them also, to their astonishment. Trump has the wind at his back on this front with the economy going forward, but can't count on this continuing thru the next election.
Michelle , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:34 am
For those of us who always thought Trump was a huckster with no principles other than self-aggrandizement, his behavior as president comes as no surprise. He's never made a promise he couldn't break. But, like all successful hucksters, he knows his mark and knows, on an instinctive level, how to appeal to their hopes and fears to close the sale. I'm not sure what it would take to break through the rationalizations of his base, but it would have to be something pretty spectacular.
markw , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:35 am
The comment that stuck with me in the first PBS segment was that Diem owned us. This seems to apply today to Israel, probably Saudi, and who else?
Matt W , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:38 am
Be charitable. It's VERY hard for someone to admit that they were fooled.

It will be interesting to see all the mechanisms of denial. I suspect that the reality of Trump will be dismissed in the same way as the reality of Climate Change.

1. God would never allow such a terrible event to happen to His beloved USA
2. It's all the fault of (NON-WHITE) foreigners
3. FAKE NEWS!
4. It's actually a good thing

Philly guy , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:40 am
As during the Vietnam war, the real battle continues, middle class hippies vs white working class.
Jack B. Nimble , September 18, 2017 at 7:42 am
' When Youngstown (so to speak) figures out what's been done to it, politics in this country is going to get very, very interesting .'

Republicans know what they are doing, and as long as there are more scapegoats available and more vote suppression techniques to be tried, they aren't worried about losing elections. Consider this example:

Mr. Dreher's own senior US senator is pushing a last-ditch ACA repeal and replace bill, called GCHJ, that would strip federal $$ from states like Louisiana that expanded Medicaid on the federal dime. How much money is involved?

In 2026 alone, La. would lose $3.2 billion while Texas, Mississippi and Alabama would collectively gain 11.3 billion in new federal $$. Put another way, La. with its 1.4% of the US population would shoulder 4% of the total cuts mandated by GCHJ in 2026. Then a tidal wave of more federal cuts arrives in 2027.

Why would Dr. Bill Cassidy, who formerly worked in Louisiana's notorious charity hospital system before entering politics and reaching the US Senate, seek to hurt his own constituents this way? In brief, many in Louisiana oppose Medicaid and food stamps because they see the federal benefits going mostly to 'those people.' If voters in La. are conned, it is because they have conned themselves.

Source: https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured

MH - Secular Misanthropist , says: September 18, 2017 at 7:54 am

When Youngstown (so to speak) figures out what's been done to it, politics in this country is going to get very, very interesting.

It will be Snowball's fault!

[NFR: Perfect! -- RD]

Prof. Woland , says: September 18, 2017 at 8:31 am
If any of this is surprising to people on the right, it's because of willful denial during the campaign.

All of this info was there–and being spouted loudly by the left–during the campaign.

This is the deal you (not you, Rod, since you didn't vote for him..) made for Gorsuch. We'll all get to see how bad a deal it was in the next years.

PS–Trump's base will never leave him. If he were to eat a live baby on TV, they'd find a way to justify it.

connecticut farmer , September 18, 2017 at 8:40 am
" how little we Americans learned from the Vietnam experience when it came time to invade Iraq."

Amen! As in the lyrics of that Pete Seeger song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone"?":

"When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"

Polichinello , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:06 am
He didn't get rolled by Pelosi and Schumer: His voters got rolled by him. That's the real deal.

This is the part where the Never-Trumpers are overplaying their hand. They act as if they were offering a better alternative. They were not. On trade, immigration and foreign policy, all other 16 candidates were worse–significantly worse. Each promised to re-run the Bush Administration, except they'd make Putin the new Saddam Hussein.

It's as if they were the team that lost conference championship, and then gloated when the the team that won it went on to lose the Super Bowl. How about they spend a little more time looking at their own positions and trying to figure out why a significant plurality (often a large majority in a number of states) outright rejected them?

None of them have done this. They dare not anger their Boomer donors, I guess. Got to keep those cruises going!

Again, even if everything they say about Trump is true, he is still better than them.

Philip Martin , September 18, 2017 at 9:12 am
The money power of Wall Street infiltrated and changed the Democratic Party sometime after the LBJ years. As a result, we have a one-party-system with a lib and a con wing. The wings differ on social issues, and they sweep the crumbs off the table to different constituencies.

However, after 40 years of this BS, can we really expect the children and grandchildren of displaced steelworkers (who symbolize all the outsourced, discarded workers in the U.S.) to rise in anger with torches and pitchforks? Sad to say, but the victims of this betrayal so far are passively standing by. I am not calling for violent revolution, but instead for a party that puts the needs and aspirations of the average person at the head of the table. If the Democratic Party won't do it, and yet won't go away, then a serious effort needs to made to foster a new party.

Polichinello , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:13 am
It's worth noting, too, that the Trump base has been melting down phone lines in Washington protesting Amnesty.

Obviously, it's your blog, Rod, so you can do what you like with it, but why not take a look at this issue itself instead of post after post taking victory laps about that Horrible Mr. Trump? What do you think would be a good deal? Should there be some limited amnesty (which I favor)?

Uncle Billy , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:19 am
Goldman Sachs is the fourth branch of government. They are indeed "too big to fail." Perhaps we should stop fighting them and try to somehow get them working for the common good. I don't know how this could be done, but it is worth a try.
Wes , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:20 am
[NFR: But that's not really the point. The point is that Trump *specifically* ran against Goldman Sachs and what it represents. And now look. It simply won't do to say, "But Hillary would have been worse." Maybe so, but at this point, that strikes me as a way of rationalizing Trump's failure to keep his promises. -- RD]

Putting things into context is precisely the point.

ROB , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:23 am
Just shocking that a politician went back on a campaign promise. Throw the bum out. Shocking.
KD , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:33 am
No Quarter, Rod!
Sheldon , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:36 am
I'm not remotely surprised to read in these precincts that the Democrats, particularly Clinton, are just as much in the bag for Wall Street as Trump and the Republicans. Too bad it's completely untrue. Even if Clinton were so inclined, which she certainly wouldn't be to nearly the same extent, major elements in the Democratic party and Congress would be pushing for policies far removed from the plutocratic – as they have for years, for increased financial and antitrust regulation, higher taxes on the 1%, limits on CEO pay, environmental controls, minimum wage, and on and on and on. There is no such significant political element among Republican officeholders, either at the state or federal level. The argument that "Democrats (especially evil Hillary) are just as bad" – all evidence to the contrary – is really just an after-the-fact rationalization to justify one's prior support for what is clearly one of the most financially and morally corrupt administrations in our history.
KingP , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:44 am
It is amazing how much research and
socio-political commentary is necessary in order to prove that an amoral, egomaniac MTV-era pseudo-celebrity apparently intends to govern the country like an amoral, egomaniac MTV-era pseudo-celebrity. In other words, he is a narcissistic goofball who will tell anyone anything in order to get press or money.

Who knew? Apparently not enough of us to prevent the cartoon presidency.

Daniel R. Baker , September 18, 2017 at 9:56 am
And when the people of Youngstown realize Trump has betrayed them, they will turn left, and turn hard. The next Bernie Sanders cannot be stopped, for the same reason Trump couldn't be stopped: because he will simply take the party away from the establishment. As I said last year, when you elect Marius, Sulla follows.

I'm not surprised that Trump can't see this coming. I am a bit surprised that Goldman Sachs apparently doesn't either.

KD , says: September 18, 2017 at 9:58 am
The politics of immigration restriction is interesting. The restrictionists have clear and strong preferences.

"Popular opinion" may be against restrictionism (or not given the media lens), but at the end of the day, most of public against restrictionism has a soft level of support mostly for virtue signalling purposes. They don't actually care.

The business lobby cares a lot, and the ethnonationalist/racialist wing of the Democrats, and that is about all.

