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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"

Oligarchic "Quiet Coup" in the USA, "Greed is good" slogan and loss of trust in neoliberal governments

News Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Recommended Links Quiet coup The Deep State National Security State / Surveillance State In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers
Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Two Party System as polyarchy The Iron Law of Oligarchy The Pareto Law Media-Military-Industrial Complex Groupthink Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition
Corporatism Inverted Totalitarism US and British media are servants of security apparatus Casino Capitalism Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Corruption of Regulators
Neoliberal Brainwashing: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment The importance of controlling the narrative New American Caste System The Essential Rules for Dominating Population What's the Matter with Kansas Big Uncle is Watching You
Nation under attack meme American Exceptionalism Neo-fascism Bureaucracies Military Bureaucracy Military Incompetence Bureaucratic Collectivism
Toxic Managers The psychopath in the corner office Female Sociopaths Office Stockholm Syndrome Quotes about Psychopaths Humor Etc


Introduction


There is an 'audacious oligarchy' of self-defined rulers who move freely between private industry and government, whose primary objective is preserving and furthering their own power and self-interest.

Jesse's Café Américain, Audacious Oligarchy

Audacious behaviour is often connected with the weakened self-preservation instinct, typical for sociopaths. So their audacity take the form of Chutzpah (shameless audacity; impudence, unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall). It's inherently connected with the lack of empathy, which is a defining feature of sociopaths. The key question here is: to what extent the US elite became infected with substantial or even dominant number of sociopaths? Including female sociopaths as we saw recently in the reaction of behaviour of a wife of former president on killing Gaddafy (Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died ) ?

In fact this process of self-selection of sociopaths into neoliberal elite reached dangerous level was noted be many, including famous remark of Robert Johnson at Culture Project's IMPART 2012 Festival that essentially defined the term ("Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."):

Oligarchy now is audacious. They don't really care if they are legitimate.

"Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must."

Robert Johnson serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York. Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.

Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin) and of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico). Johnson received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As you can see this idea "Legitimate if you can, coerce if you have to, and accommodate if you must." does not differ much with the modus operandi of three-letter agencies, so the terms "audacious oligarchy" and "deep state" are closely related: deep state can be viewed as a social system in this audacious oligarchy rules the population.

We can also think about the term "audacious oligarchy" as the term related to the rise of neo-fascism, (be it neoliberal fascism or Inverted Totalitarism). For some details National Security State / Surveillance State: Review of Literature and a very interesting discussion of Robert Johnson remarks on financial oligarchy at “They’re All Standing on the Deck of the Titanic Looking in Each Other’s Eyes” (naked capitalism, April 21, 2013). That means the key elements of fascist ideology are preserved, with the replacement of Arian Nation for financial oligarchy, but without ruthless physical suppression of opposition which are replaced by financial instruments, blacklisting, economic sanctions and color revolutions in "deviant" countries. Like in Third Reich dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. there is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

One interesting side effect of the dominance of financial oligarchy is loss of trusts in experts, especially economic expects, professors who now are nothing more then a prostitutes at the service of financial capital Ian Klaus in "Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance gives the following definition:

Trust, to be simple with our definition, is an expectation of behavior built upon norms and cultural habits. It is often dependent upon a shared set of ethics or values. It is also a process orchestrated through communities and institutions. In this sense, it is a cultural event and thus a historical phenomenon.

As Robert Johnson noted:

"People don't trust experts. If you saw 'Inside Job', you know why. People do not trust the private markets, and they don't trust government."

See also Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy.

In the case of neoliberal transformation of the USA the state to a large extent seized to defend the population. Instead the state became a predictor, defender of international corporations, as hostile to the US people as Bolshevik rule was to Russians and other nationalities of the USSR. In other word the USA population became hostages of the system much like population of the USSR was. In a way nothing is new in human history.

The most important side effect of neoliberal transformation of the US society is the destruction (or more correctly emasculation) of legal system, which effectively lead to the situation when like in monarchy, some people are above the law. And we can suspect, judging from recent the USSR nomenklatura experience that such a caste might quickly degrades. As Long Aston said "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". If you willfully and recklessly tear down the laws in the name of some misbegotten ideology the benefit to "chosen" few, blowback might come sooner or later. even if you successfully hide this in a smokescreen of sophisticated scam ideology (neoliberalism in case of current crony or casino capitalism, which replaced the New Deal "live and giver other chance to live" motto) the blowback eventually might knock the particular country down. In such system nobody trust anybody and the whole society gradually disintegrates becoming just extended version of a mafia clan. With typical for such clans deadly internal fights for power. Mexican drug cartels saying - plomo y plobo ('silver or lead'): either you accept our bribes or accept our bullets is perfectly applicable in this situation. And that's how "audacious oligarchy really operates at least of international scène. But the law of the jungle has one important difference with the regular law system: any more powerful group of states can became both a judge and executioner for less powerful, or competing group of states.

When you take some self-serving fairy tale and take it an extreme by sticking an 'ism' on the end of it, like is the case with neoliberalism, at the beginning everything is fine and population is carries by this lie with ease. But as soon as people discover this despite all the power of propaganda their standard of living is going down, some trouble appear on the horizon and there is no other way then to concert the state into national security state, as proponent of communism have found in the USSR. And under neoliberalism, the essence of which is redistribution of wealth in favor of the top 0.01% of the world population, this disillusionment in inevitable, unless we experience a new technological revolution, similar to computer revolution. it can't be hidden with fairly tales about "undemocratic nature" of poor state or corruption. People can only be suppressed by brute force. and the lead to overextension of the neoliberal empire.

When the financial oligarchy is completely exempt from the law and in this particular area regulation is burned to the ground to serve the interests of financial oligarchy, strange things start to happen. The first glimpse on which we already saw in 2008. There was a demonstration of an immanent feature of neoliberal regimes which might be called financial sector induced systemic instability of economy. The latter which lead to periodic booms and busts with unpredictable timing, severity and consequences for the society at large, but so far all of those crisis work also as mechanism of redistribution of the society wealth toward the top . this time the US oligarchy managed to swipe the dirt under the rug.

This instability happens automatically and does not depend on the presence of "bad apples" in the system, because the financial sector under neoliberalism functions not as the nerve system of the economy of the particular country, but more like an autoimmune disease. In other words financial sector destabilizes the "immune system" of the country by introducing positive feedback look into economic (and not only economic, look at the USA foreign policy since 1991) activities.

What exactly is neoliberal oligarchy ?

When we say audacious oligarchy we essentially mean neoliberal oligarchy, and first of all financial oligarchy. Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by wealth, family ties, commercial, government and/or military positions. The actual literal translation from the Greek is the "rule of the few". The word oligarchy is derived from the Greek words "ὀλίγος" (olígos), "a few"[2] and the verb "ἄρχω" (archo), "to rule, to govern, to command".

Throughout history, most oligarchies have been tyrannical, relying on public servitude to exist, although some have been relatively benign. Plato pioneered the use of the term in Chapter Four, Book Eight of "The Republic" as a society in which wealth is the criterion of merit and the wealthy are in control.

However oligarchy is not always a rule according to the size of the wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be distinguished from plebs by iether personal wealth or bloodlines as in a monarchy. Although often those two types of distinction are present too. For example, in the USSR the oligarchy was represented by special class of government and party servants (nomenklatura). The same is by-and-large true for Communist China. Those types of oligarchy has a lot of features in common with neoliberal oligarchy, although they are national in character. First of all in both system oligarchs are "working oligarchs". They actively participate in the their business or government activities. The second thing is that neoliberal oligarchy has very interesting connection with the idea of Communist International, and can be viewed as an interesting perversion of this concept ("Capitalism International") with some flavor of Trotskyism -- as it strives for and adopts Trotskyism central idea of permanent revolution as the method of reaching of the world dominance (see, neocons and color revolutions)

At the same time starting from 80th in the USA oligarchy by-and-large started to correspond to European aristocracy as vertical mobility became very limited and suppressed in the USA (actually more then in European countries, despite all the hype about the American dream).

The USA oligarchy by-and-large corresponds to European aristocracy, with substantial number of its members being children of oligarchic families. Vertical mobility, despite hype, is very limited and suppressed (actually more then in European countries). In no way the USA con be considered "the county of opportunities" anymore.

Russian oligarchy is very atypical in this sense, and is a pretty interesting case of a very high vertical mobility. As a country Russia is unique that in its history it several times wiped out its entrenched oligarchy. Two last "rotations" happened in 1917 then large part of old oligarchy lost their power and after neoliberal revolution of 1991 which brought into power the corrupt government of Boris Yeltsin. The drunkard, who imitated French proclaiming "enrich yourself" and launches (with gentle support from USA in a form of Harvard mafia) the most corrupt privatization of state wealth in human history.

But most members of the new, Post-Soviet Russian oligarchy did demonstrated tremendous level of upward mobility. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union on 31 December 1991, many directors and sometimes middle managers of state owned Russia-based corporations, especially producers of petroleum, natural gas, and metals managed to privatize their holdings and have become oligarchs. Criminal privatization under Yeltsin regime allowed them to amass phenomenal wealth and power almost overnight. In May 2004, the Russian edition of Forbes identified 36 of these oligarchs as being worth at least US$1 billion. And not of all them came from Nomenklatura. Many members of nomenklatura (even on the level of Politburo) did not fit in the new economic system and stopped being oligarchs.

All modern democracies should be viewed as oligarchies

Robert Michels believed that any political system eventually evolves into an oligarchy. He called this the iron law of oligarchy. According to this school of thought, modern democracies should be considered to be oligarchies. this is what his "iron law of oligarchy" is about. In other word when we speak the word democracy about such regimes as current exist in the USA or Western Europe, it is most self-deception.

That gives a pretty sinister meaning to the "promotion of democracy" and "support of democracy" activities, as in reality it is installation of more favorable to the promoter oligarchic group in power, often via coup d'état (with a specific neoliberal variant, which use developed by Gene Sharp political technology, called Color revolution), as recently happened in Libya and Ukraine.

In "modern democracies", the actual differences between viable political rivals are small, the oligarchic elite impose strict limits on what constitutes an acceptable and respectable political position, and politicians' careers depend heavily on unelected economic and media elites. Thus the popular phrase: there is always only one political party, the party of oligarchy.

This is especially true for winner takes all election systems, which create two party environment, with both party being a factions of the same elite. See Two Party System as Polyarchy

Quiet coup

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson (born January 16, 1963). Simon Johnson is a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund.

The term was introduced in Simon Johnson article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power:

Becoming a Banana Republic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial oligarchy as an key part of modern neoliberal elite

Corporate oligarchy is a form of power, governmental or operational, where such power effectively rests with a small, elite group of inside individuals, sometimes from a small group of educational institutions, or influential economic entities or devices, such as banks, commercial entities that act in complicity with, or at the whim of the oligarchy, often with little or no regard for constitutionally protected prerogative. Monopolies are sometimes granted to state-controlled entities, such as the Royal Charter granted to the East India Company. In this regime people move freely from government posts to private industry and back.

In the USA the most rapidly rising part of national oligarchy is financial oligarchy. As Senator Dick Durbin noted referring to the US Congress Banks Frankly Own The Place. Moreover in many cases it is unclear who owns whom, for example whether Goldman Sachs owns NY FED or NY FED Goldman Sachs ( The Fed Under Goldman's Thumb - Bloomberg )

Senators questioned Dudley, 61, on issues ranging from whether some banks are too big to regulate to the Fed’s role in overseeing their commodities businesses.

Some of the criticism was pointed. Warren, a frequent critic of financial regulators, asked Dudley if he was “holding a mirror to your own behavior.”

Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, complained that bank employees involved in misdeeds haven’t been prosecuted and are “too big to jail.”

Dudley repeatedly disagreed with assertions that the New York Fed wasn’t doing enough to regulate banks and said lenders have become stronger and safer in the past few years.

... ... ...

Today’s Senate hearing follows reports that Goldman Sachs fired two bankers after one of them allegedly shared confidential documents from the New York Fed within the firm.

A junior banker, who had joined the company in July from the New York Fed, was dismissed a week after the discovery in late September, along with another employee who failed to escalate the issue, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Goldman Sachs confirmed the memo’s contents.

As Adair Turner noted in The Consequences of Money Manager Capitalism

In the wake of World War II, much of the western world, particularly the United States, adopted a new form of capitalism called “managerial welfare-state capitalism.”

The system by design constrained financial institutions with significant social welfare reforms and large oligopolistic corporations that financed investment primarily out of retained earnings. Private sector debt was small, but government debt left over from financing the War was large, providing safe assets for households, firms, and banks. The structure of this system was financially robust and unlikely to generate a deep recession. However, the constraints within the system didn’t hold.

The relative stability of the first few decades after WWII encouraged ever-greater risk-taking, and over time the financial system was transformed into our modern overly financialized economy. Today, the dominant financial players are “managed money” — lightly regulated “shadow banks” like pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and university endowments—with huge pools of capital in search of the highest returns. In turn, innovations by financial engineers have encouraged the growth of private debt relative to income and the increased reliance on volatile short-term finance and massive uses of leverage.

What are the implications of this financialization on the modern global economy? According to Adair Lord Turner, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a former head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority, it means that finance has become central to the daily operations of the economic system. More precisely, the private nonfinancial sectors of the economy have become more dependent on the smooth functioning of the financial sector in order to maintain the liquidity and solvency of their balance sheets and to improve and maintain their economic welfare. For example, households have increased their use of debt to fund education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and leisure. And at the same time, they have become more dependent on interest, dividends, and capital gains as a means to maintain and improve their standard of living.

Another major consequence of financialized economies is that they typically generate repeated financial bubbles and major debt overhangs, the aftermath of which tends to exacerbate inequality and retard economic growth. Booms turn to busts, distressed sellers sell their assets to the beneficiaries of the previous bubble, and income inequality expands.

In the view of Lord Turner, currently there is no countervailing power (in John Kenneth Galbraith terms) able to deal with the consequences of neoliberalism, as he calls it "money manager capitalism.” The net result likely will be years more of economic stagnation and deteriorating living standards for many people around the world.

Finance is a form of modern warfare

As Michael Hudson aptly noted in Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy (2011)

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.

Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and “the miracle of compound interest” that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.

Simon Johnson, former IMF Chief Economist, is coming out in May’s 2009 edition of The Atlantic with a fascinating, highly provocative article, on the collusion between the US’ “financial oligarchy” and the US government and how its persistence will contribute to prolonging the economic crisis. Here is the summary (hat tip to Global Conditions):

One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you (…)

The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don’t want to hear.(…)

No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis. (…)

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders (…)

Many IMF programs “go off track” (a euphemism) precisely because the government can’t stay tough on erstwhile cronies, and the consequences are massive inflation or other disasters. A program “goes back on track” once the government prevails or powerful oligarchs sort out among themselves who will govern—and thus win or lose—under the IMF-supported plan. (…)

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (…).

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

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

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

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

(…) the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital—a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. (…)

One channel of influence was, of course, the flow of individuals between Wall Street and Washington. Robert Rubin, once the co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, served in Washington as Treasury secretary under Clinton, and later became chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs during the long boom, became Treasury secretary under George W.Bush. John Snow, Paulson’s predecessor, left to become chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, a large private-equity firm that also counts Dan Quayle among its executives. Alan Greenspan, after leaving the Federal Reserve, became a consultant to Pimco, perhaps the biggest player in international bond markets.

A whole generation of policy makers has been mesmerized by Wall Street, always and utterly convinced that whatever the banks said was true (…).

By now, the princes of the financial world have of course been stripped naked as leaders and strategists—at least in the eyes of most Americans. But as the months have rolled by, financial elites have continued to assume that their position as the economy’s favored children is safe, despite the wreckage they have caused (…)

Throughout the crisis, the government has taken extreme care not to upset the interests of the financial institutions, or to question the basic outlines of the system that got us here. In September 2008, Henry Paulson asked Congress for $700 billion to buy toxic assets from banks, with no strings attached and no judicial review of his purchase decisions. Many observers suspected that the purpose was to overpay for those assets and thereby take the problem off the banks’ hands—indeed, that is the only way that buying toxic assets would have helped anything. Perhaps because there was no way to make such a blatant subsidy politically acceptable, that plan was shelved.

Instead, the money was used to recapitalize banks, buying shares in them on terms that were grossly favorable to the banks themselves. As the crisis has deepened and financial institutions have needed more help, the government has gotten more and more creative in figuring out ways to provide banks with subsidies that are too complex for the general public to understand (…)

The challenges the United States faces are familiar territory to the people at the IMF. If you hid the name of the country and just showed them the numbers, there is no doubt what old IMF hands would say: nationalize troubled banks and break them up as necessary (…)

In some ways, of course, the government has already taken control of the banking system. It has essentially guaranteed the liabilities of the biggest banks, and it is their only plausible source of capital today.

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

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

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation (…)

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. (…)

(…) Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine”.

The predatory nature of financial oligarchy

The nature of financial oligarchy is such that the government’s capacity to take control of an entire financial system, and to clean, slice it up and re-privatize it impartially is almost non-existent. Instead we have growing, corrupt collusion between financial elites and government officials which is hall mark of corporatism in its most modern form -- neoliberalism.

Second probably is that institutions are more powerful them individuals and replacement or even jailing of corrupt current officials while a quite welcome move, can't by itself lead to drastic changes. You need to reinstall the whole system of government controls dismantled by Clinton-Bush regime. Otherwise one set of players will be simply replaced by the other, no less corrupt, hungry and unprincipled. As Daron Acemoglu pointed out recently, we are in a situation that attempt to fix the financial system will have to involve those same bankers (albeit in lower positions at the time of the crisis) that created the mess in the first place. To push the analogy a bit strongly, even in Germany post 1945 and Iraq post 2003 new governments still needed to work with some civil servants in the judicial and educational system from the previous regime as well as with tainted industrialists.

In theory, the best way to diminish the power of financiers is to limit the size (limiting the damage) and let them fail and crash badly. Also introduction of a tax of transactions (Tobin tax) can help to cool the frenzy of derivative trading. But there is nobody in power who can push those changes. That means the "silent coup" in which financial oligarchy got control of the state is complete.

Loss of trust led to conversion of the country into national security state

Paranoya of financial oligarchy after 2008 when most of the country wished them what was reflected in the slogan of the corner of Wallstreet (see the picture), led to speed up of creation of comprehensive network of spying over the citizens.

According to UN Human Right Council Report (17 April 2013) innovations in technology not only have increased the possibilities for communication and protections of free expression and opinion, enabling anonymity, rapid information-sharing and cross-cultural dialogues. They also simultaneously increased opportunities for State surveillance and interventions into individuals’ private communications facilitating to transformation of the state into National Security State, a form of corporatism characterized by continued and encompassing all forms of electronic communication electronic surveillance of all citizens.

Even if we assume that data collection is passive and never used it is like a ticking bomb or "skeleton in the closet" it is a powerful method of control of population, not the different from what was used by KGB in the USSR or STASI in East Germany.

So it does not really matter much what the data are collected for and what if official justification of such a collection. The mere fact of collection changes the situation to the worse, making opposition to the system practically impossible. The net result is what is matter. And the net result definitely resembles a move in the direction of a tyranny. US Senator Frank Church said in 1975:

"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.".

Today his words sound even more true then in 1975 when computers were still in their infancy and mainframes dominated the computer landscape. With the proliferation of cheap electronic devices such as PCs and laptops, tablets and cell phones this really became "the abyss from which there is no return".

So the real, the key goal is not what is officially declared. Convenience of access to information has a side effect that it makes collection of information about you trivial and at the same time comprehensive. It is to keep the elite safe from common folks, not all those lies about national security. It is all about the security of the elite.

In other words 1984 dystopia materialized in slightly different, slightly more gentle form. The elite as a whole is not interesting in dismantling the tool that serve its interests so well even if it has some side effects on the elite members themselves. This is another confirmation of The Iron Law of Oligarchy

All-in-all it's a good time to smell the coffee and talk about the rise of a new mutation of totalitarism in the USA. That's exactly what this "Internet-inspired" flavor of total surveillance due to modern technical capabilities means. There is also distinct shadow of Stasi in all those activities. As countries of the USSR camp got into similar trap before, nothing is new under the sun. As Reinhold Niebuhr noted

"Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends."

There is actually little difference between total surveillance as practiced by NSA and what was practiced by three letters agencies of Eastern block dictatorships. The key goal in both cases is protection and preservation of power of existing elite against the will of common people. So this is more about oppression of 99.9% from top 0.1% then surveillance per see.

Phone hacking and police corruption represent neoliberalism attempt to cling to life even entering in 2008 a zombie status. And we do not know if the change is possible (The zombie of neoliberalism can be beaten)

Poor growth figures put a "new" financial collapse back on the cards. The response from politicians, bankers and business leaders is more of the same – more of the same neoliberal policies that got us into this situation in the first place.

Neoliberalism no longer "makes sense", but its logic keeps stumbling on, without conscious direction, like a zombie: ugly, persistent and dangerous. Such is the "unlife" of a zombie, a body stripped of its goals, unable to adjust itself to the future, unable to make plans. It can only act habitually as it pursues a monomaniacal hunger. Unless there is a dramatic recomposition of society, we face the prospect of decades of drift as the crises we face – economic, social, environmental – remain unresolved. But where will that recomposition come from when we are living in the world of zombie-liberalism?

... ... ...

Neoliberalism, however, requires more than the internal realignment of a national ruling class. Every semi-stable form of capitalism also needs some sort of settlement with the wider population, or at least a decisive section of it. While the postwar Keynesian settlement contained an explicit deal linking rising real wages to rising productivity, neoliberalism contained an implicit deal based on access to cheap credit. While real wages have stagnated since the late 1970s, the mechanisms of debt have maintained most people's living standards. An additional part of neoliberalism's tacit deal was the abandonment of any pretence to democratic, collective control over the conditions of life: politics has been reduced to technocratic rule. Instead, individuals accepted the promise that, through hard work, shrewd educational and other "life" choices, and a little luck, they – or their children – would reap the benefits of economic growth.

The financial crisis shattered the central component of this deal: access to cheap credit. Living standards can no longer be supported and, for the first time in a century, there is widespread fear that children will lead poorer lives than their parents.

Conclusions

After 2008 the irresponsibility of the financial elites, the power and proliferation of special interest groups that defend interests of oligarchy, the paralysis of Congress and executive power to deal with challenges the financial oligarchy created have created atmosphere of public cynicism.

This correlated with withdrawal from public activity and elections. voter participation in the 1996 Presidential election reached similar to 1924 figure of 49%, less then half of eligible population. And with electronic surveillance reaching it zenith after 9/11/2001, the country quietly slid in the darkness of Inverted Totalitarism

Disillusionment with government and large corporation is a noticeable feature of contemporary America. There is a the widespread sense that big companies and those who run them are immune from prosecution and can't be held accountable by government for their crimes as that they are ... Too Big To Jail. Part of this leniency is connected with corruption of regulators. Which is an immanent part of neoliberal social order. There is also the issue off gaming the system. For very large and profitable multinationals paying some law firm or accounting firm a couple of million dollars to game the tax system in some sleazy way to park most of the income in tax havens represents a small fraction of their tax savings. So the big boys get away with this and middle market firms are the only ones who really pay corporate taxes.

The fact that no one has been imprisoned for the crime committed before 2008 is seen as outrageous by most Americans and large part of Main Street. At the same time, the multibillion-dollar fines and enforcement actions against financial institutions are providing large TBTF firms such as Goldman Sachs with wrong incentives. Paying with shareholders’ money as the price of protecting themselves is a very attractive trade-off. Punishment of individual executives who committed crimes or who failed in their managerial duty to monitor the behavior of their subordinates is short-changed because the principle that leaders should take responsibility for failure and resign contradicts neoliberal worldview.


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[May 23, 2017] CIA, the counerstone of the deep state, might have agenda that is readically differrent from the US national interest and reflect agenda of the special interest groups

CIA is actually a state within the state as Church commission revealed and it has an immanent tendency to seek control over "surface state" and media. In other words large intelligence apparatus might well be incompatible with the democratic governance.

"In the long run, the CIA can't deceive the Chinese government without also deceiving, in some way, the American public. This leaves us with an obvious problem: Should we believe anything the CIA says?" [RealClearWorld]. "It's a tough question for a democracy to answer. Trust is built on the tacit agreement that the "bad things" an agency does are good for the country. If the public believes that that is no longer the case – if it believes the agency is acting out of self-interest and not national interest – then the agreement is broken. The intelligence agency is seen as an impediment of the right to national self-determination, a means for the ends of the few."

  1. Huey Long

    RE: Hall of Mirrors/Believing the CIA

    The CIA has a track record of acting out of self interest since its inception and should not be believed.

    That being said, the public is almost completely unaware of the agency's misdeeds. I think the reason folks like Manning, Snowden and Assange are so reviled by the agency is because they are a threat to the CIA's reputation more than anything else.

[May 23, 2017] CIA, the counerstone of the deep state, might have agenda that is readically differrent from the US national interest and reflect agenda of the special interest groups

CIA is actually a state within the state as Church commission revealed and it has an immanent tendency to seek control over "surface state" and media. In other words large intelligence apparatus might well be incompatible with the democratic governance.
www.aim.org

"In the long run, the CIA can't deceive the Chinese government without also deceiving, in some way, the American public. This leaves us with an obvious problem: Should we believe anything the CIA says?" [RealClearWorld]. "It's a tough question for a democracy to answer. Trust is built on the tacit agreement that the "bad things" an agency does are good for the country. If the public believes that that is no longer the case – if it believes the agency is acting out of self-interest and not national interest – then the agreement is broken. The intelligence agency is seen as an impediment of the right to national self-determination, a means for the ends of the few."

[May 22, 2017] Key points of TIME magazine cover story on the Russian takeover of America

Notable quotes:
"... TIME magazine has just published a cover story on the Russian takeover of America: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America . The cover image shows the White House turned into the Kremlin. I will list some of the key points below with quotes from the article: ..."
May 22, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Petri Krohn | May 18, 2017 8:57:21 PM | 71

TIME magazine has just published a cover story on the Russian takeover of America: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America . The cover image shows the White House turned into the Kremlin. I will list some of the key points below with quotes from the article:

1) Social media has become a danger to democracy.

The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. "Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government."

2) Democratic society must isolate itself from public opinion.

Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion.

3) Russia spies on you.

The Russians "target you and see what you like, what you click on, and see if you're sympathetic or not sympathetic."

4) America is losing the cyberwar.

As Russia expands its cyberpropaganda efforts, the U.S. and its allies are only just beginning to figure out how to fight back.

5) Russia has clever algorithms that America lacks.

American researchers have found they can use mathematical formulas to segment huge populations into thousands of subgroups... Propagandists can then manually craft messages to influence them, deploying covert provocateurs, either humans or automated computer programs known as bots, in hopes of altering their behavior.

6) Russia has huge troll farms.

Putin dispatched his newly installed head of military intelligence, Igor Sergun, to begin repurposing cyberweapons previously used for psychological operations in war zones for use in electioneering. Russian intelligence agencies funded "troll farms," botnet spamming operations and fake news outlets as part of an expanding focus on psychological operations in cyberspace.

7) You must trust mainstream media.

Eager to appear more powerful than they are, the Russians would consider it a success if you questioned the truth of your news sources, knowing that Moscow might be lurking in your Facebook or Twitter feed.

8) Russia invaded Ukraine in April 2014 .

Putin was aiming his new weapons at the U.S. Following Moscow's April 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

9) Hillary Clinton did not murder Seth Rich.

That story went viral in late August, then took on a life of its own after Clinton fainted from pneumonia and dehydration at a Sept. 11 event in New York City. Elsewhere people invented stories saying Pope Francis had endorsed Trump and Clinton had murdered a DNC staffer.

10) The evidence:

Russia plays in every social media space. The intelligence officials have found that Moscow's agents bought ads on Facebook to target specific populations with propaganda. "They buy the ads, where it says sponsored by–they do that just as much as anybody else does," says the senior intelligence official. (A Facebook official says the company has no evidence of that occurring.) The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, has said he is looking into why, for example, four of the top five Google search results the day the U.S. released a report on the 2016 operation were links to Russia's TV propaganda arm, RT. (Google says it saw no meddling in this case.) Researchers at the University of Southern California, meanwhile, found that nearly 20% of political tweets in 2016 between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21 were generated by bots of unknown origin; investigators are trying to figure out how many were Russian.

[May 22, 2017] The current divisions in Washington seem to turned into the Soviet system under Brezhnev. They dont align with the political parties and the mostly stage-managed elections. The domestic federal bureaucracy, the government contractors, the intelligence surveillance sector, the overseas military, Wall Street, are calling the shots and operate outside election cycle.

Notable quotes:
"... The real relations and divisions in Washington seem to turned into the Soviet system under Brezhnev. They don't align with the political parties and the mostly stage-managed elections anymore. The domestic federal bureaucracy, the government contractors, the intelligence & surveillance sector, the overseas military, Wall Street, they're all playing power-circle games. ..."
"... The nomenklatura were a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy running all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc., whose positions were granted only with approval by the communist party of each country or region. ..."
"... These are the functionaries and apparatchiks of a stagnating system, which is what's been going on in the U.S. for awhile now. Trump was just too much of an outsider to be accepted by the insiders, and his threats to change the status quo led to the current situation. ..."
"... This is exactly how leadership selection in the old Soviet Union went on, too. And Trump is no master of bureaucratic infighting, unlike say, Putin. He's just flailing at this point. ..."
www.moonofalabama.org

nonsense factory | May 18, 2017 4:58:30 PM | 56

Anon

The real relations and divisions in Washington seem to turned into the Soviet system under Brezhnev. They don't align with the political parties and the mostly stage-managed elections anymore. The domestic federal bureaucracy, the government contractors, the intelligence & surveillance sector, the overseas military, Wall Street, they're all playing power-circle games. This is how the system has operated - Cheney ran it under Bush, Clinton ran it under Obama, it's all bureaucractic infighting. If you read about Soviet history you see the same thing:

The nomenklatura were a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy running all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc., whose positions were granted only with approval by the communist party of each country or region.

These are the functionaries and apparatchiks of a stagnating system, which is what's been going on in the U.S. for awhile now. Trump was just too much of an outsider to be accepted by the insiders, and his threats to change the status quo led to the current situation. Pence, they figure, will be far more amenable to control. Even though Trump has been going along with the standard Republican domestic agenda, he's just viewed as too unpredictable for their tastes. This is exactly how leadership selection in the old Soviet Union went on, too. And Trump is no master of bureaucratic infighting, unlike say, Putin. He's just flailing at this point.

I'm not concerned about it though, if the grossly corrupt federal government is locked up with this nonsense for the next four years, that's fine. Perhaps state governments can step up and work together to solve problems while Washington gnaws its own belly, that's about the best we can hope for.

[May 20, 2017] Rosenstein Joins the Posse by Patrick J. Buchanan

After just 100 days in the office Trump already has a special prosecutor.
Notable quotes:
"... Without consulting the White House, he sandbagged President Trump, naming a special counsel to take over the investigation of the Russia connection that could prove ruinous to this presidency. ..."
"... Rod has reinvigorated a tired 10-month investigation that failed to find any collusion between Trump and Russian hacking of the DNC. Not a single indictment had come out of the FBI investigation. ..."
"... Yet, now a new special counsel, Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, will slow-walk his way through this same terrain again, searching for clues leading to potentially impeachable offenses. What seemed to be winding down for Trump is now only just beginning to gear up. ..."
"... Why did Rosenstein capitulate to a Democrat-media clamor for a special counsel that could prove disastrous for the president who elevated and honored him? Surely in part, as Milbank writes, to salvage his damaged reputation. ..."
"... Rosenstein had gone over to the dark side. He had, it was said, on Trump's orders, put the hit on Comey. Now, by siccing a special counsel on the president himself, Rosenstein is restored to the good graces of this city. Rosenstein just turned in his black hat for a white hat. ..."
"... Democrats are hailing both his decision to name a special counsel and the man he chose. Yet it is difficult to exaggerate the damage he has done. As did almost all of its predecessors, including those which led to the resignation of President Nixon and impeachment of Bill Clinton, Mueller's investigation seems certain to drag on for years. ..."
"... Recall the famous adage that a competent district attorney could successfully indict a ham sandwich. ..."
"... Political trials are infamously witch hunts, and there isn't a witch hunt that couldn't miraculously find any number of witches to burn. ..."
"... One has to hand it to the Democrats. This strategy to get the ruling elite class back in both houses of congress and bring forth a shining night in armour for their next candidate is well crafted. The Clintons messed up the Obama Hope and Change Rhetoric. ..."
"... From the very outset of his presidency, U.S. President D.J. Trump either hired people who were against his presidential campaign all the time of last year or cozied up to perpetual political opponents while distancing himself from the very patriotic people who gave him the electoral college victory last November. ..."
"... Like Pres. Dick Nixon did, U.S. President D.J. Trump will also politically kill himself with one political misstep after another by giving his political opponents whatever they demand until it will be too late to reverse the course. ..."
"... "The real power in this country doesn't reside within the ballot box After months of leaks coming from the intelligence agencies, who bitterly oppose the new policy, and a barrage of innuendo, smears, and character assassination in the media, the will of the people has been abrogated: the Deep State has the last word. The denizens of Langley, and the career spooks within our seventeen intelligence agencies, have exercised their veto power – a power that is not written into the Constitution, but is nevertheless very real. Their goal is to not only make détente with Russia impossible but also to overthrow a democratically elected chief executive No matter what you think of Trump, this is an ominous development for all those who care about the future of our republic What we are witnessing is a "regime-change" operation, such as our intelligence agencies have routinely carried out abroad, right here in the United States This pernicious campaign is an attempt to criminalize dissent from the foreign policy "consensus." It is an effort by powerful groups within the national security bureaucracy, the media, and the military-industrial complex to stamp out any opposition to their program of perpetual war The reign of terror is about to begin: anyone who opposes our interventionist foreign policy is liable to be labeled a "Kremlin tool" – and could face legal sanctions. ..."
"... If Trump wasn't a narcissistic idiot, he could be well on the way to leading a takedown of establishment politics. Should have left Comey in to go nowhere, but Trump is a narcissistic idiot who does not read and his presidency is and will continue to be a miserable failure. Donald J. Trump is a Loser and a Laughingstock, plain and simple. There's nothing to see here. Does he have the ability to do better? Yes. Will he? Doubtful. Firing Comey is not impeachable or even wrong, it's just a blunder of monumental proportions. Trump's continued incompetent "explanations" of the decision raised red flags. This is not Trump Steaks Inc. This is the Presidency of the United States of America. ..."
May 20, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

"With the stroke of a pen, Rod Rosenstein redeemed his reputation," writes Dana Milbank of The Washington Post .

What had Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein done to be welcomed home by the Post like the prodigal son?

Without consulting the White House, he sandbagged President Trump, naming a special counsel to take over the investigation of the Russia connection that could prove ruinous to this presidency.

Rod has reinvigorated a tired 10-month investigation that failed to find any collusion between Trump and Russian hacking of the DNC. Not a single indictment had come out of the FBI investigation.

Yet, now a new special counsel, Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, will slow-walk his way through this same terrain again, searching for clues leading to potentially impeachable offenses. What seemed to be winding down for Trump is now only just beginning to gear up.

Also to be investigated is whether the president tried to curtail the FBI investigation with his phone calls and Oval Office meetings with FBI Director James Comey, before abruptly firing Comey last week.

Regarded as able and honest, Mueller will be under media pressure to come up with charges. Great and famous prosecutors are measured by whom they convict and how many scalps they take. Moreover, a burgeoning special counsel's office dredging up dirt on Trump and associates will find itself the beneficiary of an indulgent press.

Why did Rosenstein capitulate to a Democrat-media clamor for a special counsel that could prove disastrous for the president who elevated and honored him? Surely in part, as Milbank writes, to salvage his damaged reputation.

After being approved 94-6 by a Senate that hailed him as a principled and independent U.S. attorney for both George Bush and Barack Obama, Rosenstein found himself being pilloried for preparing the document White House aides called crucial to Trump's decision to fire Comey.

Rosenstein had gone over to the dark side. He had, it was said, on Trump's orders, put the hit on Comey. Now, by siccing a special counsel on the president himself, Rosenstein is restored to the good graces of this city. Rosenstein just turned in his black hat for a white hat.

Democrats are hailing both his decision to name a special counsel and the man he chose. Yet it is difficult to exaggerate the damage he has done. As did almost all of its predecessors, including those which led to the resignation of President Nixon and impeachment of Bill Clinton, Mueller's investigation seems certain to drag on for years.

... ... ...

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

Wilfred , says: May 18, 2017 at 9:58 pm
Any way we can get a Special Counsel to investigate Hillary?
Fran Macadam , says: May 18, 2017 at 11:56 pm
Recall the famous adage that a competent district attorney could successfully indict a ham sandwich.

Political trials are infamously witch hunts, and there isn't a witch hunt that couldn't miraculously find any number of witches to burn.

Cal , says: May 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm
Trump set up his own demise -- all the Jews like Rosenstein that he has appointed would really rather have the rabid evangelical Israel supporter Pence as president.
William Dalton , says: May 19, 2017 at 12:23 am
The appointment of former director Mueller to take charge of an investigation too hot for Rosenstein or anyone in his department to file a report on, particularly if no prosecution will be recommended, does not presage this affair will continue interminably. Months of work have already been put into the matter by the FBI. Mueller may arrive, ask those agents for a summary of what they have unearthed, say, "I don't see anything here. Do you think further work by you will uncover more?", and if they respond, "No", Mueller might very well take what he is given, file a report saying no prosecution is warranted, just as Jim Comey did in the Clinton matter, and go home.

The man is retired with honor. He doesn't need to make a name for himself with this or any other case. The last thing he wants to find out is that there is evidence that might result in the impeachment and criminal prosecution of the President of the United States.

StrategyK , says: May 19, 2017 at 2:59 am
Wasnt pat a happy supporter of the special counsel investigating Clinton? Now suddenly he is against such counsels? How about some priciples Mr buchanan?
StrategyK , says: May 19, 2017 at 3:13 am
And here is a hat tip for you aggrieved folks here. Trump brought this on himself. He could have avoided it all by simply letting Comey do his job. If there really is nothing in the Russia story, then Comey would have come up with nothing.

Trump has been used to running a family business all his life and a fake TV show as well where his and only his word runs. That is not how the government functions and nor should it be. What happened to the famous negotiator? The one who could make great deals? Who would learn quickly how to navigate the waters and make things happen. This person seems non existent. Lets see some of that please.

John Gruskos , says: May 19, 2017 at 8:57 am
Justin Raimondo correctly explains the significance of this development:

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/05/18/the-special-counsel-comes-to-town-its-the-moscow-trials-revisited/

Liam , says: May 19, 2017 at 9:16 am
Wall Street swooned *not* because Trump's "populist" agenda is endangered but rather because Alt-Trump's bait-and-switch pro-Wall Street agenda is endangered. That Pat Buchanan cannot distinguish these is stunning to behold.
elizabeth , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:22 am
And if Hillary Clinton had been inaugurated in January, there wouldn't be a dozen Congressional committees pursuing specious investigations, egged on by right wing media? (Even this comment thread carries one such demand, and she is not in office.)

This is one outcome of a poisoned body politic. Roger Ailes was there at the beginning, and we are all sickened by his legacy.

Jack , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:40 am
Unfortunately, Buchanan seems to have ignored the fact that Rosenstein's decision to appoint a special prosecutor was sparked by Trump's precipitous and unnecessary decision to dismiss Comey. It was a foolish decision and now he's paying a price for it.
Dan Green , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:53 am
One has to hand it to the Democrats. This strategy to get the ruling elite class back in both houses of congress and bring forth a shining night in armour for their next candidate is well crafted. The Clintons messed up the Obama Hope and Change Rhetoric.
ukm1 , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:55 am
U.S. President D.J. Trump is himself 100% responsible for the political and legal debacles where he is in now and will be in for any foreseeable future!

From the very outset of his presidency, U.S. President D.J. Trump either hired people who were against his presidential campaign all the time of last year or cozied up to perpetual political opponents while distancing himself from the very patriotic people who gave him the electoral college victory last November.

Like Pres. Dick Nixon did, U.S. President D.J. Trump will also politically kill himself with one political misstep after another by giving his political opponents whatever they demand until it will be too late to reverse the course.

