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Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism

Decline of middle class in the USA under neoliberal regime
and rise of Economic Royalists ("Let them eat cake ")

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"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

-- Abraham Lincoln

Isn’t inequality merely the price of America being No. 1? ... That’s almost certainly false... Prior to about 20 years ago, most economists thought that inequality greased the wheels of progress. Wealth Inequality in America Overwhelmingly now, people who study it empirically think that it’s sand in the wheels. ... Inequality breeds conflict, and conflict breeds wasted resources”

Samuel Bowles,
cited from Economist's View: Inequality and Guard Labor

From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

Nicholas D. Kristof, NYT, November 6, 2010

Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods

Guard Labor Why is Inequality Bad

If labor is a commodity like any other, who is the idiot in charge of inventory management?.

Economist's View '


Introduction

As aptly noted Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems ( The Guardian,  April 15, 2016)

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

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

One of the key property of neoliberalism is that it recasts inequality as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. If you deserve to die, so be it. Of course. that does not apply to the financial oligarchy which is above the law and remains unpunished even for very serious crimes. This fate is reserved for bottom 99% of population.

One of the key property of neoliberalism is that it recasts inequality as virtuous. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. If you deserve to die, so be it. Of course. that does not apply to the financial oligarchy which is above the law and remains unpunished even for very serious crimes.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, In other words neoliberal economic model uses "unable to compete in the labor market" label for poor people in the same way Nazi used concept of Untermensch for Slavic people.

That also mean that for those outside top 20% of population the destiny is brutal exploitation not that different then in slave societies. It victimizes and artfully creates complex of inferiority among poor people trying to brainwash that they themselves are guilty in their status and that their children do not deserve better. This is why subsidies for colleges are cut. Unfortunately now even lower middle class is coming under tremendous pressure and essentially is moved into poverty. Disappearance of well-paid middle class "white collar" jobs such as IT jobs and recently oil sector jobs  and conversion of many jobs to temp or to outsourcing/off-shoring model is a fact that can't be denied. Rise in inequality in the USA for that last twenty years of neoliberalism domination is simply dramatic and medial income per family actually dropped.

Everything is moving in the direction of a pretty brutal joke: poor Americans just got a new slave-owners. And now slaves are not distinguished by  the color of their skin.

The economic status of Wal Mart employees (as well as employees of many other retailers, who are predominantly women) are not that different from slaves. In "rich" states like NY and NJ Wal-Mart cashiers are paid around $9 an hour. That's around $18K a year if you can get 40hours a week (big if),  You can't survive on those money living alone and renting an apartment. Two people might be able to survive if they share the apartment costs.  And forget about that if you have a child (aka "single mothers"  as a new face of the US poverty). You can survive only with additional social programs like food stamps. In other words the federal state subsidizes Wal-Mart, increasing their revenue at taxpayers expense.

Piketty thinks a rentier society (which is another definition of neoliberal society) contradicts the meritocratic worldview of democratic societies and is toxic for democracy as it enforces "one dollar one vote" election process (corporation buy politicians; ordinary people just legitimize with their votes pre-selected by elite candidates, see Two Party System as Polyarchy):

 “…no ineluctable force standing in the way to extreme concentration of wealth…if growth slows and the return on capital increases [as] tax competition between nations heats up…Our democratic societies rest on a meritocratic worldview, or at any rate, a meritocratic hope, by which I mean a belief in a society in which inequality is based more on merit and effort than on kinship and rents. This belief and hope play a very crucial role in modern society, for a simple reason: in a democracy the professed equality of rights of all citizens contrasts sharply with the very real inequality of living conditions, and in order to overcome this contradiction it is vital to make sure that social inequalities derive from ration and universal principles rather than arbitrary contingencies. Inequalities must therefore be just and useful to all, at least in the realm of discourse and as far as possible in reality as well…Durkheim predicted that modern democratic society would not put for long with the existence of inherited wealth and would ultimately see to it that the ownership of property ended at death.” p. 422

A neo-liberal point discussed in Raymond Plant's book on neo-liberalism is that if a fortune has been made through no injustice, then it is OK. So we should not condemn the resulting distribution of wealth, as fantastically concentrated as it may be. That that's not true, as such cases always involve some level of injustice, if only by exploiting some loophole in the current laws. Piketty is correct that to the extent that citizens understood the nature of a rentier society they would rise in opposition to it. The astronomical pay of "super-managers" cannot be justified in meritocratic terms. CEO's can capture boards and force their incentive to grow faster then  company profits. Manipulations with shares buyback are used to meet "targets". So neoliberal extreme is definitely bad.

At the same time we now know the equality if not achievable and communism was a pipe dream that actually inflicted cruelty on a lot of people in the name of unachievable utopia. But does this means that inequality, any level of inequality, is OK. It does not look this way and we can actually argue that extremes meet.

But collapse of the USSR lead to triumph of neoliberalism which is all about rising inequality. Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and impoverish poor. In other words they promote under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak a type of economy which can be called a plantation economy. In this type of the economy all the resources and power are in the hands of a wealthy planter class who then gives preference for easy jobs and the easy life to their loyal toadies. The wealthy elites like cheap labor. And it's much easier to dictate their conditions of employment when unemployment is high. Keynesian economics values the middle class and does not value unemployment or cheap labor. Neoliberals like a system that rewards them for their loyalty to the top 1% with an easier life than they otherwise merit. In a meritocracy where individuals receive public goods and services that allow them to compete on a level playing field, many neoliberal toadies would be losers who cannot compete.

In a 2005 report to investors three analysts at Citigroup advised that “the World is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest … In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer", or indeed the “Russian consumer”.

In other words there are analysts that believe that we are moving to a replay of Middle Ages on a new, global level, were there are only rich who do the lion share of the total consumption and poor, who does not matter.

We can also state, that under neoliberal regime the sources of American economic inequality are largely political. In other words they are the result of deliberate political decision of the US elite to shape markets in neoliberal ways, and dismantle New Deal.

Part of this "shaping the markets in neoliberal ways" was corruption of academic economists. Under neoliberalism most economists are engaged in what John Kenneth Galbraith called "the economics of innocent fraud." With the important correction that there is nothing innocent in their activities. Most of them, especially "neoclassical" economists are prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So their prescription and analysis as for the reasons of high unemployment should be taken with due skepticism.

We also know that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That means that existence of aristocracy might not be optimal for society "at large". But without moderating influence of the existence of the USSR on appetites of the US elite, they engage is audacious struggle for accumulation as much power and wealth as possible. In a way that situation matches the situation in 1920th, which was known to be toxic.

But society slowly but steadily moves in this direction since mid 80th. According to the official wage statistics for 2012 http://www.ssa.gov , 40% of the US work force earned less than $20,000, 53% earned less than $30,000, and 73% earned less than $50,000. The median US wage or salary was $27,519 per year. The amounts are in current dollars and they are "total" compensation amounts subject to state and federal income taxes and to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In other words, the take home pay is less.

In other word the USA is now entered an inequality bubble, the bubble with the financial oligarchy as new aristocracy, which strives for absolute control of all layers of the government. The corruption has a systemic character. It take not only traditional form of the intermarriage between Wall street and DC power brokers (aka revolving doors). It also create a caste of guard labor to protect oligarchy.

Redistribution of wealth up as the goal of neoliberalism makes it unsustainable social system

As George H.W. Bush once  said (can't find exact quote):   Neoliberalism is about redistribution of wealth into fewer, higher and tighter hands. Until approximately 2008  the increasing disparity between rich and poor has, largely been non-disruptive in the USA because the lower 90% have been placated enough, by way of the proverbial bread and circuses, not to cause any waves. Sure, there have been little movements here and there, such as Occupy Wall Street, but they were quickly crashed by enormous national security state intelligence agencies.

But just imagine another financial crisis and its consequences

The public mindset might quickly turn against the neoliberal "The New Class" -- neoliberal nomenklatura. Even under Trump with his fake promises social tension had risen significantly because:

Can you imagine the backlash against the Neoliberalism in such circumstances? I suspect it might be larger then in 2008 despite the power of national security state and the fact that the Americans are too dumbed down and drugged to revolt.

As one ZeroHedge commenter put it: "It's not rich against poor. It's FIRE sector parasites vs. earned income hosts."

New global caste structure and stratification of the US society

Some researchers point out that neoliberal world is increasingly characterized by a three-tiered social structure(net4dem.org):

This process of stratification and fossilization of "haves" and "haves-not" is now pretty much established in the USA. The US population can be partitioned into five distinct classes, or strata:

  1. Lower class (poor) bottom 20%. Those folks have income close to official poverty line, which varies from state to state. In "expensive states" like NJ and NY this category ranks much higher then national level, up to 40%. Official figures from a Census Bureau that state that in 2010 twelve states had poverty rates above 17%, up from five in 2009, while ten metropolitan areas had poverty rates over 18%. Texas had the highest poverty rate, at 33.4%, followed by Fresno, California, at 26.8%.

    According to figures published by the Social Security Administration in October 2011, the median income for American workers in 2010 was $26,364, just slightly above the official poverty level of $22,025 for a family of four. Most single parent families with children fall into this category. Many single earner families belong to this category too.

    The median income figure reflects the fact that salaries of 50% of all workers are less then $26,364 and gives a much truer picture of the real social conditions in the United States than the more widely publicized average income, which was $39,959 in 2010. This figure is considerably higher than median income because the distribution of income is so unequal—a relative handful of ultra-high income individuals pulls up the average.

  2. Lower middle class (60%). Depending on class model used, the middle class may constitute anywhere from 25% to 66% of households. Typically includes households with incomes above $46,326 (all households) or $67,348 (dual earners households) per year. The latter is more realistic. In order for two earners family to qualify each earner should get approximately $34K a year or more ($17 per hour wage with 40 hours workweek). Per household member income is around $23.5K
    The lower middle class... these are people in technical and lower-level management positions who work for those in the upper middle class as lower managers, craftspeople, and the like. They enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living, although it is constantly threatened by taxes and inflation. Generally, they have a Bachelor's and sometimes Masters college degree.

    —Brian K. William, Stacy C. Sawyer and Carl M. Wahlstrom, Marriages, Families & Intimate Relationships, 2006 (Adapted from Dennis Gilbert 1997; and Joseph Kahl 1993)[4]

  3. Upper middle class (top 20%). The includes households with incomes above 91K per year.
  4. Upper class (elite): top 1%. Annual comes (AGI) for this group exceed $380K per year. Commonly called multimillionaires (net worth two millions or more). In 2010 controlled at least 25% of total nation income (23.5% in 2007, 8.9% in 1979) . Top 1% owns more than 90% of combined or 33.8% of the nation private wealth.
  5. Super rich (top 0.01%, oligarchs, super-elite, or top 1000 families). A close to this category of super-rich are billionaires. US is home of 425 billionaires, while Russia and China have 95 and 96 correspondingly. The average worth of the world's billionaires is now $3.5 billion, or $500 million more than last year.( Forbes)

Share of consumption for families outside upper middle class (with income, say, below $91K per year (80% of US households) is much less then commonly assumed. That means that in the USA consumer spending are driven by upper class and as such is pretty much isolated from decline of wages of lower 80% of population. The median household income in the United States is around $50K.

Possibility of the return to the clan society

The danger of high level of inequality might be revival of nationalism and return to clan (mafia) society in the form of corporatism or even some form of national socialism. Mark S. Weine made this point in his book The Rule of the Clan. What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom . From one Amazon review:

Weiner's book is more than worth its price simply as an armchair tour of interesting places and cultures and mores, deftly and briefly described. But he has a more serious and important point to make. While the social cohesion that the values of the clan promote is alluring, they are ultimately at odds with the values of individual autonomy that only the much-maligned modern liberal state can offer.

Even the state's modern defenders tend to view it, at best, as a necessary evil. It keeps the peace, upholds (somewhat) international order, and manages the complexity of modern life in ways that allow individuals to get on with their journeys of personal fulfillment.

Weiner shows (in too brief but nevertheless eloquent ways) that this reductive view of the state is insufficient to resist the seductive appeal of the clan, and that it will be for the worse if we can't find ways to combat this allure within the legal structures of modern liberalism.

Read alongside James Ault's masterful participant study of fundamentalist Baptism, Spirit and Flesh, and draw your own conclusions.

Dramatic increase in the use of guard labor and conversion of the state into National Security State

Of course the elite is worried about security of their ill-gotten gains. And that's partially why the USA need such huge totally militarized police force and outsize military. Police and military are typical guard labor, that protects private wealth of the US plutocrats. Add to this equally strong private army of security contractors.

Other suggested that not only the USA, but the global neoliberal society is deeply sick with the same disease that the US society expected in 20th (and like previously with globalism of robber barons age, the triumph of neoliberalism in 1990th was and is a global phenomenon).

High inequality logically leads to dramatic increase of guard labor and inevitable conversion of state into National Security State. Which entail total surveillance over the citizens as a defining factor. Ruling elite is always paranoid, but neoliberal elite proved to be borderline psychopathic. They do not want merely security, they want to crush all the resistance.

Butler Shaffer wrote recently that the old state system in the United States is dying before our very eyes:

A system that insists on controlling others through increasing levels of systematic violence; that loots the many for the aggrandizement of the few; that regulates any expressions of human behavior that are not of service to the rulers; that presumes the power to wage wars against any nation of its choosing, a principle that got a number of men hanged at the Nuremberg trials; and finally, criminalizes those who would speak the truth to its victims, has no moral energy remaining with which to sustain itself.

Low mobility created potential for the degeneration of the elite

It is pretty clear that the USA became a society where there is de facto royalty. In the form of the strata which Roosevelt called "Economic royalists". Jut look at third generation of Walton family or Rocafeller family.

Remember the degenerative Soviet Politburo, or, for a change, unforgettable dyslexic President George W Bush ? The painful truth is that in the most unequal nations including the UK and the US – the intergenerational transmission of income is very strong (in plain language they have a heredity-based aristocracy). See Let them eat cake. In more equal societies such as Denmark, the tendency of privilege to breed privilege is much lower but also exists and is on the rise. As Roosevelt observed in a similar situation of 30th:

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.

High inequality undermines social cohesion

Neoliberalism and its ideology(Randism) undermined social cohesion, making society members more hostile to each other and as such less willing to defend the country in case of real danger. Betrayal of the country is no longer an unspeakable crime.

The purpose of government should be to foster a "civil society". The slogan of the "oligarchic right" is "me first", or, as in Paul Ryan's adoration of Ayn Rand, greed is good. Objectivism became kind of new civic religion, with the goal of maximizing the wealth of a single individual at the expense of the civil society is a virtue. And those new social norms (instilled by MSM) allow the fat cats simply to stole from everybody else without fear of punishment. See an outburst from Stephen Schwarzman. If there are two societies inside of the country with bridges burned, the bottom part is less willing to spill blood for the upper part. And having a contractual army has its own set of dangers, as it spirals into high level of militarism (being in war is a new normal for the USA during the last 30 years or so), which while enriching part of the elite bankrupts the country. The quality of roads is a testament of this process.

Countervailing mechanisms and forces are destroyed. Plutocrats now can shape the conversation by buying up newspapers and television channels as well as funding political campaigns. The mousetrap of high inequality became irreversible without external shocks. The more unequal our societies become, the more we all become prisoners of that inequality. The key question is: Has our political system been so degraded by misinformation and disinformation that it can no longer function because it lost the touch with reality? The stream of outright falsehoods that MSM feed the lemmings (aka society members) is clearly politically motivated. But a side effect (externality) of all that brainwashing efforts is that nobody including players at the top of the government now understands what's going on. Look at Obama and Joe Biden.

As the growth of manufacturing base slowed down and return on capital dropped, the elite wants less government social spending. They wants to end popular government programs such as Social Security, no matter how much such cuts would cause economic dislocation and strains in the current social safety net. The claims are that these programs are "Waste" and could be cut without anyone, but the "moochers" noticing the effects. They use the economic strain felt by many in the economy to promote these cuts. They promise that cuts to vital programs will leave more money in the pockets of the average person. In reality, the increase in money will be marginal, but the effects on security and loss of "group purchasing power" economy of scale will make the cuts worse than worthless (Economist's View Paul Krugman Moment of Truthiness)

Two party system makes the mousetrap complete

The US system of voting (winner take all) leads inexorably to Two party system. Third parties are only spoilers. Protest votes in the current system are COUNTERPRODUCTIVE (i.e. they help the evil, not the merely bad). Deliberate and grotesque gerrymandering further dilutes protest votes.

Again, I would like to stress that rich consumers, few in number, getting the gigantic slice of income and the most of consumption (that's why the US consumption was so resilient during two last financial crises). There are the rest, the “non-rich”, accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

The question arise "Why we should care?". Most of the readers of this page are not at the bottom bracket anyway. Many are pretty high up. Here is one possible answer:

But should we care? There are two reasons we might: process and outcome.

Creating a strata of the outcasts aka permanently unemployed

It is very difficult to understand the real situation with inequality in the USA today without experiencing long term unemployed.

Or if you forced into job of a WalMart cashier or other low paid employee. Job that does not provide a living minimum wage. You need to watch this YouTube video Wealth Inequality in America to understand the reality. The video was posted anonymously by someone using the YouTube handle politizane. It is pretty clear that not only the USA became a society where there is de facto royalty, economic royalty but also a strata of people completely deprived. An Outcaste.

And the royalty became recklessly like it should promoting to the top the likes of recovered alcoholic Bush II or "private equity shark" Romney (and remember who Romney father was).

See Over 50 and unemployed

Education is no longer the answer to rising inequality

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, at least in some cases, became more of a social trap. This is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk. Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was a hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and tale of graduates working as bartender, willing) to pay infated tuition fees. That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit minted during dot-com boom expensive private colleges, who hunt for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces). It remains viable only in elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

University presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollar salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change you specialization late in the education cycle. But early choice entail typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008. That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: this is a kind of "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in a particular specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet you are done.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities bacem appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first of all assume that it is functioning not to their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such selaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sence parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial respource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. That means at least since 1980. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

See Slightly Skeptical View on University Education

New generation of robber barons: US oligarchy never was so audacious

As Jesse aptly noted at his blog post Echoes of the Past In The Economist - The Return of the Übermenschen the US oligarchy never was so audacious.

And it is as isolated as the aristocracies of bygone days, isolation reinforced by newly minted royalty withdrawal into gated estates, Ivy League Universities, and private planes.

They are not openly suggesting that no child should rise above the status of parents, presumably in terms of wealth, education, and opportunity. But their policies are directed toward this goal. If you are born to poor parents in the USA, all bets are off -- your success is highly unlikely, and your servile status, if not poverty is supposedly pre-destined by poor generic material that you got.

This is of course not because the children of the elite inherit the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life from their parents. Whatever abilities they have (and regression to the mean is applicable to royalty children too), they are greatly supplemented, of course, by the easy opportunities, valuable connections, and access to power. That's why the result of SAT in the USA so strongly correlated with the wealth of parents. And a virtual freedom from prosecution does not hurt either, in case they have inherited a penchant for sociopathy, or something worse, along with their many gifts.

The view that the children of the poor will not do well, because they are genetically inferior became kind of hidden agenda. These are the pesky 99% just deserve to be cheated and robbed by the elite, because of the inherent superiority of the top one percent. There is no fraud in the system, only good and bad breeding, natural predators and prey.

This line of thinking rests on the assumption that I succeed, therefore I am. And if you do not, well, so be it. You will be low-paid office slave or waiter in McDonalds with a college diploma as it is necessary for the maximization of profits of the elite. There is no space at the top for everybody. Enjoy the ride... Here is an typical expression of such views:

"Many commentators automatically assume that low intergenerational mobility rates represent a social tragedy. I do not understand this reflexive wailing and beating of breasts in response to the finding of slow mobility rates.

The fact that the social competence of children is highly predictable once we know the status of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is not a threat to the American Way of Life and the ideals of the open society

The children of earlier elites will not succeed because they are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and an automatic ticket to the Ivy League.

They will succeed because they have inherited the talent, energy, drive, and resilience to overcome the many obstacles they will face in life. Life is still a struggle for all who hope to have economic and social success. It is just that we can predict who will be likely to possess the necessary characteristics from their ancestry."

Greg Clark, The Economist, 13 Feb. 2013

Mr. Clark is now a professor of economics and was the department chair until 2013 at the University of California, Davis. His areas of research are long term economic growth, the wealth of nations, and the economic history of England and India.

And another one:

"During this time, a growing professional class believed that scientific progress could be used to cure all social ills, and many educated people accepted that humans, like all animals, were subject to natural selection.

Darwinian evolution viewed humans as a flawed species that required pruning to maintain its health. Therefore negative eugenics seemed to offer a rational solution to certain age-old social problems."

David Micklos, Elof Carlson, Engineering American Society: The Lesson of Eugenics

If we compare this like of thinking with the thinking of eightieth century and you will see that the progress is really limited:

“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment.

There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.

It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil.

Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

So all this screams of MSM about dropping consumer spending is just a smoke screen. In oligarchic republic which USA represents, consumption is heavily shifted to top 20% and as such is much less dependent of the conditions of the economy. And top 20% can afford $8 per gallon gas (European price) without any problems.

John Barkley Rosser, Jr. With Marina V. Rosser and Ehsan Ahmed, argued for a two-way positive link between income inequality (economic inequality) and the size of an underground economy in a nation (Rosser, Rosser, and Ahmed, 2000).

Globally in 2005, top fifth (20%) of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption (20:80 Pareto rule). The poorest fifth just 1.5%. I do not think the USA differs that much from the rest of the world.

Citigroup Plutonomy Research reports

There was two famous Citigroup Plutonomy research reports (2005 and 2006) featured in in Capitalism: A Love Story . Here is how Yves Smith summarized the findings (in her post High Income Disparity Leads to Low Savings Rates)

On the one hand, the authors, Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, and Narendra Singh get some credit for addressing a topic surprisingly ignored by mainstream economists. There have been some noteworthy efforts to measure the increase in concentration of income and wealth in the US most notably by Thomas Piketty and Edmund Saez. But while there have been some efforts to dispute their findings (that the rich, particularly the top 1%, have gotten relatively MUCH richer in the last 20 years), for the most part discussions of what to make of it (as least in the US) have rapidly descended into theological debates. One camp laments the fall in economic mobility (a predictable side effect), the corrosive impact of perceived unfairness, and the public health costs (even the richest in high income disparity countries suffer from shortened life spans). The other camp tends to focus on the Darwinian aspects, that rising income disparity is the result of a vibrant, open economy, and the higher growth rates that allegedly result will lift help all workers.

Yet as far as I can tell, there has been virtually no discussion of the macroeconomy effects of rising income and wealth disparities, or to look into what the implications for investment strategies might be. One interesting effect is that with rising inequality the share of "guard labor" grows very quickly and that puts an upper limit on the further growth of inequality (half of the citizens cannot be guards protecting few billionaires from the other half).

Now the fact that the Citi team asked a worthwhile question does not mean they came up with a sound answer. In fact, he reports are almost ludicrously funny in the way they attempt to depict what they call plutonomy as not merely a tradeable trend (as in leading to some useful investment ideas), but as a Brave New Economy development. I haven't recalled such Panglossian prose since the most delirious days of the dot-com bubble:

We will posit that:

1) the world is dividing into two blocs – the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.

What are the common drivers of Plutonomy? Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time…..Most “Global Imbalances” (high current account deficits and low savings rates, high consumer debt levels in the Anglo-Saxon world, etc) that continue to (unprofitably) preoccupy the world’s intelligentsia look a lot less threatening when examined through the prism of plutonomy. The risk premium on equities that might derive from the dyspeptic “global imbalance” school is unwarranted – the earth is not going to be shaken off its axis, and sucked into the cosmos by these “imbalances”. The earth is being held up by the muscular arms of its entrepreneur-plutocrats, like it, or not..

Yves here. Translation: plutonomy is such a great thing that the entire stock market would be valued higher if everyone understood it. And the hoops the reports go through to defend it are impressive. The plutomony countries (the notorious Anglo-Saxon model, the US, UK, Canada and Australia) even have unusually risk-seeking populations (and that is a Good Thing):

…a new, rather out-of-the box hypothesis suggests that dopamine differentials can explain differences in risk-taking between societies. John Mauldin, the author of “Bulls-Eye Investing” in an email last month cited this work. The thesis: Dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, is linked with curiosity, adventure, entrepreneurship, and helps drive results in uncertain environments. Populations generally have about 2% of their members with high enough dopamine levels with the curiosity to emigrate. Ergo, immigrant nations like the U.S. and Canada, and increasingly the UK, have high dopamine-intensity populations.

Yves here. What happened to “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore”? Were the Puritans a high dopamine population? Doubtful. How about the Irish emigration to the US, which peaked during its great famine?

Despite a good deal of romanticization standing in for analysis, the report does have one intriguing, and well documented finding: that the plutonomies have low savings rates. Consider an fictional pep rally chant:

We’re from Greenwich
We’re invincible
Living off our income
Never touch the principal

Think about that. If you are rich, you can afford to spend all your income. You don’t need to save, because your existing wealth provides you with a more than sufficient cushion.

The ramifications when you have a high wealth concentration are profound. From the October 2005 report:

In a plutonomy, the rich drop their savings rate, consume a larger fraction of their bloated, very large share of the economy. This behavior overshadows the decisions of everybody else. The behavior of the exceptionally rich drives the national numbers – the “appallingly low” overall savings rates, the “over-extended consumer”, and the “unsustainable” current accounts that accompany this phenomenon….

Feeling wealthier, the rich decide to consume a part of their capital gains right away. In other words, they save less from their income, the wellknown wealth effect. The key point though is that this new lower savings rate is applied to their newer massive income. Remember they got a much bigger chunk of the economy, that’s how it became a plutonomy. The consequent decline in absolute savings for them (and the country) is huge when this happens. They just account for too large a part of the national economy; even a small fall in their savings rate overwhelms the decisions of all the rest.

Yves here. This account rather cheerily dismisses the notion that there might be overextended consumers on the other end of the food chain. Unprecedented credit card delinquencies and mortgage defaults suggest otherwise. But behaviors on both ends of the income spectrum no doubt played into the low-savings dynamic: wealthy who spend heavily, and struggling average consumers who increasingly came to rely on borrowings to improve or merely maintain their lifestyle. And let us not forget: were encouraged to monetize their home equity, so they actually aped the behavior of their betters, treating appreciated assets as savings. Before you chide people who did that as profligate (naive might be a better characterization), recall that no one less than Ben Bernanke was untroubled by rising consumer debt levels because they also showed rising asset levels. Bernanke ignored the fact that debt needs to be serviced out of incomes, and households for the most part were not borrowing to acquire income-producing assets. So unless the rising tide of consumer debt was matched by rising incomes, this process was bound to come to an ugly end.

Also under Bush country definitely moved from oligarchy to plutocracy. Bush openly claimed that "have more" is his base. The top 1% of earners have captured four-fifths of all new income.

An interesting question is whether the extremely unequal income distribution like we have now make the broader society unstable. Or plebs is satisfied with "Bread and circuses" (aka house, SUV, boat, Daytona 500 and 500 channels on cable) as long as loot from the other parts of the world is still coming...

What is the upper limit of inequality?

Martin Bento in his response to Risk Pollution, Market Failure & Social Justice — Crooked Timber made the following point:

Donald made a point I was going to. I would go a bit further though. It’s not clear to me that economic inequality is not desired for its own sake by the some of the elite. After all, studies suggest that once you get past the level of income needed for a reasonably comfortable life – about $40K for a single person in the US - the quest for money is mostly about status.

Meeting your needs is not necessarily zero sum, but status is: my status can only be higher than yours to the extent that yours is lower than mine.

The more inequality there is, the more status differentiation there is. Of course, there are other sources of status than money, but I’m talking specifically about people who value money for the status it confers. This is in addition to the “Donner Party Conservatism” calls to make sure the incentives to work are as strong as possible (to be fair, I think tolerating some inequality for the sake of incentives is worthwhile, but we seem to be well beyond that).

For example currently the USA is No.3 in Gini measured inequality (cyeahoo, Oct 16, 2009), but still the society is reasonably stable:

Gini score: 40.8
GDP 2007 (US$ billions): 13,751.4
Share of income or expenditure (%)
Poorest 10%: 1.9
Richest 10%: 29.9
Ratio of income or expenditure, share of top 10% to lowest 10%: 15.9

What is really surprising is how low the average American salary is: just $26,352 or ~$2,200 a month. This is equal approximately to $13 an hour.

At the same time:

Some interesting facts about upper class (top 1% of the US population). First of all this is pretty self-isolated group (a nation within a nation). They associate almost exclusively with members of their own social and economic standing, few members of the bottom 90% of Americans have ever even personally met a member of the upper class.

Now about top 400:

Here are some interesting hypothesis about affect of inequality of the society:

Higher inequality is somewhat connected with imperial outreach. As Kevin de Bruxelles noted in comment to What collapsing empire looks like - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

I’m surprised a thoughtful guy like Glenn Greenwald would make such an unsubstantiated link between collapsing public services for American peasants and a collapse of America’s global (indirect) imperial realm. Is there really a historic link between the quality of a nation’s services to its citizens and its global power? If so the Scandinavian countries would have been ruling the world for the past fifty years. If anything there is probably a reverse correlation. None of the great historic imperial powers, such as the British, Roman, Spanish, Russian, Ottoman, Mongolian, Chinese, Islamic, or Persian, were associated with egalitarian living conditions for anyone outside of the elite. So from a historic point of view, the ability to divert resources away from the peasants and towards the national security state is a sign of elite power and should be seen as a sign increased American imperial potential.

Now if America’s global power was still based on economic production then an argument could be made that closing libraries and cancelling the 12th grade would lower America’s power potential. But as we all know that is no longer the case and now America’s power is as the global consumer of excess production. Will a dumber peasantry consume even more? I think there is a good chance that the answer is yes.

Now a limit could be reached to how far the elite can lower their peasant’s standard of living if these changes actually resulted in civil disorder that demanded much energy for American elites to quell. But so far that is far from the case. Even a facile gesture such as voting for any other political party except the ruling Republicrats seems like a bridge too far for 95% of the peasants to attempt. No, the sad truth is that American elites, thanks to their exceptional ability to deliver an ever increasing amount of diverting bread and circuses, have plenty of room to further cut standards of living and are nowhere near reaching any limits.

What the reductions in economic and educational options will result in are higher quality volunteers into America’s security machinery, which again obviously raise America’s global power potential. This, along with an increasingly ruthless elite, should assure that into the medium term America’s powerful position will remain unchallenged. If one colors in blue on a world map all the countries under de facto indirect US control then one will start to realize the extent of US power. The only major countries outside of US control are Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela. Iraq and Afghanistan are recent converts to the blue column but it far from certain whether they will stay that way. American elites will resist to the bitter end any country falling from the blue category. But this colored world map is the best metric for judging US global power.

In the end it’s just wishful thinking to link the declining of the American peasant’s standard of living with a declining of the American elite’s global power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this proven in an attack on Iran in the near future.

High inequality and organized crime

Higher pay inequality feeds organized crime (and here we assume that banksters are different from the organized crime, which is probably a very weak hypothesis ;-). That's why Peter Drucker was probably right. He thought that top execs shouldn't get more than 25 times the average salary in the company (which would cap it around $2 millions). I would suggest a metric based on multiple from the average of lower 50% full time jobs for a particular firm (for example in Wal Mart that would cashers and cleaners, people who are living in Latin American style poverty, if they are single mothers as many are). One of the particular strengths of the idea of the maximum wage base on average of lower 50% of salaries is that if senior managers want to increase their own pay, they have to increase that of the lower-paid employees too.

And in a way financial industry itself became an organized crime. The notion of exorbitant wages prevalent in financial industry (and, before it, pioneered by in high-tech companies during dot-com boom via stock options) is based on the idea that some people are at least hundred times more productive then the others. In some professions like programming this is true and such people do exists. But any sufficiently large company is about team work. No matter what job a person does and no matter how many hours they work, there is no possible way that an single individual will create a whole product. It's a team effort. That means that neither skill nor expertise or intelligence can justify the payment of 200, 300 or even 400 times the wages of the lowest-paid 20% workers in any large organization.

This is especially questionable for financial professionals because by and large they are engaged in non-productive. often harmful for the society as whole redistribution activities, the same activities that organized crime performs. Moreover, modern traders are actually play a tremendously destructive role as subprime crisis (and before it saving and loans debacle) aptly demonstrated. which make them indistinguishable in this societal roles from cocaine pushers on the streets.

Drucker's views on the subject are probably worth revisiting. Rick Wartzman wrote in his Business Week article Put a Cap on CEO Pay' that "those who understand that what comes with their authority is the weight of responsibility, not "the mantle of privilege," as writer and editor Thomas Stewart described Drucker's view. It's their job "to do what is right for the enterprise—not for shareholders alone, and certainly not for themselves alone."

Large pay also attracts sociopathic personalities. Sociopathic personalities at the top of modern organizations is another important but rarely discussed danger.

"I'm not talking about the bitter feelings of the people on the plant floor," Drucker told a reporter in 2004. "They're convinced that their bosses are crooks anyway. It's the mid-level management that is incredibly disillusioned" by CEO compensation that seems to have no bounds. " This is especially true, Drucker explained in an earlier interview, when CEOs pocket huge sums while laying off workers. That kind of action, he said, is "morally unforgivable." There can be exceptions but they should be in middle management not in top management ranks.

Put it all together, and the picture became really discouraging. We have an ill-informed or misinformed electorate, politicians who gleefully add to the misinformation, watchdogs who are afraid to bark and guards on each and every corner. Mousetrap is complete.

Recommended Books

Winner-Take-All Politics How Washington Made the Rich Richer -- and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Paul Pierson, Jacob S. Hacker

Henry J. Farrell

Transforming American politics, September 16, 2010

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) This is a transformative book. It's the best book on American politics that I've read since Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others' work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don't have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.

The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political - the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public. The authors weave a historical narrative which Kevin Drum (who says the same things that I am saying about the book's importance) summarizes cogently here. This is not necessarily original - a lot of leftwing and left-of-center writers have been making similar claims for a long time. What is new is both the specific evidence that the authors use, and their conscious and deliberate effort to reframe what is important about American politics.

First - the evidence. Hacker and Pierson draw on work by economists like Picketty and Saez on the substantial growth in US inequality (and on comparisons between the US and other countries), but argue that many of the explanations preferred by economists (the effects of technological change on demand for skills) simply don't explain what is going on. First, they do not explain why inequality is so top-heavy - that is, why so many of the economic benefits go to a tiny, tiny minority of individuals among those with apparently similar skills. Second, they do not explain cross national variation - why the differences in the level of inequality among advanced industrialized countries, all of which have gone through more-or-less similar technological shocks, are so stark. While Hacker and Pierson agree that technological change is part of the story, they suggest that the ways in which this is channeled in different national contexts is crucial. And it is here that politics plays a key role.

Many economists are skeptical that politics explains the outcome, suggesting that conventional forms of political intervention are not big enough to have such dramatic consequences. Hacker and Pierson's reply implicitly points to a blind spot of many economists - they argue that markets are not `natural,' but instead are constituted by government policy and political institutions. If institutions are designed one way, they result in one form of market activity, whereas if they are designed another way, they will result in very different outcomes. Hence, results that appear like `natural' market operations to a neo-classical economist may in fact be the result of political decisions, or indeed of deliberate political inaction. Hacker and Pierson cite e.g. the decision of the Clinton administration not to police derivatives as an example of how political coalitions may block reforms in ways that have dramatic economic consequences.

Hence, Hacker and Pierson turn to the lessons of ongoing political science research. This is both a strength and a weakness. I'll talk about the weakness below - but I found the account of the current research convincing, readable and accurate. It builds on both Hacker and Pierson's own work and the work of others (e.g. the revisionist account of American party structures from Zaller et al. and the work of Bartels). This original body of work is not written in ways that make it easily accessible to non-professionals - while Bartels' book was both excellent and influential, it was not an easy read. Winner-Take-All Politics pulls off the tricky task of both presenting the key arguments underlying work without distorting them and integrating them into a highly readable narrative.

As noted above, the book sets out (in my view quite successfully) to reframe how we should think about American politics. It downplays the importance of electoral politics, without dismissing it, in favor of a focus on policy-setting, institutions, and organization.

In Hacker and Pierson's account, these three together account for the systematic political bias towards greater inequality. In simplified form: Organizations - and battles between organizations over policy as well as elections - are the structuring conflicts of American politics. The interests of the rich are represented by far more powerful organizations than the interests of the poor and middle class. The institutions of the US provide these organizations and their political allies with a variety of tools to promote new policies that reshape markets in their interests. This account is in some ways neo-Galbraithian (Hacker and Pierson refer in passing to the notion of `countervailing powers'). But while it lacks Galbraith's magisterial and mellifluous prose style, it is much better than he was on the details.

Even so (and here begin the criticisms) - it is not detailed enough. The authors set the book up as a whodunit: Who or what is responsible for the gross inequalities of American economic life? They show that the other major suspects have decent alibis (they may inadvertently have helped the culprit, but they did not carry out the crime itself. They show that their preferred culprit had the motive and, apparently, the means. They find good circumstantial evidence that he did it. But they do not find a smoking gun. For me, the culprit (the American political system) is like OJ. As matters stand, I'm pretty sure that he committed the crime. But I'm not sure that he could be convicted in a court of law, and I could be convinced that I was wrong, if major new exculpatory evidence was uncovered.

The lack of any smoking gun (or, alternatively, good evidence against a smoking gun) is the direct result of a major failure of American intellectual life. As the authors observe elsewhere, there is no field of American political economy. Economists have typically treated the economy as non-political. Political scientists have typically not concerned themselves with the American economy. There are recent efforts to change this, coming from economists like Paul Krugman and political scientists like Larry Bartels, but they are still in their infancy. We do not have the kinds of detailed and systematic accounts of the relationship between political institutions and economic order for the US that we have e.g. for most mainland European countries. We will need a decade or more of research to build the foundations of one.

Hence, while Hacker and Pierson show that political science can get us a large part of the way, it cannot get us as far as they would like us to go, for the simple reason that political science is not well developed enough yet. We can identify the causal mechanisms intervening between some specific political decisions and non-decisions and observed outcomes in the economy. We cannot yet provide a really satisfactory account of how these particular mechanisms work across a wider variety of settings and hence produce the general forms of inequality that they point to. Nor do we yet have a really good account of the precise interactions between these mechanisms and other mechanisms.

None of this is to discount the importance of this book. If it has the impact it deserves, it will transform American public arguments about politics and policymaking. I cannot see how someone who was fair minded could come away from reading this book and not be convinced that politics plays a key role in the enormous economic inequality that we see. And even if it is aimed at a general audience, it also challenges academics and researchers in economics, political science and economic sociology both to re-examine their assumptions about how economics and politics work, and to figure out ways better to engage with the key political debates of our time as Hacker and Pierson have done. If you can, buy it.

Great Faulkner's Ghost (Washington, DC)

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) Many people have observed that American politics and the American economy reached some kind of turning point around 1980, which conveniently marks the election of Ronald Reagan. Some also pointed to other factors such as the deregulation of stock brokerage commissions in 1975 and the high inflation of the 1970s. Other analysts have put the turning point back in 1968, when Richard Nixon became President on the back of a wave of white, middle-class resentment against the 1960s. Hacker and Pierson, however, point the finger at the 1970s. As they describe in Chapter 4, the Nixon presidency saw the high-water market of the regulatory state; the demise of traditional liberalism occurred during the Carter administration, despite Democratic control of Washington, when highly organized business interests were able to torpedo the Democratic agenda and begin the era of cutting taxes for the rich that apparently has not yet ended today.

Why then? Not, as popular commentary would have it, because public opinion shifted. Hacker and Pierson cite studies showing that public opinion on issues such as inequality has not shifted over the past thirty years; most people still think society is too unequal and that taxes should be used to reduce inequality. What has shifted is that Congressmen are now much more receptive to the opinions of the rich, and there is actually a negative correlation between their positions and the preferences of their poor constituents (p. 111). Citing Martin Gilens, they write, "When well-off people strongly supported a policy change, it had almost three times the chance of becoming law as when they strongly opposed it. When median-income people strongly supported a policy change, it had hardly any greater chance of becoming law than when they strongly opposed it" (p. 112). In other words, it isn't public opinion, or the median voter, that matters; it's what the rich want.

That shift occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and contacts to achieve dominant political influence (described in Chapter 5). To take one of the many statistics they provide, the number of companies with registered lobbyists in Washington grew from 175 in 1971 to nearly 2,500 in 1982 (p. 118). Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle that gave the Republicans a formidable institutional advantage by the 1980s. The Democrats have only reduced that advantage in the past two decades by becoming more like Republicans-more business-friendly, more anti-tax, and more dependent on money from the super-rich. And that dependency has severely limited both their ability and their desire to fight back on behalf of the middle class (let alone the poor), which has few defenders in Washington.

At a high level, the lesson of Winner-Take-All Politics is similar to that of 13 Bankers: when looking at economic phenomena, be they the financial crisis or the vast increase in inequality of the past thirty years, it's politics that matters, not just abstract economic forces. One of the singular victories of the rich has been convincing the rest of us that their disproportionate success has been due to abstract economic forces beyond anyone's control (technology, globalization, etc.), not old-fashioned power politics. Hopefully the financial crisis and the recession that has ended only on paper (if that) will provide the opportunity to teach people that there is no such thing as abstract economic forces; instead, there are different groups using the political system to fight for larger shares of society's wealth. And one group has been winning for over thirty years.

Citizen John (USA)

In Winner-Take-All Politics, two political science professors explain what caused the Middle Class to become vulnerable. Understanding this phenomenon is the Holy Grail of contemporary economics in the U.S.

Some may feel this book is just as polarizing as the current state of politics and media in America. The decades-long decline in income taxes of wealthy individuals is cited in detail. Wage earners are usually subjected to the FICA taxes against all their ordinary income (all or almost their entire total income). But the top wealthy Americans may have only a small percentage (or none) of their income subjected to FICA taxes. Thus Warren Buffett announced that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Buffett has cited income inequality for "poisoning democracy."

When you search the Net for Buffett quotes on inequality, you get a lot of results showing how controversial he became for stating the obvious. Drawing attention to the inequity of the tax regime won him powerful enemies. Those same people are not going to like the authors for writing Winner-Take-All. They say these political science people are condescending because they presume to tell people their political interests.

Many of studies of poverty show how economic and political policies generally favor the rich throughout the world, some of which are cited in this book. Military spending and financial bailouts in particular favor the wealthy. Authors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson document a long U.S. policy trend favoring wealthy Americans. This trend resulted in diminished middle class access to quality healthcare and education, making it harder to keep up with the wealthy in relative terms. Further, once people have lost basic foundations of security, they are less willing and able to take on more risk in terms of investing or starting a business.

The rise of special interests has been at the expense of the middle class, according to the authors. Former President Carter talked about this and was ridiculed. Since then government has grown further from most of us. Even federal employees are not like most of us anymore. In its August 10, 2010 issue, USA Today discussed government salaries: "At a time when workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds."

An excellent documentary showing how difficult it is to address income inequality is One Percent, by Jamie Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson family. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed shows examples of what can happen when a society disregards a coming disaster until too late. I hope that Winner-Take-All will prompt people to demand more of elected officials and to arrest the growing income gap for the sake of our democracy.

Michael Emmett Brady "mandmbrady" (Bellflower, California ,United States)

4.5 stars-Wall Street speculators control both parties, September 19, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

This book basically argues that Wall Street controls both political parties through the use of massive campaign contributions and lobbyists who buy off both the Republicans and Democrats in the White House,Senate and House.This is essentially correct but obvious.Anyone can go back to the 1976 Jimmy Carter campaign and simply verify that the majority of his campaign funds and advisors came from Wall Street.This identical conclusion also holds with respect to Ronald Reagan,George H W Bush,Bill Clinton,George W Bush and Barack Obama. The only Presidents/Presidential candidates not dominated by Wall Street since 1976 were Gerald Ford, Walter Mondale, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan.

For instance,it is common knowledge to anyone who carefully checks to see where the money is coming from that Wall Street financiers, hedgefunds, private equity firms and giant commercial banks are calling the shots. For example, one could simply read the July 9,2007 issue of FORTUNE magazine to discover who the major backers of John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were. One could also have read Business Week(2-25-2008) or the Los Angeles Times of 3-21-2008.Through February, 2008 the major donors to the McCain campaign were 1)Merrill Lynch, 2) Citigroup, 3)Goldman Sachs, 4)J P Morgan Chase and 5)Credit Suisse

The major donors to the Hillary Clinton campaign were 1)Goldman Sachs, 2)Morgan Stanley, 3)Citigroup, 4)Lehman Brothers and 5)J P Morgan Chase.

Guess who were the major donors to the Obama campaign ? If you guessed 1)Goldman Sachs,2)UBS Ag,3)J P Morgan Chase ,4)Lehman Brothers and 5)Citigroup, then you are correct.

It didn't matter who became President-Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama or John McCain.All three had been thoroughly vetted by Wall Street. The campaign staffs of all three candidates ,especially their economic and finance advisors, were all Wall Street connected. Wall Street would have been bailed out regardless of which party won the 2008 election.

Obama is not going to change anything substantially in the financial markets. Neither is Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Chris Dodd, Sen. Kerry or Sen. Schumer, etc. Nor is any Republican candidate going to make any changes, simply because the Republican Party is dominated even more so by Wall Street(100%) than the Democratic Party(80%). The logical solution would be to support a Third Party candidate, for example, Ross Perot .

One aspect of the book is deficient. True conservatives like Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs have been warning about the grave dangers of hallowing out and downsizing the American Manufacturing -Industrial sector, with the consequent offshoring and/or loss of many millions of American jobs, for about 20 years at the same time that the " financial services " sector has exploded from 3% of the total service sector in 1972 to just under 40% by 2007. This is what is causing the great shrinkage in the middle class in America .

Matt Milholland (California)

An Important Book, October 9, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

This is a phenomenal book and everyone interested in how American politics works (or more accurately, doesn't work) should pick it up. It's both really smart and really accessible to a lay audience, which is rare for a political science book.

Extreme economic inequality and the near paralysis of our governing institutions has lead to a status-quo that is almost entirely indifferent to the needs of working families. Hacker & Pierson chronicle the rise of this corrupt system and the dual, yet distinct, roles the Republican and Democratic Parties have played in abetting it.

Seriously, it's top-notch. Read this book.

Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" By(Phoenix, AZ.)

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Timely, but Also Off-Base in Some Regards, September 15, 2010 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover) The thirty-eight biggest Wall Street companies earned $140 billion in 2009, a record that all taxpayers who contributed to their bailouts can be proud of. Among those, Goldman Sachs paid its employees an average $600,000, also a record, and at least partially attributable to our bailout of AIG, which promptly gave much of the money to Goldman. Prior to that, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned an average of $892 million in 2007. "Winner-Take-All Politics" is framed as a detective story about how we got to inequality levels where the top 300,000 (0.1%) receive over 20% of national income, vs. 13.5% for the bottom 180 million (60% of the population).