Playing games with DACA is going to open the GOP to nasty primary battles, which judging from 2016, the Establishment candidates will be vulnerable. Also, supporting these schlock sentimental policies aren't going to win them any votes, anymore than giving money to refugee assistance or homeless shelters.

I don't think the Establishment has any idea of the level of dissatisfaction and discontent there is in the electorate, as their plan is short to mid-term doom. (Polling has 9% of Americans identifying as "Alt-Right" post-Charlottesville, and about another 30% you can describe as "Alt-Lite". These are mostly the people who will vote in GOP Primaries in 2018.)

[Sep 18, 2017] Critical Realism: Mathematics versus Mythematics in Economics

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I argue here that it's the abuse of mathematics by Neoclassical economists -- who practice what I have dubbed "Mythematics" rather than Mathematics--and that some phenomena are uncovered by mathematical logic that can't be discovered by verbal logic alone. ..."
"... A lady in the audi­ence named Barb Jacobson suggested that using the name Neo-Classical gives it a cer­tain degree of cache and wants you guys to start call­ing it for what it is: "Scorched Earth Economics." What a great name to use and doesn't it ring true? ..."
Oct 02, 2015 | www.debtdeflation.com

This is the brief talk I gave at a conference celebrating 25 years of the Critical Realist seminar series at Cambridge University. Critical realists argue against the use of mathematics in economics; I argue here that it's the abuse of mathematics by Neoclassical economists -- who practice what I have dubbed "Mythematics" rather than Mathematics--and that some phenomena are uncovered by mathematical logic that can't be discovered by verbal logic alone.

I give the example of my own model of Minsky's Financial Instability Hypothesis, which revealed the possibility of a "Great Moderation" preceding a "Great Recession" before either event had happened.

David Milburn, September 12, 2015 at 9:38 am

Steve,

Last week Prof Bill Mitchell was in London where he gave a talk on re-framing the language used in the media that carried on the myth of the main­stream groupthink. A lady in the audi­ence named Barb Jacobson suggested that using the name Neo-Classical gives it a cer­tain degree of cache and wants you guys to start call­ing it for what it is: "Scorched Earth Economics." What a great name to use and doesn't it ring true? Barb Jacobson is spot on!

Sue Madden, September 13, 2015 at 8:28 am

Hi Steve,
I was really amused to see an inter­view a while back in the New Sci­en­tist, with the "research chief" (!!) at the B of E. If you haven't seen it, you really must:

Opinion Interview with Andy Haldane: "Sackcloth and Ashes on Thread needle Street" New Scientist 25 March 2015

Corbyn was elected leader!!!! Now the sparks will fly. At least a pub­lic debate wor­thy of the name might at last be heard in our sad country.

Thanks for your work in trying to enlighten us!!
Sue.

[Sep 18, 2017] Its always bizarre who easily neoliberals turn into hawkish and warmongering jerks

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Why it is bizarre. This is the political regime we are living in: there are now two war parties in the USA now: DemoRats and Repugs, not only one as in good old days. ..."
Apr 09, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. , April 07, 2017 at 01:41 PM
pgl -> pgl...

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in an official statement: "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield."

I guess they could say this was the right thing to do...

Peter K. -> Peter K.... , April 07, 2017 at 01:41 PM
Would you want Russia doing military strikes without notifying U.S. forces first?

It's always bizarre when liberals turn all hawkish and warmongering.

libezkova -> Peter K.... , April 07, 2017 at 05:38 PM
"It's always bizarre when liberals turn all hawkish and warmongering."

Why it is bizarre. This is the political regime we are living in: there are now two war parties in the USA now: DemoRats and Repugs, not only one as in good old days.

How Hillary is different from Senator McShame is unclear to me.

[Sep 17, 2017] How to effectively resist truth-killing efforts of various agencies not interested in revealing the truth on the particular subject

Notable quotes:
"... In all those discussions, be it Obamacare, neoclassical economics, neoliberalism, globalization, automation, or supposed Russian interference in elections the key question is how to effectively resist truth-killing efforts of various agencies not interested in revealing the truth on the particular subject. ..."
"... Now those disinformation efforts can be easily amplified via Internet, which serves as a kind of echo-chamber. For example, just a half-dozen of like-minded people can drive Internet discussion in the necessary direction and spam or smear opponents. Essentially such informal cliques are quite capable to dominate discussion in popular blogs. ..."
"... The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and domestic, because truth - factual reality - is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate policy on any subject. ..."
"... Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently. ..."
Jun 27, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova June 27, 2017 at 10:50 AM

In all those discussions, be it Obamacare, neoclassical economics, neoliberalism, globalization, automation, or supposed Russian interference in elections the key question is how to effectively resist truth-killing efforts of various agencies not interested in revealing the truth on the particular subject.

Now those disinformation efforts can be easily amplified via Internet, which serves as a kind of echo-chamber. For example, just a half-dozen of like-minded people can drive Internet discussion in the necessary direction and spam or smear opponents. Essentially such informal cliques are quite capable to dominate discussion in popular blogs.

Paul R. Pillar in his May 2 essay in National interest provided an interesting overview of this problem. While his analyses is related to Trump climate change policies some points have wider applicability:

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/truth-killing-meta-issue-20452?page=2

The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and domestic, because truth - factual reality - is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate policy on any subject.

Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently.

To the extent that falsehood is successfully instilled in the minds of enough people, the political system loses what would otherwise be its ability to provide a check on policy that is bad policy because it is inconsistent with factual reality.

[Sep 17, 2017] The last 25 years (or so) were years of tremendous progress in computers and networking that changed the human civilization

Notable quotes:
"... To emulate those capabilities on computers will probably require another 100 years or more. Selective functions can be imitated even now (manipulator that deals with blocks in a pyramid was created in 70th or early 80th I think, but capabilities of human "eye controlled arm" is still far, far beyond even wildest dreams of AI. ..."
"... Similarly human intellect is completely different from AI. At the current level the difference is probably 1000 times larger then the difference between a child with Down syndrome and a normal person. ..."
"... Human brain is actually a machine that creates languages for specific domain (or acquire them via learning) and then is able to operate in terms of those languages. Human child forced to grow up with animals, including wild animals, learns and is able to use "animal language." At least to a certain extent. Some of such children managed to survive in this environment. ..."
"... If you are bilingual, try Google translate on this post. You might be impressed by their recent progress in this field. It did improved considerably and now does not cause instant laugh. ..."
"... One interesting observation that I have is that automation is not always improve functioning of the organization. It can be quite opposite :-). Only the costs are cut, and even that is not always true. ..."
"... Of course the last 25 years (or so) were years of tremendous progress in computers and networking that changed the human civilization. And it is unclear whether we reached the limit of current capabilities or not in certain areas (in CPU speeds and die shrinking we probably did; I do not expect anything significant below 7 nanometers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_nanometer ). ..."
May 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

libezkova , May 27, 2017 at 10:53 PM

"When combined with our brains, human fingers are amazingly fine manipulation devices."

Not only fingers. The whole human arm is an amazing device. Pure magic, if you ask me.

To emulate those capabilities on computers will probably require another 100 years or more. Selective functions can be imitated even now (manipulator that deals with blocks in a pyramid was created in 70th or early 80th I think, but capabilities of human "eye controlled arm" is still far, far beyond even wildest dreams of AI.

Similarly human intellect is completely different from AI. At the current level the difference is probably 1000 times larger then the difference between a child with Down syndrome and a normal person.

Human brain is actually a machine that creates languages for specific domain (or acquire them via learning) and then is able to operate in terms of those languages. Human child forced to grow up with animals, including wild animals, learns and is able to use "animal language." At least to a certain extent. Some of such children managed to survive in this environment.

Such cruel natural experiments have shown that the level of flexibility of human brain is something really incredible. And IMHO can not be achieved by computers (although never say never).

Here we are talking about tasks that are 1 million times more complex task that playing GO or chess, or driving a car on the street.