Kurt Gayle , says: May 19, 2017 at 10:57 am
John Gruskos (8:57 a.m.) is right. Justin Raimondo's column today is a "must read":

"The real power in this country doesn't reside within the ballot box After months of leaks coming from the intelligence agencies, who bitterly oppose the new policy, and a barrage of innuendo, smears, and character assassination in the media, the will of the people has been abrogated: the Deep State has the last word. The denizens of Langley, and the career spooks within our seventeen intelligence agencies, have exercised their veto power – a power that is not written into the Constitution, but is nevertheless very real. Their goal is to not only make détente with Russia impossible but also to overthrow a democratically elected chief executive No matter what you think of Trump, this is an ominous development for all those who care about the future of our republic What we are witnessing is a "regime-change" operation, such as our intelligence agencies have routinely carried out abroad, right here in the United States This pernicious campaign is an attempt to criminalize dissent from the foreign policy "consensus." It is an effort by powerful groups within the national security bureaucracy, the media, and the military-industrial complex to stamp out any opposition to their program of perpetual war The reign of terror is about to begin: anyone who opposes our interventionist foreign policy is liable to be labeled a "Kremlin tool" – and could face legal sanctions.

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/05/18/the-special-counsel-comes-to-town-its-the-moscow-trials-revisited/

Bob K. , says: May 19, 2017 at 11:05 am
You tell it like it is, Pat! Once someone has sold his soul to the "dark side" his own reputation with it comes before the welfare of the Nation!
David Smith , says: May 19, 2017 at 11:37 am
What goes around, comes around. The Republicans did the same thing to Bill Clinton. Remember, if you can do it to them, they can do it to you. Be careful about the precedents you set.
Adriana I Pena , says: May 19, 2017 at 11:57 am
Has anyone considered that the opposition from career bureaucrats is due to their past experience as to what works and what doesn't? They can recognize a half-baked plan, concocted by someone who has only a hazy idea of what goes on (the guy who managed to admit that health care was "complicated" after touting on the campaign trail that it was easy). Add to it stubborness and unwillingness to learn, and those bureaucrats may think that they are staring at an accident waiting to happen.

What would you do in their place?

Mac61 , says: May 19, 2017 at 12:18 pm
If Trump wasn't a narcissistic idiot, he could be well on the way to leading a takedown of establishment politics. Should have left Comey in to go nowhere, but Trump is a narcissistic idiot who does not read and his presidency is and will continue to be a miserable failure. Donald J. Trump is a Loser and a Laughingstock, plain and simple. There's nothing to see here.

Does he have the ability to do better? Yes. Will he? Doubtful. Firing Comey is not impeachable or even wrong, it's just a blunder of monumental proportions. Trump's continued incompetent "explanations" of the decision raised red flags.

This is not Trump Steaks Inc. This is the Presidency of the United States of America. He will be held to a higher standard until such time as he realizes he cannot run this world's most powerful country like some sham casino operation he let fall into bankruptcy. And @Cal, this is not a Jewish conspiracy. If you can't see that Trump is an incompetent idiot narcissist, you can't see anything.

[May 19, 2017] What the author inadvertently points out is that capitalism, particularly the so called consumer capitalism that we have is like a board game; only at the beginning anything is possible

Notable quotes:
"... What the author inadvertently points out is that capitalism, particularly the so called consumer capitalism that we have is like a board game; It has a beginning when anything is possible. A middle when a broad spectrum of players prosper and there is extra money for infrastructure and public amenities. Then an end where wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the waste stream has taken its toll. ..."
"... Tell me, when where these good old days, of "true" capitalism? Back when we were enslaving Africans? ..."
"... workers fail to ..."
"... Yeah, it's really a pity that author of such a well-written piece confuses GDP with living standards. If that was the case people wouldn't vote for nationalist and populists. ..."
"... serving their own interests; ..."
"... In our imperial system, it does not matter to the people whether they vote, or how; it matters, occasionally, to the contestants' position in the power structure, but nothing more than that. ..."
"... there are rumors that the Federal Liberal Party in Canada is exploring this. ..."
"... 8) Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose a duty upon: (a) A provider of an electronic store, gateway, marketplace or other means of purchasing or downloading software or applications to review or enforce compliance with this section by those applications or software; or (b) A provider of an interactive computer service to review or enforce compliance with this section by third-party content providers. As used in this paragraph, "interactive computer service" means any information service, system or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such services or systems operated or offered by libraries or educational institutions. (9) This section does not apply to general audience Internet websites, general audience online services, general audience online applications or general audience mobile applications, even if login credentials created for an operator's site, service or application may be used to access those general audience sites, services or applications. ..."
May 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , May 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

Definitely worth reading and reading again. What popped on first reading is the description of the rise of income in Poland and the stagnation of income in the U S of A. What pops for me on seccond reading is these paragraphs about tax evasion and income inequality: >>

One reason nothing happens is a culture of tax evasion. There's a folk belief in American business that if you pay full taxes, you're not doing your fiduciary duty, and your board will fire you.

Apple now has a quarter trillion dollars offshore that it refuses to put into direct productive use in the United States. Apple boasts that its products are designed in California-they will sell you a $300 book called Designed By Apple In California. But they do their damndest to make sure that California never sees a penny of their overseas profits.

You in the EU are all too familiar with this brand of tax evasion. Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft have all been under investigation or in court on charges of evading European taxes.

Another reason good intentions don't translate is that capitalism, especially venture capital, doesn't work very well when there is vast wealth inequality.

[Tax evasion isn't just a folk belief: It is taught in U.S. law schools and in business schools, along with union busting.]

Jef , May 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

What the author inadvertently points out is that capitalism, particularly the so called consumer capitalism that we have is like a board game; It has a beginning when anything is possible. A middle when a broad spectrum of players prosper and there is extra money for infrastructure and public amenities. Then an end where wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the waste stream has taken its toll.

diptherio , May 19, 2017 at 11:49 am

Another reason good intentions don't translate is that capitalism, especially venture capital, doesn't work very well when there is vast wealth inequality.

The author does not understand that capitalism creates vast wealth inequality: that's the whole point. Inequality is a feature, not a bug, and so trying to save capitalism while eliminating vast wealth inequalities is working at cross-purposes, and only one of those aims can be successful and guess which one it always is?

justanotherprogressive , May 19, 2017 at 11:56 am

+100

Wisdom Seeker , May 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

"capitalism creates vast wealth inequality: that's the whole point."

Not in Adam Smith's world, nor Henry Ford's. True capitalists prosper by creating wealth which improves the lives of everyone around them. Crony capitalists, the ones we have now, strip wealth from others. Witness today's bubble-and-bust cycles rather than the prior widespread economic growth.

The capitalism you see today is an abomination of the original concept, just as Mnuchin's claim to support "Glass Steagall" is an abomination. And don't get me started on the "Affordable" Care Act, or the "Patriot" act which gutted the Constitution

P.S. The original author's article is riddled with glaring factual errors, but he has the big picture right: it's time to restore Antitrust Law and apply it to the internet monopolists. And restore privacy rights and and it's a long list. Start fighting now, if you want anything to happen in your lifetime!

Carla , May 19, 2017 at 2:05 pm

The author's central thesis strikes me as correct: that Europe provides the only hope for applying any brakes whatsoever to the American tech sector. I hope someone over there is listening, as prospects here seem utterly hopeless.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Freedom means people should have reasonable alternatives, choices on any product, service or ideology. Today's internet experience lacks that freedom aspect quite a bit.

diptherio , May 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Hokum. The "theory" is that it benefits everyone, but the reality is quite different. Tell me, when where these good old days, of "true" capitalism? Back when we were enslaving Africans? Back when we were hanging Wobblies? Back when we had to put nets around our factories to keep the workers from committing suicide? Please the dictatorship of the proletariat worked out just fine in Marx's theory, too.

clinical wasteman , May 19, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Another one for the gallery of glaring factual errors: "capitalists prosper by creating wealth". Unless that was an epic typo for something like: " workers fail to prosper while creating wealth".

As for "the original concept" of "capitalism", in which district of the astral plane did you find that? Apart from his anthropological sci-fi about the origins of money in "barter", Adam Smith generally tried to write about the real world. Just like Marx, except that Smith was speaking for a different class interest, whose "moral philosopher" imagined himself to be. For that reason, "capital" and "capitalist"(n.) were important concepts for Smith and Marx alike, but "capitalism" - a sort of hybrid implying the social reality and the ideology cheerleading for it at once without ever really distinguishing between the two - is an abstraction that neither had much time for, and one that only really caught on once both were dead.

Wisdom Seeker , May 19, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Wasteman – for a start, unlike todays Cronyists, Adam Smith understood that capitalism would not function for the benefit of all unless monopolies were restrained by government:

"The interest of the dealers [referring to stock owners, manufacturers, and merchants], however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, and absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1991), pages 219-220)"

See here for more details:
https://machineryofpolitics.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/adam-smith-on-the-crisis-of-capitalism-2/

Another interesting perspective is from J. K. Galbraith (sorry I lost the source) who pointed out that in an economy with healthy competition, profit margins are lower, but employment and wage income are necessarily higher.

diptherio , May 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm

And pray tell, who is it who will restrain the monopolists? Our elected officials, who just so happen to be under the control of those same capitalists? Which is possible due to the vast wealth inequalities that capitalism generates .

Capitalists, almost without exception, do everything in their power to avoid competition. The idea is to make a profit and competition is antithetical to that.

Lots of things are good in theory, like three-way relationships. Reality, on the other hand, feels no obligation to correspond with theory.

Vatch , May 19, 2017 at 3:27 pm

capitalism creates vast wealth inequality

Not exactly. Capitalism extends or expands existing inequality. It was the development of agriculture several thousand years ago that broke the approximate egalitarianism of the hunter gatherer lifestyle. Even that had some inequality, but not much. For more information, see the early chapters of The Great Leveler , by Walter Scheidel.

diptherio , May 19, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Hence the "vast" part. I'm not so silly as to think that before capitalism there was not wealth inequality. But not the type where a few hundred people control more wealth than a few billion. It would seem to me, on just a gut level based on a little reading, that whereas systems like feudalism were unequal but relatively stable*, i.e. the level of inequality stayed the same generation to generation, capitalism's dynamics have caused inequality to skyrocket, both nationally and globally.

*Or at least cyclically stable, as with regular debt jubilees in Sumer.

HBE , May 19, 2017 at 3:11 pm

"Living standards in Poland in 2010 had more than doubled from 1990." This sentence annoyed me to no end. Yes, the reason that is true is because every capitalist country in the world worked to smash and destroy communism without pause for its entire life and then internal and external oligarchs snatched up everything.

Living standards increased over that period in Poland but so did inequality and poverty. So the country got some shiny new consumer goods (which the author seems enamored by) while the populations poverty rate continues to climb. Thank god for privatization ("Suddenly people had cars, phones, appliances" and suddenly poverty surged as well), and the end of those no good dirty commies, right?

vlado , May 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Yeah, it's really a pity that author of such a well-written piece confuses GDP with living standards. If that was the case people wouldn't vote for nationalist and populists.

In any case, despite very good performance of Polish economy, its convergence to West Europe at least in terms of GDP (PPP) is questionable as the cases of Czech Republic and Slovenia show. See the article The convergence dream 25 years on in Bruegel

visitor , May 19, 2017 at 6:04 pm

There is a reason why people voted for the populist PiS and ousted the liberals who had made such a great job at bringing Poland into the EU and its "market society".

justanotherprogressive , May 19, 2017 at 10:23 am

A long but brilliant article that everyone should take the time to read! I want all the techies in my family to read it because it points out some of the uneasiness even techies feel about the their industry.

My favorite paragraph (although there were many close seconds):

"But real problems are messy. Tech culture prefers to solve harder, more abstract problems that haven't been sullied by contact with reality. So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people's lives."
Yep .

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 2:28 pm

That popular vote comment is misleading as well.

A previous example was given about a hypothetical House vote, where, in yes-districts, voters are split 51-49 yes (assuming that is so lots of times, congress persons vote 'their conscience') and voters in no-districts are 90-10 for no. Yes votes win by one.

In that case, the popular vote actually is for No.

And that has nothing to do with slavery.

It's how the math works in a representative voting system.

PhilM , May 19, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Before responding to MLTPB, I'd like to voice my opinion that the OP article is thoughtful and reflects a decent level of awareness of the reality of the world, along with positive solutions that would be achievable in a polity that had the public good as its aim.

As for MLTPB's opinion on the vote, I beg to differ: it has everything to do with slavery. That's how the numbers work in our system, which is imperial, not representative. It's a bitch when instead of Augustus you get Caligula, but it doesn't change the basic reality of how the system works, and has worked since Ike. In our imperial system, it does not matter to the people whether they vote, or how; it matters, occasionally, to the contestants' position in the power structure, but nothing more than that.

Here is the reality: the people in any office in our federal government-basically everyone who lives in or around Washington DC-have the same relationship to American people as they have to Russian, Chinese, or Indian people: that of serving their own interests; predation, if you will; animal husbandry, if you prefer. They will act so as to extract the maximum value consistent with not-killing-the-goose-that-lays-the-golden-eggs from every person, wherever they are located, whatever their religion, whatever their nationality, as long as they are powerless, which means everyone who is a private citizen, however rich, or a small business; everyone who is not a Forbes 500 corporation.

The notion that the federal government is somehow tied to "Americans," or even to the geographical entity now known as the USA, much less to the values expressed in the so-called "founding documents," is a child's bedtime story.

It's amusing that it took the election of Trump to bring this realization about; but really, that is why some of us actually voted for Trump: to rub the idiots' noses in the reality of their political environment. (Not me, mind you; because I do not bother to vote: when I want something done, I write a check, like any experienced consumer of government services.)

There is a cure, but it is not changing the election mechanism so the choice of president results from the popular vote totals in a population of 300 million. No, it means changing it so there are 1000 presidents and 100,000 representatives and 1000 supreme courts, and 1000 republics. Those are the numbers that would achieve representative government the way it was designed to function by people who knew. Alternatively, you could reduce federal taxation to 1/10th of its current level, and assign all other taxation to the township, with a population limit of 20,000. Now you would have something that is no longer imperial.

But since most people since the dawn of history have lived under organizations that are imperial with perfect happiness, the appropriate course of action is not to struggle in futility for change, which would almost certainly do more harm than good, and result in an outcome that would just use up the world's resources more swiftly in the chaos of consumption and war. The optimum course is to watch reruns of amusing sitcoms and eat good food; to gratify the animal pleasures and such pleasures of the mind as remain to aging bodies mistreated by pharmaceuticals; and to die as quickly and painlessly as the authorities permit.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 5:37 pm

In our imperial system, it does not matter to the people whether they vote, or how; it matters, occasionally, to the contestants' position in the power structure, but nothing more than that.

In that case, the popular vote question is not a question anymore (with the current 1 president, instead of 1,000 setup), as you point out here:

There is a cure, but it is not changing the election mechanism so the choice of president results from the popular vote totals in a population of 300 million.

I have mentioned before that Rome had, at one time, 2 or 4 co-emperors. You suggest 1,000 presidents, as a solution. That's nothing to do with slavery, except in the sense that we're all serfs or slaves. It about making one's voice heard within a smaller group, having someone representing you along with fewer constituents.

The inherent problem of having representatives vote, versus direct voting, is still here, as in the example given above. The math scales up and down.

Thomas Williams , May 19, 2017 at 11:04 am

Nice piece: Two things to note
– The Clintons, Bush & Obama presided over this mess and aided in it's creation but the albatross of abuse is being hung on Trump.
– He shares an enormous egotistical blind spot common to tech workers. He wants unionization and strength for tech workers but seems to advocate for a globalized work force. More than anything else, foreign workers are responsible for wage suppression in the US. Is he saying 'Tech workers are special and should be pampered but others should work for $1.85 per day"?
– The above points are not germaine to his central theme, which is important and well written. But it does raise questions about his values.

Knot Galt , May 19, 2017 at 2:13 pm

Agreed. Trump = Chucklehead and the shadow in T.S. Eliot's poem

Jacobite_In_Training , May 19, 2017 at 11:11 am

" Boycotts won't work, since opting out of a site like Google means opting out of much of modern life ."

Good .Opt out of modern life. Now. Get as far away from it as you possibly can. You'll be the better person for it. There was a time I felt 'modern life' was the place to be .Now the older me realizes 'modern life' is a sham, an illusion, and a trap.

A very cleverly designed trap, and one in which the cattle to be slaughtered all believe they are choosing their own destiny even as they are herded inexorably closer to the slaughterhouse.

Amusingly, although my younger naive and idealistic self had a significant part to play in the great tech revolutions and evolutions through the 90's and early 2000's (for which I will be eternally regretful and ashamed, given how the creations we labored on have been whored out by the pimps in the oligarchy and government) I was also incredibly lucky to have grown up on a farm and learned how to use a hoe, a hand powered washing machine, how to gather eggs and grow things.

Real things, things that can feed people. But more importantly .how to grow things like spirit and independence that do not rely on any flow of electrons to come to glorious fruition.

I also so much better understand what that prophet Edward Abbey was trying to warn us about all those decades ago .

" Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell "

Tom , May 19, 2017 at 11:27 am

Indeed. The promise of technology has devolved into Clickbait Nation - where millions mindlessly click on endless deceptive headlines like rats pushing levers in a giant Skinner box.

justanotherprogressive , May 19, 2017 at 11:55 am

Is "opting out" really an option? Are we willing to opt out out of modern medicine too?
Whether we like it or not, we aren't opting out of using the internet, so we aren't opting out of anything this author talked about .

Sooooo ..wouldn't a better idea be to learn as much as we can about this technology and get involved in its decision making, so that we can control it and make it work for rather than against us?

Jacobite_In_Training , May 19, 2017 at 12:13 pm

I've had that debate before, people typically starting with the 'well, you are posting using the Internet so you aren't really opting out of anything', but thats a simplistic approach, and the process of opting out is a matter of degrees – it is never a binary on/off.

One can continue 'opting out' of aspects of society, and technology, to as extreme a position as you wish .even back to the stone age, should you choose. (sort of the ultimate boycott)

Tradeoffs are inherent to the process, no argument there .just be aware that the experience of opting out is itself liberating. You realize all these shiny objects, and expensive things, and
complicated processes that you have been raised to think of as critical necessities that cannot ever EVER be parted with .may not be so critical as you think.

Sometimes the tradeoffs will be negative, more often – in my experience – (once you have solved the problems presented by improvising/adapting/overcoming) you will find the 'tradeoffs' are a net positive.

You are, of course, a creature with free will and free to do what you choose . opt in, opt out .as you will. :)

Thuto , May 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Agreed, there are several gradations to this whole opting out thing. I for one am completely absent from any social media platform and feel no loss whatsoever because of this. It takes a committed group of independent thinkers to deconstruct and debunk this whole narrative that you're either "all-in" with these internet platforms or you opt out and life passes you by as you're consigned to an existence of irrelevance and ignorance about the world around you.

MoiAussie , May 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that you are very selective about the social media in which you participate.

Thuto , May 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

If by social media we are talking facebook, instagram et al, then I have never participated in any of those. To be sure, this is not meant to sound like I take a dim view on those who do, the point is the narrative is typically framed, at least in my part of the world, as an all-in/opt-out binary in which participation in social media platforms is a prime determinant in who "remains relevant" and who doesn't

Vatch , May 19, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I don't have a MyFace account.

I love saying that!

justanotherprogressive , May 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm

I'm not sure what you think you are opting out of. If you are on the internet, then you have to have a carrier – Verizon, Comcast, etc. Do you think their data collection systems are different than what Google, Facebook, or any other social media does?

jrs , May 19, 2017 at 1:54 pm

and least they aren't funding trips to mars? :)

jrs , May 19, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Yea I think the truly open minded probably try many of the internet platforms just to see what they are like and then delete their accounts (this does not need to entail posting one's entire private life there needless to say). Not a lot of open mindedness out there really though, it's all extremes: rigid abstinence from it all, or hopeless addiction to it.

I mean I understand a priori rejection of the majority of what capitalism produces (except if it's necessary to life then well), but it is a pretty uninformed position from which to criticize (as is being addicted to it really).

PKMKII , May 19, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Even if you opt out personally, you're still going to be interacting with a lot of people, businesses, governments, etc., that are dependent on the Five Horsemen. Pay cash at the local business, but travel down the supply chain that brought the goods there and you'll run into someone using cloud storage, social media, consumer surveillance data, etc.

Wisdom Seeker , May 19, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Regarding "get involved in its decision making" –

Ordinary folks have really only two ways to do this. One is in their consumer choices. Avoid or boycott companies that abuse their customers – hit them in their wallets. The other is in their voting and political participation push privacy rights, antitrust enforcement, etc. higher on the political agenda.

It's entirely possible to be comfortably social without "social media". Personally, I boycott Facebook, Twitter, and (as much as possible) Google and Ebay. Google is tough because they have infiltrated the schools with Google Classroom (which has value, but do we really want an internet advertising company to be gathering data on our children?). Microsoft is tough because of the Office monopoly, but just because I have to use it at work doesn't mean I need to pay them any money anywhere else in my life There are also ways to buy online without using Amazon.

lyman alpha blob , May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

There are other search engines, browsers, email services, etc. besides those operated by the giants. DuckDuckGo, protonmail, and the Opera browser (with free built-in VPN!) work well for me.

The problem is, if these other services ever do get popular enough, the tech giants will either block them by getting their stooges appointed to Federal agencies and regulating them out of existence, or buy them.

I've been running from ISP acquisitions for years, as the little guys get bought out I have to find an even littler one. Luckily I've found a local ISP, GWI, that I've used for years now. They actually came out against the new regulations that would allow them to gather and sell their customers' data. Such anathema will probably wind up with their CEO publicly flayed for going against all that is good and holy according to the Five Horsemen.

Mel , May 19, 2017 at 1:26 pm

There are two sides to opting out.
When net neutrality is gone, then capital and market concentration will transform the internet into what cable TV is now, and nobody will need it much.
Contrariwise the big tech companies are taking over the implementation of major social functions:
– if you can't vote without the internet
– if you can't spend your money without the internet
– if you can't contact your friends without the internet
– if you can't get news without the internet - this has already happened - just look at us all here.
– if you can't join a political party without liking it on your Facebook page and following it on Twitter - there are rumors that the Federal Liberal Party in Canada is exploring this.
As I said somewhere else, all this would amount to an uncontracted and unspecified public/private partnership (various ones, actually) and all entered into unexamined. Time to examine them while they're still easy to change.

HotFlash , May 19, 2017 at 5:58 pm

there are rumors that the Federal Liberal Party in Canada is exploring this.

Interesting. Are they going to get us all free internet? If not, I think they will find a big surprise.

jrs , May 19, 2017 at 1:45 pm

To assume that workers in ANY Industry (including tech where we know the big players have rigged the labor market against tech workers) have more power than consumers seems pretty unrealistic to me. Of course consumer power is one dollar one vote and hardly democratic but at least consumers do have options and some power. The employee role is a powerless one in the U.S..

Kris Alman , May 19, 2017 at 11:40 am

We can either continue on the knowledge economy road, where our personal data is commodified. Or we could fight for a knowledge society, where we collectively access knowledge while protecting our identity and privacy. I vote for the latter.

Google would plant a chip in every child if they could. Short of that, they have insinuated themselves in public schools, hoping that every kid in America will consummate their relationship with this giant after they graduate from k-12. See this NY Times article from last weekend: How Google Took Over the Classroom

It's hard to mitigate their reach. In a landmark student privacy law passed in California (with an even weaker version passed in my state of Oregon), they built in what I call a Google exemption clause.

( 8) Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose a duty upon:
(a) A provider of an electronic store, gateway, marketplace or other means of purchasing or downloading software or applications to review or enforce compliance with this section by those applications or software; or
(b) A provider of an interactive computer service to review or enforce compliance with this section by third-party content providers. As used in this paragraph, "interactive computer service" means any information service, system or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such services or systems operated or offered by libraries or educational institutions.
(9) This section does not apply to general audience Internet websites, general audience online services, general audience online applications or general audience mobile applications, even if login credentials created for an operator's site, service or application may be used to access those general audience sites, services or applications.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Child and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy (a group with which I have worked) just put out a Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy .

Patient Privacy Rights has an upcoming international summit that is free. Stream it! See: https://patientprivacyrights.org/health-privacy-summit/

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 2:07 pm

We can either continue on the knowledge economy road, where our personal data is commodified. Or we could fight for a knowledge society, where we collectively access knowledge while protecting our identity and privacy. I vote for the latter.

When I am not accessing knowledge, I would still prefer to remain private.

For example, what videos I access for entertainment should private. It's not knowledge I access, just something to pass time.

That those activities should b protected as well.

Privacy-protected-society is probably a broader term than knowledge society.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm

And the Google exemption clause reads like a Facebook exemption clause as well (or Amazon or Warner Cable exemption clause).

[May 16, 2017] Mark Ames: The FBI Has No Legal Charter But Lots of Kompromat

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico). ..."
"... The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005. ..."
"... Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself. ..."
"... Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

I made the mistake of listening to NPR last week to find out what Conventional Wisdom had to say about Trump firing Comey, on the assumption that their standardized Mister-Rogers-on-Nyquil voice tones would rein in the hysteria pitch a little. And on the surface, it did-the NPR host and guests weren't directly shrieking "the world is ending! We're all gonna die SHEEPLE!" the way they were on CNN. But in a sense they were screaming "fire!", if you know how to distinguish the very minute pitch level differences in the standard NPR Nyquil voice.

The host of the daytime NPR program asked his guests how serious, and how "unprecedented" Trump's decision to fire his FBI chief was. The guests answers were strange: they spoke about "rule of law" and "violating the Constitution" but then switched to Trump "violating norms"-and back again, interchanging "norms" and "laws" as if they're synonyms. One of the guests admitted that Trump firing Comey was 100% legal, but that didn't seem to matter in this talk about Trump having abandoned rule-of-law for a Putinist dictatorship. These guys wouldn't pass a high school civics class, but there they were, garbling it all up. What mattered was the proper sense of panic and outrage-I'm not sure anyone really cared about the actual legality of the thing, or the legal, political or "normative" history of the FBI.

For starters, the FBI hardly belongs in the same set with concepts like "constitutional" or " rule of law." That's because the FBI was never established by a law. US Lawmakers refused to approve an FBI bureau over a century ago when it was first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt. So he ignored Congress, and went ahead and set it up by presidential fiat. That's one thing the civil liberties crowd hates discussing - how centralized US political power is in the executive branch, a feature in the constitutional system put there by the holy Founders.

In the late 1970s, at the tail end of our brief Glasnost, there was a lot of talk in Washington about finally creating a legal charter for the FBI -70 years after its founding. A lot of serious ink was spilled trying to transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined. If you want to play archeologist to America's recent history, you can find this in the New York Times' archives, articles with headlines like "Draft of Charter for F.B.I. Limits Inquiry Methods" :

The Carter Administration will soon send to Congress the first governing charter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed charter imposes extensive but not absolute restrictions on the bureau's employment of controversial investigative techniques, .including the use of informers, undercover agents and covert criminal activity.

The charter also specifies the duties and powers of the bureau, setting precise standards and procedures for the initiation ,and conduct of investigations. It specifically requires the F.B.I. to observe constitutional rights and establishes safeguards against unchecked harassment, break‐ins and other abuses.

followed by the inevitable lament, like this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor a year later, "Don't Forget the FBI Charter". Which of course we did forget-that was Reagan's purpose and value for the post-Glasnost reaction: forgetting. As historian Athan Theoharis wrote , "After 1981, Congress never seriously considered again any of the FBI charter proposals."

The origins of the FBI have been obscured both because of its dubious legality and because of its original political purpose-to help the president battle the all-powerful American capitalists. It wasn't that Teddy Roosevelt was a radical leftist-he was a Progressive Republican, which sounds like an oxymoron today but which was mainstream and ascendant politics in his time. Roosevelt was probably the first president since Andrew Jackson to try to smash concentrated wealth-power, or at least some of it. He could be brutally anti-labor, but so were the powerful capitalists he fought, and all the structures of government power. He met little opposition pursuing his imperial Social Darwinist ambitions outside America's borders-but he had a much harder time fighting the powerful capitalists at home against Roosevelt's most honorable political obsession: preserving forests, parks and public lands from greedy capitalists. An early FBI memo to Hoover about the FBI's origins explains,

"Roosevelt, in his characteristic dynamic fashion, asserted that the plunderers of the public domain would be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to New York Times reporter Tim Wiener's Enemies: A History of the FBI , it was the Oregon land fraud scandal of 1905-6 that put the idea of an FBI in TR's hyperactive mind. The scandal involved leading Oregon politicians helping railroad tycoon Edward Harriman illegally sell off pristine Oregon forest lands to timber interests, and it ended with an Oregon senator and the state's only two House representatives criminally charged and put on trial-along with dozens of other Oregonians. Basically, they were raping the state's public lands and forests like colonists stripping a foreign country-and that stuck in TR's craw.

TR wanted his attorney general-Charles Bonaparte (yes, he really was a descendant of that Bonaparte)-to make a full report to on the rampant land fraud scams that the robber barons were running to despoil the American West, and which threatened TR's vision of land and forest conservation and parks. Bonaparte created an investigative team from the US Secret Service, but TR thought their report was a "whitewash" and proposed a new separate federal investigative service within Bonaparte's Department of Justice that would report only to the Attorney General.

Until then, the US government had to rely on private contractors like the notorious, dreaded Pinkerton Agency, who were great at strikebreaking, clubbing workers and shooting organizers, but not so good at taking down down robber barons, who happened to also be important clients for the private detective agencies.

In early 1908, Attorney General Bonaparte wrote to Congress asking for the legal authority (and budget funds) to create a "permanent detective force" under the DOJ. Congress rebelled, denouncing it as a plan to create an American okhrana . Democrat Joseph Sherley wrote that "spying on men and prying into what would ordinarily be considered their private affairs" went against "American ideas of government"; Rep. George Waldo, a New York Republican, said the proposed FBI was a "great blow to freedom and to free institutions if there should arise in this country any such great central secret-service bureau as there is in Russia."

So Congress's response was the opposite, banning Bonaparte's DOJ from spending any funds at all on a proposed FBI. Another Congressman wrote another provision into the budget bill banning the DOJ from hiring Secret Service employees for any sort of FBI type agency. So Bonaparte waited until Congress took its summer recess, set aside some DOJ funds, recruited some Secret Service agents, and created a new federal detective bureau with 34 agents. This was how the FBI was born. Congress wasn't notified until the end of 1908, in a few lines in a standard report - "oh yeah, forgot to tell you-the executive branch went ahead and created an American okhrana because, well, the ol' joke about dogs licking their balls. Happy New Year!"

The sordid history of America's extralegal secret police-initially named the Bureau of Investigation, changed to the FBI ("Federal") in the 30's, is mostly a history of xenophobic panic-mongering, illegal domestic spying, mass roundups and plans for mass-roundups, false entrapment schemes, and planting what Russians call "kompromat"- compromising information about a target's sex life-to blackmail or destroy American political figures that the FBI didn't like.

The first political victim of J Edgar Hoover's kompromat was Louis Post, the assistant secretary of labor under Woodrow Wilson. Post's crime was releasing over 1,000 alleged Reds from detention facilities near the end of the FBI's Red Scare crackdown, when they jailed and deported untold thousands on suspicion of being Communists. The FBI's mass purge began with popular media support in 1919, but by the middle of 1920, some (not the FBI) were starting to get a little queasy. A legal challenge to the FBI's mass purges and exiles in Boston ended with a federal judge denouncing the FBI. After that ruling, assistant secretary Louis Post, a 71-year-old well-meaning progressive, reviewed the cases against the last 1500 detainees that the FBI wanted to deport, and found that there was absolutely nothing on at least 75 percent of the cases. Post's review threatened to undo thousands more FBI persecutions of alleged Moscow-controlled radicals.

So one of the FBI's most ambitious young agents, J Edgar Hoover, collected kompromat on Post and his alleged associations with other alleged Moscow-controlled leftists, and gave the file to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives-which promptly announced it would hold hearings to investigate Post as a left subversive. The House tried to impeach Post, but ultimately he defended himself. Post's lawyer compared his political persecutors to the okhrana (Russia, again!): "We in America have sunk to the level of the government of Russia under the Czarist regime," describing the FBI's smear campaign as "even lower in some of their methods than the old Russian officials."

Under Harding, the FBI had a new chief, William Burns, who made headlines blaming the terror bombing attack on Wall Street of 1920 that killed 34 people on a Kremlin-run conspiracy. The FBI claimed it had a highly reliable inside source who told them that Lenin sent $30,000 to the Soviets' diplomatic mission in New York, which was distributed to four local Communist agents who arranged the Wall Street bombing. The source claimed to have personally spoken with Lenin, who boasted that the bombing was so successful he'd ordered up more.

The only problem was that the FBI's reliable source, a Jewish-Polish petty criminal named Wolf Lindenfeld, turned out to be a bullshitter-nicknamed "Windy Linde"-who thought his fake confession about Lenin funding the bombing campaign would get him out of Poland's jails and set up in a comfortable new life in New York.

By 1923, the FBI had thoroughly destroyed America's communist and radical labor movements-allowing it to focus on its other favorite pastime: spying on and destroying political opponents. The FBI spied on US Senators who supported opening diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union: Idaho's William Borah, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Thomas Walsh of the Judiciary Committee, and Burton K Wheeler, the prairie Populist senator from Montana, who visited the Soviet Union and pushed for diplomatic relations. Harding's corrupt Attorney General Dougherty denounced Sen. Wheeler as "the Communist leader in the Senate" and "no more a Democrat than Stalin, his comrade in Moscow." Dougherty accused Sen. Wheeler of being part of a conspiracy "to capture, by deceit and design, as many members of the Senate as possible and to spread through Washington and the cloakrooms of Congress a poison gas as deadly as that which sapped and destroyed brave soldiers in the last war."

Hoover, now a top FBI official, quietly fed kompromat to journalists he cultivated, particularly an AP reporter named Richard Whitney, who published a popular book in 1924, "Reds In America" alleging Kremlin agents "had an all-pervasive influence over American institutions; they had infiltrated every corner of American life." Whitney named Charlie Chaplin as a Kremlin agent, along with Felix Frankfurter and members of the Senate pushing for recognition of the Soviet Union. That killed any hope for diplomatic recognition for the next decade.

Then the first Harding scandals broke-Teapot Dome, Veterans Affairs, bribery at the highest rungs. When Senators Wheeler and Walsh opened bribery investigations, the FBI sent agents to the senators' home state to drum up false bribery charges against Sen. Wheeler. The charges were clearly fake, and a jury dismissed the charges. But Attorney General Dougherty was indicted for fraud and forced to resign, as was his FBI chief Burns-but not Burns' underling Hoover, who stayed in the shadows.

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail This must stop."

With the Cold War, the FBI became obsessed with homosexuals as America's Fifth Column under Moscow's control. Homosexuals, the FBI believed, were susceptible to Kremlin kompromat-so the FBI collected and disseminated its own kompromat on alleged American homosexuals, supposedly to protect America from the Kremlin. In the early 1950s, Hoover launched the Sex Deviates Program to spy on American homosexuals and purge them from public life. The FBI built up 300,000 pages of files on suspected homosexuals and contacted their employers, local law enforcement and universities to "to drive homosexuals from every institution of government, higher learning, and law enforcement in the nation," according to Tim Weiner's book Enemies. No one but the FBI knows exactly how many Americans' lives and careers were destroyed by the FBI's Sex Deviants Program but Hoover-who never married, lived with his mother until he was 40, and traveled everywhere with his "friend" Clyde Tolson .

In the 1952 election, Hoover was so committed to helping the Republicans and Eisenhower win that he compiled and disseminated a 19-page kompromat file alleging that his Democratic Party rival Adlai Stevenson was gay. The FBI's file on Stevenson was kept in the Sex Deviants Program section-it included libelous gossip, claiming that Stevenson was one of Illinois' "best known homosexuals" who went by the name "Adeline" in gay cruising circles.

In the 1960s, Hoover and his FBI chiefs collected kompromat on the sex lives of JFK and Martin Luther King. Hoover presented some of his kompromat on JFK to Bobby Kennedy, in a concern-trollish way claiming to "warn" him that the president was opening himself up to blackmail. It was really a way for Hoover to let the despised Kennedy brothers know he could destroy them, should they try to Comey him out of his FBI office. Hoover's kompromat on MLK's sex life was a particular obsession of his-he now believed that African-Americans, not homosexuals, posed the greatest threat to become a Kremlin Fifth Column. The FBI wiretapped MLK's private life, collecting tapes of his affairs with other women, which a top FBI official then mailed to Martin Luther King's wife, along with a note urging King to commit suicide.

FBI letter anonymously mailed to Martin Luther King Jr's wife, along with kompromat sex tapes

After JFK was murdered, when Bobby Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1964, he recounted another disturbing FBI/kompromat story that President Johnson shared with him on the campaign trail. LBJ told Bobby about a stack of kompromat files - FBI reports "detailing the sexual debauchery of members of the Senate and House who consorted with prostitutes." LBJ asked RFK if the kompromat should be leaked selectively to destroy Republicans before the 1964 elections. Kennedy recalled,

"He told me he had spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely. Lyndon talks about everybody, you see, with everybody. And of course that's dangerous."

Kennedy had seen some of the same FBI kompromat files as attorney general, but he was totally opposed to releasing such unsubstantiated kompromat-such as, say, the Trump piss files-because doing so would "destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world."

Imagine that.

Which brings me to the big analogy every hack threw around last week, calling Trump firing Comey "Nixonian." Actually, what Trump did was more like the very opposite of Nixon, who badly wanted to fire Hoover in 1971-2, but was too afraid of the kompromat Hoover might've had on him to make the move. Nixon fell out with his old friend and onetime mentor J Edgar Hoover in 1971, when the ailing old FBI chief refused to get sucked in to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers investigation, especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Part of the reason Nixon created his Plumbers team of black bag burglars was because Hoover had become a bit skittish in his last year on this planet-and that drove Nixon crazy.

Nixon called his chief of staff Haldeman:

Nixon: I talked to Hoover last night and Hoover is not going after this case [Ellsberg] as strong as I would like. There's something dragging him.

Haldeman: You don't have the feeling the FBI is really pursuing this?

Nixon: Yeah, particularly the conspiracy side. I want to go after everyone. I'm not so interested in Ellsberg, but we have to go after everybody who's a member of this conspiracy.

Hoover's ambitious deputies in the FBI were smelling blood, angling to replace him. His number 3, Bill Sullivan (who sent MLK the sex tapes and suicide note) was especially keen to get rid of Hoover and take his place. So as J Edgar was stonewalling the Daniel Ellsberg investigation, Sullivan showed up in a Department of Justice office with two suitcases packed full of transcripts and summaries of illegal wiretaps that Kissinger and Nixon had ordered on their own staff and on American journalists. The taps were ordered in Nixon's first months in the White House in 1969, to plug up the barrage of leaks, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. Sullivan took the leaks from J Edgar's possession and told the DOJ official that they needed to be hidden from Hoover, who planned to use them as kompromat to blackmail Nixon.

Nixon decided he was going to fire J Edgar the next day. This was in September, 1971. But the next day came, and Nixon got scared. So he tried to convince his attorney general John Mitchell to fire Hoover for him, but Mitchell said only the President could fire J Edgar Hoover. So Nixon met him for breakfast, and, well, he just didn't have the guts. Over breakfast, Hoover flattered Nixon and told him there was nothing more in the world he wanted than to see Nixon re-elected. Nixon caved; the next day, J Edgar Hoover unceremoniously fired his number 3 Bill Sullivan, locking him out of the building and out of his office so that he couldn't take anything with him. Sullivan was done.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that if an FBI director doesn't want to be fired, it's best to keep your kompromat a little closer to your chest, as a gun to hold to your boss's head. Comey's crew already released the piss tapes kompromat on Trump-the damage was done. What was left to hold back Trump from firing Comey? "Laws"? The FBI isn't even legal. "Norms" would be the real reason. Which pretty much sums up everything Trump has been doing so far. We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"-and while those norms may mean everything to the ruling class, it's an open question how much these norms mean to a lot of Americans outside that club.

Huey Long , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Wow, and this whole time I thought the NSA had a kompromat monopoly as they have everybody's porn site search terms and viewing habits on file.

I had no idea the FBI practically invented it!

3.14e-9 , May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

The Native tribes don't have a great history with the FBI, either.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/thing-about-skins/comey-fbi-destructive-history-native-people/

voteforno6 , May 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

Has anyone ever used the FBI's lack of a charter as a defense in court?

Disturbed Voter , May 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

The USA doesn't have a legal basis either, it is a revolting crown colony of the British Empire. Treason and heresy all the way down. Maybe the British need to burn Washington DC again?