Between 1947 and 1973, real family median income essentially doubled, and the growth percentage was virtually the same for all income levels. In the mid-1970s, however, economic inequality began to increase sharply and middle-incomes lagged. Increased female workforce participation rates and more overtime helped cushion the stagnation or decline for many (they also increased the risk of layoffs/family), then growing credit card debt shielded many families from reality. Unfortunately, expectations of stable full-time employment also began shrinking, part-time, temporary, and economic risk-bearing (eg. taxi drivers leasing vehicles and paying the fuel costs; deliverymen 'buying' routes and trucks) work increased, workers covered by employer-sponsored health insurance fell from 69% in 1979 to 56% in 2004, and retirement coverage was either been dropped entirely or mostly converted to much less valuable fix-contribution plans for private sector employees. Some exceptions have occurred that benefit the middle and lower-income segments - Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Medicaid, and Medicare were initiated or expanded, but these have not blunted the overall trend. Conversely, welfare reform, incarceration rates rising 6X between 1970 and 2000, bankruptcy reform, and increased tax audits for EITC recipients have also added to their burden, Social Security is being challenged again (despite stock market declines, enormous transition costs, and vastly increased overhead costs and fraud opportunity), and 2009's universal health care reform will be aggressively challenged both in the courts and Washington.

Authors Hacker and Pierson contend that growing inequality is not the 'natural' product of market rewards, but mostly the artificial result of deliberate government policies, strongly influenced by industry lobbyists and donations, new and expanded conservative 'think tanks,' and inadequate media coverage that focused more on the 'horse race' aspects of various initiatives than their content and impact. First came the capital gains tax cuts under President Carter, then deregulation of the financial industry under Clinton, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the financial bailouts in 2008-09. The authors contend that if the 1970 tax structure remained today, the top gains would be considerably less.

But what about the fact that in 1965 CEOs of large corporations only earned about 24X the average worker, compared to 300+X now? Hacker and Pierson largely ignore the role of board-room politics and malfeasance that have mostly allowed managers to serve themselves with payment without regard to performance and out of proportion to other nations. In 2006, the 20 highest-paid European managers made an average $12.5 million, only one-third as much as the 20 highest-earning U.S. executives. Yet, the Europeans led larger firms - $65.5 billion in sales vs. $46.5 billion for the U.S. Asian CEOs commonly make only 10X-15X what their base level employees make. Jiang Jianqing, Chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (world's largest), made $234,700 in 2008, less than 2% of the $19.6 million awarded Jamie Dimon, CEO of the world's fourth-largest bank, JPMorgan Chase.

"Winner-Take-All Politics" also provides readers with the composition of 2004 taxpayers in the top 0.1% of earners (including capital gains). Non-finance executives comprised 41% of the group, finance professionals 18.4%, lawyers 6%, real estate personages 5%, physicians 4%, entrepreneurs 4%, and arts and sports stars 3%. The authors assert that this shows education and skills levels are not the great dividers most everyone credits them to be - the vast majority of Americans losing ground to the super-rich includes many well-educated individuals, while the super-rich includes many without a college education (Sheldon Adelson, Paul Allen, Edgar Bronfman, Jack Kent Cook, Michael Dell, Walt Disney, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Wayne Huizenga, Steve Jobs, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Zuckerberg).

Authors Hacker and Pierson are political science professors and it is understandable that they emphasize political causes (PACs, greater recruitment of evangelical voters, lobbying - eg. $500 million on health care lobbying in 2009, filibusters that allow senators representing just 10% of the population to stop legislation and make the other side look incompetent, etc.) for today's income inequality. However, their claim that foreign trade is "largely innocent" as a cause is neither substantiated nor logical. Foreign trade as practiced today pads corporate profits and executive bonuses while destroying/threatening millions of American jobs and lowering/holding down the incomes of those affected. Worse yet, the authors don't even mention the impact of millions of illegal aliens depressing wage rates while taking jobs from Americans, nor do they address the canard that tax cuts for and spending by the super-wealthy are essential to our economic success (refuted by Moody's Analytics and Austan Goolsbee, Business Week - 9/13/2010). They're also annoyingly biased towards unions, ignoring their constant strikes and abuses in the 1960s and 1970s, major contributions to G.M., Chrysler, and legacy airline bankruptcies, and current school district, local, and state financial difficulties.

Bottom-Line: It is a sad commentary on the American political system that growing and record levels of inequality are being met by populist backlash against income redistribution and expanding trust in government, currently evidenced by those supporting extending tax cuts for the rich and railing against reforming health care to reduce expenditures from 17.3+% of GDP to more internationally competitive levels (4-6%) while improving patient outcomes. "Winner-Take-All Politics" is interesting reading, provides some essential data, and point out some evidence of the inadequacy of many voters. However, the authors miss the 'elephant in the room' - American-style democracy is not viable when at most 10% of citizens are 'proficient' per functional literacy tests ([...]), and only a small proportion of them have the time and access required to sift through the flood of half-truths, lies, and irrelevancies to objectively evaluate 2,000+ page bills and other political activity. (Ideology-dominated economic professionals and short-term thinking human rights advocates are two others.) Comments (2)

Brian Kodi

"Americans live in Russia, but they think they live in Sweden." - Chrystia Freeland, March 26, 2011 See all my reviews

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

No one should doubt the rising income inequality in America, which the authors trace back to the late 1970s since the latter part of Carter's presidency in what they call the "30 Year War". Zachary Roth, in a March 4th Time magazine article stated "A slew of conservative economists of unimpeachable academic credentials--including Martin Feldstein of Harvard, Glenn Hubbard, who was President Bush's top economic adviser, and Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke--have all acknowledged that inequality is on the rise."

And why should we care that most of the after tax income growth since 30 years ago has gone the way of the richest Americans in a "winner-take-all" economy? Because as Supreme Court justice biographer Melvin Urofsky stated, "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." (p. 81) Because if unchecked, a new economic aristocracy may replace the old hereditary aristocracy America's Founders fought to defeat (p. 298). Because unequal societies are unhappy societies, and inequality can foster individual resentment that may lead to a pervasive decline in civility and erosion of culture.

And why should we be concerned that this trend in rising inequality may not experience the period of renewal the authors are optimistic about? Because unlike the shock of the 1930s' Great Depression that served as the impetus for the politics of middle class democracy, the potential shockwaves of the 2008 Great Recession were tempered by massive government stimulus, resulting in no meaningful financial reform, and an extension of the tax cuts for the wealthy. And because of the lottery mentality of a large swath of the population which opposes tax increases on the rich. One day, they or their children too can share in the American dream. According to an October 2000 Time-CNN poll, 19 percent of Americans were convinced they belonged to the richest 1 percent. Another 20 percent thought they'd make the rank of the top 1 percent at some point in their lives. That's quite a turnover in the top 1 percent category to accommodate 20 percent of the population passing through.

Mr. Hacker and Mr. Pierson have put together powerful arguments on the root causes of income inequality in the U.S., its political and economic ramifications, and to a lesser extent, a roadmap to returning democracy to the masses. This is an eye opening and disturbing, yet informative book, even for readers who may disagree with their opinions.

J. Strauss (NYC)

3.0 out of 5 stars great history of big money influence on policy but needs more analysis of the ways policy affects the winner-take-all economy, September 21, 2011 See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (Hardcover)

Writing:

A bit hokey and repetitive for the first couple chapters. Much better after that. Stick with it if you're interested in the subject.

Content:

This book does a very good job explaining how and why certain special interest groups (notably those that represent the wealthiest .1%) have come to have such a stranglehold on government, particularly Congress. I come away with a clear understanding of how the wealthiest citizens are able to exert their influence over legislative policy and enforcement at the federal level.

What I would have liked more of are better explanations of the mechanisms through which government policies exacerbate the winner-take-all economy. Tax policy (rates and loopholes) is the most obvious answer, and the book provides plenty of stats on the regression of tax policy over the past 30 years.

But complicated, interesting, and largely missing from public discourse is why PRE-TAX incomes have become so much more radically skewed during that time. This is certainly touched on - the authors are deliberate in saying it's not JUST tax policy that's contributing to increased inequality - but I would've liked much more analysis of the other policy-driven factors. "Deregulation" is too general an explanation to paint a clear picture.

The authors make it clear that they believe the increasing divide in pre-tax incomes (the winner-take-all economy) is not the inevitable result of technological changes and of differences in education ("the usual suspects"), but of policy decisions made at the state and, especially, federal levels. Personally, I wasn't fully convinced that technological change has little or nothing to do with the skew (though I agree that while education goes a long way toward explaining the gap between poor and middle class, it doesn't explain much of the gap between middle class and super rich). But I do believe, as they do, that public policy plays a large role in influencing the extent of inequality in pre-tax incomes, even beyond more obvious market-impacting factors like union influence, and mandates including the minimum wage, restrictions on pollution, workplace safety and fairness laws, etc.

Off the top of my head, here are some regulatory issues that affect market outcomes and can influence the extent of winner-take-all effects in the marketplace (a few of these may have been mentioned in the book, but none were discussed in detail):

And many more. I know regulatory issues like that play huge roles in the distribution of pre-tax "market" incomes, but I'd like to have a better understanding of how, and also to be better able to articulate how in response to those who seem to believe taxes (and perhaps obvious restrictions, such as on pollution or the minimum wage) are the only significant means through which governments influence wealth disparities.

There wasn't a whole lot of discussion of these or similar regulatory issues in the book. I would like to see another edition, or perhaps another book entirely, that does. Please let me know if you have any recommendations.


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"You load 16 tons and whaddaya get??
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don'tcha call me 'Cause-I can't go…
I owe my soul to the Company Store"

-- "Sixteen Tons"

[Apr 09, 2021] Ethnicity Is a Bad, Often Destructive, Reason to Hire

Highly recommended!
Apr 08, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Judge James C. Ho is absolutely correct to imply it is profoundly offensive to be offered opportunity based on race rather than merit (" Notable & Quotable: Judges ," March 27).

When I was approaching graduation and beginning my job search, a friend of the family, who was Jewish himself, approached me with an opportunity. His accounting firm, one of the "Big Eight" firms, had inquired if he knew any young Jewish accountants it could hire because it didn't have any Jews working in the firm. The family friend told me this was a wonderful opportunity and that I would be made partner and become prosperous. He was shocked when I responded no, and asked why. I told him if I accepted this offer, I would never know if I was successful because I was Jewish or because I was talented and skilled.

I have never once regretted my decision.

[Apr 05, 2021] Only the Retired Professors Dare to Speak Out Freely

Apr 05, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Over the months there have been letters to the editor regarding academia. April 4, 2021 2:59 pm ET

Listen to this article 1 minute 00:00 / 00:37 1x

Over the months there have been letters to the editor regarding academia, "Academic Freedom Long Ago Withered Away" (Letters, March 5) being a case in point. I find it interesting that for the most part they are written by professors emeriti or retired academics, not active ones with a job to lose. This is very telling in and of itself.

Kenneth White

Chicago


[Apr 02, 2021] Who's Hiring And Who's Firing

Apr 02, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Not only was the March payrolls report a blockbuster, golidlocks number, much higher than expected but not too high to spark immediate reflation/hike fears thanks to subdued wage inflation, job growth in March was also widespread unlike February, where 75% of all new jobs were waiters and bartenders . By contrast, in March the largest gains occurring across most industries with the bulk taking place in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and construction.

Here is a full breakdown:

It's hardly a surprise that with the US reopening, the one industry seeing the biggest hiring remains leisure and hospitality where jobs rose by 280,000, as pandemic-related restrictions eased in many parts of the country, with nearly two-thirds of the increase in "food services and drinking places", i.e., waiters and bartenders, which added +176,000 jobs in March.

And another notable change was in the total number of government workers, which surged by 136K in March, reversing the 90K drop in February, as a result of 49.6K state education workers and 76K local government education workers added thanks to the reopening of schools around the country.

Here is a visual breakdown of all the March job changes:

Finally, courtesy of Bloomberg , below are the industries with the highest and lowest rates of employment growth for the most recent month.


7 play_arrow


Jack Offelday 1 hour ago

The "V" recovery. Where Food Service jobs are the new "Golden Age".

Creamaster 47 minutes ago (Edited)

My wife is a nurse in an outpatient office under a large hospital umbrella here. Normally these outpatient spots go within days to a week.

Currently they have 2 openings they have been trying to fill for a few months now. Combine that with the fact my wife got 3 years worth of raises in a single shot, recently and out of the blue for no reason, tells me the hospitla is really screwed trying to fill nursing spots.

After this pandemic crap, it has likely scared alot of people away from entering healthcare, and if a nurse was on the fence about retirement , likely decided to call it quits after all this BS.

newworldorder 45 minutes ago

There are an estimated, 30 million illegals currently in the USA waiting legalization.

WHEN legalization happens, they will bring into the USA (by historical averages,) another 60 to 90 million of their family members in 10 years.

And all of them US Minority workers, by current US Diversity Laws, - same as all Black Americans.

[Apr 02, 2021] 'The world will never be the same-' Coursera CEO on learning post pandemic

Apr 02, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

'The world will never be the same:' Coursera CEO on learning post pandemic Reggie Wade · Writer Fri, April 2, 2021, 12:43 PM More content below More content below ^IXIC +1.76% COUR +1.73%

The online learning platform Coursera ( COUR ) saw a big pop following its Nasdaq ( ^IXIC ) debut this week. Coursera revenue was up 60% last year, and CEO Jeff Maggioncalda predicts online learning is here to stay even after the pandemic eventually winds down.

"The world needs more access to high-quality learning. ... There will be a new normal that emerges. We don't know what that will look like either in terms of how we work remotely versus in an office and how we will learn online and also on campus. But it's pretty clear that the world will never be the same again and that online learning will be a big part of it," he told Yahoo Finance Live.

"So we really think about the long term, all the structural reasons why people will need to learn continuously through their lives to learn new skills as the world goes more digital," he said.

Dec 27, 2019 Mountain View / CA / USA - Coursera headquarters in Silicon Valley; Coursera is an American online learning platform that offers massive open online courses, specializations, and degrees

One area that Coursera is looking to expand is its degree and certification programs. Maggioncalda tells Yahoo Finance that the company can use technology to shake up traditional degree offerings.

"What we've seen for centuries is that college degrees are the most meaningful, recognized learning credential that there is, and the credential type hasn't really innovated that much over the last period of history. We think with technology, the ability to create not only degrees but other types of credentials," he said.

"It will be a portfolio of credentials. We believe that will serve lifelong learning needs in a world where people need to keep learning, even as they're working," he added.

[Mar 28, 2021] Medicaid Enrollment Grew -30% Year-Over-Year

Mar 28, 2021 | angrybearblog.com

run75441 | March 27, 2021 7:55 pm

HEALTHCARE

Medicaid expansion enrollment grew nearly 30% year-over-year in 19-state sample, Andrew Sprung, XPOSTFACTOID, March 17, 2021

An update on Medicaid expansion enrollment growth since the pandemic struck. Below is a sampling of 19 expansion states through January of this year, and 14 states through February.

Maintaining the assumption, explained here , "relatively slow growth in California would push the national total down by about 2.5 percentage points." These tallies still point to year-over-year enrollment growth of approximately 30% from February 2020 to February 2021.

If that's right, then Medicaid enrollment among those rendered eligible by ACA expansion criteria (adults with income up to 138% FPL) may exceed 19 million nationally and may be pushing 20 million. Assuming the sampling of a bit more than a third of total expansion enrollment represents all expansion states more or less and again accounting for slower growth in California.

[Mar 28, 2021] One year later, unemployment insurance claims remain sky-high

Notable quotes:
"... Last week was the 53rd straight week total initial claims were greater than the second-worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims -- because we didn't have PUA in the Great Recession -- initial claims are still greater than the 14th worst week of the Great Recession.) ..."
Mar 28, 2021 | www.epi.org

One year ago this week, when the first sky-high unemployment insurance (UI) claims data of the pandemic were released, I said " I have been a labor economist for a very long time and have never seen anything like this ." But in the weeks that followed, things got worse before they got better -- and we are not out of the woods yet. Last week -- the week ending March 20, 2021 -- another 926,000 people applied for UI. This included 684,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 242,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the federal program for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like gig workers.

Last week was the 53rd straight week total initial claims were greater than the second-worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims -- because we didn't have PUA in the Great Recession -- initial claims are still greater than the 14th worst week of the Great Recession.)

Figure A shows continuing claims in all programs over time (the latest data for this are for March 6). Continuing claims are currently nearly 17 million above where they were a year ago, just before the virus hit.

FIGURE A Continuing unemployment claims in all programs, March 23, 2019–March 6, 2021 *Use caution interpreting trends over time because of reporting issues (see below)*
Date Regular state UI PEUC PUA Other programs (mostly EB and STC)
2019-03-23 1,905,627 31,510
2019-03-30 1,858,954 31,446
2019-04-06 1,727,261 30,454
2019-04-13 1,700,689 30,404
2019-04-20 1,645,387 28,281
2019-04-27 1,630,382 29,795
2019-05-04 1,536,652 27,937
2019-05-11 1,540,486 28,727
2019-05-18 1,506,501 27,949
2019-05-25 1,519,345 26,263
2019-06-01 1,535,572 26,905
2019-06-08 1,520,520 25,694
2019-06-15 1,556,252 26,057
2019-06-22 1,586,714 25,409
2019-06-29 1,608,769 23,926
2019-07-06 1,700,329 25,630
2019-07-13 1,694,876 27,169
2019-07-20 1,676,883 30,390
2019-07-27 1,662,427 28,319
2019-08-03 1,676,979 27,403
2019-08-10 1,616,985 27,330
2019-08-17 1,613,394 26,234
2019-08-24 1,564,203 27,253
2019-08-31 1,473,997 25,003
2019-09-07 1,462,776 25,909
2019-09-14 1,397,267 26,699
2019-09-21 1,380,668 26,641
2019-09-28 1,390,061 25,460
2019-10-05 1,366,978 26,977
2019-10-12 1,384,208 27,501
2019-10-19 1,416,816 28,088
2019-10-26 1,420,918 28,576
2019-11-02 1,447,411 29,080
2019-11-09 1,457,789 30,024
2019-11-16 1,541,860 31,593
2019-11-23 1,505,742 29,499
2019-11-30 1,752,141 30,315
2019-12-07 1,725,237 32,895
2019-12-14 1,796,247 31,893
2019-12-21 1,773,949 29,888
2019-12-28 2,143,802 32,517
2020-01-04 2,245,684 32,520
2020-01-11 2,137,910 33,882
2020-01-18 2,075,857 32,625
2020-01-25 2,148,764 35,828
2020-02-01 2,084,204 33,884
2020-02-08 2,095,001 35,605
2020-02-15 2,057,774 34,683
2020-02-22 2,101,301 35,440
2020-02-29 2,054,129 33,053
2020-03-07 1,973,560 32,803
2020-03-14 2,071,070 34,149
2020-03-21 3,410,969 36,758
2020-03-28 8,158,043 0 52,494 48,963
2020-04-04 12,444,309 3,802 69,537 64,201
2020-04-11 16,249,334 31,426 216,481 89,915
2020-04-18 17,756,054 63,720 1,172,238 116,162
2020-04-25 21,723,230 91,724 3,629,986 158,031
2020-05-02 20,823,294 173,760 6,361,532 175,289
2020-05-09 22,725,217 252,257 8,120,137 216,576
2020-05-16 18,791,926 252,952 11,281,930 226,164
2020-05-23 19,022,578 546,065 10,010,509 247,595
2020-05-30 18,548,442 1,121,306 9,597,884 259,499
2020-06-06 18,330,293 885,802 11,359,389 325,282
2020-06-13 17,552,371 783,999 13,093,382 336,537
2020-06-20 17,316,689 867,675 14,203,555 392,042
2020-06-27 16,410,059 956,849 12,308,450 373,841
2020-07-04 17,188,908 964,744 13,549,797 495,296
2020-07-11 16,221,070 1,016,882 13,326,206 513,141
2020-07-18 16,691,210 1,122,677 13,259,954 518,584
2020-07-25 15,700,971 1,193,198 10,984,864 609,328
2020-08-01 15,112,240 1,262,021 11,504,089 433,416
2020-08-08 14,098,536 1,376,738 11,221,790 549,603
2020-08-15 13,792,016 1,381,317 13,841,939 469,028
2020-08-22 13,067,660 1,434,638 15,164,498 523,430
2020-08-29 13,283,721 1,547,611 14,786,785 490,514
2020-09-05 12,373,201 1,630,711 11,808,368 529,220
2020-09-12 12,363,489 1,832,754 12,153,925 510,610
2020-09-19 11,561,158 1,989,499 10,686,922 589,652
2020-09-26 10,172,332 2,824,685 10,978,217 579,582
2020-10-03 8,952,580 3,334,878 10,450,384 668,691
2020-10-10 8,038,175 3,711,089 10,622,725 615,066
2020-10-17 7,436,321 3,983,613 9,332,610 778,746
2020-10-24 6,837,941 4,143,389 9,433,127 746,403
2020-10-31 6,452,002 4,376,847 8,681,647 806,430
2020-11-07 6,037,690 4,509,284 9,147,753 757,496
2020-11-14 5,890,220 4,569,016 8,869,502 834,740
2020-11-21 5,213,781 4,532,876 8,555,763 741,078
2020-11-28 5,766,130 4,801,408 9,244,556 834,685
2020-12-05 5,457,941 4,793,230 9,271,112 841,463
2020-12-12 5,393,839 4,810,334 8,453,940 937,972
2020-12-19 5,205,841 4,491,413 8,383,387 1,070,810
2020-12-26 5,347,440 4,166,261 7,442,888 1,450,438
2021-01-02 5,727,359 3,026,952 5,707,397 1,526,887
2021-01-09 5,446,993 3,863,008 7,334,682 1,638,247
2021-01-16 5,188,211 3,604,894 7,218,801 1,826,573
2021-01-23 5,156,985 4,779,341 7,943,448 1,785,954
2021-01-30 5,003,178 4,062,189 7,685,857 1,590,360
2021-02-06 4,934,269 5,067,523 7,520,114 1,523,394
2021-02-13 4,794,195 4,468,389 7,329,172 1,437,170
2021-02-20 4,808,623 5,456,080 8,387,696 1,465,769
2021-02-27 4,457,888 4,816,523 7,616,593 1,237,929
2021-03-06 4,458,888 5,551,215 7,735,491 1,207,201

Other programs (mostly EB and STC) PUA PEUC Regular state UI Jul 2019 Jan 2020 Jul 2020 Jan 2021 0 10,000,000 20,000,000 30,000,000 40,000,000 Chart Data Caution: Trends over time in PUA claims may be distorted because when an individual is owed retroactive payments, some states report all retroactive PUA claims during the week the individual received their payment.

Click here for notes.

Source: U.S. Employment and Training Administration, Initial Claims [ICSA], retrieved from Department of Labor (DOL), https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/docs/persons.xls and https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf , March 25, 2021. Share Tweet Embed Download image

The good news in all of this is Congress's passage of the sweeping $1.9 trillion relief and recovery package. It is both providing crucial support to millions of working families and setting the stage for a robust recovery. One big concern, however, is that the bill's UI provisions are set to expire the first week in September, when, even in the best–case scenario, they will still be needed. By then, Congress needs to have put in place long-run UI reforms that include automatic triggers based on economic conditions.

[Mar 28, 2021] Need Amid Plenty- Richest US Counties Are Overwhelmed by Surge in Child Hunger

Mar 28, 2021 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The financial fallout of covid-19 has pushed child hunger to record levels. The need has been dire since the pandemic began and highlights the gaps in the nation's safety net.

While every U.S. county has seen hunger rates rise, the steepest jumps have been in some of the wealthiest counties, where overall affluence obscures the tenuous finances of low-wage workers. Such sudden and unprecedented surges in hunger have overwhelmed many rich communities, which weren't nearly as ready to cope as places that have long dealt with poverty and were already equipped with robust, organized charitable food networks.

Data from the anti-hunger advocacy group Feeding America and the U.S. Census Bureau shows that counties seeing the largest estimated increases in child food insecurity in 2020 compared with 2018 generally have much higher median household incomes than counties with the smallest increases. In Bergen, where the median household income is $101,144, child hunger is estimated to have risen by 136%, compared with 47% nationally.

That doesn't mean affluent counties have the greatest portion of hungry kids. An estimated 17% of children in Bergen face hunger, compared with a national average of around 25%.

But help is often harder to find in wealthier places. Missouri's affluent St. Charles County, north of St. Louis, population 402,000, has seen child hunger rise by 69% and has 20 sites distributing food from the St. Louis Area Foodbank. The city of St. Louis, pop. 311,000, has seen child hunger rise by 36% and has 100 sites.

"There's a huge variation in how different places are prepared or not prepared to deal with this and how they've struggled to address it," said Erica Kenney , assistant professor of public health nutrition at Harvard University. "The charitable food system has been very strained by this."

Eleni Towns, associate director of the No Kid Hungry campaign , said the pandemic "undid a decade's worth of progress" on reducing food insecurity, which last year threatened at least 15 million kids.

And while President Joe Biden's covid relief plan, which he signed into law March 11, promises to help with anti-poverty measures such as monthly payments to families of up to $300 per child this year, it's unclear how far the recently passed legislation will go toward addressing hunger.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," said Marlene Schwartz , director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. "But it's hard to know what the impact is going to be."


Randall Flagg , March 28, 2021 at 8:12 am

Let's just keep spending all that money on our misadventures around the world though. I believe in a strong defense but just that, defense. I would like to hear the warmongers justify the ridiculous amounts of money spent on that, yet we can take care of our own to a basic minimum. What the hell happened to this country over the years

Massinissa , March 28, 2021 at 8:30 am

"What the hell happened to this country over the years "

4 to 5 decades of neoliberalism will do that. Its like the nation-state equivalent of being addicted to a drug. Makes you feel better in the short term: Reagan America worked great! In the 80s. Long term everything gets screwed over, health wise.

JBird4049 , March 28, 2021 at 5:36 pm

Ronnie Raygun was patriotic meth. The only good thing he did as the President was getting the number of American and Soviet nuclear warheads reduced.

mrsyk , March 28, 2021 at 8:34 am

Nothing says "Third World!" like 25% child food insecurity rate.

roxan , March 28, 2021 at 8:44 am

Typical banana republic, spending on war and ridiculous, dysfunctional but grandiose weapons, usually shown off in parades – lorded over by a rich oligarchy – while people starve and live in hovels. However, a healthy well-fed population is the source of a nation's strength, so we are well on the way to fading into a has-been.

Bob Hertz , March 28, 2021 at 9:14 am

Here is the real problem .

"Sierra had to leave her Amazon warehouse job when the kids' school went remote, and Morales stopped driving for Uber when trips became scarce and he feared getting covid on top of his asthma".

In other words, our skimpy unemployment insurance systems in man states, plus gaps in the pandemic special relief, plus the insufferable arrogance of closing the schools with no financial relief for parents, and here we are.

Thanks for posting, this is indeed a tragedy.

The Rev Kev , March 28, 2021 at 10:21 am

Sorry guys but this is Failed Nation stuff. I am one of those that happen to believe that it is the most fundamental duty of a State to protect children and pregnant women. Anything after that is a bonus if not an embellishment. America is not only the wealthiest country in the world but is also the wealthiest in history. And yet child hunger is tolerated. And just to add the bread slices to this s*** sandwich, there are about 800 billionaires in the US at the moment. How many of them could wake up one day and say to themselves: 'You know what? I am going to abolish child hunger in America with my money and be remembered forever and even have statues raised to myself!' But it never happens.

tegnost , March 28, 2021 at 11:01 am

America's incredible success is going to require americans to have a vastly reduced standard of living to the point that they are equally as poverty stricken as the poors the world over. Globalisation really makes any other out come unfair, and we must globalize. Everyone being a poverty stricken gig worker is the plan. Here in this case an amazon worker and an uber driver, on the dole. In reality, I think the biden admin has just dusted off the plans that were to be unleashed under hillary, that's one of the reasons it all seems so ham handed. The TPP was going to keep the world in our orbit and create supra national barriers to autonomy in order to stop what is in fact happening now where they are free to choose between china/russia and the US. From this perspective trump really screwed the plans of the despicables.

Synoia , March 28, 2021 at 11:56 am

America's incredible past success .

1. It in the past
2. It was built on predation against the British Empire

Who needs a German Enemy with friends who help with lend-lease, Cancel the German War debt, and not their "allies." Combined with subverting the British Empires rule with a twisted version of self-rule – Governance dependent on not having US Sanctions, aka imperialism absent responsibility.

This after dispossession the local US natives of the ancestral lands by force, and tricky legalities.

tegnost , March 28, 2021 at 12:10 pm

I agree that it's in the past but people ordering their entire life from amazon that I know think this is the beginning of our incredible greatness.

The S , March 28, 2021 at 1:45 pm

It's not a failed nation, it's how the US was always designed to work. It might have had some good years of P.R. and marketing after WWII but it was always a lie. The Constitution was written by a bunch of wealthy slavers that hated commoners and feared economic democracy and popular governance. The US became the wealthiest country by starving kids and killing people the world over; it was forced into a bit of wealth distribution for a few decades by multi-state steel strikes, the Bonus Army, armed miners unions, tenants unions, the Farmers Holiday movement, and the contrast of a Soviet Union that was advancing by leaps and bounds economically while the US festered in a depression. But whether it was the indigenous, the slaves, the Filipinos, the Haitians, the Chinese, the Nicaraguans, the Mexicans, the Hondurans, the Iranians, the Guatemalans, the Chileans, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Laotians, the Cambodians, the Russians, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Syrians, or it's own citizens, the US has always killed for money. If it runs out of places to take over and expand it'll just starve the kids at home to make a buck. It'll charge the poor overdraft fees for having no money then chalk that up as a financial service. It'll have its state security forces kill you for a traffic stop and then beat every citizen en masse that dares to object. It'll cannibalize the very infrastructure and fabric of society and hand it over to oligarchs and private equity. It'll give all the wealth to people who charge usury and own embroidered pieces of paper but who don't actually do anything useful or necessary. And the marks that watch US movies and television and news will believe that the US is somehow benevolent and that they can somehow bend the will of the rapacious through the very electoralism that the wealthy designed to keep the poor from having a say.

Starving children. Children in concentration camps. Children forced into schools during a plague. These aren't 'oopsies.' This is how the country is set up to run. Look at how much money the wealthy gained by letting a pandemic run wild. Look at how the entire investment class should have gone bankrupt in 2008 but instead workers were fired from jobs and cast out of their homes by the millions. Now the kids of those sacrificed are starving right next to the wealthy that should have gone bust. The affluent are literally taking food out of kids mouths because they won't let their precious stocks or real estate go down in price one iota. The only good thing about kids starving in wealthy districts is that a Robin Hood won't have to go to far to find money to give to those kids.

drumlin woodchuckles , March 28, 2021 at 4:50 pm

The 800 billionaires consider child hunger in America to be one of their greatest achievements.

The child hunger in America problem won't be solved until the 800 billionaires and all their ideological supporters and economic servants have been " rounded up and exterminated", so to speak.

Maritimer , March 28, 2021 at 4:19 pm

Thank you, Palaver. All "food" is not equal. Nutrition should be the emphasis.

In my jurisdiction, the Food Bank Industry encourages donations of packaged, processed, industrialized "food". For example, fifty pounds of oats gives much more nutrition bang for the buck than the equivalent $$$ amount of Conglomerate Cereals.

At my Conglomerate Stupormarket, they have a bin for unthinking donors to drop in "food" that was bought in the Stupor. I've seen poptarts, jars of frosting, jello, etc. all sorts of "food". And why do I think the Stupormarket just recycles a lot of this stuff back onto their shelves, making a huge profit?

Next time you donate, check out what your Food Bank is actually peddling and who runs it. Food Banks have become a huge Industry and we know what happens to huge Industries.

Louis Fyne , March 28, 2021 at 4:47 pm

My mother gives rides to some of her friends (without expectation of any compensation cuz friendship). In return, some of the friends give random items from their weekly food bank allotment.

the food is shelf-stable processed items with produce and baked goods nearing expiration from the local gourmet independent chain and the local Whole Foods.

Manslow's hierarchy of needs applies obviously and the food banks do truly heroic deeds daily, but long-term people can't live healthy lives eating boxed Mac 'n Cheese, PBJ sandwiches and organic cookies every single day.

I say expand WIC spending and eligibility, but as I'm not too familiar with that program, dunno if that'll do any good.

[Mar 28, 2021] In the USA, the top one percent of household net worth starts at $11,099,166

Mar 28, 2021 | www.unz.com

J , says: March 27, 2021 at 6:23 am GMT • 1.6 days ago

@anonymous

In the USA, the top one percent of household net worth starts at $11,099,166.

It is seems improbable that the commenter achieved that goal. May be he is thinking of 1% of Indonesia or Philippines. The reference to tenant farmers also appears to indicate a country like that. Retiring to live in the Indonesian countryside is not my idea of a good old age. Correct me please if I am wrong.

[Mar 28, 2021] D.C. spent around $30,115 per pupil in 2016-17, while in 2017-18, nearby Arlington County was expected to spend $19,340,

Mar 28, 2021 | www.unz.com

Seamus , says: March 25, 2021 at 8:32 pm GMT • 2.8 days ago

"Underfunded" is a euphemism for "have students with low test scores." E.g., "Washington D.C.'s underfunded schools."

D.C. spent around $30,115 per pupil in 2016-17, while in 2017-18, nearby Arlington County was expected to spend $19,340, the City of Falls Church to spend $18,219; the City of Alexandria, $17,099; Montgomery County, $16,030; Fairfax County, $14,767; Prince George's County, $13,816; Loudoun County, $13,688; City of Manassas, $12,846; City of Manassas Park, $11,242; and Prince William County, $11,222.

But I suppose those are hate facts.

https://townhall.com/columnists/terryjeffrey/2020/09/16/washington-dc-public-schools-spend-30k-per-student-23-of-8th-graders-proficient-in-reading-n2576265

https://www.insidenova.com/news/arlington/for-good-or-ill-arlington-per-student-spending-again-tops-region/article_0f441fe4-cef5-11e7-b4d4-cf5ac038e374.html

[Mar 28, 2021] Rudy Acu a on neoliberalism

Mar 28, 2021 | www.msn.com

In 2015, you wrote extensively about your concerns over neoliberalism in academia, calling it the worst threat to education. You wrote: "In order to offset the lack of public funding, administrators have raised tuition with students becoming the primary consumers and debt-holders. Institutions have entered into research partnerships with industry shifting the pursuit of truth to the pursuit of profits." To accelerate this "molting," they have " hired a larger and larger number of short-term, part-time adjuncts ."

This has created large armies of transient and disposable workers who "are in no position to challenge the university's practices or agitate for "democratic rather than monetary goals."

Yes, neoliberalism is hegemonic. It affects all minority communities...

[Mar 28, 2021] You know how we raised black test scores to the level demanded? We fudged the numbers

Mar 28, 2021 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [369] Disclaimer , says: March 25, 2021 at 11:18 am GMT • 3.2 days ago

"Underfunded" is a euphemism for "have students with low test scores." E.g., "Washington D.C.'s underfunded schools." Presumably, it means "underfunded relative to some theoretical amount of money, such as a gajillion dollars, that would be sufficient to raise these students' test scores to average."

My dad was a school administrator in one of the top county public school systems in the country. A politically deep-blue part of the country. He retired in the early '80's. I remember him telling me once after he retired that his school(s) would get constant demands from the school board to raise black (not many Hispanics then) test scores. He said the school(s) focused all kinds of resources on black students which yielded no appreciable results. He then said, "You know how we raised black test scores to the level demanded? We fudged the numbers."

[Mar 27, 2021] I have been surprised by the explosion in the numbers of people locally living in cars and vans lately

Notable quotes:
"... freedom is material: a human being must be free from material privation, here and now, in life (and not in the mythical afterlife of reincarnation) in order to be really free. In other words, freedom from need is true freedom. ..."
Mar 27, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 24 2021 17:07 utc | 3

Health is primary indicator of people's happy life: Xi

Marx's concept of freedom is completely different from the liberal or pre-liberal concepts of freedom. For Marx, freedom is material: a human being must be free from material privation, here and now, in life (and not in the mythical afterlife of reincarnation) in order to be really free. In other words, freedom from need is true freedom.

Human beings can only be materially free. Don't fall for the moral victories of liberalism, the snake oil salesmen's promise of a spot in Paradise from the Abrahamics or the nihilist bullshittery from the Buddhists et al.


William Gruff , Mar 24 2021 17:47 utc | 6

vk @3

Excellent point by vk here. Despite sometimes pretending to myself that I am a Buddhist (I am really good at meditating!), real freedom is being free from need. Abstract and metaphysical "freedoms" are luxuries of the wealthy that few under the thumb of the empire can afford.

I have been surprised by the explosion in the numbers of people locally living in cars and vans lately. I guess from my Buddhist perspective they have been freed from the attachment to a residence. Who could have guessed that capitalism would be such a good teacher of the path to enlightenment?

karlof1 , Mar 24 2021 21:30 utc | 50

John @44--

It's freedom from Want. The Four Freedoms as articulated by FDR in 1941 were:

1.Freedom of speech
2.Freedom of worship
3.Freedom from want
4.Freedom from fear

Earlier this year on the 80th anniversary of FDR's speech, I wrote a series of comments on the topic. They remain the four main tasks needing to be accomplished for the Common Man to be genuinely free. At the time, they were to be the main goals of WW2; goals that were further articulated by Henry Wallace in 1942 & '43 in his speeches and writings. Currently, several nations have accomplished those four goals; none of them is a NATO/Neoliberal nation however.

[Mar 22, 2021] I am a teacher in Australia's oldest university whose new vice-chancellor (CEO) is a pure technocrat without academic background or a PhD.

Mar 22, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Patroklos , Mar 21 2021 18:58 utc | 34

In the Spectator article linked -- thank you b and all -- Kimball quotes a canny friend who said "I'd rather be ruled by the Chinese than the Yale faculty". Yes, I thought, that is how the west is now.

I am a teacher in Australia's oldest university whose new vice-chancellor (CEO) is a pure technocrat without academic background or a PhD.

This is the strange norm now: grey neoliberal managers are rushed into areas that require specialists in order to 'streamline' or 'set up structures of accountability' or simply hollow out the joint. This guy sees 'tech' as the answer, so will accelerate the pedagogical catastrophe taking place across the world (Zoom-'teaching') whose implications are dystopian, psychologically alienating and frankly depressing.

He is the Yale faculty at the local level; Blinken is the Yale faculty on the diplomatic stage: a recognisable and familiar type of manager from no particular background whose career is made leap-frogging from bureaucratisation process to bureaucratisation process.

He berates the Chinese thinking that they are the old faculty resisting the newspeak of neoliberal managerialism, an empty meaningless feedback loop of tickboxing. The 'rules-based order' is some imaginary thing produced in the mind of grey men to obscure their self-aggrandisement in a vacuum; zero time has been invested in any thought about it. The 'Biden-Doctrine' is a vacuum of intellectual reflection. In short, Blinken simply doesn't care about his job, he just cares about ticking a box on his CV as he sets himself up for the promotion/next job. Where once we had career specialists dedicated to the actual job (like Chas Freeman) now the whole world is run by these empty people. The consequences are very depressing.


Fyi , Mar 21 2021 19:54 utc | 44

Mr. Patroklos

University administrators need not have doctoral or other academic achievements. What is needed, in any enterprise, is the commitment to the health and to prosperity of that enterprise.

In America, they promoted men who promised lower taxes and easier money. Men with dubious loyalty to the long term health and well being of that country or her population. The results is there for the world to see. Same in Italy; Mr. Berlusconi would promise to cut taxes, and would omit to also mention that he would also cut state services. And foolish plebians would vote for him.

When the late Mr. Khomeini came to power in Iran, one of his observations was that he could not find enough men with integrity to put them in executive positions.

I would like to respectfully suggest to try to preserve what you can but do not try to be a lean department or program. Maintain the "fat" so that you van save as much of the scholarly muscle as you can when the cutting times come.

Also, reach out to the public and the alumni and ask for whatever help you can obtain. Use Kung-Fu approaches, never attack directly. Keep trying to find alternative careers for your older or newer faculties. Take any and all positive action and try to preserve Learning and Scholarship for the future generations.

The late Joseph Stalin observed: "Cadres decide everything."

May be you cannot stop this, but you can delay and dlelay and derail, thus buying time for people to adjust to their new circumstances.

lysias , Mar 21 2021 19:59 utc | 45

That would be Mark Scott as Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney? What a decline from when Enoch Powell was Professor of Greek at Sydney. I greatly admire Powell's scholarly work on Herodotus and his edition of Thucydides (one of my set texts when I was at Oxford). How much of that work did he do at Sydney?

[Mar 15, 2021] Custom Degrees Help Grads and Employers

This is about neoliberlization of education. Early over-specialization essentially is detrimental to professional development. this is clearlly a neoliberal approach -- to get ready cogs into the machinery that does not reuare any additional trianing to be productive and save on training.
Like Knuth said on a different potic "Premature optimization is the root of al evil"
Mar 14, 2021 | www.wsj.com

Why has it taken so long for professional-services firms in the U.S. to adopt a bespoke graduate-degree approach ( "Employers Customize Business Degrees," Business News, March 5)?

The former president of the University of Limerick, Edward Walsh, was way ahead of the game in this regard. Dr. Walsh arguably created a new norm in Irish third-level education back in the early 1970s, from the university's modest beginnings in the "White House" as the building was and is still known, to a now very impressive campus with a proud record of innovation in education and excellence in research and scholarship. Dr. Walsh customized our degrees to match the requirements of Irish companies and industry.

My bespoke electronics-production degree was customized because the electronics industry in Ireland at the time found that many electronic-engineering grads applying for production-oriented positions weren't suitably qualified. As a graduate in engineering, I believe it made my finding a job much easier than some of my counterparts in other universities, both in Ireland and abroad. Our degrees opened many doors for my class in a lot of different industries, and I believe they still hold us in good stead today when changing our careers or setting up indigenous businesses.

me title=

Maurice D. Landers

Since inception in 2011, the Commercial Banking Program in the Mays Business School of Texas A&M University has joined with the banking industry in implementing and teaching a required commercial-banking curriculum that is designed to position our graduates for successful careers in commercial banking. The banking industry provides us with valuable input on essential training and skills they require of our students to be considered for employment. In addition, selected parts of the program curriculum are taught by senior banking executives from our advisory board of directors. Students receive current, relevant banking-industry training taught by banking executives positioning them for successful careers in commercial banking. Banks find our graduates are trained according to industry requirements and are productive sooner than their peers, and the Commercial Banking Program is helping alleviate the shortage of trained talent within the banking industry.

W. Dwight Garey

Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

[Mar 12, 2021] The US economy still has almost 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the coronavirus pandemic took hold

Mar 12, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

The jobs picture overall has been improving with 379,000 workers added in February , although the U.S. economy still has almost 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Economists have been revising their employment and GDP forecasts are higher.

Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius, for example, wrote in a report this week that the jobless rate would fall to 4.1% by the end of 2021, from 6.2% last month.

Hyams has been seeing similar encouraging signs on Indeed, with postings on the site already lapping where they were pre-pandemic. "On Indeed, when we look at new job postings and our benchmark pre-pandemic of February 1, 2020, at the end of this February we were up 5% year-over-year. That's still with entire sectors completely shut down," he said.

As for where the hottest demand lies for new jobs, Hyams pointed to e-commerce-related occupations including logistics, warehousing and delivery, as well as jobs in health care and pharmacy.

While some of those openings may require showing up regularly in-person, many will not, which again feeds into Hyams' thesis that interviews will remain virtual.

"If you're going to be a remote worker, interviewing over video actually makes a whole lot more sense. It's more convenient. It will cut down on travel," he said.

That means many interviewees can continue to pull their blazers and ties out of the closet -- along with their sweatpants.

[Mar 12, 2021] The pandemic 'will change how hiring is done forever,' says CEO of jobs website Indeed

Mar 12, 2021 | finance.yahoo.com

Remember job interviews pre-pandemic? The jitters, the choosing of just the right suit, the race to get there early, maybe even the drive across town or flight across the country for a shot at a new opportunity?

Like most everything else, the pandemic changed that dynamic. The jitters may remain, but in-person meetings are largely off the table, interviews among them. The CEO of one of the most-trafficked jobs websites says it's likely to stay that way even after people get back to the office.

"People being able to conduct an interview from the safety and convenience of their own home is going to change hiring forever," said Chris Hyams, Indeed CEO, in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live. "We believe this is the beginning of a massive secular shift."

"In April, we saw the number of requests for interviews to happen over video shoot up by 1,000%. Even as things have started to stabilize and the economy has opened up over the last 11 months, we've seen that continue to grow," Hyams said.

The jobs picture overall has been improving with 379,000 workers added in February , although the U.S. economy still has almost 10 million fewer jobs than it did before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Economists have been revising their employment and GDP forecasts are higher. Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius, for example, wrote in a report this week that the jobless rate would fall to 4.1% by the end of 2021, from 6.2% last month.

Hyams has been seeing similar encouraging signs on Indeed, with postings on the site already lapping where they were pre-pandemic. "On Indeed, when we look at new job postings and our benchmark pre-pandemic of February 1, 2020, at the end of this February we were up 5% year-over-year. That's still with entire sectors completely shut down," he said.

As for where the hottest demand lies for new jobs, Hyams pointed to e-commerce-related occupations including logistics, warehousing and delivery, as well as jobs in health care and pharmacy.

While some of those openings may require showing up regularly in-person, many will not, which again feeds into Hyams' thesis that interviews will remain virtual.

"If you're going to be a remote worker, interviewing over video actually makes a whole lot more sense. It's more convenient. It will cut down on travel," he said.

That means many interviewees can continue to pull their blazers and ties out of the closet -- along with their sweatpants.

[Mar 05, 2021] The Feedback Loop Between The Fed The Elite

Mar 05, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

More Evidence Of The Loop

The New York Times recently went further into the numbers:

"America's economy has almost doubled in size over the last four decades, but broad measures of the nation's economic health conceal the unequal distribution of gains. A small portion of the population has pocketed most of the new wealth, and the coronavirus pandemic is laying bare the consequences of the unequal distribution of prosperity."

Of course, a significant contributor to the "wealth gap" was the rise in the stock market fostered by trillions of liquidity injected by the Federal Reserve. As NYT noted:

"The affluent, of course, do tend to own stock, and the median net worth of the richest 10 percent of households rose 13 percent from 2007 to 2016 (the last year for which the Fed has released data).

Another way to view this issue is by looking at household net worth growth between the top 10% and everyone else.

"Wealth disparities have widened over time. In 1989, the bottom 90 percent of the U.S. population held 33 percent of all wealth. By 2016, the bottom 90 percent of the population held only 23 percent of the wealth. The wealth share of the top 1 percent increased from about 30 percent to about 40 percent over the same period." – Equitable Growth

Such is more visible when you see that since 2007, the ONLY group has seen an increase in net worth in the top 10% of the population. Such is also the group that owns 90% of the stock market as discussed in "How The Fed Made The Top 10% Richer."

" That is not economic prosperity. It is a distortion of economics."

An Elite Club

Central Bank's globally sought to stoke economic growth by inflating asset prices. Unfortunately, the consumption of the benefit was only those with savings and discretionary income to invest.

In other words, the stock market became an "exclusive" club for the elite.

While monetary policy increases the wealth of those that have wealth, the Fed mistakenly believed the "trickle-down" effect would be enough to stimulate the entire economy.

It hasn't.

The sad reality is that these policies only acted as a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy. Such created one of the largest "wealth gaps" in human history. Via Forbes :

"'The top 10% of the wealth distribution hold a large and growing share of U.S. aggregate wealth, While the bottom half hold a barely visible share.' Fed economists wrote in a paper outlining the new data set on inequality. The charts show that 'while the total net worth of U.S. households has more than quadrupled in nominal terms since 1989, that increase accrued more to the top than the bottom.'"

A recent report from BCA Research confirms the same showing the increase in wealth of the top 10% as compared to everyone else.

