Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

Collapse of neoliberal ideology in 2008 will in 40-50 years
probably lead to the collapse of USA-led global neoliberal empire

The deep analogy exists between collapse of neoliberalism and dissolution of the USSR. When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. Such a state can't last forever and eventually collapses. Neoliberalism which entered zombie state in 2008 now is more cruel and bloodthirsty then before

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  Recommended Links Brexit Casino Capitalism Secular Stagnation Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism Gangster Capitalism Anti-globalization movement Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Key Myths of Neoliberalism Globalization of Corporatism Greenwald US
Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions The Great Transformation Right to protect If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism America’s Financial Oligarchy Inverted Totalitarism Disaster capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen The Decline of the Middle Class
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberalism Bookshelf John Kenneth Galbraith Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Introduction

 As Professor  Ganesh Sitaraman noted (The Collapse of Neoliberalism The New Republic, Dec 23, 2019):

With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. “Laissez-faire is finished,” declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash “called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years—the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us.”


For some, and especially for those in the millennial generation, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started a process of reflection on what the neoliberal era had delivered. Disappointment would be an understatement: the complete wreckage of economic, social, and political life would be more accurate. In each of these arenas, looking at the outcomes that neoliberalism delivered increasingly called into question the worldview itself.

Start with the economy. Over the course of the neoliberal era, economies around the world have become more and more unequal. In the United States, the wealthiest 1 percent took home about 8.5 percent of the national income in 1976. After a generation of neoliberal policies, in 2014 they captured more than 20 percent of national income. In Britain, the top 1 percent captured more than 14 percent of national income—more than double the amount they took home in the late 1970s. The story is the same in Australia: The top 1 percent took about 5 percent of national income in the 1970s and doubled that to 10 percent by the late 2000s. As the rich get richer, wages have been stagnant for workers since the late 1970s. Between 1979 and 2008, 100 percent of income growth in the U.S. went to the top 10 percent of Americans. The bottom 90 percent actually saw a decline in their income.
 

Derivatives speculation alone under the deregulated “too big to fail” banking system has resulted in over $1.5 quadrillion in nominal values which have ZERO connection to the real world (GDP globally barely accounts for $80 trillion). Over the past 5 months $415 billion of QE bailouts have been released into the bankrupt banks to prevent a collapse. So, economically it’s foundation of sand.

Militarily, the West in general and the USA specifically has followed the path of Roman empire by overextending itself beyond capacity, relying too much  of (expensive) mercenaries and brute military force which created situations of global turmoil, death and unbounded resentment at the dominant Anglo American powers (including NATO) and the USA Military-industrial complex. 

As the most recent transformation of capitalism, neoliberalism is a broad economic and political project of restoring class power of financial oligarchy it enjoyed in 20th of XX century (financial revanchism). It involved  consolidation, globalization and rapid concentration of financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014). Both neoliberal  governments and authoritarian societies share one important self-destructive trait: They care only about consolidating power in the hands of the financial elite, common people be damned.  As such it  is not a sustainable social system, although this does not mean that the replacement will be better. It well can be worse.

In any case financial oligarchy proved to be the most criminal and vile part of capitalism class. Probably more vile then limitary industrial complex. The most close to the organized crime. So the fact that they will drive the societies which allowed them to rule of the cliff is govern. Neoliberalism was a toxic ideology designed specifically to restore the power of financial oligarchy and as such it has no staying power.  It is unable to improve the standard of living of the majority of the population as it is oriented on looting of this majority by the financial oligarchy without any interference from the state.  The peak power of neoliberal ideology was the decade of  1990-2000. during this decade the standard of living of working and middle class of the USA was sustained by looting the xUSSR area as well as computer and telecommunication revolution, which partially compensated the deindustrialization trend.

After that neoliberalism experienced series of shocks:

  1. Dot com bubble
  2. Bursting of the subprime mortgage bubble, devaluation of CDOs and the collapse of financial industry. Government bailout at a huge cost instead of deep reforms of financial sector (Obama was really a traitor of his class and his race) . That was a knockdown, but not a knockout. This crisis buried the neoliberal ideology, much like WWII buried Bolsheviks ideology.  At this point neoliberalism entered zombie stage, much like Bolshevism in late forties.
  3. Election of Trump and rejection of candidate of neoliberal elite -- Hillary Clinton by the majority of the US electorate.
  4. Color revolution against Trump by intelligence agencies and Clinton wing of the Democratic Party which further delegitimized neoliberal elite. Epstein scandal.
  5. Unleashing by Trump administration of the trade war with China and end of "classic neoliberalism" globalization period.
  6. Defeat of the USA in Afghanistan  and realization that the dominance of Atlantic nations (G7) is coming to the end (Macron  remarks to European diplomats immediately after the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz  is a nice illustration here)