Synoia , May 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Britain burning DC, and the so call ed "war" of 1812, got no mention in my History Books. Napoleon on the other hand, featured greatly

In 1812 Napoleon was busy going to Russia. That went well.

Ignim Brites , May 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

Wondered how Comey thought he could get away with his conviction and pardon of Sec Clinton. Seems like part of the culture of FBI is a "above and beyond" the law mentality.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

Back in the early 1970s a high school friend moved to Alabama because his father was transferred by his employer.

My friend sent a post card describing among other things the fact that Alabama had done away with the requirement of a math class to graduate high school, and substituted a required class called "The Evils of Communism" complete with a text-book written by J. Edgar Hoover; Masters of Deceit.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

In Dallas,Texas my 1959 Civics class had to read the same book. We all were given paperback copies of it to take home and read. It was required reading enacted by Texas legislature.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

So I'd guess you weren't fooled by any of those commie plots of the sixties, like the campaigns for civil rights or against the Vietnamese war.

I can't really brag, I didn't stop worrying about the Red Menace until 1970 or so, that's when I started running into returning vets who mostly had no patience for that stuff.

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"

Or as David Broder put it (re Bill Clinton): he came in and trashed the place and it wasn't his place.

It was David Broder's place. Of course the media play a key role with all that kompromat since they are the ones needed to convey it to the public. The tragedy is that even many of the sensible in their ranks such as Bill Moyers have been sucked into the kompromat due to their hysteria over Trump. Ames is surely on point in this great article. The mistake was allowing secret police agencies like the FBI and CIA to be created in the first place.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sorry, my initial reaction was that people who don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" are not to be trusted to provide reliable information. Recognizing that as petty, I kept reading, and presently found the statement that Congress was not informed of the founding of the FBI until a century after the fact, which seems implausible. If in fact the author meant the end of 1908 it was quite an achievement to write 2008.

Interesting to the extent it may be true, but with few sources, no footnotes, and little evidence of critical editing who knows what that may be?

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

Do you even know who Mark Ames is?

Petty .yes.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Who he is is irrelevant. I don't take things on faith because "the Pope said" or because Mark Ames said. People who expect their information to be taken seriously should substantiate it.

Bill Smith , May 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, in the first sentence

Interesting article though.

Fiery Hunt , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Yeah, Kathatine, you're right .very petty.

And completely missed the point.

Or worse, you got the point and your best rejection of that point was pointing out a typo.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

I neither missed the point nor rejected it. I reserved judgment, as I thought was apparent from my comment.

sid_finster , May 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

But Trump is bad. Very Bad.

So anything the FBI does to get rid of him must by definition be ok! Besides, surely our civic-minded IC would never use their power on the Good Guys™!

Right?

JTMcPhee , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Ah yes, the voice of "caution." And such attention to the lack of footnotes, in this day when the curious can so easily cut and paste a bit of salient text into a search engine and pull up a feast of parse-able writings and video, from which they can "judiciously assess" claims and statements. If they care to spend the time, which is in such short supply among those who are struggling to keep up with the horrors and revelations people of good will confront every blinking day

Classic impeachment indeed. All from the height of "academic rigor" and "caution." Especially the "apologetic" bit about "reign" vs "rein." Typos destroy credibility, don't they? And the coup de grass (sic), the unrebuttable "plausibility" claim.

One wonders at the nature of the author's curriculum vitae. One also marvels at the yawning gulf between the Very Serious Stuff I was taught in grade and high school civics and history, back in the late '50s and the '60s, about the Fundamental Nature Of Our Great Nation and its founding fathers and the Beautiful Documents they wrote, on the one hand, and what we mopes learn, through a drip-drip-drip process punctuated occasionally by Major Revelations, about the real nature of the Empire and our fellow creatures

PS: My earliest memory of television viewing was a day at a friend's house - his middle-class parents had the first "set" in the neighborhood, I think an RCA, in a massive sideboard cabinet where the picture tube pointed up and you viewed the "content" in a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5onSwx7_Cn0 The family was watching a hearing of Joe McCarthy's kangaroo court, complete with announcements of the latest number in the "list of known Communists in the State Department" and how Commyanism was spreading like an unstoppable epidemic mortal disease through the Great US Body Politic and its Heroic Institutions of Democracy. I was maybe 6 years old, but that grainy black and white "reality TV" content had me asking "WTF?" at a very early age. And I'd say it's on the commentor to show that the "2008" claim is wrong, by something other than "implausible" as drive-by impeachment. Given the content of the original post, and what people paying attention to all this stuff have a pretty good idea is the general contours of a vast corruption and manipulation.

"Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no."

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is the author's job to substantiate information, not the reader's. If he thinks his work is so important, why does he not make a better job of it?

Edward , May 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I think the MLK blackmail scheme is well-established. Much of the article seems to be based on Tim Wiener's "Enemies: A History of the FBI".

nonsense factory , May 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting article on the history of the FBI, although the post-Hoover era doesn't get any treatment. The Church Committee hearings on the CIA and FBI, after the exposure of notably Operation CHAOS (early 60s to early 70s) by the CIA and COINTELPRO(late 1950s to early 1970s) by the FBI, didn't really get to the bottom of the issue although some reforms were initiated.

Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico).

The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005.

Maybe this is legitimate, but this only applies to their protection of the interests of large corporations – as the 2008 economic collapse and aftermath showed, they don't prosecute corporate executives who rip off poor people and middle-class homeowners. Banks who rob people, they aren't investigated or prosecuted; that's just for people who rob banks.

When it comes to political issues and national security, however, the FBI has such a terrible record on so many issues over the years that anything they claim has to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Consider domestic political activity: from the McCarthyite 'Red Scare' of the 1950s to COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s to targeting of environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s to targeting anti-war protesters under GW Bush to their obsession with domestic mass surveillance under Obama, it's not a record that should inspire any confidence.

Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself.

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences. The Saudi intelligence agency role in 9/11 was buried for over a decade, as well. Since 9/11, most of the FBI investigations seem to have involved recruiting mentally disabled young Islamic men in sting operations in which the FBI provides everything needed. You could probably get any number of mentally ill homeless people across the U.S., regardless of race or religion, to play this role.

Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either.

Ultimately, this is because FBI executives are paid off not to investigate Wall Street criminality, nor shady U.S. government activity, with lucrative positions as corporate board members and so on after their 'retirements'. I don't doubt that many of their junior members mean well and are dedicated to their jobs – but the fish rots from the head down.

Andrew Watts , May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences.

The Clinton Administration had other priorities. You know, I think I'll let ex-FBI Director Freeh explain what happened when the FBI tried to get the Saudis to cooperate with their investigation into the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

"That September, Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage took over the entire 143-room Hay-Adams Hotel, just across from Lafayette Park from the White House, for six days. The visit, I figured, was pretty much our last chance. Again, we prepared talking points for the president. Again, I contacted Prince Bandar and asked him to soften up the crown prince for the moment when Clinton, -- or Al Gore I didn't care who -- would raise the matter and start to exert the necessary pressure."

"The story that came back to me, from "usually reliable sources," as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the Crown Prince that he certainly understood the Saudis; reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library. Gore, who was supposed to press hardest of all in his meeting with the crown Prince, barely mentioned the matter, I was told." -Louis J. Freeh, My FBI (2005)

In my defense I picked the book up to see if there was any dirt on the DNC's electoral funding scandal in 1996. I'm actually glad I did. The best part of the book is when Freeh recounts running into a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and listens to how Hoover's FBI ruined his life despite having broken no laws. As if a little thing like laws mattered to Hoover. The commies were after our precious bodily fluids!

verifyfirst , May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I'm not sure there are many functioning norms left within the national political leadership. Seemed to me Gingrich started blowing those up and it just got worse from there. McConnell not allowing Garland to be considered comes to mind

lyman alpha blob , May 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Great article – thanks for this. I had no idea the FBI never had a legal charter – very enlightening.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Thanks to Mark Ames now we know what Pres. Trump meant when he tweeted about his tapes with AG Comey. Not some taped conversation between Pres. Trump & AG Comey but bunch of kompromat tapes that AG Comey has provided Pres. Trump that might not make departing AG Comey looked so clean.

[May 16, 2017] Mohamed El-Erian: We get signals that the system is under enormous stress

Notable quotes:
"... "The minute you to start talking about the inequality of opportunity, you fuel the politics of anger. The politics of anger have a tendency to produce improbable results. The major risk is that we don't know how much we've strained the underlying system. But what we do know is we are getting signals that suggest it's under enormous stress, which means the probability of either a policy mistake or market accident goes up." ..."
"... Third, pockets of extreme indebtedness must be addressed, a lesson he learned working with the IMF in Latin America in the 1980s. "When you have a debt overhang, it's like a black cloud," he argues. "It sucks oxygen out of the system. You cannot grow of it: whether it's Greece or student loans in the US, you need to deal with debt overhangs." The process of debt forgiveness is hard, he concedes, because some people are unfairly rewarded – "but the alternatives are worse." ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Leading economist and investor believes world leaders, and global capitalism, have reached fork in road between equality and chaos

This is the nub of El-Erian's analysis of why the developed world is approaching a fork in the road. The inequality generated by the current low-growth climate has three elements: inequality of wealth, income and opportunity. The last of the three – manifested in high youth unemployment in many eurozone countries, for example – is the most explosive element.

"The minute you to start talking about the inequality of opportunity, you fuel the politics of anger. The politics of anger have a tendency to produce improbable results. The major risk is that we don't know how much we've strained the underlying system. But what we do know is we are getting signals that suggest it's under enormous stress, which means the probability of either a policy mistake or market accident goes up."

... ... ...

How do we take the high, benign road? El-Erian has a four-point plan.

First, "we need to get back to investing in things that promote economic growth, infrastructure, a more pro-growth tax system for the US, serious labour retooling ... If you're in Europe, youth employment is an issue you've really got to think about very seriously."

Second, countries that can afford to do so must "exploit the fiscal space," meaning borrowing to invest or cutting taxes. He puts the US and Germany unambiguously in that category "and to a certain extent the UK".

Third, pockets of extreme indebtedness must be addressed, a lesson he learned working with the IMF in Latin America in the 1980s. "When you have a debt overhang, it's like a black cloud," he argues. "It sucks oxygen out of the system. You cannot grow of it: whether it's Greece or student loans in the US, you need to deal with debt overhangs." The process of debt forgiveness is hard, he concedes, because some people are unfairly rewarded – "but the alternatives are worse."

Fourth, regional and global governance needs repair. He compares the eurozone to a stool with one-and-a-half legs instead of four. The complete leg is monetary union, the half is banking union. The missing legs are fiscal integration, meaning a common budget, and political harmonisation. No wonder the eurozone is unstable, he says: "You can do three legs, you can't do one and half."

To return to El-Erian's core T-junction analogy, none of the required manoeuvres sound easy. "You don't need a big bang," he replies. "If you want to take the good turn you have to see some progress on some of these elements. If you don't, then we take the other turn." He ascribes equal probabilities – "it's a political judgment."

What's an investor to do? El-Erian says his own approach, which he admits is hard for the average person to copy, is framed like a bar-bell. At one end, he's invested in high-risk startups where you don't need all to succeed. At the other, he's in cash and cash-like investments. In the middle, he'll invest in public markets only tactically.

The bottom line: "I'm risk off."

[May 16, 2017] The Real Meaning of Sensitive Intelligence by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal. ..."
"... The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. ..."
"... McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations." ..."
"... The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode. ..."
"... In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting. ..."
"... The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel. ..."
"... And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council. ..."
"... You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk. ..."
"... I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others. ..."
"... Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks. ..."
"... And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start. ..."
"... In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC! ..."
"... I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media.

For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word "sensitive" as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James Clapper during committee testimony into Russiagate. "Sensitive" has, of course, a number of meanings. But what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal.

When Yates and Clapper were using "sensitive" thirteen times in the 86 page transcript of the Senate hearings, they were referring to the medium rather than the message. They were both acknowledging that the sources of the information were intelligence related, sometimes referred to as "sensitive" by intelligence professionals and government insiders as a shorthand way to describe that they are "need to know" material derived from either classified "methods" or foreign-liaison partners. That does not mean that the information contained is either good or bad or even true or false, but merely a way of expressing that the information must be protected because of where it came from or how it was developed, hence the "sensitivity."

The word also popped up this week in a Washington Post exclusive report alleging that the president had, in his recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, gone too far while also suggesting that the source of a highly classified government program might be inferred from the context of what was actually revealed. The Post describes how

The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump's decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. Furthermore, it should be understood that the paper is extremely hostile to Trump, the story is as always based on anonymous sources, and the revelation comes on top of another unverifiable Post article claiming that the Russians might have sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during the visit.

No one is denying that the president discussed ISIS in some detail with Lavrov, but National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both of whom were present at the meeting, have denied that any sources or methods were revealed while reviewing with the Russians available intelligence. McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations."

So the question becomes to what extent can an intelligence mechanism be identified from the information that it produces. That is, to a certain extent, a judgment call. The president is able on his own authority to declassify anything, so the legality of his sharing information with Russia cannot be challenged. What is at question is the decision-making by an inexperienced president who may have been showing off to an important foreign visitor by revealing details of intelligence that should have remained secret. The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode.

The media is claiming that the specific discussion with Lavrov that is causing particular concern is related to a so-called Special Access Program , or SAP, sometimes referred to as "code word information." An SAP is an operation that generates intelligence that requires special protection because of where or how it is produced. In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting.

There have also been reports that the White House followed up on its Lavrov meeting with a routine review of what had taken place. Several National Security Council members observed that some of the information shared with the Russians was far too sensitive to disseminate within the U.S. intelligence community. This led to the placing of urgent calls to NSA and CIA to brief them on what had been said.

Based on the recipients of the calls alone, one might surmise that the source of the information would appear to be either a foreign-intelligence service or a technical collection operation, or even both combined. The Post claims that the originator of the intelligence did not clear its sharing with the Russians and raises the possibility that no more information of that type will be provided at all in light of the White House's apparent carelessness in its use. The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel.

The Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov "granular" information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences. That projection may be overreach, but the fact is that the latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East while reinforcing the widely held impression that Washington does not know how to keep a secret. It will also create the impression that Donald Trump, out of ignorance or hubris, exhibits a certain recklessness in his dealing with classified information, a failing that he once attributed to his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.

And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

This article has been updated to reflect news developments.

Thymoleontas, says: May 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

" The latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East "

On the other hand, it also represents closer collaboration with Russia–even if unintended–which is an improvement on the status quo ante and, not to mention, key to ending the conflict in Syria.

Dies Irae , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm
You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk.
MM , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm
Out of my depth, but was Trump working within the framework, maybe a bit outside if the story is true, of the Joint Implementation Group the Obama administration created last year with Russia?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/07/13/Editorial-Opinion/Graphics/terms_of_reference_for_the_Joint_Implementation_Group.pdf?tid=a_inl

Also, I recall reading that the prior administration promised Russia ISIS intel. Not sure if that ever happened, but I doubt they'd have made it public or leak anything to the press.

Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Apr 21, 2017 Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy

Author David A. Nichols reveals how President Dwight D. Eisenhower masterminded the downfall of the anti-Communist demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy.

https://youtu.be/FAY_9aQMVbQ

EliteCommInc , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Avoiding the minutia.

I think it should go without saying that intelligence is a sensitive business and protecting those who operate in its murky waters is important to having an effective agency.

Of course the Pres of the US has a duty to do so.

I have not yet read the post article. But I am doubtful that the executive had any intention of putting anyone in harms way. I am equally doubtful that this incident will. If the executive made an error in judgement, I am sure it will be dealt wit in an appropriate manner.

I do wish he'd stop tweeting, though I get why its useful to him.

I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others.

Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks.

Just another brier brushfire of a single tumble weed to add to the others in the hope that setting fires in trashcans will make the current exec go away or at least engage in a mea culpa and sign more checks in the mess that is the middle east policy objective that remains a dead end.

__________

And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start.

Cachip , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm
How do you know it wasn't intended as pure misdirection?
Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm
January 10, 2014 *500* Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/500-years-of-history-shows-that-mass-spying-is-always-aimed-at-crushing-dissent/5364462

Johann , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Politics is now directly endangering innocent civilians. Because of the leaks and its publication, ISIS for sure now knows that there is an information leak out of their organization. They will now re-compartmentalize and may be successful in breaking that information leak. Innocent airline passenger civilians, American, Russian, or whoever may die as a result. Russia and the US are both fighting ISIS. We are de facto allies in that fight whether some people like it or not. Time to get over it.
EliteCommInc. , says: May 16, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Having read the article, uhhh, excuse me, but unlike personal secrets. The purpose of intel is to use to or keep on hand for some-other date. But of that information is related to the security of our interests and certainly a cooperative relationship with Russia is in our interest. Because in the convoluted fight with ISIS/ISIL, Russia is an ally.

What this belies is the mess of the intelligence community. If in fact, the Russians intend to take a source who provided information that was helpful to them, it would be a peculiar twist of strategic action. The response does tell us that we are in some manner in league with ISIS/ISIL or their supporters so deep that there is a need to protect them, from what is anybody's guess. Because if the information is accurate, I doubt the Russians are going to about killing the source, but rather improving their airline security.

But if we are in fact attempting to remove Pres Assad, and are in league with ISIS/ISIL in doing so - I get why the advocates of such nonsense might be in a huff. So ISIS/ISISL our one time foe and now our sometimes friend . . .

Good greif . . .

Pres Trump is the least of muy concerns when it coes to security.

Some relevant material on intel:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/327413-how-the-intel-community-was-turned-into-a-political

http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/intelligence-failures-more-profound-than-president-admits/

But if I were Pres Trump, I might steer clear of Russia for a while to stop feeding the beast.

Kurt Gayle , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Philip, back on July 23, 2014, you explained in "How ISIS Evades the CIA" "the inability of the United States government to anticipate the ISIS offensive that has succeeded in taking control of a large part of Iraq." You explained why the CIA had to date had no success in infiltrating ISIS.

You continued: "Given U.S. intelligence's probable limited physical access to any actual terrorist groups operating in Syria or Iraq any direct attempt to penetrate the organization through placing a source inside would be difficult in the extreme. Such efforts would most likely be dependent on the assistance of friendly intelligence services in Turkey or Jordan. Both Turkey and Jordan have reported that terrorists have entered their countries by concealing themselves in the large numbers of refugees that the conflict in Syria has produced, and both are concerned as they understand full well that groups like ISIS will be targeting them next. Some of the infiltrating adherents to radical groups have certainly been identified and detained by the respective intelligence services of those two countries, and undoubtedly efforts have been made to 'turn' some of those in custody to send them back into Syria (and more recently Iraq) to report on what is taking place. Depending on what arrangements might have been made to coordinate the operations, the 'take' might well be shared with the United States and other friendly governments."

You then describe the difficulties faced by a Turkish or Jordanian agent trying to infiltrate ISIS: "But seeding is very much hit or miss, as someone who has been out of the loop of his organization might have difficulty working his way back in. He will almost certainly be regarded with some suspicion by his peers and would be searched and watched after his return, meaning that he could not take back with him any sophisticated communications devices no matter how cleverly they are concealed. This would make communicating any information obtained back to one's case officers in Jordan or Turkey difficult or even impossible."

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-isis-evades-the-cia/

Notwithstanding how "difficult or even impossible" such an operation would be - and using the New York Times as your only source for a lot of otherwise completely unsubstantiated information – and admitting that "this is sheer speculation on my part" – you say that "it is logical to assume that the countries that have provided numerous recruits for ISIS [Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia] would have used that fact as cover to carry out a seeding operation to introduce some of their own agents into the ISIS organization."

Back to the New York Times as your only source, you say that "the Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov 'granular' information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences."

But having ventured into the far reaches of that line of speculation, you do admit that "that projection may be overreach." Indeed!

You go on to characterize the events of the White House meeting with the Russians as "the latest gaffe from the White House" – even though there is absolutely no evidence (outside of the unsubstantiated reports of the Washington Post and the New York Times) that anything to do with the meeting was a "gaffe" – and you further speculate that "it could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East."

That is, again, pure speculation on your part.

One valuable lesson that you've taught TAC readers over the years, Philip: That we need to carefully examine the sources of information – and the sources of dis-information.

KennethF , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm
Yet again from Giraldi: the problem isn't that the POTUS is ignorant and incompetent; we should all be more concerned that the Deep State is leaking the proof.
collin , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm
In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC!
charley , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm
I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything.
Brad Kain , says: May 16, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Trump has now essentially confirmed the story from the Post and contradicted the denials from McMaster – he shared specific intelligence to demonstrate his willingness to work with the Russians. Moreover, it seems that Israel was the ally that provided this intelligence. The author and others will defend this, but I can only see this as a reckless and impulsive decision that only causes Russia and our allies to trust the US less.

[May 16, 2017] Trump facing shark tank feeding frenzy from military industrial media

Notable quotes:
"... What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here? ..."
"... "sources and methods" ..."
"... 'Deep State' ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
"... "drain the swamp." ..."
"... "I am moving forward with my program." ..."
"... Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top? ..."
"... The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here? ..."
"... Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him? ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.rt.com
There are elements of the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with Russia, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, told RT. Political analyst John Bosnitch joins the discussion. US President Trump said his White House meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ranged from airline safety to terrorism. A Washington Post story, however, has accused the American leader of revealing classified information to Russian officials.

RT: What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here?

Jim Jatras: To start with, again, this is from the Washington Post and an unnamed source. So you do have to doubt the accuracy of the information knowing the vendetta the Washington Post and other mainstream media have against the Trump administration and against President Trump personally and how much they want to disrupt any kind of cooperation with Russia against the terrorist threat. I would say that was the first thing.

'I was in the room. It didn't happen' - National Security Advisor H.R. #McMaster https://t.co/gVIHigqXaT

- RT America (@RT_America) 15 мая 2017 г.

Second, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy of National Security Adviser Dina Powell, who were both in the meeting, have stated since the Washington Post article appeared – there was nothing discussed with Mr. [Sergey] Lavrov and Mr. [Sergey] Kislyak that compromised what they call "sources and methods" that would lead to any kind of intelligence vulnerability on the part of the US. But rather this was all part of a discussion of common action against ISIS. Those are the first things to be noted

Let's remember that there are elements of what we call the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with the Russians; they don't want improved relations with Moscow. And let's be honest, they have a very strong investment in the various jihadist groups that we have supported for the past six years trying to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus. I am sure there are people – maybe in the National Security Council, maybe in the Staff, maybe in the State Department – who are finding some way to try and discredit the Trump administration. The question is where is the investigation into these leaks? Who is going to hold these people accountable?

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here?

JJ: Of course. In fact, I would even go further. I wouldn't be at all surprised if President Trump timed his firing with the FBI Director James Comey – what some people even pointed out – he himself in one of his tweets says "drain the swamp." One of the first elements was getting rid of the principals of the Deep State who have been trying to hijack his policy; that he did this precisely because he was meeting with Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kislyak the next day. He's shoving it in their face, saying: "I am moving forward with my program." And I think that's the reason we're getting this hysteria building around the Russians, the Russians, the Russians when what we need is to move forward on an America First national security policy.

'US policy today: Aircraft, where co-pilots try to override pilots' (Op-Edge) https://t.co/x153yPtqVS

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.

RT: Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top?

JJ: Absolutely. There is a whole structure of what people call the 'Deep State' establishment, the oligarchy – whatever you want to call it. Of course, the mainstream media is part of this. It includes all the Democrats, who were very easy on the Soviet Union when it was Communist. But now that it is not Communist under Russia, they have a deep, very deep hatred of Russia, and they don't want any kind of rapprochement with Russia. And unfortunately, there are Republicans who sympathize with this agenda, as well. I think we can say at this point that Mr. Trump is only partially in control of the apparatus of government. He does not yet have complete control and that there is a frantic effort by these elements to make sure he is not able to get control of the American government and carry out the policies he talked about.

#Trump says he had 'absolute right' to share data on flight safety & terrorism with Russia https://t.co/U6h9FW2ZKy pic.twitter.com/eFBIRhVaI3

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.
The 'military industrial media'

The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media,' John Bosnitch , political analyst, told RT.

RT: The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here?

John Bosnitch: I wouldn't say so. I've worked in this field for three decades. I don't see a scrap of evidence here. But I do see like a shark tank of media feeding – no evidence.

RT: Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him?

JB: Trump is the chief executive officer of the United States of America. As the chief executive officer of the country, he has full legal and constitutional authority to use state secrets in the conduct of diplomacy. He's also the chief diplomat of the country. So there is a big difference between the chief executive officer deciding what information he can share in conducting of state policy, and Hillary Clinton deciding as a cabinet minister which laws she chooses to obey, and which ones she doesn't.

'You cannot reset:' No way for US & Russia to start over 'with clean slate' – #Tillerson https://t.co/vC71YbLpQL

- RT (@RT_com) 15 мая 2017 г.

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here?

JB: I don't see any other possibility, whatsoever. Let's not play the game of dividing the so-called mainstream media from its owners. The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media.' The military makes money by making war; they buy the media to promote war. They use the media to promote propaganda in favor of war. And that is where we get into the mess we're in today. Because we have a president who is a businessman and would prefer to make money, and would prefer to put people to work in any industry other than war. The military industrial media in the United States is depending on being able to speak to a captive audience of uninformed viewers The military controls the media because they own them.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[May 15, 2017] The explosive mixture of middle-class shrinking and dual economy in the West

This idea of two segregated societies within one nation is pretty convincing.
Notable quotes:
"... A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries. ..."
"... The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies ..."
"... In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show. ..."
"... The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment. ..."
"... As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity. ..."
"... The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization. ..."
"... In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs. ..."
May 14, 2017 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

The Pew Research Center, released a new study on the size of the middle class in the U.S. and in ten European countries. The study found that the middle class shrank significantly in the U.S. in the last two decades from 1991 to 2010. While it also shrank in several other Western European countries, it shrank far more in the U.S. than anywhere else. Meanwhile, another study also released last week, and published in the journal Science, shows that class mobility in the U.S. declined dramatically in the 1980s, relative to the generation before that.

A book released last March by MIT economist Peter Temin argues that the U.S. is increasingly becoming what economists call a dual economy; that is, where there are two economies in effect, and one of the populations lives in an economy that is prosperous and secure, and the other part of the population lives in an economy that resembles those of some third world countries.

globinfo freexchange

MIT Economist Peter Temin spoke to Gregory Wilpert and the The Real News network.

As Temin states, among other things:

The middle class is shrinking in the United States and this is an effect of both the advance of technology and American policies . That is shown dramatically in the new study, because the United States is compared with many European countries. In some of them, the middle class is expanding in the last two decades, and in others it's decreasing. And while technology crosses national borders, national policies affect things within the country.

In the United States, our policies have divided us into two groups. Above the median income - above the middle class - is what I call the FTE sector, Finance, Technology and Electronics sector - of people who are doing well, and whose incomes are rising as our national product is growing. The middle class and below are losing shares of income, and their incomes are shrinking as the Pew studies, both of them, show.

The model shows that the FTE sector makes policy for itself, and really does not consider how well the low wage sector is doing. In fact, it wants to keep wages and earnings low in the low wage sector, to provide cheap labour for the industrial employment.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/BRs4VcHprqI" name="I1"

This model is similar to that pursued in eurozone through the Greek experiment. Yet, the establishment's decision centers still need the consent of the citizens to proceed. They got it in France with the election of their man to do the job, Emmanuel Macron.

As already described , the middle-class, which has not collapsed yet in France, still has the characteristics that fit to the neoliberal regime. However, it is obvious that this tank of voters has shrunk significantly, and the establishment is struggling to keep them inside the desirable 'status quo' with tricks like the supposedly 'fresh', apolitical image of Emmanuel Macron, the threat of Le Pen's 'evil' figure that comes from the Far-Right, or, the illusion that they have the right to participate equally to almost every economic activity.

For example, even in Greece, where the middle class suffered an unprecedented reduction because of Troika's (ECB, IMF, European Commission) policies, the last seven years, the propaganda of the establishment attempts to make young people believe that they can equally participate in innovative economic projects. The media promotes examples of young businessmen who have succeed to survive economically through start-up companies, yet, they avoid to tell that it is totally unrealistic to expect from most of the Greek youth to become innovative entrepreneurs. So, this illusion is promoted by the media because technology is automating production and factories need less and less workers, even in the public sector, which, moreover, is violently forced towards privatization.

As mentioned in previous article , the target of the middle class extinction in the West is to restrict the level of wages in developing economies and prevent current model to be expanded in those countries. The global economic elite is aiming now to create a more simple model which will be consisted basically of three main levels.

The 1% holding the biggest part of the global wealth, will lie, as always, at the top of the pyramid. In the current phase, frequent and successive economic crises, not only assist on the destruction of social state and uncontrolled massive privatizations, but also, on the elimination of the big competitors.

In the middle of the pyramid, a restructured class will serve and secure the domination of the top. Corporate executives, big journalists, scientific elites, suppression forces. It is characteristic that academic research is directed on the basis of the profits of big corporations. Funding is directed increasingly to practical applications in areas that can bring huge profits, like for example, the higher automation of production and therefore, the profit increase through the restriction of jobs.

The base of the pyramid will be consisted by the majority of workers in global level, with restricted wages, zero labor rights, and nearly zero opportunities for activities other than consumption.

This type of dual economy with the rapid extinction of middle class may bring dangerous instability because of the vast vacuum created between the elites and the masses. That's why the experiment is implemented in Greece, so that the new conditions to be tested. The last seven years, almost every practice was tested: psychological warfare, uninterrupted propaganda, financial coups, permanent threat for a sudden death of the economy, suppression measures, in order to keep the masses subservient, accepting the new conditions.

The establishment exploits the fact that the younger generations have no collective memories of big struggles. Their rights were taken for granted and now they accept that these must be taken away for the sake of the investors who will come to create jobs. These generations were built and raised according to the standards of the neoliberal regime 'Matrix'.

Yet, it is still not certain that people will accept this Dystopia so easily. The first signs can be seen already as recently, French workers seized factory and threatened to blow it up in protest over possible closure . Macron may discover soon that it will be very difficult to find the right balance in order to finish the job for the elites. And then, neither Brussels nor Berlin will be able to prevent the oncoming chaos in Europe and the West.

Read also:

[May 07, 2017] Growing Inequality Under Global Capitalism naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development and Anis Chowdhury, former Professor of Economics, University of Western Sydney, who held various senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok. Originally published at Inter Press Service ..."
"... Foreign Affairs ..."
May 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. Even though much of the material in this post will be familiar to regular readers, some points are worth emphasizing. One defense regularly made of globalization is that even though it has lowered income of less-skilled workers in advanced economies (and even those of some skilled workers), laborers in emerging economies have gained. This picture is simplistic. As Joseph Stiglitz pointed out years ago, and the picture hasn't changed much, China has captured all of the income gains by emerging economies. Poverty in developing economies ex China hasn't budged. And the authors stress that inequality has exploded in China.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development and Anis Chowdhury, former Professor of Economics, University of Western Sydney, who held various senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok. Originally published at Inter Press Service

Income and wealth inequality has increased in recent decades, but recognition of the role of economic liberalization and globalization in exacerbating inequality has never been so widespread. The guardians of global capitalism are nervous, yet little has been done to check, let alone reverse the underlying forces.

Global Elite Alarmed by Growing Inequality

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has described severe income inequality as the biggest risk facing the world. WEF founder Klaus Schwab has observed, "We have too large a disparity in the world; we need more inclusiveness If we continue to have un-inclusive growth and we continue with the unemployment situation, particularly youth unemployment, our global society is not sustainable."

Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director, told political and business leaders at the WEF, "in far too many countries the benefits of growth are being enjoyed by far too few people. This is not a recipe for stability and sustainability." Similarly, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has warned that failure to tackle inequality risked causing social unrest. "It's going to erupt to a great extent because of these inequalities."

In the same vein, the influential US Council of Foreign Relations' journal, Foreign Affairs , carried an article cautioning, "Inequality is indeed increasing almost everywhere in the post-industrial capitalist world . if left unaddressed, rising inequality and economic insecurity can erode social order and generate a populist backlash against the capitalist system at large."

Much Ado About Nothing?

Increasingly, the main benefits of economic growth are being captured by a tiny elite. Despite global economic stagnation for almost a decade, the number of billionaires in the world has increased to a record 2,199. The richest one per cent of the world's population now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. The world's eight richest people have as much wealth as the poorer half.

In India, the number of billionaires has increased at least tenfold in the past decade. India now has 111 billionaires, third in the world by country. The largest number of the world's abject poor also live in the same country - over 425 million, a third of the world's poor, and well over a third of the country's population.

Africa had a resource boom for a decade until 2014, but most people there still struggle daily for food, clean water and health care. Meanwhile, the number of people living in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank, has grown substantially to at least 330 million from 280 million in 1990!

In Europe, poor people bore the brunt of draconian austerity policies while bank bailouts mainly benefited the moneyed. 122.3 million people, or 24.4 per cent of the population in the EU-28, are at risk of poverty. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of Europeans without enough money to heat their homes or cope with unforeseen expenses, i.e., living with "severe material deprivation," rose by 7.5 million to 50 million people, while the continent is home to 342 billionaires!

In the United States, the income share of the top one per cent is at its highest level since the eve of the Great Depression, almost nine decades ago. The top 0.01 per cent, or 14,000 American families, own 22.2 per cent of its wealth, while the bottom 90 per cent, over 133 million families, own a meagre four per cent of the nation's wealth. The top five per cent of households increased their share of US wealth, especially after the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, the richest one per cent tripled their share of US income within a generation.

This unprecedented wealth concentration and the corresponding deprivation of others have generated backlashes, arguably contributing to the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election, the Brexit referendum, the strength of Marine Le Pen in France, the Alternative for Germany, and the ascendance of the Hindutva right in secular India.

"Communist" China and Inequality

Meanwhile, China has increasingly participated in and grown rapidly as inequality has risen sharply in the ostensibly communist-ruled country. China has supplied cheaper consumer goods to the world, checking inflation and improving living standards for many. Part of its huge trade surplus - due to relatively low, albeit recently rising wages - has been recycled in financial markets, mainly in the US, which helped expand credit at low interest rates there.

Thus, cheap consumer products and cheap credit have enabled the slowly shrinking "middle class" in the West to mitigate the downward pressure on their living standards despite stagnating or falling real wages and mounting personal and household debt.

China's export-led development on the basis of low wages has sharply increased income inequality in the world's largest country for more than three decades. Beijing is the new "billionaire capital of the world," no longer New York. China now has 594 billionaires, 33 more than in the US!

Since the 1980s, income inequality in China has risen faster than most! China now has one of the world's highest levels of income inequality, rising mainly in the last three decades. The richest one per cent of households own a third of the country's wealth, while the poorest quarter own only one per cent. China's Gini coefficient for income rose to 0.49 in 2012 from 0.3 over three decades before when it was one of the most egalitarian countries in the world. Another survey put China's income Gini at 0.61 in 2010, greatly exceeding the US's 0.45!

12 0 24 5 0 This entry was posted in Africa , Banana republic , China , Economic fundamentals , Free markets and their discontents , Globalization , Guest Post , Income disparity , India on May 6, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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Subscribe to Post Comments 55 comments MoiAussie , May 6, 2017 at 4:16 am

Global Elite Alarmed by Growing Inequality is a rather misleading, or rather, abbreviated, subhead. On suspects it should be Global Elite Alarmed that Growing Inequality may not be Sustainable .

Is there any evidence anywhere that Global Elites would want voluntarily to reduce inequality?

cnchal , May 6, 2017 at 5:51 am

The reality is the global elite are alarmed that inequality isn't high enough, and fear having to give up a single dollar to the poors. There is no measuring stick big enough to measure the elite's greed.

Apple workers in China are so abused and underpaid, I am waiting for a factory rampage. When your sweat is stolen by Tim Cook colluding with the criminal leaders of China to steal all your effort for themselves, that would drive anyone nuts. Buying an Apple product means thousands of Chinese slaves are tortured.

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

Proof: 1% in US keep on arguing how they only collect 20% of income but pay 40% of taxes.

They don't seem to realize that if their income had stayed at 30x the lowest paid instead of 300x, the lower paid would actually be paying more taxes.

Second, the rich typically have low incomes relative to assets so if taxes included assets, it would be interesting to see how that proportion would change.

Furthermore, why should someone get waterfront property just because of their birthright and have the audacity to tell the younger ones to pick themselves up by their bootstraps? If society does not fix the problem, Mother Nature will.

cnchal , May 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

Chinese labor get's shot if they were to try and organize a fight for better working conditions. The elite here and there conspire with each other to profit from it.

Here is proof:

Meanwhile, China has increasingly participated in and grown rapidly as inequality has risen sharply in the ostensibly communist-ruled country. China has supplied cheaper consumer goods to the world, checking inflation and improving living standards for many . Part of its huge trade surplus - due to relatively low , albeit recently rising wages - has been recycled in financial markets, mainly in the US, which helped expand credit at low interest rates there.

Thus, cheap consumer products and cheap credit have enabled the slowly shrinking "middle class" in the West to mitigate the downward pressure on their living standards despite stagnating or falling real wages and mounting personal and household debt.

China's export-led development on the basis of low wages has sharply increased income inequality in the world's largest country for more than three decades. Beijing is the new "billionaire capital of the world," no longer New York. China now has 594 billionaires, 33 more than in the US!

There are suicide prevention nets in the stairwells and around the building where Apple products are made. And they make really shitty money, compared to what they put out.

Apple has what, a fifth of a trillion stashed "offshore". Where did it come from? Right out of the sweat of those workers.

There is a fundamental difference between our politicians and Chinese politicians.

In our system, narcissists are elected and are then surrounded by psychopaths, in China it's a total brawl all the way to the top, so they skip the narcissist step.

sgt_doom , May 6, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Nicely stated!

dontknowitall , May 6, 2017 at 5:56 am

One way that inequality can be mitigated is by increasing government spending to create jobs and improve infrastructure but forecasts of the benefits can be manipulated to defeat such proposals by usually showing that less than a dollar of GDP growth is returned for each dollar of spending. Economists at North Carolina Sate U. have recently created an agnostic model stripped of partisan bias of how government spending benefits GDP and they show about $1.30 of GDP growth for each dollar spent. Let me quote (the original paper is paywalled):

" most widely used model for predicting how U.S. government spending affects gross domestic product (GDP) can be rigged using theoretical assumptions to control forecasts of how government spending will stimulate the economy Based on their observations, the researchers then developed an agnostic model, which was designed to avoid those tweaks that predispose the results to support a particular argument We found that the agnostic model predicts roughly $1.30 in near-term GDP growth for each $1 in spending."

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-impact-easily.html
https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20111196&&from=f

sgt_doom , May 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

I think most of us realize the details of how to decrease inequality - just as most of us thinking people realize that inequality increases unemployment which increases inequality - so your comment falls upon those who are tired with the oblivious who seem ignorant that the problem is not with the HOW, it is with that bloody revolution which has yet to come!

cripes , May 6, 2017 at 6:48 am

Yeah, I've always wondered what factors, besides sheer greed, elite inbreeding and stupidity, are responsible for the wide range of national GINI rankings.

According to the CIA anyway, among the most equal are affluent Germany (27.0) France (30.1) and Sweden (24.0), but also not-rich Albania (29.0) Romania (27.3) and, most equal, Slovenia at 23.7.

The European Union as a whole is rated GINA 30.1. The handful of non-European countries that crack the more equal list, strangely are, in ascending order Kazakstan (28.9) Pakistan (29.6) South Korea (30.2) and Australia (30.3).

Geographically, there is a swath of more-equal economies stretching from Western Europe to North Africa, South-west Asia (middle east) through India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Japan. This tends towards the idea that old-world, culturally cohesive societies have an interest in maintaining economies that promote inclusion and common interest. The Muslim barbarians and European socialists are less prone to exploiting their neighbors or throwing them overboard than we are, although Washington is working hard to remedy this situation.

Canada and Australia have wisely plotted a course closer to their European forbears than their American cousins.

Southern Africa, Latin America starting at the Rio Grande, China, Russia (bordering much more equal Kazakhstan?) and of course the USA are the heartlands of inequality. The common thread here, I presume, is their colonial heritage.

There may be something to the argument about homogeneous societies having a cultural advantage and all that, but England (32.4) and France, hardly exemplars of racial tranquility, or Australia, India and Canada seem to say otherwise.

The interesting thing seen easily on the map is that low income "developing" countries, with exceptions like Hong Kong (53.7) have a large preponderance of high GINI scores.

Middle-income China, Russia and Brazil, are joined by the always exceptional United States as continental empires with extreme inequality.