Lack Of Capital

The current economic expansion is already the longest post-WWII expansion on record. Of course, that expansion came from artificial interventions rather than stable organic economic growth. As noted, while the financial markets have soared higher in recent years, it bypassed a large portion of Americans. Such was NOT because they were afraid to invest, but because they had NO CAPITAL with which to invest.

The ability to "maintain a certain standard of living" remains problematic for many forcing them further into debt.

"The debt surge is partly by design. A byproduct of low borrowing costs the Federal Reserve engineered after the financial crisis to get the economy moving. It has reshaped both borrowers and lenders. Consumers increasingly need it. Companies increasingly can't sell their goods without it. And the economy, which counts on consumer spending for more than two-thirds of GDP, would struggle without a plentiful supply of credit." – WSJ

I often show the "gap" between the "standard of living" and real disposable incomes. In 1990, incomes alone were no longer able to meet the standard of living. Therefore, consumers turned to debt to fill the "gap."

However, following the "financial crisis," even the combined income and debt levels no longer filled the gap. Currently, there is almost a $2150 annual deficit facing the average American. (Note: this deficit accrues every year, which is why consumer credit keeps hitting new records.)

The Rest Have Debt

The debt-to-income problem keeps individuals from building wealth, and government statistics obscure the fundamental reality. We discussed this point in detail in the " Illusion Of Soaring Savings."

" The median net worth of households in the middle 20% of income rose 4% in inflation-adjusted terms to $81,900 between 1989 and 2016. That is the latest available data. For households in the top 20%, median net worth more than doubled to $811,860. And for the top 1%, the increase was 178% to $11,206,000.

The value of assets for all U.S. households increased from 1989 through 2016 by an inflation-adjusted $58 trillion. A full 33% of that gain -- $19 trillion -- went to the wealthiest 1%, according to a Journal analysis of Fed data." – WSJ

Of course, if the Fed's actions to inflate asset prices worked, then wealth distribution would be more even. Importantly, we wouldn't see more than 50% of Americans unable to meet a $500 emergency.

The single truth of a decade of monetary and fiscal interventions is this:

"The top 10% of the economy has assets, the bottom 90% has the debt."

The Fed Does Have A Choice

The Fed does have a choice that could alter the current wealth inequality dynamic:

  1. Allow capitalism to take root by allowing corporations to fail and restructure. A needed process after spending a decade leveraging themselves to the hilt, buying back shares, and massively increasing executive wealth while compressing workers' wages. Or,

  2. Continue to bailout "bad actors" and further forestall the "clearing process" that would rebalance the economy and allow for increased future organic economic growth.

As the Fed's balance sheet rises past $7-Trillion, they chose to impede the "clearing process" once again. By not allowing for debt to fail, corporate restructuring, and "socializing the losses," they removed the risk of speculative practices.

Such has ensured the continuation of "bad behaviors."

Unfortunately, given we have a decade of experience watching the "wealth gap" grow, the next decade will only see the "gap" worsen.

The obvious question we should be asking is:

"If we are in a booming economy, as supposedly represented by surging asset prices, then why are Central Banks globally acting to increase financial stimulus for the market?"

The trap the Fed has fallen into is that markets are predicated on ever-cheaper cash being freely available. Even the faintest threat that the cash might become more expensive or less available causes shock waves.

Such was seen in late 2018 when the Fed signaled it might increase the pace of normalizing monetary policy. The markets imploded, and the Fed halted its plan of shrinking its balance sheet. Then, during the pandemic, the Fed flooded the system with liquidity to halt a market crash.

Equality In Misery

The reality is the Fed has left unconventional policies in place for so long after the "Financial Crisis," the markets can no longer function without them. Risk-taking, and the build-up of financial leverage, have removed any ability to "normalize" monetary policy. At least not without triggering violent market convulsions.

Given there is too much debt, too much activity predicated on ultra-low interest rates, and confidence hinging on inflated asset values, the Fed has no choice but to keep pushing liquidity until something eventually "pops."

Of course, it will be the bottom 90% that absorbs the losses. As noted by Sven Henrich previously:

"In a world of measured low inflation and weak wage growth easy central bank money creates vast price inflation in the assets owned by the few making the rich richer, but also enables the taking on ever higher debt burdens leaving everyone else to foot the ultimate bill."

" That is the measured outcome of the central bank easy money dynamic. After decades, it has now taken on new obscene forms in the past 10-years with absolutely no end in sight."

For the world's elite, their view of the world is far different than the reality the rest face.

Of course, this also explains much of the recent election outcomes.

When "capitalism" isn't allowed to work for the "equality" of the whole, the populous will "vote" themselves "equality in misery."


Lordflin 11 hours ago remove link

The so called market has become nothing more than an open vein... draining the life's blood of civilization down the maws of lifeless parasites...

They are killing the host...

2banana 11 hours ago

In the era of insanely cheap and easy money, those closest to the money spigot get insanely wealthy for doing nothing.

Those in the back of the line get $75,000 communications degrees, and 27% credit cards.

Nothing explodes "wealth inequality" like cheap and easy money.

TreeTopSlick 11 hours ago remove link

The Cantillon Effect in action. Never been so obvious in America than today.

2banana 10 hours ago

Great analogy.

Cantillon's original thesis outlines how rising prices affect different sectors at different times and suggests that time difference effectively acts as a taxing mechanism. In other words, the first sectors to receive the newly created money enjoy higher profits as their pay increases, but general costs are still low. On the other hand, the last sectors in which prices rise (where there is more economic friction) face higher costs while still producing at lower prices.

Alice-the-dog 11 hours ago

The "monetary policy that created a feedback loop between the Fed and the elite" isn't a by product, it's a design feature.

Crow-Magnon 11 hours ago

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

~ Thomas Jefferson

Famous Quote by Thomas Jefferson - Liberty Quotes (libertytree.ca)

GSD 11 hours ago remove link

The elite literally have their own $$ printer

Shemp 4 Victory 11 hours ago remove link

Here are the political affiliations of America's 50 richest families

You've both been bamboozled. The richest people in the country may pretend to have political affiliations, but it's just a distraction. The Capitol Hill Whores are bought off very cheaply, which is why the wealthy spend their money on both D-whores and R-whores.

It is in the interest of the very wealthy to keep the D/R, left/right, red/blue charade going because it keeps peoples' anger focused on the paid actors instead of looking for who is really screwing the country. They've got nothing to worry about as long as they can keep the unwashed rabble fighting against each other.

Mary Jane 10 hours ago remove link

99% of Americans can't hold that thought in their heads. They can only hold the left/right, red/blue understanding in their heads. One is their team, just as in Sports, and their team must win. It doesn't matter that they just shelled out money to the owner of the stadium, and the franchises, who could care less who won as long as the money keeps coming in. Very similar, to the bread and circus routines of the Roman Empire's Coliseum, no one ever looked at the wealth of the Emperor.

Apocalypse2020 8 hours ago

"The super-rich will have to keep up the pretense that national politics might someday make a difference. Since economic decisions are their prerogative, they will encourage politicians of both the Left and the Right, to specialize in cultural issues. The aim will be to keep the minds of the proles elsewhere – to keep the bottom 75 percent of Americans and the bottom 95 percent of the world's population busy with ethnic and religious hostilities, and with debates about sexual mores. If the proles can be distracted from their own despair by media-created pseudo-events the super-rich will have little to fear."

Richard Rorty, 1998

Sound of the Suburbs 7 hours ago remove link

What has happened to inequality?

Pretty much what you would expect really.

Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 – 48, observed what the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics did to the US economy in the 1920s.

"a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped"

With the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics wealth concentrates at the top.

A few people have all the money and everyone else gets by on debt.

Keynes added some redistribution to stop all the wealth concentrating at the top, and developed nations formed a strong healthy middle class.

The neoliberals removed the redistribution.

With the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics wealth concentrates at the top.

A few people have all the money and everyone else gets by on debt.

It wasn't even hard.

Let it Go 10 hours ago

Things are really messed up. This gives credence to the idea we might soon be witness to the first global inflationary depression. As investors shift into assets that do well during times of inflation, it is possible they may set in motion a self-feeding loop or cycle. More about this in the following article.

https://The First "Global Inflationary Depression" Is Very Possible.html

[Feb 21, 2021] It doesn't matter if we die of freezer burn sleeping on cardboard after we've been laid-off, evicted, and starved.

Feb 21, 2021 | www.unz.com

obwandiyag , says: February 12, 2021 at 5:10 am GMT • 8.8 days ago

Don't you know that whining about race, from the racist or the anti-racist side, doesn't matter, is more important than billionaires fucking us over. It's more important than anything. It doesn't matter if we die of freezer burn sleeping on cardboard after we've been laid-off, evicted, and starved. It doesn't matter if we die in a nuclear war that the billionaires started because they think it would be a good idea.

Nope. All that matters is whining about race. That's the most important thing. All else is trivial.

Ray Caruso , says: February 12, 2021 at 5:39 am GMT • 8.8 days ago

Didn't American people suffer from the disease? Yes, the US government is "grotesquely and manifestly incompetent" and they were likely to expect "a massive coronavirus outbreak in China would never spread back to America".

The crucial factor here is that the US is not a nation per the most basic definition of the word, "a group of people born of a common ancestry". Consequently, as illustrated by job-killing "trade deals" and in countless other ways, there are plenty of "Americans" who don't care a whit about the fate of Americans. That makes it entirely plausible that the Deep State and/or one or more billionaires would release a virus in China in the full expectation that it would hit the US and that once here it would disrupt, impoverish, and kill millions of Americans. This was a win-win for them. The Deep State and the billionaires don't like China, which is a non-liberal country and curtails their power by restricting the use of US tech products. So if somehow the virus were contained in China it would be okay with them, as it just would be a smaller win. However, what they really wanted was for the virus circle back to the US. They knew that once here the disruption it would cause would further enrich and empower them while giving them a pretext to dump it all on Donald Trump, whom they would accuse of being incompetent and uncaring.

FHTEX , says: February 12, 2021 at 12:06 pm GMT • 8.5 days ago

While full of good insights, the problem with this article as far as COVID is concerned is that it misleads on the main point. COVID is not biowarfare, it is not a pandemic, it's just the flu. The US recorded the same death rate in 2020 as in previous years and, as Dr. Colleen Huber has documented, medical oxygen and supply sales were no different from previous years.

All those COVID-19 deaths were simply deaths of a different name. Of course, we knew from last March's Diamond Princess cruise–still by far the best controlled COVID "experiment"–that the case-fatality rate of COVID-19 for the general public is in the flu range.

But, it never was about COVID-19, which is just a glorified coronavirus of the type seen even before the dawn of humans. Long before the virus even hit the streets, the media and governments and medical establishments had secretly planned to to create a "panic-demic" to scare people into a whole lot of strange and dangerous behaviors–like giving up their liberties and economic futures. COVID-19 is just a medical nothing-burger that convinced a lot of otherwise sane people to scare themselves into oblivion. Or did it? If the post-election analyses are correct, Trump won in a major landslide and even those who voted against him were already suffering from Trump derangement syndrome. So, maybe the people weren't fooled by COVID so much as electorally raped by the vast elite cabal.

Digital Samizdat , says: February 12, 2021 at 12:06 pm GMT • 8.5 days ago

Whatever we say is a fact-based result of diligent research; whatever you say is a conspiracy theory – both the US and China representatives subscribe to this mantra.

Maye both Washington and Beijing are guilty -- of a perpetrating a hoax.

Putin surprised me. He flatly refused the offer of Schwab and his ilk. He condemned the manner of recent pre-Covid growth, for all the growth went into a few deep pockets. Moreover, he noted that digital tycoons are dangerous for the world.

Emslander , says: February 12, 2021 at 12:12 pm GMT • 8.5 days ago

The next strong man we elect must be an actual STRONG man. I salute Trump for his genius in identifying the real majority in this country and for forcing the techno-oligarchs into overdoing their election steal. Now we need someone who is willing to establish real authority on behalf of the un-queer.

[Feb 10, 2021] Are educational disparities a main driver of economic inequality?

Notable quotes:
"... The lower 95 percenters would be better off under the policies of Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. ..."
Feb 10, 2021 | economistsview.typepad.com

Are "educational disparities a main driver of economic inequality"?:

Rethinking the Rise of Inequality, by Eduardo Porter, NY Times : In a poll conducted last month by the College Board and National Journal : ... "It is absolutely clear that educational wage differentials have not driven wage inequality over the last 15 years," said Lawrence Mishel, who heads the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning center for economic policy analysis. "Wage inequality has grown a lot over the last 15 years and the educational wage premium has changed little."
The standard analysis of the interplay between technology and education, developed by economists like Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin..., and David Autor..., suggests that improvements in technology -- coupled with a college graduation rate that slowed sharply in the 1980s -- have been principal drivers of the nation's widening income gap, leaving workers with less education behind.
But critics like Mr. Mishel point out that this theory has important blind spots. For instance, why have wages for college graduates stagnated over the last decade, even as innovation continues at a breathtaking pace? ...
Most notably, the skills-and-tech story leaves aside one of the most perplexing and important dynamics of the last 30 years: the rise of the 1 percent, a tiny sliver of the population that last year took in almost a dollar out of every $4 generated by the American economy. ...
Mr. Mishel's preferred explanation of inequality's rise is institutional: a shrinking minimum wage cut into the earnings of the nation's least-skilled workers while falling trade barriers, deregulation and the decline of labor unions eroded the income of the middle class. The rise of the top 1 percent, he believes, is mostly about executive pay and the growing footprint of finance. ...

My view is that both the technology and institutional forces are at work, and the question is not which of the two explains growing inequality -- they are not mutually exclusive -- but rather how much each contributed to the growing disparity.

Posted by Mark Thoma on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 08:43 AM in Economics , Income Distribution | Permalink Comments (57)


DrDick -> Second Best... , November 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Actually, the problem was created by Reagan's union busting and slashing taxes on the wealthy.

ilsm -> DrDick... , November 13, 2013 at 03:38 PM

And spending the SS surplus on star wars, hiding deficits from too much of GDP going to the pentagon trough.

If the SS surplus were "savings' they were "invested" in war welfare.

ilsm -> Second Best... , November 13, 2013 at 03:39 PM

Note FDR died 3 months after his 4th inaugural. We will never know how he would have managed the peace.

Michael -> Second Best... , November 13, 2013 at 06:16 PM

Actually, That started with the passage of the Great Society program of 1965, under President Johnson. With Great Society, welfare became official, hip, and institutionalize, with the worst affects being the break-up of black and inner city families, and a doubling to tripling of the out-of-wedlock birthrate. The lower 95 percenters would be better off under the policies of Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

reason -> Michael... , November 14, 2013 at 01:31 AM

Read the book "The Truly Disadvantaged" about how the break up of inner city families was not to do with welfare but with the lack of jobs for working class men.

The right lives on myths, unsupported by data.

reason -> reason ... , November 14, 2013 at 05:14 AM

That doesn't mean by the way that I am against better micro-economic design of the social security system. A citizen's income (c.f. Friedman's negative income tax) is my preferred welfare system design.

Michael -> reason ... , November 14, 2013 at 08:36 PM

Thomas Sowell has stated that the black family made more progress during the 20 years before Great Society, as opposed to the 20 years after Great Society. Great Society was the first opportunity for mommas to afford to have children, without the benefit of a husband and father to the children, on the taxpayers' dime. Where a birth of a human baby should be a blessed event, it's be cheapened to included the Dept. of Social Services. In my state, in the bigger cities, the out-of-wedlock birthrate pre Great Society was 25%, then by 1975 to current times, the out-of-wedlock birthrate hovers around 75- 80 percent. Black on black crime went up, number of black victims went up, and drug use increased. I don't disagree with the point you are trying to make, but it got much worse at the time of the introduction of Great Society.

Matt Young , November 13, 2013 at 09:37 AM

When we say yields equalize across assets prices, this is natural over the whole economy, including government, given sufficient time to equalize. If rates are low, and price to earnings high, then you can bet your booty that government yields are low also.

And this will be true of any complete, bounded economic model, it is really basic to the concept of a model. So ask youself who or what has driven yields lower over the 40 year period and you can win a banana.

Michael , November 13, 2013 at 09:53 AM

Second Best has it completely backwards! The post-New Deal period saw the strongest economy and most prosperous middle class in American history!

The New Deal came about because the real takers (the wealthy) were taking too much of the pie. Same thing is happening today! But unfortunately we don't have an FDR around to stick up for working men and women. We have the pro-corporate party (Dems) and the ultra-pro-corporate party (GOP).

Darryl FKA Ron -> Michael... , November 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Second Best is just pretending to be a reactionary for amusement. Unfortunately some bloggers roll in here occasionally that make roughly the same comments, but are serious. I keep telling him to use emoticons :<)

Michael -> Darryl FKA Ron... , November 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

I should have known! But so many actually think that way (looking at you, Romney) it's not always easy to spot irony these days.

Watermelonpunch -> Michael... , November 13, 2013 at 01:55 PM

"it's not always easy to spot irony these days"

Very true.
Poe's Law is an epidemic.

LangfordPO -> Watermelonpunch ... , November 13, 2013 at 03:29 PM

So true! The 1st time I saw Anne Coulter on TV I thought she was a comedienne poking fun at the right!

Michael -> Michael... , November 13, 2013 at 06:22 PM

Elizabeth Warren for president. Bill and Hillary are part of the Wall Street crowd.

Michael , November 13, 2013 at 09:59 AM

I wouldn't put any of the blame for rising inequality on technology. We've been replacing workers with machinery for over 200 years!

I think the two principle reasons are low tax rates and low union membership.

Contrary to popular belief, there is very little correlation between tax rates and growth. But there is a very high correlation between low tax rates and increased income inequality.

http://democrats.waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/democrats.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/Updated%20CRS%20Report%2012%3A13%3A12.pdf

DrDick -> Michael... , November 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Pretty much grand theft by capital. Wage theft on an economy wide scale.

Perspective -> Michael... , November 13, 2013 at 02:40 PM

Anecdotal but, when you look at typical office-type work, it's hard to not conclude that technology (computers/software) has killed a ton of middle-income office jobs.

e.g. The typical law firm 10+ years ago might have had 3-4 support staff (secretaries, paralegals, filing clerks) for every attorney. Today, it's more typical to have 2-3 attorneys for every support staff employee. Technology allows this.

cm -> Perspective... , November 14, 2013 at 08:51 AM

I easily believe this for the secretaries and clerical staff, but what happened to the paralegals? Similar trends can/could be observed in other professional fields, but there too, while the clerical and admin staff was trimmed (and to an extent management hierarchies but lately it looks like they have come back), subject matter (of the variety that cannot be automated) work has not been cut a lot. OTOH IT/internet allowed a lot of "commodity" tasks to be outsourced and offshored.

Is it possible that the (newer generation?) attorneys had to take on paralegal tasks as part of their job? That would be in line with other fields where in reality a lot of the "low level" and clerical work that has been ostensibly automated was pushed onto the professional staff. For example, in many places you are supposed to arrange your own business travel (hotel, flights), order office materials, do print/copy work etc. that used to be done by now "automated" clerical staff up to 10-15 years ago. Also when it comes to subject matter work, a lot of work formerly done by techs and other support staff (who were often hourly) has been transferred to the professionals (who are generally salaried and "exempt" from overtime pay), while it is generally swept under the rug in performance evaluations which are about subject matter achievements (research pubs, delivered product features etc.). On the flip side there is now probably more nominally professional staff, some of whom (esp. juniors) are loaded with more tech/support content - but then a lot of them are hired offshore too.

Peter K. , November 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

"Both sides agree that the overall weakness of the job market since the turn of the millennium is a prime culprit. As Professor Katz noted: "The only moments we've had of broadly shared prosperity have been in tight labor markets.""

This is a problem of demand management policy. Demand can be managed via fiscal, monetary and/or trade/currency policies.

It's also a problem of politics as Krugman says in that the powerful center-right has ignored the recent economic evidence, as have the center-right's academic/media message machine. The center-right has cried wolf over inflation and government deficits all in the name of preventing policies that would help the economy and tighten labor markets.

cawley -> Peter K. ... , November 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Nailed it. Can I add labor policy on the supply management side?

Peter K. -> cawley... , November 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM

Yes labor policy is very important as well. I would support pro-union policies - which help politically also - and work-sharing programs during downturns which Germany has and which Dean Baker recommends.

Dan Kervick -> Peter K. ... , November 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM

It's also a problem of a long term decline in federal government consumption and gross investment, and the willingness of macroeconomists to re-define "full employment" as a situation in which lots and lots of people are in fact unemployed. I don't think private enterprise alone will ever be capable of generating full employment and tight labor markets, demand stimulus or no demand stimulus.

Beezer , November 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

When there is insufficient demand yields drop as capacity is idled. Under conditions of weak demand there is also a drop in investment as new entrepreneurs and established businesses know the deck is stacked against them.

The low yields are a natural symptom of the deficient demand. If you're looking for who to blame, there are several likely suspects.

One is a government indifferent to unemployment that caters almost exclusively to the super rich and the multi national, stateless corporations. The second is a government indifferent to unemployment that caters almost exclusively to the super rich and the multi national, stateless corporations. The third is see one and two.

This is the beginnings of fascism, of course. All we need now is a strong authority figure and a good war.


Peter K. , November 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/13/us/politics/republicans-target-health-law-before-it-takes-hold.html?ref=us&pagewanted=all

Fighting to Stop an Entitlement Before It Takes Hold, and Expands by John Harwood

November 12, 2013

"WASHINGTON -- Underlying fierce Republican efforts to stop President Obama's health care law and the White House drive to save it is a simple historical reality: Once major entitlement programs get underway, they quickly become embedded in American life. And then they grow.

That makes the battle over the Affordable Care Act more consequential than most Washington political fights. "If it's in place for six months, it will be impossible to repeal it or change it in ways that significantly reduce the benefits," said Robert D. Reischauer, a Democrat who used to lead the Congressional Budget Office.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another former C.B.O. director, reflects the concern of fellow Republicans in framing the stakes more dramatically. Either the law's health insurance exchanges "can't cut it," he explained, or "it's Katie, bar the door -- we have an explosively growing new program."

Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal during the Great Depression, the dominant pattern for major entitlements -- the term for government assistance programs open to all who qualify and not subject to annual budget constraints -- has been durability and expansion. That is the record Senator Ted Cruz of Texas refers to in warning Republicans not to allow Americans to become "hooked on the subsidies" -- an argument Mr. Obama sarcastically recast as, "We've got to stop it before people like it too much."

Congress enacted Social Security in 1935 to provide benefits to retired workers. In 1939, benefits were extended to their dependents and survivors. Later the program grew to provide disability coverage, cover self-employed farmers and raise benefit levels.

President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society created Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s to provide health coverage for the elderly and the poor. They followed the same pattern.

In 1972, Congress extended Medicare eligibility to those under 65 on disability and with end-stage renal disease. In 2003, Congress passed President George W. Bush's plan to offer coverage under Medicare for prescription drugs.

Lawmakers initially linked Medicaid coverage to those receiving welfare benefits, but over time expanded eligibility to other "poverty-related groups" such as pregnant women. In 1997, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Children's Health Insurance Program, which now covers eight million children whose families' incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid."
...

Matt Young -> Peter K. ... , November 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM

The old canard, right out of Doonesbury cartoon sociology.

The real issue is discretionary spending. It is gone mainly because of entitlement crowding. The thirty small hoover states find higher multipliers in discretionary spending. It is really a critical political issue, and the thirty hoovers will take the ship down unless they get their discretionaries.

New York, Florida, California and Texas are united against discretionary spending. Both parties are having internal battles on the issue.

Peter K. -> Matt Young... , November 13, 2013 at 12:22 PM

"The real issue is discretionary spending. It is gone mainly because of entitlement crowding."

lolwut?

DrDick -> Matt Young... , November 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM

I want some of what you are smoking!

Watermelonpunch -> Matt Young... , November 13, 2013 at 01:59 PM

Please do expound on this idea of "entitlement crowding".

Because there's entirely not enough Poe's Law on the internet already.

Matt Young -> Watermelonpunch ... , November 13, 2013 at 02:42 PM

Listen to yellens statement on discretionary spending, she likes it. But listen to the House, they sequester it. Whyndid you and i just agree, via our representatives, to cut discretionary spending? Any clue? What did every red blooded american say about the entitlements? No, no.!!. What did we do? Cut discretionary spending to save entitlements. If anyone is capable of any news searching on the topic, i suspect you will find much talk about discretionary vs entitlement spending. We name that, give it an actual semantic. Crowding.

Matt Young -> Matt Young... , November 13, 2013 at 02:52 PM

Right. There wasno sarcasm, i must suddenly be in nutsville. A very good chunk of articles, right here, required reading was about cuts to discretionary spending and saving entitlements. Someone is not doing their homework.

What the complaint was about, in the two posts above, was that the discretionary vs entitlement comment was not framed in some kind of simple minded 'evil tea party'. As if no actual thought may occur on the blog unless it passes some orwellian, straight jacket, nonesense. Seriously, crowding out occurs in the budget all the friggin time and mostly has little to with some bogus script of plastic political analysis.

ilsm -> Matt Young... , November 13, 2013 at 03:49 PM

Entitlement spending does not fund humbug factories. Or PAC's to make sure the pentagon has a 'strategic objective' to keep the defense corporations (aka troughers) healthy.

Entitlements have had little 'crowding' effect on discretionary spending.

Roughly, discretionary to entitlements used to be about 35:65 in 1999, today it is not that different, while the war half of discretionary (19% of outlays in 2012) is nearly 60% too large.

When you take away war and corporate welfare entitlements should be 6 times discretionary spending.

What matters is discretionary spending enriches a few a lot, while entitlements take care of many a little.

Matt Young -> ilsm... , November 13, 2013 at 07:18 PM

Well you have an opinion about entitlements and discretionary spending. You like the former, not the later. We have a name for people like you, Crowders, you crowd out one form of spending vs another form.

So quit bitching and play the game. We are conducting a mass experiment, lead by researcher janet yellen. She is going to test your theory by attempting more discretionary spending. If she screws it up, you win a banana.

Samuel , November 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Repeat after me...Robber barons now own us and the economy.

Matt Young , November 13, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Ok, lets review the roosevelt thing.
In 1928, investors believed we were head for a new productivity frontier based on the efficiency of the mass market. They predicted 4% non-inflationary growth for the horizon. What we got in 1948 was exactly that, high growth, low inflation, rising productivity. Between 1928 and 1948, we got social security, progressives taxes, off the gold standard, two major down turns, twenty million dead from WW2, and the cold war.

Thats a twenty year wait, mostly the result of bad and good government depending on how one sorts the events. Ok, you all sort it all out, I am moving on.

anne , November 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/index.html

September 17, 2013

Households with Householder 25 Years Old and Over by Median Income

Median real incomes for those 25 years old and over from 1992 to 2012 increased from $50,667 to $52,119. *


(Educational attainment of householder)

Median real incomes for those with professional degrees from 1992 to 2012 declined from $135,836 to $129,588.

Median real incomes for those with master's degrees from 1992 to 2012 declined from $92,593 to $92,362.

Median real incomes for those with bachelor's degrees or more from 1992 to 2012 declined from $86,458 to $86,419.

Median real incomes for those with bachelor's degrees alone from 1992 to 2012 increased from $79,179 to $80,549.

* Income in 2012 dollars

Darryl FKA Ron , November 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM

The rapid transformation of business processes via the capital formation advantages of robust, diverse, and highly liquid financial markets made it all possible.

Translation: If tax incentives are set to prefer trading equities (relatively low capital gains tax rate) over holding equities (relatively low dividends tax rate) then capital will flow to investments with the fast rather than longest duration returns. Fastest returns for capital will come from mergers and downsizing (i.e, layoffs), outsourcing (narrow specialization), offshoring of production (labor wage arbitrage), and technology asset capital expenditure (automation) will be the preferred uses of capital. With the short term emphasis then training, retention, maintaining internal competency succession, and operational process improvements will undesirable expenses. The preferences quickly become self reinforcing as workforce quality devolves and capital rewards itself more and more.

Steve , November 13, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Immigration is another of the oligarchs tools for suppressing labor.

"do jobs citizens won't do(at the wage on offer)..."can't find skills (at the wage on offer).

Why invest in social capital here when it can always be imported more cheaply?

It is not the immigrants fault but the oligarchs who exploit them.

"it is a real mystery why real wages for unskilled worker keep going down"

bakho , November 13, 2013 at 12:47 PM

These studies need to include interaction terms.

Economic is a quantitative science and economists should understand the statistics and test for interactions. Sometimes, the interactive effects can be greater than major effects.

Justin Cidertrades , November 13, 2013 at 02:03 PM


"
wages for college graduates stagnated over the last decade, even as innovation continues at
"

Tell me something! Does all of innovation come from humans? From Hunans? From automation? From computer hardware? Software? Software with a child process? A child process coded by the parent process? Do you see what is happening?

We are now approaching the moment of singularity. A moment in history, or an epoch of history? Tell me something else!

Do all boomer-s leave the work force simultaneously? Or during a poorly defined epoch? The singularity has already begun but will evolve slowly as the present SE, singularity epoch unfolds. Computer jockey-s first used the word processing feature of computer to code their human imagination. Later assemblers re-coded human source code, checked source for semantics and many other features. Supercomputers now work at unbelievable gigaflops. But if human brain is merely a biological gigaflopper, eventually all its functions will be replaced by semiconductor brains. But so what?

RM, Reverse Migration! As mechanized innovation replaces Americans, Yankee-s will need to migrate to developing countries where the singularity process will be slower and with a phase shift, behind the American Curve.

2 B continued
!

Matt Young -> Justin Cidertrades... , November 13, 2013 at 02:35 PM

But,but...if the computers are smarter they will migrate to developing countries first, and get all the good jobs.

Massimo Mediolanum -> Matt Young... , November 16, 2013 at 08:55 AM


Grazie! Grazie per l'avvertimento! Noi abbiamo espulso i computer vinti. Grazie di nuovo! Distinti saluti, Massimo!

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/13/us-apple-italy-tax-idUSBRE9AC0RW20131113

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:03 PM

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/index.html

September 17, 2013

Median real incomes for those 25 years old and over from 1992 to 2012 increased from $50,667 to $52,119. *

Median real incomes for those with bachelor's degrees or more from 1992 to 2012 declined from $86,458 to $86,419.

* Income in 2012 dollars

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:03 PM

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/index.html

September 17, 2013

Median real incomes for those 25 years old and over from 2000 to 2012 declined from $57,707 to $52,119. *

Median real incomes for those with bachelor's degrees or more from 2000 to 2012 declined from $95,789 to $86,419.

* Income in 2012 dollars

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:05 PM

http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab4.htm

January 4, 2013

Employment-Population Ratio, Bachelor's Degree and Higher, 2000-2013

2000 ( 78.1) *
2001 ( 77.1) Bush
2002 ( 76.3)
2003 ( 75.8)
2004 ( 75.8)

2005 ( 76.1)
2006 ( 76.3)
2007 ( 76.3)
2008 ( 75.8)
2009 ( 73.9) Obama

2010 ( 73.1)
2011 ( 73.1)
2012 ( 72.9)

October

2013 ( 72.2)

* Employment age 25 and over

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:16 PM

"The standard analysis of the interplay between technology and education, developed by economists like Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin..., and David Autor..., suggests that improvements in technology -- coupled with a college graduation rate that slowed sharply in the 1980s -- have been principal drivers of the nation's widening income gap, leaving workers with less education behind...."

-- Eduardo Porter

I do not understand this assertion, since what is remarkable about the United States is that the portion of men and women 25 to 34 and 55 to 64 with college degrees is just about the same.

July, 2013

College or university degree attainment by age group, 2011

( Percent of population 25-34 and 55-64)

OECD average ( 39) ( 24)

United States ( 43) ( 41)

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:17 PM

"The standard analysis of the interplay between technology and education, developed by economists like Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin..., and David Autor..., suggests that improvements in technology -- coupled with a college graduation rate that slowed sharply in the 1980s -- have been principal drivers of the nation's widening income gap, leaving workers with less education behind...."

-- Eduardo Porter

I do not understand this assertion, since what is remarkable about the United States is that the portion of men and women 25 to 34 and 55 to 64 with college degrees is just about the same.

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:17 PM

http://www.oecd.org/edu/educationataglance2013-indicatorsandannexes.htm

July, 2013

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Education Data

College or university degree attainment by age group, 2011

( Percent of population 25-34 and 55-64)

OECD average ( 39) ( 24)

United States ( 43) ( 41)

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:23 PM

http://g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/topincomes/

September, 2013

Top .1 Percent Income Share in the United States, 1980-2012

(Including capital gains)

1980 ( 3.41)
1981 ( 3.57) Reagan
1982 ( 4.18)
1983 ( 4.62)
1984 ( 4.98)

1985 ( 5.32)
1986 ( 7.40)
1987 ( 4.90)
1988 ( 6.80)
1989 ( 6.00) Bush

1990 ( 5.82)
1991 ( 5.12)
1992 ( 6.03)
1993 ( 5.73) Clinton
1994 ( 5.70)

1995 ( 6.21)
1996 ( 7.24)
1997 ( 8.18)
1998 ( 9.00)
1999 ( 9.62)

2000 ( 10.88)
2001 ( 8.37) Bush
2002 ( 7.34)
2003 ( 7.87)
2004 ( 9.46)

2005 ( 10.98)
2006 ( 11.59)
2007 ( 12.28) (High)
2008 ( 10.40)
2009 ( 8.30) Obama

2010 ( 9.66)
2011 ( 9.27)
2012 ( 11.33)

-- Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:23 PM

September, 2013

Top .1 Percent Income Share in the United States, 1980-2012

(Including capital gains)

1980 ( 3.41)
1981 ( 3.57) Reagan
1982 ( 4.18)
1983 ( 4.62)
1984 ( 4.98)

1985 ( 5.32)
1986 ( 7.40)
1987 ( 4.90)
1988 ( 6.80)
1989 ( 6.00) Bush

1990 ( 5.82)
1991 ( 5.12)
1992 ( 6.03)
1993 ( 5.73) Clinton
1994 ( 5.70)

1995 ( 6.21)
1996 ( 7.24)
1997 ( 8.18)
1998 ( 9.00)
1999 ( 9.62)

2000 ( 10.88)
2001 ( 8.37) Bush
2002 ( 7.34)
2003 ( 7.87)
2004 ( 9.46)

2005 ( 10.98)
2006 ( 11.59)
2007 ( 12.28) (High)
2008 ( 10.40)
2009 ( 8.30) Obama

2010 ( 9.66)
2011 ( 9.27)
2012 ( 11.33)

-- Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez

anne -> anne... , November 13, 2013 at 04:27 PM

What is importance to notice about increasing income concentration is how much of an increase there has been above the top 1% of families. we find the share of income for the top .1% of families going from 3.41% to 11.33% between 1980 and 2012 for an astonishing gain.

anne -> anne... , November 13, 2013 at 04:29 PM

We find the share of income for the top .01% of families going from 1.28% to 5.47% between 1980 and 2012 for an even more astonishing gain.

anne , November 13, 2013 at 04:24 PM

September, 2013

Top 1 Percent Income Share in the United States, 1980-2012

(Including capital gains)

1980 ( 10.02)
1981 ( 10.02) Reagan
1982 ( 10.80)
1983 ( 11.56)
1984 ( 11.99)

1985 ( 12.67)
1986 ( 15.92)
1987 ( 12.66)
1988 ( 15.49)
1989 ( 14.49) Bush

1990 ( 14.33)
1991 ( 13.36)
1992 ( 14.67)
1993 ( 14.24) Clinton
1994 ( 14.23)

1995 ( 15.23)
1996 ( 16.69)
1997 ( 18.02)
1998 ( 19.09)
1999 ( 20.04)

2000 ( 21.52)
2001 ( 18.22) Bush
2002 ( 16.86)
2003 ( 17.53)
2004 ( 19.75)

2005 ( 21.92)
2006 ( 22.82)
2007 ( 23.50)
2008 ( 20.95)
2009 ( 18.12) Obama

2010 ( 19.86)
2011 ( 19.65)
2012 ( 22.46)

-- Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez

mrrunangun , November 13, 2013 at 05:51 PM

Corruption of government at all levels produced a class of plutocratic rent holders in finance and other industries able to buy rents. Citi and Solyndra being outstanding examples on the D side and ADM and the oil companies on the R side.

Abysmal social and economic conditions in African American urban ghettos. These conditions contribute much to the poor conditions in the schools that serve that population. The kids who attend school in these neighborhoods are really up against it. Social arrangements that sort the educated upper middle class into "their"towns by residential pricing and development patterns tend to limit highly advantageous educational opportunities to their children. In the big cities the upper middle class either uses influence to obtain places for their children in desirable public schools or use private schools.

Pressure on wages and employment opportunities for people with low educational attainment due to the development of more efficient production technologies and low wage competition in the global trading system.

Forgive my skepticism that a few billion more federal dollars of stimulus will correct these problems.

anne -> mrrunangun... , November 13, 2013 at 06:49 PM

http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf

September 17, 2013

Household Median Income by Selected Ethnicity: 2012

Combined ( 51,017) *

Race and Hispanic Origin of Householder

Asian ( 68,636)

White, not Hispanic ( 57,009)

White ( 53,706)

Hispanic, any ethnicity ( 39,005)

Black ( 33,321)

* Income in 2012 dollars

Matt Young , November 13, 2013 at 07:06 PM

http://capoliticalnews.com/2013/11/12/jerry-brown-claims-californias-attractive-poverty-is-why-state-in-depression/

Jerry Brown and California's "Attractive" Poverty

Gov. Jerry Brown, whose pronouncements of California's economic recovery have been criticized by Republicans who point out the state's high poverty rate, said in a radio interview Wednesday that poverty and the large number of people looking for work are "really the flip side of California's incredible attractiveness and prosperity."

The Democratic governor's remarks aired the same day the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 23.8 percent of Californians live in poverty under an alternative calculation that includes the cost of living.

Asked on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" about two negative indicators -- the state's nation-high poverty rate and the large number of Californians who are unemployed or marginally employed and looking for work -- Brown said, "Well, that's true, because California is a magnet.

"People come here from all over in the world, close by from Mexico and Central America and farther out from Asia and the Middle East. So, California beckons, and people come. And then, of course, a lot of people who arrive are not that skilled, and they take lower paying jobs. And that reflects itself in the economic distribution."

----------------


Hmmm. So my claim that the bankruptcy of America is caused by a negative growth black hole in Sacramento was just admitted as true by the Guv of California. Where is my banana?

Gary Rondeau , November 13, 2013 at 08:48 PM

Growing inequality is built into capitalism. There doesn't have to be evil intent, just complacency to do anything about it.


http://squashpractice.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/wealth-and-inequality-pareto-gini-and-contingency/

[Feb 10, 2021] Neoliberals are Enemies of the Poor by Paul Krugman

Jan 13, 2014 | economistsview.typepad.com

Will Republicans ever care about the poor?:

Enemies of the Poor, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times : Suddenly it's O.K., even mandatory, for politicians with national ambitions to talk about helping the poor. This is easy for Democrats, who can go back to being the party of F.D.R. and L.B.J. It's much more difficult for Republicans, who are having a hard time shaking their reputation for reverse Robin-Hoodism, for being the party that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.
And the reason that reputation is so hard to shake is that it's justified. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that right now Republicans are doing all they can to hurt the poor, and they would have inflicted vast additional harm if they had won the 2012 election. Moreover, G.O.P. harshness toward the less fortunate isn't just a matter of spite...; it's deeply rooted in the party's ideology...
Let's start with the recent Republican track record.
The most important current policy development in America is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare. Most Republican-controlled states are, however, refusing to implement a key part of the act, the expansion of Medicaid, thereby denying health coverage to almost five million low-income Americans. And the amazing thing is that ... the aid through would cost almost nothing; nearly all the costs ... would be paid by Washington.
Meanwhile, those Republican-controlled states are slashing unemployment benefits, education financing and more. As I said, it's not much of an exaggeration to say that the G.O.P. is hurting the poor as much as it can.
What would Republicans have done if they had won the White House in 2012? Much more of the same. Bear in mind that every budget the G.O.P. has offered since it took over the House in 2010 involves savage cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and other antipoverty programs. ...
The point is that a party committed to small government and low taxes on the rich is, more or less necessarily, a party committed to hurting, not helping, the poor. ...
Republicans weren't always like this. In fact, all of our major antipoverty programs -- Medicaid, food stamps, the earned-income tax credit -- used to have bipartisan support. And maybe someday moderation will return to the G.O.P.
For now, however, Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America's poor. And that will remain true no matter how hard the likes of Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio try to convince us otherwise.

Posted by Mark Thoma on Monday, January 13, 2014 at 12:33 AM in Economics , Politics , Social Insurance | Permalink Comments (69)


elvis , January 12, 2014 at 10:26 PM

GOP = Get Out, Poor!

pgl , January 13, 2014 at 01:42 AM

"We're Broke" is the mantra of the GOP. Yes, the nation with the highest GDP in absolute terms and a very high per capita level of income is "broke". You see this nonsense from Republican leaders at the beginning of a film called "We're Not Broke" which is devoted to the GOP push to have even less taxes on their base - the ultrarich.

ilsm -> pgl... , January 13, 2014 at 01:59 PM

US can afford to spend 4 times the part of GDP that Japan and German spend on warmaking. And a similar amount on crony capital.

US can afford new ships that will not be equipped, star wars missiles that can hit nothing, and a $1500B fighter program which is failing its tests many of which cannot be performed because the thing is unreliable.

Afford to strike Iran...............

bakho , January 13, 2014 at 04:18 AM

Republicans are out of touch. The MinWage is so far below Living Wage that the taxpayers have to subsidize MinWage workers so they can have enough to eat. This is wrong. The system and the employers are exploiting their labor.

Medicaid and Obamacare are a subsidy to the poor workers who can't afford the costs of health care and don't have it provided by employers. A workforce that is not healthy is bad for business: more missed workdays, lower productivity, higher turnover, etc. The single minded focus on cutting social spending is completely wrong.

The question that is not asked: "What services do people need to be functional in our modern economy? What mix of employer benefits, government benefits and wage contribution are required to deliver the services?" For many people, wages are too low to pay for the minimum basic goods and services. How do we make up the difference? Or do we have people do without and erode the health and potential economic output? Republicans have a short sighted focus on cutting spending and investment in the short run and are not considering the long run.

Beezer , January 13, 2014 at 05:55 AM

I don't have the source, but I believe our net worth, nationally, is just north of $74 trillion. And we added more than $1.3 trillion to that amount the past 12 months. This is the figure that deals in assets we know about. Given the loopholes in our tax code that allow the super rich to essentially hide much of their income, here and overseas, that net worth figure is certainly below the real number.

So the statement 'we're broke' borders on the ridiculous. Our cash flow statement is less impressive, but certainly far above adequate. Even here, this is a choice. We could easily return to balance (although that's historically been a very bad idea) just by fixing our tax code so it become more progressive. Today's tax code over taxes the middle class in order to fund tax breaks for the super rich.

EMichael -> Beezer... , January 13, 2014 at 06:02 AM

Yep. The progressiveness of the tax code stops in its track at about the Top 2%. Right about the spot where hiding income becomes easy and makes economic sense.

Someday we will figure out how much income never hits tax returns.

Perspective -> EMichael... , January 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

It is not possible to hide W2 income (income earned from an employer), so I'm guessing you're talking about other sources of income and wealth.

EMichael -> Perspective... , January 14, 2014 at 06:14 AM

Really?

IRAs?
HSAs?
Employer paid health insurance?

My wife and I had over $30,000 of such income last year. Guaranteed the vast majority of the Top 10% had similar amounts.

However, I really was not talking about W2 income, but rather things like Romney's $20 million IRA. Or hedge fund managers keeping earnings offshore to avoid any taxes (even the reduced scam they receive) and living by borrowing against their offshore holdings at ludicrously low interest rates.

Course, it the case of Romney I repeat myself.

DrDick -> Beezer... , January 13, 2014 at 07:33 AM

Actually, most of us are broke. Almost all of those gains have gone to the top 1% (actually the top 0.01% seized much of that).

DeDude , January 13, 2014 at 06:19 AM

How exactly did we go from a war on poverty to a war on the poor.

Darryl FKA Ron -> DeDude... , January 13, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Maybe it was collateral damage since they live in the same neighborhoods? Probably though it was being fought as a limited war and then there was mission creep.

An all out war on poverty would have transformed the economic battlefield in ways that very few actually wanted.

anne , January 13, 2014 at 06:32 AM

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/youre-all-losers/

January 13, 2014

You're All Losers
By Paul Krugman

The other day someone -- I don't remember who or where -- asked an interesting question: when did it become so common to disparage anyone who hasn't made it big, hasn't gotten rich, as a "loser"? Well, that's actually a question we can answer, using Google Ngrams, which track the frequency with which words or phrases are used in books:

[Graph]

Sure enough, the term "losers" has become much more common since the 1960s. And I think this word usage reflects something real -- a growing contempt for the little people.

This contempt surely isn't limited to Republican politicians. Still, it's striking how unable they are to show any empathy for people who are just doing their best to make a modest living. The most famous example, of course, is Mitt Romney, who didn't just disparage 47 percent of the nation; he urged everyone to borrow money from their parents and start a business. I still think the most revealing example to date was Eric Cantor, who marked Labor Day by tweeting:

"Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success."

But Marco Rubio's latest speech deserves at least honorable mention, for the airy way he dismissed the idea of raising the minimum wage: "Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American dream."

In a sense, he's right: if the American dream means getting rich, then $10 an hour isn't living that dream. But most people aren't and won't get rich. Raising the minimum wage would mean higher incomes for around 27 million people; in many cases the gains would amount to thousands of dollars a year, which is really a lot in low-income families. So what are all these people, chopped liver? Well, yes, at least in the eyes of the GOP -- or maybe make that chopped losers.

OK, I know what the answer will be: conservative policies will lead to economic growth, and that will raise all boats, the way it did in the days of Saint Ronald. Except, you know, it didn't. Here's the real wage of nonsupervisory workers:

[Real wage of production and nonsupervisory workers * ]

Even if you give Reagan credit for the 1982-9 business cycle expansion, which you shouldn't, there's no way to claim that his policies led to higher wages for ordinary workers.

So what is the GOP agenda to help people who aren't going to build businesses and get rich? There isn't one -- partly because they really can't reconcile any real agenda with their overall ideology, but also because, deep in their hearts, they consider ordinary people trying hard to get by a bunch of losers.

* http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=q8T

Julio -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 08:41 AM

"Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success."

Correcting:

"Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned someone else's success."

ilsm -> Julio ... , January 13, 2014 at 02:04 PM

"Today, we celebrate those who have made a bet, exploited others' hard work, built a monoploy and earned someone else's sweat."

That the franchisee can have his employees fed and cared for by the commonwealth is further plundering.

bakho -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 08:57 AM

The agenda is to further the special interests of the wealthy. They are not interested in economics for the masses.

anne -> O.D.K.... , January 13, 2014 at 07:27 AM

Entitlement expansion. See Detroit and Scranton. Coming soon to Chicago.

[ The term "entitlement" is used when a writer wishes to hide the fact the what is being talked about is Social Security or Medicare or a pension program that a worker has contributed to for years and years.