My impression is that most of recent AI successes (especially IBM win in Jeopardy ( http://www.techrepublic.com/article/ibm-watson-the-inside-story-of-how-the-jeopardy-winning-supercomputer-was-born-and-what-it-wants-to-do-next/ ), which probably was partially staged, is by-and-large due to the growth of storage and the number of cores of computers, not so much sophistication of algorithms used.

The limits of AI are clearly visible when we see the quality of translation from one language to another. For more or less complex technical text it remains medium to low. As in "requires human editing".

If you are bilingual, try Google translate on this post. You might be impressed by their recent progress in this field. It did improved considerably and now does not cause instant laugh.

Same thing with the speech recognition. The progress is tremendous, especially the last three-five years. But it is still far from perfect. Now, with a some training, programs like Dragon are quite usable as dictation device on, say PC with 4 core 3GHz CPU with 16 GB of memory (especially if you are native English speaker), but if you deal with special text or have strong accent, they still leaves much to be desired (although your level of knowledge of the program, experience and persistence can improve the results considerably.

One interesting observation that I have is that automation is not always improve functioning of the organization. It can be quite opposite :-). Only the costs are cut, and even that is not always true.

Of course the last 25 years (or so) were years of tremendous progress in computers and networking that changed the human civilization. And it is unclear whether we reached the limit of current capabilities or not in certain areas (in CPU speeds and die shrinking we probably did; I do not expect anything significant below 7 nanometers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_nanometer ).

[Sep 17, 2017] GDP was never meant to be a measure of how well-off society is. Only under neoliberalism it has become such a fake indicator with huge propaganda value

Notable quotes:
"... "Here is my two cents: these three researchers may have just put the nail in the coffin of using production-side measures of the free economy-and that is not really all that bad. GDP is a measure of total production. It was ever meant to be a measure of how well-off society has become. ..."
"... While introduction of the concept of GDP and systematic its measurement (with all its warts, especially in calculation of "real GDP") was a great achievement, absolutization of GDP under neoliberalism and, especially, false equivalence between GDP growth and growth of the standard of living of population are dangerous neoliberal myths. ..."
"... We should fight neoliberal cult of GDP. ..."
"... Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what. ..."
Jun 12, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Christopher H. , June 12, 2017 at 03:10 PM

Interesting post at Digitopoly by Shane Greenstein

"Here is my two cents: these three researchers may have just put the nail in the coffin of using production-side measures of the free economy-and that is not really all that bad. GDP is a measure of total production. It was ever meant to be a measure of how well-off society has become.

More to the point, maybe it is time to focus on the demand-side measures of free goods. In other words, you get a lot more for your Internet subscription, but nothing in GDP reflects that. For example, the price index for Internet services should reflect qualitative improvement in user experiences, and needs to improve."

libezkova said in reply to Christopher H.... , June 12, 2017 at 07:44 PM
While introduction of the concept of GDP and systematic its measurement (with all its warts, especially in calculation of "real GDP") was a great achievement, absolutization of GDP under neoliberalism and, especially, false equivalence between GDP growth and growth of the standard of living of population are dangerous neoliberal myths.

We should fight neoliberal cult of GDP.

Simon Kuznets, the economist who developed the first comprehensive set of measures of national income, stated in his first report to the US Congress in 1934, in a section titled "Uses and Abuses of National Income Measurements":

The valuable capacity of the human mind to simplify a complex situation in a compact characterization becomes dangerous when not controlled in terms of definitely stated criteria. With quantitative measurements especially, the definiteness of the result suggests, often misleadingly, a precision and simplicity in the outlines of the object measured. Measurements of national income are subject to this type of illusion and resulting abuse, especially since they deal with matters that are the center of conflict of opposing social groups where the effectiveness of an argument is often contingent upon oversimplification. [...]

All these qualifications upon estimates of national income as an index of productivity are just as important when income measurements are interpreted from the point of view of economic welfare. But in the latter case additional difficulties will be suggested to anyone who wants to penetrate below the surface of total figures and market values. Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.

In 1962, Kuznets stated:

Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what.

[Sep 17, 2017] Society has always been divided into two classes: those who write the script, and those who live it; the programmers and the users.

Notable quotes:
"... The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power. Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs told whoppers to get their peasants to invest in pyramids, or the Archdruids got their's to die hauling and arranging 20T rocks on a dreary plain. ..."
"... As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else. ..."
"... Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down ..."
Sep 15, 2017 | www.unz.com

Anonymous > , Disclaimer September 15, 2017 at 8:22 am GMT

@Erebus


This is their starting position: It is a hoax until proven otherwise.
If it's turned out to be a hoax the last 20x it happened, why would you insist on starting at the opposite end? Seems inefficient, no?

What is perhaps even more inefficient on the part of Dinh and Revusky is to go interminably 'round and 'round this spot. Ok, we know that the narratives elites feed their subjects are invariably false. They have to be, or they wouldn't work. Twas ever thus.

The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power. Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs told whoppers to get their peasants to invest in pyramids, or the Archdruids got their's to die hauling and arranging 20T rocks on a dreary plain.

As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else.

Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down, which is why Dinh's vignettes from the fraying seams of the American Narrative are more fascinating than these half-baked, pseudo-forensic analyses of "terror events". Maybe he thinks too many people still believe these bugaboos and should be brought around to enlightenment. That's as may be, but one wonders whether he understands that if enough people "come around", the forces unleashed are far more disruptive than when they accept, if not believe, the lies.

As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else.

In other words, society has always been divided into two classes: those who write the script, and those who live it; the programmers and the users.

What's gone wrong? Are too many people finding the root shell?

[Sep 17, 2017] Society has always been divided into two classes: those who write the script, and those who live it; the programmers and the users.

Sep 17, 2017 | www.unz.com

September 15, 2017

Anonymous > , Disclaimer September 15, 2017 at 8:22 am GMT

@Erebus


This is their starting position: It is a hoax until proven otherwise.
If it's turned out to be a hoax the last 20x it happened, why would you insist on starting at the opposite end? Seems inefficient, no?

What is perhaps even more inefficient on the part of Dinh and Revusky is to go interminably 'round and 'round this spot. Ok, we know that the narratives elites feed their subjects are invariably false. They have to be, or they wouldn't work. Twas ever thus.

The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power. Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs told whoppers to get their peasants to invest in pyramids, or the Archdruids got their's to die hauling and arranging 20T rocks on a dreary plain.

As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else.

Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down, which is why Dinh's vignettes from the fraying seams of the American Narrative are more fascinating than these half-baked, pseudo-forensic analyses of "terror events". Maybe he thinks too many people still believe these bugaboos and should be brought around to enlightenment. That's as may be, but one wonders whether he understands that if enough people "come around", the forces unleashed are far more disruptive than when they accept, if not believe, the lies.

As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else.

In other words, society has always been divided into two classes: those who write the script, and those who live it; the programmers and the users.

What's gone wrong? Are too many people finding the root shell?