Readers thoughts?

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 9:09 am

I'm not sure Canada can survive without socialism.

If we use current economic productivity and efficiency models, it would seem that North-South activity would make more sense than East-West. So from my perspective, if we want Canada to work, we have to share and accept higher costs and less material wealth to reach that goal.

The other issue we are facing capital from China let's say there are 10 million Chinese (we only have something like 12m households) who want to get their money out and a few million Canadians who want to get rich selling their house, you can imagine what kind of havoc the zirp/bailout/EZ money policies have unleashed on small attractive countries like Canada.

And our leaders are still denying the impact of foreign capital on our real estate market. Because these are the people who live in the overvalued urban areas and quite happy to see their home values soar.

IMO, protectionism will need to rear its ugly head.

Massinissa , May 6, 2017 at 7:04 pm

I'm not sure anyplace can survive without socialism if capitalism doesn't try and fix itself again like in the 30s. Which it might not, this time.

sgt_doom , May 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Remember, please, GINI scores do not accurately represent growing inequality within countries, they just supposedly represent inequality BETWEEN countries.

knowbuddhau , May 6, 2017 at 7:08 am

>>>"Meanwhile, China has increasingly participated in and grown rapidly as inequality has risen sharply in the ostensibly communist-ruled country."

Participated in what?

We're the bottom of the barrel. They're the cream on top. But the vessel is being overpressurized, accidentally on purpose. How much more can we take before the Great Blowout?

cripes , May 6, 2017 at 7:20 am

Oooops:

The common thread (to the US) with unequal China and Russia is not their "colonial heritage" but their empire-sized geography.

Also:

There is also the matter of GINI inequality within national borders, seen here: http://dev.null.org/scrapbook/2009/0420_us_gini.jpg

Surprisingly, but not to me, is that New York State holds the worst GINA rank at 49.9, a fact due not solely to the density of high income jerk-offs like Trump who claim residence there, but to the density of truly impoverished people that still remain in the five boroughs of NYC and the abandoned former industrial cities of upstate New York.

Although they report a very high 21% "poverty" rate, NYC's Commission on Equal Opportunity reports in 2012 that 40% of New York City families subsisted on less than $34,000 annually. Anyone familiar with the absurd official poverty thresholds, or the punishing cost of living in NYC for working people, well, do your own math.

Suffice it to say, national GINI rankings tell only part of the story.

There is a whole other realm of study in qualifying GINI effects by state, county, zip code or tract level.

UserFriendly , May 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

Bernie did best in the most egalitarian states interesting. Rich people vote more and if you are rich in an unequal state Bernie must sound like Satan.

MoiAussie , May 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

I guess you meant more rich people vote , but there're hidden truths in rich people vote more which are worth unpacking.

– In the US system, money talks. Rich people donate to support their future benefactors, which buys MSM speech and advertising that sways gullible votes to their side.

– Elected representatives are often in it to get rich, and are certainly bought and paid for. So rich people get the votes on the legislation that matters to them. The rest get representatives who simply don't deliver on the policies and promises that they ran on. Obama.

Susan the other , May 6, 2017 at 11:10 am

I was also thinking that broad data like the above hide the obvious solution. But I don't know how working from localities upward from towns to counties to cities to states would technically work to redistribute income. I know how they redistribute state tax money for the state's dept of education – they pool the money and distribute it per pupil evenly across all districts. The poorest districts getting the most help. So redistribution of income via taxes would have to come from the tax authority, i.e. the state. But that leaves local resources and solutions unused. As unused as they are disenfranchised from neoliberal globalization. It is just those very local communities that could be enlisted and employed to clean up the environment and do it sustainably. The state could subsidize cleanup. Organic farming. Artisans of all sorts. The fact that there is such inequality, and the fact that we are awash in garbage, pollution, and climate change seem to go hand in glove; and the mess is totally reversible. But start at the local level.

HopeLB , May 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Fresh water and arable land are becoming scarce and climate change will only exacerbate the trend. People could be put to useful, gratifying work using that suburban farmer's idea. Those large subsurban yards covered in meticulous lawns could be put to use feeding the world.

sgt_doom , May 6, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for your great remarks and comments - should be highly informative to many.

Also important to note - given the incredibly shrinking middle class in America (which might not always appear that way in the purposely faulty numerical data presented - or misrepresented) - that it is always worse than it appears since such data derives from the Census Bureau, which tracks ONLY wages, not income streams from capital gains (such as bonds and stocks, etc.). This (purposely) skews the size of the middle class much larger than it actually is - and it has been dramatically shrinking in America - as those rich and super-rich show up listed as in the middle class, economically.

Also, important to keep in mind that much supposed "data" comes from the National Bureau of Economics Research (NBER), which has as an emeritus , one Martin Feldstein from Harvard. Said Feldstein was a director at HCA when they were hit with the largest out-of-court penalty settlement for their Medicare/Medicaid fraud back in the 1990s. Said Feldstein was a director at Eli Lilly when they were hit with the then-largest criminal penalty for fraudulent marketing of their drugs. Said Feldstein was a director at AIG/Financial Products when they had to be bailed out by the US government for partaking in the largest insurance swindle in US history, so EVERYTHING coming out of the NBER should be considered suspect, given the character of its crew!

Anonymous2 , May 6, 2017 at 7:23 am

I wonder about Gini scores for the UK. A lot of residential central London is now owned by extremely rich people like Saudi princes and Russian oligarchs. My suspicion is that they are excluded from the figures. Their impact on the local economy by pricing just about everyone else out of this market is, however, non-trivial.

sgt_doom , May 6, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Yes, this site has carried some excellent articles in the past about this subject, GINI essentially tracks the supposed inequality among countries, not WITHIN the individual countries (or at least it fails to do so).

Something with is as appropriate to the UK as it is to America, a quote from an outstanding book, Glass House , by Brian Alexander:

"Corporate elites said they needed free-trade agreements, so they got them. Manufacturers said they needed tax breaks and public money incentives in order to keep their plants operating in the USA, so they got them. Banks and financiers needed looser regulations, so they got them. Employers said they needed weaker unions – or no unions at all – so they got them. Private equity firms said they needed carried interest and secrecy, so they got them. What did Lancaster and a hundred other town like it get? Job losses, slashed wages, poor civic leadership, social dysfunction, drugs."

Michael C. , May 6, 2017 at 8:12 am

To alter James Carville's noted quote, "It's capitalism, stupid." Or at least the way it is configured so that short term profit for the ownership class takes precedence over the immoral destruction of societies and mother earth.

Kalen , May 6, 2017 at 9:33 am

Rampant inequality, joblessness, homelessness is not a shameful aspect of unfortunate excesses of few or tragic side effect of modern mass capitalism but in fact it is its best feature, in fact absolutely necessary even critical to the success of this unbelievable confidence scheme callled capitalist socioeconomics enhanced by debt based monetary system and fiat currency.

And we all believe in that sham. We all believe in the value system and valuation of our commodified social life by somehow divine authority of few puny lowlifes in the ruling elite who are laughing at us all the way to the empty bank they own and we are indebted to.

As long as we believe that we work for money, a useless symbol of our total dependence, not for food, sustenance and shelter, as long as we believe we need money that cannot be eaten or utilized as a material for building shelter but can best be used as an emergency bathroom tissue substitute, we are lost begging for mercy enslaving ourselves to strangers for nothing but an illusion that breaths and promotes rampant inequality.

I know it sounds shocking but give it a thought if you can.

Here I found unique and controversial take on origins of money that touches upon similar theme of money itself as a propaganda tool of social control.

https://contrarianopinion.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/plutus-and-the-myth-of-money/

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 9:52 am

Even if everyone worked their butt off or got multiple PhDs, we'd still need workers to clean radiation messes, toilet bowls or change diapers.

All our system is doing today is making everyone compete ever harder for crappy jobs.

Do we really need the education we are getting for most of the jobs out there?

justanotherprogressive , May 6, 2017 at 10:36 am

"Even if everyone worked their butt off or got multiple PhDs, we'd still need workers to clean radiation messes, toilet bowls or change diapers."

Is there some law that says that PhD's can't clean radiation messes, toilet bowls or change diapers? Shouldn't everyone be responsible for "survival work"? Why should it just be some class of "workers" that need to do those jobs? Why are some people considered so much better than others that they are exempt from "survival work"? What if everyone put some of their work time every day doing this "survival work" before they did their "careers"?

Unfortunately, this is just another example of how the neoliberal ideology has infiltrated everyone's thinking, even those who are diametrically opposed to neoliberalism on some level and why it is going to be so hard to get rid of ..

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 11:07 am

Typically those who go to university to get PhDs do not dream of changing diapers and wiping butts.

Two big issues here are expectations management and misallocation of resources.

Unhappy individuals and misallocation of resources contribute to reduce quality of life and wealth.

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 11:18 am

If we want PhDs to like wiping butts, we need to dissociate education from the workforce. IOW, education should be for the love of knowledge.

But why would we want those with special skills changing diapers if they could contribute in areas that improve our quality of life?

p.s. I have trouble with progressivism when it is used to level from the bottom

John Wright , May 6, 2017 at 11:17 am

My late father, who looked for employment during the Great Depression, would say "You needed a college degree to pump gas for Standard Oil".

He had a cynical view of college degrees, asserting that if degrees were necessary for jobs, the future employers should help with the training expense.

The "must get an expensive college degree" assertion is losing its effectiveness on the stressed American population, where we approach nominal full employment at poor wages.

I suspect the education that is most needed in the USA is critical thinking that serves to question the wisdom of our government and the MSM in the propaganda they promote..

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 11:20 am

I tend to agree. If corporate America shouldered the cost of education, my intuition tells me that workers would not need as many degrees.

John Wright , May 6, 2017 at 11:44 am

My dad did have a college degree, but his experience in his father's store helped him get a job as a butcher for Safeway during the Great Depression.

As I remember the story, many were vying for the Safeway butcher job, but he outlined how his prior experience would "help them sell more meat".

All one has to do is look at the projections from the labor department for STEM job growth over the next 10 years (about 100K/year) and compare that to the similarly sized H1-B visa count that tech firms want per year to see that a STEM college education is not the safe haven in the job market that the MSM promotes.

International companies cast a world wide net for educated talent, and are probably unconcerned how much a prospective employee's degree cost to acquire.

And these corporations also want to lower their US taxes, which indirectly cuts public education funding.

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 11:52 am

A large percentage of well paying jobs are sales related. We don't need PhD knowledge to perform in those. These require people skills and a network.

Paul Greenwood , May 6, 2017 at 3:04 pm

We don't actually need PhD outside physical sciences. It is a qualification ONLY in the Thesis subject matter. We also don't need so many Lawyers and should turn of the production line (maybe that is what inflates GDP in UK and US .lawyers billing rates ?)

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 11:34 am

It also brings to mind all those who don't want to pay for school taxes because they don't have children.

I'm quick to remark that on the same principle, in such a system they should not accept government services from anyone younger than them.

sgt_doom , May 6, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Excellent point, but that is the purpose of Identity Politics, to erase the concept of "the worker" from our minds and thoughts, practiced by both the r-cons of the bankster party and the faux crats of the bankster party.

The r-cons' identity politics is that the "media" (still haven't found them in Amerika) are "liberal" (still have found that, either) and the r-cons are besieged by these outfits.

The faux crats wish to focus on every possible sub-grouping of humans, to the exclusion of wage earners.

Worked for decades, but I suspect it may possibly and finally be beginning to fall apart . . .

justanotherprogressive , May 6, 2017 at 10:46 am

"Do we really need the education we are getting for most of the jobs out there?"

The future belongs to those capable of handling it – the others will be cast to the wayside. Do you really want to condemn most people to being part of the wayside? Why do you think education is becoming so expensive?

No, we ALL need more education, not less.

MoiAussie , May 6, 2017 at 11:04 am

We do indeed all need more education, but not of the type that most people think. The education young people suffer through for years and then go into debt for more of is designed largely to impoverish, enslave, and brainwash. It's anti-education, creating false expectations, instilling poisonous memes, punishing independence and non-compliance.

There are exceptions of course. Education for the rich is designed to teach the rules of the game, weed out the unreliable, and establish lifetime networks.

justanotherprogressive , May 6, 2017 at 11:14 am

Absolutely true. Our current education system only creates workers – it doesn't create thinkers .

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 11:25 am

Thank you. That is what I wanted to convey.

Norb , May 6, 2017 at 12:31 pm

I am reminded that people with curious minds are always educating themselves – formal setting or not- wealthy or not. The social system should provides an outlet for those talents and effort. The failing of todays ruling ideology is that human talent is undervalued and underutilized. In effect, built on waste and inefficiency in a broader sense. Todays economic system seems most efficient on creating inequality.

A 4 hour work day based on a livable wage could open many "educational" doors.

Norb , May 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

I am also old enough to remember that vocational training was taken seriously in public schools without social stigma. Labor was not a dirty word. A different form of critical thinking focused on manufacture.

Another Anon , May 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm

MoiAussie,

Are you referring to the "practical" one and two year programs like the Australian TAFE system ? I got a two year computer degree from such a program almost twenty
years ago and was fairly impressed with the program. Of the twenty
people in my class, eighteen had at least a masters degree in some technical
subject though the program was designed for those who did not seek to
go to university. The ones with the advanced degrees such as myself were unemployed and so retraining.

MoiAussie , May 6, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Not at all. Practical training like TAFE (or like TAFE used to be) can be valuable, depending on what course you choose. I'm referring to primary, secondary and university education as it is offered to the mainstream today in the western world.

Primary and secondary education is degraded for reasons far too complex to get into here. Of course there are still tertiary courses and teachers that educate, but universities are now run strictly as commercial enterprises, and such teachers find it harder and harder to prosper.

Paul Greenwood , May 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Before John Major UK had quality courses such as City & Guilds and Part-Time University Courses – "Sandwich Courses" where working students had Block or Day Release to study and could work through their studies with access to industrial labs and equipment and university facilities. It was very cost-effective. Major turned everyone into Full-Time Students so they emerged after 3 years with no relevant industrial experience and lots of debt

Norb , May 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm

The answer to your question is No. The resistance to single payer health care in America belies that fact. Many alternative lifestyles would be possible if one could relieve exorbitant medical care from household expenses. Private businesses would be indirectly forced to offer more humane working conditions, regardless of what that work entailed by the mere fact that labor could easily relocate to a less exploiting employer. Added to that, the removal of stress accompanied by needing to deal with medical uncertainties of life. A sane society would provide care for all its members.

Guaranteed food, shelter, basic education, healthcare, and some form of work are all that is required from a just society. That should be the criteria for evaluating the system. This is not utopia, and is within reach. There is nothing technical holding this realization back. The elite create conflict to secure their position. They believe in inequality.

When you look at it, most "jobs" in capitalist society don't satisfy any legitimate human need for survival. Not to mention the needs of the remaining life on the planet. Most are satisfying manufactured wants. A cynical play on human emotion that condemns most to unhappy and stressful lives.

Change will happen when a critical mass of people can get past the fear and psychological damage that is caused by manufactured needs, excessive higher education for all being one them. In and of itself, a "higher education" is meaningless if you cannot practice the acquired skill. Are lower work hours on the horizon to accommodate all the excess degrees? Not in the least.

This is not to say that lifelong education should not be an aspirational goal. Only to stress that the social organizing structure must accommodate that goal in a meaningful way. Right now, in America, it is mostly overt exploitation. A creative way to manufacture debt slaves.

Moneta , May 6, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Once upon a time, most of the highly educated took a vow of poverty with the assurance they would be cared for in a time of need.

Today most jump on the degree bandwagon to get on the road to material consumption and end up realizing they were sold an expensive if not worthless bill of goods.

Paul Greenwood , May 6, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Before BANKS became the motor of Western Capitalism it was different. Banks were a Service Business now the rest of society SERVES the Banks

jrs , May 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

well said

MoiAussie , May 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Regarding excessive higher education as a manufactured need, I think there are at least two other factors at play besides credentialism and the (futile?) pursuit of good careers.

One is the decline in the literacy, numeracy, general knowledge, and other educational achievements of your average high school graduate compared to 30 years ago. It's well recognised in universities that much of what used to be taken as known by freshpersons, today needs to be taught or retaught in the early years of a university/college course.

The second factor is simply the growing complexity and pace of change of the world we inhabit. I suspect this is a major reason behind the increase in the number of years of fulltime education the average person seems to think they require.

Paul Greenwood , May 6, 2017 at 2:18 pm

What is the US Healthcare problem ? It is a Ricardian Issue of who is taking Supernormal Profit and what the correct level of Economic Rent might be.

Maybe it is Insurance that is the problem. People buy Insurance not Health and Insurance responds only to Litigation

justanotherprogressive , May 6, 2017 at 11:13 am

+ 100
I think that people are so driven to value themselves in terms of money, that they won't even allow other ideas like this to enter their consciousness
Sadly, now is the time when we need to be thinking about other ideas, because the ones we currently accept as valid just aren't working for most of the world's people ..

Kalen , May 6, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Thank you. You seem to be the only one who got my most important point namely a subversive function of money as a propaganda of liberalism that underlie socioeconomic system of capitalism and commodification (valuation and valorization in terms of money) of environment and social relations.

What I mean by "propaganda of liberalism" is hijacking of ideas of individual Freedom to mean abandonment of common interests and separation from community, also separation from community in a form of alienation of private property from community commons and hence introduction of money as a representation of the private property, capital or collateral in a debt based monetary system.

The money is so much embedded into people's psyche that trying to explain artificiality of such an arrangement amounts to a sort of Copernican revolution of explaining reality that completely contradicts everyday common sense experience.

What's insidious in capitalism is that social relations among masses of people are forced to be negotiated by money in addition to old ways of social relations (also labor relations) being negotiated by social position and political power and/or what we call culture i.e a common set of attitudes and practices that have been empirically/historically proven beneficial for community.

People do not realize that even 200 years ago many people were living who did not use money even once in their lives since they did not need to, they produced their own food, cloths, tools, they barter other goods and even taxes they paid via field labor.

Imagine us today paying all our bills directly with our labor, one thing we have abundant and we control, not scarce money controlled solely by greedy elite.

Unemployment would be something our children would have learned about only from history pages.

B.J.M. , May 6, 2017 at 10:32 am

I guess nobody every read False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, by John Gray then a professor at the London School of Economics. It was published in 1998 and is to this day the greatest critique of neoliberal economic dogma ever written. Then again Gray is an intellectual's intellectual so the media has always ignored him in favor of pop intellectual simpletons like Tom Friedman.

It is as if Gray had a time machine which allowed him to see the future.

Paul Greenwood , May 6, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Prior to 1914 Global Capitalism had powered ahead hindered only by US Tariff Walls such as McKinley Tariff and the upsurge in Tariffs in Germany, Russia, France and a ludicrous British commitment to Free Trade which destroyed investment in industry as capital flowed overseas. The result was 1914-18 War and the removal of Russia (the fastest-growing market) from European trade and destruction of Germany and Central Europe

Bob , May 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Social unrest and a populous backlash against global capitalism are always trotted out as the main effects gross economic inequalities will have. But given the elites control of the media and our economy they have the tools and power to limit unrest and any backlash. The more important effect of economic inequality is that it will destroy capitalism itself.

Paul Greenwood , May 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Global Elite Alarmed by Growing Inequality

That is reassuring, I would hate to think "the Global Elite" was out of touch or playing shepherdess in Hameau de la Reine; it is good to know the Controllers have their finger on the pulse and are "caring" for us.

Cynicism is well-fed in the current era.

Years ago I read Amy Chua's book "World On Fire" (2002)

and Sir James Goldsmith: "The Trap"

You can read it FREE at

Scott , May 6, 2017 at 5:08 pm

None of the workers give a shit about how rich the rich are. All they want is a living wage. That the rich, who Piketty points out are rich because they inherited wealth to start with won't pay, is insane on the part of the rich.

[May 07, 2017] Book Review Game of Mates naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Australia's Real Lifters and Leaners ..."
May 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
... ... ...

By Phil Soos, originally published at LF Economics

This is LF Economics' first review of a book, entitled Game of Mates: How Favours Bleed the Nation by economists Cameron K. Murray and Paul Frijters. The name is a play upon the wonderful TV series Game of Thrones and rightfully so, given both are about how a small number of wealthy and highly-connected individuals, often operating within a cluster of powerful networks, rig rules, policy, laws and ideology for their personal and class benefit.

Game of Mates is a gold mine of information on the racket of rent extraction for a number of reasons. First, it provides background on how the game slowly evolves (Chapter 1) by contrasting the hard-working Aussie Bruce with the connected insider and rent extractor known as James. By using the power of networking and soft corruption, the wealthy James (the 1%) is able to rip-off Bruce (the public) legally without violating the rule of law.

Second, the book goes on to detail the largest state-backed legal thefts carried out by the corporate sector for the benefit of rentiers. This term means those who obtain rents (unearned wealth and income over and above what is justified by perfectly-competitive markets). Unfortunately, Australia is a haven for robber barons, siphoning massive and illegitimate mountains of rents from the property market (Chapter 2), transportation (Chapter 3), superannuation (Chapter 5), mining (Chapter 7) and banking (Chapter 9) for the benefit of owners and managers.

... ... ... Game of Mates helps to reveal the absurdity of what is falsely called free-market capitalism, as it is thoroughly infected by rent extractors. Recent research has demonstrated that Australia's private sector is dominated by cartels of monopolists, duopolists and oligopolists to an even greater extent than the US, the latter of which is often considered the home of crony capitalism. This is no mean feat.

Whoever said there is no such thing as a free lunch (perhaps it was Milton Friedman or someone he quoted) is speaking an utter absurdity. The term 'free lunch' doesn't do justice in describing the epic levels of legal grift in our economy. Indeed, it should be termed 'free banquets' as we argued in our article Australia's Real Lifters and Leaners .

The process of extracting free banquets has gained pace since the neo-liberal reformation of the economy by the Hawke-Keating government, lurching from the centre-left to the centre-right on economy policy during the 1980s. The Howard government continued and magnified these rackets when in power between 1996 and 2007. It should be important to note that these policies can hardly be termed 'neo-liberal' when they are not new and often have little to do with economic liberalisation. Perhaps neo-feudal capitalism is a better term.

...It should be important to note that these policies can hardly be termed 'neo-liberal' when they are not new and often have little to do with economic liberalisation. Perhaps neo-feudal capitalism is a better term.

....

The Game of Mates is about detailing the methods of redistribution from the poor, labour, productive competitive business and the environment into the pockets of those who benefit the most from non-work. There are some data on how much the wealthy steal from everyone else (Chapter 13). Hint: the redistributions are massive in scale and yet do not quantify the full extent of the rent extraction taking place.

In addition, apart from criticising the upwards redistribution of wealth, they advocate solutions to rectifying these problems (Chapter 14). This can be done by reclaiming the value of the free banquets for the public, disrupting the coordination and networks used by rentiers, and shattering the myths peddled to justify their wholesale theft.

This book is a very timely addition to the emerging research in Australia and elsewhere which explains the processes and estimates the amount of wealth and income siphoned off by these schemes of legal theft. At 204 pages, it is not overly long and is makes for an easy read. Fortunately, the authors avoid the often opaque writing style and jargon often found in the economics and financial academic literature.

If one wants to understand how the country is being looted by the minority of the opulent for their own benefit, look no further.

Read more at gameofmates.com

JimTan , May 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

The interesting thing about exploiting personal connections to extract rents, build cartels, capture regulators, gain legal protections, or generally restrict competition is that all these activities are essentially risk free. Gaining a rent or legal protection from a friend or colleague has zero risk, and guarantees higher profits. This is in contrast to innovation or product improvement which requires high risk, time, effort, capital, and expertise, but can return much higher profits. When opportunities for rent collection become systemic, I think economic rents can crowd out risky innovation because returns for economic rents are guaranteed. In this case the probabilities for (short-term) economic success are higher with economic rents, and as the saying goes 'firms act to maximize profitability'. That is a bad outcome for all of society.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , May 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

In 2014 62 individuals owned one half of the world's wealth, now that's down to just 8 people (how they sleep at night is utterly beyond me). When it's down to one guy we can strangle him in the bathtub and redistribute, and usher in a new Golden Age of prosperity and peace.

[May 05, 2017] My spouse teaches in an inner city school and its pretty much only the immigrant kids who have intact families providing them with support at home

May 05, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DH , May 4, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I have always wondered how successful the big producers, such as Wall Street traders, would be if they were subjected to random stop-and-frisk of them in their cars and coming out of the bars at night like they would be regularly subjected to if they lived in poor neighborhoods. It is likely that a lot of DWI and drug charges would be filed, similar to what we see in the inner city, with attending legal issues impacting their productivity. Assuming they then faced the court system with court-provided counsel instead of highly-paid Harvard Law grads, I wonder how many of them would be back at work the next day?

My spouse teaches in an inner city school and its pretty much only the immigrant kids who have intact families providing them with support at home – most of the American (black, white, and hispanic) kids in her classes have parents in jail, domestic abuse protective orders, etc. They are frequently raised by their grandparents or other relatives. Playing outside at recess and lunch at school is very important because many of the kids live in neighborhoods where it is unsafe to play outside. Being poor is very effective at teaching kids how to be poor.

RabidGandhi , May 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Wonder no more: Chappelle spells it out .

[May 01, 2017] Here is Why We Should not Laugh at Donald Trumps 100-Day Faceplant by Jon Schwarz

Notable quotes:
"... incredibly wrong ..."
Apr 29, 2017 | theintercept.com

But their elections have one critical thing in common: They both came out of NOWHERE to become president, with characteristics that previously would have throttled their chances before they delivered their first speech in Iowa.

There's no need to recount everything from Trump's florid life and campaign that sensible people were sure disqualified him. But we've forgotten how the sensible people at first saw Obama in much the same way, and for reasons that went far beyond him being African American. He'd been a senator for just two years when he started running and would have to beat the entire party establishment. His father was Muslim. He wasn't just not named Henry Smith, his middle name was Hussein. He'd even used cocaine, and openly admitted it.

Yet both Obama and Trump vaulted over everyone and everything into the White House. Tens of millions of Americans were willing to place their lives in the hands of political anomalies whose central pitch was that they would deliver profound change. The rise of Bernie Sanders, who's proven that you can become the most popular politician in the country without owning a comb, demonstrates the same thing.

What does this mean?

I'd say it means that something has gone incredibly wrong with this country's political system, that large numbers of us are desperate, and are willing to hand over power to absolutely anyone. That's brings us to the peculiar reality that it's not just Obama and Trump's elections that had something significant in common, it's likely their presidencies.

Obama said American healthcare was in crisis and that "plans that tinker and halfway measures now belong to yesterday." Obama was also outraged by pharmaceutical companies gouging Medicare.

According to Trump , "People all across the country are devastated" by the healthcare system, but if we put him in charge , "Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now." Trump was also infuriated by Big Pharma and just like Obama vowed to crush them.

Yet Obama delivered a halfway measure that tinkered with the problem, and never went after drug manufacturers. Trump is now poised to give America literally the same thing.

Obama called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake" in 2008. In 2016 Trump said NAFTA had caused "devastation" and was "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed." But Obama didn't renegotiate NAFTA. Trump just announced he's not going to pull out of it, and it seems clear the odds of any real renegotiation are slim.

Obama attacked Wall Street, and so did Trump. Both then stocked their administrations with bankers.

And Obama and Trump both ran against the Iraq War, and both of their constituencies understood them to mean they would rethink our entire policy toward the Middle East. Both Obama and Trump then faithfully continued the Afghanistan War, bombed Syria, and helped Saudi Arabia starve Yemen.

... ... ...

"Now that we have vanquished the Dhimmicrats and cuckservatives," Steve Bannon proclaimed, "we shall -" and then tripped on his shoelaces and fell down 97 flights of stairs.

[May 01, 2017] Trump: A Resisters Guide by Wesley Yang

Recommended !
Jan 21, 2017 | harpers.org
[Neo]liberalism that needs monsters to destroy can never politically engage with its enemies. It can never understand those enemies as political actors, making calculations, taking advantage of opportunities, and responding to constraints. It can never see in those enemies anything other than a black hole of motivation, a cesspool where reason goes to die.

Hence the refusal of empathy for Trump's supporters. Insofar as it marks a demand that we not abandon antiracist principle and practice for the sake of winning over a mythicized white working class, the refusal is unimpeachable. But like the know-nothing disavowal of knowledge after 9/11, when explanations of terrorism were construed as exonerations of terrorism, the refusal of empathy since 11/9 is a will to ignorance. Far simpler to imagine Trump voters as possessed by a kind of demonic intelligence, or anti-intelligence, transcending all the rules of the established order. Rather than treat Trump as the outgrowth of normal politics and traditional institutions - it is the Electoral College, after all, not some beating heart of darkness, that sent Trump to the White House - there is a disabling insistence that he and his forces are like no political formation we've seen. By encouraging us to see only novelty in his monstrosity, analyses of this kind may prove as crippling as the neocons' assessment of Saddam's regime. That, too, was held to be like no tyranny we'd seen, a despotism where the ordinary rules of politics didn't apply and knowledge of the subject was therefore useless.

Such a [neo]liberalism becomes dependent on the very thing it opposes, with a tepid mix of neoliberal markets and multicultural morals getting much-needed spice from a terrifying right. Hillary Clinton ran hard on the threat of Trump, as if his presence were enough to authorize her presidency.

Where Sanders promised to change the conversation, to make the battlefield a contest between a multicultural neoliberalism and a multiracial social democracy, Clinton sought to keep the battlefield as it has been for the past quarter-century. In this single respect, she can claim a substantial victory. It's no accident that one of the most spectacular confrontations since the election pitted the actors of Hamilton against the tweets of Trump. These fixed, frozen positions - high on rhetoric, low on action - offer an almost perfect tableau of our ongoing gridlock of recrimination.

Clinton waged this campaign on the belief that her neoliberalism of fear could defeat the ethnonationalism of the right. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Let us not be addicted to "the drug of danger," as Athena says in the Oresteia, to "the dream of the enemy that has to be crushed, like a herb, before [we] can smell freedom."

The term "meritocracy" became shorthand for a desirable societal ideal soon after it was coined by the British socialist Sir Michael Young. But Young had originally used it to describe a dystopian future. His 1958 satirical novel, The Rise of the Meritocracy, imagines the creation and growth of a national system of intelligence testing, which identifies talented young people from every stratum of society in order to install them in special schools, where they are groomed to make the best use possible of their innate advantages.

In the novel, what begins as a struggle against inherited privilege results in the consolidation of a new ruling class that derives its legitimacy from superior merit. This class becomes, within a few generations, a hereditary aristocracy in its own right. Sequestered within elite institutions, people of high intelligence marry among themselves, passing along their high social position and superior genes to their progeny. Terminal inequality is the result. The gradual shift from inheritance to merit, Young writes, made "nonsense of all their loose talk of the equality of man":

Men, after all, are notable not for the equality, but for the inequality, of their endowment. Once all the geniuses are amongst the elite, and all the morons are amongst the workers, what meaning can equality have? What ideal can be upheld except the principle of equal status for equal intelligence? What is the purpose of abolishing inequalities in nurture except to reveal and make more pronounced the inescapable inequalities of Nature?

I thought about this book often in the years before the crack-up of November 2016. In early 2015, the Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam published a book that seemed to tell as history the same story that Young had written as prophecy. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis opens with an evocation of the small town of Port Clinton, Ohio, where Putnam grew up in the 1950s - a "passable embodiment of the American Dream, a place that offered decent opportunity for all the kids in town, whatever their background." Port Clinton was, as Putnam is quick to concede, a nearly all-white town in a pre-feminist and pre-civil-rights America, and it was marked by the unequal distribution of power that spurred those movements into being. Yet it was also a place of high employment, strong unions, widespread homeownership, relative class equality, and generally intact two-parent families. Everyone knew one another by their first names and almost everyone was headed toward a better future; nearly three quarters of all the classmates Putnam surveyed fifty years later had surpassed their parents in both educational attainment and wealth.

When he revisited it in 2013, the town had become a kind of American nightmare. In the 1970s, the industrial base entered a terminal decline, and the town's economy declined with it. Downtown shops closed. Crime, delinquency, and drug use skyrocketed. In 1993, the factory that had offered high-wage blue-collar employment finally shuttered for good. By 2010, the rate of births to unwed mothers had risen to 40 percent. Two years later, the average worker in the county "was paid roughly 16 percent less in inflation-adjusted dollars than his or her grandfather in the early 1970s."

Young's novel ends with an editorial note informing readers that the fictional author of the text had been killed in a riot that was part of a violent populist insurrection against the meritocracy, an insurrection that the author had been insisting would pose no lasting threat to the social order. Losing every young person of promise to the meritocracy had deprived the working class of its prospective leaders, rendering it unable to coordinate a movement to manifest its political will. "Without intelligence in their heads," he wrote, "the lower classes are never more menacing than a rabble."

We are in the midst of a global insurrection against ruling elites. In the wake of the most destructive of the blows recently delivered, a furious debate arose over whether those who supported Donald Trump deserve empathy or scorn. The answer, of course, is that they deserve scorn for resorting to so depraved and false a solution to their predicament - and empathy for the predicament itself. (And not just because advances in technology are likely to make their predicament far more widely shared.) What is owed to them is not the lachrymose pity reserved for victims (though they have suffered greatly) but rather a practical appreciation of how their antagonism to the policies that determined the course of this campaign - mass immigration and free trade - was a fully political antagonism that was disregarded for decades, to our collective detriment.

A policy of benign neglect of immigration laws invites into our country a casualized workforce without any leverage, one that competes with the native-born and destroys whatever leverage the latter have to negotiate better terms for themselves. The policy is a subsidy to American agribusiness, meatpacking plants, restaurants, bars, and construction companies, and to American families who would not otherwise be able to afford the outsourcing of childcare and domestic labor that the postfeminist, dual-income family requires. At the same time, a policy of free trade pits native-born workers against foreign ones content to earn pennies on the dollar of their American counterparts.

In lieu of the social-democratic provision of childcare and other services of domestic support, we have built a privatized, ad hoc system of subsidies based on loose border enforcement - in effect, the nation cutting a deal with itself at the expense of the life chances of its native-born working class. In lieu of an industrial policy that would preserve intact the economic foundation of their lives, we rapidly dismantled our industrial base in pursuit of maximal aggregate economic growth, with no concern for the uneven distribution of the harms and the benefits. Some were enriched hugely by these policies: the college-educated bankers, accountants, consultants, technologists, lawyers, economists, and corporate executives who built a supply chain that reached to the countries where we shipped the jobs. Eventually, of course, many of these workers learned that both political parties regarded them as fungible factors of production, readily discarded in favor of a machine or a migrant willing to bunk eight to a room.

Four decades of neoliberal globalization have cleaved our country into two hostile classes, and the line cuts across the race divide. On one side, college students credential themselves for meritocratic success. On the other, the white working class increasingly comes to resemble the black underclass in indices of social disorganization. On one side of the divide, much energy is expended on the eradication of subtler inequalities; on the other side, an equality of immiseration increasingly obtains.

Even before the ruling elite sent the proletariat off to fight a misbegotten war, even before it wrecked the world economy through heedless lending, even before its politicians rescued those responsible for the crisis while allowing working-class victims of all colors to sink, the working class knew that it had been sacrificed to the interests of those sitting atop the meritocratic ladder. The hostility was never just about differing patterns in taste and consumption. It was also about one class prospering off the suffering of another. We learned this year that political interests that go neglected for decades invariably summon up demagogues who exploit them for their own gain. The demagogues will go on to betray their supporters and do enormous harm to others.

If we are to arrest the global descent into barbarism, we will have to understand the political antagonism at the heart of the meritocratic project and seek a new kind of politics. If we choose to neglect the valid interests of the working class, Trump will prove in retrospect to have been a pale harbinger of even darker nightmares to come.

[May 01, 2017] Process versus outcomes: Inequality indices as tests of fairness

Notable quotes:
"... "Another kind of inequality arising through the operation of the market is also required, in a somewhat more subtle sense, to produce equality of treatment. It can be illustrated most simply by a lottery. Consider a group of individuals who initially have equal endowments and who agree voluntarily to enter a lottery with very unequal prizes. The resultant inequality is surely required to permit the individuals in question to make most of their initial equality. Much of the inequality of income produced by payment in accordance with product reflects equalizing differences or the satisfaction of men's taste for uncertainty." ..."
"... Journal of Economic Theory ..."
"... Measuring Inequality. ..."
"... Capitalism and Freedom ..."
"... Philosophy & Public Affairs ..."
"... Equality of Opportunity, ..."
"... Handbook of Income Distribution, volume 2 ..."
May 01, 2017 | voxeu.org
The standard procedure for measuring income inequality in a society is to take the observed distribution of income and to calculate an inequality index from it. Such indices have also been interpreted as a measure of welfare loss entailed in departures from equality of outcomes for a society which is egalitarian. A classic treatment is that of the late Tony Atkinson, who asked the question: What fraction of national income would an egalitarian society be willing to give up in order to have equality? On this basis, he developed what we now call the Atkinson Index of Inequality. 1

However, this procedure faces the well-known criticism that the observed distribution is nothing but the outcome of a process, and that it is the process which matters for normative assessment. 2 In particular, it is the fairness of the underlying process which is held to be the appropriate normative standard, not whether the observed inequality of outcomes is high or low. But if we take the process versus outcomes criticism seriously, does this mean that we stop calculating inequality, since it no longer has normative validity in and of itself? The answer to this question is no. In our recent work, we argue that even within the process frame, overall indices of inequality still maintain their relevance, but now as statistical tests of fairness (Kanbur and Snell 2017).

An early proponent of the process versus outcome line of argument was Milton Friedman (1962), who brought in the consequences of risk taking for interpreting observed inequality:

"Another kind of inequality arising through the operation of the market is also required, in a somewhat more subtle sense, to produce equality of treatment. It can be illustrated most simply by a lottery. Consider a group of individuals who initially have equal endowments and who agree voluntarily to enter a lottery with very unequal prizes. The resultant inequality is surely required to permit the individuals in question to make most of their initial equality. Much of the inequality of income produced by payment in accordance with product reflects equalizing differences or the satisfaction of men's taste for uncertainty."

Friedman's argument highlights simultaneously the issue of process versus outcomes, and the fact that even when the process implies ex ante equality (free lottery choice by identical individuals), the outcome may well show – misleadingly, in his view – inequality among individuals. Even though the process itself is fair, inherent randomness may show spurious inequality in outcomes.

Suppose we wish to evaluate the process in Friedman's example. This would require an evaluation of whether the lotteries faced by the different individuals were indeed identical. If we could directly observe the lottery choices, that would be the end of the matter. But this is usually not the case. All we can observe are in fact the outcomes. The task is then to try and infer from these outcomes the nature of the process which generated them. It is clear that in order to do this we will have to provide a minimal structure to the class of processes. It is only within a given class of processes that we will be able to infer more specific properties of the process that gave rise to the outcomes we observe. In our work, we show that making these assumptions can provide considerable insight into the relationship between outcomes and process.

In particular, we motivate the use of two well-known and commonly used indices of inequality – the Theil Index and the Mean Log Deviation (MLD) – as tests of the null hypothesis of fairness versus the alternative of unfairness. 3 We show that the likelihood ratio tests for fairness within two distinct income processes are proportional to these two well used indices respectively – that is to say, the tests are metrics of whether or not each individual faces the same income process. We then suggest that instead of presenting the indices as raw numbers, one could present the p-values that the raw numbers imply – a high Theil/MLD would imply a low p-value, which in turn would indicate that the probability that incomes were generated by a fair process was low.

We call the first stylised process we consider the 'helicopter money drop'. Think of a helicopter dropping a fixed total amount of dollars onto a population. Each individual has a probability that he or she catches a dollar thrown from the helicopter. Fairness in this process is when all probabilities are equal. The likelihood ratio test for fairness in this frame is proportional to the Theil Index. We call the second stylised process the 'helicopter money stop'. Suppose that within any year, each of our individuals receives the same amount of income each 'hour' and will continue to receive this hourly amount subject to a 'stop' which is dropped by the helicopter. Fairness is now characterised by the probability of 'stopping' being the same each hour for each individual regardless of how many hours they have survived the hazard. For this process, the likelihood ratio test for fairness is proportional to MLD.

The classical hypothesis testing approach takes fairness as a sharp null and asks whether the data support it. In a Bayesian framework, fairness and unfairness are 'models' and we ask which is more likely given the observed data. We show that if fairness and unfairness are treated as equally likely, then the two indices are also proportional to a measure of how the data modifies initial agnosticism in the direction of favouring fairness or unfairness as being the more likely model generating the observations.