As for the supporting of pension funds, all that has to be understood is how terrific stock and bond markets returns have been these last 30 and more years. Any pension fund manager who simply bought a mix of stock and bond market indexes would have done splendidly for workers and there would be no possible problem now. ]

anne -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 07:32 AM

A portfolio 50-50 mix of American stock and bond market indexes since 1975 through 2013 would have yielded a yearly return over 9.5%.

https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0040&FundIntExt=INT#hist%3A%3Atab=1&tab=1

Vanguard 500 Stock Index Fund

Average annual returns as of 12/31/2013

08/31/1976 ( 11.04)

Vanguard Long-Term Investment-Grade Bond Fund

Average annual returns as of 12/31/2013

07/09/1973 ( 8.46)

david -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 07:53 AM

The problem has not typically been fund returns. It has been underfunding of the programs by employers, on the assumption that magic market alpha will make up the difference (well, that's the happy spin on it, the truth is most of the funders didn't much care if the difference was made up or not so long as they got theirs.)

The focus on pension fund investing strategies is an important one, but kept distinct from funding levels and political battles it's almost meaningless.

EMichael -> david... , January 13, 2014 at 08:18 AM

Exactly.

Compound interest is a bitch.

Same game played by the auto companies for decades and decades. By the same people.

anne -> david... , January 13, 2014 at 08:46 AM

This needs to be explained, keeping here to employer contributions by government employers.

As to the mention of auto companies and pension contributions, there you have a problem in which employers can estimate a pension fund investment return and contribute according to the estimate so that a higher estimate will mean lower levels of contributions from employers for a time. Nonetheless, ordinary investment returns over long periods of time should have left no pension problem for workers.

Beezer -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 09:10 AM

Once executives realized the raises they could gain by taking deferred comp. in stock, or even in guaranteed return special accounts (Jack Welch at GE-14% annual), corporations couldn't afford much of anything else. Today CEOs make 290 times the average pay of their employees compensation, so in order to cover those outsized gains and still report good profits, companies need to trim budgets anywhere and everywhere. Stable, defined benefit plans, paid for in addition to wages, got tossed and replaced by contribution plans funded by employees themselves.

For more than 35 years in America it's been a time to strip corporate assets and pick the pockets of employees and shareholders in order to pay executives their gargantuan compensation packages.

Thanks to our rigged tax code, ripping off the middle class has become a full time project of the super rich and their paid help in Congress and academia.

david -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Same thing happened in the public as in the private sector funds. Look at Illinois or New Jersey or Detroit. Economic miracles or budget crises lead to underfunding, rolling the dice on investments, and appetites for silver bullet alternative investments that help explain the massive shift to PE and HF despite their fee structures (and can lead to alternatives managers the profits they took off the funds to help subvert the DB system). The push to alpha helps create instability and predation in the markets, goes the theory. But in any case, underfunding by the public sector leads to blame-shifting onto "those workers making bad investments" and leads to pernicious politics around retirement security.

anne -> david... , January 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM

PE = private equity
HF = hedge fund

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_(investment)

Alpha is a risk-adjusted measure of the so-called active return on an investment.

"The push to alpha helps create instability and predation in the markets, goes the theory...."

Meaning there is a push by employers or pension fund managers to take more risks for hopefully higher returns.

DeDude -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Unfortunately the employers (including and perhaps worst public employers) used the upturns in the market as opportunities to reduce what they paid into the funds (as a way to fund tax cuts and get re-elected). Then after severe downturns in the market rather than increase the funding for pensions they argue to take away earned pensions from the workers (or leave the mess to be fixed by federal government).

anne -> DeDude... , January 13, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Nice set of explanations, which leads me to think in the case of public workers in unions there should be a yearly accounting by the union of employer pension contributions along with an allowing for quick contract redress should employer contributions fall short for a given length of time.

James -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 12:37 PM

DeDude is not entirely correct. In the following example, the problem was powerful predators, fraud, and corruption, as there was plenty of money, and plenty of foresight.

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/parskys-party/Content?oid=1083283

Where was Union oversight in this fiasco? Or better yet, fiscal accountability on the part of the Regents for wrongful termination, theft, breach of fiduciary duty? I don't see much hope, because social memory is short, human nature is flawed, and dynastic wealth in the hands of sociopaths seeks to defend its economic position until the population rises up in revolt. Wash, rinse, repeat.

mrrunangun -> James ... , January 13, 2014 at 07:53 PM

In Illinois, public employee union leaders were probably paid off to keep silent about pension underfunding. A couple of union leaders benefited from special legislation that awarded them a nice pension for one day of substitute teaching. The special pension was in a well funded plan, not the state teachers' plan. The legislation doesn't spell out the quid pro quo, but experienced observers connect dots like these. The legislature takes care of public union officials who take care of them.

DrDick -> O.D.K.... , January 13, 2014 at 07:36 AM

Tax cuts for the wealthy, see the entire country. The problem is not excessive spending, but inadequate revenues. The latter as a consequence of unnecessary and destructive tax cuts for the rich. We already had the lowest effective tax rate on the wealthy in the developed world before that.

bakho -> O.D.K.... , January 13, 2014 at 08:58 AM

Not entitlement
Decision was to raise the obligations to the wealthy above the obligations to the workers.

Darryl FKA Ron , January 13, 2014 at 07:31 AM

"...The most important current policy development in America is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare. Most Republican-controlled states are, however, refusing to implement a key part of the act, the expansion of Medicaid, thereby denying health coverage to almost five million low-income Americans..."

[That is sad on two levels. First it is sad that "The most important current policy development in America is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act" instead of robust policies for creating job and wage growth. Second then of course it is sad "Most Republican-controlled states are.. refusing to implement ... the expansion of Medicaid... denying health coverage to almost five million low-income Americans."

And by sad I mean a sad sorry state of affairs that should have a big effect on the mid-term elections if we get off our duffs and take this to the voting booths.]

EMichael , January 13, 2014 at 07:46 AM

One day someone will point out that the value of a municipal bond or a treasury bond is an "entitlement", just like the value of a pension, SS or Medicare is an "entitlement".


But not today.

Julio -> EMichael... , January 13, 2014 at 08:43 AM

Excellent.

Beezer -> EMichael... , January 13, 2014 at 09:13 AM

The coupon clipping class needs constant feeding. And the super rich coupon clippers need a deep pool of poor people to maintain their comfort. So simple, really.

Perspective -> EMichael... , January 13, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Wow, a post from EMichael I can support...

Matt Young -> EMichael... , January 13, 2014 at 08:52 PM

That has been pointed out many times in the book, This Time is Different where we see defaults on both entitlements. In fact, one of the biggest topics of the post crash era has been when the usa would default in its bond entitlements.

Eric377 -> EMichael... , January 16, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Not too accurate. Bonds and pensions are contracts and sort of can be thought of as entitlements since your benefits can be enforced in court. You are entitled to whatever your counterparty agreed to (so long as you did your part and your counterparty is solvent). SS and Medicare are not contracts. Treasury could have twice the funds needed to pay for SS forever and Congress could decide tomorrow to cut benefits 80%. Same with Medicare. The two programs on your list that people are probably most likely to think of as entitlements are probably the least like entitlements. Your counterparty can change the rules on you tomorrow.

Darryl FKA Ron , January 13, 2014 at 07:53 AM

Will Republicans ever care about the poor?:

[Krugman answers:]

"...The answer, I'm sorry to say, is almost surely no.

First of all, they're deeply committed to the view that efforts to aid the poor are actually perpetuating poverty, by reducing incentives to work..."


"...But our patchwork, uncoordinated system of antipoverty programs does have the effect of penalizing efforts by lower-income households to improve their position: the more they earn, the fewer benefits they can collect. In effect, these households face very high marginal tax rates. A large fraction, in some cases 80 cents or more, of each additional dollar they earn is clawed back by the government..."

"...we could reduce the rate at which benefits phase out..."

[Then Krugman slips away from reality to embrace center aisle politics.}

"...Will this ever change? Well, Republicans weren't always like this. In fact, all of our major antipoverty programs -- Medicaid, food stamps, the earned-income tax credit -- used to have bipartisan support. And maybe someday moderation will return to the G.O.P..."

{Yeah those were the good old days leading up to financialization for M&A anticompetitive consolidation of labor market arbitrage, globalization of wages backed by the abitrage of the exorbitant privilege of US dollar foreign reserves against rising trade deficits, stagnant wages from both consolidation and globalization, and a rising share of capital devouted to speculation on equities and derivatives (e.g, commodity futures bets ARE derivative contracts). Three cheers for center aisle politics. ]

Darryl FKA Ron -> Darryl FKA Ron... , January 13, 2014 at 07:55 AM

"devouted to speculation"

[Was that a spelling error or devine inspiration?]

Julio -> Darryl FKA Ron... , January 13, 2014 at 08:47 AM

"40 million refugees with no place on this earth to call their home
One for every aimless graduate with nothing else to show for it but loans
And those of us who make a mark using someone else's blood
Our western stain won't wash away, won't vanish in the flood
It sets deeper with each hurricane and tidal wave and war:
We want everything we see and once it's gone we just want more."

Kevin Devine

Darryl FKA Ron -> Julio ... , January 13, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Young men without jobs living in the nation with the world's most powerful millitary establishment will not make the world a better place to live for anyone. Might not even make it a place to live.

anne -> Julio ... , January 13, 2014 at 02:32 PM

http://lyrics.wikia.com/Kevin_Devine:Refugees

Kevin Devine – Refugees

anne -> anne... , January 13, 2014 at 02:38 PM

From -

Put Your Ghost to Rest:

The Burning City Smoking

2006

Antiderivative , January 13, 2014 at 08:16 AM

"Republicans weren't always like this. In fact, all of our major antipoverty programs -- Medicaid, food stamps, the earned-income tax credit -- used to have bipartisan support."

I agree and disagree to a point. While the Republican party used to be more moderate, as a whole, in the past, there was always a conservative wing in the GOP that opposed these programs.

For example, in 1961, Reagan gave his famous speech on Medicare - declaring that it would be the end of America as we know it. One day we would be telling stories to our grandchildren how America used to be the home to free men.

There has always been in element in the GOP to attack safety nets to the point of hysterical and absurd arguments. Over the years, the conservative wing has grew and become more vocal.

One of the main differences between liberals and conservatives, is that liberals see our weak labor markets, poverty, eroding mobility, and increased economic inequality as a market failure. Conservatives view it as a moral failure.

EMichael -> Antiderivative... , January 14, 2014 at 06:23 AM

The Birchers. Now the Tea Party.

Peter K. , January 13, 2014 at 08:33 AM

It seems to me that the somewhat controversial programs of Obamacare and the Federal Reserve's policies of forward guidance and QE have helped the poor. If Republicans had successfully blocked them, things would be worse. It's difficult to defend these programs against critics on the left and right because of the inherent difficulty in defending public policies given the evidence. It isn't as clear cut as one would like.

Likewise there are the Republicans' austerity policies like the sequester which Obama went along with.

kthomas -> Peter K.... , January 13, 2014 at 08:42 AM

"They both do it!" bs

Peter K. -> kthomas... , January 13, 2014 at 09:50 AM

Maybe I wasn't clear. I think Obamacare and the Fed have helped. I believe fiscal austerity has hurt. A number of smart people agree with these assessments.

kthomas -> Peter K.... , January 13, 2014 at 10:40 AM

much clearer, sir, thank you.

Lafayette , January 13, 2014 at 04:48 PM

INCOME FAIRNESS

First LBJ then Feckless Ronnie, by means of their tax policy to reduce rates at higher levels, visited the present consequences upon the American poor. (See info-graphic here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Historical_Mariginal_Tax_Rate_for_Highest_and_Lowest_Income_Earners.jpg )

Meaning that reduced income taxation means lower overall government revenues, which means reduced means to aid the poor by, for instance, adequate HealthCare or the subsidized housing or paying for postsecondary education that will give them the means to obtain well-paying jobs.

This sad fact is even more difficult to swallow given that DoD-expenditures have doubled in the 40 year period ending in 2012. See info-graphic here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/files/2013/01/defensechart.jpg . Do we really need all that spending to provide a defense of the nation now that the Cold War (extant in the 1960s) is over?

The plutocrats erected a statue to Ronnie for having reversed the good that FDR had wrought by increasing taxation upon them to levels of around 65%, that crept up inevitably to around 90%.

And, of course, the rich are still benefiting from the beneficial taxation (that peaks out at 30% in their level of income).

Are they paying their "fair share"? It depends upon how you pose the question. The CBO shows that the top 20% pay as much as 69% of all taxation revenues. See info-graphic here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2010_US_Tax_Liability_by_Income_Group_-_CBO.png

Yes, that's a lot of money they pay in taxes. But, given that their marginal rates do not exceed more than 30% of all revenues, then the answer seems to be "it's not enough". (See info-graphic here of top rates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Income_Tax_Rates_2013.png )

Besides, if the generally recognized Gini Coefficient depicts Income Disparity across all levels of income, then the US is shown to be the developed country with the worst Income Fairness of any on earth. (See info-graphic here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gini_since_WWII.svg )

MY POINT?

Which means, according to the World Top Incomes Database developed by the Paris School of Economics? the following: 10% of American households garner about 52% of ALL HOUSEHOLD INCOME whilst the rest of us 90Percenters scramble after the remaining 48%.

Does that seem fair to you ... ?

Matt Young -> Lafayette ... , January 13, 2014 at 08:56 PM

No, the history says that reducing taxes on the rich allows you to borrow and spend, laying the cost on the middle class. Note, Clinton's tax hike came with budget cuts. Our 2013 tax hike, though meager, results in sequestering.

The problem here is dumbass economists too stupid to come up with any theory of government that explains supply and demand for government services. So dumbass economists resort to name calling, blaming their own failure of analysis on the other side. Political scientists are much worse, all they do is name calling.

Lafayette -> Matt Young... , January 14, 2014 at 04:40 AM

SERFDOM

{No, the history says that reducing taxes on the rich allows you to borrow and spend, laying the cost on the middle class.}

Can't imagine where you've concocted this notion from my reply. I posited the premise of increasing taxes upon our upper-class financial nobility who have reduced 15% of our people to poverty and serfdom.

{Note, Clinton's tax hike came with budget cuts. Our 2013 tax hike, though meager, results in sequestering.}

Historical fact of no consequence whatsoever.

The point about raising taxes on the rich is not just about reducing their far to easily-gained Net Worth. It is to teach that class a lesson about return-on-investment. For the moment, a level of taxation at only 30% allows them to accumulate vast Net Worth, which is simply reinvested in interest-bearing accounts for the most part.

Increasing taxation on interest-bearing accounts would induce them to place their savings in more economy-friendly investments that create jobs. The revenues would also help reduce deficits and improve government financing of society-friendly policies like a Universal Public HealthCare Option and Tertiary Education for those who cannot afford it.

These are both common policy rudiments of any modern society in this day and age. Except the US, of course ...

Lafayette -> Lafayette ... , January 14, 2014 at 05:57 AM

Moreover, the key point about taxation is this: Whilst an economy should reward risk-taking, there is no need whatsoever for the pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow to be unlimited and growing by leaps and bounds because it is too lowly taxed.

Especially not when 15% of fellow Americans are incarcerated below the Poverty Threshold. That economic fact is unacceptable. And it did not occur because "people are either too stupid or too lazy".

It occurred because of an inept policy as regards both educational level and our inability to prevent unskilled work from dislocation abroad.

mrrunangun , January 13, 2014 at 06:12 PM

The Republicans never did care about the poor and are not about to start. The question that bothers me is when the Democrats will resume working on behalf of the poor.

Lafayette -> mrrunangun... , January 14, 2014 at 06:04 AM

{The question that bothers me is when the Democrats will resume working on behalf of the poor.}

Musing about whether that will or will not happen in a blog will certainly not assist in bringing it about.

Only hard work militating for such an outcome will obtain the necessary results. Which can only happen if more progressives are voted into the HofR. And it will take a good ten years of well-considered legislation to right all the wrong that has occurred since the last War on Poverty in the 1960s.

We are running presently on borrowed time ...

[Feb 03, 2021] Biden DOJ Drops Yale Discrimination Suit After Trump DOJ Found Whites, Asians Treated Unfairly - ZeroHedge

Feb 03, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

After the Trump Justice Department sued Yale following the results of a 2-year Civil Rights investigation which found "long-standing and ongoing" race-based discrimination, the Biden DOJ just dismissed the case without explanation .

... ... ...

The Trump DOJ had argued that the Ivy League university had violated federal civil rights law for "at least 50 years," by favoring Black and Hispanic students over Whites and Asians, according to The Hill .

The legal battle represented one of the Trump administration's moves to challenge affirmative action programs aimed at increasing diversity on campus, which some conservatives consider unfair and illegal.

Yale, which staunchly defended its admission practices, praised the DOJ's decision to drop the case in a statement, saying it was "gratified" by the decision. - The Hill

"Our admissions process has allowed Yale College to assemble an unparalleled student body, which is distinguished by its academic excellence and diversity," argued the university. "Yale has steadfastly maintained that its process complies fully with Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident that the Justice Department will agree."

The Trump administration notably instituted several measures to prevent universities from considering race as a factor during admissions, even joining a similar lawsuit against Harvard University.

[Feb 02, 2021] We told the people who were already enjoying a prosperous situation that things would be much better for their children and that we would be able to solve the outstanding problems.

Notable quotes:
"... "We told the people who were already enjoying a prosperous situation that things would be much better for their children and that we would be able to solve the outstanding problems. [But the new situation] presents a much more difficult task to fulfill. Because from the moment there is no longer a constant surplus to be distributed, the question of distribution is appreciably more difficult to resolve." ..."
Feb 02, 2021 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Left in Wisconsin , January 29, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Highly recommend the Przeworski piece at Phenomenal World.

Most of it is reflections on/by 3 European leftist leaders from the 1970s-80s (German Prime Chancellor Willy Brandt, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, and Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme) about how the oil shocks and associated economic changes of the era presented a challenge to social democrats – including ending the belief/fantasy that reformism could be system-changing – that they (we) were not then, and I would argue still are not, able to address.

Palme spells out the difficulty:

"We told the people who were already enjoying a prosperous situation that things would be much better for their children and that we would be able to solve the outstanding problems. [But the new situation] presents a much more difficult task to fulfill. Because from the moment there is no longer a constant surplus to be distributed, the question of distribution is appreciably more difficult to resolve."

Brand echoes these concerns, noting that it is essential to prevent inequality from increasing as growth resumes. Eighteen months later, during another in person meeting on 25 May 1975, Kreisky makes the fiscal constraint even more explicit:

"It is precisely now that reforms should be made. It is just a question which. If we strongly develop social policies, we will not be able to finance them."

Also included an amazing graph of declining electoral support for left/SD parties in Europe.

[Feb 02, 2021] The Toxic University -- Zombie Leadership, Academic Rock Stars and Neoliberal Ideology

Jan 27, 2021 | www.amazon.com

This book considers the detrimental changes that have occurred to the institution of the university, as a result of the withdrawal of state funding and the imposition of neoliberal market reforms on higher education. It argues that universities have lost their way, and are currently drowning in an impenetrable mush of economic babble, spurious spin-offs of zombie economics, management-speak and militaristic-corporate jargon. John Smyth provides a trenchant and excoriating analysis of how universities have enveloped themselves in synthetic and meaningless marketing hype, and explains what this has done to academic work and the culture of universities – specifically, how it has degraded higher education and exacerbated social inequalities among both staff and students. Finally, the book explores how we might commence a reclamation. It should be essential reading for students and researchers in the fields of education and sociology, and anyone interested in the current state of university management.

Quotes

If we are to unmask what is going on within and to universities, then we need to look forensically at the forces at work and the pathological and dysfunctional effects that are placing academic lives in such jeopardy -- hence my somewhat provocative-sounding title 'the toxic university 5 .

One of the most succinct explanations of what is animating me in writing this book was put by Lucal (2015) -- echoing arguably the most significant sociologist ever. Charles Wright Mills (1971 [1959]) in his The sociological imagination -- when she said: ...neoliberalism is a critical public issue influencing apparently private troubles of college [university] students and teachers, (p. 3)

... ... ...

Pathological Organizational Dysfunction

Just on 40 years ago, for all of my sins, I studied 'organizational theory and 'management behaviour' as part of my doctorate in educational administration. I cannot remember encountering the term, but in light of mv subsequent four decades of working in universities around the world, I think I have encountered a good deal of what 'pathological organisational dysfunction" (POD) means in practice. I regard it is an ensemble term for a range of practices that fall well within the ambit of the 'toxic university 5 . The short explanation is that what I am calling POD has become a syndrome within which the toxic university has become enveloped in its unquestioning embrace of the tenets of neoliberalism -- marketization, competition, audit culture, and metrification. In other words. POD has become a major emblematic ingredient of the toxic university, which as Ferrell (2011) points out looks fairly unproblematic on the surface:

Higher education on the corporate model imagines students as consumers, choosing between knowledge products and brands. It imagines itself liberating the university from the dictates of the state/tradition/aristocratic self-replication, and putting it in the hands of its democratic stakeholders. It therefore naturally subscribes to the general management principles and practices of global corporate culture. These principles -- transparency, accountability, efficiency -- are hard to argue with in principle.

(p. 166 emphasis in original)

What is not revealed in this glossy reading of neoliberalism is the way in which it does its work, or its effects, as Ferrell (2011) puts it in relation to universities, the way it has 'wrecked something worthwhile" (p. 181).

John Gatto. an award-winning teacher of the year in New York, comes closest to what I mean by POD in his description of'psychopathic 5 organizations. Gatto (2001) says that the term psychopathic, as applied to organizations, while it might conjure up lurid images of deranged people running amuck, really means something quite different; he invokes the term to refer to people 'without consciences' (p. 303). The way he put it is that:

4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone working in a UK university today. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2019

Reviewers of this book seem to conflate the price of, and access to, this book in an ironic context. This isn't fair as this is very much a book written from a formal academic perspective. In that sense the book is probably priced reasonably.

However, as I don't work in this field I found that I had to read around some of the topics in order to get a deeper understanding of the issues raised by the book. So one thing I think that author could do is to almost re-write the book in a more "journalistic" sense and this would make it more accessible to a wider audience.

As it stands, however, this book is right on the money. Reading almost every page brought from me nods of agreement at familiar practices from university "leaders". This book is therefore absolutely correct in its findings and this then makes it profoundly depressing as the book describes, in my view, the dismantling of the university system as we know it. Every chapter details things I have witnessed or heard about from other universities. The "rock star" academics section, usually focusing on "dynamic" researchers, is the highlight as I know enough people who fit the descriptions given - people who would sell their mothers to get a grant or get slightly higher up the greasy pole.

The critique of university leadership, marketing functions and financial (mis)management are also spot-on.

Overall, get past the formal academic nature of this book (it is not a book designed for a wide audience, which is a pity) and it is excellent, timely and deeply depressing.

PHILIP TAYLOR 5.0 out of 5 stars

Forensic Analysis of The Toxic Neo-Liberal University Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 19, 2019

A brilliant exposition of the toxic neo-liberal University

[Feb 02, 2021] Corruption of IT education under neoliberalism: Schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education.

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

DrMidnite , 10 Apr 2019 17:04

"Schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education."

Boy do they. I work in Business/IT training and as the years have rolled on I and every colleague I can think of have noticed more and more people coming to courses that they are unfit for. Not because they are stupid, but because they have been taught to be stupid.

So used to being taught to the test that they are afraid to ask questions. Increasingly I get asked "what's the right way to do...", usually referring to situation in which there is no right way...

I had the great pleasure of watching our new MD describe his first customer-facing project, which was a disaster, but they "learned" from it. I had to point out to him that I teach the two disciplines involved - businesss analysis and project management - and if he or his team had attended any of the courses - all of which are free to them - they would have learned about the issues they would face, because (astonishingly) they are well-known.

I fear that these incurious adult children are at the bottom of Brexit, Trump and many of the other ills that afflict us. Learning how to do things is difficult and sometimes boring.

Much better to wander in with zero idea of what has already been done and repeat the mistakes of the past. I see the future as a treadmill where the same mistakes are made repetitively and greeted with as much surprise as if they had never happened before.

We have always been at war with Eastasia...

[Feb 01, 2021] Many neoliberalized US universities and colleges are greedy and have become too dependent on international students and their superior fee-paying ability compared with domestic students to finance bloated administrative staff salaries

Covid-19 exposed some warts of neoliberalism in higher education... They want to keep those lucrative international students flooding in, after all.
Notable quotes:
"... We align our identities with our institutions and think in very a short-term, metric-based fashion, seeing "success" (for instance) in terms of student recruitment (tuition fees paid in). Moreover, we're encouraged above all to be global in outlook: we look forward to our perennially "busy" international conference seasons and we emphasize the global and the transnational over the merely local or national ..."
"... our identities as academics are unavoidably embedded in a form of neoliberal hyperglobalisation. We rely on unrestricted flows of (wealthy) bodies across borders. ..."
"... We see this form of globalisation, and the benefits that accrue to us and our institutions from it, as a form of moral necessity : something it isn't possible even to argue against in good faith. Hence our loud assent to principles like open borders and always-on mass migration. ..."
"... Our commitment to the global as a form of moral mission has left us completely unprepared for what's currently unfolding. We are utterly unused to considering the material constraints of the economy our livelihoods depend on; that globalisation might come back to bite us; that the very aircraft that carry us across the world to conference destinations and field work sites would one day turn off the spigot of endlessly mobile bodies our careers and identities depend on. ..."
"... In this respect, I think of this post over at Crooked Timber, where John Quiggin (an economist I have a great deal of respect for) simply cannot bring himself to confront the possibility that the open borders dream might be dead. ..."
"... But the fact that the "export education" model was a disastrous wrong turn will take much longer to be accepted, I think, because of the widespread commitment I've been talking about here to the principle of the global as a form of moral necessity. ..."
May 22, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Musicismath , April 6, 2020 at 1:04 pm

we've had a Minsky-like process operating on a society-wide basis: as daily risks have declined, most people have blinded themselves to what risk amounts to and where it might surface in particularly nasty forms. And the more affluent and educated classes, who disproportionately constitute our decision-makers, have generally been the most removed.

I see something very similar happening in academia. We align our identities with our institutions and think in very a short-term, metric-based fashion, seeing "success" (for instance) in terms of student recruitment (tuition fees paid in). Moreover, we're encouraged above all to be global in outlook: we look forward to our perennially "busy" international conference seasons and we emphasize the global and the transnational over the merely local or national (denigrated as narrow, provincial, and ideologically suspect).

We like to see ourselves as mobile subjects, bodies in constant motion, our minds Romantically untethered from the confines of any one nation state.

So our identities as academics are unavoidably embedded in a form of neoliberal hyperglobalisation. We rely on unrestricted flows of (wealthy) bodies across borders. Our institutions (or many of them) have become dependent on international students and their superior fee-paying ability compared with merely "domestic students."

We might agree in principle with ideas of a GND, say, or take an ecocritical approach to a novel or a play, but we're certainly not going to cut back on the number of international conferences we attend. Indeed, many of us go further.

We see this form of globalisation, and the benefits that accrue to us and our institutions from it, as a form of moral necessity : something it isn't possible even to argue against in good faith. Hence our loud assent to principles like open borders and always-on mass migration. We have to keep those lucrative international students flooding in, after all. (Not that we'd ever put it in terms as crassly material as that; after all, we don't work in university administration .)

Our commitment to the global as a form of moral mission has left us completely unprepared for what's currently unfolding. We are utterly unused to considering the material constraints of the economy our livelihoods depend on; that globalisation might come back to bite us; that the very aircraft that carry us across the world to conference destinations and field work sites would one day turn off the spigot of endlessly mobile bodies our careers and identities depend on.

Hence the reason why a lot of my colleagues are so lost right now. They're so used to living on a purely symbolic (or moral-symbolic) level that the materiality of this virus and its consequences seems like a crude insult. Many stubbornly hold on to their old commitments, unwilling to admit that the world might have changed.

In this respect, I think of this post over at Crooked Timber, where John Quiggin (an economist I have a great deal of respect for) simply cannot bring himself to confront the possibility that the open borders dream might be dead.

Where we go from here, I have no idea. But the fact that international and Erasmus students might be gone for the foreseeable future, and the major implications this will have for the financial viability or our universities, seems to be slowly sinking in.

But the fact that the "export education" model was a disastrous wrong turn will take much longer to be accepted, I think, because of the widespread commitment I've been talking about here to the principle of the global as a form of moral necessity.

[Jan 26, 2021] Appeals to bring more young Russians to US as 'soft power' tool could backfire, there's no guarantee they will like what they see

Jan 26, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jan 25 2021 17:23 utc | 130

Trump's decoupling dream come true.

--//--

Appeals to bring more young Russians to US as 'soft power' tool could backfire, there's no guarantee they will like what they see

McFaul says that "Biden's team should come up with new ways to grow these ties [with ordinary Russians] even over Putin's objections. In the long run, forging and sustaining links with Russian society will undermine anti-American propaganda as well as American stereotypes about Russia."

To this, McFaul adds that, "The new administration should make it easier for Russians to study in and travel to the United States," and urges European states to do the same.

My take on this is very simple: the West cannot even absorb their own youth anymore. What makes them think they can absorb Russia's?

Besides, it's not so simple an operation to attract young people to your country to study. The logistics are very complicated, and it requires a lot of resources not even counting the promise of jobs within your own country (in the case of STEM students). Even the brain drain from countries with large populations such as China and India don't surpass much above the low to mid six digits. And those programs take time to gain traction - decades in most cases. And all of this already taking into account the fact that your country still has to be an attractive place.

Discontent already exists in Americans with Indian STEM from H1B1 visa program. As the excess population rises, so will resistance to new influx of immigrants - specially high-skilled ones. This will snowball to a stage where Americans become second-class citizens in their own country (as you would have to guarantee the jobs for the foreigners in order to sweeten the deal).

[Jan 26, 2021] How will the USA regain its advantage in this world?

Decimation of education by neoliberalism and neoliberal brainwashing is the root of all evil.
Jan 26, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org
uncle tungsten , Jan 26 2021 0:28 utc | 168

How will the USA regain its advantage in this world?

I was looking back at some earlier reports to gain an insight into the means by which the USA gave the game away and the means that might restore its place in the economic world. It has allowed itself to be completely captive to global private finance AND ownership of the keys to its salvation. If it dfoes not nationalise its key industries then it can rest assured of its doom. IMO it is now almost impossible for it to nationalise a pizza parlour let alone an education or engineering sector.

This (posted here before) from Strategic Culture of November 2020 "How a Wise Decoupling May Be a Good Thing for Both China and the West". It is worth reconsidering from time to time.

If the USA is to survive the oncoming collapse and break free of its apocalyptic war agenda, then certain realities WILL have to occur. These realities include (but are not limited to):

1) Regaining its lost industrial potential, with an emphasis on the machine tool sector which the west once enjoyed as a world leader

2) Regaining the lost scientific and technological capacities which the USA once had when it still valued productive thinking under the days of JFK and NASA

3) Regaining a grasp of education which values productive citizens over consumer subjects

4) Regaining control over national credit under federal banking, dirigisme and other long-term investment practices that rely on regulating Wall Street speculation and other unproductive forms of banking.

How might these vital capacities be regained?....

The USA is incapable of nationalising its education sector and is incapable systemically of having the patience to await the benefits. It will continue to sustain an education sector that is designed to transfer $$$ in taxation directly to private corporation pockets and to do so by reducing the the number of salary earners between the input $ and the $ that end in private corporation pockets. The private corporations will continue to perfect the swindle of returning the least possible effort in return for those $$$.

Ditto for defence spending and every other sector.

The USAi is hoist by its own petard and has a dull brained president surrounded by ideological obsessives, cultural paranoiacs, a narcissistic Congress and Senate. It will not be capable of restoring its real economy and will continue to imagine itself as a world leader. It will berate and negate and cancel all unorthodox thought from those that favour nation building.

The rest of the world's nations had better take note. Clearly many have.

[Jan 22, 2021] Meritocracy used to work, because of succession planning and training.

Jan 22, 2021 | www.unz.com

Curmudgeon , says: January 21, 2021 at 10:20 pm GMT • 3.7 hours ago

@James Speaks rn. I'm not fine with assuming that the end product will automatically produce merit beyond what meritocracy is today – brown-nosing. True merit is you have demonstrated you can do it.

The last 40+ years have seen an endless stream of "bright boys" graduating university with MBAs, getting involved in the management structure as "change agents", screwing up the business for 5 years then "taking another opportunity" to screw up a different company.

Prof. Henry Mintzberg calls them the wrong people, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason, because they don't have a clue how the real world works. But hey, they are high IQ people, so they must have merit.

Uncoy , says: Website January 21, 2021 at 10:52 pm GMT • 3.2 hours ago
@Curmudgeon r medicine and sophisticated writing. The issue is that these individual were poorly educated – first and foremost in the "greed is good" school of the America. After sipping deeply of this dead-end, destructive ethical framework, these individuals were then carefully trained on how to extract value from an economy/a company rather than add value.

High IQ is still desperately needed for progress and to maintain civilisation. But put to ill-use, high IQ individuals can wreak commensurately wreak greater havoc.

Analogies could be made to guns, armies, cars. All of them can be put to exceptionally ill-use. Few would argue that a modern nation can live without automobiles or some kind of armed defence force.

[Oct 30, 2020] Tsunami Of Empty College Dorms Risks Student Housing Market Implosion

Did not most collages behaved like bandits raising tuition fees from 1980 till 2020. That's 40 years.
Oct 30, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Fall enrollment has plunged , some colleges are shuttering operations, revenues across the entire higher education industry are collapsing, and the shift from physical to virtual education due to the virus pandemic could prick the next bubble: the student housing debt market.

Our warning about the coming implosion of the higher education industry (see here from 2014) , as a whole, has become louder and louder over the last six-plus years as the student debt bubble has recently swelled to more than $1.6 trillion. Years ago, no one at the time, could've forecasted a virus pandemic would doom colleges and universities.

Credit rating agency Moody's recently downgraded the entire higher education sector to negative from stable, and the American Council on Education estimates colleges and universities will experience a $23 billion decline in revenues over the next academic year.

Bloomberg outlines the increase of virtual education in a virus pandemic has resulted in an abundance of empty dorms at colleges and universities, creating a $14 billion headache for the student housing debt market.

"West Virginia State University, already hit with a 10% enrollment drop, plans to give money to a school foundation so it can meet its bond covenants for residence hall debt. A community college in Ohio is using part of a $1.5 million donation for a financially-strapped student housing project. And officials at New Jersey City University, which serves largely first-generation and lower-income students and has recorded years of deficits, are prepared to shore up a dorm there," Bloomberg said.

The squeeze on university finances comes as the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center warned about a 16% drop in first-year undergraduate students enrolled for the fall semester. This means new revenue streams are quickly drying up for overleveraged colleges and universities.

"The limiting factor is some of these schools themselves are facing uncertainty with many of their revenue streams," S&P Global Ratings analyst Amber Schafer said in an interview. "It's a matter of not only willingness, but if they're able to support the project."

"Typically, privatized student housing debt is paid off by the revenue generated by the dorms -- meaning there's little recourse for bondholders if things go south," Bloomberg said. With occupancy rates already declining as coronavirus cases are surging, well, this could be bad news for colleges and universities heading into 2021.

"Borrowers have begun revealing how empty residence halls are as the pandemic spurs many campuses to keep classes online. According to the school foundation that sold the debt, West Virginia State University's dorm is 71% full, putting it about 20 percentage points from where it needs to be to satisfy debt covenants. Other privatized student housing projects, like two on Howard University's campus, are virtually empty due to online-only instruction there," Bloomberg said.

https://lockerdome.com/lad/13084989113709670?pubid=ld-dfp-ad-13084989113709670-0&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com&rid=www.zerohedge.com&width=890

Bloomberg warns: "Privatized dorms are struggling the most given that they weren't structured to withstand 20% to 30% drops in occupancy -- or no students at all."

"West Virginia State University may have to step in to help student housing bonds at risk of violating a debt service coverage ratio, Moody's warned this month. The historically-black college faces "considerable" challenges in backstopping the bonds, Moody's said.

The nearly 290-bed residence hall with rents of $3,881 per semester was just 71% occupied this fall, while it needed to be about 92% occupied, said Patricia Schumann, president of the university foundation that sold the debt. Schumann said the university is projected to provide a $75,000 payment in January. In the meantime, she said the school was working to bolster its financial position and boost recruitment and donations.

"We're not standing still," she said.

Ohio's Terra State Community College, which has more than 2,100 students, was downgraded deeper into junk over the risk posed by a dorm owned by a nonprofit, given that the school "appears to provide an unconditional guarantee" to meet the debt obligations, Moody's said. The project was financed through a bank note.

The dorm's occupancy fell to 62%, and the college is using a previously-received donation to cover a shortfall in project revenue amounting between $500,000 to $600,000, the ratings company said in a report this month.

At New Jersey City University, a student housing project financed though a separate entity will likely miss a required debt service coverage ratio. The public school having to step in to help the bonds would be a challenge, but a surmountable one, said Jodi Bailey, the university's associate vice president for student affairs. The student housing bonds aren't a debt of the university, so the school would be choosing to provide financial support, according to bond documents .

The school is working to cut expenses related to the dorm. "Is it a harder year? Most definitely," she said.

The student housing bonds, issued by West Campus Housing LLC in 2015, were slashed deeper into junk in September by S&P, which said in a report that residence halls' occupancy there had fallen to 56% so the school could accommodate social-distancing guidelines," said Bloomberg.

To summarize, plunging enrollments, resulting in falling occupancy rates for dorms, is a debt bomb waiting to go off for many overleveraged colleges and universities that are panicking at the moment to divert enough funds to service debts, as the usual revenue streams, that being rent checks from students, are nowhere to be found as virtual learning keeps young adults in their parents' basements and out of dorms.

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If occupancy rates continue to slide through 2021, then we must revisit what we said months before the virus pandemic began in the US:

"...20% of colleges and universities will shut down or merge in the next ten years , and probably more."

Absent of a federal bailout, things could get ugly for colleges and universities in 2021.

[Sep 26, 2020] The Stockdale Paradox

Notable quotes:
"... You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -- which you can never afford to lose -- with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. ..."
Sep 26, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

grug-cave-head , 2 hours ago

Let me post something.

The Stockdale Paradox[ edit ]

James C. Collins related a conversation he had with Stockdale regarding his coping strategy during his period in the Vietnamese POW camp. [21] [ non-primary source needed ] When Collins asked which prisoners didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:

Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson.

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -- which you can never afford to lose -- with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. [22]

Collins called this the Stockdale Paradox. [21]

[Aug 29, 2020] Endurance- Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, Lansing, Alfred, eBook - Amazon.com

Aug 29, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. When their ship was finally crushed between two ice floes, they attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization.

In Endurance , the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age.

>


Bama Fan

The book gave me several adrenaline rushes...it's that well written.

5.0 out of 5 stars The book gave me several adrenaline rushes...it's that well written. Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2018 Verified Purchase This is an amazing account of Shackleton's journey that went into intricate details about the twists and turns every step of the way for this small group of brave explorers. It reads like a thrilling fiction novel, but the fact that it is non-fiction makes it even more astounding. The description really paints a true picture of the hellacious conditions that they continued to face time and time again. This book really put into perspective what a challenge truly is. A simple headache that we might get now is nowhere near getting your sleeping bag drenched and still having to sleep in it in temperatures near 0 when you don't know how the weather or current is going to change while you try to sleep. Great read and really hard to put down because even though you think you know what's going to happen, you still have to find out how. Would highly recommend if you're looking for a good book that you will have trouble putting down. 38 people found this helpful

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Twostory
Cold

5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018 Verified Purchase Very cold. Always cold. This is a very detailed (true) story about men trying to survive in a very hostile environment in c. 1915. Stark and full of detail, the reader almost gets to feel the cold, hunger and pain the crew experienced while trying to survive Antarctica and return to civilization. it's amazing that anyone survived this ordeal let alone all of them. Sadly, many creatures and peaceful animals paid the price for mans survival. The details often are so descriptive and redundant due to the scope of the story, that it sometimes becomes repetitive and familiar. This is because of the constant distress and horrible conditions the crew experienced for such a long time. It's a well documented and exciting story with a bit of a history lesson that really held my interest. It's a popular book that is deserving of its high ratings. 21 people found this helpful

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George E. Dawson
A REMARKABLE TALE OF SURVIVAL, SUPERBLY TOLD.

5.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE TALE OF SURVIVAL, SUPERBLY TOLD. Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2017 Verified Purchase "There can be little doubt that Shackleton, in his way, was an extraordinary leader of men." (p. 11).

There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to endure even one, the best, day of the unimaginable hardships that the men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Exposition (1914-17) -- under the leadership of Sir Ernest Shackleton -- struggled with for more than 400 days. They endured and survived some of the most incredible, unbelievable, conditions ever experienced; and Alfred Lansing captures the urgency, the deprivation, and the desperation, with spellbinding storytelling.

Recommendation: Best adventure story, ever. Should be read by all, especially those of high school age.

"In all the world there is no desolation more complete than the polar night. It is a return to the Ice Age -- no warmth, no life, no movement." (p. 46).

Basic Books. Kindle Edition, 268 pages. 16 people found this helpful

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Dataman
A Riveting True Story of Adventure, Survival and Hope

5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting True Story of Adventure, Survival and Hope Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2014 Verified Purchase In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton set out on an expedition to make the first land crossing of the barren Antarctic continent from the east to the west coast. The expedition failed to accomplish its objective, but became recognized instead as an amazing feat of endurance. Shackleton and a crew of 27 (plus one stowaway) first headed to the Weddell Sea on the ship Endurance. Their ship was trapped by pack ice short of their destination and eventually crushed. Forced to abandon ship, the men were trapped on ice floes for months while they drifted north. Once they were far enough north that the ice thinned somewhat, they were forced to journey in lifeboats they'd dragged off the ship. After six terrible days, they made it to uninhabited Elephant Island; from there Shackleton and five other men set off in an open 22-foot boat on an incredible 800-mile voyage across the notoriously tempestuous Drake Passage to South Georgia Island, where they hiked across the island's mountain range to reach a whaling camp. From there, they returned in a ship to rescue the men left behind on Elephant Island.

That these men were able to survive in the harsh, barren conditions of Antarctica, where temperatures frequently fell below zero is amazing. It's nearly unimaginable that these men could survive for almost two years, their lives marked by a seemingly endless stretch of misery, suffering, and boredom, not to mention the threat of starvation. At every turn, their situation seems to go from bad to worse. If this were a work of fiction, one would be inclined to claim the story was simply too far-fetched. But Endurance isn't just a tale of misery, it is a vivid description of their journey, the dangers they faced, and the obstacles they overcame. Through all of this, Shackleton has never lost a man.

Alfred Lansing's book, written in 1958 from interviews and journals of the survivors, is now back in print. It's a riveting tale of adventure, survival and hope. It is also a rare historical, non-fiction book that is as exciting as any novel. I've read a number of stories of survival and would rate this as the best of all I have read. This is one of the great adventure stories of our time. Don't miss it. Read more 45 people found this helpful

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Sam
I recommend this book to add to the collection of those ...

5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book to add to the collection of those ... Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2015 Verified Purchase What a page turner. Lansing is a master for the description of those explorers hardships, desire to follow Shacketon' orders. I kept saying to myself that there are few humans today that are as tough as those men. I recommend this book to add to the collection of those books that give us the knowledge of what it takes to conquer a goal. 51 people found this helpful

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S. Cherkas
By far one of the best books I've ever read, & I've read many!

5.0 out of 5 stars By far one of the best books I've ever read, & I've read many! Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2019 Verified Purchase I just finished reading 2 of Grann's books - Lost City of Z & The White Darkness. The latter is the story of Henry Worsley, the grandson of Frank Worsley one of the "extraordinary" men in Lansing's Endurance. Grann suggested Endurance as a worthy read. Sir Earnest Shackleton & Frank Worsley were two of some 20 men who incredibly survived a journey to Antarctica that went awry from almost its onset. Two years later all hands were rescued through the extraordinary will of the men who found themselves at the mercy of the elements. Lansing's research & grasp of the situation in which these men found themselves in conjunction with his writing style has put this book at the top of my all time favorites! Fabulous! Fabulous! Anyone 12 or older will be blown away by this true story & this writer! 4 people found this helpful

[Aug 24, 2020] The link between political instability and inequality

Aug 24, 2020 | peakoilbarrel.com

Schinzy Ignored says: 08/16/2020 AT 9:21 AM

Modelling political instability is the subject of cliodynamcs, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliodynamics . The graph on that page seems to link political instability with inequality. My suspicion is that it is also linked to scarcity.

[Aug 01, 2020] Black Lives Matter- An Immodest Suggestion -

Aug 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by MN Gordon via EconomicPrism.com,

Where will America's productivity miracle come from?

Public education is not teaching students what they need to know to compete in the global economy.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, math scores of U.S. students rank 30th in the world. The East Asian peers of today's American students will eat their lunch in the growth industries of tomorrow.

Here's where Black Lives Matter has a real opportunity.

The protests. The riots. The calls for reparation payments. Social justice wealth transfers. White privilege taxes. All the nonsense. Where's the strategy? Where's the long-range 'strategery'?

No doubt, those selling BLM T-shirts in Walmart parking lots are exercising gumption. But it's not gonna cut it. Moreover, like bingo winnings, reparation payments will be quickly squandered while the unhappiness remains.

And as far as we can tell the BLM movement is empty of ideas and without direction.

lay_arrow

chubbar , 14 minutes ago

"If BLM was strategic"?????? Holy ****, if they were strategic they'd be making damn sure that testing, like SAT scores, were no longer accepted as proof of accomplishment or learning. Oh, wait?.......

Let's all agree, blacks don't want a "head to head" test, EVER.

I don't give a crap what they say, they don't want to be judged on MERIT, they love the skin color test. That way they can always claim racism instead of ability.

libtears , 40 minutes ago

The BLM Movement is definitely empty of ideas and clear leadership. Their supposed goals are all over the map from day to day. They are rudderless mobs of filthy vagrants and criminal elements make up most of their movement.

What's going on which is credited to BLM has nothing to do with black people for the most part. Commies have co-opted this movement and are engaging in anarchy to take down the system of government. They will do whatever they want at all costs because they believe they have the moral high ground. They are radicals just like people call them.

The best thing that could happen is for these loser mayors and governors to enforce the law against these mobs of filthy scum.

How can you even reason with a mob of idiots that don't even have one, if not a hierarchy of leadership and clear goals that they agree upon?

These people are taking a page out of the Bolshevik book on revolution. And they're much weaker than the Bolsheviks, mentally and physically. One good thump on the head and these b!tches are crying.

The longer the public allows teaching institutions to promote BLM the worse this sh!t is going to get.

...

JaxPavan , 42 minutes ago

The Ford Foundation gave BLM $100 million to engage in terrorism. Who do you think bought all those ultra high end looting vehicles?

quanttech , 39 minutes ago

Indeed, the BLM organization is primarily funded by mostly white-run corporations and foundations. The money rules.

HopefulCynical , 22 minutes ago

And WHO is in control of the Ford Foundtion? WHO?!

[Jul 31, 2020] The Consequences of a Very High Level of Inequality Can Be Fatal

After some level inequality is akin to cancel -- it can destroy the society. In a countries with very high level of inequality the government can't rely on loyalty of people. It also leads to the proliferation of "guard labor" in one form or another.
Just think what it means for the USA counterintelligence now. Add to this the collapse of the neoliberal ideology which also does not help to instill the loyalty.
Jul 31, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal Posted on July 30, 2020 by Yves Smith

Yves here. So many of health costs of inequality are obvious, yet most people seem trained to look past them. And Congress fiddles about a new stimulus package, with the odds of getting it back on track soon not looking very good, while Americans have rent and mortgage payments looming.