[Sep 17, 2017] Anyone using the words, conspiracy theories implicitly subscribe to MSM narrative of events and lack of intellectual patience to analyze events himself. Even if the rumor (aka conspiracy theory ) is wrong if often raises important issues about the weaknesses of the official MSM narrative -- politically correct explanation of the same events

The narratives are, after all not intended to reveal any truths, but to get their subjects to do something the elites want them to do, and in the course their doing it, to cement the elites' power.
Subjects, being what they are, have fallen for lies since the Pharoahs...
As long as a subject can internalize the narrative and live his life as if it was true, that's good enough for him. He simply doesn't need, or even want more truth than that. He never has, and he never will. Elites have known this since the dawn of the Neolithic, maybe earlier. That's what made them elites. Nothing else. Much more interesting is what happens when narratives break down. That's why half-baked, pseudo-forensic analyses of "terror events" falls under the scrutiny lately. One wonders whether he understands that if enough people "come around", the forces unleashed are far more disruptive than when the the lemmings accept, if not believe, the lies.
Notable quotes:
"... Anyone using the words, "conspiracy theories" as used above really shouldn't be lecturing anyone about their lack of good sense or their lack of intellectual patience. In fact, using such mass media promulgated terms shows a gross lack of brain power as well as a paucity of experience, a high degree of susceptibility to propaganda, high titer of naivete, not enough sense to question much, if anything, and poor judgement overall. ..."
"... Someone other than myself coined the term, "coincidence theorist" and that appropriately applies to those who parrot mass media generated concepts and is much more damning. ..."
"... Millions of us have been aware of the "Empire" for years now Linh. We just don't have access to the media expression as you do. We tend to be quiet about it until we sense a person or group is open to this Truth. Most people think inside the box because it's safe, comforting, and lacks unpleasant reactions. We who want the Truth value your articles, because we really do believe that "The Truth will set you free." ..."
Sep 15, 2017 | www.unz.com

jacques sheete, September 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm GMT

@Hairway To Steven Conspiracy theories like those expressed in this article and in many of the comments are for those either lacking the good sense to appreciate that the world is complex or the intellectual patience to sort through that complexity. In the absence of these qualities, conspiracy nuts come up with unified theories that "explain everything" (e.g., the Jews control the world). Actually moving out of the basement of their mom's house, or even losing their virginity, might help, but most of these sweaty little pamphleteers are lost causes whose lives rarely extend beyond a circle of like-minded friends and the insular concerns expressed in their over-heated and under-read blogs.

Conspiracy theories like those expressed in this article and in many of the comments are for those either lacking the good sense to appreciate that the world is complex or the intellectual patience to sort through that complexity.

Or they could be lacking in gullibility, which is much more likely.

Anyone using the words, "conspiracy theories" as used above really shouldn't be lecturing anyone about their lack of good sense or their lack of intellectual patience. In fact, using such mass media promulgated terms shows a gross lack of brain power as well as a paucity of experience, a high degree of susceptibility to propaganda, high titer of naivete, not enough sense to question much, if anything, and poor judgement overall.

Someone other than myself coined the term, "coincidence theorist" and that appropriately applies to those who parrot mass media generated concepts and is much more damning.

Joe Hide, September 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Millions of us have been aware of the "Empire" for years now Linh. We just don't have access to the media expression as you do. We tend to be quiet about it until we sense a person or group is open to this Truth. Most people think inside the box because it's safe, comforting, and lacks unpleasant reactions. We who want the Truth value your articles, because we really do believe that "The Truth will set you free."

[Sep 16, 2017] Winter is Coming

Notable quotes:
"... Democrats wouldn't know what to do if they won in 2018. All you have to do is remember 2006, when Democrats won back the House with a mandate to end the war in Iraq...and Pelosi did nothing about it. ..."
"... My one-note tune: make union busting a felony -- so the US population can enjoy the kind of economic and political muscle considered commonplace in "normal" industrial countries. This will lead to an upsurge in "earning effect" caused demand for a long, long (readjustment up) time. ..."
"... The only thing that should cost less are existing assets, which should see their prices cut by 20-80% relative to general price levels. Which can happen only by much higher prices for food, energy, clothing, transportation, education ..."
"... To actually cut asset prices to the logical levels would eliminate so much income from excessive rents, that revenue for essentials would be starved driving down food, energy, et al prices creating even greater hardship for workers. ..."
Sep 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

I have a new column:

Here's Why We're Not Prepared for the Next Recession : When will the next recession hit the economy? Nobody knows for sure, but we can be certain that sooner or later the economy will experience another downturn. When that happens, will monetary and fiscal policymakers have the ability to respond effectively?

The inevitability of another recession is evident in a graph of the unemployment rate. ...

Posted by Mark Thoma on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 08:19 AM in Economics , Fiscal Times | Permalink Comments (66)

Christopher H. , July 17, 2017 at 08:21 AM

Game of Thrones. Best show on television!
Christopher H. , July 17, 2017 at 08:32 AM
"Our best hope is that the economy remains at full employment long enough for the Fed to restore its ability to cut rates and that Congress is gridlocked when the downturn comes (or that midterm elections somehow bring some sanity)."

Hopefully 2018 is a wave election for the Democrats. Professor Thoma is right that a recession will be coming sooner or later - it is inevitable. The financial sector doesn't look like it will have another crisis or panic anytime soon, so hopefully the Fed doesn't raise rates more quickly than the economy can handle.

JohnH -> Christopher H.... , July 17, 2017 at 03:59 PM
Democrats wouldn't know what to do if they won in 2018. All you have to do is remember 2006, when Democrats won back the House with a mandate to end the war in Iraq...and Pelosi did nothing about it.
pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 04:10 PM
The Speaker of the House is our Commander in Chief? Wow - your reading of the Constitution is very creative.
JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 05:47 PM
Yet again, pgl shows his ignorance. The Speaker of the House is the gatekeeper for all legislation in the House, which gives enormous sway.

And in fact Pelosi wouldn't block war funding after Democrats' election mandate to end the war.
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Story?id=2805714&page=1

jonny bakho , July 17, 2017 at 08:41 AM
We have automatic stabilizers that will kick in that should help if the recession is not prolonged. In the past, recessions have been geographically unbalanced with some states hit hard and others hardly at all. In the next 10 years, a much larger fraction of the population will be retired and receiving pensions that typically have a base income that is not affected by recessions. That will tend to smooth the shock
pgl -> jonny bakho... , July 17, 2017 at 09:38 AM
"recessions have been geographically unbalanced with some states hit hard and others hardly at all."

A nice case for more Federal revenue sharing. Another thing that ain't happening under GOP rule.

jonny bakho -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 07:00 PM
A reason why fiscal and regulatory policy are important tools for economic management. Monetary policy is a crude tool
Denis Drew , July 17, 2017 at 08:44 AM
My one-note tune: make union busting a felony -- so the US population can enjoy the kind of economic and political muscle considered commonplace in "normal" industrial countries. This will lead to an upsurge in "earning effect" caused demand for a long, long (readjustment up) time.
mulp -> Denis Drew ... , July 17, 2017 at 09:39 AM
Can't happen until economists argue that higher costs are the only solution to the decline of the American Dream.

Food must cost more.
Energy must cost more.
Clothing must cost more.
Transportation must cost more.
Education must cost more
Health care services must cost more.

The only thing that should cost less are existing assets, which should see their prices cut by 20-80% relative to general price levels. Which can happen only by much higher prices for food, energy, clothing, transportation, education,....

To actually cut asset prices to the logical levels would eliminate so much income from excessive rents, that revenue for essentials would be starved driving down food, energy, et al prices creating even greater hardship for workers.

But where are the economists calling for higher consumer prices and drastic cuts in asset prices?

sanjait -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 10:09 AM
I'd like to see a higher inflation target and to have capital gains and income taxes unified at some rate greater than 30%.

And I don't think I'm alone in these wants, though I don't see many who explicitly link them together in the way you are.

Denis Drew -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 01:17 PM
All you are saying is that we cannot raise wages for the severely underpaid -- compared to what the market would pay if they could only withhold their input to production to make a deal -- because it would just raise prices too.

That would be true if the price of most labor were not severely out of line with a balanced labor market price.

New Deal democrat , July 17, 2017 at 09:16 AM
I generally agree with Prof. Thoma's analysis as expressed in the underlying column.

Let me add two points:

1. As I have noted many times, wage growth typically declines over 2% in a recession; e.g., if you start at 4.5% wage growth, you end up at 2%-2.5% wage growth. We haven't been able to achieve much about 2.5% wage growth for non-managerial workers even now. That means we risk a deflationary wage-price spiral for the first time since the 1930s in the next recession.

2. Since the GOP will -- of course -- propose tax cuts tilted towards the wealthy as the cure-all, the effect will only *intensity* the deflationary pulse.