Returning to Friedman's example, it is obvious that in reality endowments are not equal and individuals face different lotteries. The final outcomes are thus the result of these inequalities across lotteries, as well as the inequality caused by the fact that even when a group of individuals faces the same lottery, and so are equal ex ante, there will be winners and losers ex post within that group. That portion of observed inequality which can be attributed to the initial ex ante differences across lotteries that individuals have access to, might be referred to as 'inequality of opportunity'. This is related to John Roemer's (1998) famous formulation of attributing variation in outcomes to variation in 'circumstances' (factors outside an individual's control) and 'effort' (factors within an individual's control).

We are then led to ask whether we can test for whether there are these ex ante differences ('unfairness') across groups defined by common circumstances (for example based on ethnicity and gender). We show that for the two processes, we can indeed use the Theil index and MLD to develop statistical tests for fairness across groups. Applying the methods to US data for groupings based on race, gender, health, location of birth state (North or South), and biological parents, we find that fairness is rejected. Similarly, in a Bayesian framework we find that starting with priors of fairness and unfairness being equally likely, the data move us in the direction of unfairness being more likely.

Thus, the answer to the process based critique of inequality measurement is not to stop calculating inequality indices. Rather, it is to interpret inequality indices differently, as test statistics to shed light on the fairness of the process.

References

Atkinson, A (1970), "On the Measurement of Inequality." Journal of Economic Theory 2: 244-263.

Cowell, F A (2011), Measuring Inequality. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Friedman, M (1962) Capitalism and Freedom . University of Chicago Press.

Dworkin, R (1981), "What is Equality? Part 2: Equality of Resources." Philosophy & Public Affairs , 10(4), pages 283-345.

Kanbur, R and A Snell (2017), " Inequality Indices as Tests of Fairness ." CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11930.

Roemer, J (1998), Equality of Opportunity, Harvard University Press.

Roemer, J E and A Trannoy (2015), "Equality of Opportunity", in A B Atkinson and F Bourguignon (eds), Handbook of Income Distribution, volume 2 , pp. 217-300, Elsevier.

Endnotes

[1] See Atkinson (1970). For an overview and survey of standard methods, see Cowell (2011).

[2] Early critiques are by Sen (1979) and Dworkin (1981). A recent survey is by Roemer and Trannoy (2015).

[3] Note that MLD as sometimes also known as "Theil's second index".

[Apr 28, 2017] The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elites Takeover of America by Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould

Notable quotes:
"... The true irony of today's late-stage efforts by Washington to monopolize "truth" and attack alternate narratives isn't just in its blatant contempt for genuine free speech. ..."
"... the entire "Freedom Manifesto" employed by the United States and Britain since World War II was never free at all, but a concoction of the CIA's Psychological Strategy Board 's (PSB) comprehensive psychological warfare program waged on friend and foe alike. ..."
"... The CIA would come to view the entire program, beginning with the 1950 Berlin conference, to be a landmark in the Cold War, not just for solidifying the CIA's control over the non-Communist left and the West's "free" intellectuals, but for enabling the CIA to secretly disenfranchise Europeans and Americans from their own political culture in such a way they would never really know it. ..."
"... The modern state is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. ..."
"... PSB D-33/2 foretells of a "long-term intellectual movement, to: break down world-wide doctrinaire thought patterns" while "creating confusion, doubt and loss of confidence" in order to "weaken objectively the intellectual appeal of neutralism and to predispose its adherents towards the spirit of the West." The goal was to "predispose local elites to the philosophy held by the planners," while employing local elites "would help to disguise the American origin of the effort so that it appears to be a native development." ..."
"... Burnham's Machiavellian elitism lurks in every shadow of the document. As recounted in Frances Stoner Saunder's "The Cultural Cold War," "Marshall also took issue with the PSB's reliance on 'non-rational social theories' which emphasized the role of an elite 'in the manner reminiscent of Pareto, Sorel, Mussolini and so on.' ..."
"... With "The Machiavellians," Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite. ..."
"... The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism, whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda. ..."
"... Rarely spoken of in the context of CIA-funded secret operations, the IRD served as a covert anti-Communist propaganda unit from 1946 until 1977. According to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, authors of " Britain's Secret Propaganda War ," "the vast IRD enterprise had one sole aim: To spread its ceaseless propaganda output (i.e. a mixture of outright lies and distorted facts) among top-ranking journalists who worked for major agencies and magazines, including Reuters and the BBC, as well as every other available channel. It worked abroad to discredit communist parties in Western Europe which might gain a share of power by entirely democratic means, and at home to discredit the British Left." ..."
"... The mandate of his Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) set up in 1970 was to expose the supposed KGB campaign of worldwide subversion and put out stories smearing anyone who questioned it as a dupe, a traitor or Communist spy. Crozier regarded "The Machiavellians" as a major formative influence in his own intellectual development, and wrote in 1976 "indeed it was this book above all others that first taught me how [emphasis Crozier] to think about politics." ..."
"... Crozier was more than just a strategic thinker. Crozier was a high-level covert political agent who put Burnham's talent for obfuscation and his Fourth International experience to use to undermine détente and set the stage for rolling back the Soviet Union. ..."
"... Crozier's cooperation with numerous "able and diligent Congressional staffers" as well as "the remarkable General Vernon ('Dick') Walters, recently retired as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence," cemented the rise of the neoconservatives. When Carter caved in to the Team B and his neoconservative National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's plot to lure the Soviets into their own Vietnam in Afghanistan, it fulfilled Burnham's mission and delivered the world to the Machiavellians without anyone being the wiser. ..."
"... As George Orwell wrote in his "Second Thoughts on James Burnham": "What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud." ..."
www.truthdig.com

Editor's note: This article is the last in a four-part series on Truthdig called "Universal Empire" -- an examination of the current stage of the neocon takeover of American policy that began after World War ll. Read Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3 .

The recent assertion by the Trump White House that Damascus and Moscow released "false narratives" to mislead the world about the April 4 sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, is a dangerous next step in the "fake news" propaganda war launched in the final days of the Obama administration. It is a step whose deep roots in Communist Trotsky's Fourth International must be understood before deciding whether American democracy can be reclaimed.

Muddying the waters of accountability in a way not seen since Sen. Joe McCarthy at the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the " Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act " signed into law without fanfare by Obama in December 2016 officially authorized a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell's fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel "1984." Referred to as " the Global Engagement Center ," the official purpose of this new bureaucracy is to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests." The real purpose of this Orwellian nightmare is to cook the books on anything that challenges Washington's neoconservative pro-war narrative and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries. As has already been demonstrated by President Trump's firing of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase, it is a recipe for a world war, and like it or not, that war has already begun.

This latest attack on Russia's supposed false narrative takes us right back to 1953 and the beginnings of the cultural war between East and West. Its roots are tied to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, to James Burnham's pivot from Trotsky's Fourth International to right-wing conservatism and to the rise of the neoconservative Machiavellians as a political force. As Burnham's " The Struggle for the World " stressed, the Third World War had already begun with the 1944 Communist-led Greek sailors' revolt.

In Burnham's Manichean thinking, the West was under siege. George Kennan's Cold War policy of containment was no different than Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. Détente with the Soviet Union amounted to surrender. Peace was only a disguise for war, and that war would be fought with politics, subversion, terrorism and psychological warfare. Soviet influence had to be rolled back wherever possible. That meant subverting the Soviet Union and its proxies and, when necessary, subverting Western democracies as well.

The true irony of today's late-stage efforts by Washington to monopolize "truth" and attack alternate narratives isn't just in its blatant contempt for genuine free speech. The real irony is that the entire "Freedom Manifesto" employed by the United States and Britain since World War II was never free at all, but a concoction of the CIA's Psychological Strategy Board 's (PSB) comprehensive psychological warfare program waged on friend and foe alike.

The CIA would come to view the entire program, beginning with the 1950 Berlin conference, to be a landmark in the Cold War, not just for solidifying the CIA's control over the non-Communist left and the West's "free" intellectuals, but for enabling the CIA to secretly disenfranchise Europeans and Americans from their own political culture in such a way they would never really know it.

As historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1969 of the CIA's cooptation of the American left,

"The modern state is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. This propaganda, in order to be successful, demands the cooperation of writers, teachers, and artists not as paid propagandists or state-censored time-servers but as 'free' intellectuals capable of policing their own jurisdictions and of enforcing acceptable standards of responsibility within the various intellectual professions."

Key to turning these "free" intellectuals against their own interests was the CIA's doctrinal program for Western cultural transformation contained in the document PSB D-33/2 . PSB D-33/2 foretells of a "long-term intellectual movement, to: break down world-wide doctrinaire thought patterns" while "creating confusion, doubt and loss of confidence" in order to "weaken objectively the intellectual appeal of neutralism and to predispose its adherents towards the spirit of the West." The goal was to "predispose local elites to the philosophy held by the planners," while employing local elites "would help to disguise the American origin of the effort so that it appears to be a native development."

While declaring itself as an antidote to Communist totalitarianism, one internal critic of the program, PSB officer Charles Burton Marshall, viewed PSB D-33/2 itself as frighteningly totalitarian, interposing "a wide doctrinal system" that "accepts uniformity as a substitute for diversity," embracing "all fields of human thought -- all fields of intellectual interests, from anthropology and artistic creations to sociology and scientific methodology." He concluded: "That is just about as totalitarian as one can get."

Burnham's Machiavellian elitism lurks in every shadow of the document. As recounted in Frances Stoner Saunder's "The Cultural Cold War," "Marshall also took issue with the PSB's reliance on 'non-rational social theories' which emphasized the role of an elite 'in the manner reminiscent of Pareto, Sorel, Mussolini and so on.' Weren't these the models used by James Burnham in his book the Machiavellians? Perhaps there was a copy usefully to hand when PSB D-33/2 was being drafted. More likely, James Burnham himself was usefully to hand."

Burnham was more than just at hand when it came to secretly implanting a fascist philosophy of extreme elitism into America's Cold War orthodoxy. With "The Machiavellians," Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite.

The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism, whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda.

Hard at work on that task since 1946 was the secret Information Research Department of the British and Commonwealth Foreign Office known as the IRD.

Rarely spoken of in the context of CIA-funded secret operations, the IRD served as a covert anti-Communist propaganda unit from 1946 until 1977. According to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver, authors of " Britain's Secret Propaganda War ," "the vast IRD enterprise had one sole aim: To spread its ceaseless propaganda output (i.e. a mixture of outright lies and distorted facts) among top-ranking journalists who worked for major agencies and magazines, including Reuters and the BBC, as well as every other available channel. It worked abroad to discredit communist parties in Western Europe which might gain a share of power by entirely democratic means, and at home to discredit the British Left."

IRD was to become a self-fulfilling disinformation machine for the far-right wing of the international intelligence elite, at once offering fabricated and distorted information to "independent" news outlets and then using the laundered story as "proof" of the false story's validity. One such front enterprise established with CIA money was Forum World Features, operated at one time by Burnham acolyte Brian Rossiter Crozier . Described by Burnham's biographer Daniel Kelly as a "British political analyst," in reality, the legendary Brian Crozier functioned for over 50 years as one of Britain's top propagandists and secret agents .

If anyone today is shocked by the biased, one-sided, xenophobic rush to judgment alleging Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election, they need look no further than to Brian Crozier's closet for the blueprints. As we were told outright by an American military officer during the first war in Afghanistan in 1982, the U.S. didn't need "proof the Soviets used poison gas" and they don't need proof against Russia now. Crozier might best be described as a daydream believer, a dangerous imperialist who acts out his dreams with open eyes. From the beginning of the Cold War until his death in 2012, Crozier and his protégé Robert Moss propagandized on behalf of military dictators Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet, organized private intelligence organizations to destabilize governments in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa and worked to delegitimize politicians in Europe and Britain viewed as insufficiently anti-Communist.

The mandate of his Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC) set up in 1970 was to expose the supposed KGB campaign of worldwide subversion and put out stories smearing anyone who questioned it as a dupe, a traitor or Communist spy. Crozier regarded "The Machiavellians" as a major formative influence in his own intellectual development, and wrote in 1976 "indeed it was this book above all others that first taught me how [emphasis Crozier] to think about politics." The key to Crozier's thinking was Burnham's distinction between the "formal" meaning of political speech and the "real," a concept which was, of course, grasped only by elites. In a 1976 article, Crozier marveled at how Burnham's understanding of politics had spanned 600 years and how the use of "the formal" to conceal "the real" was no different today than when used by Dante Alighieri's "presumably enlightened Medieval mind." "The point is as valid now as it was in ancient times and in the Florentine Middle Ages, or in 1943. Overwhelmingly, political writers and speakers still use Dante's method. Depending on the degree of obfuscation required (either by circumstances or the person's character), the divorce between formal and real meaning is more of less absolute."

But Crozier was more than just a strategic thinker. Crozier was a high-level covert political agent who put Burnham's talent for obfuscation and his Fourth International experience to use to undermine détente and set the stage for rolling back the Soviet Union.

In a secret meeting at a City of London bank in February 1977, he even patented a private-sector operational intelligence organization known at the Sixth International (6I) to pick up where Burnham left off: politicizing and privatizing many of the dirty tricks the CIA and other intelligence services could no longer be caught doing. As he explained in his memoir "Free Agent," the name 6I was chosen "because the Fourth International split. The Fourth International was the Trotskyist one, and when it split, this meant that, on paper, there were five Internationals. In the numbers game, we would constitute the Sixth International, or '6I.' "

Crozier's cooperation with numerous "able and diligent Congressional staffers" as well as "the remarkable General Vernon ('Dick') Walters, recently retired as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence," cemented the rise of the neoconservatives. When Carter caved in to the Team B and his neoconservative National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski's plot to lure the Soviets into their own Vietnam in Afghanistan, it fulfilled Burnham's mission and delivered the world to the Machiavellians without anyone being the wiser.

As George Orwell wrote in his "Second Thoughts on James Burnham": "What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud."

Today, Burnham's use of Dante's political treatise "De Monarchia" to explain his medieval understanding of politics might best be swapped for Dante's "Divine Comedy," a paranoid comedy of errors in which the door to Hell swings open to one and all, including the elites regardless of their status. Or as they say in Hell, " Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate ." Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

This poart 4 of the series. For previous parts see

  1. Part 1: American Imperialism Leads the World Into Dante's Vision of Hell
  2. Part 3: How the CIA Created a Fake Western Reality for 'Unconventional Warfare'

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of " Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story ," " Crossing Zero: The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire " and " The Voice ." Visit their websites at invisiblehistory.com and grailwerk.com .

[Apr 28, 2017] Former President Obama Has a New Job Control the Official Narrative of American Exceptionalism - Truthdig

Apr 28, 2017 | www.truthdig.com
The ruling class is seriously rattled over its loss of control over the national political narrative-a consequence of capitalism's terminal decay and U.S. imperialism's slipping grip on global hegemony. When the Lords of Capital get rattled, their servants in the political class are tasked with rearranging the picture and reframing the national conversation. In other words, Papa Imperialism needs a new set of lies, or renewed respect for the old ones. Former president Barack Obama, the cool operator who put the U.S. back on the multiple wars track after a forced lull in the wake of George Bush's defeat in Iraq, has eagerly accepted his new assignment as Esteemed Guardian of Official Lies.

At this stage of his career, Obama must dedicate much of his time to the maintenance of Official Lies, since they are central to his own "legacy." With the frenzied assistance of his first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, Obama launched a massive military offensive-a rush job to put the New American Century back on schedule. Pivoting to all corners of the planet, and with the general aim of isolating and intimidating Russia and China, the salient feature of Obama's offensive was the naked deployment of Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers of U.S. imperialism in Libya and Syria. It is a strategy that is morally and politically indefensible-unspeakable!-the truth of which would shatter the prevailing order in the imperial heartland, itself.

Thus, from 2011 to when he left the White House for a Tahiti yachting vacation with music mogul David Geffen and assorted movie and media celebrities, Obama orchestrated what the late Saddam Hussein would have called "The Mother of All Lies": that the U.S. was not locked in an alliance with al-Qaida and its terrorist offshoots in Syria, a relationship begun almost 40 years earlier in Afghanistan.

Advertisement Square, Site wide He had all the help he needed from a compliant corporate media, whose loyalty to U.S. foreign policy can always be counted on in times of war. Since the U.S. is constantly in a (self-proclaimed) state of war, corporate media collaboration is guaranteed. Outside the U.S. and European corporate media bubble, the whole world was aware that al-Qaida and the U.S. were comrades in arms. (According to a 2015 poll, 82 percent of Syrians and 85 percent of Iraqis believe the U.S. created ISIS .) When Vladimir Putin told a session of the United Nations General Assembly that satellites showed lines of ISIS tankers stretching from captured Syrian oil fields "to the horizon," bound for U.S.-allied Turkey, yet untouched by American bombers, the Obama administration had no retort. Russian jets destroyed 1,000 of the tankers , forcing the Americans to mount their own, smaller raids. But, the moment soon passed into the corporate media's amnesia hole-another fact that must be shed in order to avoid unspeakable conclusions.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump's flirtation with the idea of ending U.S. "regime change" policy in Syria-and, thereby, scuttling the alliance with Islamic jihadists-struck panic in the ruling class and in the imperial political structures that are called the Deep State, which includes the corporate media. When Trump won the general election, the imperial political class went into meltdown, blaming "The Russians"-first, for warlord Hillary Clinton's loss, and soon later for everything under the sun. The latest lie is that Moscow is sending weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the country where the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions of dollars to create the international jihadist network. Which shows that imperialists have no sense of irony, or shame. (See BAR: " The U.S., Not Russia, Arms Jihadists Worldwide .")

After the election, lame duck President Obama was so consumed by the need to expunge all narratives that ran counter to "The Russians Did It," he twice yammered about " fake news " at a press conference in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama was upset, he said, "Because in an age where there's so much active misinformation and its packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won't know what to protect."

Although now an ex-president, it is still Obama's job to protect the ruling class, and the Empire, and his role in maintaining the Empire: his legacy. To do that, one must control the narrative-the subject uppermost in his mind when he used Chicago area students as props, this week, for his first public speech since leaving the White House.

"It used to be that everybody kind of had the same information," said Obama, at the University of Chicago affair. "We had different opinions about it, but there was a common base line of facts. The internet has in some ways accelerated this sense of people having entirely separate conversations, and this generation is getting its information through its phones. That you really don't have to confront people who have different opinions or have a different experience or a different outlook."

Obama continued:

"If you're liberal, you're on MSNBC, or conservative, you're on Fox News. You're reading The Wall Street Journal or you're reading The New York Times, or whatever your choices are. Or, maybe you're just looking at cat videos [laughter].

"So, one question I have for all of you is, How do you guys get your information about the news and what's happening out there, and are there ways in which you think we could do a better job of creating a common conversation now that you've got 600 cable stations and you've got all these different news opinions-and, if there are two sets of opinions, then they're just yelling at each other, so you don't get a sense that there's an actual conversation going on. And the internet is worse. It's become more polarized."

Obama's core concern is that there should be a "common base line of facts," which he claims used to exist "20 or 30 years ago." The internet, unregulated and cheaply accessed, is the villain, and the main source of "fake news" (from publications like BAR and the 12 other leftwing sites smeared by the Washington Post, back in November, not long after Obama complained to Merkel about "fake news").

However, Obama tries to dress up his anti-internet "fake news" whine with a phony pitch for diversity of opinions. Is he suggesting that MSNBC viewers also watch Fox News, and that New York Times readers also peruse the Wall Street Journal? Is he saying that most people read a variety of daily newspapers "back in the day"? It is true that, generations ago, there were far more newspapers available to read, reflecting a somewhat wider ideological range of views. But most people read the ones that were closest to their own politics, just as now. Obama is playing his usual game of diversion. Non-corporate news is his target: "...the internet is worse. It's become more and more polarized."

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC and Fox News all share the "common base line of facts" that Obama cherishes. By this, he means a common narrative, with American "exceptionalism" and intrinsic goodness at the center, capitalism and democracy as synonymous, and unity in opposition to the "common" enemy: Soviet Russians; then terrorists; now non-Soviet Russians, again.

Ayanna Watkins, a senior at Chicago's Kenwood Academy High School, clearly understood Obama's emphasis, and eagerly agreed with his thrust. "When it comes to getting information about what's going on in the world, it's way faster on social media than it is on newscasts," she said.

"But, on the other hand, it can be a downfall because, what if you're passing the wrong information, or the information isn't presented the way it should be? So, that causes a clash in our generation, and I think it should go back to the old school. I mean, phones, social media should be eliminated," Ms. Watkins blurted out, provoking laughter from the audience and causing the 18-year-old to "rephrase myself."

What she really meant, she said, was that politicians should "go out to the community" so that "the community will feel more welcome."

If she was trying to agree with Obama, Ms. Watkins had it right the first time: political counter-narratives on the internet have to go, so that Americans can share a "common base line" of information. All of it lies.

Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

[Apr 27, 2017] Rising income inequality and the death of the American dream

Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Tehanu , April 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Pleasantly surprised to see this research article on the need to combat rising income inequality and the death of the American dream in the AAAS journal Science:
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6336/398

neo-realist , April 27, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Re: Boeing, It is cutting jobs in the Seattle area and not cutting any in right to work w/ little pay and benefits SC

They're also engaging in stock buybacks to enrich the present stockholders.

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/04/26/25102415/seattle-times-providing-pr-for-boeings-greedy-execs

Huey Long , April 27, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Does management serve any purpose these days besides screwing workers for the benefit of squillionaire bankers and c-suite executives?

Oh, right I forgot!

They use all that MBA knowledge to game the finance system and tax laws for the benefit of squillionaire bankers and c-suite executives too.

/snark

grayslady , April 27, 2017 at 3:51 pm

I don't know why everyone is calling the Raise the Wage Act "Bernie Sanders' Minimum Wage Act," since the bill was introduced by Patty Murray. Further, the Act doesn't have anyone receiving $15 until 2024. If you live in Seattle and work for a large employer (over 500 employees), you will receive $15 per hour minimum either in 2017 or 2018, depending on whether or not the company provides health insurance as a benefit. People are hurting now . They need $15 per hour now . Once again, the Dems are "fighting" but not trying to win.

JustAnObserver , April 27, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Seems that Boeing in are trying to get under that 500 employees in Seattle hurdle in the next 2 years.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:31 pm

He introduced the bill:

With four times as many Democratic co-sponsors as he had just two years ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday morning re-introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

In 2015, Sanders introduced similar legislation with just five co-sponsors. On Wednesday, he boasted 21, in addition to lead co-sponsor Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). They are:

grayslady , April 27, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Actually, Patty Murray introduced the bill on April 30, 2015, which would have raised the minimum wage gradually to $12 by 2020. There were 32 original co-sponsors, all Dems. Bernie introduced a similar bill on July 22, 2015, with Ed Markey as the original co-sponsor, which would have raised the minimum wage to $15 dollars by 2020. Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced a companion bill in the House. The most recent bill is a re-introduction of Murray's bill, with Sanders now supporting $15 by 2024.

I know that many here continue to wish to believe that Sanders hasn't sold out to the Dems, but the evidence becomes clearer that he is no longer the fighter he was when he ran for President.

John k , April 27, 2017 at 8:58 pm

I hope you're wrong. But the wind did go out of his sails when he lost NY, before that he was still hoping.
I continue to see him as fighting for us, but the dems keep kicking him
the only way to kick back is third party, but a monumental effort for an older fellow. Imagine MSM, Mic, dems, reps, insurance, banks, the 1% and then the challenge to register in even a majority of states
Easier to take over greens and convert to functional, but no indication he's thinking that.

[Apr 27, 2017] what is a good defition fo deep state ?

Apr 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Chibboleth , April 27, 2017 at 2:49 pm

If you want a good definition / description of the Deep State you just have to watch the old Thatcher-era BBC comedy Yes, Minister – the whole show is more or less entirely about friction between elected representatives and the UK Deep State.

Short, short version: the Deep State is the set of people (government officials, mostly) who wield some amount of power but whose positions are not affected by election results. Nothing particularly secret about it.

justanotherprogressive , April 27, 2017 at 3:21 pm

As a former government employee, I'm trying to figure out who "the set of people (government officials, mostly) who wield some amount of power but whose positions are not affected by election results" are. I hear about them all the time, particularly on right wing blogs, but I've never actually seen one

The power in a government agency is held by political appointees ("politicos" in guvspeak) and those political appointees are the only ones that speak for or direct the agency. And they change every time there is a change in the Presidency. Most agencies have more than one political appointee. My last job was with a small agency (less than two hundred employees) that had five. If a senior staff member is not immediately in line with the politicos' policies, that person is removed (demoted, sidelined, or transferred to another agency). Those governmental employees that stay year after year (the "weebees") just do the work, they have no power, and they definitely cannot make any decisions for the agency.

Vatch , April 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm

In some government agencies, the high ranking career employees seem to be rather good at manipulating the political appointees. This does not apply to all agencies; the primary examples are in the military, intelligence, financial, and justice realms. Unsurprisingly, these are the agencies that are the heaviest users of secrecy. There's also a lot of cross pollination between portions of the private sector (completely unelected, of course), and the murky deep state. Some of this involves the "revolving door", but some is just shadowy cooperation, such as we see among the NSA and various giants in telecommunications and Silicon Valley, or among Wall Street, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve. The public does not elect those people.

justanotherprogressive , April 27, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I don't think there is much "manipulation" needed. After all the politicos come from the lobby/contractor/donor class, whether they be Democrat or Republican and they are already unwilling to change anything that they perceive as giving them power and control ..

But I guess it is easier to believe in a "Deep State" than realize that those shiny new politicians we just elected really do not want to change anything

Vatch , April 27, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Some of us believe that there is both a deep state and that there are elected politicians who wish to preserve the status quo.

likbez , April 27, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

When weI say "deep state" we typically understand this term as "intelligence agencies"; we say "intelligence agencies" and mean "deep state".

From Wikispooks ( https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Deep_state ):

"The phrase "deep state" derives from the Turkish "derin devlet", which emerged after the 1996 Susurluk incident so dramatically unmasked the Turkish deep state. It has experienced a surge of use in 2017, though often not in keeping with the meaning attributed by the diplomat who coined the phrase.

As powerful and self-interest groups ( probably even more dominated by psychopaths and sociopaths than other large hierarchies ), deep states seek to frustrate radical and progressive change, so as to preserve their own power, and that of the establishment in general. In contrast to overtly authoritarian rule, deep states must operate more or less secretly, like terrorist groups, so preserving secrecy is a high priority. Control of the commercially-controlled media is essential to the effective preservation of secrecy need for the deep state to work effectively. In the US this is effected through deep state control of the CIA. With the apparatus of nation states under their control, their subterfuges can be elaborate and complex. The deep states of the world have a natural common interest in hiding their existence, which predisposes them to mutual assistance. As a Turkish cartoon put it in 1997 "Deep state protects its own."[5] "

I think the term "deep state" is closely connected with the notion of "national security state" and by extension with the term "military industrial complex". And the core of deep state are always intelligence agencies which tend to escape the control of the governments and in turn attempt to control the government that should control them. There are certain requirement for such agencies that very few agencies outside intelligence agencies meet.

1. Institualized ability to collect dirt of politicians, or access to such information collected by other agencies.

2. The veil of secrecy over the actions and funding. Access to some "non-controlled" or "semi-controlled" funding for "special operations" and "actions"

3. Set of people trained for conducting covert operations, especially false flag operations.

4. Experience with covert operations abroad that can be transferred to the "home territory" in case of necessity. Peter Dale Scott refers in a recent essay to "A Supranational Deep State", noting how their international integration effectively allows intelligence agencies to evade even the limited control national governments had on them in the first half of the 20th century.

5. Infiltrated, or at lease "influencable" on the level of "useful contacts" with publishers and top journalists media. Deep state generally controls corporate media as Church commission established long ago.

Any agency that meets whose three criteria is "by definition" belongs to deep state. That means that outside Pentagon and three letter agencies only State Department (which now performs a part of functions of CIA as for color revolutions preparation) and Energy Department can qualify.

hunkerdown , April 27, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Try Charles Hugh Smith 's working definition:

The Deep State is fundamentally the public-private centralized nodes that collect, archive and curate dominant narratives and their supporting evidence, and disseminate these narratives (and their implicit teleologies) to the public via the media and to the state agencies via formal and informal inter-departmental communication channels.

In other words, the people who, in the public mind, define and legitimize (or delegitimize) the agenda and the members and objectives of the ideal power structure you describe, which, contrary to almost any anecdotal observation of office politics in general, seems to contain no dotted lines, no stovepipes, perfect subordination, no split allegiances or conflicting interests, and no other indirect pressures from within or without. Sounds more liberal than progressive, tbh.

eD , April 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm

The bureaucrats that run America are employees of corporations and contractors.

Chris , April 27, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Years ago, while working in an Australian state public service department, we considered 'Yes Minister' to be a documentary, and used it amongst ourselves as training material.

Lambert Strether Post author , April 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

My favorite episode is "Jobs for the Boys." My favorite line: "Great courage of course. But whatever possessed you?"

[Apr 25, 2017] Proportionality the fairness of inequality

Notable quotes:
"... My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous. ..."
"... In 2011, De Waal and his co-workers were the first to report that chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter. In fact, De Waal does not believe these tendencies to be restricted to humans and apes, but views empathy and sympathy as universal mammalian characteristics, a view that over the past decade has gained support from studies on rodents and other mammals, such as dogs. ..."
Apr 25, 2017 | The Unz Review
80 Comments

There was a time when boys played games of marbles following strict playground rules: contestants had to stand a prescribed distance away from the little pyramid of marbles, and chuck only marbles of the prescribed size. Rules ruled. Piaget was intrigued by the explanations children gave for moral judgements, and the playground is the arena in which the concept of fairness is honed.

Piaget followed a model which is rare nowadays. He observed his own children in great detail as they grew up. His was the least representative sample in the history of psychology. Nonetheless he launched the study of the development of morality, and the conception of fairness.

The majority of experimental studies done in psychological laboratories seem to show that even young children prefer equal shares rather than unequal shares. This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.

In fact, this is true only if people are asked to distribute goods between people who are unknown to them, and who have not behaved in any particular way which would make them consider that some were more worthy and deserving than others.

The moment you show that one person has been more helpful than another, or has worked harder than another, then judges believe that, as a matter of fairness, the more energetic and helpful person should get a greater share.

That is fair, after all, because those who were hard-working and helpful have deserved it because of their efforts. So although there are many studies suggesting that people do not like inequality, it turns out that what they most dislike is unfairness.

Once it can be shown that a distribution is fairly based on effort then respondents will tolerate and indeed require that the distribution of wealth is proportionate to effort and not just based on the mere fact of existing. People prefer unequal societies for the reason that they in fact they do not mind inequality if it is based on rewards for effort.

Why people prefer unequal societies. Christina Starmans , Mark Sheskin & Paul Bloom Nature Human Behaviour 1 , 0082 (2017)doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0082

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0082

Unusually for a scientific paper, it is a good read. What really matters in these experiments is context, and once context is provided then it is clear that people accept unequal societies so long as they are based on a fair allocation of rewards, proportional to contribution.

The authors say:

There is immense concern about economic inequality, both among the scholarly community and in the general public, and many insist that equality is an important social goal. However, when people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. We suggest that these two phenomena can be reconciled by noticing that, despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. Both psychological research and decisions by policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.

The authors review a long series of experiments which seem to show that children prefer absolute equality in the sharing of rewards. Inequality is certainly a focus of political concern. It attracts those who make bold complaints of the form "The top 1% of people own XX% of the wealth" where the implication is that the owned wealth should be 1% but for foul reasons is much higher than that. This statistic contains several errors, and tends to mislead.

http://www.unz.com/jthompson/loathing-wealth

By the way, it amuses me that people who strongly object to a person's general level of ability being represented "by a single figure" have no qualms about wealth being represented "by a single figure" despite it being based on chattels, residential property (sometimes minus mortgages, sometimes not), stocks and shares, bank accounts, pension rights totals (say, at 20 times annual payments), and other quasi-monetary benefits. Such critics should relax: although wealth estimates have methodological shortcomings, an overall figure gives a reasonable estimate for comparative purposes (as do estimates of general intelligence).

The Gini coefficient (0 is equitable distribution, 100 is outrageous inequity) is well-known, and usually widely quoted without comment, since the manifest goodness of equality is assumed to be agreed by all. Laboratory studies seem to confirm that people have a deep preference for equality.

So, when people are asked to distribute resources among a small number of people in a lab study, they insist on an exactly equal distribution. But when people are asked to distribute resources among a large group of people in the actual world, they reject an equal distribution, and prefer a certain extent of inequality. How can the strong preference for equality found in public policy discussion and laboratory studies coincide with the preference for societal inequality found in political and behavioural economic research?

We argue here that these two sets of findings can be reconciled through a surprising empirical claim: when the data are examined closely, it turns out that there is no evidence that people are actually concerned with economic inequality at all. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness.

We suggest that the perception that there is a preference for equality arises through an undue focus on special circumstances, often studied in the laboratory, where inequality and unfairness coincide. In most situations, however, including those involving real-world distributions of wealth, people's concerns about fairness lead them to favour unequal distributions.

Anyone looking for evidence that people have a natural aversion to inequality will find numerous laboratory studies that seemingly confirm their view. For example, studies have found "a universal desire for more equal pay", "egalitarian motives in humans", "egalitarianism in young children", and that "equality trumps reciprocity". A Google Scholar search for "inequality aversion" yields over 10,000 papers that bear on this topic.

Furthermore, people appear to view the equal distribution of resources as a moral good; they express anger toward those who benefit from unequal distributions.

Indeed, these data might underestimate people's preferences for unequal distributions. One follow-up study contrasted Norton and Ariely's question about the percentage of wealth that should correspond to each quintile of the American population with a question about what the average wealth should be in each quintile. The former question resulted in an ideal ratio of poorest to wealthiest of about 1/4, but for the latter question the ratio jumped to 1/50. When the connection between the two questions was explained to participants, a majority chose the higher inequality ratio as reflecting their actual beliefs for both measures.

At this stage it should be made clear that all the "equality in the lab" researchers have not been telling lies. They are aware that inequality and unfairness are being confounded, but that message has been downplayed in the telling. From a research strategy perspective, I think it shows how a particular approach (strangers in a lab) fails to produce results which map onto real world observations. When participants come together without any back history, the ideal of equality rules. When the fuller context is given a chance to be considered, then subjects in an experiment have no hesitation in rewarding those people who rise early to go to work over those who rise late to do nothing. Children not only reward those who have done more work, but also those who have been kind and helpful.

It follows, then, that if one believes that (a) people in the real world exhibit variation in effort, ability, moral deservingness, and so on, and (b) a fair system takes these considerations into account, then a preference for fairness will dictate that one should prefer unequal outcomes in actual societies.

One proposal is that fairness intuitions are rooted in adaptations for differentially responding to the prosocial and antisocial actions of others. For cooperation and pro-sociality to evolve, there has to be some solution to the problem of free-riders, cheaters, and bad actors. The usual explanation for this is that we have evolved a propensity to make bad behaviour costly and good behaviour beneficial, through punishment and reward

Our own argument against a focus on inequality is a psychological one. In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don't care about reducing inequality per se . Rather, people have an aversion toward unfairness, and under certain special circumstances this leads them to reject unequal distributions. In other conditions, including those involving real-world distributions of wealth, it leads them to favour unequal distributions. In the current economic environment in the United States and other wealthy nations, concerns about fairness happen to lead to a preference for reducing the current level of inequality. However, in various other societies across the world and across history (for example, when faced with the communist ideals of the former USSR), concerns about fairness lead to anger about too much equality.

I have quoted from this paper at some length, because it is unusually well-written, clearly describes its techniques and its arguments, follows a logical sequence, and deals with an important topic. My final conclusion is that it leads us to an important general conclusion: the repeated finding of an effect (in this case an apparent preference for equality) should not stop us from digging deeper to check whether the methods are really picking up the causes of decisions, and whether the general effect persists in real-world settings. It turns out that when distributing rewards to unknown people, equal shares is probably a good strategy; but when distributing rewards to people who have shown varying levels of contribution, unequal rewards are often fairer.

Should we have a coefficient to measure to what extent a society provides appropriate rewards for varying levels of social contribution (effort, ability, pro-social acts)? What to call it? The Reward coefficient? Are social mobility measures an acceptable substitute?

Discarding Robespierre, should our chant instead be "Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association"? I may need to work on these details a little longer.

dearieme , April 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm GMT \n

"Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association"?

I'd settle for Liberty, Proportionality, and ..: what?

I wouldn't say 'charity' because it would be misinterpreted. So would 'love'. 'Kindness'?

How about 'Amity'?

P.S. I'm no bible-basher but that book is sound on coveting, inadvisability of. Read More

Santoculto , April 18, 2017 at 3:41 pm GMT \n

This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.

You start well, =) But not, =( Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being. So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

Less inequal than capitalism* Likely in some official socialist countries has been but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts. Read More

Santoculto , April 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm GMT \n

That is fair, after all, because those who were hard-working and helpful have deserved it because of their efforts.

Yes, this is the psychology of the masses or of the worker, more hard-WORKing you are, better, but some people take note that a lot of non-hard worker are significantly more gratified than majority. So this people perceive a big bug in the logic of [capitalistic] meritocracy.

"Hard-worker = deserved to earn more"

but

A lot of those on the elite are not hard-worker, so

And "hard-workness" is heritable/inheritable too, so something that you born with more facility to engage reduce considerably the idea that people who are not hard-working, depending for what, are just lazy. The own idea of lazyness seems complicated in this case if it is usually based on the idea of "free will", if you are lazy it's because you want to be like that.

Sloth is lazy **

Or s/he is just slow **

Slow and lazy is the same*

People who work-hard tend to work- fast* Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

dc.sunsets , April 18, 2017 at 4:40 pm GMT \n
Today's wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania. It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.

I also note that the first thing deleted from any propaganda piece we read in "the news" is context. We can't have the rubes deciding that it's okay for the surgeon who saved their mom's life after her stroke to drive a nicer car and maybe KEEP what he or she made in income last year. (Ramping taxes on the "working wealthy," i.e., people who have high incomes but are not Gates-Buffet Rich, is Job One for Leftists when they're not celebrating another white guy suicide.) Read More Agree: Daniel Chieh

Jason Liu , April 18, 2017 at 7:08 pm GMT \n
It's almost as though egalitarianism is a primal, unthinking position mostly adopted by children who don't know any better. The simplest and most knee-jerk definition of "fairness", defined by feeling.

The moment you step back and examine the world, inequality starts to make more sense. Read More

Mao Cheng Ji , April 18, 2017 at 7:16 pm GMT \n

In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don't care about reducing inequality per se.

Oh dear. Whatever empirical evidence in this study is suggesting, it's irrelevant. Because the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings – in abstract – may or may not care about.

Why don't you study people who'd grown up in a hippie commune or in an Amish village, or in an orphanage in a poor country – I knew someone who did, and he, many years later, still had no clear concept of 'property'. And at that point, when you don't accept the concept of 'property' or 'wealth', at that point the whole idea of ' distribution ', the whole premise of your musings becomes completely meaningless Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 18, 2017 at 8:56 pm GMT \n
@Mao Cheng Ji

In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don't care about reducing inequality per se.
Oh dear. Whatever empirical evidence in this study is suggesting, it's irrelevant. Because the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings - in abstract - may or may not care about.

Why don't you study people who'd grown up in a hippie commune or in an Amish village, or in an orphanage in a poor country - I knew someone who did, and he, many years later, still had no clear concept of 'property'. And at that point, when you don't accept the concept of 'property' or 'wealth', at that point the whole idea of ' distribution ', the whole premise of your musings becomes completely meaningless... I disagree.

Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

Reg Cæsar , April 18, 2017 at 8:57 pm GMT \n

The moment you show that one person has been more helpful than another, or has worked harder than another, then judges believe that, as a matter of fairness, the more energetic and helpful person should get a greater share.

And folks disagree on who that helper might be. Compare people's reaction to the Koch brothers and to George Soros.

OutWest , April 18, 2017 at 10:30 pm GMT \n
Perhaps it's the engineer in me, but I've observed that some driving force is necessary to make a process run. Voltage, temperature/pressure difference, or maybe wealth disparity are examples.

I had the choice of working in a local mill for good wages but a killing environment, or working my way through college with little money. Intermediate term sacrifice paid long term dividends for me and my kids/grandkids. There's also a good argument to be made that society is also better served by such self-serving efforts.