By Richard D. Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, in New York. Wolff's weekly show, "Economic Update," is syndicated by more than 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV. His two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism , both available at democracyatwork.info . Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

Capitalism, as Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century shows, relentlessly worsens wealth and income inequalities. That inherent tendency is only occasionally stopped or reversed when masses of people rise up against it. That happened, for example, in western Europe and the U.S. during the 1930s Great Depression. It prompted social democracy in Europe and the New Deal in the United States. So far in capitalism's history, however, stoppages or reversals around the world proved temporary. The last half-century witnessed a neoliberal reaction that rolled back both European social democracy and the New Deal. Capitalism has always managed to resume its tendential movement toward greater inequality.

Among the consequences of a system with such a tendency, many are awful. We are living through one now as the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequately contained by the U.S. system, savages Americans of middle and lower incomes and wealth markedly more than the rich.

The rich buy better health care and diets, second homes away from crowded cities, better connections to get government bailouts, and so on. Many of the poor are homeless. Tasteless advice to "shelter at home" is, for them, absurd. Low-income people are often crowded into the kinds of dense housing and dense working conditions that facilitate infection. Poor residents of low-cost nursing homes die disproportionally, as do prison inmates (mostly poor). Pandemic capitalism distributes death in inverse proportion to wealth and income.

Social distancing has destroyed especially low-wage service sector jobs. Rarely did top executives lose their positions, and when they did, they found others. The result is a widened gap between high salaries for some and low or no wages for many. Unemployment invites employers to lower wages for the still employed because they can. Pandemic capitalism has provoked a massive increase in money-creation by central banks. That money fuels rising stock markets and thereby enriches the rich who own most shares. The coincidence of rising stock markets and mass unemployment plus falling wages only adds momentum to worsening inequality.

Unequal economic distributions (of income and wealth) finance unequal political outcomes. Whenever a small minority enjoys concentrated wealth within a society committed to universal suffrage, the rich quickly understand their vulnerability. The non-wealthy majority can use universal suffrage to prevail politically. The majority's political power could then undo the results of the economy including its unequal distribution of income and wealth. The rich corrupt politics with their money to prevent exactly that outcome. Capitalists spend part of their wealth to preserve (and enlarge) all of their wealth.

The rich and those eager to join them in the U.S. dominate within both Republican and Democratic parties. The rich provide most of the donations that sustain candidates and parties, the funding for armies of lobbyists "advising" legislators, the bribes, and many issue-oriented public campaigns. The laws and regulations that flow from Washington, states, and cities reflect the needs and desires of the rich far more than those of the rest of us. The peculiar structure of U.S. property taxes offers an example. In the U.S., property is divided into two kinds: tangible and intangible. Tangible property includes land, buildings, business inventories, automobiles, etc. Intangible property is mostly stocks and bonds. Rich people hold most of their wealth in the form of intangible property. It is thus remarkable that in the U.S., only tangible property is subject to property tax. Intangible property is not subject to any property tax.

The kinds of property (tangible) that many people own get taxed, but the kinds of property (intangible) mostly owned by the richest minority do not get taxed. If you own a house rented to tenants, you pay a property tax to the municipality where the house is located. You also pay an income tax on the received rents to the federal government and likely also the state government where you live. You are thus taxed twice: once on the value of the property you own and once on the income you derive from that property. If you sell a $100,000 house and then buy $100,000 worth of shares, you will owe no property taxes to any level of government in the United States. You will only owe income tax on dividends paid to you on the shares you own. The form of property you own determines whether you pay property tax or not.

This property tax system is excellent for those rich enough to buy significant amounts of shares. The rich used their wealth to get tax laws written that way for them. The rest of us pay more in taxes because the rich pay less. Because the rich save money -- since their intangible property is not taxed -- they have that much more to buy the politicians who secure such a tax system for them. And that tax system worsens inequality of wealth and income.

Unequal economic distributions finance unequal cultural outcomes. For example, the goal of a unifying, democratizing public school system has always been subverted by economic inequality. In general (with few exceptions), the better schools cost more to attend. The tutors needed to help struggling students are affordable for the rich but less so for everyone else. The children of the wealthy get the private schools, books, quiet rooms, computers, educational trips, extra art and music lessons, and virtually everything else needed for higher educational achievement.

Unequal economic distributions finance unequal "natural" outcomes. The U.S. now displays two differently priced foods. Rich people can afford "organic" while the rest of us worry but still buy "conventional" food for budget reasons. Countless studies indicate the dangers of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, food processing methods, and additives. Nonetheless, the two-price food system delivers the better, safer food more to the rich than to everyone else. Likewise, the rich buy the safer automobiles, more safely equip their homes, and clean and filter the water they drink and the air they breathe. No wonder the rich live years longer on average than other people. Inequality is often fatal, not just during pandemics.

In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle worried about and discussed the threat to community, to social cohesion, posed by inequalities of wealth and income. They criticized markets as institutions because, in their view, markets facilitated and aggravated income and wealth inequalities. But modern capitalism sanctifies markets and has thus conveniently forgotten Plato's and Aristotle's cautions and warnings about markets and inequality.

The thousands of years since Plato and Aristotle have seen countless critiques, reforms, and revolutions directed against wealth and income inequalities. They have rarely succeeded and have even more rarely persisted. Pessimists have responded, as the Bible does, with the notion that "the poor shall always be with us." We rather ask the question: Why did so many heroic efforts at equality fail?

The answer concerns the economic system, and how it organizes the people who work to produce and distribute the goods and services societies depend on. If its economic organization splits participants into a small rich minority and a large non-rich majority, the former will likely be determined to reproduce that organization over time. Slavery (master versus slave) did; feudalism (lord versus serf) did; and capitalism (employer versus employee) does. Inequality in the economy is a root cause contributing to society-wide inequalities.

We might then infer that an alternative economic system based on a democratically organized community producing goods and services -- not split into a dominant minority and a subordinate majority -- might finally end social inequality.


Ignacio , July 30, 2020 at 10:16 am

Wow! I just can say this is very well pointed and that It must be understood we cannot expect empathy from the well off. Even if some are empathic by nature they just cannot see what's really happening given how wide is the rift.

rob , July 30, 2020 at 10:39 am

inequality is a state of nature. blame god .right.
but here in this humanistic creation, we ought not institutionalize inequality.
That is one of the big points of monetary reform.
The current federal reserve system and the banking system ,having control of the "money creation" of this country, PROMOTES wealth inequality.
The nationalization of the fed, and the ending of banks creating money; is the main essence of monetary reform. The people who have been trying to discuss the world with a different ,more equal access to the fiat created "for the people to use, for the economy to function",point to the growth of inequality by the nature of how the system currently is structured. They point to how our money is created and by whom.They point to who gets "the debt"
Some people try to dismiss the 100 year history of the fed promoting inequality as a bug . but how can someone not see it is a feature, The monetary system we have now was created by an act of law. It would be unconstitutional ,if not for the federal reserve act. Allowing the banks to create money.Instead of the congress..as the constitution explicitly stated.
But now, we are no longer a fledgling republic.
The world accepted our fiat, as created by bankers now we ought to create our own money and retire our national debt.Heal ourselves, to lead forward in the future. Time to write a new law .
https://www.congress.gov/bill/112-thcongress/house-bill/2990/text

Anonymous , July 30, 2020 at 10:53 am

Pessimists have responded, as the Bible does, with the notion that "the poor shall always be with us."

The Bible does not say that, it says:

However, there will be no poor among you , since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 15:4 [bold added]

But just a few verses later:

For the poor will never cease to be in the land ; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.' Deuteronomy 15:11 [bold added]

Taken together, these verses are not about the inevitability of poverty but the inevitability of poverty from DISOBEDIENCE to what is being commanded – especially, i suppose, wrt economic justice.

So though we might never completely eliminate poverty, it can certainly be reduced to the extent we are willing to obey – per the Bible.

And as anyone who has read the Old Testament should know, the US is far from obedience wrt economic justice (e.g. Deuteronomy 23:19-20, e.g. Leviticus 25).

Alternate Delegate , July 30, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Yes the Bible most certainly does say that.

Mark 14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

Matthew 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

Anonymous , July 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Those statements are indictments of injustice, not excuses for poverty (cf. Deuteronomy 15:4).

TomDority , July 30, 2020 at 1:27 pm

"If you own a house rented to tenants, you pay a property tax to the municipality where the house is located."
the above means that you are already up the income ladder enough to not qualify as being low income _ most of the country is low income since the word Low is comparative – it is comparative to the cost of living –
So the above property tax is paid by the tenant – the carry costs by the tenant and the profit – by the tenant.
So the rent is a high cost of living due to the bidding up or asset inflation that most "investment goes into today"
A key way to reduce inequality is through a tax system that penalizes activities that tend to raise the cost of living – tax heavier the investments that inflate asset prices (assets are things already created).
Taxing something is to put a burden upon an activity
Why we tax labor so much – who knows

Michael Fiorillo , July 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

The Great Depression of the 1930's prompted social democracy in Europe?

The professor skipped an episode or two there, no?

Susan the other , July 30, 2020 at 2:59 pm

When it comes to the value of money everything is skewed. If Picketty were analyzing money as merely a medium of exchange and not a store of wealth he'd have much less inequity. When the value of money is considered in on-the-ground finance operations "lost opportunity" is considered into the interest rate. Lost opportunity is totally ignored on a human level. You'd think that money itself was a person.

[Jul 30, 2020] Building an Inclusive Post-Pandemic American Workforce by Michele Steeb Michele Steeb

Jul 30, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

>

ll eyes are on the declining number of unemployed. The May and June jobs reports chronicle the reabsorption of 5.3 million who lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve million jobs to go to reach pre-pandemic employment.

Yet prior to the pandemic, there were 18 million Americans missing from the economy. These persons were neither employed nor seeking employment -- nor retirees, students or in-home caregivers -- and therefore were excluded from the Bureau of Labor Statistics count of the workforce. In order that America emerge from the pandemic stronger than before, a concerted initiative by federal and state governments to move them back into the economy -- using existing resources -- must begin now.

...

Research on the social determinants of health finds that employment has a very strong correlation with positive health outcomes. To exist as a non-participant in the economy is thus an invitation to dire health outcomes including premature death.

What's more, these individuals are needed as contributors to our national commonweal, fueling increased economic and social progress. And people engaged in productive activities are much less likely to engage in negative and destructive behaviors.

... The USDA's food stamp program has a robustly funded, though underutilized, employment and training grant. States use the excuse of USDA's partial match requirement as a reason to opt out.

[Jul 14, 2020] To lose 263,000 hostages in less than one year would be a devastating blow to American diplomacy.

Jul 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Jul 13 2020 18:57 utc | 2

Funny how the visa-free map from before the COVID-19 pandemic is roughly equal to the extent of the American Empire itself.

And the loss of foreign students signifies much more than the mere loss of income for the American universities: it also means the loss of grip over the provinces' regional elites.

Most of the foreign students in the USA are sons and daughters of the regional elites. They live the American way of life, get westernized, and go back to their countries (which they will likely rule) with a liberal ideology ingrained in their minds. They are the rough equivalent to what the hostage was during Antiquity. To lose 263,000 hostages in less than one year would be a devastating blow to American diplomacy.

Peter AU1 , Jul 13 2020 19:09 utc | 4

vk

One commenter mentioned a brain drain in relation to foreign students no longer coming to America but I guess the brain drain will occur when out of work professors start heading off to other countries like China in search of work.

[Jul 04, 2020] Low-Income American Households Suffer Inflation Shock From Virus

Notable quotes:
"... "In a period of protest and increasing anger about inequality, the differential inflation rate experienced by low- and high-income households is a concern," said Bloomberg Economics' Björn van Roye and Tom Orlik. ..."
Jul 04, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

The coronavirus is inflicting a price shock on low income Americans that risks further driving up inequality.

In a study released this week, Bloomberg Economics estimated higher grocery and housing costs for lockdown necessities meant those households whose incomes are in the bottom 10% currently face inflation of 1.5% compared with 1.0% for the top 10% and the official 0.1% overall average recorded in May.

Recalculating Inflation

'Have nots' suffered disproportionately as virus changed buying patterns

https://www.bloomberg.com

Sources: Bloomberg Economics, BLS, https://opportunityinsights.org

Note: Inflation for the lowest (highest) 10% takes the alternative CPI basket for the lowest (highest) decile of household income before taxes from the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey

The explanation for the difference lies in how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed consumption patterns by forcing households to buy more food while spending less on transportation or recreational activities.

"In a period of protest and increasing anger about inequality, the differential inflation rate experienced by low- and high-income households is a concern," said Bloomberg Economics' Björn van Roye and Tom Orlik.

The suggestion the virus is less disinflationary than many economists believe poses a challenge for the Federal Reserve which is eyeing a slower inflation rate than that experienced by lower earners, who are instead facing a steady erosion of their purchasing power.

"Taken together with concerns about central banks bailing out investors ahead of firms and workers, and the benefits rich, asset-owning households gain from quantitative easing, it adds to the sense that central banks are unintentional contributors to the problem of inequality," van Roye and Orlik said.

[Jul 03, 2020] Is math unjust and grounded in discrimination ? Sometimes I wonder if the world is some kind of sitcom for aliens

Notable quotes:
"... This lady is sitting there lying trying to prove a point. I have been in enough arguments to kow when someone is just arguing to keep the discussion going ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.youtube.com

John Smith , 7 months ago

Crazy lady: Math is discriminatory!

Mia Light , 8 months ago (edited)

Sometimes I wonder if the world is some kind of sitcom for aliens.

Johnny West , 7 months ago

Comprehending mathematics requires IQ ! Not equality. Lord, this woman lives in a rabbit hole.

Ruttigorn Logsdon , 7 months ago

And son that's how America became a third world country over night!

L0nN13 , 8 months ago

The bottom line is, they want to take away any problem solving skills that might build character, because someone might get hurt! Victimhood culture run amuck.

Sal Pacheco , 8 months ago

Mathematics is the cornerstone of all forms of trade, communications, home economics and every other aspect of life. Truth is they're dumbing everyone down to control populations!

Oprah and Michael Jordan are black billionaires , 4 days ago

As a black American, this is so ignorant and offensive to me

Jewel Heart , 7 months ago

The brilliant NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson just proves what a load of bx this latest rubbish is.

Mach 1 , 2 years ago

I have Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering and I'm 62-years old. I have never once cared about the history of mathematics, other than a curiosity. Knowing the history of mathematics never helped me once to solve an ordinary second order differential equation.

Aric Lyles , 8 months ago

When a person lies while giving an interview they should be shocked or something. This lady is sitting there lying trying to prove a point. I have been in enough arguments to kow when someone is just arguing to keep the discussion going. She has already lost the argument deflected and differed responsibility when confronted with the legitimacy of the paper.

Go exercise healthy body makes a healthy mind not the other way around.

[Jul 01, 2020] The Sack Prof Priyamvada Gopal (the Cambridge Race Troll ) Petition is down

Cue bono? Not black people (actually she is an Indian, which until recently was a caste society). Is she a victim of "affirmative action" policy and occupies a position for which there are more worthy academically candidates. University is not sinecure, at least it should not be.
How good is she as an academic? Is she mentally stable?
The decision of Cambridge University to promote her after such an idiotic tweet creates several additional questions.
Jul 01, 2020 | www.reddit.com

https://www.change.org/p/cambridge-university-fire-cambridge-professor-for-racism

Petition against Prof Priyamvada Gopal now off line. Additionally I noticed earlier today that the comments given on the site voicing why they were signing had all been removed, but not on other petitions. As of yesterday evening these comments were peaceful, and not personal, just things like 'because it is racist' and 'do I even need to give a reason'?

The petition had nearly 25,000 signed supporters earlier today, and new signings were flooding in at over 1/sec when I checked.

In addition in an affront to common decency the University/College promoted her whilst they had stated earlier they were aware of the controversial nature of her tweets.

Her original tweet was deleted by Twitter as a breach of community guidelines. She also reports that, in spite of senselessly provoking people at a delicate time with racist tweets, that the extremely racist responses she got from some far right people was being looked at by the Police.

All in all this establishes a systematic problem. Being deliberately vague means you cannot use context as a defence, and the context of all her tweets shows some extreme patterns of thinking against certain groups that casts very considerable doubts on the validity of such a defense. Moreover, context hasn't been a defence when others have been prosecuted for far less. Nobody, including Cambridge academics, should be above the law.

To those people that think that what she said was justified because she was trying to defend BLM from supposed alternative movements, all she in fact did do was to achieve the opposite of that.

If one wishes to convey complex ideas a teacher of English in her position *must know* that this requires a long form medium to provide argumentation, and that Twitter is no such place to do it due to its character count. But taking in all the other comments she has made, its very clear the double standards and overall bias that really does amount to overt prejudice.

At the very least she is so contradictory, immature and incompetent as to make a mockery of her college and for that reason at minimum, she should lose her job. I'm sorry to say that as well.

But something about this whole episode feels like a jumping the shark moment. I don't think this is going away all that easily.

[Jun 30, 2020] Older Workers Targeted in Trump's Lawsuit to End Obamacare by DEAN BAKER

Notable quotes:
"... This would be bad news for anyone with a serious health condition, but it would be especially bad news for the oldest pre-Medicare age group, people between the ages of 55 and 64. This group currently faces average premiums of close to $10,000 a year per person for insurance purchased through the ACA exchanges. Insurers could easily charge people with serious health conditions two or three times this amount if the Trump administration wins its case. ..."
"... The 55 to 64 age group will also be hard hit because they are far more likely to have serious health issues than younger people. Just 18 percent of the people in the youngest 18 to 34 age group have a serious health condition, compared to 44 percent of those in the 55 to 64 age group, as shown in the figure above. ..."
Jun 30, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Anne , June 30, 2020 12:49 pm

https://cepr.net/older-workers-targeted-in-trumps-lawsuit-to-end-obamacare/

June 30, 2020

Older Workers Targeted in Trump's Lawsuit to End Obamacare
By DEAN BAKER

The Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit which seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. The implication is that a large share of the older workers now able to afford health insurance as a result of the ACA will no longer be able to afford it if the Trump administration wins its lawsuit.

Furthermore, if the suit succeeds it will both end the expansion of Medicaid, which has insured tens of millions of people, and again allow discrimination against people with serious health conditions. Ending this discrimination was one of the major goals of the ACA. The issue is that insurers don't want to insure people who are likely to have health issues that cost them money. While they are happy to insure healthy people with few medical expenses, people with heart disease, diabetes, or other health conditions are a bad deal for insurers.

Before the ACA, insurers could charge outlandish fees to cover people with health conditions, or simply refuse to insure them altogether. The ACA required insurers to cover everyone within an age bracket at the same price, regardless of their health. If the Trump administration has its way, we would go back to the world where insurers could charge people with health issues whatever they wanted, or alternatively, just deny them coverage.

This would be bad news for anyone with a serious health condition, but it would be especially bad news for the oldest pre-Medicare age group, people between the ages of 55 and 64. This group currently faces average premiums of close to $10,000 a year per person for insurance purchased through the ACA exchanges. Insurers could easily charge people with serious health conditions two or three times this amount if the Trump administration wins its case.

And, since a Trump victory would eliminate the ACA subsidiaries, people in this age group with health conditions could be looking to pay $20,000 to $30,000 a year for insurance, with no help from the government. That will be especially hard since many people with serious health conditions are unable to work full-time jobs, and some can't work at all.
[Graph]

The 55 to 64 age group will also be hard hit because they are far more likely to have serious health issues than younger people. Just 18 percent of the people in the youngest 18 to 34 age group have a serious health condition, compared to 44 percent of those in the 55 to 64 age group, as shown in the figure above.

The ACA has many inadequacies, but it has allowed tens of millions to get insurance who could not otherwise. Donald Trump wants to take this insurance away.

[Jun 20, 2020] Colleges will have a lot of trouble this fall

Another issue with all types of education is that lots of students, especially foreign students, depend very heavily on restarats temp jobs and casual hospitality work.
Jun 20, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

4. Colleges will have a lot of trouble this fall . First, they are losing nearly all their full-freight-paying Chinese students, between concern over US Covid-19 risks, Administration hostility, and travel restrictions. That alone is a big blow.

On top of that, some are planning to reopen but MIT's announcement yesterday, that it will not allow all students to return to campus, probably represents a new normal. Well-placed MIT alumni read the university's decision as driven significantly by a desire to protect faculty and staff; I hear from sources with contacts at other universities that administrators that they see no way to put kids in dorms without running unacceptably high Covid risks.

Remember, even though kids almost never die of Covid-19, but there is a risk of serious damage. 1/2 the asymptomatic cases on the Diamond Princess now show abnormal lungs. And remember those cruises have half the people on board as crew, and the crew skews young. College is a lot less appealing if you don't stay in a dorm.

Just as diminished activity in central business districts has negative knock-on effects to nearby business, so to do hollowed-out colleges and universities have for their communities, as described in more depth in a recent Bloomberg story .

Krystyn Podgajski , June 18, 2020 at 7:52 am

The coming college semester is a big question mark. The influx of students is entangled with real estate, shopping and the biggest in my town, restaurants and bars. Not to mention the college sports season which supported so many AirBnB's here.

They are starting the year early here (UNC Chapel Hill) and ending it early as well, on Thanksgiving! And up to 1000 new students will be learning from home instead of coming to campus.

Vastydeep , June 18, 2020 at 11:30 am

Big question mark -- MIT's president Reif yesterday noted that

"At least for the fall, we can only bring some of our undergraduates back to campus." and "Everything that can be taught effectively online will be taught online."

Courses are comparatively easy, but labs, research, and sports look doubtful if/when case counts start marching up again.

[Jun 18, 2020] Cornell Law Prof Says There's a Coordinated Effort To Have Him Fired After He Criticized Black Lives Matter

Highly recommended!
This is a typical hunt on dissidents
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Recall, it was just days ago that we pointed out Cornell professor and friend of Zero Hedge Dave Collum was publicly shamed by Cornell for daring to express the "wrong" opinion about current events on social media. Now, there's a second Cornell professor coming under fire for his critique of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson has challenged any student or faculty member to a public debate about the Black Lives Matter movement after he says liberals on campus have launched a "coordinated effort" to have him fired from his job. At least 15 emails from alumni have been sent to the dean, demanding that action be taken, according to Fox News .

"There is an effort underway to get me fired at Cornell Law School, where I've worked since November 2007, or if not fired, at least denounced publicly by the school," Jacobson wrote on Thursday . "I condemn in the strongest terms any insinuation that I am racist."

Jacobson founded the website Legal Insurrection and says he's had an "awkward relationship" with the university for years as a result. The recent outrage comes as a result of two posts he recently made on his site:

"Those posts accurately detail the history of how the Black Lives Matters Movement started, and the agenda of the founders which is playing out in the cultural purge and rioting taking place now," Jacobson said.

Jacobson (Source: Jacobson's Blog, Legal Insurrection )

He recently wrote on his blog: "Living as a conservative on a liberal campus is like being the mouse waiting for the cat to pounce. For over 12 years, the Cornell cat did not pounce. Though there were frequent and aggressive attempts by outsiders to get me fired, including threats and harassment, it always came from off campus."

"Not until now, to the best of my knowledge, has there been an effort from inside the Cornell community to get me fired," he says.

"The effort appears coordinated, as some of the emails were in a template form. All of the emails as of Monday were from graduates within the past 10 years," he continued. Jacobson's "clinical faculty colleagues, apparently in consultation with the Black Law Students Association" drafted and published a letter denouncing 'commentators, some of them attached to Ivy League Institutions, who are leading a smear campaign against Black Lives Matter.'"

Cornell responded , backhandedly defending the Professor's right to his own opinion:

"...the Law School's commitment to academic freedom does not constitute endorsement or approval of individual faculty speech. But to take disciplinary action against him for the views he has expressed would fatally pit our values against one another in ways that would corrode our ability to operate as an academic institution."

"This is not just about me. It's about the intellectual freedom and vibrancy of Cornell and other higher education institutions, and the society at large. Open inquiry and debate are core features of a vibrant intellectual community," he stated.

"I challenge a representative of those student groups and a faculty member of their choosing to a public debate at the law school regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement, so that I can present my argument and confront the false allegations in real-time rather than having to respond to baseless community email blasts."

"I condemn in the strongest terms any insinuation that I am racist, and I greatly resent any attempt to leverage meritless accusations in hopes of causing me reputational harm. While such efforts might succeed in scaring others in a similar position, I will not be intimidated," Jacobson concluded.

[Jun 16, 2020] "That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." by George Carlin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job. ..."
"... A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business. ..."
"... There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost ..."
"... Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money. ..."
Jun 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Dave C , 4 days ago

"That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -George Carlin

Robert Schupp , 4 days ago

You can't just move to American cities to pursue opportunity; even the high wages paid in New York are rendered unhelpful because the cost of housing is so high.


Dingo Jones
, 3 days ago

@JOHN GAGLIANO Cost of living is ridiculous too.

Dirtysparkles , 4 days ago

Our country has become the American Nightmare

Jean-Pierre S , 4 days ago

Martin Luther King, Jr. was vilified and ultimately murdered when he was helping organize a Poor People's Campaign. Racial justice means economic justice.

John Sanders , 3 days ago

Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job.

Adriano de Jesus , 4 days ago

A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business.

Ammon Weser , 4 days ago

There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low Cost

crazyman8472 , 4 days ago

Night Owl: "What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"

Comedian: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it."

-- Watchmen

David Tidwell , 4 days ago

Nailed it. As a millennial, I'm sick of being told to just "deal with it" when the cards have always been stacked against me. Am I surviving? Yes. Am I thriving? No.

D dicin , 4 days ago

When the reserve status of the American dollar goes away, then it will become apparent how poor the US really is. You cannot maintain a country without retention of the ability to manufacture the articles you use on a daily basis. The military budget and all the jobs it brings will have to shrink catastrophically.

farber2 , 4 days ago

American trance. The billionaires hypnotized people with this lie.

Michael D , 4 days ago (edited)

...and sometimes you CAN'T afford to move. You can't find a decent job. You certainly can't build a meaningful savings. You can't find an apartment. And if you have kids? That makes it even harder. I've been trying to move for years, but the conditions have to be perfect to do it responsibly. The American Dream died for me once I realized that no matter the choices I made, my four years of college, my years of saving and working hard....I do NOT have upward mobility. For me, the American Dream is dead. I've been finding a new dream. The human dream.

B Sim , 3 days ago

This is a very truncated view. You need to expand your thinking. WHY has the system been so overtly corrupted? It's globalism that has pushed all this economic pressure on the millennials and the middle class. It was the elites, working with corrupt politicians, that rigged the game so the law benefited them.

This is all reversible. History shows that capitalism can be properly regulated in a way that benefits all. The answer to the problem is to bring back those rules, not implement socialism.

Trump has:

The result? before COVID hit the average American worker saw the first inflation adjusted wage increase in over 30 years!

This is why the fake news and hollywood continue to propagandize the masses into hating Trump.

Trump is implementing economic policies good for the people and bad for the elites

Sound Author , 3 days ago

The dream was never alive in the first place. It was always bullshit.

Julia Galaudet , 4 days ago

Maybe it's time for a maximum wage.

Scott Clark , 4 days ago

Private equity strips the country for years! It's the AMERICAN DREAM!!!

Siri Erieott , 4 days ago

A dream for 1%, a nightmare for 99%.

andrew kubiak , 4 days ago

Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money.

[Jun 16, 2020] Krystal Ball: The American dream is dead, good riddance

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Debt-free is the new American dream ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.

About Rising: Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen.

It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.

Owen Cousino , 4 days ago

Debt-free is the new American dream

poppaDehorn , 4 days ago

Got my degree just as the great recession hit. Couldn't find real work for 3 years, not using my degree... But it was work. now after 8 years, im laid off. I did everything "right". do good in school, go to college, get a job...

I've never been fired in my life. its always, "Your contract is up" "Sorry we cant afford to keep you", "You can make more money collecting! but we'll give a recommendation if you find anything."

Now I'm back where i started... only now I have new house and a family to support... no pressure.

[Jun 14, 2020] Anonymous Berkeley Professor Shreds BLM Injustice Narrative With Damning Facts And Logic

Highly recommended!
A strange mixture of Black nationalism with Black Bolshevism is a very interesting and pretty alarming phenomenon. It proved to be a pretty toxic mix. But it is far from being new. We saw how the Eugène Pottier famous song International lines "We have been naught we shall be all." and "Servile masses arise, arise." unfolded before under Stalinism in Soviet Russia.
We also saw Lysenkoism in Academia before, and it was not a pretty picture. Some Russian/Soviet scientists such as Academician Vavilov paid with their life for the sin of not being politically correct. From this letter it is clear that the some departments already reached the stage tragically close to that situation.
Lysenkoism was "politically correct" (a term invented by Lenin) because it was consistent with the broader Marxist doctrine. Marxists wanted to believe that heredity had a limited role even among humans, and that human characteristics changed by living under socialism would be inherited by subsequent generations of humans. Thus would be created the selfless new Soviet man
"Lysenko was consequently embraced and lionized by the Soviet media propaganda machine. Scientists who promoted Lysenkoism with faked data and destroyed counterevidence were favored with government funding and official recognition and award. Lysenko and his followers and media acolytes responded to critics by impugning their motives, and denouncing them as bourgeois fascists resisting the advance of the new modern Marxism." The Disgraceful Episode Of Lysenkoism Brings Us Global Warming Theory
Notable quotes:
"... In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. ..."
"... any cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques. ..."
"... The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians ..."
"... Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries. ..."
"... If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? ..."
"... Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number. ..."
"... The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is. ..."
"... The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively. ..."
"... Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession. ..."
"... Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations. ..."
"... The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed. ..."
"... MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing? ..."
Jun 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Dear profs X, Y, Z

I am one of your colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley. I have met you both personally but do not know you closely, and am contacting you anonymously, with apologies. I am worried that writing this email publicly might lead to me losing my job, and likely all future jobs in my field.

In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them.

In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.

Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or 'Uncle Toms'. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders . Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.

The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians . Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.

A counternarrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email. Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates' undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black .

Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict . This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries.

And yet, I see my department uncritically reproducing a narrative that diminishes black agency in favor of a white-centric explanation that appeals to the department's apparent desire to shoulder the 'white man's burden' and to promote a narrative of white guilt .

If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? This is a funny sort of white supremacy. Even Jewish Americans are incarcerated less than gentile whites. I think it's fair to say that your average white supremacist disapproves of Jews. And yet, these alleged white supremacists incarcerate gentiles at vastly higher rates than Jews. None of this is addressed in your literature. None of this is explained, beyond hand-waving and ad hominems. "Those are racist dogwhistles". "The model minority myth is white supremacist". "Only fascists talk about black-on-black crime", ad nauseam.

These types of statements do not amount to counterarguments: they are simply arbitrary offensive classifications, intended to silence and oppress discourse . Any serious historian will recognize these for the silencing orthodoxy tactics they are , common to suppressive regimes, doctrines, and religions throughout time and space. They are intended to crush real diversity and permanently exile the culture of robust criticism from our department.

Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM's problematic view of history , and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position , which is no small number.

I personally don't dare speak out against the BLM narrative , and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriat, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.

The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is.

No discussion is permitted for nonblack victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of nonblack violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders . Home invaders like George Floyd . For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald's and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.

The claim that black intraracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn't led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively.

Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices - as do Nigerian Americans , who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department . The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession.

Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities , an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades ; the 'systemic racism' there was built by successive Democrat administrations.

The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence . This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles . I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you.

The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes , carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.

There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called 'race hustlers': hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship.

Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth , we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist.

MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today . We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing?

As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children , playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors .

And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood . A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise . Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist . A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species.

I'm ashamed of my department. I would say that I'm ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It's hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.

It shouldn't affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color . My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM , that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating . No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites.

No message will more surely devastate their futures, especially if whites run out of guilt, or indeed if America runs out of whites. If this had been done to Japanese Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Chinese Americans, then Chinatown and Japantown would surely be no different to the roughest parts of Baltimore and East St. Louis today. The History department of UCB is now an integral institutional promulgator of a destructive and denigrating fallacy about the black race.

I hope you appreciate the frustration behind this message. I do not support BLM. I do not support the Democrat grievance agenda and the Party's uncontested capture of our department. I do not support the Party co-opting my race, as Biden recently did in his disturbing interview, claiming that voting Democrat and being black are isomorphic. I condemn the manner of George Floyd's death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end .

I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free. play_arrow

LEEPERMAX , 12 seconds ago

Donations to Black Lives Matter are funneled through a Democratic fundraising group ...

seryanhoj , 36 seconds ago

This guy is not playing by the rules of US political discourse. His sins are:

1). Using real facts

2). Making logical deductions from the facts

3) Making assertions not in line with the script from his party, social group or race.

There is no future for such a man. We are in a time which prefers hysteria , lies and epic partisanship

simpson seers , 36 minutes ago

white muricans aren't racist, they kill equally....

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/01/u-s-regime-has-killed-20-30-million-people-since-world-war-ii/

https://www.fort-russ.com/2020/02/former-american-drone-operator-us-military-worse-than-nazis/

Aubiekong , 36 minutes ago

Blacks will always be poor and fucked in life when 75% of black infants are born to single most likely welfare dependent mothers... And the more amount of welfare monies spent to combat poverty the worse this problem will grow...

taketheredpill , 37 minutes ago

Anonymous....

1) Is he really a Professor at Berkeley?

2) Is he really a Professor anywhere?

3) Is he really Black?

4) Is he really a He?

LEEPERMAX , 44 minutes ago

BLM is an international organization. They solicit tax free charitable donations via ActBlue. ActBlue then funnels billions of dollars to DNC campaigns. This is a violation of campaign finance law and allows foreign influence in American elections.

CRM114 , 44 minutes ago

I've pointed this out before:

In 2015, after the Freddie Gray death Officers were hung out to dry by the Mayor of Baltimore (yes, her, the Chair of the DNC in 2016), active policing in Baltimore basically stopped. They just count the bodies now. The clearance rate for homicides has dropped to, well, we don't know because the Police refuse to say, but it appears to be under 15%. The homicide rate jumped 50% almost immediately and has stayed there. 95% of homicides are black on black.

The Baltimore Sun keeps excellent records, so you can check this all for yourself.

Looking at killings by cops; if we take the worst case and exclude all the ones where the victim was armed and independent witnesses state fired first, and assume all the others were cop murders, then there's about 1 cop murder every 3 years, which means that since has now stopped and the homicide rate's gone up...

For every black man now not murdered by a cop, 400 more black men are murdered by other black men.

taketheredpill , 46 minutes ago

"As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black ."

It is the RATIO of UNARMED BLACK MALES KILLED to UNARMED WHITE MALES KILLED in RELATION TO % OF POPULATION. RATIO.

RATIO. UNARMED.

BLACK % POPULATION 13% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 37%

WHITE % POPULATION 74% BLACK % UNARMED MEN KILLED 45%

Is there a trend of MORE Black people being killed by police?

No. But there is an underlying difference in the numbers that is bad.

>>>>> As of 2018, Unarmed Blacks made up 36% of all people UNARMED killed by police. But black people make up 13% of the (unarmed) population.

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

UNARMED KILLINGS BY POLICE

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 36 19 31

2016 18 9 20

2017 19 12 24

2018(Apr) 7 1 10

2019 15 11 25

YEAR Black Hispanic White

2015 42% 22% 36%

2016 38% 19% 43%

2017 35% 22% 44%

2018(Apr) 39% 6% 56%

2019 29% 22% 49%

AVG 37% 18% 45%

% POPN 13% 16% 72%

ARMED > 18 YRS OLD TOY WEAPON

Black Hispanic White

2019 5 3 11

26% 16% 58%

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/fatal-police-shootings-of-unarmed-people-have-significantly-declined-experts-say/2018/05/03/d5eab374-4349-11e8-8569-26fda6b404c7_story.html

radical-extremist , 47 minutes ago

There's a massive Silent Majority of Americans , including black Americans, that are fed up with this absurd nonsense.

While there's a Vocal Minority of Americans : including Democrats, the media, corporations and race hustlers, that wish to continue to promulgate a FALSE NARRATIVE into perpetuity...because it's a lucrative industry.

Gaius Konstantine , 57 minutes ago

A short while ago I had an ex friend get into it with me about how Europeans (whites), were the most destructive race on the planet, responsible for all the world's evil. I pointed out to him that Genghis Khan, an Asian, slaughtered millions at a time when technology made this a remarkable feat. I reminded him the Japanese gleefully killed millions in China and that the American Indian Empires ran 24/7 human sacrifices with some also practicing cannibalism. His poor libtard brain couldn't handle the fact that evil is a human trait, not restricted to a particular race and we parted (good riddance)

But along with evil, there is accomplishment. Europeans created Empires and pursued science, The Asians also participated in these pursuits and even the Aztec and Inca built marvelous cities and massive states spanning vast stretches of territory. The only race that accomplished little save entering the stone age is the Africans. Are we supposed to give them a participation trophy to make them feel better? Is this feeling of inferiority what is truly behind their constant rage?

Police in the US have been militarized for a long time now and kill many more unarmed whites than they do blacks, where is the outrage? I'm getting the feeling that this isn't really about George, just an excuse to do what savages do.

lwilland1012 , 1 hour ago

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies."

George Orwell

You know that the reason he is anonymous is that Berkley would strip him of his teaching credentials and there would be multiple attempts on his life...

Ignatius , 1 hour ago

" The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people . There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution. Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is."

PhD thesis, right there. ..

Templar X , 1 hour ago

Ex-fed who trained Buffalo cops says shoved activist 'got away lightly'

By Craig McCarthy

June 12, 2020 | 12:31pm

A former fed who trained the police in Buffalo believes the elderly protester who was hospitalized after a cop pushed him to the ground "got away lightly" and "took a dive," according to a report.

The retired FBI agent, Gary DiLaura, told The Sun he thinks there's no chance Buffalo officers will be convicted of assault over the now-viral video showing the longtime peace activist Martin Gugino fall and left bleeding on the ground.

" I can't believe that they didn't deck him. If that would have been a 40-year-old guy going up there, I guarantee you they'd have been all over him, " DiLaura said.

" He absolutely got away lightly. He got a light push and in my humble opinion, he took a dive and the dive backfired because he hit his head. Maybe it'll knock a little bit of sense into him, " added the former fed, who trained Buffalo police on firearms and defensive tactics, according to the report...

https://nypost.com/2020/06/12/ex-fed-who-trained-buffalo-cops-elderly-activist-got-away-lightly/

NanoRap , 17 minutes ago

It's a great brainwashing process, which goes very slow[ly] and is divided [into] four basic stages. The first one [is] demoralization ; it takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years which [is required] to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy, exposed to the ideology of the enemy. In other words, Marxist-Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged, or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism (American patriotism).

The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties (drop-outs or half-baked intellectuals) are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. T hey are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern. You cannot change their mind[s], even if you expose them to authentic information, even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words, these people... the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To [rid] society of these people, you need another twenty or fifteen years to educate a new generation of patriotically-minded and common sense people, who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.

Yuri Bezmenov

American Psycho , 16 minutes ago

This article was one of the most articulate and succinct rebuttals to the BLM political power grab. I too have been calling these "allies" useful idiots and I am happy to hear this professor doing the same. Bravo professor!

[Jun 11, 2020] The silver lining in the dark cloud: the COVID Crisis Canceled Many Graduation Speeches. Thank Goodness...

Jun 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

As with allmost everything that occurs as a university, the purpose of the commencement speech is not to provide a service to the students, but to make the institution's faculty and staff feel important...

...It should be noted that most students who attend commencement ceremonies couldn't care less who the celebrity speaker is. Most of them are there because they like the ritualistic aspects of it, and virtually no one remembers what is said at commencement speeches in any case.

The fact that most students (i.e., paying customers) just want to "feel graduated" by going to these ceremonies should be a tip to the faculty that speakers should be non-controversial. But, because these administrators want attention and influence, they often insist on bringing in controversial political figures and causing even more grief for their customers, as if four years of over-priced classes and social conditioning wasn't enough.

The fact colleges and universities couldn't care less about the people who pay the bills was reinforced all the more this year when most universities shut down as a result of the COVID-19 panic. Most higher education institutions insisted on charging students full price even though "college" was reduced to series of Zoom meetings and online assignments. Obviously, that's not what most students paid for. College administrators, of course, were adamant that the students keep paying through the nose for services not rendered

...

Fortunately, some of the more intelligent university trustees have already done away with it altogether. Cep notes:

As Jason Song of The Los Angeles Times noticed, current Washington and Lee President Kenneth Ruscio explained in 2009: "The wise and fiscally prudent Board determined that in future years our graduates and families should rest easy knowing that if they had to endure a worthless Commencement address, it would at least be inexpensive," meaning the president gives the only speech.


Tennessee Patriot , 4 minutes ago

Best example I ever heard of describing a graduation ceremony:

Imagine you are sitting there in the hot sun, wrapped in a shower curtain, listening to someone read a NYC Phone book for 3 hours.

I had to do that for HS, two Bachelor's Degrees, a Masters, two daughters & two out of 7 Grandbabies.

No thanks. Highly overrated ********. If it was up to me, they can mail it to me and lets go straight to the party afterwards.

Handful of Dust , 1 hour ago

" I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Joe Biden, referring to the Kenyan at the beginning of the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Jan. 31, 2007.

"He's like magic. Some day they'll be calling him The Magic *****!"

Yen Cross , 1 hour ago

The longer these kids are away from their indoctrination camps, the better.

Bear , 1 hour ago

"As many colleges struggle with tight budgets" ... what a crook, they have so much money they can pay their professors 250,000 to toe the line and they a support staff of thousands ... America's most corrup institution (after the FED)

[Jun 11, 2020] History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce: The replay on the new level of slogans Viva proletarian science. Down with Bourgeoisie lackeys in academia

Politicized science makes a strong comeback.
Notable quotes:
"... Who is Amy Siskind going to call to arrest Tucker Carlson and bring him to a tribunal? The defunded police? ..."
Jun 11, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Look at what's happening to Harald Uhlig, a prominent University of Chicago economist, who posted:

Harald Uhlig @haralduhlig

Too bad, but # blacklivesmatter per its core organization @ Blklivesmatter just torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of # defundthepolice : "We call for a national defunding of police." Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying,

603 11:43 PM - Jun 8, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

281 people are talking about this

Uhlig now faces a social media campaign, led by a prominent University of Michigan economist, to get him booted as editor of the Journal of Political Economy . Here is another leader of the professional lynch mob:

Max Auffhammer @auffhammer

I am calling for the resignation of Harald Uhlig ( @ haralduhlig ) as the editor of the Journal of Political Economy. If you would like to add your name to this call, it is posted at https:// forms.gle/9uiJVqCAXBDBg6 8N9 . It will be delivered by end of day 6/10 (tomorrow).

Letter calling for the resignation of Harald Uhlig as Editor of the Journal of Political Economy

To: The editors of the Journal of Political Economy and President of The University of Chicago Press We, the undersigned, call for the resignation of Harald Uhlig, the Bruce Allen and Barbara...

docs.google.com
413 5:34 PM - Jun 9, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy

216 people are talking about this

These are academics.


Jack 19 hours ago

Amy Siskind sounds like a Pol Pot in waiting.

Civis Romanus Sum 19 hours ago

There has been a rash of firings of editors this week. One interesting thing - judging by the publications listed and by the cringing, groveling apologies given by these editors, they are liberals who are being eaten by up-and-coming radicals. It's like the liberals had no idea what hit them.

Wilfred 18 hours ago

I used to worry the future would be like "1984". Then the Soviet Union fell, things seemed OK tor awhile. After 9/11, I worried the future would be like "Khartoum". But now, it looks like it is going to be a weird combination of "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers" and "Planet of the Apes".

Seoulite 18 hours ago

Now seeing reports on Twitter that the Seattle Autonomous Zone now has its first warlord. America truly is a diverse place. You have hippie communes, religious sects, semi-autonomous Indian reservations, a gerontocracy in Washington, and now your very own Africa style fiefdom complete with warlord.

I really am sorry. This must be so depressing to watch as an American.

RBH 18 hours ago • edited

Arizona State journalism school retracts offer to new dean because of an "insensitive" tweets and comments - by insensitive we mean, not sufficiently zealous and not hip to the full-spectrum wokeness. Online student petitions follow, and you know the rest of the story.

This is madness. The true late stages of a revolution where they start eating their own.

https://www.azcentral.com/s...

SatirevFlesti 18 hours ago

Those tweets above (and countless others like them) just demonstrate the absolute intellectual and moral rot that now reigns in academia. I saw one yesterday by an attorney for a prominent activist organization who said he couldn't understand why the Constitution isn't interpreted as "requiring" the demolition of the Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia, and others like it. I'm having a harder time understanding how he ever graduated from an accredited law school.

Forget "defund the police," perhaps "defund universities" would be the best place to start healing what ails contemporary culture. The rot started there, not only with the "anti-racist" (as opposed to "mere" non-racism) cant, it with gender ideology (Judith Butler), Cultural Marxism, etc. When "pc" first became a common term in the early '90s I thought it passing fad. We now see the result of the decades long radical march through the institutions bearing fruit, and it's more strange and rotten fruit than ever.

Raskolnik 17 hours ago

Woke leftists are the people who believe in the myth of aggregate Black intellectual parity with Whites and Asians the least. That's why they constantly do absolutely everything in their power to juke the statistics, like allowing Black students to not have to take exams, which is really just an extension of this same principle at work in "affirmative action."

lohengrin 17 hours ago • edited

The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge--100,000,000 people were murdered in the name of extreme egalitarianism across the 20th century. When leftism gets out of control, tragedy happens.

I have no idea why you believe hard totalitarian methods aren't coming. I'm not sure what the answer is. We can expect no help from the Republican party. That much is certain. A disturbing number of people have not yet awoken from their dogmatic slumber.

Mr. Karamazov 17 hours ago

People are going to have to stand up to these bullies. If you back down they will just beat you up again tomorrow.

Fyodor D 16 hours ago

Who is Amy Siskind going to call to arrest Tucker Carlson and bring him to a tribunal? The defunded police?

It seems to me that the left has gone about this bassackwards. First you ashcan the Second Amendment, THEN you take away their First Amendment Rights. You most certainly do not go around silencing people with political correctness, then go around announcing your intention to kulak an entire group of very well-armed people. But that's just my opinion...

Rod, I disagree that a "soft totalitarianism" is what awaits us if these barbarians are allowed to run around unopposed. The notion of human rights is a product of the religion they despise, so I see no reason why they would respect this ideal when dealing with vile white wreckers of the multi-cultural utopia they have envisioned.

[Jun 04, 2020] The Gig Economy: WTF? Precarity and Work under Neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
"The gig economy is just a way for corporations to cut the cost of employees, by turning them into subcontractors. They blur the line between employee and subcontractors by having tight rules like an employer, and since most people have a employee mentality, the company nurtures the idea that they somehow are more like employees, then they get mostly good workers, working hard for very little compensation. The Gig economy is just another sign of our failing way of life."
Notable quotes:
"... The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in ..."
"... Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs. ..."
Jun 04, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Unlike most developments in the employment market, the Gig Economy has received a great deal of press attention and established itself firmly as a point of reference in the popular consciousness. In recent years, increasing numbers of people have turned to services such as Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo, Just Eat, TaskRabbit and Fiverr as either a side hustle or their main source of income.

Following on from my video on neoliberalism and neoliberal capitalism, in today's episode of What the Theory?, we look deeper into how the gig economy (or sharing economy) works and what differentiates it from the rest of the economy. We ask whether the gig economy is truly an opportunity for those wanting a more flexible work arrangement or whether it is simply a means for multinational corporations to circumvent hard-won workers rights and labour laws.