I twill likely result in a wave election for the left -- but at terrible cost.

mulp -> New Deal democrat... , July 17, 2017 at 09:43 AM
How can you have wage growth without consumer price inflation?

How can grossly excessive asset price inflation be eliminated without consumer price inflation to fund higher wages?

Other than by a 21st century Great Depression.

pgl -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 09:47 AM
"How can you have wage growth without consumer price inflation?"

Germany seems to be doing this.

cm -> pgl... , July 18, 2017 at 08:57 PM
Consumers are experiencing price inflation in Germany too. E.g. rising rents or copays for medical/assistive services and equipment that are not fully covered, or where the insurance pays a fixed or capped amount and you have to negotiate and pay a "free market" price.

Prices for groceries and what is generally understood as consumer goods are more stable, but that's not everything.

As everywhere else, that which people need the most and cannot easily forgo or substitute has the highest pricing power. There is no magic solution.

JohnH -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 10:03 AM
"How can you have wage growth without consumer price inflation?"

When labor captures its productivity growth...something that hasn't happened much in the last 40 years. But instead of advocating for that to happen, librul economists simply call for more inflation, which only destroys purchasing power without necessarily raising wages...as we saw in the 1970s and 1980s.

The only time in the inflaionary era since WWII that workers got real gains was 1995-2000 when there was relatively low inflation combined with tight labor markets. The real wage increases of the1960s were quickly reversed by the inflation of the 1970s.

sanjait -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 10:12 AM
You can't assume labor/capital shares are fixed. They are not. They are the result of many factors.

General price inflation affects this balance but doesn't control it.

I think you are assuming causality operates in a way that does not accord with reality.

pgl -> sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 10:17 AM
"You can't assume labor/capital shares are fixed."

He is implicitly assuming this. I would suggest he check the data as they clearly are not.

JohnH -> sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM
Nothing surprises me less than to see sanjait and pgl argue that it's splendid to have labor productivity rise 243.1% since 1973 and hourly compensation rise 108.9% over the same time period.

It's time for libruls to start obsessing about the lack of pass-through from productivity to wages, instead of obsessing incessantly about a 0.25% increase in interest rates.

sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 11:26 AM
Lol, wow, you really don't read good.
pgl -> sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 12:43 PM
He does not even read past the title of his own links.
pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 12:43 PM
I never argued that and neither has Sanjait. Your propensity to lie about what others have said is really disgusting.
JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 03:17 PM
pgl argues for more inflation, not higher real wages...then turns around and denies it!
pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 04:11 PM
I would say you could not get dumber but you exceed expectations every day.
DeDude , July 17, 2017 at 09:23 AM
The suggestion that republicans would do the exact wrong thing (cutting rather than expanding federal government spending during a downturn is misunderstanding them. Yes during the Obama presidency they were advocating and pushing policies that would make the downturn worse and/or delay the recovery. But that was exactly because they knew what it would do - not because of ignorance. The had even stated the true purpose. When their Turtle leader said that the number one GOP priority was to make Obama a one term president, he wasn't kidding. They spend 8 years doing everything they could to sabotage the country and Obama, because they cared more about getting in power than they cared about the country. Before Obama, every economic downturn was meet with a bipartisan support for stimulus and partisan bickering about the details of that stimulus (ending in some kind of compromise). Everybody knew you had to counter recessions by increasing government spending (and help compensate states for their falling tax incomes so they wouldn't cut spending much). They also knew that they had to send money (checks) to the consumer class to stabilize consumer spending and give brakes to companies to encourage investments and hiring. The GDP is fifth grade math and our legislators of different sides all could (and can) understand it. When the political damage of a recession falls on the GOP they will be very quick to call for the exact same actions that they condemned as responses to the great recession.
pgl -> DeDude... , July 17, 2017 at 09:36 AM
"When their Turtle leader said that the number one GOP priority was to make Obama a one term president, he wasn't kidding."

The perfect description for the senior Senator from Kentucky.

mulp -> DeDude... , July 17, 2017 at 09:47 AM
"Yes during the Obama presidency they were advocating and pushing policies that would make the downturn worse and/or delay the recovery."

Paying lots more workers to build infrastructure on a sustained basis will make the economy worse?

And you believe that drastically cutting government spending in a shutdown will drive a fast recovery?

So, you must be a big supporter of Cruz, Ryan, the Freedom Caucus, Cato, Heritage,....

DeDude -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 12:09 PM
Try to read it before you comment on it.
Julio -> DeDude... , July 18, 2017 at 08:42 AM
Wait, wait...what?? Is that how it's supposed to work?
Denis Drew -> DeDude... , July 17, 2017 at 01:19 PM
Republican politicians and the Republican party are true traitors to their fellow American ...

... the "sixth column."

EMichael -> DeDude... , July 18, 2017 at 08:46 AM
Ehh, maybe they have morphed into an ideology that does not allow normal things.

"In 2009, David Frum, the former Bush administration speechwriter whose ideological apostasy was in its formative stages, met with conservative intellectuals to discuss the policy response to the great recession. Faced with evidence that only massive government action -- a financial rescue coupled with fiscal stimulus -- could have prevented a complete economic meltdown, one conservative made a startling confession: "Maybe it was a good thing we weren't in power then -- because our principles don't allow us to respond to a crisis like this."

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/trumpcare-collapsed-because-republicans-cannot-govern.html

anne , July 17, 2017 at 09:23 AM
Really nice essay:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=epYs

January 4, 2017

Unemployment rate and Employment-population ratio, * 1988-2017

* Employment age 25-54

pgl , July 17, 2017 at 09:35 AM
"Even a year or so from now, the Fed's target interest rate won't be high enough to leave much room for cuts in response to an economic downturn. And if Janet Yellen is replaced as Fed Chair when her term ends early next year, as looks very likely, a Fed chair appointed by a Republican administration and backed up by at least three Trump appointed Board members is unlikely to engage in quantitative easing and the other creative ways the Fed tried to stimulate the economy when its target interest rate couldn't be cut any further."

Actually low nominal interest rates would not be a barrier if the FED were willing to pursue higher expected inflation targets. While Yellen would be open to this, you are right about the Trump appointed board members. We will be lucky if we don't end up with a gold standard FED under Trump.

Which of course makes the need for fiscal stimulus via infrastructure investment even more needed. Alas the only Trump stimulus will be "Reagan style" - tax cuts for the rich and a yuuuge defense department.

JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 10:09 AM
If the Fed has no room to maneuver, maybe the next Fed chair will have the good sense to actively promote fiscal stimulus...unlike the past two.

Unfortunately I suspect the would rather fail than concede its impotence.

sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 10:13 AM
You've packed so many layers of derp into two sentences. Impressive.
pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 10:18 AM
Do read the Constitution someday. Something about the powers of Congress. Lord!
JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 11:33 AM
pgl thinks that the Fed's ability to lobby Congress is proscribed in the Constitution!!!
sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 12:12 PM
Do you know what the Fed is? Do you know what "lobby" means?

Doesn't seem like you do.

pgl -> sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Well Greenspan did sort of lobby for the 2001 tax cut. One of the FED's lowest moments.
JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 03:50 PM
"Greenspan did sort of lobby for the 2001 tax cut" that mostly benefitted the wealthy...exactly the kind of trickle down that the Fed would lobby for.
pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 04:12 PM
Your stupidity grows with each comment. Amazing.
JohnH -> sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 03:22 PM
Apparently sanjait doesn't understand English very well.

"Lobbying involves the advocacy of an interest that is affected, actually or potentially, by the decisions of government leaders."
http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Lobbying

This is exactly what the Federal Reserve should do if monetary policy becomes impotent.

pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 12:44 PM
Yep - you are a stupid lying jackass. Thanks for the reminder.
JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 03:24 PM
Marriner Eccles lobbied Congress for fiscal stimulus, something pgl will never give him credit for...he'd rather see the Fed fail than to have it lobby for fiscal stimulus.
Sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 03:32 PM
The Fed isn't an interest group. It isn't going to "fail" in any intrinsic way. It's an entity established to manage monetary policy.