If everyone is truly equal, what is there to drive society?

Santoculto , April 18, 2017 at 10:49 pm GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh I disagree.

Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

Capitalism is a short term/consumerism and parasitic-like socio-economic system. Capitalism is advantageous but it depend for whom. It's not adaptative only for short term.

Svigor , April 19, 2017 at 12:02 am GMT \n

It's almost as though egalitarianism is a primal, unthinking position mostly adopted by children who don't know any better. The simplest and most knee-jerk definition of "fairness", defined by feeling.

The moment you step back and examine the world, inequality starts to make more sense.

More "contextual" or "default" than primal or unthinking. Nobody's earned a bigger or smaller share, because everyone's qualification is simply showing up and being included in deliberation over division of spoils.

the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings – in abstract – may or may not care about.

I usually find your posts to be scheisse, but this bit (I snipped out the preamble advisedly) is pretty good, if hyperbolic. Leftist indoctrination and intimidation infect everything, and must be controlled for to get at the truth. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

Svigor , April 19, 2017 at 12:05 am GMT \n

If everyone is truly equal, what is there to drive society?

Proportional rewards. Decouple rewards from production, that's what really kills motivation. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

Trollmonster666 , April 19, 2017 at 12:37 am GMT \n
@dearieme "Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association"?

I'd settle for Liberty, Proportionality, and .....: what?

I wouldn't say 'charity' because it would be misinterpreted. So would 'love'. 'Kindness'?

How about 'Amity'?


P.S. I'm no bible-basher but that book is sound on coveting, inadvisability of. How about symmetry? Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 19, 2017 at 3:08 am GMT \n
@Santoculto Capitalism is a short term/consumerism and parasitic-like socio-economic system. Capitalism is advantageous but it depend for whom. It's not adaptative only for short term. Seems to me that most of human history of every civilization involved property at least since the dawn of agriculture allowed wealth to be stored in the form of grain. Property-less cultures were usually cultures that lacked the ability for an individual to accumulate wealth; however, only in cultures that had property allowed for the rise of more specialized classes of soldiery, tradesmen, and craftsmen. Read More
Wally , April 19, 2017 at 4:47 am GMT \n
It's revealing that those who advocate for 'equality' generally have much higher incomes than those they advocate for.

The Left has slapped together a coalition of Parasites and Perverts and seem to think they can beat the Productive.

socialism:

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/03/21/20170328_socialist.png

The Purpose of Political Correctness,
To Hide the Dirty Secrets of Socialism

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/12/thomas-dilorenzo/real-purpose-pc/ Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

Wally , April 19, 2017 at 4:56 am GMT \n
300 Words @Mao Cheng Ji

In this paper we have outlined a wealth of empirical evidence suggesting that people don't care about reducing inequality per se.
Oh dear. Whatever empirical evidence in this study is suggesting, it's irrelevant. Because the people being studied have been conditioned, indoctrinated, corrupted by the society they live in. They are completely useless, for the purpose of determining what human beings - in abstract - may or may not care about.

Why don't you study people who'd grown up in a hippie commune or in an Amish village, or in an orphanage in a poor country - I knew someone who did, and he, many years later, still had no clear concept of 'property'. And at that point, when you don't accept the concept of 'property' or 'wealth', at that point the whole idea of ' distribution ', the whole premise of your musings becomes completely meaningless... Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/

excerpt:

And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

Read More
Mao Cheng Ji , April 19, 2017 at 6:56 am GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh I disagree.

Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous.

However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

He wasn't a friend, just someone I met a few times; friend of a friend. For example: when leaving a party, the guy would just put on a jacket, anyone's jacket. Because a jacket is a jacket, it's a thing that serves the purpose. This sort of thing.

Native Americans did on wives

So, maybe they had some form of 'ownership' of women, so what. I'm not saying that there can be only two kinds of social organizations, there are many. For us, for our natural habitat, 'ownership', 'wealth', 'property', 'wage', 'debt', 'market', 'deserves' are the most basic concepts that we never question. They are our deepest underlying assumptions, internalized from the most early age. But I don't think they are embedded in human nature. Read More

JackOH , April 19, 2017 at 8:00 am GMT \n
Whew! I'd sooner expect to share a bourbon with Sasquatch and Yeti than to sight those surely mythical critters, Equality and Fairness. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
Mao Cheng Ji , April 19, 2017 at 9:57 am GMT \n
@Wally Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/

excerpt:

And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

I don't think I mentioned any 'noble savages'; all I said was that people are conditioned by their social environment. I guess you didn't like the word 'corrupted'? Okay, I take it back, it is, perhaps, unnecessarily judgemental. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Santoculto , April 19, 2017 at 11:19 am GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh Seems to me that most of human history of every civilization involved property at least since the dawn of agriculture allowed wealth to be stored in the form of grain. Property-less cultures were usually cultures that lacked the ability for an individual to accumulate wealth; however, only in cultures that had property allowed for the rise of more specialized classes of soldiery, tradesmen, and craftsmen. So you're saying that capitalism and accumulation of wealth is basically the same thing* Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
Santoculto , April 19, 2017 at 11:26 am GMT \n
@Wally Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/
excerpt:


And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

Yes, but it don't legitimate white europeans to act in the same way in "foreign' lands,

White colonizers just act in the same way not-so-noble savage ones,

No superiority there. Read More

Santoculto , April 19, 2017 at 11:42 am GMT \n

People prefer unequal societies for the reason that they in fact they do not mind inequality if it is based on rewards for effort.

People don't prefer unequal societies, they tend to "rationalize' that this is a necessary evil. But i doubt most people prefer unequal/inequal societies Read More

Santoculto , April 19, 2017 at 11:47 am GMT \n

So, when people are asked to distribute resources among a small number of people in a lab study, they insist on an exactly equal distribution. But when people are asked to distribute resources among a large group of people in the actual world, they reject an equal distribution, and prefer a certain extent of inequality. How can the strong preference for equality found in public policy discussion and laboratory studies coincide with the preference for societal inequality found in political and behavioural economic research?

Bigger groups, bigger [genetic/instinctive levels of] diversity* Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

Daniel Chieh , April 19, 2017 at 2:24 pm GMT \n
200 Words @Mao Cheng Ji

However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.
He wasn't a friend, just someone I met a few times; friend of a friend. For example: when leaving a party, the guy would just put on a jacket, anyone's jacket. Because a jacket is a jacket, it's a thing that serves the purpose. This sort of thing.

Native Americans did on wives
So, maybe they had some form of 'ownership' of women, so what. I'm not saying that there can be only two kinds of social organizations, there are many. For us, for our natural habitat, 'ownership', 'wealth', 'property', 'wage', 'debt', 'market', 'deserves' are the most basic concepts that we never question. They are our deepest underlying assumptions, internalized from the most early age. But I don't think they are embedded in human nature. So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn't brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the "free rider" problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can't accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist. Read More

dearieme , April 19, 2017 at 2:31 pm GMT \n
@Trollmonster666 How about symmetry? "How about symmetry?" I think we're looking for a word that contains some of the sentiment of 'fraternity' without the notion, certainly apparent in retrospect, of being compulsory.
Mao Cheng Ji , April 19, 2017 at 3:15 pm GMT \n
200 Words @Daniel Chieh So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn't brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the "free rider" problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can't accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist.

but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society

I don't know what 'useful' might mean in this context. Inevitable, that's for sure. Rousseau wrote:

The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!"

But then he writes:

But it is quite likely that by then things had already reached the point where they could no longer continue as they were. For this idea of property, depending on many prior ideas which could only have arisen successively, was not formed all at once in the human mind. It was necessary to make great progress, to acquire much industry and enlightenment, and to transmit and augment them from one age to another, before arriving at this final state in the state of nature.

Social evolution Read More

OutWest , April 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm GMT \n
If we were truly equal, none of us could be smarter, more industrious and certainly not more successful than the least of us. The kids seem capable of grasping this fact.

Maybe unqualified "equal" is the wrong concept as a universal parameter of fair play. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

LemmusLemmus , Website April 19, 2017 at 4:59 pm GMT \n
@James Thompson Yes, my mistake. Have corrected it to 0 for equality, 100 for inequality. Um, usually, 1 is maximum inequality (though Wikipedia says, quite logically, that you can say "100%"). Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
Philip Owen , April 19, 2017 at 11:16 pm GMT \n
I am British but I work a lot in Russia. I have noticed that the Russians are prepared to put more effort into punishing a wrongdoer, in everyday affairs, than the British, who usually just stop contact. Also, Russians have a much more developed, disproportionate to my view, sense of revenge and will put resources into it. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
ThreeCranes , April 20, 2017 at 1:36 am GMT \n
200 Words If I recall correctly from my reading of Frans DeWaal's work with chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, two experiments seem relevant here.

In one, two chimps in adjoining cages were given treats for pressing a button or pulling a lever. One chimp was given a slice of cucumber, the other a grape, which as a sweet is the more desirable of the two rewards. The chimp who was given the cucumber, seeing that his peer was given a better reward for the same endeavor eventually went on strike. This is suggestive of a feeling of unfairness, injustice and resentment.

In another trial, every time one chimp was rewarded with a treat for pulling the lever his companion–visible to him–was given a electric shock. After a few trials chimp #1 made the connection and–out of sympathy apparently–stopped pulling the lever, forsaking his treat.

So, DeWaal concludes that "Morality" or in this case a sense of fairness, didn't begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any "higher" spirituality. It is part and parcel of and to our nature as primates and builds on fellow-feeling. Hard to argue with this. Read More

ThreeCranes , April 20, 2017 at 1:43 am GMT \n
From Wiki

"In 2011, De Waal and his co-workers were the first to report that chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter. In fact, De Waal does not believe these tendencies to be restricted to humans and apes, but views empathy and sympathy as universal mammalian characteristics, a view that over the past decade has gained support from studies on rodents and other mammals, such as dogs.

He and his students have also extensively worked on fairness, leading to a video that went viral on inequity aversion among capuchin monkeys. The most recent work in this area was the first demonstration that given a chance to play the Ultimatum game, chimpanzees respond in the same way as children and human adults by preferring the equitable outcome."

utu , April 20, 2017 at 5:05 am GMT \n
@ThreeCranes If I recall correctly from my reading of Frans DeWaal's work with chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, two experiments seem relevant here.

In one, two chimps in adjoining cages were given treats for pressing a button or pulling a lever. One chimp was given a slice of cucumber, the other a grape, which as a sweet is the more desirable of the two rewards. The chimp who was given the cucumber, seeing that his peer was given a better reward for the same endeavor eventually went on strike. This is suggestive of a feeling of unfairness, injustice and resentment.

In another trial, every time one chimp was rewarded with a treat for pulling the lever his companion--visible to him--was given a electric shock. After a few trials chimp #1 made the connection and--out of sympathy apparently--stopped pulling the lever, forsaking his treat.

So, DeWaal concludes that "Morality" or in this case a sense of fairness, didn't begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any "higher" spirituality. It is part and parcel of and to our nature as primates and builds on fellow-feeling. Hard to argue with this.

in this case a sense of fairness, didn't begin with an awakened, enlightened consciousness due to any "higher" spirituality

I think it should be pretty obvious because lack of fairness is just like lack of symmetry in some geometric pattern. It is visible right away. It strikes you but in amoral landscape. It takes much more effort (cognitive, conceptual and linguistic) to justify and eventually internalize the lack of fairness. The default is fairness except for the ones who are not fair because they are morally defective. They are just tone deaf. They do not see the beauty of Kant's categorical imperatives.

Wally , April 20, 2017 at 5:10 am GMT \n
@Santoculto Yes, but it don't legitimate white europeans to act in the same way in ''foreign' lands, ;)

White colonizers just act in the same way not-so-noble savage ones, ;)

No superiority there. According to your Leftist logic, American Indians were xenophobic and are to be condemned for resisting European migrants.

Wally , April 20, 2017 at 5:22 am GMT \n
@Santoculto

People prefer unequal societies for the reason that they in fact they do not mind inequality if it is based on rewards for effort.
People don't prefer unequal societies, they tend to ''rationalize' that this is a necessary evil. But i doubt most people prefer unequal/inequal societies... There never has been and never will be 'equal' human societies.
The ones that tried were dismal failures simply because we are not all equal. Read More
Wally , April 20, 2017 at 5:26 am GMT \n
@ThreeCranes From Wiki

"In 2011, De Waal and his co-workers were the first to report that chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter. In fact, De Waal does not believe these tendencies to be restricted to humans and apes, but views empathy and sympathy as universal mammalian characteristics, a view that over the past decade has gained support from studies on rodents and other mammals, such as dogs. He and his students have also extensively worked on fairness, leading to a video that went viral on inequity aversion among capuchin monkeys. The most recent work in this area was the first demonstration that given a chance to play the Ultimatum game, chimpanzees respond in the same way as children and human adults by preferring the equitable outcome." Who decides what is "equitable"? Read More

Bolt , April 20, 2017 at 6:39 am GMT \n
Counting accumulations of the measurable as a method of judging fairness or in/equality would seem a materialist trap, very US consumer. I see no mention of Bhutan's happiness index here.

Those who decide not to participate in work towards normalized social goals have a role too; they give the overachievers a group to compare themselves with and a consequent boost to their psychic well being. What's the point of a Lexus if everyone drives them? Read More

RobRich , Website April 20, 2017 at 9:50 am GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh I disagree.

Since most people have not grown up in the extreme circumstances of a commune, this still applies to the vast majority of people and the model is useful. However, to entertain your proposition, please tell us more about your friend.

My understanding of individuals raised from non-property owning societies still have certain notions of want and possession, for example Native Americans did on wives. On top of that, due to the success of property-owning societies, this suggests that capitalism is overall adaptive and advantageous. Native Americans were devout property owners. The myth of native communism has long been debunked. Read More

David , April 20, 2017 at 11:39 am GMT \n
@dearieme "Liberty, Proportionality, and Selective Association"?

I'd settle for Liberty, Proportionality, and .....: what?

I wouldn't say 'charity' because it would be misinterpreted. So would 'love'. 'Kindness'?

How about 'Amity'?


P.S. I'm no bible-basher but that book is sound on coveting, inadvisability of. I think Jesus lacked the instinct of moral indignation at free-loaders. That, for example, he couldn't see how impossible it would be to organize labor if everyone got paid the same, no matter how long he worked.

Lots of times, what Jesus recommends is totally effective but If Christian societies had ever seriously extended the forgive-your-neighbor principle regionally, let alone universally, their guts would be in seven times seventy places.

The Good Samaritan was maybe the only guy walking down the road that day that didn't actually know the jerk who'd been beaten and robbed, likely by somebody he swindled. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

ThreeCranes , April 20, 2017 at 11:41 am GMT \n
@Wally Who decides what is "equitable"? Natural selection, apparently.
Santoculto , April 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm GMT \n
@Wally There never has been and never will be 'equal' human societies.
The ones that tried were dismal failures simply because we are not all equal. Thank you for this clarification, i don't knew. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
Agent76 , April 20, 2017 at 12:53 pm GMT \n
January 20, 2017 Rothschild Family Wealth is Five Times that of World's Top 8 Billionaires Combined

A recent report by Oxfam International highlights the dramatic rise in income equality by noting that the combined wealth of the world's top 8 individual billionaires is more than the lower half of the world's population, some 3.6 billion people. The intention of the report was to bring awareness to the unfairness and injustice inherent in our global economic system.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/01/20/rothschild-family-wealth-five-times-worlds-top-8-billionaires-combined/

May 21, 2013 Why the whole banking system is a scam – Godfrey Bloom MEP

• European Parliament, Strasbourg, 21 May 2013

• Speaker: Godfrey Bloom MEP, UKIP (Yorkshire & Lincolnshire)

Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

anonymous , April 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm GMT \n
200 Words Can't say that I disagree with the researchers conclusions in principle. But when it comes to the subject of fairness vs. equality in economic issues problems arise. It seems reasonable that a janitor who works ten hours (including two hours overtime) should receive more compensation than a janitor who works eight hours (or less). Similarly, a chemist who works longer hours than another chemist should receive more compensation. But and here's the rub should the rate of compensation to a janitor be the same as that of a chemist and vice versa? I think not, and the reason is obvious.

True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation (thus a janitor would make the same amount as a chemist). This would entail not so much an economic revolution as a psychological revolution-a prospect that, to put it mildly, is not very likely–except possibly in the collective minds of the Sanderistas. Read More

hyperbola , April 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm GMT \n
Generation of "responses" is promulgated by keeping the level of discussion very simple minded and generic: equality vs reward-for-effort. Major considerations are (deliberately?) ignored with such a formulation.

Equality is easy to calculate and apply. Reward-for-effort is not and is easily subject to "corruption" (over-reward due to power-control that can include abuse of those "under-rewarded"). Anyone who advocates "reward-for-effort" therefore needs to START by proposing a system that guarantees that this does not degenerate into corruption.

Has anyone ever been successful in establishing a social system in which "reward-for-effort" did NOT degenerate into corruption? Perhaps as long ago as Plato usable systems were proposed (maximum allowed difference between poor/rich = 4), but these have never been implemented because of the tendency to corruption inherent in "reward-for-effort"?

Certainly we have plenty of evidence that present practice of "reward-for-effort" is highly corrupted. Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm GMT \n
200 Words @hyperbola Generation of "responses" is promulgated by keeping the level of discussion very simple minded and generic: equality vs reward-for-effort. Major considerations are (deliberately?) ignored with such a formulation.

Equality is easy to calculate and apply. Reward-for-effort is not and is easily subject to "corruption" (over-reward due to power-control that can include abuse of those "under-rewarded"). Anyone who advocates "reward-for-effort" therefore needs to START by proposing a system that guarantees that this does not degenerate into corruption.

Has anyone ever been successful in establishing a social system in which "reward-for-effort" did NOT degenerate into corruption? Perhaps as long ago as Plato usable systems were proposed (maximum allowed difference between poor/rich = 4), but these have never been implemented because of the tendency to corruption inherent in "reward-for-effort"?

Certainly we have plenty of evidence that present practice of "reward-for-effort" is highly corrupted. No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn't easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn't just something to handwave away – it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people – the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

This isn't as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that's too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system. Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm GMT \n
@anonymous Can't say that I disagree with the researchers conclusions in principle. But when it comes to the subject of fairness vs. equality in economic issues problems arise. It seems reasonable that a janitor who works ten hours (including two hours overtime) should receive more compensation than a janitor who works eight hours (or less). Similarly, a chemist who works longer hours than another chemist should receive more compensation. But...and here's the rub...should the rate of compensation to a janitor be the same as that of a chemist and vice versa? I think not, and the reason is obvious.

True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation (thus a janitor would make the same amount as a chemist). This would entail not so much an economic revolution as a psychological revolution---a prospect that, to put it mildly, is not very likely--except possibly in the collective minds of the Sanderistas. The most psychologically difficult part of the modern economy is "why should someone be able to make more money by having money" through interest-bearing systems. While its very logical from a capitalistic perspective, its definitely the part which I think our instincts find least understandable.

The rich history against usury throughout history, including in the East, are a good example that many people found the notion difficult to accept especially when it seemed like it accumulated wealth in a class without connection to historical notions of land, protection, fealty, etc. Read More

pseudonym , April 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT \n
@Santoculto
This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.
You start well, =)

But not, =(

Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

Less inequal than capitalism*

Likely in some official socialist countries has been...

but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts. You're confusing socialism with Socialism.

Two people? Each get 1/2

Eight people? Each get 1/8

Read the article again, it has nothing to do with Socialism, and everything to do with socialism. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

anon , April 20, 2017 at 3:19 pm GMT \n
@dc.sunsets Today's wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania. It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.

I also note that the first thing deleted from any propaganda piece we read in "the news" is context. We can't have the rubes deciding that it's okay for the surgeon who saved their mom's life after her stroke to drive a nicer car and maybe KEEP what he or she made in income last year. (Ramping taxes on the "working wealthy," i.e., people who have high incomes but are not Gates-Buffet Rich, is Job One for Leftists when they're not celebrating another white guy suicide.)

Today's wealth inequality is entirely an artifact of the debt bubble and related Great Asset Mania.

However, the debt bubble is/was the result of the pre-existing power and greed of the financial sector to corrupt the political/media class into rigging the game. That power and greed was restrained until the Soviet Union collapsed.

It will decrease dramatically when the social mood mania sustaining it these last 35 years rolls over.

It will decrease dramatically when unrestrained usury leads to economic collapse as it always does for a simple arithmetic reason

million people with $200/week to spend = $200 million demand

million people with $200/week
- repaying $150/week on their previous loans
- leaving $50/week to spend
= $150 million to the financial sector and $50 million demand

non-productive usury is parasitic and once unrestrained will always rapidly destroy an economy Read More Agree: anarchyst Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Perplexed , April 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh So he could have committed theft, which is all fine and good until he takes your jacket but hasn't brought one of his own. This is, in fact, a common problem with communes: the "free rider" problem. Such individuals in Alberta cause significant social disharmony, for a real world example, and escalate into violence and robbery.

Ownership of property and labor may be partially a social concept, but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society. I think contrary to your thoughts, they are often questioned but its essentially one of the most effective methods for living in the modern world.

I think that you may not considering the effect of technology and social adaptation as part of that technology; as I mentioned elsewhere, hunter-gatherer groups tend not to have a concept of property and wealth, because they can't accumulate it. But once stationary agriculture is common, accumulation of wealth and methods to defend it become common, which means that concepts of property and inequality exist. In the New York Times Magazine's first "Ethicist" column, Randy Gerber set a problem: You're leaving a restaurant on a rainy day and find that someone took your umbrella from the pail by the door. Is it okay to take someone else's? He said yes (but, if I remember correctly, only one of equal or lesser value to yours; no advice on how to evaluate a pailful of black umbrellas, though; and what if all of them are better than yours? And then, if you refrain from taking a better one, you'll still get wet, which was the justification for taking someone else's in the first place. And if you take a cheaper one, isn't that stealing from the lower classes?). Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Perplexed , April 20, 2017 at 3:43 pm GMT \n
@Bolt Counting accumulations of the measurable as a method of judging fairness or in/equality would seem a materialist trap, very US consumer. I see no mention of Bhutan's happiness index here.

Those who decide not to participate in work towards normalized social goals have a role too; they give the overachievers a group to compare themselves with and a consequent boost to their psychic well being. What's the point of a Lexus if everyone drives them? Are smokers included in Bhutan's happiness index? They can get five years in prison for violating the draconian rules. But they're smokers, so nobody cares, right? Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

David , April 20, 2017 at 4:04 pm GMT \n
A comment about good science and good writing. Darwin wasn't a bad scientist or writer. Same for Faraday and Feynman. E. O. Wilson comes to mine. And Mr James Thompson is pretty good, too. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments
Mao Cheng Ji , April 20, 2017 at 5:17 pm GMT \n
@anonymous Can't say that I disagree with the researchers conclusions in principle. But when it comes to the subject of fairness vs. equality in economic issues problems arise. It seems reasonable that a janitor who works ten hours (including two hours overtime) should receive more compensation than a janitor who works eight hours (or less). Similarly, a chemist who works longer hours than another chemist should receive more compensation. But...and here's the rub...should the rate of compensation to a janitor be the same as that of a chemist and vice versa? I think not, and the reason is obvious.

True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation (thus a janitor would make the same amount as a chemist). This would entail not so much an economic revolution as a psychological revolution---a prospect that, to put it mildly, is not very likely--except possibly in the collective minds of the Sanderistas.

True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation

No, true economic equality can only exist when no one is paid anything at all. Everything is freely shared, like, say, books in the library, or food between family members, or the well in the village center. Simple as that. Read More

Inertiller , April 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm GMT \n
200 Words Thompson sure sounds scientific, until he denigrates the scientific process. "The lab isn't like the real world." Readers should give up right there, because refuting gibberish takes time and a little thought.

But the main argument (or apology) from writers like Thompson (or Thomas Friedman) is that those that are more equal than you stoically pulled themselves up harder by their own shoes than you did. Your complaints give you away.

The appeal to these folksy simple beliefs is enourmous but many of the wealthy will maintain that they've been granted wealth because of God's will, or tithing to their church.

So fans of the meritocratic fraud will work harder. (Working dumber doesn't mean anything to them.) Just think, one day, if you're nice enough, your large corporation can break the law with impunity, you can write a a piece of software for the FIRE sector, start your own web blog on politics that datamines (for free) the thoughts, snark and feelings of the proles, and when you are CEO you'll tell the world you damn well earned all of it. Why wouldn't you? Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

dearieme , April 20, 2017 at 5:48 pm GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh The most psychologically difficult part of the modern economy is "why should someone be able to make more money by having money" through interest-bearing systems. While its very logical from a capitalistic perspective, its definitely the part which I think our instincts find least understandable.

The rich history against usury throughout history, including in the East, are a good example that many people found the notion difficult to accept especially when it seemed like it accumulated wealth in a class without connection to historical notions of land, protection, fealty, etc. "why should someone be able to make more money by having money" through interest-bearing systems

That's been put a stop to by zero and negative interest rates. For a few years at least. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Zzz , April 20, 2017 at 5:58 pm GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn't easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn't just something to handwave away - it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people - the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

This isn't as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that's too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.

too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.

What if everything is one same global system? It competing with what then? Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 20, 2017 at 6:55 pm GMT \n
@Zzz

too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system.
What if everything is one same global system? It competing with what then? Ah, yes, one world government. The solution to all ills, how silly of me not to think of it. In all realism, the only way such a system will rise to dominance is through outcompeting all other memes. It hasn't, so there's no egg for this chicken to rise about.

When attempted, as in socialistic governments, it gets corrupted because basically, human nature. Its only been shown to work in monestaries where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate. I'll revisit the vitality of it after Giant Meteor visits us, but I suspect the land-acquiring raiders will still come out ahead. Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 20, 2017 at 7:13 pm GMT \n
@Mao Cheng Ji

True economic equality in theory can only exist if everyone were paid the same amount regardless of occupation
No, true economic equality can only exist when no one is paid anything at all. Everything is freely shared, like, say, books in the library, or food between family members, or the well in the village center. Simple as that. So who gets the last slice of pizza?

Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value. Read More

Someone in this, and too busy. , April 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm GMT \n
400 Words It's an interesting chart. Being involved with consumer bankruptcy work, I regularly meet and talk to many people who fit right into the lower end of the chart. My anecdotal opinion is that I find charts like the this one be inaccurate and skewed representations of the underlying condition of the people involved.

To begin, the chart does not associate dollar figures the various percentages of wealth. I haven't made a career of researching these facts, but I've seen the figure around that the lowest 20% of the population has a negative net worth. This means that if I could talk the lowest 20% of the people referenced in the chart into coming into my office and filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a legal action the majority of them would surely qualify for, and if, after the bankruptcy, I gave them $10 they would, all of a sudden, be thrown up into the the next highest most wealthy group of Americans. I"ve no time for researching it today, but I suspect it wouldn't take much more to push the forth lowest group into the lower end of the middle.

Another one of my other problems with these charts is they frequently exclude items most of us consider to be forms of wealth, in their determination of how much wealth people actually have. Pensions, including vested pensions, are frequently excluded. The rights to receive social security and other benefit programs is almost always excluded (maybe they are telling us something). This, of course greatly amplifies the sense that their are a lot of terribly destitute people around. Without seeing the dollar numbers or the components of the wealth included and excluded, these types of charts lend themselves to distortions.

To accumulate wealth at any level you have to have an interest in accumulating wealth. Accumulating wealth is a lot different than being showered with it. Everyone wants to win the lotto. Far fewer will save $100. Not with the competition from vacations and automobiles and electronic entertainment. It's not just hippies or tribesmen with no concept of competition who will not accumulate. I recommend that anyone who believes there is not a large percentage of the population that has absolutely no interest in taking any action designed toward accumulating wealth, who actively use it with not intention of replacing it, get out a bit more, meet new people just to know them. You don't have to invite them to your home. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

Joe Wong , April 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm GMT \n
@Santoculto

This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.
You start well, =)

But not, =(

Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

Less inequal than capitalism*

Likely in some official socialist countries has been...

but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts. This comment reflects a serious case of redneck capitalist paranoia syndrome.

We all know USA is a Orwellian oligarchy police state and it is a warmonger and war criminal on the international arena despite it claims itself a democracy, so shall we say democracy does not work because USA's failure to implement democracy ideally? On the same token, it is moronic to say Socialism does not work because some jackals hijacked Socialism for their own greed just like the 'god-fearing' morally defunct evil 'puritans' hijacked democracy in the USA to fill their own greed. Read More

Joe Wong , April 20, 2017 at 10:25 pm GMT \n
@Jason Liu It's almost as though egalitarianism is a primal, unthinking position mostly adopted by children who don't know any better. The simplest and most knee-jerk definition of "fairness", defined by feeling.

The moment you step back and examine the world, inequality starts to make more sense. Perhaps inequality is inevitable and way of life, but definitely for the humanity sake we cannot grant it moral legitimacy, inequality is the dark side of humanity, it should always be treated as it is. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Joe Wong , April 20, 2017 at 10:58 pm GMT \n
@RobRich Native Americans were devout property owners. The myth of native communism has long been debunked. I would be very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the Whtie demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselve superior. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and Maidan Square mob putsch are the recent examples. Read More Troll: Daniel Chieh
Joe Wong , April 20, 2017 at 11:15 pm GMT \n
@OutWest Perhaps it's the engineer in me, but I've observed that some driving force is necessary to make a process run. Voltage, temperature/pressure difference, or maybe wealth disparity are examples.

I had the choice of working in a local mill for good wages but a killing environment, or working my way through college with little money. Intermediate term sacrifice paid long tem dividends for me and my kids/grandkids. There's also a good argument to be made that society is also better served by such self-serving efforts.

If everyone is truly equal, what is there to drive society? I remember one epsoide in the Star Trek, Jean-Luc Picard explained humanity to an less developed alien that in the 23rd century, human is no longer valued material procession, human being is motived by wanting to excel, to make himself and the human being better. Are you saying we never can get there? Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Joe Wong , April 20, 2017 at 11:29 pm GMT \n
@Wally Michael Chrichton on the not-so-noble savages.

http://principia-scientific.org/crichton-environmentalism-religion/
excerpt:


And what about indigenous peoples, living in a state of harmony with the Eden-like environment? Well, they never did.

On this continent, the newly arrived people who crossed the land bridge almost immediately set about wiping out hundreds of species of large animals, and they did this several thousand years before the white man showed up, to accelerate the process.

And what was the condition of life? Loving, peaceful, harmonious? Hardly: the early peoples of the New World lived in a state of constant warfare. Generations of hatred, tribal hatreds, constant battles. The warlike tribes of this continent are famous: the Comanche, Sioux, Apache, Mohawk, Aztecs, Toltec, Incas. Some of them practiced infanticide, and human sacrifice. And those tribes that were not fiercely warlike were exterminated, or learned to build their villages high in the cliffs to attain some measure of safety.

How about the human condition in the rest of the world? The Maori of New Zealand committed massacres regularly. The dyaks of Borneo were headhunters. The Polynesians, living in an environment as close to paradise as one can imagine, fought constantly, and created a society so hideously restrictive that you could lose your life if you stepped in the footprint of a chief. It was the Polynesians who gave us the very concept of taboo, as well as the word itself.

The noble savage is a fantasy, and it was never true. That anyone still believes it, 200 years after Rousseau, shows the tenacity of religious myths, their ability to hang on in the face of centuries of factual contradiction.

I am very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the White demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselves superior and righteous. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirsty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and anti-communism are the recent examples. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
Astuteobservor II , April 21, 2017 at 12:47 am GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh So who gets the last slice of pizza?

Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value. what he meant is that it wouldn't matter, because there will be more pizza. so why would anyone care about the last slice? of "a" pizza. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Bolt , April 21, 2017 at 4:15 am GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh Ah, yes, one world government. The solution to all ills, how silly of me not to think of it. In all realism, the only way such a system will rise to dominance is through outcompeting all other memes. It hasn't, so there's no egg for this chicken to rise about.

When attempted, as in socialistic governments, it gets corrupted because basically, human nature. Its only been shown to work in monestaries where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate. I'll revisit the vitality of it after Giant Meteor visits us, but I suspect the land-acquiring raiders will still come out ahead.

..where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate..

This ignores the cultural conditioning accepted by the group, both the monk's and the west's.
Human nature is a social construct – you can't argue on the one hand that we're are above animals because "self awareness", but on the other hand human nature/law of the jungle/social Darwinism determines our interactions.
The point is, the monks are trained in self awareness and act as a guide to accessing our better natures – fair and equitable distribution should be a hallmark of our humanity not an exception. Read More

Mao Cheng Ji , April 21, 2017 at 6:55 am GMT \n
200 Words @Daniel Chieh So who gets the last slice of pizza?

Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value.

So who gets the last slice of pizza?

Okay, let's see. Where I'm from, the social norm was that no one takes the last piece of bread. What you do, you break it, and take half. Then the next person can take half of that, and so on, until it turns into a crumb.

In other places I've been, the norm was: you point to the last slice and ask: 'anyone want this?' Everyone would say 'no', and then you can take it.

But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise 'anti-social') first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn't change, they get expelled from the commune.

As for

Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

what of it? Social norms ('morality') are not absolute, they are dictated by the environment. Where the alternative to infanticide and abandoning the old is extinction, they become social norms. Read More

EH , April 21, 2017 at 6:57 am GMT \n
300 Words Additional monetary wealth is valued in relation to existing wealth, so that a 1% increase has the same perceived utility whether one has $1M or $1000. This implies a logarithmic utility function for monetary wealth, an idea which is accepted in economics since it is equivalent to setting an investment goal of maximizing percentage returns, but the inescapable mathematical implication of logarithmic utility of wealth is unpopular among economists. If we assume that people have roughly equal capacity for enjoyment, then the aggregate utility of wealth for a society is maximized by its members having roughly equal wealth. For instance, a person with $100 gets a utility of log(100) = 2 from that, and someone with $1B gets a utility of log(10^9) = 9. If the billionaire's wealth is distributed so that 10M people each have $100, then the aggregate utility of that $1B rises from 9 to 20M, or over two million times as much utility.

Since wealth is valued logarithmically the effectiveness of rewards falls off exponentially, which means either that it doesn't make sense to give large rewards to individuals (assuming a goal of maximizing aggregate utility), or that rewards should be exponentially larger to maintain their effectiveness (assuming a goal of making rewards effective in individual cases). The latter way of thinking by people pursuing rewards for themselves is why wealth inequality is so great. At each step of the way, people aim to get that next few percent increase in their wealth, which becomes larger and larger in absolute terms. It's perfectly rational from the view of each individual, but it results in nearly all monetary rewards going to the people who get the least marginal utility from that money.

Those who contribute to society need to be rewarded to encourage more such contributions, but money quickly becomes an uneconomical way of rewarding people once they have more than enough for their needs - other rewards such as status become more effective and affordable for society. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter Display All Comments

John Smith , April 21, 2017 at 7:56 am GMT \n
@Santoculto

This would suggest that people have an innate preference for socialism and the re-distribution of wealth.
You start well, =)

But not, =(

Socialism don't/ never re-distribute[d] ideally the wealth NOR the power-decision, something extremely valuable as wealth in terms of individual well being.

So, in the next time, try to analyze firstly this differences between what socialistic propaganda tell you and what real socialism, aka, communism really is.

Less inequal than capitalism*

Likely in some official socialist countries has been...

but still very inequal and extremely inequal in other values such free speech and proportional fairness in individual power-decision = government deciding everything about your life without any negotiation or dialogue between interested parts. I must object.

Socialism does re-distribute the meager wealth of the working class into the pockets of the non working class and state owned business in exchange for handouts designed to keep you dependent on a system that hates you. Read More

dearieme , April 21, 2017 at 9:25 am GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh So who gets the last slice of pizza?

Even in familial systems, equality didn't exist; it just has less hostile negotiation. And under stress, Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.

You don't need currency to have an adequate stand-in for exchange of power and value. "So who gets the last slice of pizza?"

You spin a penny. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Daniel Chieh , April 21, 2017 at 1:50 pm GMT \n
@Bolt

..where living standard is intentionally low, and in a limited extent where wealth is impossible to accumulate..
This ignores the cultural conditioning accepted by the group, both the monk's and the west's.
Human nature is a social construct - you can't argue on the one hand that we're are above animals because "self awareness", but on the other hand human nature/law of the jungle/social Darwinism determines our interactions.
The point is, the monks are trained in self awareness and act as a guide to accessing our better natures - fair and equitable distribution should be a hallmark of our humanity not an exception. We aren't really all that self-aware. Even the existence of free will may be in doubt.

More importantly, as stated before, it doesn't work to outcompete other models. The monks might indeed have a successful vow of poverty, but then people who don't have a vow of poverty but with bigger axes come and take everything they have.

The way I read your sentence is to advocate self-destruction, essentially, as a hallmark of human nature. I don't agree. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Daniel Chieh , April 21, 2017 at 1:59 pm GMT \n
200 Words @Mao Cheng Ji

So who gets the last slice of pizza?
Okay, let's see. Where I'm from, the social norm was that no one takes the last piece of bread. What you do, you break it, and take half. Then the next person can take half of that, and so on, until it turns into a crumb.

In other places I've been, the norm was: you point to the last slice and ask: 'anyone want this?' Everyone would say 'no', and then you can take it.

But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise 'anti-social') first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn't change, they get expelled from the commune.


As for


Bushmen practiced both infanticide as well as abandoning the old.
...what of it? Social norms ('morality') are not absolute, they are dictated by the environment. Where the alternative to infanticide and abandoning the old is extinction, they become social norms.

But in general, the typical anarchist approach is this: those who are perceived as consistently greedy (or otherwise 'anti-social') first get punished by ostracism, from the mildest form to severe (refusal to communicate with the offender). And then, if their behavior doesn't change, they get expelled from the commune.

Yup. And yet you seem knowledgeable enough not to need me to tell you the obvious results of it because it happened historically and in reality – punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort. Even in North Korea, for example, the government found that by even slightly increasing liberalization of farms and allowing some percentage of crops to be sold for individual possession increased productivity by double-digit amounts.

People work harder when they feel like they will own the results. Negative consequences can only motivate insofar as punishment motivated slaves – they will do the minimal effort. Indeed, outperforming others can get you shamed because of that very mental aspect of proportionality.

Lack of property ownership just doesn't work, not with our brains the way it is.

This doesn't even go into aspects of the economy that are nonfungible, cannot be increased and inherently limiting, such as high productivity land, something which humanity once had to highly focus on. Now, Rousseau perhaps understood this, and deplored it – but it doesn't change the fact that was the most efficient way to develop for humanity. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Wizard of Oz , April 21, 2017 at 2:57 pm GMT \n
@Mao Cheng Ji

but it is an useful social technology that promotes development of society
I don't know what 'useful' might mean in this context. Inevitable, that's for sure. Rousseau wrote:

The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!"
But then he writes:

But it is quite likely that by then things had already reached the point where they could no longer continue as they were. For this idea of property, depending on many prior ideas which could only have arisen successively, was not formed all at once in the human mind. It was necessary to make great progress, to acquire much industry and enlightenment, and to transmit and augment them from one age to another, before arriving at this final state in the state of nature.
Social evolution... Maybe you are oversimplifying tbe position you are arguing against. It is easy when discussing human nature to dismiss the idea that we have genes for respecting or being greedy for property rights but the way to look at it is different.

Start by considering what is objectively good for enjoyable human society, especially on a small scale, then consider what programming might be conducive to it. Just as it is a priori likely thst there would be some genetic programming to help us not to be fooled by liars the strong and reciprocal feeling for "mine" and "thine" needs programming that prevents taking no thought for the morrow and being fecklessly indifferent to people damaging the tools and other artefacts one has made. Read More Agree: Daniel Chieh

Santoculto , April 21, 2017 at 4:43 pm GMT \n
@Joe Wong This comment reflects a serious case of redneck capitalist paranoia syndrome.

We all know USA is a Orwellian oligarchy police state and it is a warmonger and war criminal on the international arena despite it claims itself a democracy, so shall we say democracy does not work because USA's failure to implement democracy ideally? On the same token, it is moronic to say Socialism does not work because some jackals hijacked Socialism for their own greed just like the 'god-fearing' morally defunct evil 'puritans' hijacked democracy in the USA to fill their own greed. Your opinion

but the truth

"Socialism" is even worse than capitalism, this is its monumental sin.

Be worse than a tra$h called capitalism. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Santoculto , April 21, 2017 at 4:45 pm GMT \n
@John Smith I must object.