Finally, we also consider whether there might be some historical precedents to the sharing economy in the early industrial period and look at some of the challenges facing those attempting to organise Deliveroo riders, Uber drivers and other gig economy workers into trade unions in order to negotiate for better rates of pay and conditions.

If you'd like to support my channel then please do check out my Patreon page at http://patreon.com/tomnicholas


Simple Things , 5 months ago

Unregulated capitalism? You mean like child labor and passing the hat when a worker dies in an accident? They don't want workers. They want people who are desperate.

Tom Nicholas , 5 months ago

Well, how far it all goes is something that remains to be seen. I don't think we'll get as far as child labour but the curation of dependence is something that's definitely in progress.

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

They don't want people who are desperate, they want slaves.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Tom Nicholas but if they could they would have kids gigging. The gig economy is a scam, I'd rather pay more for an Uber and have unionized drivers.

Tyler Potts , 4 months ago

Daxton Lyon except the majority of entrepreneurs and business owners didn't come Into their business ownership via merit. You are forgetting that most of these people are born into a situation where they have access to capital, access to legal services and education. Sure there are a minority of people who make it from nothing but that number is diminishingly small.

John Jourdan , 3 months ago

I notice not one of you mentioned immigrants. lol

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "You don't like the gig? Do something else." Too bad the economy is currently setup to where around half of individuals are limited to gig and don't have the resources and money to do anything else.

EYTPS , 2 months ago

Daxton Lyon "If any of you did, your panzy responses regarding corporate greed would be squashed!" No, they wouldn't, but keep performing those red herrings and hasty, extremely-worshipping generalizations about entrepreneurship to distract from the point; I'm sure they'll catch on.

Justin Goretoy , 5 months ago

Neoliberalism is the religious belief that markets are magical and will regulate themselves.

User Name , 4 months ago

The gig economy would be great if we lived in a society where health care is free, food is cheap, housing is common, and nobody suffers from economic Issues Which is not what we are living in

memeoverlord 2010 , 5 months ago

Neo-liberals - we support freedom and stuff. Removes mask Is actually corporation lapdogs.

[Jun 02, 2020] Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge

Jun 02, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

  1. anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country.

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

THE WAY BACK -- THE ONLY WAY BACK -- BOTH ECONOMICALLY AND POLITICALLY (pardon me if I take up a lot of space -- almost everyone else has said most of what they want to say)

EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be -- $15/hr.
http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/who-makes-15-per-hour/

The minimum wage itself should only mark the highest wage that we presume firms with highest labor costs can pay* -- like fast food with 25% labor costs. Lower labor cost businesses -- e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!

That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.

Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%. Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%. Keeping the math easy here -- I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.

Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit! Don't forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers -- reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants -- the exception that actually proves the rule).

Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
* * * * * *

If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act -- mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced "turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit" by the date of the enactment -- and for all time from thereafter. Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2723/text

Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now. Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces -- and vice versa.
* * * * * *

Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it -- some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains. How else can you explain the perfect pitch's neglect. I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: "Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America", that I might not get one taker. FWIW.

Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street -- just to get a reaction -- is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about. Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.

Here is Andrew Strom's take:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

[see just below for last link -- can't lay more than three at a time :-)]

Denis Drew , June 1, 2020 10:17 am

*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today's per capita income.
https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=196801&year2=202001

rick shapiro , June 1, 2020 10:46 am

econ101 should tell you that the eitc is a subsidy to the corporations that hire droves of low-paid workers, with meagre spillover to the workers themselves. More effective and persistent improvements to social justice would come from significant increases to the minimum wage, societal support to unionization, and other efforts to increase the threshold of what is considered by society to be the bare minimum of compensation for work.
The concomitant decline in the value of the dollar and the terms of trade would be small compared to the reduction in inequality.

Bernard , June 1, 2020 5:21 pm

such a third world country as America , riots are the only way to get heard for some. the Elite have been looting us blind for decades, the Covid bail outs to Corporations by the Elites in DC as the latest installment of Capitalist theft know as Business as Usual.
it's all about the money.
sick,sick country praising capitalism over everything else.
the comfortable white people are afraid of losing what they have. Divide and Conquer is the Republican and now Democratic way they run America.

to the rich go the spoils. the rest, well. screw them .

the Lee Atwater idea to use coded language when St. Reagan implemented the destruction of America society, coincided with St. Thatcher's destruction of England.

the White elites post Civil War in the South knew how to divide the poor whites and the poor blacks.

that is how we got to where we are now.

Did you see any of the bankers go to jail for the 2008 ripoff?
not one and they got bonuses for their "deeds."

America, such a nation of Grifters, Thieves and Scam artist. like Pelosi , McConnel and all the people in DC and the Business men who sold out our country and the American people for "small change".

God forbid Corporations should ever have to pay for the damage they have done to America and its" people. My RIGHT to Greed trumps your right to clean air, water, safe neighborhoods, says Capitalism!

the Rich get richer and the poor get poorer, Everybody Knows!!!

But let's not focus on things lest some uncomfortable truths.

and wonder why riots happen, Not at All!

[Jun 01, 2020] It didn't happen overnight

Jun 01, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

Dan Crawford | May 31, 2020 9:12 am

US/Global Economics by Ken Melvin

3 rd World

--

It didn't happen overnight.

The nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in, say, Southeast Asian, African, South American, countries, invariably refer to the tenuous hold on life of their working poor; they don't really have a job. Each day they rise and go forth looking for work that pays enough that they and their family can continue to subsist. It is, in some countries, a long-standing problem.

Sound too familiar? Sometime in the late 80s (??) Americans began to see day labors line up at Home Depot and Lowe's lots in numbers not seen since The Great Depression. Manufacturing Corporations began subbing out their work to sub-contractors, otherwise known as employees without benefits; Construction Contractors subbed out construction work to these employees without benefits; Engineering Firms subbed out engineering to these employees without benefits; Landscapers' workers were now sub-contractors/independent contractors; Here, in the SF Bay Area, time and again, we saw vans loads of undocumented Hispanics under a 'Labor Contractor' come in from the Central Valley to build condos; the white Contractor for the project didn't have a single employee; none of the workers got a W-2. Recall watching, sometime in the 90s (??), a familiar, well dressed, rotund guest from Wall Street, on the PBS News Hour, forcefully proclaiming to the TV audience:

American workers are going to have to learn to compete with the Chinese; Civil Service employees, factory employees, are all going to have to work for less

All this subcontracting, independent contractors, was a scam, a scam meant to circumvent paying going wages and benefits, to enhance profit margins; a scam that transferred more wealth to the top. Meanwhile back at The Ranch, after the H1B Immigration Act of 1990, Microsoft could hire programmers from India for one-half the cost of a citizen programmer. Half of Bill Gates' fortune was resultant these labor savings; the other half was made off those not US Citizens. Taking a cue, Banks, Bio-Techs, some City and State Governments began subcontracting out their programming to H1Bs. Often, the subcontractors/labor contractors (often themselves immigrants) providing the programmers, held the programmers' passports/visas for security.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, friends of Bush/Cheney made fortunes on clean up contracts they subbed out for next to nothing; the independent/subcontractor scam was now officially governmentally sanctioned.

By about 2000 we began to hear the term gig-workers applied to these employees without benefits. Uber appeared in 2007 to be followed by Lift. Both are scams based on paying less than prevailing wages, on not providing worker benefits,

These days, the nightly news, when talking about the effect of the pandemic on the populace in America, shows footage of Food Banks in California with lines 2! miles long. Many of those waiting in these lines didn't have a real job before; they were gig-workers; they can't apply for Unemployment Benefits. It is estimated that 1.6 million American workers (1% of the workforce) are gig-workers; they don't have a real job. That 1% is in addition to the 16 million American workers (10% of the workforce) that are independent contractors. Of the more than 40 million currently unemployed Americans, some 17 million are either gig-workers or subcontractors/independent contractors. All of these are scams meant to transfer more wealth to the top. All of these are scams with American Workers the victims; scams, in a race to the bottom.


Denis Drew , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

Ken,

Read this by the SEIU counsel Andrew Strom -- and tell me what you think:
https://onlabor.org/why-not-hold-union-representation-elections-on-a-regular-schedule/

Democrats in the so called battle ground states would clean up at the polls with this. Why do you think those states strayed? It was because Obama and Hillary had no idea what they really needed. Voters had no idea what they SPECIFICALLY needed either -- UNIONS! They had been deunionized so thoroughly for so long that they THEMSELVES no long knew what they were missing (frogs in the slowly boiling pot).

In 1988 Jesse Jackson took the Democratic primary in Michigan with 54% against Dukakis and Gephardt. Obama beat Wall Street Romney and red-white-and-blue McCain in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan. But nobody told these voters -- because nobody seems to remember -- what they really needed. These voter just knew by 2016 that Democrats had not what they needed and looked elsewhere -- anywhere else!

Strom presents an easy as can be, on-step-back treatment that should go down oh, so smoothly and sweetly. What do you think?

  • Matthew young , May 31, 2020 10:51 am

    Not overnight, but a few days in 1972 when Nixon fouled the defaults and none of us knew how badly at the time.

    Reseting prices takes a long time, it is not magic and Nixon had fouled the precious metals market, overnight. That and all the commodities market needed a restructure to adapt to our new regime.

    Our way out was to export price instability to Asia. My suggestion this time is to think through the math a bit before we all suddenly freak and do another over nighter. Think about how one might spread the partial default over a 15 year period.

    All of us, stuck with 40 years of flat earth economic planning without a clue. Now we have a year at best to nail down the Lucas criteria and get a default done with some science behind it.

    I doubt it. I figure we will all go to monetary meetup with our insurance contracts ready to be confirmed. That is impossible and Trump will be stuck doing a volatile, overnight partial default, like Nixon.,

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:02 pm

    Dennis,

    The states you mentioned have overwhelmingly voted Rep for the last 3 decades in their state races. One of them has instituted right to work laws, and the other two have come very close to doing the same.

    The white working class cares nothing about unions at all. They have been voting against them for decades. It's why union rights and membership has deteriorated for 5 decades.

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 12:32 pm

    EM:

    Notably, I had posted the 2016 presidential election numbers numbers for MI, PA, and WI which resulted in an "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" and gave th election to Trump. The "anyone but Trump or Clinton vote" resulted in a historical high for the "others" category and was anywhere from 3 to 6 times higher than previously experienced in other presidential elections. It also resulted in those three states casting Electoral votes for a Republican presidential candidate since 1992 – MI, 1988 – PA, and 1988 – WI. While this does defeat your comment above on those states voting Republican, it does not take away from your other comment on Sarandon. People punished themselves with Trump in spite of every obvious clue he demonstrated of being a loon. In this case the white working class voted against themselves for Trump and those of Sarandon's ilk helped them along by voting for "others."

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 12:45 pm

    Run, I stated in "state elections".

    Y'know one other thing I have seen in MI voting is that the amount of people who voted did not cast a voted for President also was the highest ever. Thinking these are the same people like Sarandon. It was close to 90,000 in MI.

    "87,810: Number of voters this election who cast a ballot but did not cast a vote for president. That compares to 49,840 undervotes for president in 2012.

    5 percent: Proportion of voters who opted for a third-party candidate in this election, compared to 1 percent in 2012."

    https://www.mlive.com/politics/2016/11/michigans_presidential_electio.html

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 1:58 pm

    EM:

    I am going to put the numbers out here for Presidential Election 2012 and 2016. It is easier to look at them and the percentages.

    Michigan Presidential Vote 2012 and 2016

    In this site, you can look year to year on the vote. US Election Atlas

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:04 pm

    Denis

    Thanks for your comment and the link. Wow! Where to start, huh?

    SEIU was a player from the get go, but I don't want to go there just now.

    Before Reagan, there was the first rust belt move to the non-union south. Why was the south so anti-union? I think this stuff is engendered from infancy and most of us are incapable of thinking anew when it comes to stuff our parents 'taught' us. MLK was the best thing that ever happened to the dirt-road poor south, yet they hated him and they hated the very unions that might have lifted them up. They did seem to take pleasure in the yanks' loss of jobs.

    I think the Reagan era was prelude to what is going on now, i.e., going backward while yelling whee look at me go. No doubt, Reagan turned union members against their own unions. But, the genesis of demise probably lay with automation and the early offshoring to Mexico. By Reagan, the car plants were losing jobs to Toyota and Honda and automation. By 1990, car plants that had previously employed 5,000, now automated, produced more cars employing only 1200. At the time, much of the nation's wealth was still derived from car production.

    Skipping forward a bit, the democrats blew it for years with all their talk about the 'middle-class' without realizing it was the 'disappearing middle-class'. They ignored the poor working-class vote and lost election after election.

    I've come to not like the term labor, think it affords capital an undeserved status, though much diminished, I think thought all workers would be better off in a union. Otherwise, as we are witnessing, there is no parity between workers and wealth; we are in a race to the bottom with the wealth increasingly go to the top.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:15 pm

    Matthew – thanks for your comment

    I think that we are into a transition (about 45 yrs into) as great as the industrial revolution. We, as probably those poor souls of the 18th and 19th centuries did, are floundering, unable to come to terms with what is going on.

    I also think that those such as the Kochs have a good grasp of what is going on and are moving to protect themselves and their class.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 1:21 pm

    EMichael, thanks for the comment

    Are you implying that the politicians are way behind the curve? If so, I think that you are right.

    Let me share what I was thinking last night about thinking:

    Descartes' problem was that he desperately wanted to make philosophy work within the framework of his religion, Catholicism. Paul Krugman desperately wants to make economics all work within the Holy Duality of Capitalism and Free Markets. Even Joe Stiglitz can't step out of this text. All things being possible, it is possible that either could come up with a solution to today's economic problems that would fit within the Two; but the odds are not good. Better to think anew.

    We see politicians try and try to find solutions for today's problems from within their own dogmas/ideologies. Even if they can't, they persist, they still try to impose these dogmas/ideologies in the desperate hope they might work if only applied to a greater degree. How else explain any belief that markets could anticipate and respond to pandemics? That markets could best respond to housing demand?

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:48 pm

    Ken Melvin,

    Interesting and fine writing.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:49 pm

    https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1267060950026326018

    Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

    Glad to see Noah Smith highlighting this all-too-relevant work by the late Alberto Alesina 1/

    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-30/racism-is-the-biggest-reason-u-s-safety-net-is-so-weak

    Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak
    Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last week, found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.

    7:50 AM · May 31, 2020

    The Alesina/Glaeser/Sacerdote paper on why America doesn't have a European-style welfare state -- racism -- had a big impact on my own thinking 2/

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism was treated as "shrill" and partisan. Can we now admit the obvious? 3/

  • EMichael , May 31, 2020 1:53 pm

    Ken,

    Half the politicians are behind the curve. When George Wallace showed the GOP how to win elections (Don't ever get outniggerred) the Dem Party failed to see and react to it. Then the Kochs of the world stepped in with the John Birch society (fromerly the KKK) and started playing race against class, which resulted in the white working class supporting anti-labor pols and legislation.

    The election of Obama caused the racists to go totally off the reservation with the Tea Party (formerly the KKK and the John Birch Society) and lead us to where we are now.

    Of course, the corporate world followed the blueprint.

    Way past time for the Dem Party to start attacking on a constant basis the racist GOP. And also to start appealing more to workers, though the 2016 platform certainly did that to a large degree, and the 2020 platform looks to be mush more supportive of labor than ever.

    "It's a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.

    If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition.

    A big minimum wage increase

    Biden's commitment to raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $15 an hour is one of the least talked-about plans at stake in the 2020 election.

    In the 2016 cycle when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders disagreed about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the debate was the subject of extensive coverage. By the 2020 cycle, all the major Democratic candidates were on board, so it didn't come up much. But it's significant that this is no longer controversial in Democratic Party circles. If the party is broadly comfortable with the wage hike as a matter of both politics and substance, Democrats in Congress are likely to make it happen if it's at all possible.
    Noji Olaigbe, left, from the Fight for $15 minimum wage movement, speaks during a McDonald's workers' strike in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 23, 2019. David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

    The $15-an-hour minimum wage increase is also a signature issue for Biden. He endorsed New York's version of it in the fall of 2015, back when he was vice president and his boss Barack Obama was pushing a smaller federal raise.

    A big minimum wage hike polls well, it aligns with Biden's thematic emphasis on "the dignity of work," and it's a topic on which he's genuinely been a leader. It reflects his political sensibilities, which are moderate but in a decidedly more populist mode than Obama's technocratic one.

    Biden has a big Plan A to support organized labor, and a Plan B that's still consequential and considerably more plausible politically.

    Beyond a general disposition to be a good coalition partner to organized labor, the centerpiece of his union agenda is support for the PRO Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

    That bill, were it to become law, would be the biggest victory for unions and collective bargaining since the end of World War II -- overriding state "right to work" laws, barring mandatory anti-union briefings from management during organizing campaigns, imposing much more meaningful financial penalties on companies that illegally fire workers for pro-union activity, and allowing organizing through a streamlined card check process. Separately, Biden and House Democrats have lined up behind a Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act that would bolster public sector workers' collective bargaining rights. "

    https://www.vox.com/2020/5/26/21257648/joe-biden-climate-economy-tax-plans

    One of the big issues here is Biden not committing to killing the filibuster, in addition to Dem Senators not in agreement either. That would be a disaster for any legislation.

    Makes sense not to run on ending the filibuster now, as there is a chance trump can win and teh GOP keeps the Senate. But if the opposite happens and Biden wins and Dems take the Senate, they will have to pivot quickly to getting rid of the filibuster. Apply any and all possible pressure to those Dem Senators who do not agree with that. Threaten them with losing committee posts; primary opponents; the kitchen sink.

    Yes, it poses a risk in the event the Reps get a trifecta again, but it is time to flood progressive legislation into law, and getting rid of the filibuster is the only way.

    And if they can hit the trifecta and bring this platform to fruition, they won't have to worry about a GOP trifecta for a long, long time. Possibly forever.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 1:56 pm

    https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    September, 2001

    Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?
    By Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote

    Abstract

    European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:07 pm

    This dynamic is not limited to low-skill jobs. I have seen it at work in electronics engineering. When I was a sprat, job shoppers got an hourly wage nearly twice that of their company peers, because they had no benefits or long-term employment. Today, job shoppers are actually paid less than company engineers; and the companies are outsourcing ever more of their staffing to the brokers.
    Without labor market frictions, the iron law of wages drives wages to starvation levels. As sophisticated uberization software eliminates the frictions that have protected middle class wages in the recent past, we will all need to enlist unionization and government wage standards to protect us.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:29 pm

    Rick

    The big engineering offices of the 70s were decimated and worse by the mid-90s; mostly by the advent of computers w/ software. One engineer could now do the work of 10 and didn't need any draftsman.

  • rick shapiro , May 31, 2020 2:40 pm

    I was speaking of engineers with equal skill in the same office. Many at GE Avionics were laid off, and came back as lower paid contract empoyees.

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:46 pm

    Rick

    Die biden

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 2:52 pm

    beiden

    The both

  • ken melvin , May 31, 2020 3:05 pm

    EMichael

    Minimum wage, the row about the $600, all such things endanger the indentured servant economic model so favored in the south. Keep them poor and hungry and they will work for next to nothing. 'Still they persist.' On PBS, a black woman cooking for a restaurant said that she was being paid less than $4/hr.

  • anne , May 31, 2020 4:48 pm

    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-05-30/dont-understand-the-protests-what-youre-seeing-is-people-pushed-to-the-edge

    May 30, 2020

    Don't understand the protests? What you're seeing is people pushed to the edge
    By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR – Los Angeles Times

    What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd's neck while Floyd croaked, "I can't breathe"?

    If you're white, you probably muttered a horrified, "Oh, my God" while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you're black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, "Not @#$%! again!" Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn't for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store's video showed he wasn't. And how the cop on Floyd's neck wasn't an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

    Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it's not just a supposed "black criminal" who is targeted, it's the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

    You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

    What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you're white, you may be thinking, "They certainly aren't social distancing." Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, "Well, that just hurts their cause." Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, "That's putting the cause backward."

    You're not wrong -- but you're not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness -- write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change -- the needle hardly budges.

    But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting .

    run75441 , May 31, 2020 9:39 pm

    anne:

    If you rcomments are not appearing they are going to spam, Just let me know and I will fish them out of spam. Just approved 4 of yours.

  • Bert Schlitz , May 31, 2020 7:14 pm

    The protests are self centered crap blacks do year after year. Considering 370 whites over 100 Latinos were killed by cops, many as bad as that guy in minnie. Blacks have a Trumptard mentality. We have a ecological disaster, a economic disaster and pandemic(when th they are spreading). Yet let's whine about one bad cop related homicide.

    This may begin the breakup of the Democratic party and the blacks. The differences are just to large.

  • Kaleberg , May 31, 2020 9:40 pm

    It's rather sad that it takes a massive civil disturbance to get the authorities to arrest a man videotaped killing another. You'd think that would just happen as a matter of course, but that's how it works in this country. Post Comment Leave a Reply Cancel reply

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    [May 29, 2020] Trump's Tax Cuts Get an "F" for enriching the Globalist Elite by Michael Cuenco

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... Instead of reining in the "globalist elites" he so vociferously ran against or those corporations "who have no loyalty to America," his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to "starve the beast" and induce fiscal anorexia. ..."
    "... Trump ran as a populist firebrand -- a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot -- and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged "high-energy Jeb." ..."
    "... With the outbreak of COVID-19, many on the reformist right are hoping for the emergence of the President Trump they thought they were promised, a leader just as ready to break out of the donor-enforced "small government" straitjacket while in power as he was during the campaign. ..."
    "... The heightened rhetoric against China will continue -- the one thing Trump is good at -- but it is unlikely to be matched with the required policy ..."
    "... If neoliberalism excused inequality at home by extolling the equalization of incomes across the globe (millions of Chinese raised from poverty, while millions of American workers fall back into it!), the new position must shift emphasis back to ensuring a more equitable domestic distribution of wealth and opportunity across all classes and communities in this country. ..."
    "... It is worth pondering what might have happened if the administration had gone the other way and followed the last piece of policy advice given by Steve Bannon before his ouster in August 2017. Bannon suggested raising the top marginal income tax rate to 44 percent while "arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood." ..."
    "... It might well have put Trump on the path to becoming what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed as a model for Richard Nixon when he gifted the 37th president a biography of Disraeli, namely a Tory Republican who could outsmart the left by crafting broad popular coalitions based on a blending of patriotic cultural conservatism with class-conscious economic and social policy. ..."
    "... Then and even more so now, the idea resonates: a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January found that 64 percent of Americans support a wealth tax, a majority of Republicans included. Poll after poll has reaffirmed this. It seems as if there is right-wing populist support for taxing the rich more. ..."
    "... There is one more thing to be said about the significance of taxing the rich. Up until very recently, there has been a prevailing tendency among the reformist right (with some important exceptions) to couch criticism of the elites primarily or even exclusively in cultural terms. There seems to have been a polite hesitation at taking the cultural critique to its logical economic conclusions. It is easy to excoriate the excesses of elite identity politics, the "woke" part of woke capitalism; it's something all conservatives -- and indeed growing numbers of liberals and socialists -- agree on. Fish in a barrel. ..."
    "... But to challenge the capitalism part, i.e. free market orthodoxy, not in a secondary or tertiary way, but head on and in specific policy terms as Lofgren and a few others have done, would involve confronting difficult truths, namely that the biggest beneficiaries of tax cuts and Reaganite economic policy in general, which most conservatives enthusiastically promoted for four decades, are the selfsame decadent coastal elites they claim to oppose. It is they who more than anyone else thrive on financialized globalization, arbitrage and offshoring. ..."
    "... In other words, it amounts to an honest recognition of the complicity of conservatism in the mess we're in, which is perhaps a psychological bridge too far for too many on the right, reformist or not. (Trigger Warning!) This separation of culture and economics has led to the farce of a self-styled nationalist president lining the pockets of his nominal enemies, the globalist ruling class. ..."
    "... A conservative call to tax the rich would signal that the right is ready to end this charade and chart a course toward a more patriotic, public-spirited and yes, proudly hyphenated capitalism. ..."
    "... Michael Cuenco is a writer on politics and policy. He has also written for American Affairs. ..."
    May 26, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    They also left worker wages stagnant and increased the deficit. Where is our more nationalist economic policy?

    Much has been written about the disappointment of certain segments of the right in the apparent capitulation of Donald Trump to the agenda of the conservative establishment.

    Instead of reining in the "globalist elites" he so vociferously ran against or those corporations "who have no loyalty to America," his one legislative achievement has been to award them a massive tax cut. Through it, he has maintained their favorite mix of low revenue intake and high deficits which gives Republicans a pretext to "starve the beast" and induce fiscal anorexia.

    The president has granted them as well their ideal labor market through an ingenious formula: double down on mostly symbolic raids (as opposed to systemic solutions like Mandatory E-Verify) and ramp up the rhetoric about "shithole countries" to distract the media, but keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby.

    Trump ran as a populist firebrand -- a fusion of Huey Long and Ross Perot -- and while he never abandoned that style, he has governed for the most part as a milquetoast free market Republican in perfect tandem with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, one whose solution to everything is more tax cuts and deregulation: a kind of turbo-charged "high-energy Jeb."

    With the outbreak of COVID-19, many on the reformist right are hoping for the emergence of the President Trump they thought they were promised, a leader just as ready to break out of the donor-enforced "small government" straitjacket while in power as he was during the campaign.

    Despite signs of progress, what's more likely is a return to business as usual. Already the GOP's impulse for austerity and parsimony is proving to be stronger than any willingness to think and act outside the box.

    The heightened rhetoric against China will continue -- the one thing Trump is good at -- but it is unlikely to be matched with the required policy, such as a long-term plan to reshore U.S. industry (that doesn't just rely on blindly giving corporations the benefit of the doubt). At this point, we already know where the president's priorities lie when given a choice between the advancement of America's workers or continued labor arbitrage and carte blanche corporate handouts.

    Lest they be engulfed by it like everyone else, the reformist right should ask: is there any way to stand athwart the supply-side swamp yelling Stop?

    Many of these conservatives lament the Trump tax cut not just because it was a disaster that failed to spark reinvestment, left wages stagnant, needlessly blew up the deficit and served as a slush fund for stock buybacks, but more fundamentally because it betrayed the overwhelming intellectual inertia and lack of imagination that characterizes conservative policymaking.

    More than in any other issue then, a distinct position on taxes would make the new conservatism truly worth distinguishing from the old: tax cuts were after all the defining policy dogma of the neoliberal Reagan era.

    If neoliberalism excused inequality at home by extolling the equalization of incomes across the globe (millions of Chinese raised from poverty, while millions of American workers fall back into it!), the new position must shift emphasis back to ensuring a more equitable domestic distribution of wealth and opportunity across all classes and communities in this country.

    A reformulation of fiscal policy along populist economic nationalist lines can help with that.

    It is worth pondering what might have happened if the administration had gone the other way and followed the last piece of policy advice given by Steve Bannon before his ouster in August 2017. Bannon suggested raising the top marginal income tax rate to 44 percent while "arguing that it would actually hit left-wing millionaires in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, and in Hollywood."

    Such a move would have been nothing short of revolutionary: it would have been a faithful and full-blown expression of the populist economic nationalism Trump ran on; it would have presented a genuine material threat to the elite ruling class of both parties, and likely would have pre-empted the shock value of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposing a 70 percent top marginal rate.

    It might well have put Trump on the path to becoming what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once proposed as a model for Richard Nixon when he gifted the 37th president a biography of Disraeli, namely a Tory Republican who could outsmart the left by crafting broad popular coalitions based on a blending of patriotic cultural conservatism with class-conscious economic and social policy.

    Not that Trump would have needed to go back to Nixon or Disraeli for instruction on the matter. In 1999, long before Elizabeth Warren came along on the national scene, a presidential candidate eyeing the Reform Party nomination contemplated the imposition of a 14.25 percent wealth tax on America's richest citizens in order to pay off the national debt: his name was Donald Trump.

    What ever happened to that guy? The Trump of 1999 was onto something. Maybe this could be a way to deal with our post-pandemic deficits.

    Then and even more so now, the idea resonates: a Reuters/Ipsos poll from January found that 64 percent of Americans support a wealth tax, a majority of Republicans included. Poll after poll has reaffirmed this. It seems as if there is right-wing populist support for taxing the rich more.

    To the common refrain, "the rich are just going to find ways to shelter their income or relocate it offshore," I have written elsewhere about the concrete policy measures countries can and have taken to clip the wings of mobile global capital and prevent such an outcome.

    I have written as well about how taxing the rich and tightening the screws on tax enforcement have implications that go beyond the merely redistributive approach to fiscal policy conventionally favored by the left; about how it can be a form of leverage against an unaccountable investor class used to shopping at home and abroad for the most opaque assets in which to hoard vast amounts of essentially idle capital.

    A deft administration would use aggressive fiscal policy as an inducement for this irresponsible class to make things right by reinvesting in such priorities as the wages and well-being of workers, the vitality of communities, the strength of strategic industries and the productivity of the real economy – or else Uncle Sam will tax their wealth and do it for them.

    It would also be an assertion of national sovereignty against globalization's command for countries to stay "competitive" by immiserating their citizens with ever-lower taxes on capital holders and ever more loose and "flexible" labor markets in a never-ending race to the bottom.

    Mike Lofgren has penned a marvelous essay in these pages about the virtual secession of the rich from the American nation, "with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility."

    What better way to remind them that they are still citizens of a country and members of a society -- and not just floating streams of deracinated capital -- than by making them perform that most basic of civic duties, paying one's fair share and contributing to the commonweal? America need not revert to the 70-90 percent top marginal rates of the bolshevik administrations of Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, but proposals for modest moves in that direction would be welcome.

    There is one more thing to be said about the significance of taxing the rich. Up until very recently, there has been a prevailing tendency among the reformist right (with some important exceptions) to couch criticism of the elites primarily or even exclusively in cultural terms. There seems to have been a polite hesitation at taking the cultural critique to its logical economic conclusions. It is easy to excoriate the excesses of elite identity politics, the "woke" part of woke capitalism; it's something all conservatives -- and indeed growing numbers of liberals and socialists -- agree on. Fish in a barrel.

    But to challenge the capitalism part, i.e. free market orthodoxy, not in a secondary or tertiary way, but head on and in specific policy terms as Lofgren and a few others have done, would involve confronting difficult truths, namely that the biggest beneficiaries of tax cuts and Reaganite economic policy in general, which most conservatives enthusiastically promoted for four decades, are the selfsame decadent coastal elites they claim to oppose. It is they who more than anyone else thrive on financialized globalization, arbitrage and offshoring.

    In other words, it amounts to an honest recognition of the complicity of conservatism in the mess we're in, which is perhaps a psychological bridge too far for too many on the right, reformist or not. (Trigger Warning!) This separation of culture and economics has led to the farce of a self-styled nationalist president lining the pockets of his nominal enemies, the globalist ruling class.

    Already, the White House is proposing yet another gigantic corporate tax cut. Using the exact same discredited logic as the last one, senior economic advisor Larry Kudlow wants Americans to trust him when he says that halving the already lowered 2017 rate to 10.5 percent will encourage these eminently reasonable multinationals to reinvest. There he goes again.

    A conservative call to tax the rich would signal that the right is ready to end this charade and chart a course toward a more patriotic, public-spirited and yes, proudly hyphenated capitalism.

    Michael Cuenco is a writer on politics and policy. He has also written for American Affairs.


    Kent 3 days ago

    "America need not revert to the 70-90 percent top marginal rates of the bolshevik administrations of Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, but proposals for modest moves in that direction would be welcome."

    Those tax rates were offset by direct investment in the US economy. So if I invested in the stock market, I'd get a 90% tax rate because that doesn't produce actual wealth. On the other hand, if I invested in building factories that created thousands of jobs for American citizens, my tax rate may fall to 0%. And those policies created a fantastic economy that we oldsters remember as the golden age. That wasn't bolshevism, it was competitive capitalism. What we have today is libertarianism. And as long as conservatives are going to let the libertarian boogey-man's nose under the tent, we are going to have this ugly, bifurcated economy. Your choice. Man up.

    Winston Nevis Kent 3 days ago • edited
    You ever tell hear of sarcasm, bud? I think that's what the author was going for. Don't think he was trying to say that Ike and Truman were Bolsheviks but was rather making fun of libertarians who hyperbolically associate high tax rates with socialism and Soviet Communism...
    K squared Winston Nevis 3 days ago
    Plenty of goldwater's supporters in 1964 called President Eisenhower a communist
    GAguilar K squared 2 days ago
    Particularly the John Birchers, including my parents!
    SKPeterson Kent 3 days ago • edited
    We absolutely do not have libertarianism operating in this country today. There is simply no evidence that there is any sort of libertarian economic or political system in place. Oh sure, you'll whine "but globalism without actually defining what globalism is, or what is wrong about precisely, but just that it's somehow wrong and that libertarians are to blame for it. There's a good word for such an argument: bullshit.
    We have an economy that is extraordinarily dominated by the state via mandates, regulations, and monetary interference that is most decidedly not libertarian in any way whatsoever. The current system though does create and perpetuate a system of rent-seeking cronies who conform rather nicely to the descriptions of said actors by Buchanan and Tullock. The problems of the modern economy are the result of state interference, not its absence, and Cuenco's sorry policy prescriptions do nothing to minimize the state but instead just create a different set of rent-seeking cronies for which the wealth and incomes of the nation are to be expropriated.
    marku52 SKPeterson 3 days ago
    O dear, No True Scotsman....
    SKPeterson marku52 2 days ago
    If you can point to how the current situation is in any way "libertarian" without creating your own perfect little lazy straw man definition then by all means do so. Until then your retort is without
    substance (you see a no true Scotsman reply doesn't work if the facts are in the favor of the person supposedly making such an argument. Here you fail to establish why what I said is such a case; saying it doesn't make it so). When Kent makes some throwaway comment that we're somehow living in some sort of libertarian era he's full of it, you know it, and all you can do is provide some weak "no true Scotsman" defense? Come on and man up, stop appealing to artificial complaints of fallacious argumentation, and give me an actual solid argument with evidence beyond "this is so libertarian" that we're living in some libertarian golden age that's driving the oppression of the masses.
    cka2nd SKPeterson 3 days ago
    Busted unions, contracting out and privatization, deregulation of vast swaths of the economy since the late 1970's (Jimmy Carter has gotten kudos from libertarian writers for his de-regulatory efforts), lowered tax rates, especially on financial speculation and concentrated wealth, a blind eye or shrugged shoulder to anti-trust law and corporate consolidation. Yeah, nothing to see here, no partial victories for the libertarian wings of the ruling class or the GOP, at all. The Koch Brothers accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing, since David was the Libertarian Party's nominee for Vice President in 1980; all that money gone to waste. Sure.
    SKPeterson cka2nd 2 days ago
    So, now some sort of "partial victory" means we're living in some sort of libertarian era? And what exactly was so wonderful about all the things you listed being perpetuated? So, union "busting" is terrible, but union corruption was a great part of our national solidarity and should have been protected? Deregulation of vast swathes of the economy? You mean the elimination of government controlled cartels in the form of trucking and airlines? You mean the sorts of things that have enabled the working class folks you supposedly favor to travel to places that were previously out of reach for them and only accessible to the rich for their vacations? Yes, that's truly terrible. Again, you're on the side of the little guy, right? Lowered taxes? Are you seriously going to argue that the traditional conservative position has been for high tax rates? What are taxes placed upon? People and property. What do conservatives want to protect? People and property. So... arguing for higher taxes or saying that low taxes are bad or even especially, libertarian, is really going off the rails. That's just bad reasoning. And regarding financialization, those weren't especially libertarian in their enacting, but rather flow directly out of the consequences of the modern Progressive implementation of neo-Keynesian monetary and fiscal policy. Suffice it to say, I don't think you'll find too many arguments from libertarians that the policies encouraging financialization were good or followed libertarian economic policy prescriptions. Moreover, they led entirely to the repulsive "too big to fail" situation and if there's one thing that libertarians hold to is that there is no such thing (or shouldn't be) as "too big to fail." The objection to anti-trust law is that it was regularly abused and actually created government-protected firms that harmed consumers. If you think anti-trust laws are good things and should be supported by conservatives then by all means encourage Joe Biden to have Elizabeth Warren as his vice-presidential running mate and go vote Democrat this fall.
    Blood Alcohol SKPeterson 3 days ago
    "The problems of the modern economy are the result of state interference, not its absence". That's because the "state interference" is working as proxy for the interests of vulture capitalist.

    What we have today is vulture capitalism as opposed to free enterprise capitalism.

    DUNK Blood Alcohol 2 days ago • edited
    You could also call it "crony capitalism" or "inverted totalitarianism".

    Chris Hedges: "Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism" (November 2, 2015)

    GAguilar DUNK 2 days ago
    Princeton professor Sheldon Wolin's excellent book is entitled, "Democracy Incorporated."

    He lays out how we're living in a totalitarian, capitalist surveillance state, as if that's not already obvious to most people around here.

    SKPeterson Blood Alcohol 2 days ago
    Exactly. The existence of a vulture capitalist or crony capitalist economy, which we have in many sectors, is evidence that "libertarianism" is nothing more than a convenient totem to invoke as a rationale for complaint against the outcomes of the existing crony capitalist state of affairs. My contention is that Cuenco, et al are simply advocating for a replacement of the cronies and vultures.
    1701 3 days ago
    A very similar article(but probably coming at it from a slightly different angle) wouldn't look out of place in a socialist publication.
    The culture war really is a pointless waste of time that keeps working class people from working towards a common solution to shared problems.
    bumbershoot 3 days ago
    Trump wants to "keep the supply of cheap, exploitable low-skill labor (legal and illegal) intact for the business lobby."

    Well of course he does -- otherwise how would he staff Mar-A-Lago and other Trump Organization businesses?

    SKPeterson 3 days ago
    I used to think that conservatism was about protecting private property and not, like Cuenco, in coming up with ever more excuses for expropriating it.
    Kent SKPeterson 3 days ago
    No, that's libertarianism (or more properly propertarianism). Conservatism is first and foremost about responsibility to God, community, family and self. Property is only of value in its utility towards a means.
    GAguilar Kent 2 days ago • edited
    As I see it, here are examples of how "conservatives" have actually practiced their "responsibility to God, community, family and self":

    The genocide of Native Americans
    The slavery and murder of blacks

    Their opposition to child labor laws, to womens' suffrage, etc.
    Their support of Jim Crow laws
    Their opposition to ending slavery and opposition to desegregation
    Opposition to Civil Liberties Laws

    Willingness to block, or curtail, voting rights.

    Hyping the "imminent threat" of an ever more powerful communist menace bearing
    down on us from the late 40s to the "unanticipated" collapse of the
    USSR in '91. All of which was little more than endless "threat inflation" used
    by our defense industry-corporate kleptocrats to justify monstrous increases
    in deficits that have been "invested" in our meddlesome, murderous militarism all around the world, with the torture and deaths of millions from S. E. Asia, to Indonesia, to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Africa, etc.

    Violations of privacy rights (conservative hero J. Edgar Hoover's illegal domestic surveillance and acts of domestic terrorism, "justified" by
    his loopy paranoia about commies on every corner and under every bed.)

    Toppling of democracies to install totalitarian despots in Iran
    ("Ike" '53), Guatemala (Ike, again, '54), Chile (Nixon '73), Brazil (LBJ, '64) and many, many more countries.

    Strong support of the Vietnam War, the wars in Laos and Cambodia, and the Iraq War, which, according to conservative W. Bush, God had inspired.

    The myriad "dirty wars" we've fought around the world, and not only in Latin America.

    With a few, notable exceptions, conservatives have routinely been on the wrong side of these issues. For the most part, it has been the left, particularly the "hard left," that has gotten it right.

    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    "conservatism was about protecting private property"

    You're conflating conservatism and libertarianism. Conservatives realize they are citizens of a country. Libertarians wish they weren't.

    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    So conservatism should be entirely about taking people's property "for the good of the country"? That the purpose of a country is to loot the people? That the people exist for the government and not the government for the people? Seems Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk would like to have a word with you Adm.

    To quote Kirk as just one example of your fundamental error:

    Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked . [Apparently, Adm. you dispute Kirk's assertion and accuse him thereby of conflating libertarianism and conservatism. Yes, I know Kirk was a hater of the idea of patriotism, but he was such a raging libertarian what else could he do?] Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic levelling [this is the outcome of Cuenco's policy prescriptions by the way] , conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence; but a sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is much to be desired.

    So, either "Mr. Conservative" Russell Kirk wasn't really a conservative but a man who horribly conflated libertarianism and conservatism, or we can say that Kirk was a conservative and that he recognized the protection of private property as crucial in minimizing the control and reach of the Leviathan state. If the latter holds, then maybe what we've established is that AdmBenson isn't particularly conservative.

    Winston Nevis SKPeterson 2 days ago • edited
    "The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth." This status quo has produced precisely the opposite of this. Wealth, assets, capital has been captured by the elite. The pitchforks are coming. See this CBO chart: View Hide
    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    Conservatives accept taxes as a part of citizenship. Since taxes can't be avoided, a conservative insists on democratic representation and has a general desire to get maximum bang for their taxpayer buck.

    Libertarians, on the other hand, see everything through the lens of an individual's property rights. Taxes and regulation are infringements on those rights, so a libertarian is always at war with their own government. They're not interested in bang for their taxpayer buck, they just want the government to go away. I can't fault people for believing this way, but I can point out that it is severely faulty as the operating philosophy beyond anything but a small community.

    As for me not being particularly conservative, ya got me. It really depends on time of day and the level of sunspot activity.

    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    Sunspots, eh? And here I thought it was your reliance on tinfoil.
    AdmBenson SKPeterson 2 days ago
    The tinfoil and the mask were scaring people. The tinfoil had to go, but that's had side effects.
    SKPeterson AdmBenson 2 days ago
    I should have put the /s on my reply, but your response did give me a good chuckle. Besides, for that finger pointing at you, there were three more pointing back at me.
    JMWB 3 days ago
    And somehow people continually fall for the Trickle Down economic theory. George HW Bush was correct when he called this VooDoo economics. Fiscal irresponsibility at it's finest.
    Victor_the_thinker JMWB 3 days ago
    Nah people don't fall for it, republicans do. The rest of us know this stuff doesn't work. We didn't need an additional datapoint to realize that. The Tax Cuts and Jobs act was the single most unpopular piece of legislation to ever pass since polling began. It never had support outside of the Republican Party which is why it's never had majority support.

    https://news.gallup.com/pol...

    Blood Alcohol JMWB 3 days ago
    John Kenneth Galbraith called Trickle Down "economics", "Oats and Horse Economics". If you feed the horse a lot of oats, eventually some be left on the road...
    Nelson 3 days ago
    The leader of Republicans isn't Trump. It's Mitch McConnell.
    J Villain Nelson 3 days ago
    Mitch is fully owned by Trump as is every republican that holds office except Romney. Mitch can't go to the bathroom with out asking Trumps permission.
    Nelson J Villain 3 days ago
    Mitch is owned by corporations and he likes it that way. He basically says as much whenever campaign finance reform pops up and he defends the status quo.
    aha! Nelson 2 hours ago
    Yep. The guy who declared war on the Tea Party. The guy who changed his tune entirely about China when he married into the family of a shipping magnate.
    SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    I'm eagerly awaiting a GOP plan for economic restructuring. I've been waiting for decade(s). Surely there is someone in the entire body of think tanks, congressional staffers, and political class that can propose a genuine and comprehensive plan for how to rebalance production, education, and technology for the better of ALL Americans. Surely...
    Tradcon SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    American Affairs (the policy journal this author writes for) and The American Compass are both very good.
    cka2nd SeekingTruth 3 days ago
    I honestly wonder if Jack Kemp might have had a "Road to Damascus" conversion away from his pseudo-libertarian and supply side economic convictions if he had lived through the decade after the Great Recession. Probably not, given his political and economic activity up until his death.
    Barry_II 3 days ago
    "They also left worker wages stagnant and increased the deficit. Where is our more nationalist economic policy?"

    In your dreams, just like those many large projects which Trump drove into bankruptcy.

    Right alongside the money owed to the many people he's stiffed.

    Name 3 days ago
    So after 30 years or more of " globalism" , the GOP is adopting Bernie Sanderism?
    Johnny Larue Name 3 days ago
    Uh, no.
    Name Johnny Larue 2 days ago
    Uh, it seems so. Did you even read?
    TheSnark 3 days ago • edited
    Trump pushed the tax cut because it saves him at least $20 million each year in taxes, probably closer to $50 million. That's the only reason he does anything, because he benefits personally.
    kouroi 3 days ago
    Thank you very much for posting the link to the wonderful essay by Mike Lofgren. Written 8 years ago it feels even more actual than then. I have bookmarked it for future reference.

    Looking at the US it always comes to my mind the way Rome and then Byzantium fell: a total erosion of the tax-base the rich refused to pay anything to the imperial coffers, and then some of the rich had land bigger than some modern countries... And then the barbarians came...

    Kent kouroi 3 days ago
    And, by then, the population welcomed the barbarians.
    kouroi Kent 3 days ago
    Likely true, with some exceptions... The Huns - and on that one I keep wondering if there isn't a whiff of "Yellow Peril" smell in all that outcry...
    Ray Woodcock kouroi 2 days ago • edited
    Lofgren: "What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot."

    That was in 2012, but that was what struck me about my well-to-do classmates when I transferred from Cal State Long Beach to Columbia University in 1977 . Suddenly I was among people who saw America, American laws, and a shared sense of civic responsibility as quaint, bothersome, rather tangential to the project of promoting oneself and/or one's special interest.

    kouroi Ray Woodcock 2 days ago
    Cold, eh mate? Reptiles, lizards...?
    Adriana Pena 3 days ago
    Did you ever hope that Trump would do what you wanted? You are adorable
    sam 3 days ago
    The only way that factories would come back is when Americans start buying made in America. We can't wait for ANY government to bring those factories and jobs ( and technology) . Only people voting with their pocketbooks can do it.
    J Villain 3 days ago
    Still waiting for the day the first American asks "What have WE done wrong?" Rather than just following in Trumps step and playing the victim card every step of the way and wondering why nothing gets better.
    Blood Alcohol J Villain 3 days ago
    nuffsaid. The blood is on everyone's hands.

    [May 28, 2020] US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students

    May 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    US Lawmakers Propose Total Ban On STEM Visas For Chinese Students by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:45 As the White House prepares to eject Chinese graduate students with ties to the PLA, three US lawmakers are taking things a step further - proposing a bill which would ban mainland Chinese students from studying STEM subjects in the United States .

    Chinese and other international students wave flags at 2018 Columbia University commencement ceremony.

    Two senators and one House member said on Wednesday that the Secure Campus Act would bar Chinese nationals from obtaining visas for graduate or postgraduate studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students from Taiwan and Hong Kong would be exempt , according to SCMP .

    "The Chinese Communist Party has long used American universities to conduct espionage on the United States," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), one of the bill's sponsors, adding "What's worse is that their efforts exploit gaps in current law. It's time for that to end."

    "The Secure Campus Act will protect our national security and maintain the integrity of the American research enterprise."

    The proposed legislation comes as diplomatic relations have fractured between the world's two largest economies. The fissures started to show during a trade war that has been rumbling on for almost two years and have only widened amid accusations about the handling of the Covid-19 disease outbreak , and the treatment of ethnic minority groups in China.