It would be like if I said a school failed at its mission when parents don't give their kids nutritious breakfasts, for failing to convince parents to do so.

JohnH, your act is boring and tired. Once again I feel lessened for having even replied to one of your comments.

JohnH -> Sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 03:36 PM
Marriner Eccles, for whom the Fed's HQ is named, didn't have such a 'no, we can't' view of the Fed's role...he lobbied for fiscal stimulus.

But sanjait just hunkers down with the 'no, we can't crowd,' happy that the Fed limited itself to managing monetary policy instead of trying to make the economy perform.

pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 04:13 PM
He lobbied for fiscal stimulus? Not in 1937 - which is when FED policy turned contractionary. JohnH - totally unaware of our economic history.
JohnH -> Sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 03:56 PM
Recognizing that it was having a hard time educating hungry kids, a school could lobby the government to fund a school lunch program...entirely appropriate for an public organization trying to fulfill its mission of producing well educated kids.

Apparently the Fed doesn't see robust economic growth as its real mission...only feathering the nests of the Wall Street banking cartel and its wealthy clientele.

mulp -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 10:15 AM
You are the puppet master behind the Fed board.

What Fed policy would you take to lower asset prices that are grossly inflated relative to consumer prices which need to inflate at 5% a year to increase wages of the bottom 50% by 10%?

Ie, your task is to reduce the price of US Treasuries significantly below par to cause all asset derivatives to fall significantly below par. Existing real assets must see prices fall significantly because new assets of greater value are flooding the market.

Ie, how does the Fed force the construction of new assets at high rates?

Ie, how does the Fed force tens of millions of new workers be paid to build Assets?

Where would you find support in FDR and Keynes words?

Or Marriner Eccles words?

From Roosevelt Institute:

"Eccles' transformation from a businessman, brought up to believe in survival of the fittest, to his belief in government spending on the neediest can teach us many lessons today. He pragmatically saw that money is not neutral, and it has an economic function independent of ownership. Money serves a social purpose if it circulates widely through transactions and investments, and is socially harmful if it is hoarded in idle savings, no matter who owns it. Liquidity is the only measure of the usefulness of money. The penchant for capital preservation on the part of those who have surplus money has a natural tendency to reduce liquidity in times of deflation and economic slowdown.

"The solution is to start the money flowing again by directing it not toward those who already have a surplus, but to those who have not enough. Giving more money to those who already have too much would take more money out of circulation into idle savings and prolong the depression.

"The solution is to give money to the most needy, since they will spend it immediately. The only institution that can do this transfer of money for the good of the system is the federal government, which can issue or borrow money backed by the full faith and credit of the nation and put it in the hands of the masses, who would spend it immediately, thus creating needed demand. Transfer of money through employment is not the same of transfer of wealth. Deficit financing of fiscal expenditure is the only way to inject money and improve liquidity in a stalled economy. Thus Eccles promoted a limited war on poverty and unemployment, not on moral but on utilitarian grounds."

http://rooseveltinstitute.org/marriner-s-eccles-keynesian-evangelist-keynes/

pgl -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 10:20 AM
Try checking on how Marriner Eccles contributed to the 1937. Words are one thing but actions speaking louder.
JohnH -> pgl... , July 17, 2017 at 11:19 AM
pgl just can't stomach the idea that a Fed chair actually had the gumption to lobby Congress for fiscal stimulus! The horror of it!
pgl -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 12:46 PM
Yep - you have no idea about the 1937 recession. Thanks for also reminding how utterly stupid you really are.
JohnH -> mulp ... , July 17, 2017 at 11:17 AM
What Fed policy would you take to lower asset prices that are grossly inflated:

Restrict borrowing on margin to purchase stocks.

Pro-actively advocate for the following:
Financial transactions tax

Remove tax deductibility of interest on money borrowed to buy stocks

Tax corporate buybacks of the own shares

But the Fed can't actively do anything to reign in its owners...nor can Congress.

Sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 03:33 PM
All that would do a little at best to reduce equities prices and nothing for other asset types.

Otherwise, great plan.

sanjait , July 17, 2017 at 10:17 AM
We seem to have found a metastable condition, whereby the central bank has so successfully tamped down growth to this crawling level that the economy is unable to overheat.

It's like the Great Moderation has been made even more Moderate.

Though we saw in the mid-2000s, this can create a situation where perceived stability engenders massive risk-taking. I don't see that happening right now in any particular place, but systemic risk doesn't always make itself easy to find.

Rather than internally driven shock though, we could, at any time, experience external shocks. A China crash, or a Middle East war, or something else.

So yes, we need to be prepared for a recession at any time. One is coming, it's just a question of when. And with monetary policy still close to the floor and housing markets already hot, the FFR lever has limited room to move.

JohnH , July 17, 2017 at 11:39 AM
Tom Steyer, billionaire donor to Democrats: "There is an absolute, unspoken war between corporate interests and the American people," he said. "That's the underlying subtext for all of the public discussions within the Democratic party. We're seeing a deliberate attempt to take away [working families'] future by really rich people. Until we address that, I don't think we're dealing with the reality Americans are facing today."

Specifically, Steyer argued that Democrats should rally around Sanders's Medicare for All proposal, which has seen a massive surge of support in recent weeks as the Republican Party attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
"The idea that we're not going to cover people is over," Steyer said, echoing the argument of progressives who have argued that single-payer is now not only possible, but inevitable.

"The question," Steyer concluded, "is how do we deliver it in the most efficient manner possible."

Steyer also referenced stagnant wages, which Sanders has long emphasized as a central factor in America's ever-worsening inequality crisis. In April, Sanders!who has not ruled out a 2020 presidential run!introduced the Raise the Wage Act, which if passed would hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and index it to inflation. The bill has garnered the support of 22 Democrats.

Echoing Sanders, Steyer argued that Democrats should focus not merely on creating jobs but also on ensuring that those jobs pay a livable wage.

"We [only] have 4.3 percent unemployment," he said. "But what we do have is a whole bunch of people who have jobs they can't live on."
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/07/17/billionaire-mega-donor-gets-it-democrats-need-bernie-sanders

To bad that Hillary, Obama, Pelosi and their Wall Street Democratic shills here are on the side of corporate interests, ignoring the need for productivity gains to go into raising real wages, for Medicare for All, etc. Instead, it a constant drum beat of 'no, we can't."

sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 12:17 PM
Yes, really, what have the Romans done for us lately, other than...
JohnH -> sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 03:32 PM
Who cares about Romans? What have corrupt and sclerotic Democrats done for us lately? Heck, they can't even figure out if they stand for anything!

Even the #4 Democrat in the House admitted that they still have no core message, but they're working on it...

Sanjait -> JohnH... , July 17, 2017 at 03:34 PM
Someone doesn't get the joke ...
JohnH -> Sanjait... , July 17, 2017 at 06:00 PM
Big joke! Democrats are trying to repeal or weaken a lot of the good things they did under FDR...Bubba rolled back Glass-Steagall and Obama wanted to cut Social Security, even though the average benefit is equivalent to the federal minimum wage.

At least Romans are no longer around to renege on their accomplishments...

Michael Jackson , July 17, 2017 at 05:20 PM
I hope the situation gets better regardless of summer or winner. Right now, there are too many complicated issues running around, so we have to be extremely watchful and make sure we work it out all very carefully in order to gain. I trade with very careful way and approach since I know it is sort of thing which can make massive difference and is how we could be successful or end up as failures. I get great push with OctaFX broker having high quality features from low spreads to bonuses to all other benefits, so it makes working so likable.
anne -> Michael Jackson... , July 17, 2017 at 05:28 PM
This is a fraud, a repeated viciously conceived fraud.
Julio , July 18, 2017 at 09:03 AM
So, Prof. Thoma's article arrives at the Fiscal Times editor's desk, and he sees the word "recession", so he says to his intern "Go get me a photo of Black people in an unemployment line", and the intern gets him a picture of Black people registering for a professional conference.