Socialism does re-distribute the meager wealth of the working class into the pockets of the non working class and state owned business in exchange for handouts designed to keep you dependent on a system that hates you. Socialism or communism pretend to be democracy OR they are in the end, the consumation of democratic path, the "people" governing itself.

The "people". Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Mao Cheng Ji , April 21, 2017 at 5:42 pm GMT \n
200 Words @Wizard of Oz Maybe you are oversimplifying tbe position you are arguing against. It is easy when discussing human nature to dismiss the idea that we have genes for respecting or being greedy for property rights but the way to look at it is different.

Start by considering what is objectively good for enjoyable human society, especially on a small scale, then consider what programming might be conducive to it. Just as it is a priori likely thst there would be some genetic programming to help us not to be fooled by liars the strong and reciprocal feeling for "mine" and "thine" needs programming that prevents taking no thought for the morrow and being fecklessly indifferent to people damaging the tools and other artefacts one has made.

punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort

I don't quite understand your point here. So, you're against punishment? Or, more specifically, against punishing greed? So then, can I come over, take 'your' stuff, and walk away? I don't think so.

Okay, I guess what you're saying is that socioeconomic models utilizing, in some reasonable, orderly way, the concept of ownership lead to higher productivity, technological progress, and all that. Well, sure, empirically this has been the story so far. What's not clear to me is:
1. that productivity and technological progress are all that good and desirable. The Amish don't use electricity and they seem happy. And
2. that this is the universal rule for all times. Suppose a few decades from now all the reasonable necessities are produced by unmanned machines, in abundant quantities. I don't know, 3-D printers, or something. Do you still need to own stuff? When is enough enough? Read More

Daniel Chieh , April 21, 2017 at 5:45 pm GMT \n
@Joe Wong I would be very sceptical about any proof provided by the White to debunk anybody anything, historically the Whtie demonizes or badmouths others with fake news to make themselve superior. Orientalism and casting South American civilizations as bloodthirty barbarians are some of the ancient examples, phantom WMD and Maidan Square mob putsch are the recent examples. Yes, because whites are apparently a monolithic bloc dedicated to the suppression of everyone else, especially Sweden these days. Please.

良药苦口. China needed the lesson we received. Never forget the price of weakness. That doesn't mean we should denigrate the achivements of anyone else. Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

hyperbola , April 21, 2017 at 8:56 pm GMT \n
@Daniel Chieh No model will perfectly match reality. Equality actually isn't easy to calculate due to the free rider problem, which isn't just something to handwave away - it is one of the most common ways for communes and the like to die.

Beyond that, traditional systems which reflected labor and risk taking resonated pretty well with people - the notion of someone working harder in the fields was easy to justify, as was the occupation of the soldier or even the brigand.

This isn't as much the case these days when so much of wealth is tied up by the financial sector of essentially, what was traditionally considered as usury. But the fundamental truth that inequality-based systems do tend to outcompete equality-based systems.

Corruption, incidentally, is a cost on a system and drags it down. So in a way, its self-healing, as a system that's too corrupt will become incapable of outcompeting a less corrupt and more efficient system. Already Adam Smith warned us that the system sold to us as "competitive capitalism" has nothing to do with reality. We have been suffering from "corrupt mercantilism" since at least then. It is no accident that our war for independence was fought against the jewish power family monopolies of the "city of london" and their corrupt (government "licensed") East India Co.
Exactly how do you imagine your"competitive" system is going to get started (sometime) and then be maintained? Read More Reply Agree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

Wizard of Oz , April 22, 2017 at 12:20 am GMT \n
@Mao Cheng Ji

punishment systems resulted in people minimizing effort
I don't quite understand your point here. So, you're against punishment? Or, more specifically, against punishing greed? So then, can I come over, take 'your' stuff, and walk away? I don't think so.

Okay, I guess what you're saying is that socioeconomic models utilizing, in some reasonable, orderly way, the concept of ownership lead to higher productivity, technological progress, and all that. Well, sure, empirically this has been the story so far. What's not clear to me is:
1. that productivity and technological progress are all that good and desirable. The Amish don't use electricity and they seem happy. And
2. that this is the universal rule for all times. Suppose a few decades from now all the reasonable necessities are produced by unmanned machines, in abundant quantities. I don't know, 3-D printers, or something. Do you still need to own stuff? When is enough enough? You confused me a bit because the opening quote was not mine but Daniel Chieh's. Had I time I would gladly follow you and J.M Keynes in dreaming intelligently of the prospects for our grandchildren. Keynes in 1930 seemed to imagine a world in which everyone could share his refined tastes. Now we would with at least equal realism consider making available genetic engineering on a large scale .

[Apr 17, 2017] If you put the two trends together-increased individual income inequality and increased corporate savings-what were witnessing then is increasing private control over the social surplus

Notable quotes:
"... Wealthy individuals and large corporations are able to capture and decide on their own what to do with the surplus, with all the social ramifications associated with their decisions to invest where and when they want-or not to invest, and thus to accumulate cash, repay debt, and repurchase their own equity shares. ..."
"... Any proposals to decrease tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations will only increase that private control. ..."
Apr 17, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC , April 16, 2017 at 07:23 AM
Why is it anyone would want to save such an economic system?

April 11, 2017

from David Ruccio

"If you put the two trends together-increased individual income inequality and increased corporate savings -- what we're witnessing then is increasing private control over the social surplus.

Wealthy individuals and large corporations are able to capture and decide on their own what to do with the surplus, with all the social ramifications associated with their decisions to invest where and when they want-or not to invest, and thus to accumulate cash, repay debt, and repurchase their own equity shares.

Any proposals to decrease tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations will only increase that private control.

Why is it anyone would want to save such an economic system?"

https://rwer.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/why-is-it-anyone-would-want-to-save-such-an-economic-system/#more-28993

[ Tie that to the private banking system ]

anne -> RGC... , April 16, 2017 at 07:40 AM
Possibly I do not understand the matter, but I can find no evidence that corporate "saving" as a share of GDP in the United States is increasing. Actually, the reverse.
RGC -> anne... , April 16, 2017 at 07:50 AM
http://voxeu.org/article/global-corporate-saving-glut
anne -> RGC... , April 16, 2017 at 08:00 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=dnZ6

January 30, 2017

Net Corporate Saving * as a share of Gross Domestic Product, 1948-2016

* Undistributed profits

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

January 30, 2017

Net Corporate Saving * as a share of Gross Domestic Product, 1980-2016

* Undistributed profits

anne -> anne... , April 16, 2017 at 06:12 PM
Again, I was and am right.

I can find no evidence that corporate "saving" as a share of GDP in the United States is increasing. Actually, the reverse:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=dnZ6

anne -> RGC... , April 16, 2017 at 08:03 AM
http://voxeu.org/article/global-corporate-saving-glut

April 5, 2017

The global corporate saving glut: Long-term evidence

By Peter Chen, Loukas Karabarbounis, and Brent Neiman

Corporate saving has increased relative to GDP and corporate investment across the world over the past three decades, reflecting how the global decline in the labour has led to increased corporate profits. This column characterises these trends using national income accounts and firm-level data, and relates them to firm characteristics and the accumulation of financial assets. In response to declines in the components of the cost of capital, a model with capital market imperfections generates an increase in corporate saving similar to that found in the data.

[ I am grateful for the reference, but I had already read the paper carefully and found no reason to agree with the assertion that there is long term evidence of a corporate saving glut. ]

RGC -> anne... , April 16, 2017 at 02:55 PM

2.2 National Accounts Structure and Identities

National accounts data include sector accounts that divide the economy into the corporate sector, the government sector, and the household and non-profit sector.

For most economies, the corporate sector can be further disaggregated into financial and non-financial corporations and the household sector can be distinguished from the non-profit sector.

National accounts data also include industry accounts that divide activity according to the International Standard Industrial
Classification, Rev. 4 (SIC).

A set of accounting identities that hold in the aggregate as well as at the sector or industry
level serve as the backbone for the national accounts.

In these accounts, the value of final
production (i.e. production net of intermediate goods) is called gross value added (GVA). When
aggregated to the economy level, GVA equals GDP less net taxes on products. GVA is detailed
in the generation of income account and equals the sum of income paid to capital, labor, and
taxes:


GVA = Gross Operating Surplus (GOS) + Compensation to Labor
+ Net Taxes on Production.


GOS captures the income available to corporations and other producing entities after paying for labor services and after subtracting taxes (and adding subsidies) associated with production.


The distribution of income account splits GOS into gross saving, dividends, and other payments to capital such as taxes on profits, interest payments, reinvested foreign earnings, and other transfers:


GOS = Gross Saving (GS) + Net Dividends | {z } Accounting Profits
+ Taxes on Profits + Interest
− Reinvested Earnings on Foreign Direct Investment + Other Transfers.


Net dividends equal dividends paid less dividends received from subsidiaries or partially-owned entities. Other transfers include social contributions and rental payments on land.

In our analyses, we define (accounting) profits as the sum of gross saving and net dividends.


The capital account connects the flow of saving to the flow of investment as follows:

GS = Net Lending + Gross Fixed Capital Formation + Changes in Inventories + Changes in Other Non-Financial Produced Assets.

The net lending position is defined as the excess of gross saving over investment spending.

https://minneapolisfed.org/research/wp/wp736.pdf

RGC -> RGC... , April 16, 2017 at 03:22 PM
GOS = Gross Saving (GS) + Net Dividends + Taxes on Profits + Interest − Reinvested Earnings on Foreign Direct Investment + Other Transfers.
reason -> RGC... , April 16, 2017 at 07:51 AM
"Wealthy individuals and large corporations are able to capture and decide on their own what to do with the surplus, with all the social ramifications associated with their decisions to invest where and when they want-or not to invest, and thus to accumulate cash, repay debt, and repurchase their own equity shares."

Or in the case of say Bill Gates in deciding which causes get assistance and which not rather than people voting on it (not that I think Bill Gates is necessarily doing harm - but why should he get to decide?).

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> reason... , April 16, 2017 at 09:33 AM
$democracy
RGC -> reason... , April 16, 2017 at 03:25 PM
Right. And private banks get to do it routinely.

[Apr 09, 2017] the Nordic model of inequality reduction is pretty simple: use broad-based transfers to increase everyones gross income and balance that fiscally by levying taxes that increase with income

Apr 09, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. , April 08, 2017 at 11:14 AM
This might be the way to go:

http://www.demos.org/blog/3/26/15/why-fiscal-progressivity-discussions-are-so-muddled

Why Fiscal Progressivity Discussions Are So Muddled

Posted by Matt Bruenig on March 26, 2015

Yesterday I wrote about the mistaken way that I think some commentators discuss cross-country tax progressivity. Based on OECD tables and the work of Monica Prasad, the conventional wisdom is that low-inequality countries use extremely progressive transfers rather than progressive taxes to get that way. But when you look at transfer levels in these countries broken down by income decile, you often see something like this:

[chart]

That sure doesn't seem like progressive transfer spending, does it? So how can the conventional wisdom be right if the graph looks like that? Why does this graph seem on first glance to so challenge the conventional wisdom? The answer lies deep in the methodological weeds. Explaining it helps to reveal why I find these discussions to be so muddled and why I think the conveying of the conventional wisdom tends to be broadly unhelpful to normal (and often even very sophisticated) audiences.

...

Treatments of this topic that fail to convey this (and I think many of them do, often because even the writer doesn't understand what's going on) darken more than they illuminate. Really, the "progressivity" discussions in general do that, making the topic far more complicated and muddled than it needs to be.

Which is especially sad because the Nordic model of inequality reduction is pretty simple: use broad-based transfers to increase everyone's gross income and balance that fiscally by levying taxes that increase with income.

pgl -> Peter K.... , April 08, 2017 at 12:18 PM
Some of what he writes makes a little sense but this is really dumb:

"The bigger problem with the regressivity objection, in my view, is that dividing taxes paid by income seems to obscure the more important point. What really matters in all of this is how many dollars you are scraping from poor, middle class, and rich people."

Not considering the level of income - just how much a person pays in taxes? Heck - that makes the head tax OK. Dumbest metric for the fairness of the tax system ever.

Peter K. -> pgl... , April 08, 2017 at 01:22 PM
Learn how to read...

"Which is especially sad because the Nordic model of inequality reduction is pretty simple: use broad-based transfers to increase everyone's gross income and balance that fiscally by levying taxes that increase with income."

[Apr 04, 2017] Yes progress was made from 1960 to 1975. But what after that? To dismiss the rise in inequality by saying one can reconfigure the CPI index is Heritage level nonsense.

Apr 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl , April 03, 2017 at 12:21 PM
Mankiw alert. He is hyping this:

http://www.nber.org/papers/w23292

"Despite the large increase in U.S. income inequality, consumption for families at the 25th and 50th percentiles of income has grown steadily over the time period 1960-2015. The number of cars per household with below median income has doubled since 1980 and the number of bedrooms per household has grown 10 percent despite decreases in household size. The finding of zero growth in American real wages since the 1970s is driven in part by the choice of the CPI-U as the price deflator; small biases in any price deflator compound over long periods of time. Using a different deflator such as the Personal Consumption Expenditures index (PCE) yields modest growth in real wages and in median household incomes throughout the time period. Accounting for the Hamilton (1998) and Costa (2001) estimates of CPI bias yields estimated wage growth of 1 percent per year during 1975-2015. Meaningful growth in consumption for below median income families has occurred even in a prolonged period of increasing income inequality, increasing consumption inequality and a decreasing share of national income accruing to labor."

Yes progress was made from 1960 to 1975. But what after that? To dismiss the rise in inequality by saying one can reconfigure the CPI index is Heritage level nonsense.

[Mar 28, 2017] Foundation - Fall Of The American Galactic Empire Zero Hedge

Mar 28, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Mar 27, 2017 10:40 PM Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

"The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity-a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in embryo." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

I read Isaac Asimov's renowned award winning science fiction trilogy four decades ago as a teenager. I read them because I liked science fiction novels, not because I was trying to understand the correlation to the fall of the Roman Empire. The books that came to be called the Foundation Trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) were not written as novels; they're the collected Foundation stories Asimov wrote between 1941 and 1950. He wrote these stories during the final stages of our last Fourth Turning Crisis and the beginning stages of the next High. This was the same time frame in which Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Orwell wrote 1984 . This was not a coincidence.

The tone of foreboding, danger, dread, and impending doom, along with unending warfare, propels all of these novels because they were all written during the bloodiest and most perilous portion of the last Fourth Turning . As the linear thinking establishment continues to be blindsided by the continued deterioration of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions in the world, we have entered the most treacherous phase of our present Fourth Turning .

That ominous mood engulfing the world is not a new dynamic, but a cyclical event arriving every 80 or so years. Eight decades ago the world was on the verge of a world war which would kill 65 million people. Eight decades prior to 1937 the country was on the verge of a Civil War which would kill almost 5% of the male population. Eight decades prior to 1857 the American Revolution had just begun and would last six more bloody years. None of this is a coincidence. The generational configuration repeats itself every eighty years, driving the mood change which leads to revolutionary change and the destruction of the existing social order.

Isaac Asimov certainly didn't foresee his Foundation stories representing the decline of an American Empire that didn't yet exist. The work that inspired Asimov was Edward Gibbon's multi-volume series, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published between 1776 and 1789. Gibbon saw Rome's fall not as a consequence of specific, dramatic events, but as the result of the gradual decline of civic virtue, monetary debasement and rise of Christianity, which made the Romans less vested in worldly affairs.

Gibbon's tome reflects the same generational theory espoused by Strauss and Howe in The Fourth Turning . Gibbon's conclusion was human nature never changes, and mankind's penchant for division, amplified by environmental and cultural differences, is what governs the cyclical nature of history. Gibbon constructs a narrative spanning centuries as events unfold and emperors' successes and failures occur within the context of a relentless decline of empire. The specific events and behaviors of individual emperors were inconsequential within the larger framework and pattern of historical decline. History plods relentlessly onward, driven by the law of large numbers.

Asimov described his inspiration for the novels:

"I wanted to consider essentially the science of psychohistory, something I made up myself. It was, in a sense, the struggle between free will and determinism. On the other hand, I wanted to do a story on the analogy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but on the much larger scale of the galaxy. To do that, I took over the aura of the Roman Empire and wrote it very large. The social system, then, is very much like the Roman imperial system, but that was just my skeleton.

It seemed to me that if we did have a galactic empire, there would be so many human beings-quintillions of them-that perhaps you might be able to predict very accurately how societies would behave, even though you couldn't predict how individuals composing those societies would behave. So, against the background of the Roman Empire written large, I invented the science of psychohistory. Throughout the entire trilogy, then, there are the opposing forces of individual desire and that dead hand of social inevitability."

Is History Pre-Determined?

"Don't you see? It's Galaxy-wide. It's a worship of the past. It's a deterioration – a stagnation!" – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

"It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly." – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

The Foundation trilogy opens on Trantor, the capital of the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire. Though the empire appears stable and powerful, it is slowly decaying in ways that parallel the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Hari Seldon, a mathematician and psychologist, has developed psychohistory, a new field of science that equates all possibilities in large societies to mathematics, allowing for the prediction of future events.

Psychohistory is a blend of crowd psychology and high-level math. An able psychohistorian can predict the long-term aggregate behavior of billions of people many years in the future. However, it only works with large groups. Psychohistory is almost useless for predicting the behavior of an individual. Also, it's no good if the group being analyzed is aware it's being analyzed - because if it's aware, the group changes its behavior.

Using psychohistory, Seldon has discovered the declining nature of the Empire, angering the aristocratic rulers of the Empire. The rulers consider Seldon's views and statements treasonous, and he is arrested. Seldon is tried by the state and defends his beliefs, explaining his theory the Empire will collapse in 300 years and enter a 30,000-year dark age.

He informs the rulers an alternative to this future is attainable, and explains to them generating an anthology of all human knowledge, the Encyclopedia Galactica, would not avert the inevitable fall of the Empire but would reduce the Dark Age to "only" 1,000 years.

The fearful state apparatchiks offer him exile to a remote world, Terminus, with other academic intellectuals who could help him create the Encyclopedia. He accepts their offer, and sets in motion his plan to set up two Foundations, one at either end of the galaxy, to preserve the accumulated knowledge of humanity and thereby shorten the Dark Age, once the Empire collapses. Seldon created the Foundation, knowing it would eventually be seen as a threat to rulers of the Empire, provoking an eventual attack. That is why he created a Second Foundation, unknown to the ruling class.

Asimov's psychohistory concept, based on the predictability of human actions in large numbers, has similarities to Strauss & Howe's generational theory. His theory didn't pretend to predict the actions of individuals, but formulated definite laws developed by mathematical analysis to predict the mass action of human groups. His novel explores the centuries old debate of whether human history proceeds in a predictable fashion, with individuals incapable of changing its course, or whether individuals can alter its progression.

The cyclical nature of history, driven by generational cohorts numbering tens of millions, has been documented over centuries by Strauss & Howe in their 1997 opus The Fourth Turning . Human beings in large numbers react in a herd-like predictable manner. I know that is disappointing to all the linear thinking individualists who erroneously believe one person can change the world and course of history.

The cyclical crisis's that occur every eighty years matches up with how every Foundation story centers on what is called a Seldon crisis, the conjunction of seemingly insoluble external and internal difficulties. The crises were all predicted by Seldon, who appears near the end of each story as a hologram to confirm the Foundation has traversed the latest one correctly.

The "Seldon Crises" take on two forms. Either events unfold in such a way there is only one clear path to take, or the forces of history conspire to determine the outcome. But, the common feature is free will doesn't matter. The heroes and adversaries believe their choices will make a difference when, in fact, the future is already written. This is a controversial viewpoint which angers many people because they feel it robs them of their individuality.

Most people don't want to be lumped together in an amalgamation of other humans because they believe admitting so would strip them of their sense of free will. Their delicate sensibilities are bruised by the unequivocal fact their individual actions are virtually meaningless to the direction of history. But, the madness of crowds can dramatically impact antiquity.

"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first." – Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Many people argue the dynamic advancements in technology and science have changed the world in such a way to alter human nature in a positive way, thereby resulting in humans acting in a more rational manner. This alteration would result in a level of human progress not experienced previously. The falsity of this technological theory is borne out by the continuation of war, government corruption, greed, belief in economic fallacies, civic decay, cultural degradation, and global disorder sweeping across the world. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued them throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Asimov's solution to the failure of humanity to change was to create an academic oriented benevolent ruling class who could save the human race from destroying itself. He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.

Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." – Edward Bernays – Propaganda

In Part Two of this article I will compare and contrast Donald Trump's rise to power to the rise of The Mule in Asimov's masterpiece. Unusually gifted individuals come along once in a lifetime to disrupt the plans of the existing social order.

Beam Me Up Scotty -> BaBaBouy , Mar 27, 2017 10:56 PM

" He seems to have been well before his time with regards to creating Shadow Governments and Deep State functionaries. It appears he agreed with his contemporary Edward Bernays. The masses could not be trusted to make good decisions, so they needed more intellectually advanced men to guide their actions."

The masses aren't the ones begging to start all of these wars. They are the ones TRYING to make a few good decisions. The Shadow Government and Deep State however, are hell bent on getting us all killed. Who exactly is the problem here??

LetThemEatRand , Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM

Asimov was a good writer and created some great fiction. That's as far as it goes.

Huxle LetThemEatRand •Mar 27, 2017 10:50 PM y is the one who predicted the current state of affairs. Orwell gets honorable mention. You could also throw in some biblical passages for the mark of the beast, though the best part was clearly written about Nero.

biker Mar 27, 2017 11:06 PM
Of course its better to watch them eat themselves
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/rewriting-the-rules...

[Mar 25, 2017] Its Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance

Notable quotes:
"... As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic." ..."
"... Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West. ..."
"... Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. ..."
"... Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society. ..."
"... In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone. ..."
"... It's interesting that the language of inequality is the language of technocrats, however worthy. It's a way to talk about the politics without referring to Marxist or populist/labor traditions which often involve social movements. ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/review/crisis-of-the-middle-class-constitution-ganesh-sitaraman-.html

March 20, 2017

It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance
By ANGUS DEATON

THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION
Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
By Ganesh Sitaraman

President Obama labeled income inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But why exactly? And why "our time" especially? In part because we now know just how much goes to the very top of the income distribution, and beyond that, we know that recent economic growth, which has been anemic in any case, has accrued mostly to those who were already well-heeled, leaving stagnation or worse for many Americans. But why is this a problem?

Why am I hurt if Mark Zuckerberg develops Facebook, and gets rich on the proceeds? Some care about the unfairness of income inequality itself, some care about the loss of upward mobility and declining opportunities for our kids and some care about how people get rich - hard work and innovation are O.K., but theft, legal or otherwise, is not. Yet there is one threat of inequality that is widely feared, and that has been debated for thousands of years, which is that inequality can undermine governance. In his fine book, both history and call to arms, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that the contemporary explosion of inequality will destroy the American Constitution, which is and was premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class. He has done us all a great service, taking an issue of overwhelming public importance, delving into its history, helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today.

As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic."

Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West.

The founders worried a good deal about people getting too rich. Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. (Contrast this with those today who simultaneously advocate both equality of opportunity and the abolition of estate taxes.) Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society.

Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone.

What of today, when inequality is back in full force? ...

Angus Deaton, a professor emeritus at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2015.

anne -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM
https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/6_casedeaton.pdf

March 17, 2017

Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton

Summary

We build on and extend the findings in Case and Deaton (2015 * ) on increases in mortality and morbidity among white non-Hispanic Americans in midlife since the turn of the century. Increases in all-cause mortality continued unabated to 2015, with additional increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcoholic-related liver mortality, particularly among those with a high-school degree or less. The decline in mortality from heart disease has slowed and, most recently, stopped, and this combined with the three other causes is responsible for the increase in all-cause mortality. Not only are educational differences in mortality among whites increasing, but mortality is rising for those without, and falling for those with, a college degree. This is true for non-Hispanic white men and women in all age groups from 25-29 through 60-64. Mortality rates among blacks and Hispanics continue to fall; in 1999, the mortality rate of white non-Hispanics aged 50-54 with only a high-school degree was 30 percent lower than the mortality rate of blacks in the same age group; by 2015, it was 30 percent higher. There are similar crossovers between white and black mortality in all age groups from 25-29 to 60-64.

Mortality rates in comparable rich countries have continued their pre-millennial fall at the rates that used to characterize the US. In contrast to the US, mortality rates in Europe are falling for those with low levels of educational attainment, and are doing so more rapidly than mortality rates for those with higher levels of education.

Many commentators have suggested that the poor mortality outcomes can be attributed to slowly growing, stagnant, and even declining incomes; we evaluate this possibility, but find that it cannot provide a comprehensive explanation. In particular, the income profiles for blacks and Hispanics, whose mortality has fallen, are no better than those for whites. Nor is there any evidence in the European data that mortality trends match income trends, in spite of sharply different patterns of median income across countries after the Great Recession.

We propose a preliminary but plausible story in which cumulative disadvantage over life, in the labor market, in marriage and child outcomes, and in health, is triggered by progressively worsening labor market opportunities at the time of entry for whites with low levels of education. This account, which fits much of the data, has the profoundly negative implication that policies, even ones that successfully improve earnings and jobs, or redistribute income, will take many years to reverse the mortality and morbidity increase, and that those in midlife now are likely to do much worse in old age than those currently older than 65. This is in contrast to an account in which resources affect health contemporaneously, so that those in midlife now can expect to do better in old age as they receive Social Security and Medicare. None of this implies that there are no policy levers to be pulled; preventing the over-prescription of opioids is an obvious target that would clearly be helpful.

* http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/29/1518393112

Peter K. -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 01:18 PM
"Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. "

It's interesting that the language of inequality is the language of technocrats, however worthy. It's a way to talk about the politics without referring to Marxist or populist/labor traditions which often involve social movements.

[Mar 25, 2017] Its interesting that the language of inequality is the language of technocrats, however worthy. Its a way to talk about the politics without referring to Marxist or populist/labor traditions which often involve social movements

Mar 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM
https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/6_casedeaton.pdf

March 17, 2017

Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton

Summary

We build on and extend the findings in Case and Deaton (2015 * ) on increases in mortality and morbidity among white non-Hispanic Americans in midlife since the turn of the century. Increases in all-cause mortality continued unabated to 2015, with additional increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcoholic-related liver mortality, particularly among those with a high-school degree or less. The decline in mortality from heart disease has slowed and, most recently, stopped, and this combined with the three other causes is responsible for the increase in all-cause mortality. Not only are educational differences in mortality among whites increasing, but mortality is rising for those without, and falling for those with, a college degree. This is true for non-Hispanic white men and women in all age groups from 25-29 through 60-64. Mortality rates among blacks and Hispanics continue to fall; in 1999, the mortality rate of white non-Hispanics aged 50-54 with only a high-school degree was 30 percent lower than the mortality rate of blacks in the same age group; by 2015, it was 30 percent higher. There are similar crossovers between white and black mortality in all age groups from 25-29 to 60-64.

Mortality rates in comparable rich countries have continued their pre-millennial fall at the rates that used to characterize the US. In contrast to the US, mortality rates in Europe are falling for those with low levels of educational attainment, and are doing so more rapidly than mortality rates for those with higher levels of education.

Many commentators have suggested that the poor mortality outcomes can be attributed to slowly growing, stagnant, and even declining incomes; we evaluate this possibility, but find that it cannot provide a comprehensive explanation. In particular, the income profiles for blacks and Hispanics, whose mortality has fallen, are no better than those for whites. Nor is there any evidence in the European data that mortality trends match income trends, in spite of sharply different patterns of median income across countries after the Great Recession.

We propose a preliminary but plausible story in which cumulative disadvantage over life, in the labor market, in marriage and child outcomes, and in health, is triggered by progressively worsening labor market opportunities at the time of entry for whites with low levels of education. This account, which fits much of the data, has the profoundly negative implication that policies, even ones that successfully improve earnings and jobs, or redistribute income, will take many years to reverse the mortality and morbidity increase, and that those in midlife now are likely to do much worse in old age than those currently older than 65. This is in contrast to an account in which resources affect health contemporaneously, so that those in midlife now can expect to do better in old age as they receive Social Security and Medicare. None of this implies that there are no policy levers to be pulled; preventing the over-prescription of opioids is an obvious target that would clearly be helpful.

* http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/29/1518393112

Peter K. -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 01:18 PM
"Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. "

It's interesting that the language of inequality is the language of technocrats, however worthy. It's a way to talk about the politics without referring to Marxist or populist/labor traditions which often involve social movements.

[Mar 25, 2017] Angry Bear " U.S. Has Worst Wealth Inequality of Any Rich Nation, and It's Not Even Close

Mar 25, 2017 | angrybearblog.com
U.S. Has Worst Wealth Inequality of Any Rich Nation, and It's Not Even Close

Kenneth Thomas | March 19, 2017 6:07 am

Hot Topics I've discussed the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Reports before, an excellent source of data for both wealth and wealth inequality. The most recent edition , from November 2016, shows the United States getting wealthier, but steadily more unequal in wealth per adult and dropping from 25th to 27th in median wealth per adult since 2014. Moreover, on a global scale, it reports that the top 1% of wealth holders hold 50.8% of the world's wealth (Report, p. 18).

One important point to bear in mind is that while the United States remains the fourth-highest country for wealth per adult (after Switzerland, Iceland, and Australia) at $344,692, its median wealth per adult has fallen to 27th in the world, down to $44,977. As I have pointed out before, the reason for this is much higher inequality in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. ratio of mean to median wealth per adult is 7.66:1, the highest of all rich countries by a long shot.

The tables below illustrate this. First, I will present the 29 countries with median wealth per adult over $40,000 per year, from largest to smallest. The second table also includes mean wealth per adult and the mean/median ratio, sorted by the inequality ratio.

1. Switzerland $244,002
2. Iceland $188,088
3. Australia $162,815
4. Belgium $154,815
5. New Zealand $135,755
6. Norway $135,012
7. Luxembourg $125,452
8. Japan $120,493
9. United Kingdom $107,865
10. Italy $104,105
11. Singapore $101,386
12. France $ 99,923
13. Canada $ 96,664
14. Netherlands $ 81,118
15. Ireland $ 80,668
16. Qatar $ 74,820
17. Korea $ 64,686
18. Taiwan $ 63,134
19. United Arab Emirates $ 62,332
20. Spain $ 56,500
21. Malta $ 54,562
22. Israel $ 54,384
23. Greece $ 53,266
24. Austria $ 52,519
25. Finland $ 52,427
26. Denmark $ 52,279
27. United States $ 44,977
28. Germany $ 42,833
29. Kuwait $ 40,803

Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2016, Table 3-1

Now that I've got your attention, let me remind you why this low level of median wealth is a BIG PROBLEM. Quite simply, we are careening towards a retirement crisis as Baby Boomers like myself find their income drop off a cliff in retirement. As I reported in 2013 , 49% (!) of all private sector workers have no retirement plan at all, not even a crappy 401(k). 31% have only a 401(k), which shifts all the investment risk on to the individual, rather than pooling that risk as Social Security does. And many people had to borrow against their 401(k) during the Great Recession, including 1/3 of people in their forties . The overall savings shortfall is $6.6 trillion! If Republican leaders finally get their wish to gut Social Security, prepare to see levels of elder poverty unlike anything in generations. It will not be pretty.

Let's move now to the inequality data, where I'll present median wealth per adult, mean wealth per adult, and the mean-to-median ratio, a significant indicator of inequality. These data will be sorted by that ratio.

1. United States $ 44,977 $344,692 7.66
2. Denmark $ 52,279 $259,816 4.97
3. Germany $ 42,833 $185,175 4.32
4. Austria $ 52,519 $206,002 3.92
5. Israel $ 54,384 $176,263 3.24
6. Kuwait $ 40,803 $119,038 2.92
7. Finland $ 52,427 $146,733 2.80
8. Canada $ 96,664 $270,179 2.80
9. Taiwan $ 63,134 $172,847 2.74
10. Singapore $101,386 $276,885 2.73
11. United Kingdom $107,865 $288,808 2.68
12. Ireland $ 80,668 $214,589 2.66
13. Luxembourg $125,452 $316,466 2.52
14. Korea $ 64,686 $159,914 2.47
15. France $ 99,923 $244,365 2.45
16. United Arab Emirates $ 62,332 $151,098 2.42
17. Norway $135,012 $312,339 2.31
18. Australia $162,815 $375,573 2.31
19. Switzerland $244,002 $561,854 2.30
20. Netherlands $ 81,118 $184,378 2.27
21. New Zealand $135,755 $298,930 2.20
22. Iceland $188,088 $408,595 2.17
23. Qatar $ 74,820 $161,666 2.16
24. Malta $ 54,562 $116,185 2.13
25. Spain $ 56,500 $116,320 2.06
26. Greece $ 53,266 $103,569 1.94
27. Italy $104,105 $202,288 1.94
28. Japan $120,493 $230,946 1.92
29. Belgium $154,815 $270,613 1.75

Source: Author's calculations from Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2016, Table 3-1

As you can see, the U.S. inequality ratio is more than 50% higher than #2 Denmark and fully three times as high as the median country on the list, France. As the title says, this is not even close.

The message couldn't be clearer: Get down to your town halls and let your Senators and Representatives know that it's time to raise Social Security benefits and forget the nonsense of cutting them.

Cross-posted from Middle Class Political Economist .

[Mar 25, 2017] Theyre Like The Praetorian Guard - Whistleblower Confirms NSA Targeted Congress, The Supreme Court, Trump Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... "They're taking in fundamentally the entire fiber network inside the United States and collecting all that data and storing it, in a program they call Stellar Wind," Binney said. ..."
"... "That's the domestic collection of data on US citizens, US citizens to other US citizens," he said. "Everything we're doing, phone calls, emails and then financial transactions, credit cards, things like that, all of it." ..."
"... "I mean, that's just East German," Tucker responded. ..."
"... Rather than help prevent terrorist attacks, Binney said collecting so much information actually makes stopping attacks more difficult. ..."
"... "This bulk acquisition is inhibiting their ability to detect terrorist threats in advance so they can't stop them so people get killed as a result," he said. ..."
"... "Which means, you know, they pick up the pieces and blood after the attack. That's what's been going on. I mean they've consistently failed. When Alexander said they'd stop 54 attacks and he was challenged to produce the evidence to prove that he failed on every count." ..."
"... Binney concludes ominously indicating the origin of the deep state... "They are like the praetorian guard, they determine what the emperor does and who the emperor is..." ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Chris Menahan via InformationLiberation.com,

NSA whistleblower William Binney told Tucker Carlson on Friday that the NSA is spying on "all the members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, both House and Senate, as well as the White House."

Binney, who served the NSA for 30 years before blowing the whistle on domestic spying in 2001, told Tucker he firmly believes that Trump was spied on.

"They're taking in fundamentally the entire fiber network inside the United States and collecting all that data and storing it, in a program they call Stellar Wind," Binney said.

"That's the domestic collection of data on US citizens, US citizens to other US citizens," he said. "Everything we're doing, phone calls, emails and then financial transactions, credit cards, things like that, all of it."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lkChOSdOgcc

"Inside NSA there are a set of people who are -- and we got this from another NSA whistleblower who witnessed some of this -- they're inside there, they are targeting and looking at all the members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, both House and Senate, as well as the White House," Binney said.

"And all this data is inside the NSA in a small group where they're looking at it. The idea is to see what people in power over you are going to -- what they think, what they think you should be doing or planning to do to you, your budget, or whatever so you can try to counteract before it actually happens," he said.

"I mean, that's just East German," Tucker responded.

Rather than help prevent terrorist attacks, Binney said collecting so much information actually makes stopping attacks more difficult.

"This bulk acquisition is inhibiting their ability to detect terrorist threats in advance so they can't stop them so people get killed as a result," he said.

"Which means, you know, they pick up the pieces and blood after the attack. That's what's been going on. I mean they've consistently failed. When Alexander said they'd stop 54 attacks and he was challenged to produce the evidence to prove that he failed on every count."

Binney concludes ominously indicating the origin of the deep state... "They are like the praetorian guard, they determine what the emperor does and who the emperor is..."

Who's going to stop them?

toady -> Bank_sters Mar 25, 2017 9:22 PM
I'm continually amazed that anyone thinks they are not being "wiretapped".

One more time;

Everyone, from the queen to the homeless guy on the corner, is being tracked, recorded, and data mined to the hilt.

  • Trump was survieled? No shit!
  • Obama was survieled? No shit!
  • Merkel was survieled? No shit!

I hope people start to REALLY understand this....

NAV GUS100CORRINA Mar 25, 2017 7:19 PM

Bringing history more up to date, this is Stalinism, i.e., fascism. As John T. Flynn states, "Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator." Neo-fascism of course is Stalinism-blame Hitler.

So, is it fascism?

Yes, says Major Todd Pierce (retired) in an interview with Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss - who says NSA whistle blower Bill Binney has "got to be one of the smartest people in the world, I don't think that's an exaggeration. He was one of the smartest people at the NSA.

Says Weiss: "And he agrees with me fully. Because he's seen the NSA. We're a more sophisticated form of what I think has to be called fascism. The term fascism was applied to the way the communists and Stalin got on as well. You bring the term fascist to what it really means, and that ultimately is, ultramilitarism and authoritarianism combined with an expansionist foreign policy. And that's us-what you can see us becoming."

http://mondoweiss.net/2016/09/innocence-worldview-retired/#sthash.XjFDU6km.dpuf

Rubicon727 -> GUS100CORRINA •Mar 25, 2017 7:38 PM

The Roman Empire's death was far more complicated than "moral rot" and its "currency devaluation." Read some history books.

Chris Hedges makes the observation that ALL empires that are scourges of the earth, eventually turn inwards. As the empire begins its fatal decline, the terror they inflicted on outsiders, is then turned against its own citizens.

We now see that happening in America. Banks, corporations, intel/military, etc. are turning inward: destroying meaningful employment, humane health care, and pilfering billions of $s reserved for the 1%.

Just Another Vi... -> FriendlyAquaponics •Mar 25, 2017 8:05 PM

A video worth revisiting......

Reuters ..........

... Obama criticizes Donald Trump endlessly....over Trumps assertions that the election is rigged..,

telling the candidate to "stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes."

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-idUSKCN12I27L

HRClinton -> JLee2027 •Mar 25, 2017 8:15 PM

Who does the NSA work for on the Org Chart?

That's right, the DOD. They can't go completely rogue, without the explicit or implicit approval of the Secretary of Defense and his Deputies.

It is rather phoney and hypocritical of any POTUS - including Pres. Thump - to moan about the NSA, without loping off heads at the DOD and NSA. By that, I include all the Deputies, who do the real work and know the real secrets.

It's time that Thump had a "Come to Jesus" meeting with all these guys. Else he's part of the problem, and no amount of sugar coating can stop a turd being a turd.

TheReplacement -> HRClinton •Mar 25, 2017 9:42 PM

In an honest world, sure.

In reality, no. Like Binney said, they don't have to do anything they don't like because NOBODY can prove they haven't complied with orders. There is nobody who can watch the watchers. They can blackmail anyone.

'Gosh, I have no idea how that child porn got on my computer.'

CIA or NSA knows exactly how it got there. They put it there.

[Mar 25, 2017] It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance

Mar 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM

, March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/review/crisis-of-the-middle-class-constitution-ganesh-sitaraman-.html

March 20, 2017

It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance
By ANGUS DEATON

THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION
Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
By Ganesh Sitaraman

President Obama labeled income inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But why exactly? And why "our time" especially? In part because we now know just how much goes to the very top of the income distribution, and beyond that, we know that recent economic growth, which has been anemic in any case, has accrued mostly to those who were already well-heeled, leaving stagnation or worse for many Americans. But why is this a problem?

Why am I hurt if Mark Zuckerberg develops Facebook, and gets rich on the proceeds? Some care about the unfairness of income inequality itself, some care about the loss of upward mobility and declining opportunities for our kids and some care about how people get rich - hard work and innovation are O.K., but theft, legal or otherwise, is not. Yet there is one threat of inequality that is widely feared, and that has been debated for thousands of years, which is that inequality can undermine governance. In his fine book, both history and call to arms, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that the contemporary explosion of inequality will destroy the American Constitution, which is and was premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class. He has done us all a great service, taking an issue of overwhelming public importance, delving into its history, helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today.

As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic."

Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West.

The founders worried a good deal about people getting too rich. Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. (Contrast this with those today who simultaneously advocate both equality of opportunity and the abolition of estate taxes.) Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society.

Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone.

What of today, when inequality is back in full force? ...