    Hong Kong is the latest flashpoint after Beijing drew up a national security law that Washington says tramples on the city's mini-constitution. The US threatened retaliation over the move. -SCMP

    The bill will also tackle China's efforts to recruit talent overseas through their Thousand Talents Program , an operation launched in 2008 by the CCP which seeks out international experts in scientific research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It proposes that participants in China's recruitment of foreigners be made to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) , and would prohibit Chinese nationals and those participating in China-sponsored programs from receiving federal grants or working on federally funded R&D in STEM fields .

    Any university, research institute or laboratory receiving federal funding would be required to attest that they are not knowingly employing participants in China's recruitment programs - a list of which the US Secretary of State would publish.

    US law enforcement and educational agencies have raised red flags about undisclosed ties between federally funded researchers and foreign governments. A crackdown has included indictments and dismissals.

    In January, Charles Lieber, 60, chairman of the chemistry and chemical biology department at Harvard University, was arrested and charged for lying about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Programme . -SCMP

    Meanwhile, earlier this month a professor at the University of Arkansas who received millions of dollars in research grants, including $500,000 from NASA, was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud.

    According to the FBI, Ang failed to disclose that he was getting paid by a Chinese university and Chinese companies in violation of university policy. He is accused of making false statements while failing to disclose his extensive ties to China as a member of the "Thousand Talents Scholars" program.

    63-year-old Simon Saw-Teong Ang is the director of the school's High Density Electronics Center, which received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA. Since 2013, Ang has been the primary investigator or co-investigator on US government-funded grants totaling over $5 million, according to the Washington Examiner .

    In November, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) released a 109-page bipartisan report which concluded that foreign nations "seek to exploit America's openness to advance their own national interests," the most ambitious of which "has been China," according to the Examiner . According to the report, Chinese academics involved in their so-called 'Thousand Talents' program have been exploiting access to US research labs .

    Backlash

    According to SCMP , members of the US scientific community see the US as unfairly targeting Chinese colleagues , and that the campaigns will discourage talented individuals from pursuing studies at US universities.

    "While we must be vigilant to safeguard research, we must also ensure that the US remains a desirable and welcoming destination for researchers from around the world," wrote members of 60 groups - including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Federation of American Scientists, in a 2019 letter to science policy officials.

    The US lawmakers' proposal follows China's March decision to revoke the press credentials for US journalists from three major US newspapers - declaring five US media outlets to be foreign government proxies. In February, the Trump administration labeled five Chinese state media groups as "foreign missions" (via SCMP ).

    [May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

    Highly recommended!
    From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
    "... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
    "... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
    "... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
    "... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
    Notable quotes:
    "... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
    "... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
    "... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
    "... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
    "... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
    "... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
    "... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
    Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

    Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

    The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

    Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

    Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

    He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

    By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

    His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

    If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

    So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

    "Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

    Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

    Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

    Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

    As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

    New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

    The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

    Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

    George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


    Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

    The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

    Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

    The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

    A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

    glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
    This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
    economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
    Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
    economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
    ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
    economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
    Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
    Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
    Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
    The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


    Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

    It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

    However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

    manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
    Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
    Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
    What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
    fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
    'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

    It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

    [May 16, 2020] Reopening Isn't only about Reopening -- It's also about forcefully removing people from unemployment insurance by Peter Dorman

    May 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    By Peter Dorman, professor of economics at The Evergreen State College. Originally published at Econospeak

    Donald Trump, cheering on his "warriors" who demand that states lift their lockdown and distancing orders (where they have them), would have you believe this is about bringing the economy back to life so ordinary people can get their jobs and normal lives back. Elitist liberals who work from home and have country estates to retreat to don't care, but "real" people do.

    The reality is different. The shuttering of stores, restaurants, hotels and workplaces didn't begin with government orders and won't end with them. If the rate of new infection and death is too high, a lot of people won't go along. Not everyone, but enough to make a huge economic difference. Ask any small business owner what it would mean for demand to drop by 25-50%. Lifting government orders won't magically restore the economic conditions of mid-winter. So what's it about? Even as it makes a big PR show of supporting state by state "liberation" in America, the Trump administration is advising state governments on how to remove workers from unemployment insurance once orders are lifted. Without government directives, employers can demand workers show up, and if they refuse they no longer qualify. And why might workers refuse? Perhaps because their workplaces are still unsafe and they have vulnerable family members they want to keep from getting infected? Not good enough -- once the state has been "liberated".

    How should we respond to this travesty? First, of course, by telling the truth that an anti-worker, anti-human campaign is being conducted under the guise of defending workers. If the Democrats weren't themselves such a tool of business interests we might hear that narrative from them, but the rest of us are free to speak out and should start doing it, loudly, wherever we can.

    Second, one of the laws of the land is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which gives workers the right to refuse imminently hazardous work. This hasn't been used very often, nor is there much case law around it, but the current pandemic is a good reason to pull it out of storage.

    If there are public interest law firms looking for something useful to do during distancing, they could advertise their willingness to defend workers who need to stay home until work is safe -- while still getting their paycheck. If employers thought the choice was between public support for workers sitting out the pandemic or their support for them we might hear less about "liberation".


    none , May 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

    They want to throw people off of unemployment while using the virus threat to stop any serious protests against that. It is literally biological warfare against working people. Same class war as before, but now with CBW.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Taught it for years. This is the biggest net and is the # 1 Cited Violation for 1910/1926 and MSHA–ever.

    OSHA 654 5(a)1 The General Duty Clause.

    OSHA Laws & Regulations OSH Act of 1970
    OSH Act of 1970
    Table of Contents
    General Duty Clause
    Complete OSH Act Version ("All-in-One")
    SEC.
    5.
    Duties
    (a)
    Each employer --
    (1)
    29 USC 654
    shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
    (2)
    shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.
    (b)
    Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.

    And 'Recognized' totes a lot of water.

    Rod , May 14, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Quick Take –Two way street.
    Employers mus t mitigate hazards. Employees must comply with mitigation.
    No Employer Mitigation=Breaking the Law=No Employee requirement to work in Unsafe Conditions.

    L , May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

    "Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of. There was not and has never been a plan by the Conservative Movement to lift all boats. Only a plan to feign interest in doing so.

    Librarian Guy , May 15, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I agree with most of your comment except the "smarter" part.

    They don't seem smart to me, they openly plunder and loot and spit in the populace's faces. They don't even pretend to believe in or work for a "common good" anymore, really. That is the story of the 21st Century in the US, starting with Baby Bush II. (Okay, I get that the Obama crew seemed "smart" or sophisticated to the PMC and comfortable liberals, but how smart were they if they led to the open Kleptocratic Disruption of Trumpism and the God Emperor?)

    What the Elites have that the proles don't is in-group solidarity. (And a captured Media establishment.) They protect their own, while the hoi polloi fight one another for scraps.

    Hoppy , May 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    What is the death rate among the working age population?

    Seem like a tough hill to die on given the curve has flattened, hospitals are not overflowing, and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression.

    No one has a vaccine, this isn't going away any time soon. It's time to focus on protecting the most vulnerable instead of pretending this effects everyone equally.

    Allow states to cut benefits? Come on, UI benefits are taxed for pete's sake. 'Available to work' basically means you have start at 8am the next day which is doesn't align with any reality of hiring except in low end service sector jobs.

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    > and the economy is teetering on the edge of depression

    This was baked in the cake already, COVID was simply the spark that ignited all that dead wood on the forest floor.

    cripes , May 15, 2020 at 12:16 am

    campbeln:

    Yes.

    I thought the quiet transfer of trillions in helicopter money to the banksters in the last half of 2019, way before the covid craze was telling.

    How convenient.

    Wally , May 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    The other really significant thing is that 're-opening' doesn't necessarily mean returning to business. For example, Musk insists on re-opening Tesla the assumption being that sales are there to be had if they re-open. But if not no sales, no need for employees back down the drain we go.
    Same for restaurants. retail, hotels, transit and white collar jobs – attorneys, architects, CPAs

    DHG , May 14, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    Yup, the smart and shrewd will conceal themselves as much as possible and live, the stupid will rush out and most likely die.

    JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 1:20 am

    The poorest and the most desperate actually. Some people still have not received any money from the state or federal governments. The quarantine started about two months ago. So no job, no income, no money, and no joke. No matter how shrewd or smart you are sometimes you are not making the decisions. Reality makes them for you.

    KFritz , May 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    There's another possible reason to reopen. If the country officially reopens, there's no need for any more federal stimulus!

    campbeln , May 14, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Bankers got their TRILLIONS?

    Pack it up, boys! We're done here.

    J.k , May 14, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Well till the markets crashes again and they need to save the assets of the wealthiest.

    I just got a text from a buddy who is an electrician. His company just told him they are not expecting to take any major work till second quarter of next year. They will only be taking emergency calls. This is in Chicago.

    LawnDart , May 14, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Your buddy might be able to use this link:

    https://wepoweramerica.org/hotjobs.cgi

    Granted, it's a union site, but one point that they make is how union saturation raises the wages for all workers within a given region.

    In Appalachia, I was offered $15hr. to work as an electrician. In Chicagoland, starting wages were close to or more than double that. Guess where I went in order to establish a salary history? And no, the cost of living is really not too different between those two places, but opportunities sure were.

    (moderators: in response to an "Eat the Rich!" comment, I posted a link with recipes: I apologize for this. Admittedly, it was in poor taste.)

    [May 15, 2020] US Unemployment Update

    Notable quotes:
    "... @apenultimate ..."
    May 15, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:50am The past week's unemployment claims came out today, and add another 2.98 million to the pile. This brings total unemployment claims for the past 8 weeks (two months or so) to 36.5 million.

    Determining unemployment percentages depends on what data you use. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the employment numbers for the United States in August 2019 as ~157 million ( https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm ). Admittedly, that's not March 2020 statistics, but employment numbers would not change all that much in half of a year.

    The St. Louis Federal Reserve has a different set of statistics that show 205.5 million Americans employed in March 2020 ( https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LFWA64TTUSM647S ). (They show the August 2019 period with employment at 206 million.)

    Why the huge difference? I have no idea. But going forward, I'll use both to determine unemployment numbers. Remember that in early March 2020, unemployment was already around 3%.

    Using the BLS statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 23.16% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 26.16% unemployment.

    Using the St. Louis Fed statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 17.76% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 20.76% unemployment.

    The peak rate of unemployment during The Great Depression was 24.9%. The peak rate of unemployment during the the Great Recession in 2008 was 10%.

    According to BLS statistics, we are already greater than Great Depression unemployment numbers.

    According to the St. Louis Fed, we are already more than double Great Recession numbers and only about 4 percentage points away from Great Depression peaks.

    The Labor Department last week reported April unemployment for the United states at 14.7%, but this according to their own admission was undercounting the real rates. Be careful of any numbers coming out of the mainstream media or government sources.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Coronavirus-job-loss-Weekly...

    Some jobs will definitely come back, but many will not. For example, JC Penny's reported that they are permanently closing 200 of their 850 nationwide stores. Those jobs will not be coming back. There are weekly reports of many cafes, restaurants, and small businesses shuttering their doors for good. Those jobs will not be coming back.

    Even for the companies that do not shut down, it may be a long haul before economic activity has picked up enough to bring workers back. In most cases, it will not be a quick recovery.

    Hang on for a very rough ride. 2 users have voted.

    ggersh on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:52am
    This is the place to go for stats

    @apenultimate and like everything else our govt does, the unemployment number is just pure BS

    http://www.shadowstats.com/article/csfu1435

    • Headline April 2020 Unemployment Really Was Around 20%, Not 15%
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics Disclosed Erroneous Unemployment Surveying for a Second Month
    • About 7.5 Million People in the April Household Survey Were Misclassified as Employed Instead of Unemployed, per the BLS
    • Headline April U.3 Unemployment at 14.7%, Should Have Been 19.5%
    • The BLS Had Disclosed the Same Surveying Error Last Month; Where Headline March 2020 U.3 Was 4.4%, It Should Have Been 5.3%
    • Per the BLS, Headline Data Will Not Be Corrected: "To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses."
    • Nonetheless, Headline April Unemployment Soared to Historic Highs from March: U.3 from 4.4% to 14.7%, U.6 from 8.7% to 22.8% and ShadowStats from 22.9% to 35.4%
    • More Realistic, Those Same Unemployment Numbers, Corrected: U.3 from 5.3 % to 19.5%, U.6 from 9.6% to 27.7% and ShadowStats from 23.7% to 39.6%
    • April 2020 Payrolls Collapsed by an Unprecedented 20.5 Million Jobs
    • Annual Growth in April 2020 Money Supply Measures Soared to Historic Highs
    • U.S. Economic Activity Has Collapsed to Great Depression Levels, with the Federal Reserve Creating Unlimited Money

    apenultimate on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:58am
    Nice

    @ggersh

    Thanks for that. Seems like a large percentage of the difference is that BLS says 7.5 million were mis-classified as employed.

    At the very least, it seems the BLS does a bit of correcting, whereas the Fed does not.

    gulfgal98 on Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:13pm
    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell

    stated in the very beginning of this video, that of people who were employed in February of this year, nearly 40% of those earning $40,000 or less have become unemployed. This is an unprecedented human tragedy that Congress in all their bailouts now totalling about $8 Trillion have seen fit to throw a one time pittance of $1,200. With mountains of cash going to corporations and lobbyists, Congress insultingly gave real suffering Americans a few pennies and in effect told them that their lives do not matter to Washington DC.

    //www.youtube.com/embed/AROXMTDOkjw?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

    [May 12, 2020] 'Immediate danger' Half of world's workforce could lose livelihood due to Covid-19, UN agency warns

    www.defenddemocracy.press
    The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that around half of the world's workforce, or 1.6 billion workers, are at imminent risk of losing their livelihood because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In its latest report, the UN agency stated that those hardest hit by the financial effects of the Covid-19 outbreak have been 'informal economy' workers, including the self-employed and those on a short-term contract.

    "The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 percent in the income of informal workers globally," the ILO said of the economic damage already caused by the pandemic.

    The deepening crisis in many parts of the world has left more than 436 million businesses facing financial hardship and possible closure, the ILO stated, which will inevitably hurt workers. The report listed the worst-hit sectors as manufacturing, accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.

    "For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said of the stark impact of an economic dip.

    He added that, according to ILO data, there is expected to be a "massive" rise in poverty levels worldwide, unless governments recognize the need to reconstruct their economies around better working practices and "not a return to the pre-pandemic world of precarious work for the majority."

    Since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, over 3.1 million cases have been confirmed around the world, and more than 216,000 people have died. Drastic lockdowns to limit its spread have taken a dire toll on the global economy, prompting market turmoil and numerous projections of the heavy recession to strike this year.

    [May 06, 2020] Richard Wolff US jobless totals are about to get WORSE than during the Great Depression. It's time for a RADICAL new approach

    May 06, 2020 | www.rt.com

    By Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, NYC. Wolff's weekly show, Economic Update, is syndicated on over 100 radio stations and goes to 55 million TV receivers via Free Speech TV and his two recent books with Democracy at Work are Understanding Marxism and Understanding Socialism both available at democracyatwork.info . We are entering an even Greater Depression than the 1930s, with hundreds of millions thrown out of work across the world. Capitalism is a broken, unstable system that is beyond repair – but there are alternatives. Ninety-one years after the start of the Great Depression (capitalism's worst downturn until now), we are entering an even Greater Depression. The 1930s were so awful that leaders of capitalist economies ever since have said they had learned how to avoid any future depressions. All promised to take the steps needed to avoid them. Those promises have all been broken. Capitalism remains intrinsically unstable. Read more Richard D. Wolff: Viruses like Covid-19 are a part of nature we must accept. But Capitalism-2020 must be destroyed Richard D. Wolff: Viruses like Covid-19 are a part of nature we must accept. But Capitalism-2020 must be destroyed

    That instability is revealed in its recurring cycles, recessions, downturns, depressions, crashes, etc. They have plagued capitalism wherever it has settled in as the prevailing economic system. Now that the whole world's prevailing economic system is capitalism, we suffer global instability. To date, capitalist instability has resisted every effort (monetary and fiscal policies, Keynesian economics, privatization, deregulation, etc.) to overcome or stop it. And now it is here yet again.

    Across the world, hundreds of millions of workers are unemployed. The tools, equipment, and raw materials in their factories, offices and stores sit idle, gathering dust and rust. The goods and services they might have produced do not now emerge to help us through these awful times. Perishable plants and animals that cannot now be processed are destroyed even as scarcities multiply.

    Workers lose their jobs if and when employers – mostly private capitalists – fire them. Employers hire workers when workers add more value to what the employer sells than the value of those workers' wages. Hiring then adds to profits. Employers fire workers when they add less than the value of the wages paid to them. Firing then reduces losses. Employers protect and reproduce their enterprises by maximizing profits and minimizing losses.

    Profit, not the full employment of workers nor of means of production, is "the bottom line" of capitalists, and thus of capitalism. That is how the system works. Capitalists are rewarded when their profits are high and punished when they are not.

    No-one wants unemployment. Workers want their jobs back; employers want the workers back producing profitable output; governments want the tax revenues that depend on workers and capitalist employers actively collaborating to produce.

    Yet the capitalist system has regularly produced economic downturns everywhere for three centuries – on average, every four to seven years. We have had three crashes so far this century: 'dot.com' in 2000, 'sub-prime mortgage' in 2008, and now 'corona' in 2020. That averages out at one crash just under every seven years – capitalism's 'norm'. Capitalists do not want unemployment, but they regularly generate it. It is a basic contradiction of their system.

    Read more ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus

    Today's massive US capitalist crisis – over 30 million unemployed and counting, a quarter of the workforce – shows dramatically that maximizing profit is not maximizing society's well-being. First and foremost, consider that the unemployed millions continue much of their consumption while ceasing much of their production. A portion of the wealth produced by those still employed must be redistributed to sustain the unemployed. Society thus suffers the usually intense struggles over the shares of profits versus wages that will be redistributed to the unemployed. These struggles, both public – over tax structures, for example – and private – for instance, over household budgets – can be profoundly destabilizing for societies.

    Redistribution struggles could be alleviated if, for example, public employment replaced private unemployment. If the state became the employer of last resort, those fired by private employers could immediately be rehired by the state to do useful social work.

    Then any government paying unemployment benefits would instead pay wages, obtain in return real goods and services, and distribute them to the public. The 1930s New Deal did exactly that for millions fired by private employers in the US. A similar alternative (not part of the New Deal) would be to organize the unemployed into worker co-ops performing socially useful work under contract with the government.

    This last alternative is the best, because it would develop a new worker co-op sector of the US economy. That would provide the US public with direct experience in comparing the capitalist with the worker co-op sector in terms of working conditions, product quality and price, civic responsibility, etc.

    On that concrete, empirical basis, societies could offer people a real, democratic choice as to what mix of capitalist and worker co-op sectors of the economy they prefer.

    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

    [Apr 28, 2020] The Meditations, by a Roman emperor who died in a plague named after him, has much to say about how to face fear, pain, anxiety and loss by Donald Robertson

    Notable quotes:
    "... First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what's "up to us" and what isn't. Modern Stoics tend to call this "the dichotomy of control" and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely ..."
    "... Marcus likes to ask himself, "What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?" That naturally leads to the question: "How do other people cope with similar challenges?" Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. They try to exemplify these virtues and bring them to bear on the challenges they face in daily life, during a crisis like the pandemic. They learn from how other people cope. Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models. ..."
    "... fear does us more harm than the things of which we're afraid. ..."
    "... Finally, during a pandemic, you may have to confront the risk, the possibility, of your own death. Since the day you were born, that's always been on the cards. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. Avoidance is the No1 most popular coping strategy in the world. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. ..."
    "... "All that comes to pass", he tells himself, even illness and death, should be as "familiar as the rose in spring and the fruit in autumn". Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past. ..."
    Apr 25, 2020 | www.theguardian.com
    T he Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. During the last 14 years of his life he faced one of the worst plagues in European history. The Antonine Plague, named after him, was probably caused by a strain of the smallpox virus. It's estimated to have killed up to 5 million people, possibly including Marcus himself.

    ss="rich-link tone-feature--item rich-link--pillar-arts">

    ="rich-link__link u-faux-block-link__overlay" aria-label="'What it means to be an American': Abraham Lincoln and a nation divided" href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/11/abraham-lincoln-verge-book-ted-widmer-interview">

    From AD166 to around AD180, repeated outbreaks occurred throughout the known world. Roman historians describe the legions being devastated, and entire towns and villages being depopulated and going to ruin. Rome itself was particularly badly affected, carts leaving the city each day piled high with dead bodies.

    In the middle of this plague, Marcus wrote a book, known as The Meditations, which records the moral and psychological advice he gave himself at this time. He frequently applies Stoic philosophy to the challenges of coping with pain, illness, anxiety and loss. It's no stretch of the imagination to view The Meditations as a manual for developing precisely the mental resilience skills required to cope with a pandemic.

    First of all, because Stoics believe that our true good resides in our own character and actions, they would frequently remind themselves to distinguish between what's "up to us" and what isn't. Modern Stoics tend to call this "the dichotomy of control" and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. What happens to me is never directly under my control, never completely up to me, but my own thoughts and actions are – at least the voluntary ones. The pandemic isn't really under my control but the way I behave in response to it is.

    Much, if not all, of our thinking is also up to us. Hence, "It's not events that upset us but rather our opinions about them." More specifically, our judgment that something is really bad, awful or even catastrophic, causes our distress.

    This is one of the basic psychological principles of Stoicism. It's also the basic premise of modern cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the leading evidence-based form of psychotherapy. The pioneers of CBT, Albert Ellis and Aaron T Beck, both describe Stoicism as the philosophical inspiration for their approach. It's not the virus that makes us afraid but rather our opinions about it. Nor is it the inconsiderate actions of others, those ignoring social distancing recommendations, that make us angry so much as our opinions about them.

    Many people are struck, on reading The Meditations, by the fact that it opens with a chapter in which Marcus lists the qualities he most admires in other individuals, about 17 friends, members of his family and teachers. This is an extended example of one of the central practices of Stoicism.

    Marcus likes to ask himself, "What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?" That naturally leads to the question: "How do other people cope with similar challenges?" Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. They try to exemplify these virtues and bring them to bear on the challenges they face in daily life, during a crisis like the pandemic. They learn from how other people cope. Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models.

    With all of this in mind, it's easier to understand another common slogan of Stoicism: fear does us more harm than the things of which we're afraid. This applies to unhealthy emotions in general, which the Stoics term "passions" – from pathos , the source of our word "pathological". It's true, first of all, in a superficial sense. Even if you have a 99% chance, or more, of surviving the pandemic, worry and anxiety may be ruining your life and driving you crazy. In extreme cases some people may even take their own lives.

    In that respect, it's easy to see how fear can do us more harm than the things of which we're afraid because it can impinge on our physical health and quality of life. However, this saying also has a deeper meaning for Stoics. The virus can only harm your body – the worst it can do is kill you. However, fear penetrates into the moral core of our being. It can destroy your humanity if you let it. For the Stoics that's a fate worse than death.

    Finally, during a pandemic, you may have to confront the risk, the possibility, of your own death. Since the day you were born, that's always been on the cards. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. Avoidance is the No1 most popular coping strategy in the world. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. The Stoics believed that when we're confronted with our own mortality, and grasp its implications, that can change our perspective on life quite dramatically. Any one of us could die at any moment. Life doesn't go on forever.

    We're told this was what Marcus was thinking about on his deathbed. According to one historian, his circle of friends were distraught. Marcus calmly asked why they were weeping for him when, in fact, they should accept both sickness and death as inevitable, part of nature and the common lot of mankind. He returns to this theme many times throughout The Meditations.

    "All that comes to pass", he tells himself, even illness and death, should be as "familiar as the rose in spring and the fruit in autumn". Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past.

    Donald Robertson is cognitive behavioural therapist and the author of several books on philosophy and psychotherapy, including Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

    [Apr 22, 2020] Replacing Workers Has Many Costs by Cheryl Carleton

    Apr 22, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    It goes without saying that the consequences to workers are damaging to catastrophic. Normally, being unemployed for more than six months is a near-insurmountable barrier to getting hired again. Perhaps coronavirus will create a better new normal on this front, of companies taking a more understanding view of crisis-induced resume gaps.

    By Cheryl Carleton, Assistant Professor of Economics, Villanova University. Originally published at The Conversation

    The labor market is changing rapidly with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Many organizations are laying off almost all of their workers , while others are considering which workers to lay off, which to furlough and which to keep. Alternatively, some are expanding their labor forces .

    When the economy starts to open up again, employers will need to consider rehiring or replacing workers, or hiring workers with a different mix of skills. The cost of replacing an employee is high for employers, and being out of work is harmful for workers, who may be replaced with artificial intelligence or contractors and risk losing their skills.

    I'm an expert in labor economics , and my work with a colleague investigates the increase in people engaging in alternative work arrangements such as contract or gig work, along with the implications such jobs have for all workers' well-being .

    There is no denying that the U.S. was experiencing a tight labor market and a low rate of unemployment before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. For some fields, particularly health care and services deemed essential by local governments, the labor market continues to be tight.

    A sudden massive loss of demand for their goods and services is forcing companies to make quick decisions, and some employers may underestimate the cost to replace good employees. Knowing these costs may encourage them to keep more of their workers on the payroll.

    Where Are the Costs?

    There are costs involved in losing a worker and replacing them, such as completing paperwork when they leave, advertising the open position, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and training the new worker.

    Once a new worker is hired, others must also spend time training them, and it will take some time for the new worker to achieve the same level of productivity as the worker who left.

    Another cost is the loss in social capital . Social capital is the relationships between individuals at work that take time to build and add to the productivity of the firm.

    The Society for Human Resource Management found that departures cost about one-third of a worker's annual earnings .

    The Center for American Progress drilled in deeper. They found the costs of replacing workers who earn less than US$30,000 per year to be 16% of annual salary, or $3,200 for an individual earning $20,000 per year.

    For those earning $30,000 to $50,000 per year, it is estimated to cost about 20% of annual salary, or $8,000 for an individual earning $40,000. For highly educated executive positions, replacement costs are estimated to be 213% of annual salary – $213,000 for a CEO earning $100,000 per year.

    The much higher cost for replacing CEOs is partly due to the fact that they require higher levels of education, greater training, and firms may lose clients and institutional knowledge with such turnovers.

    Employee Alternatives

    This high cost of losing and replacing workers has important implications for organizations, consumers and workers, especially now with an estimated 15 million unemployed .

    For those workers where the costs to replace them are high, firms will try to accommodate them. Strategies may include maintaining pay, increasing benefits and retraining. These actions are also costly, so firms will weigh them against the cost of simply hiring new workers .

    This means businesses face high costs to replace workers in the future, and high costs to retain current workers, leading to higher costs for consumers who buy the firms' goods and services.

    While the above consequences might sound great for workers that organizations choose to keep, these are not the only ways in which firms can respond.

    The high cost of replacing workers, along with the increased uncertainty about the economy may cause businesses to use more automation and robots . Though such switches may entail a significant upfront cost, once they are made the firms then have more control over their production processes.

    Another alternative for firms is to hire fewer permanent employees and turn instead to contract workers . With contract workers, employers are not responsible for benefits, and they can more simply increase or decrease the number of workers as needed.

    While this may increase employment for some workers, it will decrease it for others and it has serious implications for the availability of health and pension benefits as well as unemployment benefits, as the current crisis has revealed.

    Businesses might also consider limiting the scope of what some workers do to limit the cost of replacing them. If the scope of a worker's job is limited, then fewer areas will be impacted by the individual leaving, and the costs to train a replacement will be lower. For workers, however, it means fewer opportunities to gain experience.

    For example, instead of training workers on several or all parts of the production process, the business may limit them to one specific aspect. It will then be less costly for the firm to replace them and the worker will have less experience to add to their resume. This also means less bargaining power for employees.

    Some Win, But Others Lose

    The high cost of losing and then hiring new workers along with increased restrictions on hiring nonresidents might mean higher wages and increased benefits for some workers.

    However, the high degree of uncertainty in the current labor market, along with the potential increase in contract workers and automation means that some workers will not realize these potential gains, and all of us as consumers will most likely end up paying higher prices for the goods and services we buy.

    [Apr 01, 2020] Could the Covid19 Response be More Deadly than the Virus OffGuardian

    Apr 01, 2020 | off-guardian.org

    Suicides and Drug Abuse

    According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 48,000 suicides occurred in the US in 2018. This equates to an annual rate of about 14 suicides per 100,000 people. As expected, suicides increase substantially during times of economic depression. For example, as a result of the 2008 recession there was an approximate 25% increase. Similarly, during a peak year of the Great Depression, in 1932, the rate rose to 17 suicides per 100,000 people.

    Recent research ties high suicide rates "to the unraveling of the social fabric" that happens when societal breakdowns occur. People become despondent over economic hardship, the loss of social structures, loneliness, and related factors.

    There is probably no greater example of these kinds of losses than what we are experiencing today with the extreme response to COVID-19 and the effects will be felt for many years. The social structures might return in a few months but the economy will not.

    Some think that the economy will recover in three years and others think it will never recover in terms of impact to low-income households, as was the case for the 2008 recession. However, if we estimate a full recovery in six years, the effects will contribute around 3 suicides per 100,000 people every year during that time for a total of over 59,000 deaths in the United States.

    Related to suicides are drug abuse deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 67,000 deaths from overdose of illicit or prescription drugs occurred in 2018. This does not include alcohol abuse. Only 7% were suicides and 87% were known to be unintentional deaths largely due to drug abuse caused by depression or other mental conditions. Such conditions can be expected to rise during times of economic collapse and if we estimate the impact due to COVID-19 over six years as being a 25% increase (as with suicides) that projects about 87,000 additional deaths due to drug abuse.

    Lack of Medical Coverage or Treatment

    Unemployment is expected to rise dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 response and the effect is already being seen in jobless claims. One of the major impacts of unemployment, apart from depression and poverty, is a lack of medical coverage.

    A Harvard study found nearly 45,000 excess deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage. That was at the pre-COVID-19 unemployment rate of 4%.

    As reported recently, millions of Americans are losing their jobs in the COVID-19 recession/depression. For every 2% increase in unemployment, there are about 3.5 million lost jobs.

    The US Secretary of Treasury has predicted a 20% unemployment level, which translates to 12 million lost jobs. If the 45,000 excess deaths due to lack of medical coverage increases uniformly by unemployment rate, we can expect about 225,000 deaths annually due to lack of medical coverage in the US at 20% unemployment. Extrapolating this over a 6-year period would mean 1.35 million deaths .

    This assumes that funding for important health-related programs are not further cut or ignored, a bad assumption that means the estimate is probably low.

    Beyond lack of coverage, medical services are being reprioritized to respond preferentially to COVID-19, causing less resources to be available for treatment of other medical conditions. The capacity of medical service providers has already been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 response in some areas.

    Additionally, clinical trials and drug development are expected to be severely impacted. This means that important new medicines will not reach the market and people will die who otherwise would have lived. There is not yet enough information on the overall impact to medical service provision therefore we will not include an estimate.

    Poverty and Food Access

    The Columbia University School of Public Health studied the effects of poverty on death rates. The investigators found that 4.5% of US deaths were attributable to poverty. That's about 130,000 deaths annually.

    How will this be affected by COVID-19? One way to begin estimating is to consider how the number of people living in poverty will increase.

    Before the COVID-19 response, approximately 12% of Americans lived below the officially defined poverty line. That percentage will undoubtedly rise significantly due to the expected increase in unemployment. If unemployment rises to 20% (from 4%) as predicted, the number of people living in poverty could easily double. If that is the extent of the effect, we will see another 130,000 deaths per year from general poverty.

    Although deaths due to poverty are not entirely about food access, it is a significant factor in that category. In times of economic hardship many people can't afford good food, causing malnutrition and, in some cases, starvation. People also can't access food causing the same outcomes. Limited access to nutritious food is a root cause of diet-related diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infant mortality issues. A recent estimate suggests 20% of all deaths worldwide are linked to poor diets.

    Food access issues will be further exacerbated with the COVID-19 problem due to the anticipated issues with food production and prices. If the COVID-19 response lasts for years as expected, our estimate will need to be a multiple of the 130,000 annual figure. Using the 6-year estimate, we get 780,000 deaths.

    Conclusion

    The total deaths attributable to the COVID-19 response, from just this limited examination, are estimated to be:

    Suicides 59,000 Drug abuse 87,000 Lack of medical coverage or treatment 1,350,000 Poverty and food access 780,000

    These estimates, totaling more than two million deaths above the estimated 150,000 expected from the virus itself, do not include other predictable issues with the COVID-19 response. An example is the lack of medical services as stated above. Other examples include the EPA's suspension of environmental regulations. It has been estimated that the EPA's Clean Air Act alone has saved 230,000 lives each year.

    Moreover, the anticipated failure of the US Postal Service (USPS) will lead to more illness and death. The USPS "delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas."

    Even using these low estimates, however, we can see that the response will be much worse than the virus. The social devastation and economic scarring could last more than six years, with one expert predicting that it will be "long-lasting and calamitous."

    That expert has noted that he is not overly concerned with the virus itself because "as much as 99 percent of active cases [of COVID-19] in the general population are 'mild' and do not require specific medical treatment."

    Yet he is deeply concerned about the "the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life." He suggests a better alternative is to focus only on those most susceptible to the virus. Others have reasonably suggested that only those who are known to be infected should self-quarantine.

    Some public health professionals have been pleading with authorities to consider the implications of the unreasonable response. Many experts have spoken out publicly, criticizing the overreaction to COVID-19. A professor of medical microbiology, for example, has written an open letter to German Chancellor Merkel in an attempt to draw attention to the concerns.

    The real problem we face today is not a virus. The greater problem is that people have failed to engage in critical thinking due to the fear promoted by some media and government officials. Fear is the mind killer, as author Frank Herbert once wrote. Ultimately, the fear of COVID-19 and the lack of critical thinking that has arisen from it are likely to cause far more deaths than the virus itself.


    George Mc ,

    List of the effects of this virus (not exhaustive):

    • Total shut down on all other news items.
    • The speeding up of an economic meltdown which was going to happen anyway but which now can be attributed to the virus alone.
    • The speeding up of the inevitable confrontation between the overlords and the masses on conditions favourable to the former.
    • The reduction of the public to a condition in which most welcome draconian restrictions
    • The harsh and vitriolic gap between those who are urging on the restrictions and those who are suspicious i.e. a divide and rule matter which threatens to become physically violent.
    • The curtailing and indeed destruction of the rights and protections for the general population that have been hard won over the last century.
    • The reduction of social life to a social media matrix. (And yes I'm using the word "matrix" in a knowing way.)
    • The seemingly legitimate emergence of a police state
    • The wrecking of the public sector. Of course this also means the wrecking of the private sector but that will happen in a bottom up way i.e. smaller businesses tanking, then slightly larger, then larger still. But by the time it affects the giants, the game can be called off since the public sector will be gone.

    Joerg ,

    Some weeks ago on youtube there was a video with an interview with a German virologist Dr. Köhnlein. Youtube removed this video – but now it is back on youtube again (only in German): "CORONA – Alles nur Panik (Dr. Köhnlein)" – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVHZ1bLceRw&feature=youtu.be

    Toby Russell ,

    I've been trying to get a grip on the extent to which the PCR test is used to establish who has been infected with this alleged virus. Part of my research led me to this very recent presentation on YouTube by a well credentialed doctor called Andrew Kaufman. In it, he sets out how inaccurate the test is, that there isn't even a gold standard against which to assess its accuracy, but the one attempt to do so he could find arrived at an 80% false-positive rate. I heard from a doctor friend that its inventor, Kary Mullis, insisted it should never be used for diagnosis. My understanding is that it is being used everywhere but China, where a new test is being developed. If this is true, the figures we are being bombarded with are not remotely trustable.

    But the main thrust of the presentation by Dr Kaufman is the identity between exosomes and covid-19. Exosomes are natural cellular defense mechanisms recently becoming known amongst molecular biologists. They are largely unknown by doctors and nurses. Kaufman's assertion is that covid-19 is in fact an exosome. He quotes James Hildreth, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at Meharry Medical College and a former professor at John Hopkins: " the virus is fully an exosome in every sense of the word."

    The presentation is about 40 minutes long and followed by a fairly lengthy question and answer session. Because falsifiable, and because it explains all the oddities of this case, I feel his theory deserves widespread attention.

    In other news I had time today to translate:

    The New England Journal of Medicine is the world's leading medical journal. In its 26 March 2020 edition, we find: "[ ] This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS [ ]"

    This article was penned by a few authors, one of whom was none other than Anthony S Fauci. Yes, THE Anthony S Fauci. Note the case fatality rate. If anyone is interested in a full translation, please let me know

    Cassandra2 ,

    The human race is being 'played' and the majority have been conditioned to accept it.

    The really SCARY aspect of all this is that even if 97% of the global population were given a complete insight into what was actually going on and who was (and has been for a considerable time) manipulating events – what could they do about it?

    Answer 'NOTHING'

    The people are atomised, disconnected and totally powerless as they have no control over MASS MEDIA COMMUNICATION . . . . . they do (RE: BBC).

    A catalyst is required to unite the human race to establish an effective Counter-Offensive capable of cleaning the earth of the dark forces currently in play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Psychology Work & careers Economics Economic policy

    See also

    [Jan 27, 2020] Warren as an extremely weak, incoherent politician: one example if her approach to student debt problem

    There is a huge difference between extremely bright students and medicate ones. Bright students are the future of the society and need to be nurtures and helped in any way possible for the range of specialties that are important (STEM is one example)
    There is difference between the degree in computer science and the degree in some obscure nationality studies (let's say Eastern European studies; few people that are needed can be paid by intelligence agencies ;-) Obscure areas should be generally available only to well to do students, who can pay for their education.
    Like is the case with alcoholism, some student debt is the result of bad personal choices.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times, ..."
    "... "My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, so she doesn't have any student debt. Am I going to get my money back?" ..."
    "... So, we end up paying for people who didn't save any money, then those who did the right thing get screwed, ..."
    "... "We did the right thing and we get screwed," ..."
    "... "Look, we build a future going forward by making it better. By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you or last month for you," ..."
    "... "We don't build an America by saddling our kids with debt. We build an America by saying we're going to open up those opportunities for kids to be able to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt." ..."
    "... Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) ..."
    "... "I'll direct the Secretary of Education to use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers (about 42 million people)," ..."
    "... A scholarship system awarding free tuition to the top 5% of college applicants (NOT biased by race, gender, etc) who apply to the U.S.'s best STEM programs, hell yes! Free tuition for future Democrat voters, f^%k that! ..."
    Jan 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

    Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) defended her plan to pay off college loans after being confronted by a father in Iowa in an exchange that went viral.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren is confronted by a father who worked double shifts to pay for his daughters education and wants to know if he will get his money back. pic.twitter.com/t2GGbAnG08

    -- Eddie Donovan (@EddieDonovan) January 21, 2020

    The father approached Warren, a leading Democratic presidential contender, after a campaign event in Grimes.

    "My daughter's getting out of school, I saved all my money, so she doesn't have any student debt. Am I going to get my money back?" the man asked Warren.

    "Of course not," Warren replied.

    " So, we end up paying for people who didn't save any money, then those who did the right thing get screwed, " the father told her.

    He then described a friend who makes more money but didn't save up while he worked double shifts to save up to pay for his daughter's college.

    The father became upset, accusing Warren of laughing.

    "We did the right thing and we get screwed," he added before walking off.

    In an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on Friday, Warren was asked about the exchange.

    Last night, a father who saved for his daughter's college education approached @SenWarren and challenged her proposed student loan forgiveness plan. @TonyDokoupil asks the senator for her response: pic.twitter.com/jLUXPqChC6

    -- CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 24, 2020

    "Look, we build a future going forward by making it better. By that same logic what would we have done? Not started Social Security because we didn't start it last week for you or last month for you," Warren said.

    Pressed on whether she was saying "tough luck" to people like the father, she said "No." She then recounted how she got to go to college despite coming from a poor family.

    "There was a $50 a semester option for me. I was able to go to college and become a public school teacher because America had invested in a $50 a semester option for me. Today that's not available," she said.

    "We don't build an America by saddling our kids with debt. We build an America by saying we're going to open up those opportunities for kids to be able to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt."

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    One of Warren's plans is to cancel student loans. According to her website , on her first day as president she would cancel student loan debt as well as give free tuition to public colleges and technical schools and ban for-profit colleges from getting aid from the federal government.

    "I'll direct the Secretary of Education to use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers (about 42 million people)," Warren wrote.

    "I'll also direct the Secretary of Education to use every existing authority available to rein in the for-profit college industry, crack down on predatory student lending, and combat the racial disparities in our higher education system."

    Sounds an awful lot like the dad above is right those that did the "right thing" are gonna get "screwed."


    csmith , 1 minute ago link

    Warren's debt forgiveness plan will turbo-boost the increases in college costs. It is the EXACTLY backwards remedy for out-of-control college costs.

    mtndds , 2 minutes ago link

    Warren you bitch, I paid back my student loans responsibly by working my *** off (140k) and now you want to give others a free ride? I sure hope that I get a refund for all that money I paid back.

    moron counter , 7 minutes ago link

    Obama did this kinds thing with housing. I got outbid by 100k on a house. The other bidder who got it didn't make his house payments so Obama restructured his loan knocking off 100k from his loan and giving him a 1% interest rate on it. He again didn't make his payments and got it restructured again but I didn't hear the terms of that one.

    chelydra , 12 minutes ago link

    If student loan debt is such a crisis, force every university to use their precious endowment funds to underwrite those loans AND let those loans get discharged in bankruptcy. Maybe then those schools would start to question whether having a dozen "Diversity Deans" each being paid $100k+ salaries is really worth the expense (among other things).

    Imagine That , 12 minutes ago link

    A scholarship system awarding free tuition to the top 5% of college applicants (NOT biased by race, gender, etc) who apply to the U.S.'s best STEM programs, hell yes! Free tuition for future Democrat voters, f^%k that!

    FightingDinosaur , 15 minutes ago link

    The pissed off dad in this story has only one person to be pissed off at: himself, for being stupid. Understand something about college degrees: 90% of them, including majors like accounting, are not worth the paper they are printed on. Anyone who works double shifts to pay for anyone's college degree, even their own, is stupid. Look at why college costs so much: go to any state, and you'll see that 70% or more of the highest paid state employees are employed by public colleges and universities. You need to play these sons of bitches at their game, use their funny money to pay for the degree, and walk away. If you play the way these sons of bitches tell you to play, you get what you deserve.

    I used their funny money to get a degree that wasn't worth the paper it was printed on and walked away. I don't give a **** if the sons of bitches grab my tax refund. Why? Because I have my withholdings set up so they get next to nothing in April. It costs the sons of bitches more to print up the garnishment letter and send it to me than what they're stealing from me. Guess what I use for an address? P.O. Box (can't serve a summons to a ghost).

    If you're going to do what stupid, pissed off dad did, and work double shifts, you need to be trading out of all that funny money you're being paid for those double shifts, and trading into personal economic leverage (gold first, then silver). Instead of having bedrock to build multi-generational wealth, he has a daughter with a degree in pouring coffee, and nothing else to show for it. He only has himself to blame for drinking the Kool Aid. I can grab overtime every Saturday at my job if I want it, and every last penny of that OT is traded out of funny money and into gold ASAP.

    Understand the US real estate market: the only reason it did not die five years ago was because we welcomed rich foreigners to come in and buy real estate to protect their wealth. We've stopped doing that, we have an over-abundance of domestic sellers and a severe shortage of domestic buyers. It's also where history says you need to be if you want to build multi-generational wealth. Warren actually needs to go further than what she's proposing. Not only does she need to discharge 100% of those balances by EO, she also needs to refund all those tax refunds stolen under false pretenses. Anything less, and we are guaranteed, for the next 40 years, to have a real estate market and economy which resembles Japan since 1989.

    Why do I buy gold? So I can play people like Warren at their game. I'll take whatever loan discharge she gives me, and have lots of leverage in reserve to take advantage of what will be a once in a lifetime real estate fire sale.

    Centurion9.41 , 13 minutes ago link

    Here's an idea...

    Make those who want to be bailed out have to pay the bailout back by working every non-holiday Saturday (at the minimum wage rate) for the government and citizens (e.g who need work done around the house, take care of the elderly - in the bathroom) until the debt is paid back. AND let those who have not taken the debt relief supervise them - getting paid by the government at the same rate, minimum wage. 🦞🦞🦞🦞🦞

    gatorengineer , 13 minutes ago link

    For a decent college it's between 35-70k a year.... Why? 300k a year library professors, if it weren't for tenure the problem would largely he self correcting as rntrillments drop...

    southpaw47 , 18 minutes ago link

    My how times have changed. My son was a college grad circa 1996. He did the JUCO thing for 1 1/2 years , worked a part time job for the duration, and picked up an A S while making the President's list. I aid, out of pocket all educational expenses while he lived at home and provided for a nice lifestyle while he was in school. As promised, he finished his education, out of state, which I paid for all along the way. 2 more years, he graduated, on the Pres list, and picked up his B S. No student debt, in his words, was one of the the greatest gifts. Today he is debt free, (so am I ), and he is a very happy , financially secure ( until the world goes upside down) mature adult. Hey Lizzie, send me a check.

    Snaffew , 27 minutes ago link

    They are all ignoring the real problem...the Federal mandated system of the guaranteed student loan program. Anyone with a pulse can get a guaranteed student loan, thus creating a massive rise in college admissions. The colleges are guaranteed the money for these loans, while the lender (the US gov't) is not guaranteed to be paid back by the students receiving these loans,. this created a fool proof, risk free ability for colleges and universities across the country to jack up their tuition costs at over a 5:1 ratio of income growth over the last 25 years. The problem is the program itself, students need to earn their ability to enroll in college through hard work and good grades. Currently, any moron with a high school diploma can go to college on a guaranteed student loan program and the colleges are more than willing to take on any idiot that wants to go to school despite their aspirations, work ethics, intelligence, achievements, etc. The universities have been given a blank check to expand their campuses, drastically inflate the salaries and pensions of professors and administrators of these schools all at the expense of this guaranteed "free" money from the government that only achieved an immense amount of the population going to overpriced schools in order to get a diploma in useless pursuits like african american studies, philosophy, creative writing, music, criminal justice, arts, basket weaving, etc.. The skyrocketing costs of colleges and student debt is the direct result of this miserably failed system of the guaranteed student loan. The majority of which have no business going to higher education because they don't have the aptitude, work ethic and intelligence necessary to actually receive a degree in anything that benefits the economy and themselves going forward. 30 years ago the average state college admission was roughly $4k a year for a good state school, today it is roughly $20k or far more. Meanwhile, the average income has gone up a meaningless amount. Get rid of the guaranteed student loan program and make the colleges responsible for accepting the responsibility of the loans for their students. I guarantee enrollment will decrease and costs will decline making it much more affordable for the truly responsible and aspiring student to achieve their dreams of a degree without a $250k loan needed for completion nor the lifelong strain of debt on their future incomes. The colleges are raping the system the same as all these shoestring companies take advantage of the medicaid system and give hovarounds and walking canes, and hearing aids for free because the gov't reimburses them at wildly inflated prices under some federally passed mandate. The system is the problem, eliminating the debt will only exacerbate it and cost taxpayers trillions more each and every year as "free" college will now entice every moron with a heartbeat the ability to go to outrageously priced schools with no skin in the game on the taxpayer's dime. Elizabeth Warren is an idiot....someone needs to have a sit down with her and discuss this rationale in her luxurious, state of the art TeePee.

    Balance-Sheet , 11 minutes ago link

    While you are correct corrupting academics with huge payoffs is how you secure their votes and the votes of most of the 'students' for decades to come.