You can't do Jim Crow right with help like that.

Julio -> Julio ... , July 18, 2017 at 09:03 AM
I've trained the neighborhood crows to come feed in my garden. Very entertaining.

I've nicknamed the big one "Jim".

So it goes.

[Sep 16, 2017] The Politics of Military Ascendancy by James Pertas

Sep 16, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Clearly the US has escalated the pivotal role of the military in the making of foreign and, by extension, domestic policy. The rise of ' the Generals' to strategic positions in the Trump regime is evident, deepening its role as a highly autonomous force determining US strategic policy agendas.

In this paper we will discuss the advantages that the military elite accumulate from the war agenda and the reasons why ' the Generals' have been able to impose their definition of international realities.

We will discuss the military's ascendancy over Trump's civilian regime as a result of the relentless degradation of his presidency by his political opposition.

The Prelude to Militarization: Obama's Multi-War Strategy and Its Aftermath

The central role of the military in deciding US foreign policy has its roots in the strategic decisions taken during the Obama-Clinton Presidency. Several policies were decisive in the rise of unprecedented military-political power.

The massive increase of US troops in Afghanistan and their subsequent failures and retreat weakened the Obama-Clinton regime and increased animosity between the military and the Obama's Administration. As a result of his failures, Obama downgraded the military and weakened Presidential authority. The massive US-led bombing and destruction of Libya, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government and the failure of the Obama-Clinton administration to impose a puppet regime, underlined the limitations of US air power and the ineffectiveness of US political-military intervention. The Presidency blundered in its foreign policy in North Africa and demonstrated its military ineptness. The invasion of Syria by US-funded mercenaries and terrorists committed the US to an unreliable ally in a losing war. This led to a reduction in the military budget and encouraged the Generals to view their direct control of overseas wars and foreign policy as the only guarantee of their positions. The US military intervention in Iraq was only a secondary contributing factor in the defeat of ISIS; the major actors and beneficiaries were Iran and the allied Iraqi Shia militias. The Obama-Clinton engineered coup and power grab in the Ukraine brought a corrupt incompetent military junta to power in Kiev and provoked the secession of the Crimea (to Russia) and Eastern Ukraine (allied with Russia). The Generals were sidelined and found that they had tied themselves to Ukrainian kleptocrats while dangerously increasing political tensions with Russia. The Obama regime dictated economic sanctions against Moscow, designed to compensate for their ignominious military-political failures.

The Obama-Clinton legacy facing Trump was built around a three-legged stool: an international order based on military aggression and confrontation with Russia; a ' pivot to Asia' defined as the military encirclement and economic isolation of China – via bellicose threats and economic sanctions against North Korea; and the use of the military as the praetorian guards of free trade agreements in Asia excluding China.

The Obama 'legacy' consists of an international order of globalized capital and multiple wars. The continuity of Obama's 'glorious legacy' initially depended on the election of Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign, for its part, promised to dismantle or drastically revise the Obama Doctrine of an international order based on multiple wars , neo-colonial 'nation' building and free trade. A furious Obama 'informed' (threatened) the newly-elected President Trump that he would face the combined hostility of the entire State apparatus, Wall Street and the mass media if he proceeded to fulfill his election promises of economic nationalism and thus undermine the US-centered global order.

Trump's bid to shift from Obama's sanctions and military confrontation to economic reconciliation with Russia was countered by a hornet's nest of accusations about a Trump-Russian electoral conspiracy, darkly hinting at treason and show trials against his close allies and even family members.

The concoction of a Trump-Russia plot was only the first step toward a total war on the new president, but it succeeded in undermining Trump's economic nationalist agenda and his efforts to change Obama's global order.

Trump Under Obama's International Order

After only 8 months in office President Trump helplessly gave into the firings, resignations and humiliation of each and every one of his civilian appointees, especially those who were committed to reverse Obama's 'international order'.

Trump was elected to replace wars, sanctions and interventions with economic deals beneficial to the American working and middle class. This would include withdrawing the military from its long-term commitments to budget-busting 'nation-building' (occupation) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other Obama-designated endless war zones.

Trump's military priorities were supposed to focus on strengthening domestic frontiers and overseas markets. He started by demanding that NATO partners pay for their own military defense responsibilities. Obama's globalists in both political parties were aghast that the US might lose it overwhelming control of NATO; they united and moved immediately to strip Trump of his economic nationalist allies and their programs.

Trump quickly capitulated and fell into line with Obama's international order, except for one proviso – he would select the Cabinet to implement the old/new international order.

A hamstrung Trump chose a military cohort of Generals, led by General James Mattis (famously nicknamed ' Mad Dog' ) as Defense Secretary.

The Generals effectively took over the Presidency. Trump abdicated his responsibilities as President.

General Mattis: The Militarization of America

General Mattis took up the Obama legacy of global militarization and added his own nuances, including the 'psychological-warfare' embedded in Trump's emotional ejaculations on 'Twitter'.

The ' Mattis Doctrine' combined high-risk threats with aggressive provocations, bringing the US (and the world) to the brink of nuclear war.

General Mattis has adopted the targets and fields of operations, defined by the previous Obama administration as it has sought to re-enforce the existing imperialist international order.

The junta's policies relied on provocations and threats against Russia, with expanded economic sanctions. Mattis threw more fuel on the US mass media's already hysterical anti-Russian bonfire. The General promoted a strategy of low intensity diplomatic thuggery, including the unprecedented seizure and invasion of Russian diplomatic offices and the short-notice expulsion of diplomats and consular staff.

These military threats and acts of diplomatic intimidation signified that the Generals' Administration under the Puppet President Trump was ready to sunder diplomatic relations with a major world nuclear power and indeed push the world to direct nuclear confrontation.

What Mattis seeks in these mad fits of aggression is nothing less than capitulation on the part of the Russian government regarding long held US military objectives – namely the partition of Syria (which started under Obama), harsh starvation sanctions on North Korea (which began under Clinton) and the disarmament of Iran (Tel Aviv's main goal) in preparation for its dismemberment.

The Mattis junta occupying the Trump White House heightened its threats against a North Korea, which (in Vladimir Putin's words) ' would rather eat grass than disarm' . The US mass media-military megaphones portrayed the North Korean victims of US sanctions and provocations as an 'existential' threat to the US mainland.

Sanctions have intensified. The stationing of nuclear weapons on South Korea is being pushed. Massive joint military exercises are planned and ongoing in the air, sea and land around North Korea. Mattis twisted Chinese arms (mainly business comprador-linked bureaucrats) and secured their UN Security Council vote on increased sanctions. Russia joined the Mattis-led anti-Pyongyang chorus, even as Putin warned of sanctions ineffectiveness! (As if General ' Mad Dog' Mattis would ever take Putin's advice seriously, especially after Russia voted for the sanctions!)

Mattis further militarized the Persian Gulf, following Obama's policy of partial sanctions and bellicose provocation against Iran.

When he worked for Obama, Mattis increased US arms shipments to the US's Syrian terrorists and Ukrainian puppets, ensuring the US would be able to scuttle any ' negotiated settlements' .

Militarization: An Evaluation

Trump's resort to ' his Generals' is supposed to counter any attacks from members of his own party and Congressional Democrats about his foreign policy. Trump's appointment of ' Mad Dog' Mattis, a notorious Russophobe and warmonger, has somewhat pacified the opposition in Congress and undercut any 'finding' of an election conspiracy between Trump and Moscow dug up by the Special Investigator Robert Mueller. Trump's maintains a role as nominal President by adapting to what Obama warned him was ' their international order' – now directed by an unelected military junta composed of Obama holdovers!

The Generals provide a veneer of legitimacy to the Trump regime (especially for the warmongering Obama Democrats and the mass media). However, handing presidential powers over to ' Mad Dog' Mattis and his cohort will come with a heavy price.