Angus Deaton, a professor emeritus at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2015.

anne -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 11:26 AM
https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/6_casedeaton.pdf

March 17, 2017

Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century
By Anne Case and Angus Deaton

Summary

We build on and extend the findings in Case and Deaton (2015 * ) on increases in mortality and morbidity among white non-Hispanic Americans in midlife since the turn of the century. Increases in all-cause mortality continued unabated to 2015, with additional increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcoholic-related liver mortality, particularly among those with a high-school degree or less. The decline in mortality from heart disease has slowed and, most recently, stopped, and this combined with the three other causes is responsible for the increase in all-cause mortality. Not only are educational differences in mortality among whites increasing, but mortality is rising for those without, and falling for those with, a college degree. This is true for non-Hispanic white men and women in all age groups from 25-29 through 60-64. Mortality rates among blacks and Hispanics continue to fall; in 1999, the mortality rate of white non-Hispanics aged 50-54 with only a high-school degree was 30 percent lower than the mortality rate of blacks in the same age group; by 2015, it was 30 percent higher. There are similar crossovers between white and black mortality in all age groups from 25-29 to 60-64.

Mortality rates in comparable rich countries have continued their pre-millennial fall at the rates that used to characterize the US. In contrast to the US, mortality rates in Europe are falling for those with low levels of educational attainment, and are doing so more rapidly than mortality rates for those with higher levels of education.

Many commentators have suggested that the poor mortality outcomes can be attributed to slowly growing, stagnant, and even declining incomes; we evaluate this possibility, but find that it cannot provide a comprehensive explanation. In particular, the income profiles for blacks and Hispanics, whose mortality has fallen, are no better than those for whites. Nor is there any evidence in the European data that mortality trends match income trends, in spite of sharply different patterns of median income across countries after the Great Recession.

We propose a preliminary but plausible story in which cumulative disadvantage over life, in the labor market, in marriage and child outcomes, and in health, is triggered by progressively worsening labor market opportunities at the time of entry for whites with low levels of education. This account, which fits much of the data, has the profoundly negative implication that policies, even ones that successfully improve earnings and jobs, or redistribute income, will take many years to reverse the mortality and morbidity increase, and that those in midlife now are likely to do much worse in old age than those currently older than 65. This is in contrast to an account in which resources affect health contemporaneously, so that those in midlife now can expect to do better in old age as they receive Social Security and Medicare. None of this implies that there are no policy levers to be pulled; preventing the over-prescription of opioids is an obvious target that would clearly be helpful.

* http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/29/1518393112

Peter K. -> anne... , March 25, 2017 at 01:18 PM
"Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. "

It's interesting that the language of inequality is the language of technocrats, however worthy.

It's a way to talk about the politics without referring to Marxist or populist/labor traditions which often involve social movements.

[Mar 25, 2017] Hillary and her faction were puppets of deep state. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

Notable quotes:
"... I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you. ..."
"... I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA. ..."
"... Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then. ..."
"... having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right. ..."
"... Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats. ..."
"... The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State. ..."
Mar 25, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

Mark Thomason , March 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

This should be no real surprise. Hillary and her faction were neo-Republicans. Their liberal interventionist hawk was the same idea as neocons, in many cases it was the same people.

They kept control of the party. It is not Democratic in the sense of opposing war or McCarthyism or corporate abuses or Wall Street or trade agreements. It is bought and paid for by the people who were the Republicans all along.

This is the end state of triangulating courtesy of Bill Clinton. We have two Republican parties, one even crazier than the other.

Bob In Portland , March 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I suspect that Bill and Hillary Clinton were recruited in the sixties under COINTELPRO (Hillary) and the CIA to do spywork for them. Having been a college student in the late sixties, if you went to a peace rally there was an undercover FBI agent to your left, a CIA asset to your right, a military intelligence officer sitting behind you and a cop from the local red squad in front of you.

I understand that Bill's friends in England just presumed he was CIA.

Hillary's morphing from Goldwater Girl to neoliberal Democrat occurred while she was hovering around Black Panther legal problems. She observed the Panther trials in New Haven and then spent a summer interning for the law firm in Berkeley that at the time was representing the Black Panthers on the West Coast. The Panthers were the FBI's number one target back then.

After JFK's removal, the Deep State wanted better control of both parties. Nixon wasn't supposed to be the problem he was for them, so Watergate. But having "moderate" Dems connected to the Deep State is always helpful. It appears that the role of the Clintons in our unwritten history was to move the Democratic Party to the corporate right.

Perhaps Bill earned his bones with Asa Hutchinson in the 80s by ignoring Mena. Hillary, when serving on the legal staff for the Democratic Watergate Committee, certainly sat in a place where she could report Democratic progress and how various intelligence leaks were viewed by the other Democrats.

The current "Russia hack/Trump traitor" false flag (I describe it more fully below) was originally to give a self-righteous President Clinton the moral high ground to march into Ukraine, the one thing that Trump wouldn't give the Deep State.

JWalters , March 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Interesting speculations. For new readers just getting acquainted with the Deep State, consider the scholarly work by professor Peter Dale Scott. Here are three interviews about his books.

In the Conversations With History series from UC Berkeley.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBGgxU27kJA

Deep Politics on the 50th anniversary of JFK's murder.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0CFpMej3mA

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QH9yOzhkio

[Mar 24, 2017] Paltering as a new way to not tell the truth

Notable quotes:
"... The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more. ..."
"... Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars. ..."
"... One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. ..."
"... So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk." ..."
"... Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. ..."
Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs : March 18, 2017 at 08:39 PM , 2017 at 08:39 PM 'Paltering,' a new way to not tell the truth
http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/03/17/paltering-new-way-not-tell-truth/TRB2ap22NK5Ya8KjF4x0GI/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Matthew Hutson - March 17, 2017

... ... ..

Although paltering occurs in all realms of life, researchers at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government focused on its use in negotiation. In one of eight studies to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, study participants pretended to sell a used car on eBay. They answered the buyer's question "Has this car ever had problems?" with a response selected from a list supplied by the researchers.

The palter was to skip the fact that it had broken down twice in the last year, instead saying, "This car drives very smoothly and is very responsive. Just last week it started up with no problems when the temperature was 5 degrees Fahrenheit." The outright lie would have been: "This car has never had problems." Researchers learned that car sellers perceived paltering as more ethical than lying, and thus used it more.

In another study, half of surveyed executives said they paltered in more than "a few" of their negotiations, versus a fifth who said they actively lied more than a few times. Consistent with this discrepancy, executives viewed the behavior as more honest than lying.

Paltering allows people who consider themselves honest to deceive others while getting the same results that lying would. In a third experiment, participants in a pretend real estate negotiation performed just as well when they paltered as they did when they lied. Their successes didn't come without costs, however. When the deception was discovered, negotiation partners deemed palterers as untrustworthy as liars.

Another study found that victims saw palterers as less ethical than palterers saw themselves. We have a "broken mental model" of paltering, the researchers have concluded, seeing this behavior as honest when others do not.

One occasional advantage of paltering over lying is plausible deniability: You can blame any misunderstanding on the listener. Without knowing the speaker's intentions, it's difficult to diagnose paltering with certainty says Todd Rogers, a behavioral scientist at the Kennedy School and the paper's lead author. Few examples are as clear as Bill Clinton's response when asked if he'd had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky: "There is not a sexual relationship - that is accurate." (Note the slick use of present tense.)

So how can you avoid falling victim? "If you ask a specific question, that specific question should be answered, not a variant of it," Rogers says, even though insistence on clarification "often makes you look like a jerk."

Paltering relies on our tendency to trust others and not cause a scene. "It's pretty amazing how much you can get away with because of people's truth bias," says David Clementson, a researcher at Ohio State University's School of Communication, who was not involved in the study. "Paltering totally takes advantage of that, diabolically and deceptively."

Artful Paltering: The Risks and Rewards
of Using Truthful Statements to Mislead Others
Rogers, Todd; Zeckhauser, Richard; et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Vol 112(3), Mar 2017,
https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-pspi0000081.pdf

There's a Word for Using
Truthful Facts to Deceive: Paltering
HBR - Francesca Gino - October 05, 2016
https://hbr.org/2016/10/theres-a-word-for-using-truthful-facts-to-deceive-paltering

[Mar 23, 2017] Inequality is a real threat to any remnants of democracy in the USA

Mar 23, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : March 22, 2017 at 10:27 AM , 2017 at 10:27 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/books/review/crisis-of-the-middle-class-constitution-ganesh-sitaraman-.html

March 20, 2017

It's Not Just Unfair: Inequality Is a Threat to Our Governance
By ANGUS DEATON

THE CRISIS OF THE MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUTION
Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
By Ganesh Sitaraman

President Obama labeled income inequality "the defining challenge of our time." But why exactly? And why "our time" especially? In part because we now know just how much goes to the very top of the income distribution, and beyond that, we know that recent economic growth, which has been anemic in any case, has accrued mostly to those who were already well-heeled, leaving stagnation or worse for many Americans. But why is this a problem?

Why am I hurt if Mark Zuckerberg develops Facebook, and gets rich on the proceeds? Some care about the unfairness of income inequality itself, some care about the loss of upward mobility and declining opportunities for our kids and some care about how people get rich - hard work and innovation are O.K., but theft, legal or otherwise, is not. Yet there is one threat of inequality that is widely feared, and that has been debated for thousands of years, which is that inequality can undermine governance. In his fine book, both history and call to arms, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that the contemporary explosion of inequality will destroy the American Constitution, which is and was premised on the existence of a large and thriving middle class. He has done us all a great service, taking an issue of overwhelming public importance, delving into its history, helping understand how our forebears handled it and building a platform to think about it today.

As recognized since ancient times, the coexistence of very rich and very poor leads to two possibilities, neither a happy one. The rich can rule alone, disenfranchising or even enslaving the poor, or the poor can rise up and confiscate the wealth of the rich. The rich tend to see themselves as better than the poor, a proclivity that is enhanced and even socially sanctioned in modern meritocracies. The poor, with little prospect of economic improvement and no access to political power, "might turn to a demagogue who would overthrow the government - only to become a tyrant. Oligarchy or tyranny, economic inequality meant the end of the republic."

Some constitutions were written to contain inequalities. In Rome, the patricians ruled, but could be overruled by plebeian tribunes whose role was to protect the poor. There are constitutions with lords and commoners in separate chambers, each with well-defined powers. Sitaraman calls these "class warfare constitutions," and argues that the founding fathers of the United States found another way, a republic of equals. The middle classes, who according to David Hume were obsessed neither with pleasure-seeking, as were the rich, nor with meeting basic necessities, as were the poor, and were thus amenable to reason, could be a firm basis for a republic run in the public interest. There is some sketchy evidence that income and wealth inequality was indeed low in the 18th century, but the crucial point is that early America was an agrarian society of cultivators with an open frontier. No one needed to be poor when land was available in the West.

The founders worried a good deal about people getting too rich. Jefferson was proud of his achievement in abolishing the entail and primogeniture in Virginia, writing the laws that "laid the ax to the root of Pseudoaristocracy." He called for progressive taxation and, like the other founders, feared that the inheritance of wealth would lead to the establishment of an aristocracy. (Contrast this with those today who simultaneously advocate both equality of opportunity and the abolition of estate taxes.) Madison tried to calculate how long the frontier would last, and understood the threat to the Constitution that industrialization would bring; many of the founders thought of wage labor as little better than slavery and hoped that America could remain an agrarian society.

Of course, the fears about industrialization were realized, and by the late 19th century, in the Gilded Age, income inequality had reached levels comparable to those we see today. In perhaps the most original part of his book, Sitaraman, an associate professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School, highlights the achievements of the Progressive movement, one of whose aims was taming inequality, and which successfully modified the Constitution. There were four constitutional amendments in seven years - the direct election of senators, the franchise for women, the prohibition of alcohol and the income tax. To which I would add another reform, the establishment of the Federal Reserve, which provided a mechanism for handling financial crises without the need for the government to be bailed out by rich bankers, as well as the reduction in the tariff, which favored ordinary people by bringing down the cost of manufactures. Politics can respond to inequality, and the Constitution is not set in stone.

What of today, when inequality is back in full force? I am not persuaded that we can be saved by the return of a rational and public-spirited middle class, even if I knew exactly how to identify middle-class people, or to measure how well they are doing. Nor is it clear, postelection, whether the threat is an incipient oligarchy or an incipient populist autocracy; our new president tweets from one to the other. And European countries, without America's middle-class Constitution, face some of the same threats, though more from autocracy than from plutocracy, which their constitutions may have helped them resist. Yet it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population....


Angus Deaton, a professor emeritus at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2015.

libezkova -> anne... , March 22, 2017 at 04:58 PM
Thank you Anne.

As for ".. it is clear that we in the United States face the looming threat of a takeover of government by those who would use it to enrich themselves together with a continuing disenfranchisement of large segments of the population...."

that was accomplished in 1980 by Reagan. That's why we now can speak about "a colony nation" within the USA which encompasses the majority of population.

libezkova -> libezkova... , March 22, 2017 at 04:59 PM
Neoliberals vs the rest of population is like slave owners and the plantation workers.

[Mar 23, 2017] Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex

Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Peter Van Erp , March 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm

"Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. Yesterday, Jane Harmon on On Point Radio also denied the existence of an American Deep State. That was especially rich coming from a long time supporter of the Military Industrial Complex, and current member of the pundit class from her position as the First Woman to Head the Wilson Center.
Let the word go forth from this time and place that the government works in your best interests, despite the apparent fact that it doesn't work for most Americans and keeps delivering more and more benefits to the oligarchy. Any attempt to explain it as deliberate policy is a fantasy, a fever dream of rabid leftists right wing nuts.

Paid Minion , March 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Funny how some are getting their undies in a twist over "foreign interference" in our elections.

Globalists push global markets, global labor pools, global "race to the bottom" rules for white collar crime. Yet are surprised/offended by "global elections". Especially when the US government interferes (directly or indirectly) with every country on the face of the earth.

Maybe we should be happy that our government is for sale to the highest bidder, worldwide. After all, global competition has done so much for US business and labor.

So we have Global Kleptocrats. In charge of the Global Banana Republic.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , March 22, 2017 at 5:37 pm

"Domestic interference' is not OK.

But I think we should ignore it for now, per the Propaganda Ministry.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:51 am

Putin forced the Democrats to lose all those ballots in Brooklyn. It's incredible.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 23, 2017 at 3:58 am

> the deep state

Watch that definite article. (What that Politico article shows is how easy it is to write sloppy articles about the "deep state." That's because the deep state is such a sloppy, amorphous concept. It's very sloppiness is what makes it simultaneously (a) useful to our scribes in the political class, who can (b) bang out stories with click-baity headlines easily, while (c) disempowering to the rest of us (since to have power over your enemies, you have to understand them).

[Mar 22, 2017] The Men Who Stole the World

Notable quotes:
"... History will look back at us with the same wonder that we look back on the mad excesses of certain nations founded in devotion to extreme, almost other-worldly, ideologies of the last century. ..."
"... Apparently the slashing of health benefits for the unfortunate is not severe enough in the proposed Trump/Ryan plan. Our GOP house neo-liberals are enthusiastic to unleash the wonders of the cure-all deregulated market on the American public, again. Like a dog returns to its vomit. ..."
Mar 22, 2017 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"The problem of the last three decades is not the 'vicissitudes of the marketplace,' but rather deliberate actions by the government to redistribute income from the rest of us to the one percent. This pattern of government action shows up in all areas of government policy."

Dean Baker

"When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise - to deny the political character of the modern corporation - is not merely to avoid the reality.

It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error."

John Kenneth Galbraith

And unfortunately the working class victims of that disguise are going to be receiving the consequences of their folly, and then some.

Secure in their monopolies and key positions with regard to reform and the law, the corporations are further acquiring access to the protections of the rights of individuals as well, it appears, at least according to Citizens United .

Maybe our leaders and their self-proclaimed technocrats will finally do the right thing. I personally doubt it, except that if they do it will probably be by accident.

More likely, the right thing will eventually come about the old-fashioned way- under the duress of a crisis, and the growing protests of the much neglected and long suffering.

History will look back at us with the same wonder that we look back on the mad excesses of certain nations founded in devotion to extreme, almost other-worldly, ideologies of the last century.

... ... ...

Apparently the slashing of health benefits for the unfortunate is not severe enough in the proposed Trump/Ryan plan. Our GOP house neo-liberals are enthusiastic to unleash the wonders of the cure-all deregulated market on the American public, again. Like a dog returns to its vomit.

Better if they start breaking up corporate health monopolies and embrace real reform at the sources of the soaring costs. The US pays far, far too much for drugs and healthcare, and deregulating the markets is not the solution. We do have the example of the rest of the developed world for what to do about this. It is called 'single payer.'

But players keep on playing. And politicians and their enablers in the professions will not see what their big money donors do not wish them to see. And that is one of their few bipartisan efforts.

Might one suggest that our political animals stop trying to do all the reforming and cost controls bottom up, while applying the stimulus top down? That approach they have been flogging to no avail for about thirty years is a recipe for a dying middle class.

Here is a short video from the Bernie Sanders WV town hall that shows The Face of American Desperation. By the way, the governor of West Virginia is a Democrat. He wasn't there.

...

[Mar 21, 2017] Robots and Inequality: A Skeptics Take

Notable quotes:
"... And all costs are labor costs. It it isn't labor cost, it's rents and economic profit which mean economic inefficiency. An inefficient economy is unstable. Likely to crash or drive revolution. ..."
"... Free lunch economics seeks to make labor unnecessary or irrelevant. Labor cost is pure liability. ..."
"... Yet all the cash for consumption is labor cost, so if labor cost is a liability, then demand is a liability. ..."
"... Replace workers with robots, then robots must become consumers. ..."
"... "Replace workers with robots, then robots must become consumers." Well no - the OWNERS of robots must become consumers. ..."
"... I am old enough to remember the days of good public libraries, free university education, free bus passes for seniors and low land prices. Is the income side of the equation all that counts? ..."
Mar 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Douglas Campbell:
Robots and Inequality: A Skeptic's Take : Paul Krugman presents " Robot Geometry " based on Ryan Avent 's "Productivity Paradox". It's more-or-less the skill-biased technological change hypothesis, repackaged. Technology makes workers more productive, which reduces demand for workers, as their effective supply increases. Workers still need to work, with a bad safety net, so they end up moving to low-productivity sectors with lower wages. Meanwhile, the low wages in these sectors makes it inefficient to invest in new technology.
My question: Are Reagan-Thatcher countries the only ones with robots? My image, perhaps it is wrong, is that plenty of robots operate in Japan and Germany too, and both countries are roughly just as technologically advanced as the US. But Japan and Germany haven't seen the same increase in inequality as the US and other Anglo countries after 1980 (graphs below). What can explain the dramatic differences in inequality across countries? Fairly blunt changes in labor market institutions, that's what. This goes back to Peter Temin's " Treaty of Detroit " paper and the oddly ignored series of papers by Piketty, Saez and coauthors which argues that changes in top marginal tax rates can largely explain the evolution of the Top 1% share of income across countries. (Actually, it goes back further -- people who work in Public Economics had "always" known that pre-tax income is sensitive to tax rates...) They also show that the story of inequality is really a story of incomes at the very top -- changes in other parts of the income distribution are far less dramatic. This evidence also is not suggestive of a story in which inequality is about the returns to skills, or computer usage, or the rise of trade with China. ...

mulp : , March 21, 2017 at 01:54 AM

Yet another economist bamboozled by free lunch economics.

In free lunch economics, you never consider demand impacted by labor cost changed.

TANSTAAFL so, cut labor costs and consumption must be cut.

Funny things can be done if money is printed and helicopter dropped unequally.

Printed money can accumulate in the hands of the rentier cutting labor costs and pocketing the savings without cutting prices.

Free lunch economics invented the idea price equals cost, but that is grossly distorting.

And all costs are labor costs. It it isn't labor cost, it's rents and economic profit which mean economic inefficiency. An inefficient economy is unstable. Likely to crash or drive revolution.

Free lunch economics seeks to make labor unnecessary or irrelevant. Labor cost is pure liability.

Yet all the cash for consumption is labor cost, so if labor cost is a liability, then demand is a liability.

Replace workers with robots, then robots must become consumers.

reason -> mulp... , March 21, 2017 at 03:47 AM
"Replace workers with robots, then robots must become consumers." Well no - the OWNERS of robots must become consumers.
reason : , March 21, 2017 at 03:35 AM
I am old enough to remember the days of good public libraries, free university education, free bus passes for seniors and low land prices. Is the income side of the equation all that counts?
anne : , March 21, 2017 at 06:37 AM
https://medium.com/@ryanavent_93844/the-productivity-paradox-aaf05e5e4aad#.brb0426mt

March 16, 2017

The productivity paradox
By Ryan Avent

People are worried about robots taking jobs. Driverless cars are around the corner. Restaurants and shops increasingly carry the option to order by touchscreen. Google's clever algorithms provide instant translations that are remarkably good.

But the economy does not feel like one undergoing a technology-driven productivity boom. In the late 1990s, tech optimism was everywhere. At the same time, wages and productivity were rocketing upward. The situation now is completely different. The most recent jobs reports in America and Britain tell the tale. Employment is growing, month after month after month. But wage growth is abysmal. So is productivity growth: not surprising in economies where there are lots of people on the job working for low pay.

The obvious conclusion, the one lots of people are drawing, is that the robot threat is totally overblown: the fantasy, perhaps, of a bubble-mad Silicon Valley - or an effort to distract from workers' real problems, trade and excessive corporate power. Generally speaking, the problem is not that we've got too much amazing new technology but too little.

This is not a strawman of my own invention. Robert Gordon makes this case. You can see Matt Yglesias make it here. * Duncan Weldon, for his part, writes: **

"We are debating a problem we don't have, rather than facing a real crisis that is the polar opposite. Productivity growth has slowed to a crawl over the last 15 or so years, business investment has fallen and wage growth has been weak. If the robot revolution truly was under way, we would see surging capital expenditure and soaring productivity. Right now, that would be a nice 'problem' to have. Instead we have the reality of weak growth and stagnant pay. The real and pressing concern when it comes to the jobs market and automation is that the robots aren't taking our jobs fast enough."

And in a recent blog post Paul Krugman concluded: *

"I'd note, however, that it remains peculiar how we're simultaneously worrying that robots will take all our jobs and bemoaning the stalling out of productivity growth. What is the story, really?"

What is the story, indeed. Let me see if I can tell one. Last fall I published a book: "The Wealth of Humans". In it I set out how rapid technological progress can coincide with lousy growth in pay and productivity. Start with this:

"Low labour costs discourage investments in labour-saving technology, potentially reducing productivity growth."

...

* http://www.vox.com/2015/7/27/9038829/automation-myth

** http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/droids-wont-steal-your-job-they-could-make-you-rich

*** https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/maid-in-america/

anne -> anne... , March 21, 2017 at 06:38 AM
https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/843167658577182725

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

But is Ryan Avent saying something different * from the assertion that recent technological progress is capital-biased? **

* https://medium.com/@ryanavent_93844/the-productivity-paradox-aaf05e5e4aad#.kmb49lrgd

** http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/rise-of-the-robots/

If so, what?

https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/capital-biased-technological-progress-an-example-wonkish/

11:30 AM - 18 Mar 2017

anne -> anne... , March 21, 2017 at 07:00 AM
This is an old concern in economics; it's "capital-biased technological change," which tends to shift the distribution of income away from workers to the owners of capital....

-- Paul Krugman

anne -> anne... , March 21, 2017 at 06:40 AM
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/08/rise-of-the-robots/

December 8, 2012

Rise of the Robots
By Paul Krugman

Catherine Rampell and Nick Wingfield write about the growing evidence * for "reshoring" of manufacturing to the United States. * They cite several reasons: rising wages in Asia; lower energy costs here; higher transportation costs. In a followup piece, ** however, Rampell cites another factor: robots.

"The most valuable part of each computer, a motherboard loaded with microprocessors and memory, is already largely made with robots, according to my colleague Quentin Hardy. People do things like fitting in batteries and snapping on screens.

"As more robots are built, largely by other robots, 'assembly can be done here as well as anywhere else,' said Rob Enderle, an analyst based in San Jose, California, who has been following the computer electronics industry for a quarter-century. 'That will replace most of the workers, though you will need a few people to manage the robots.' "

Robots mean that labor costs don't matter much, so you might as well locate in advanced countries with large markets and good infrastructure (which may soon not include us, but that's another issue). On the other hand, it's not good news for workers!

This is an old concern in economics; it's "capital-biased technological change," which tends to shift the distribution of income away from workers to the owners of capital.

Twenty years ago, when I was writing about globalization and inequality, capital bias didn't look like a big issue; the major changes in income distribution had been among workers (when you include hedge fund managers and CEOs among the workers), rather than between labor and capital. So the academic literature focused almost exclusively on "skill bias", supposedly explaining the rising college premium.

But the college premium hasn't risen for a while. What has happened, on the other hand, is a notable shift in income away from labor:

[Graph]

If this is the wave of the future, it makes nonsense of just about all the conventional wisdom on reducing inequality. Better education won't do much to reduce inequality if the big rewards simply go to those with the most assets. Creating an "opportunity society," or whatever it is the likes of Paul Ryan etc. are selling this week, won't do much if the most important asset you can have in life is, well, lots of assets inherited from your parents. And so on.

I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn't seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism - which shouldn't be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.

But I think we'd better start paying attention to those implications.

* http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/technology/apple-to-resume-us-manufacturing.html

** http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/when-cheap-foreign-labor-gets-less-cheap/

anne -> anne... , March 21, 2017 at 06:43 AM
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=d4ZY

January 30, 2017

Compensation of employees as a share of Gross Domestic Income, 1948-2015


https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=d507

January 30, 2017

Compensation of employees as a share of Gross Domestic Income, 1948-2015

(Indexed to 1948)

supersaurus -> anne... , March 21, 2017 at 01:23 PM
"The most valuable part of each computer, a motherboard loaded with microprocessors and memory, is already largely made with robots, according to my colleague Quentin Hardy. People do things like fitting in batteries and snapping on screens.

"...already largely made..."? already? circuit boards were almost entirely populated by machines by 1985, and after the rise of surface mount technology you could drop the "almost". in 1990 a single machine could place 40k+/hour parts small enough they were hard to pick up with fingers.

anne : , March 21, 2017 at 06:37 AM
https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/robot-geometry-very-wonkish/

March 20, 2017

Robot Geometry (Very Wonkish)
By Paul Krugman

And now for something completely different. Ryan Avent has a nice summary * of the argument in his recent book, trying to explain how dramatic technological change can go along with stagnant real wages and slowish productivity growth. As I understand it, he's arguing that the big tech changes are happening in a limited sector of the economy, and are driving workers into lower-wage and lower-productivity occupations.

But I have to admit that I was having a bit of a hard time wrapping my mind around exactly what he's saying, or how to picture this in terms of standard economic frameworks. So I found myself wanting to see how much of his story could be captured in a small general equilibrium model - basically the kind of model I learned many years ago when studying the old trade theory.

Actually, my sense is that this kind of analysis is a bit of a lost art. There was a time when most of trade theory revolved around diagrams illustrating two-country, two-good, two-factor models; these days, not so much. And it's true that little models can be misleading, and geometric reasoning can suck you in way too much. It's also true, however, that this style of modeling can help a lot in thinking through how the pieces of an economy fit together, in ways that algebra or verbal storytelling can't.

So, an exercise in either clarification or nostalgia - not sure which - using a framework that is basically the Lerner diagram, ** adapted to a different issue.

Imagine an economy that produces only one good, but can do so using two techniques, A and B, one capital-intensive, one labor-intensive. I represent these techniques in Figure 1 by showing their unit input coefficients:

[Figure 1]

Here AB is the economy's unit isoquant, the various combinations of K and L it can use to produce one unit of output. E is the economy's factor endowment; as long as the aggregate ratio of K to L is between the factor intensities of the two techniques, both will be used. In that case, the wage-rental ratio will be the slope of the line AB.

Wait, there's more. Since any point on the line passing through A and B has the same value, the place where it hits the horizontal axis is the amount of labor it takes to buy one unit of output, the inverse of the real wage rate. And total output is the ratio of the distance along the ray to E divided by the distance to AB, so that distance is 1/GDP.

You can also derive the allocation of resources between A and B; not to clutter up the diagram even further, I show this in Figure 2, which uses the K/L ratios of the two techniques and the overall endowment E:

[Figure 2]

Now, Avent's story. I think it can be represented as technical progress in A, perhaps also making A even more capital-intensive. So this would amount to a movement southwest to a point like A' in Figure 3:

[Figure 3]

We can see right away that this will lead to a fall in the real wage, because 1/w must rise. GDP and hence productivity does rise, but maybe not by much if the economy was mostly using the labor-intensive technique.

And what about allocation of labor between sectors? We can see this in Figure 4, where capital-using technical progress in A actually leads to a higher share of the work force being employed in labor-intensive B:

[Figure 4]

So yes, it is possible for a simple general equilibrium analysis to capture a lot of what Avent is saying. That does not, of course, mean that he's empirically right. And there are other things in his argument, such as hypothesized effects on the direction of innovation, that aren't in here.

But I, at least, find this way of looking at it somewhat clarifying - which, to be honest, may say more about my weirdness and intellectual age than it does about the subject.

* https://medium.com/@ryanavent_93844/the-productivity-paradox-aaf05e5e4aad#.v9et5b98y

** http://www-personal.umich.edu/~alandear/writings/Lerner.pdf

Shah of Bratpuhr : , March 21, 2017 at 07:27 AM
Median Wealth per adult (table ends at $40k)

1. Switzerland $244,002
2. Iceland $188,088
3. Australia $162,815
4. Belgium $154,815
5. New Zealand $135,755
6. Norway $135,012
7. Luxembourg $125,452
8. Japan $120,493
9. United Kingdom $107,865
10. Italy $104,105
11. Singapore $101,386
12. France $ 99,923
13. Canada $ 96,664
14. Netherlands $ 81,118
15. Ireland $ 80,668
16. Qatar $ 74,820
17. Korea $ 64,686
18. Taiwan $ 63,134
19. United Arab Emirates $ 62,332
20. Spain $ 56,500
21. Malta $ 54,562
22. Israel $ 54,384
23. Greece $ 53,266
24. Austria $ 52,519
25. Finland $ 52,427
26. Denmark $ 52,279
27. United States $ 44,977
28. Germany $ 42,833
29. Kuwait $ 40,803

http://www.middleclasspoliticaleconomist.com/2017/03/us-has-worst-wealth-inequality-of-any.html

reason -> Shah of Bratpuhr... , March 21, 2017 at 08:17 AM
I think this illustrates my point very clearly. If you had charts of wealth by age it would be even clearer. Without a knowledge of the discounted expected value of public pensions it is hard to draw any conclusions from this list.

I know very definitely that in Australia and the UK people are very reliant on superannuation and housing assets. In both Australia and the UK it is common to sell expensive housing in the capital and move to cheaper coastal locations upon retirement, investing the capital to provide retirement income. Hence a larger median wealth is NEEDED.

It is hard otherwise to explain the much higher median wealth in Australia and the UK.

Shah of Bratpuhr : , March 21, 2017 at 07:28 AM
Median Wealth Average Wealth

1. United States $ 44,977 $344,692 7.66
2. Denmark $ 52,279 $259,816 4.97
3. Germany $ 42,833 $185,175 4.32
4. Austria $ 52,519 $206,002 3.92
5. Israel $ 54,384 $176,263 3.24
6. Kuwait $ 40,803 $119,038 2.92
7. Finland $ 52,427 $146,733 2.80
8. Canada $ 96,664 $270,179 2.80
9. Taiwan $ 63,134 $172,847 2.74
10. Singapore $101,386 $276,885 2.73
11. United Kingdom $107,865 $288,808 2.68
12. Ireland $ 80,668 $214,589 2.66
13. Luxembourg $125,452 $316,466 2.52
14. Korea $ 64,686 $159,914 2.47
15. France $ 99,923 $244,365 2.45
16. United Arab Emirates $ 62,332 $151,098 2.42
17. Norway $135,012 $312,339 2.31
18. Australia $162,815 $375,573 2.31
19. Switzerland $244,002 $561,854 2.30
20. Netherlands $ 81,118 $184,378 2.27
21. New Zealand $135,755 $298,930 2.20
22. Iceland $188,088 $408,595 2.17
23. Qatar $ 74,820 $161,666 2.16
24. Malta $ 54,562 $116,185 2.13
25. Spain $ 56,500 $116,320 2.06
26. Greece $ 53,266 $103,569 1.94
27. Italy $104,105 $202,288 1.94
28. Japan $120,493 $230,946 1.92
29. Belgium $154,815 $270,613 1.75

http://www.middleclasspoliticaleconomist.com/2017/03/us-has-worst-wealth-inequality-of-any.html

spencer : , March 21, 2017 at 08:06 AM
Ryan Avent's analysis demonstrates what is wrong with the libertarian, right wing belief that cheap labor is the answer to every problem when in truth cheap labor is the source of many of our problems.
reason -> spencer... , March 21, 2017 at 08:22 AM
Spencer,
as I have said before, I don't really care to much what wages are - I care about income. It is low income that is the problem. I'm a UBI guy, if money is spread around, and workers can say no to exploitation, low wages will not be a problem.
Sanjait : , March 21, 2017 at 09:32 AM
This looks good, but also reductive.

Have we not seen a massive shift in pretax income distribution? Yes ... which tells me that changes in tax rate structures are not the only culprit. Though they are an important culprit.

reason -> Sanjait... , March 21, 2017 at 09:40 AM
Maybe - but
1. changes in taxes can affect incentives (especially think of real investment and corporate taxes and also personal income taxes and executive remuneration);
2. changes in the distribution of purchasing power can effect the way growth in the economy occurs;
3. changes in taxes also affect government spending and government spending tends to be more progressively distributed than private income.

Remember the rule: ceteris is NEVER paribus.

Longtooth : , March 21, 2017 at 12:28 PM
Word to the wise:

Think: Services and Goods

Composite Services labor hours increase with poor productivity growth - output per hour of labor input. Composite measure of service industry output is notoriously problematic (per BLS BEA).

Goods labor hours decrease with increasing productivity growth. Goods output per hour easy to measure and with the greatest experience and knowledge.

Put this together and composite national productivity growth rate can't grow as fast as services consume more of labor hours.

Simple arithmetic.

Elaboration on Services productivity measures:

  • How do you measure a retail clerks unit output?
  • How do you measure an engineer's unit output?
  • How do equilibrate retail clerk output with engineer's outuput for a composite output?

Now add the composite retail clerk labor hours to engineering labor hours... which dominates in composite labor hours? Duh! So even in services the productivity is weighted heavily to the lowest productivity job market.

Substitute Hospitality services for Retail Clerk services. Substitute truck drivers services for Hospitality Services, etc., etc., etc.

I have spent years tracking productivity in goods production of various types ... mining, non-tech hardware production, high tech hardware production in various sectors of high tech. The present rates of productivity growth continue to climb (never decline) relative to the past rates in each goods production sector measured by themselves.

But the proportion of hours in goods production in U.S. is and has been in continual decline even while value of output has increased in each sector of goods production.

Here's an interesting way to start thinking about Services productivity.

There used to be reasonably large services sector in leisure and business travel agents. Now there is nearly none... this has been replaced by on-line computer based booking. So travel agent or equivalent labor hours is now near zippo. Productivity of travel agents went through the roof in the 1990's & 2000's as the number of people / labor hours dropped like a rock. Where did those labor hours end up? They went to lower paying services or left the labor market entirely. So lower paying lower productivity services increased as a proportion of all services, which in composite reduced total serviced productivity.

You can do the same analysis for hundreds of service jobs that no longer even exist at all --- switch board operators for example when the way of buggy whip makers and horse-shoe services).

Now take a little ride into the future... not to distant future. When autonomous vehicles become the norm or even a large proportion of vehicles, and commercial drivers (taxi's, trucking, delivery services) go the way of horse-shoe services the labor hours for those services (land transportation of goods & people) will drop precipitously, even as unit deliveries increase, productivity goes through the roof, but since there's almost no labor hours in that service the composite effect on productivity in services will drop because the displaced labor hours will end up in a lower productivity services sector or out of the elabor market entirely.

Longtooth -> Longtooth... , March 21, 2017 at 12:42 PM
Economists are having problems reconciling composite productivity growth rates with increasing rates of automation. So they end up saying "no evidence" of automation taking jobs or something to the effect "not to fear, robotics isn't evident as a problem we have to worry about".

But they know by observation all around them that automation is increasing productivity in the goods sector, so they can't really discount automation as an issue without shutting their eyes to everything they see with their "lying eyes". Thus they know deep down that they will have to be reconcile this with BLS and BEA measures.

Ten years aog this wasn't even on economist's radars. Today it's at least being looked into with more serious effort.

Ten years ago politicians weren't even aware of the possibility of any issues with increasing rates of automation... they thought it's always increased with increasing labor demand and growth, so why would that ever change? Ten years ago they concluded it couldn't without even thinking about it for a moment. Today it's on their radar at least as something that bears perhaps a little more thought.

Not to worry though... in ten more years they'll either have real reason to worry staring them in the face, or they'll have figured out why they were so blind before.

Reminds me of not recognizing the "shadow banking" enterprises that they didn't see either until after the fact.

Longtooth -> Longtooth... , March 21, 2017 at 12:48 PM
Or that they thought the risk rating agencies were providing independent and valid risk analysis so the economists couldn't reconcile the "low level" of market risks risk with everything else so they just assumed "everything" else was really ok too... must be "irrational exuberance" that's to blame.
Longtooth : , March 21, 2017 at 01:04 PM
Let me add that the term "robotics" is a subset of automation. The major distinction is only that a form of automation that includes some type of 'articulation' and/or some type of dynamic decision making on the fly (computational branching decision making in nano second speeds) is termed 'robotics' because articulation and dynamic decision making are associated with human capabilities rather then automatic machines.

It makes no difference whether productivity gains occur by an articulated machine or one that isn't... automation just means replacing people's labor with something that improves humans capacity to produce an output.

When mechanical leverage was invented 3000 or more years ago it was a form of automation, enabling humans to lift, move heavier objects with less human effort (less human energy).

Longtooth -> Longtooth... , March 21, 2017 at 01:18 PM
I meant 3000 years BC.... 5000 years ago or more.

[Mar 19, 2017] When inequality is driven by extremes at the tail, using median means that you dont see much change in the demographics

Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova : March 16, 2017 at 09:51 PM , 2017 at 09:51 PM
"the U.S. middle class - with household incomes ranging from two-thirds to double the national median"

Median household income in the US in 2015 was less the $60K. Two-thirds is $40K. That's almost poverty not middle class.

Sociologically the middle class is a quasi-elite of professionals and managers, who are largely immune to economic downturns and trends such as out-sourcing.

reason -> libezkova... , March 17, 2017 at 04:24 AM
The definition game? Define something to something else as is being talked about and then claim, claims based on a completely different definition are false?
Lyle -> libezkova... , March 17, 2017 at 12:47 PM
Actually with the change in ratio professionals and managers now tend to upper middle class, (29% of us is upper middle now, 32% middle).

One of the influences is that post WWII it was possible to be middle class and work on an assembly line in a job that was described as check your brain at the door. Automation and process changes have wiped the high pay of such jobs out. Steel makers for example thru mainly process changes (electric furnaces using scrap, continuous casting and the like) mean that it takes 1/5 the hours to produce a ton of steel in did in the 1970s.

The movement of assembly line jobs to the middle class occured because there was a period where the US was much less involved with the rest of the world economically, because their industries had all been destroyed. The change started during the Johnson admin, and showed up in the high inflation of the Nixon admin.

cm -> libezkova... , March 17, 2017 at 10:48 PM
Most "professionals and managers" are nowhere near being immune to downturns and outsourcing, in aggregate.

You could likewise claim that "low skilled" or any other occupations are "immune" as somewhere around 70-80% of their members continue being employed through tough times, in aggregate.

If you take "tech", companies laying off around 5-10% or even more of their staff in busts is a frequent enough occurrence. And that's in addition to the "regular" age discrimination and cycling of workers justified with "outdated skills". Being young and (supposedly) impressionable is a skill!

D. C. Sessions -> libezkova... , March 18, 2017 at 10:16 AM
"the U.S. middle class - with household incomes ranging from two-thirds to double the national median"

That's almost tautological. By definition, there can't be a whole lot of change in the population of groups defined relative to median. Income and wealth of those groups, though, can be enlightening.

Substitute "mean" for "median" and watch what happens. When inequality is driven by extremes at the tail, using "median" means that you don't see much change in the demographics. (Hint: if "middle class" is defined as half to twice the average income, there are damned few in that bracket.)