    Any group or industry can be paid off and you might think of the system as a set of interlocking payoffs until you get out to the margins and the fringes where the cash and benefits are a lot thinner.

    bkwaz4 , 25 minutes ago link

    Everyone who continues to pay taxes to these neo-Bolsheviks is going to get screwed. The only alternative is to stop funding these criminals completely.

    johnduncan78 , 25 minutes ago link

    What a sorry presidential canditate! She flat out LIED about being native american to get FREE college. And now this. Where has America gone????????? Socialism sems to be what most want nowadays. It has NEVER EVER worked anywhere in the world at any time! If yoou think therwise, just name ONE countryn it has worked in ! What a lying bunch the democrats are..........................

    Lie_Detector , 27 minutes ago link

    Warren Defends Plan To Cancel Student Debt

    So all if us have to pay for it. Why did I have to pay for University and College in the 1970's if I wanted to further my education and now that I am older I have to foot the bill for the young people of today? Pay DOUBLE? (just to buy votes for traitors?)

    I think NOT! Take your theft from the people, to buy votes of everyone from young people to illegal criminals to outright criminals in prison to dead people and resign before we decide to arrest you.

    Democrats, HANG IT UP! We are NOT paying for YOUR illegitimate votes.

    Resist-Socialist-Dem-Lies , 24 minutes ago link

    Notice too how all their "we're going to wipe out your debt!" promises never seem to include the big "endowments" of these fascist colleges that jacked up tuition 1000% over what it used to cost.

    No, those creepy commie profs and their freaky administrators get to keep their big TAX FREE endowments AND their big salaries.

    Big Gov by Sanders/Warren don't seem to think that's obscene.

    Lie_Detector , 22 minutes ago link

    You are absolutely correct. 45 years ago you could almost work part time and actually PAY your way through college. Today you almost need a physicians salary to pay for these OVERPRICED sewers filled with leftist propaganda.

    moron counter , 27 minutes ago link

    It's obvious that Warren doesn't teach economics or even math. They weren't smart enough when they took out the loans and they are not good with paying their bills so move the goal posts to bail them out. Has anyone given the thought that maybe they shouldn't have gone to college at all. Sounds like they will all work for the government anyways.

    [Jan 24, 2020] Bloomberg's Plan for Addressing Economic Inequality: not a wealth tax by Linda Beale

    Jan 23, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
    A bit ago (Jan 8, 2020), the New York Times described Michael Bloomberg's plan 1 for addressing the income and wealth inequality in the United States that has been a constant topic of discussion by Democratic candidates. Briefly, as with the robber barons of Teddy Roosevelt's age, the wealth of the global commerce titans and particularly the private equity fund buyers and sellers of companies (and layers off of employees) has exploded over the last four decades in the US, beginning in earnest with Ronald Reagan's presidency. Most of the benefits of productivity gains have gone to a very few people at the top, and the bottom 50% of the wealth distribution actually owns a smaller share of the nation's wealth than 40 years ago. The top 1% have gained enormously, and the top 0.5% have been even more enriched. We have ultra multibillionaires like Jeff Bezos who can pay $9 billion to his wife in a divorce settlement and still be the wealthiest man in the world with more than $130 billion in net worth. He earns about $78.5 billion a year (counting value of his Amazon shares) or more than $6.5 billion a month 2 and thus exemplifies this new "gilded age" of ultrawealthy tycoons. This exists at the same time that the Trump administration proposes work requirements that will eliminate food stamp aid for 700,000 of hungry Americans and, with other initiatives, will take food stamps from 3.7 million beneficiaries who simply cannot get work that pays well enough to fund a sustainable lifestyle for themselves and their families. 3 This will "save" the U.S. about $5.5 billion over five years–less than Bezos 'earns' in a month. This disparity–$5.5 billion to feed 3.5 million hungry Americans versus provide a month's additional wealth for a person already wallowing in wealth like Jeff Bezos–is why it is clear that the US needs to figure out how to respond to the inequality crisis in order to protect American democracy and ensure Americans have a decent standard of living.

    Bloomberg's plan seems to be a moderate stance like Obama and Biden that attempts to focus on factors other than the wealth gap and the accompanying power gap that wealth provides. As the NY Times reports, he "frames the economic divide primarily in regional terms–and not along rich-versus-everyone-else class lines." 1 The Times article notes that his plan is not unlike the charge Obama gave to Joe Biden for the Middle Class Task Force. 1\

    Bloomberg's proposals for addressing the problem are similarly centered on things long discussed and tried that are difficult to do at a large enough scale to make any inroads into the inequality problem or the power gap problem. He is most definitely not proposing a wealth tax. His proposals include a focus on education and skills training, infrastructure projects, and entrepreneurial training centers. Although the GI Bill was a significant part of the post-WWII economic boom because it allowed vast numbers of returning veterans to get a college education, Bloomberg seems to be thinking more of apprenticeships and community colleges (training for a job) rather than university (training for a career and an approach to learning throughout life). The Times notes his interest in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and encouraging unions while disallowing noncompetes for low- and middle-income jobs.

    All those are minimal steps that any progressive candidate should take, but while they may have marginal impact on middle class mobility, they will not do much at all to ease the income and wealth gap that has been caused by technology, globalization, and financialization of the economy together that has measured success almost solely from stock market numbers and thus allowed corporate and private equity tycoons to garner the major gains in productivity over decades while paying their workers too little (or moving offshore to pay even less), combined with a tax system that privileges wealth, including, among a host of others, extremely favorable corporate tax provisions after the 2017 tax legislation, ridiculously low maximum rates on ordinary income, carried interest provision, section 1031 exchanges, section 1202 exclusion for gains on original issue small business stock, capital gains preference, and an absurdly low flat estate tax above a too-high exemption amount with a step-up in basis for heirs.

    Bloomberg is a billionaire who is at least aware that the inequality in this country is problematic and needs to be addressed. But like most of the "have-so-much" class, he shows little interest in what is truly required–a shift in the direction of redistribution to balance the distorted seesaw of billionaires getting all the height and the rest sitting at the bottom. FDR's New Deal is said to have worked because the robber barons were scared that the proletariat would rise up in support of communism–the so-called 'red scare' behind the success of social security enactment. There may not be a red scare now (though the Trump campaigners try to paint democratic socialist programs as communism), but there is a real likelihood that the contrast–and possibly real class warfare– between the squalor and despair of poor families who work hard but cannot fend for themselves and rich kids with silver spoons that only grow bigger and bigger may eventually threaten the global nation of the plutocrats. 4

    1 Jim Tankersley, Michael Bloomberg's Jobs Plan is Focused on Place over Class , New York Times (Jan 8, 2020).

    2 Hillary Hoffower, We did the math to calculate how much money Jeff Bezos makes in a year, month, week, day, hour, minute, and second , BusinessInsider.com (Jan 9, 2020).

    3 Phil McCausland, T rump administration proposals could cause millions to lose food stamps , NBC News (Nov. 30, 2019) (discussing proposed changes to SNAP program that would impose stricter work requirements, cap deductions for utility allowances and 'reform' the way states automatically enroll families when they receive other aid). See also

    4. See, e.g., Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich (2012) (described in The Guardian book review as "a necessary and at times depressing book about the staggeringly wealthy"). Freeland is neither Marxist nor socialist, and as I am reading the book, not evenappropriately skeptical of the amount of merit behind the plutocrats' self-claimed meritocracy.

    1. pgl , January 23, 2020 7:40 am

      Bloomberg was mayor of NYC for 12 years. During that period he opposed raising taxes on the rich. He also showed what he thought about the various classes by making sure that upper Manhattan (where his fellow billionaires often live) got taken care of but the other boroughs (where the working class often live) received scant attention or real resources. OK – he was a better mayor than RUDY G. but that is a very low bar.

    [Jan 19, 2020] Inequality in the USA has reached an 100-year record high

    Jan 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

    vk , Jan 18 2020 13:29 utc | 135

    @ Posted by: V | Jan 18 2020 9:49 utc | 118

    Inequality in the USA has reached an 100-year record high:

    It's not the 1% anymore but the 0.1%!

    The top 0.1% of US wealth holders now have as much wealth (property, financial assets) as the bottom 90% for the first time since the 'roaring 20s'.

    It's not the 1% anymore but the 0.1%!

    [Jan 19, 2020] Death and Neglect in the 7th Fleet

    Jan 19, 2020 | www.propublica.org

    . A firsthand account from a U.S. Naval officer is eye opening (emphasis mine).

    He'd seen his ship, one of the Navy's fleet of 11 minesweepers, sidelined by repairs and maintenance for more than 20 months. Once the ship, based in Japan, returned to action, its crew was only able to conduct its most essential training -- how to identify and defuse underwater mines -- for fewer than 10 days the entire next year . During those training missions, the officer said, the crew found it hard to trust the ship's faulty navigation system: It ran on Windows 2000.

    Sonar which identifies dishwashers, crab traps and cars as possible mines, can hardly be considered a rebuilt military. The Navy's eleven minesweepers built more than 25 years ago, have had their decommissioning continually delayed because no replacement plan was implemented. I'll await the deeper understanding of 'deterrence' from b, even as I consider willingness to commit and brag about war crimes as beyond the point of no return.

    Posted by: psychedelicatessen | Jan 19 2020 9:14 utc | 98

    [Jan 11, 2020] Atomization of workforce as a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
    "... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
    "... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
    "... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
    "... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
    Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
    Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

    George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

    A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

    But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

    And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

    That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

    Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I particularly liked this point:

    In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

    With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

    DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

    So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

    [Jan 02, 2020] The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It s Usefulness Happiness as an achievable goal is an illusion, but that doesn t mean happiness itself is not attainable by Darius Foroux

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ..."
    "... Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer. ..."
    Aug 22, 2019 | getpocket.com

    For the longest time, I believed that there's only one purpose of life: And that is to be happy. Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It's to achieve happiness in some way. And I'm not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

    That's why we collectively buy shit we don't need, go to bed with people we don't love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don't like.

    Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don't care what the exact reason is. I'm not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

    We are who are.

    Let's just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don't live fulfilling lives. I don't necessarily care about the why .

    I care more about how we can change.

    Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

    But at the end of the day, you're lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: "What's next in this endless pursuit of happiness?"

    Well, I can tell you what's next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

    It's all a façade. A hoax. A story that's been made up.

    Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

    "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

    I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that's kind of what the quote says as well.

    But here's the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

    Happiness can't be a goal in itself. Therefore, it's not something that's achievable. I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness. When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I'll give it a try here. Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

    Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You're not creating anything. You're just consuming or doing something. And that's great.

    Don't get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it's not what gives meaning to life.

    What really makes me happy is when I'm useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

    For the longest time I foud it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots connected.

    Emerson says:

    "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

    And I didn't get that before I became more conscious of what I'm doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it's actually really simple.

    It comes down to this: What are you DOING that's making a difference?

    Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don't have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than you were born.

    If you don't know how, here are some ideas.

    That's just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

    You see? It's not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

    The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there's zero evidence that I ever existed.

    Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

    It's a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

    "Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad."

    You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

    Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat . I've been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show , he's doing something.

    He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says "Do More."

    Most people would say, "why would you work more?" And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

    A different mindset.

    Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

    And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

    Don't take it too seriously. Don't overthink it. Just DO something that's useful. Anything.

    Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.

    More from Darius Foroux

    This article was originally published on October 3, 2016, by Darius Foroux, and is republished here with permission. Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

    Join his newsletter.


    [Dec 02, 2019] The Fake Myth of American Meritocracy by Barbara Boland

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for. ..."
    "... When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. ..."
    "... The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy: ..."
    Mar 15, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    The college bribery scandal reveals an ugly truth: our society is unjust, dominated by a small elite. Actress Lori Loughlin, who has been implicated in the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock The most destructive and pervasive myth in America today is that we live in a meritocracy. Our elites, so the myth goes, earned their places at Yale and Harvard, on Wall Street and in Washington -- not because of the accident of their birth, but because they are better, stronger, and smarter than the rest of us. Therefore, they think, they've "earned" their places in the halls of power and "deserve" to lead.

    The fervor with which so many believe this enables elites to lord over those worse off than they are. On we slumber, believing that we live in a country that values justice, instead of working towards a more equitable and authentically meritocratic society.

    Take the Operation Varsity Blues scandal. On Tuesday, the FBI and federal prosecutors announced that 50 people had been charged in, as Sports Illustrated put it , "a nationwide college admissions scheme that used bribes to help potential students cheat on college entrance exams or to pose as potential athletic recruits to get admitted to high-profile universities." Thirty-three parents, nine collegiate coaches, two SAT/ACT exam administrators, an exam proctor, and a college athletics administrator were among those charged. The man who allegedly ran the scheme, William Rick Singer, pled guilty to four charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and obstruction of justice.

    As part of the scam, parents would "donate" money to a fake charity run by Singer. The funds would then be laundered to either pay off an SAT or ACT administrator to take the exams or bribe an employee in college athletics to name the rich, non-athlete children as recruits. Virtually every scenario relied on multiple layers of corruption, all of which eventually allowed wealthy students to masquerade as "deserving" of the merit-based college slots they paid up to half a million dollars to "qualify" for.

    Cheating. Bribery. Lying. The wealthy and privileged buying what was reserved for the deserving. It's all there on vivid display. Modern American society has become increasingly and banally corrupt , both in the ways in which "justice" is meted out and in who is allowed to access elite education and the power that comes with it.

    The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes. We pretend to be better than Russia and other oligarchies, but we too are dominated by a rich and powerful elite.

    The average American citizen has very little power, as a 2014 study by Princeton University found. The research reviewed 1,779 public policy questions asked between 1981 and 2002 and the responses by different income levels and interest groups; then calculated the likelihood that certain policies would be adopted.

    What they found came as no surprise: How to Fix College Admissions

    A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18 percent of the time, while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time.

    That's in stark contrast with policies favored by average Americans:

    When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

    The conclusion of the study? We live in an oligarchy:

    our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. [T]he preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

    The belief in the myth of merit hurts the smart kid with great grades who aced his SATs but was still rejected from Yale and Harvard. It hurts talented athletes who have worked their tails off for so many years. It hurts parents who have committed hundreds of school nights and weekends to their children. It hurts HR departments that believe degrees from Ivy League schools mean that graduates are qualified. It hurts all of us who buy into the great myth that America is a democratic meritocracy and that we can achieve whatever we want if only we're willing to expend blood, toil, sweat, and tears.

    At least in an outright class system like the British Houses of Lords and Commons, there is not this farcical playacting of equal opportunity. The elites, with their privilege and titles, know the reason they are there and feel some sense of obligation to those less well off than they are. At the very least, they do not engage in the ritual pretense of "deserving" what they "earned" -- quite unlike those who descend on Washington, D.C. believing that they really are better than their compatriots in flyover country.

    All societies engage in myth-making about themselves. But the myth of meritocracy may be our most pervasive and destructive belief -- and it mirrors the myth that anything like "justice" is served up in our courts.

    Remember the Dupont heir who received no prison time after being convicted for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge ruled that six-foot-four Robert Richards "wouldn't fare well in prison"? Or the more recent case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who had connections to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and faced a 53-page federal indictment for sex-trafficking over two dozens underage girls ? He received instead a sweetheart deal that concealed the extent of his crimes. Rather than the federal life imprisonment term he was facing, Epstein is currently on house arrest after receiving only 13 months in county jail. The lead prosecutor in that case had previously been reprimanded by a federal judge in another underage sex crimes case for concealing victim information, the Miami Herald reports .

    While the rich are able to escape consequences for even the most horrific of crimes , the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Approximately 7 million people were under some form of correctional control by the end of 2011, including 2.2 million who were detained in federal, state, and local prisons and jails. One in every 10 black men in his thirties is in prison or jail, and one out of three black men born in 2001 can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.

    While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed . There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them.

    Despite all this evidence, most Americans embrace a version of the Calvinist beliefs promulgated by their forebears, believing that the elect deserve their status. We remain confident that when our children apply to college or are questioned by police , they will receive just and fair outcomes. If our neighbors' and friends' kids do not, then we assure ourselves that it is they who are at fault, not the system.

    The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action.

    Barbara Boland is the former weekend editor of the Washington Examiner . Her work has been featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report, HotAir.com, RealClearDefense, RealClearPolitics, and elsewhere. She's the author of Patton Uncovered , a book about General Patton in World War II. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC .

    MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

    The GOP's Laughable Call for a Balanced Budget Amendment Congress's "One Spending Bill to Rule Them All" is a Debt-Fueled Disgrace Hide 11 comments 11 Responses to The Myth of American Meritocracy

    Collin March 15, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    If conservatives are going to dance the graves of Aunt Beckie, the backlash is going to be big. Sure this is a 'scandal' but it seems these parents weren't rich enough to bribe their kids in college the right way, like Trumps and Kushner, and probably slightly duped into going along with this scheme. (It appears the government got the ring leader to call all defendants to get evidence they participated in a crime.)

    Just wait until the mug shot of Aunt Beckie is on the internet and Olivia Jade does 60 minutes doing teary eyed interview of how much she loves her mother. And how many parents are stress that their kids will struggle in the global competitive economy.

    Fran Macadam , , March 15, 2019 at 1:52 pm
    I fully recall the days of getting government computing contracts. Once a certain threshold was reached, you discovered you had to hire a "lobbyist," and give him a significant amount of money to dole out to various gatekeepers in the bureaucracy for your contracts to be approved. That was the end of our government contracts, and the end was hastened by the reaction to trying to complain about it.
    prodigalson , , March 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm
    Great article, well done. More of this please TAC.
    Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:17 pm
    Thank you, Barbara Boland, for "The Myth of American Meritocracy" and for linking ("Related Articles" box) to the 2012 "The Myth of American Meritocracy" by Ron Unz, then publisher of the American Conservative.

    The 26,000-word Ron Unz research masterpiece was the opening salvo in the nation-wide discussion that ultimately led to the federal court case nearing resolution in Boston.

    "The Myth of American Meritocracy -- How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?" by Ron Unz, The American Conservative, Nov 28, 2012:

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-myth-of-american-meritocracy/

    Kurt Gayle , , March 15, 2019 at 2:18 pm
    Barbara Boland "While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed."

    Ms. Boland: According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans [13 per cent of the population] accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008.

    JeffK , , March 15, 2019 at 2:46 pm
    I agree with prodigalson. This is the type of article that TAC should uphold as a 'gold standard'. One reason I read, and comment on, TAC is that it offers thought provoking, and sometimes contrarian, articles (although the constant harping on transgender BS gets annoying).

    America has always been somewhat corrupt. But, to borrow a phrase, wealth corrupts, and uber wealth corrupts absolutely.

    As Warren Buffet says "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning".

    I have said it before, and I will say it again. During the next severe financial recession, if the rich are protected and coddled and everybody else is left to fend for themselves the ARs will come out of the closets when the sheriff comes to take the house or the pickup truck. My sense is that average Americans have had enough.

    Imagine if the digital transfer of money was abolished. Imagine if everybody had to have their money in a local bank instead of on an account in one of the major banks. Imagine if Americans saw, day after day, armored vehicles showing up at local banks to offload sacks of currency that went to only a few individual accounts.

    Instead, the elites get their financial statements showing an ever increasing pile of cash at their disposal. They see it, but nobody else does. But, if everybody physically saw the river of wealth flowing to the elites, I believe things would change. Fast. Right now this transfer of wealth is all digital, hidden from the view of 99.99% of Americans. And the elites, the banking industry, and the wealth management cabal prefer it that way.

    Mike N in MA , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
    You said it sister. Great article.

    I am amazed by the media coverage of this scandal. Was anyone actually under the impression that college admissions were on the level before these Hollywood bozos were caught red handed?

    BDavi52 , , March 15, 2019 at 2:49 pm
    What total silliness!

    No, the meritocracy is not dead; it's not even dying. It is, in fact, alive and well and the absolute best alternative to any other method used to separate wheat from chaff, cream from milk, diamonds from rust.

    What else is there that is even half as good?

    Are merit-based systems perfect? Heck, no. They've never been perfect; they will never be perfect. They are administered by people and people are flawed. Not just flawed in the way Singer, and Huffman are flawed (and those individuals are not simply flawed, they're corrupt) but flawed in the everyday kind of sense. Yes, we all have tendencies, biases, preferences that will -- inevitably -- leak into our selection process, no matter how objectively strict the process may be structured, no matter how rigorously fair we try to be.

    So the fact that -- as with most things -- we can find a trace of corruption here that fact is meaningless. We can find evidence of human corruption, venality, greed, sloth, lust, envy (all of the 7 Deadly Sins) pretty much everywhere. But if we look at the 20M students enrolled in college, the vast majority are successfully & fairly admitted through merit-based filtering systems (which are more or less rigorous) which have been in place forever.

    Ms. Boland tells us (with a straight face, no less) that "The U.S. is now a country where corruption is rampant and money buys both access and outcomes." But what does that even mean?

    Certainly money can buy access and certainly money can buy outcomes. But that's what money does. She might as well assert that money can buy goods and services, and lions and tigers and bears -- oh my! Of course it can. Equally networks can 'buy' access and outcomes (if my best friend is working as the manager for Adele, I'm betting he could probably arrange my meeting Adele). Equally success & fame can buy access and outcomes. I'm betting Adele can probably arrange a meeting with Gwen Stefani .and both can arrange a meeting with Tom Brady. So what? Does the fact that money can be used to purchase goods & services mean money or the use of money is corrupt or morally degenerate? No, of course not. In truth, we all leverage what we have (whatever that may be) to get what we want. That's how life works. But the fact that we all do that does not mean we are all corrupt.

    But yes, corruption does exist and can usually be found, in trace amounts -- as I said -- pretty much everywhere.

    So is it rampant? Can I buy my way into the NBA or the NFL? If I go to Clark Hunt and give him $20M and tell him I want to play QB for the Chiefs, will he let me? Can I buy my way into the CEO's position at General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sprint, Verizon, General Motors, Toyota or any of the Fortune 500? Heck, can I even buy my way into the Governor's mansion? To become the Mayor of Chicago? Or the Police Commissioner? No -- these things are not possible. But what I can buy is my presence on the media stage.

    What happens after cannot be purchased.

    So no, by any measure, corruption is not rampant. And though many things are, in fact, for sale -- not everything is. And no matter how much money I give anyone, I'm never gonna QB the Chiefs or play for the Lakers.

    She tells us, "we are dominated by a rich and powerful elite." No, we're not. Most of us live our lives making the choices we want to make, given the means that each of us has, without any interference from any so-called "elite". The "elite" didn't tell me where to go to school, or where to get a job, or how to do my job, or when to have kids, or what loaf of bread to buy, or what brand of beer tastes best, or where to go on the family vacation. No one did. The elite obviously did not tell us who to vote for in the last presidential election.

    Of course one of the problems with the "it's the fault of the elite" is the weight given institutions by people like Ms.Boland. "Oh, lordy, the Elite used their dominating power to get a brainless twit of a daughter into USC". Now if my kid were cheated out of a position at USC because the Twit got in, I'd be upset but beyond that who really cares if a Twit gets an undergraduate degree from USC or Yale .or Harvard .or wherever. Some of the brightest people I've known earned their degrees at Easter PolyTechnic U (some don't even have college degrees -- oh, the horror!); some of the stupidest have Ivy League credentials. So what?

    Only if you care about the exclusivity of such a relatively meaningless thing as a degree from USC, does gaming the exclusivity matter.

    She ends with the exhortation: "The result has been a gaping chasm through our society. Lives are destroyed because, rather than working for real merit-based systems and justice, we worship at the altar of false promises offered by our institutions. Instead we should be rolling up our sleeves and seeing Operation Varsity Blues for what it is: a call to action."

    To do what, exactly?

    Toss the baby and the bathwater? Substitute lottery selection for merit? Flip a coin? What?
    Again the very best method is and always will be merit-based. That is the incentive which drives all of us: the hope that if we work hard enough and do well enough, that we will succeed. Anything else is just a lie.

    Yes, we can root out this piece of corruption. Yes, we can build better and more rigorously fair systems. But in the end, merit is the only game in town. Far better to roll-up our sleeves and simply buckle down, Winsocki. There isn't anything better.

    Sid Finster , , March 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm
    Gee, and people wonder why the rubes think that the system is gamed, why the dogs no longer want to eat the dog food.
    Jim Jatras , , March 15, 2019 at 3:22 pm
    "While black people make up only 13 percent of the population, they make up 42 percent of death row and 35 percent of those who are executed. There are big racial disparities in charging, sentencing, plea bargaining, and executions, Department of Justice reviews have concluded, and black and brown people are disproportionately found to be innocent after landing on death row. The poor and disadvantaged thereby become grist for a system that cares nothing for them."

    So to what degree are these "disparities" "disproportionate" in light of actual criminal behavior? To be "proportionate," would we expect criminal behavior to correlate exactly to racial, ethnic, sex, and age demographics of society as a whole?

    Put another way, if you are a victim of a violent crime in America, what are the odds your assailant is, say, an elderly, Asian female? Approximately zero.

    Conversely, what are the odds your assailant is a young, black male? Rather high, and if you yourself are a young, black male, approaching 100 percent.

    Pam , , March 15, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Mostly thumbs up to this article. But why you gotta pick on Calvinism at the end? Anyway, your understanding of Calvinism is entirely upside down. Calvinists believe they are elect by divine grace, and salvation is something given by God through Jesus, which means you can't earn it and you most assuredly don't deserve it. Calvinism also teaches that all people are made in the image of God and worthy of respect, regardless of class or status. There's no "version" of Calvinism that teaches what you claim.

    [Nov 25, 2019] These folks are not latter-day De Toquevilles or great historians, even if many came from colleges viewed as top drawer

    Nov 25, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

    kuddels 5 days ago

    Is it any wonder that the old foreign service establishment "embrace a geopolitical outlook that is simplistic, foolhardy, and dangerous"?

    The foreign service exam of that era (probably no better today) tested substantially on ones knowledge of fiction: novels and such.

    Rather like choosing career foreign service officers based on a person's performance in the entertainment trivia night at the local watering hole. It was a test of memory not logic or insightfulness or historical perspective. These folks are not latter-day De Toquevilles or great historians, even if many came from colleges viewed as top drawer.

    [Sep 13, 2019] Clowns, AI and layoffs

    Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Bugs Bunny , September 13, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Clowns should be increasingly used in redundancy (layoff, firing) meetings until it becomes the norm and employers start to compete with each other to offer the best clown redundancy experience and promote it as a benefit.

    It would also create clown jobs, which would probably require more clown schools, meaning that the tuition prices would go through the roof and young people dreaming of becoming redundancy clowns would either have to come from wealth or take out massive clown loans to fund their education for clown universities and grad schools. Shareholders can only take so much top line costs and Wall Street pressure would force corporations to improve return on investment and reduce redundancy clown labor expenses. Sadly, redundancy clowns would find themselves training their own replacements – HB1 clowns from "low cost" countries. Employers would respond to quality criticisms of the HB1 clown experience by publishing survey results showing very similar almost ex-employee satisfaction with the new clowns.

    Eventually, of course, redundancy clowns will be replaced by AI and robots. It's just the future and we will need to think about how to adapt to it today by putting in place a UBI for the inevitable redundant redundancy clowns.

    [Sep 09, 2019] What's the True Unemployment Rate in the US? by Jack Rasmus

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. ..."
    "... The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed). ..."
    "... But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated. ..."
    "... The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them). ..."
    "... The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). ..."
    "... The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%. ..."
    Sep 09, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

    The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. Here's why: the 3.7% is the U-3 rate, per the labor dept. But that's the rate only for full time employed. What the labor dept. calls the U-6 includes what it calls discouraged workers (those who haven't looked for work in the past 4 weeks). Then there's what's called the 'missing labor force'–i.e. those who haven't looked in the past year. They're not calculated in the 3.7% U-3 unemployment rate number either. Why? Because you have to be 'out of work and actively looking for work' to be counted as unemployed and therefore part of the 3.7% rate.

    The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed).

    But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated.

    The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them).

    The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). The labor dept. just makes assumptions about that number (conservatively, I may add) and plugs in a number to be added to the unemployment totals. But it has no real idea of how many undocumented or underground economy workers are actually employed or unemployed since these workers do not participate in the labor dept. phone surveys, and who can blame them.

    The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%.

    Finally, there's the corroborating evidence about what's called the labor force participation rate. It has declined by roughly 5% since 2007. That's 6 to 9 million workers who should have entered the labor force but haven't. The labor force should be that much larger, but it isn't. Where have they gone? Did they just not enter the labor force? If not, they're likely a majority unemployed, or in the underground economy, or belong to the labor dept's 'missing labor force' which should be much greater than reported. The government has no adequate explanation why the participation rate has declined so dramatically. Or where have the workers gone. If they had entered the labor force they would have been counted. And their 6 to 9 million would result in an increase in the total labor force number and therefore raise the unemployment rate.

    All these reasons–-i.e. only counting full timers in the official 3.7%; under-estimating the size of the part time workforce; under-estimating the size of the discouraged and so-called 'missing labor force'; using methodologies that don't capture the undocumented and underground unemployed accurately; not counting part of the SSI increase as unemployed; and reducing the total labor force because of the declining labor force participation-–together means the true unemployment rate is definitely over 10% and likely closer to 12%. And even that's a conservative estimate perhaps." Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jack Rasmus

    Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com .

    [Aug 30, 2019] Over 50 and unemployed: Don t panic!

    Highly recommended!
    Don't panic is always a good advice. Following it is another story...
    Notable quotes:
    "... Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. ..."
    "... Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. ..."
    Jan 03, 2012 | Palmetto Workforce Connections

    When you find yourself over 50 and unemployed, the thought of finding another job may seem daunting and hopeless.

    It is quite easy to become discouraged because many people fear being stereotyped because of their age, the tough job market, or the prospect of being interviewed by someone half their age. However, there are some things the older unemployed should keep in mind while on the job search. Using the following tips will increase your chances of a short job search and create an overall more pleasant experience.

    1. Quit telling yourself that no one hires older workers. This is simply just not true. In some cases older workers have to exert more effort to overcome discrimination, but this is certainly not the case for every employer. There are even entire websites with jobs posted specifically for older workers, and a quick Google search will render you a list of those websites. Take advantage of such resources!
    2. Take advantage of new technology. Learn to blog and micro-blog, via Twitter, about your profession and interests. You should even create a LinkedIn profile (a website similar to Facebook yet has a more career oriented function) to assist it meeting people in your desired field. All of which will help you stay fine tuned on your skills, while developing new ones. Learning to use social networking will indicate to potential employers that you can adapt to change and learn new things, particularly technology, fairly quickly.
    3. Use all those hard earned contacts. Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. It is completely acceptable to reach out to former colleagues, class mates, co-workers and employers for job possibilities. Using resources like Facebook or LinkedIn are great ways to find those long lost contacts as well. Chances are they would love to hear from you and help you out if possible.
    4. Don't clutter your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. This means keep it straight to the point and relate your past experience to the skills necessary for the job you are applying for. Essentially, don't do a history dump of every job you've ever had, instead, make each word count!
    5. Don't act superior to the interviewer. It is likely that the people interviewing you will be younger than you. But this does not mean you should look down upon them. Obviously they have earned their position, and if you play your cards right, in due time, you will earn yours! Even if you've worked more years than your interviewer has been alive, it's not okay to tell him or her that you can "teach" them anything. A better idea would be to state your experience working in a multi-generational work place.

    Use these tips to help make your job search less stressful and more positive. Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel before you've even tried. Your experience and knowledge will be recognized. All you need is the right employer to identify it.

    [Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

    Highly recommended!
    Notable quotes:
    "... A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention. ..."
    "... In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%). ..."
    "... Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th. ..."
    "... The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country. ..."
    "... Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets. ..."
    "... Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. ..."
    "... One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . ..."
    "... The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter. ..."
    "... Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception. ..."
    Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.

    However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.

    BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .

    We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.

    In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.

    A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.

    In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.

    Worrisome Numbers

    Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.

    According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).

    Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

    Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.

    More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)

    World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.

    We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).

    The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.

    There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.

    Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.

    The Economics of Stress

    This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.

    Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.

    Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.

    The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.

    And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .

    The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.

    Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.

    The Race Enigma

    One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.

    The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.

    According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.

    In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.

    Trump's Faux Populism

    The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.

    White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.

    The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.

    As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.

    This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.

    And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .

    Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .

    Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"

    Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.

    The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.


    Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.

    DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.

    JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.

    The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.

    I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.

    sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.

    dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.

    Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

    I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?

    Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!

    Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

    We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®

    https://mobile.twitter.com/BernieSanders/status/1140998287933300736
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=apxZvpzq4Mw

    DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

    This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.

    Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    " if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
    amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
    and I'll add Hispanics to that.
    My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
    Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
    I recommend it.
    on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
    all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
    ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
    that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.

    David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am

    What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.

    Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Actually, in the article it states:
    "There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."

    jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.

    Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am

    obese cracker

    You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?

    rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms

    Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.

    The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".

    Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am

    I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.

    In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.

    B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

    As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.

    B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

    One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.

    [Apr 28, 2019] Prisoners of Overwork A Dilemma by Peter Dorman

    Highly recommended!
    This is true about IT jobs. Probably even more then for lawyers. IT became plantation economy under neoliberalism.
    Notable quotes:
    "... mandatory overwork in professional jobs. ..."
    "... The logical solution is some form of binding regulation. ..."
    "... One place to start would be something like France's right-to-disconnect law . ..."
    "... "the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma." ..."
    Apr 28, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

    The New York Times has an illuminating article today summarizing recent research on the gender effects of mandatory overwork in professional jobs. Lawyers, people in finance and other client-centered occupations are increasingly required to be available round-the-clock, with 50-60 or more hours of work per week the norm. Among other costs, the impact on wage inequality between men and women is severe. Since women are largely saddled with primary responsibility for child care, even when couples ostensibly embrace equality on a theoretical level, the workaholic jobs are allocated to men. This shows up in dramatic differences between typical male and female career paths. The article doesn't discuss comparable issues in working class employment, but availability for last-minute changes in work schedules and similar demands are likely to impact men and women differentially as well.

    What the article doesn't point out is that the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma.* Consider law firms. They compete for clients, and clients prefer attorneys who are available on call, always prepared and willing to adjust to whatever schedule the client throws at them. Assume that most lawyers want sane, predictable work hours if they are offered without a severe penalty in pay. If law firms care about the well-being of their employees but also about profits, we have all the ingredients to construct a standard PD payoff matrix:

    There is a penalty to unilateral cooperation, cutting work hours back to a work-life balance level. If your firm does it and the others don't, you lose clients to them.

    There is a benefit to unilateral defection. If everyone else is cutting hours but you don't, you scoop up the lion's share of the clients.

    Mutual cooperation is preferred to mutual defection. Law firms, we are assuming, would prefer a world in which overwork was removed from the contest for competitive advantage. They would compete for clients as before, but none would require their staff to put in soul-crushing hours. The alternative equilibrium, in which competition is still on the basis of the quality of work but everyone is on call 24/7 is inferior.

    If the game is played once, mutual defection dominates. If it is played repeatedly there is a possibility for mutual cooperation to establish itself, but only under favorable conditions (which apparently don't exist in the world of NY law firms). The logical solution is some form of binding regulation.

    The reason for bringing this up is that it strengthens the case for collective action rather than placing all the responsibility on individuals caught in the system, including for that matter individual law firms. Or, the responsibility is political, to demand constraints on the entire industry. One place to start would be something like France's right-to-disconnect law .

    *I haven't read the studies by economists and sociologists cited in the article, but I suspect many of them make the same point I'm making here.

    Sandwichman said...
    "the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma."

    Now why didn't I think of that?

    https://econospeak.blogspot.com/2016/04/zero-sum-foolery-4-of-4-wage-prisoners.html April 26, 2019 at 6:22 PM

    [Apr 13, 2019] For those IT guys who want to change the specalty

    Highly recommended!
    The neoliberal war on labor in the USA is real. And it is especially real for It folk over 50. No country for the old men, so to speak...
    Notable quotes:
    "... Obviously you need a financial cushion to not be earning for months and to pay for the training courses. ..."
    "... Yeah, people get set in their ways and resistant to make changes. Steve Jobs talked about people developing grooves in their brain and how important it is to force yourself out of these grooves.* ..."
    "... Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. ..."
    "... The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair. ..."
    "... IBEW (licensed electricians) has no upper age limit for apprentices They have lots of American engineers who applied in their 30s after realizing most companies want diverse HI-B engineers. ..."
    "... At 40+, I still can learn advanced mathematics as well as I ever did. In fact, I can still compete with the Chinese 20 year olds. The problem is not mental horsepower, it's time and energy. I rarely have time to concentrate these days (wife, kids, pets), which makes it hard to get the solid hours of prime mental time required to really push yourself at a hard pace and learn advanced material. ..."
    "... That's a huge key and I discovered it when I was asked to tutor people who were failing chemistry. I quickly discovered that all it took for most of them to "get it" was to keep approaching the problem from different angles until a light came on for them and for me the challenge of finding the right approach was a great motivator. Invariably it was some minor issue and once they overcame that, it became easy for them. I'm still astonished at that to this day. ..."
    "... Sorry man, English teaching is huge, and will remain so for some time to come. I'm heavily involved in the area and know plenty of ESL teachers. Spain for me, and the level of English here is still so dreadful and they all need it, the demand is staggering and their schools suck at teaching it themselves. ..."
    "... You have to really dislike your circumstances in the US to leave and be willing to find some way to get by overseas. ..."
    "... We already saw this in South Africa. Mandela took over, the country went down the tubes, the wealthy whites left and the Boers were left to die in refugee camps. They WANT to leave and a few went to Russia, but most developed countries don't want them. Not with the limited amount of money they have. ..."
    "... Americans are mostly ignorant to the fact that they live in a 2nd world country except for blacks and rednecks I have met in the Philippines who were stationed there in the military and have a $1000 a month check. Many of them live in more dangerous and dirty internal third worlds in America than what they can have in Southeast Asia and a good many would be homeless. They are worldly enough to leave. ..."
    Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

    Anonymous [388] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm GMT

    @YetAnotherAnon

    " He's 28 years old getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?"

    I know a UK guy (ex City type) who retrained as an electrician in his early 50s. Competent guy. Obviously no one would take him on as an apprentice, so he wired up all his outbuildings as his project to get his certificate. But he's getting work now, word gets around if you're any good.

    Obviously you need a financial cushion to not be earning for months and to pay for the training courses.

    Yeah, people get set in their ways and resistant to make changes. Steve Jobs talked about people developing grooves in their brain and how important it is to force yourself out of these grooves.*

    I know a Haitian immigrant without a college degree who was working three jobs and then dropped down to two jobs and went to school part time in his late 40's and earned his degree in engineering and is a now an engineer in his early 50's.

    *From Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pp.330-331:

    "It's rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing," Jobs said wistfully to the writer David Sheff, who published a long and intimate interview in Playboy the month he turned thirty. "Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they're rare." The interview touched on many subjects, but Jobs's most poignant ruminations were about growing old and facing the future:

    Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them.

    I'll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I'll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I'm not there, but I'll always come back. . . .

    If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away.

    The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, "Bye. I have to go. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here." And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.

    anonymous [191] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 9:59 pm GMT
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    "fluid intelligence" starts crystallizing after your 20's". Nonsense, I had a great deal of trouble learning anything from my teen years and 20's because I didn't know how to learn. I went for 30 years and eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me. I have learned more and mastered more skills in the past ten years ages 49-59 than I had in the previous 30.

    You can challenge yourself like I did and after a while of doing this (6 months) you will find it a lot easier to learn and comprehend than you did previously. (This is true only if you haven't damaged your brain from years of smoking and drinking). I constantly challenged myself with trying to learn math that I had trouble with in school and eventually mastered it.

    The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair.

    Anon [257] Disclaimer , says: March 15, 2019 at 4:29 am GMT
    @YetAnotherAnon

    IBEW (licensed electricians) has no upper age limit for apprentices They have lots of American engineers who applied in their 30s after realizing most companies want diverse HI-B engineers.

    Upper age limits for almost every occupation disappeared decades ago in America because of age discrimination laws.

    I can't see how any 28 year old could possibly be too soft to go into any kind of manual labor job.

    jbwilson24 , says: March 15, 2019 at 9:31 am GMT
    @anonymous Yeah, there was a recent study showing that 70 year olds can form neural connections as quickly as teenagers.
    At 40+, I still can learn advanced mathematics as well as I ever did. In fact, I can still compete with the Chinese 20 year olds. The problem is not mental horsepower, it's time and energy. I rarely have time to concentrate these days (wife, kids, pets), which makes it hard to get the solid hours of prime mental time required to really push yourself at a hard pace and learn advanced material.

    This is why the Chinese are basically out of date when they are 30, their companies assume that they have kids and are not able to give 110% anymore.

    jacques sheete , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:14 am GMT
    @anonymous

    eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me.

    That's a huge key and I discovered it when I was asked to tutor people who were failing chemistry. I quickly discovered that all it took for most of them to "get it" was to keep approaching the problem from different angles until a light came on for them and for me the challenge of finding the right approach was a great motivator. Invariably it was some minor issue and once they overcame that, it became easy for them. I'm still astonished at that to this day.

    The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair.

    No doubt about it. No embellishment needed there!

    s.n , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:42 am GMT
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Yeah. He's 28 years old and apparently his chosen skillset is teaching EASL in foreign countries. That sector is shrinking as English becomes the global lingua franca and is taught in elementary schools worldwide. He's really too old and soft for his Plan B (military), and getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?

    do you know anything first hand about the teaching- english- as-a- second- language hustle?

    Asking sincerely – as I don't know anything about it. However I kinda suspect that 'native speakers' will be in demand in many parts of the globe for some time to come [as an aside – and maybe Linh has written of this and I missed it – but last spring I was in Saigon for a couple of weeks and, hanging out one day at the zoo & museum complex, was startled to see about three groups of Vietnamese primary-school students being led around by americans in their early 20s, narrating everything in american english . Apparently private schools offering entirely english-language curriculum are the big hit with the middle & upper class elite there. Perhaps more of the same elsewhere in the region?]

    At any rate the young man in this interview has a lot more in the way of qualifications and skill sets than I had when I left the States 35 years ago, and I've done just fine. I'd advise any prospective expats to get that TEFL certificate as it's one extra thing to have in your back pocket and who knows?

    PS: "It really can't be overstated how blessed you are to have American citizenship" – well, yes it can. Everyone knows that the best passport on earth is from Northwest Euroland, one of those places with free university education and free health care and where teenage mothers don't daily keel over dead from heroin overdoses in Dollar Stores .. Also more places visa-free

    The Anti-Gnostic , says: Website March 15, 2019 at 2:37 pm GMT
    @s.n

    When you left the States 35 years ago, the world was 3 billion people smaller. The labor market has gotten a tad more competitive. I don't see any indication of a trade or other refined skillset in this article.

    People who teach EASL for a living are like people who drive cars for a living: you don't do it because you're really good at teaching your native language, you do it because you're not marketable at anything else.

    jeff stryker , says: March 15, 2019 at 3:20 pm GMT
    @jacques sheete JACQUES

    I think being Australian is the best citizenry you can have. The country is far from perfect, but any lower middle class American white like myself would prefer to be lower middle class there than in Detroit or Phoenix, where being lower income means life around the unfettered urban underclass that is paranoia inducing.

    Being from the US is not as bad as being Bangladeshi, but if you had to be white and urban and poor you'd be better off in Sydney than Flint.

    The most patriotic Americans have never been anywhere, so they have no idea whether Australia or Tokyo are better. They have never traveled.

    s.n , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:42 am GMT
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Yeah. He's 28 years old and apparently his chosen skillset is teaching EASL in foreign countries. That sector is shrinking as English becomes the global lingua franca and is taught in elementary schools worldwide. He's really too old and soft for his Plan B (military), and getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?

    do you know anything first hand about the teaching- english- as-a- second- language hustle?

    Asking sincerely – as I don't know anything about it. However I kinda suspect that 'native speakers' will be in demand in many parts of the globe for some time to come [as an aside – and maybe Linh has written of this and I missed it – but last spring I was in Saigon for a couple of weeks and, hanging out one day at the zoo & museum complex, was startled to see about three groups of Vietnamese primary-school students being led around by americans in their early 20s, narrating everything in american english .

    Apparently private schools offering entirely english-language curriculum are the big hit with the middle & upper class elite there. Perhaps more of the same elsewhere in the region?]

    At any rate the young man in this interview has a lot more in the way of qualifications and skill sets than I had when I left the States 35 years ago, and I've done just fine. I'd advise any prospective expats to get that TEFL certificate as it's one extra thing to have in your back pocket and who knows?

    ps: "It really can't be overstated how blessed you are to have American citizenship" – well, yes it can. Everyone knows that the best passport on earth is from Northwest Euroland, one of those places with free university education and free health care and where teenage mothers don't daily keel over dead from heroin overdoses in Dollar Stores ..

    Also more places visa-free

    s.n , says: March 16, 2019 at 7:23 am GMT
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    People who teach EASL for a living are like people who drive cars for a living: you don't do it because you're really good at teaching your native language, you do it because you're not marketable at anything else.

    well that's the beauty of it: you don't have to be good at anything other than just being a native speaker to succeed as an EASL teacher, and thousands more potential customers are born every day. I'd definitely advise any potential expats to become accomplished, and, even better, qualified, in as many trades as possible. But imho the real key to success as a long term expat is your mindset: determination and will-power to survive no matter what. If you really want to break out of the States and see the world, and don't have inherited wealth, you will be forced to rely on your wits and good luck and seize the opportunities that arise, whatever those opportunities may be.

    Thedirtysponge , says: March 16, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Sorry man, English teaching is huge, and will remain so for some time to come. I'm heavily involved in the area and know plenty of ESL teachers. Spain for me, and the level of English here is still so dreadful and they all need it, the demand is staggering and their schools suck at teaching it themselves.

    You are one of those people who just like to shit on things:) and people make a lot of money out of it, not everyone of course, like any area. But it's perfectly viable and good to go for a long time yet. It's exactly that English is the lingua Franca that people need to be at a high level of it. The Chinese market is still massive. The bag packer esl teachers are the ones that give off this stigma, and 'bag packer' and 'traveller' are by now very much regarded as dirty words in the ESL world.

    Mike P , says: March 16, 2019 at 5:52 pm GMT
    @Thedirtysponge

    ESL teachers. Spain for me

    There is a very funny version also with Jack Lemmon in "Irma la Douce", but I can't find that one on youtube.

    jeff stryker , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:26 am GMT
    @Thedirtysponge S.N. & DIRTY SPONGE

    Most Americans lack the initiative to move anywhere. Most will complain but will never leave the street they were born on. Urban whites are used to adaptation being around other cultures anyhow and being somewhat street smart, but the poor rural whites in the exurbs or sticks whose live would really improve if they got the hell out of America will never move anywhere.

    You have to really dislike your circumstances in the US to leave and be willing to find some way to get by overseas.

    Lots of people will talk about leaving America without having a clue as to how hard this is to actually do. Australia and New Zealand are not crying out for white proles with high school education or GED. It is much more difficult to move overseas and stay overseas than most Americans think.

    Except of course for the ruling elite. And that is because five-star hotels look the same everywhere and money is an international language.

    We already saw this in South Africa. Mandela took over, the country went down the tubes, the wealthy whites left and the Boers were left to die in refugee camps. They WANT to leave and a few went to Russia, but most developed countries don't want them. Not with the limited amount of money they have.

    Australia and NZ would rather have refugees than white people in dire circumstances.

    Even immigrating to Canada, a country that I worked in, is much much harder than anyone imagines.

    jeff stryker , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:37 am GMT
    A LONGTIME EXPAT ON LIVING ABROAD

    Americans are mostly ignorant to the fact that they live in a 2nd world country except for blacks a