While the military junta may protect Trump's foreign policy flank, it does not lessen the attacks on his domestic agenda. Moreover, Trump's proposed budget compromise with the Democrats has enraged his own Party's leaders.

In sum, under a weakened President Trump, the militarization of the White House benefits the military junta and enlarges their power. The ' Mad Dog' Mattis program has had mixed results, at least in its initial phase: The junta's threats to launch a pre-emptive (possibly nuclear) war against North Korea have strengthened Pyongyang's commitment to develop and refine its long and medium range ballistic missile capability and nuclear weapons. Brinksmanship failed to intimidate North Korea. Mattis cannot impose the Clinton-Bush-Obama doctrine of disarming countries (like Libya and Iraq) of their advanced defensive weapons systems as a prelude to a US 'regime change' invasion.

Any US attack against North Korea will lead to massive retaliatory strikes costing tens of thousands of US military lives and will kill and maim millions of civilians in South Korea and Japan.

At most, ' Mad Dog' managed to intimidate Chinese and Russian officials (and their export business billionaire buddies) to agree to more economic sanctions against North Korea. Mattis and his allies in the UN and White House, the loony Nikki Hailey and a miniaturized President Trump, may bellow war – yet they cannot apply the so-called 'military option' without threatening the US military forces stationed throughout the Asia Pacific region.

The Mad Dog Mattis assault on the Russian embassy did not materially weaken Russia, but it has revealed the uselessness of Moscow's conciliatory diplomacy toward their so-called 'partners' in the Trump regime.

The end-result might lead to a formal break in diplomatic ties, which would increase the danger of a military confrontation and a global nuclear holocaust.

The military junta is pressuring China against North Korea with the goal of isolating the ruling regime in Pyongyang and increasing the US military encirclement of Beijing. Mad Dog has partially succeeded in turning China against North Korea while securing its advanced THADD anti-missile installations in South Korea, which will be directed against Beijing. These are Mattis' short-term gains over the excessively pliant Chinese bureaucrats. However, if Mad Dog intensifies direct military threats against China, Beijing can retaliate by dumping tens of billions of US Treasury notes, cutting trade ties, sowing chaos in the US economy and setting Wall Street against the Pentagon.

Mad Dog's military build-up, especially in Afghanistan and in the Middle East, will not intimidate Iran nor add to any military successes. They entail high costs and low returns, as Obama realized after the better part of a decade of his defeats, fiascos and multi-billion dollar losses.

Conclusion

The militarization of US foreign policy, the establishment of a military junta within the Trump Administration, and the resort to nuclear brinksmanship has not changed the global balance of power.

Domestically Trump's nominal Presidency relies on militarists, like General Mattis. Mattis has tightened the US control over NATO allies, and even rounded up stray European outliers, like Sweden, to join in a military crusade against Russia. Mattis has played on the media's passion for bellicose headlines and its adulation of Four Star Generals.

But for all that – North Korea remains undaunted because it can retaliate. Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons and remains a counterweight to a US-dominated globe. China owns the US Treasury and its unimpressed, despite the presence of an increasingly collision-prone US Navy swarming throughout the South China Sea.

Mad Dog laps up the media attention, with well dressed, scrupulously manicured journalists hanging on his every bloodthirsty pronouncement. War contractors flock to him, like flies to carrion. The Four Star General 'Mad Dog' Mattis has attained Presidential status without winning any election victory (fake or otherwise). No doubt when he steps down, Mattis will be the most eagerly courted board member or senior consultant for giant military contractors in US history, receiving lucrative fees for half hour 'pep-talks' and ensuring the fat perks of nepotism for his family's next three generations. Mad Dog may even run for office, as Senator or even President for whatever Party.

The militarization of US foreign policy provides some important lessons:

First of all, the escalation from threats to war does not succeed in disarming adversaries who possess the capacity to retaliate. Intimidation via sanctions can succeed in imposing significant economic pain on oil export-dependent regimes, but not on hardened, self-sufficient or highly diversified economies.

Low intensity multi-lateral war maneuvers reinforce US-led alliances, but they also convince opponents to increase their military preparedness. Mid-level intense wars against non-nuclear adversaries can seize capital cities, as in Iraq, but the occupier faces long-term costly wars of attrition that can undermine military morale, provoke domestic unrest and heighten budget deficits. And they create millions of refugees.

High intensity military brinksmanship carries major risk of massive losses in lives, allies, territory and piles of radiated ashes – a pyrrhic victory!

In sum:

Threats and intimidation succeed only against conciliatory adversaries. Undiplomatic verbal thuggery can arouse the spirit of the bully and some of its allies, but it has little chance of convincing its adversaries to capitulate. The US policy of worldwide militarization over-extends the US armed forces and has not led to any permanent military gains.

Are there any voices among clear-thinking US military leaders, those not bedazzled by their stars and idiotic admirers in the US media, who could push for more global accommodation and mutual respect among nations? The US Congress and the corrupt media are demonstrably incapable of evaluating past disasters, let alone forging an effective response to new global realities.

Raffler > , September 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm GMT

American actions in Europe, Asia and the middle east appear increasingly irrational to many international observers. Their policy thrusts are excused as containment of evildoers or punishment of peoples who think and act differently. Those policy thrusts will accomplish the opposite of the stated intention. They will drive into a new detente such incompatible parties as Russia and Iran, or China and many countries. America risks losing its way in the world and free peoples see a flickering beacon that once shone brighter.

Parbes > , September 15, 2017 at 6:34 pm GMT

An excellent truthful exposition of what has really been going on and a great essay by James Petras. Kudos.

peterAUS > , September 15, 2017 at 10:06 pm GMT

Stopped reading at

embedded in Trump's emotional ejaculations on 'Twitter'.

nsa > , September 16, 2017 at 4:03 am GMT

Anyone with military experience recognizes the likes of Mad Poodle Mattis arrogant, belligerent, exceptionally dull, and mainly an inveterate suck-up (mil motto: kiss up and kick down). Every VFW lounge is filled with these boozy ridiculous blowhards and they are insufferable. The media and public, raised on ZioVision and JooieWood pablum, worship these cartoonish bloodletters even though they haven't won a war in 72 years .not one. How about this comic book tough guy quote: "I'm pleading with you with tears in my eyes: if you fuck with me, I'll kill you all" notice the first person used repetitively as he talks down to hapless unarmed tribesman in some distant land. A real egomaniacal narcissistic coward. Any of you with military experience would immediately recognize the type ..

Priss Factor > , Website September 16, 2017 at 4:38 am GMT

Relevant to now

NoseytheDuke > , September 16, 2017 at 7:26 am GMT

@peterAUS Back to watching Game of Thrones then? Good for you.

Apart from some very minor mistakes that should have been fixed with proofreading, this is an excellent account of the situation.

anonymous > , Disclaimer September 16, 2017 at 12:27 pm GMT

@NoseytheDuke I'm the commenter who complained about the poor quality of the last Petras article. This one isn't as deficient in that respect, but still would benefit from another review for misplaced/missing punctuation, etc. The redundancy is also annoying -- a well written "Conclusion" wouldn't end with a two paragraph coda. If the author wants to convince his reader, then he should spend more time on his craft or seek editorial assistance.

To commenter "Wally":

You may still feel compelled to play wingman, but my criticisms do not concern the substance of the articles. My point is that they are poorly written essays that needlessly damage the reputation of this excellent website.

KA > , September 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm GMT

It seems that the inevitable has happened. Feckless civilians have used military adventures to advance their careers , ensure re- elections, capturr lucrative position as speaker, have a place as member of think tank or lobbying firm or consultant .
Now being as stupidly greedy and impatient as these guys are,they have failed to see that neither the policies nor the militaries can succeed against enemies that are generated from the action and the policy itself .

Now military has decided to reverse the roles . At least the military leaders don't have to campaign for re employment .
But very soon the forces that corrupt and abuse the civilian power structure will do same to military .