As an ideology, neoliberalism consider profit-making to be the final arbiter and essence of democracy ("market fundamentalism"). Like Fascism and Bolshevism neoliberalism relies on the power of the state for pushing neoliberal "reforms" and the relentless brainwashing of the population by neoliberal propaganda (including indoctrination of the university students via neoclassical economy courses).   So democracy under neoliberalism is just a fig leaf covering dictatorship of financial oligarchy ("inverted totalitarism'). Despite smoke screen of "free market" rhetoric neoliberal are statists  par excellence. But this is covered by thick smoke screen  of propaganda, which in its intensity, penetration and the level of deception outdo Bolsheviks propaganda by an order of magnitude approaching the level described in Brave New World dystopia. In other words neoliberal population is a thoroughly brainwashed population.

There no surprise that the majority of the USA population hate it which in this USA resulted in the election of Trump and is GB in Brexit. Neoliberalism's sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised "efficiency" and "flexibility" to communities, but discomfort and misery. The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered vulgar, yet the neoliberal ideology and perverted neoliberal rationality entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources. To the extent that one of propagandists of neoliberalism once declared its triumph "the end of history".

From the late 1980s to 2016, neoliberal ideas held hegemonic sway among both the Democratic elite and the Republican elite in the USA. But election of Trump was a sign of the  legitimization of the neoliberal elite and a really serious crack in the neoliberal facade. Which neoliberal elite tried to patch with the campaign of virulent Russophobia (aka RussiaGate.)  Moreover intelligence agencies and Clinton wing of Democratic Party tried to reverse the results of the elections by unleashing the color revolution against Trump.

Unlike fascism and bolshevism which both relied on population mobilization, neoliberalism tried to emasculate citizens suppressing political activity by treating them as just a consumers. In other words it promote political passivity and replacement of real political struggle by colorful spectacle like wrestling in WWE. Consumption is the only legitimate form of activity of citizens under neoliberalism and exercising of their choice during this consumption is the only desirable political activity.  With the related religious belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations (the  idea of "self-regulating market," to use Karl Polanyi's phrase.) The resulting grinding mass unemployment — with only tiny remnants of New Deal protection mechanisms to soften the blow — created political instability that destroyed any chances of Clinton Wing of Dems for reelection in 2016.

As the mode of governance, neoliberalism produces the way of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, predatory individual in economic jungles. And it declared the moral the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power ignoring issues of ethics and social costs (variant of "might is right" mentality).  Epstein scandal (or more correctly the fact that Epstein was not ostracized after his initial conviction and prison term)  is just extreme demonstration of this mentality. 

In the area of economic policies such mentality tend to produce an economy with highly unequal incomes, prevalence of monopolies and high business concentration, unstable booms, and long, painful busts.

As the political project, it involves the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the complete "marketization" and "commodification" of social relations.

Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one’s individual needs and self-interests.

Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence.

One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society — now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls “a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies” under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

Neoliberalism is the second after Marxism social system that was "invented" by a group of intellectuals (although there was not a single dominant individual among them) and implemented via coup d'état. ( Installed from above by a "quite coup") Although is  formally only around 40 years old (if we count the age of neoliberalism from the election of Reagan, which means from 1981) neoliberalism as ideology was born much earlier, around in 1947.  And the first neoliberal US president was not Reagan, but  Jimmy Carter.

In any case in 2008 it already reached the stage of discreditation of its ideology. When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. That happened with Bolshevism after its victory on the WWII when it became evident that the working class does not represent the new dominant class and communist party is unable to secure neither higher productivity of economics, nor higher standard of living for people then the advanced capitalist societies. Soviet soldiers in 1944-1945 saw the standard of living in Poland (which was Russian province before the revolution, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria and started to suspect the dream of building communist society was just another "opium for the people", the secular religion which hides the rule of "nomenklatura". 

Later the Soviet intelligencia realized that The Iron Law of Oligarchy  in applicable to the USSR no less that to any Western country. We probably can  assume that Soviet ideology entered zombies state in 1945, or may be later in 1963 (with  Khrushchev Thaw) when it became clear that the USSR will never match the standard of living of the USA population and most of Western European countries (which paradoxically was the result of the existence of the USSR and which entered the decline after the USSR dissolution) .  Illusions of the possibility of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations (also the 1960s.) Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it  never emerged.  Due to this the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the US became a major supplier of grain.

All in all the story of the USSR collapse suggests that after the ideology was discredited the society, which was based on it,  can last  several decades, or even half a century (The USSR lasted another 28-46 years (depending on the point at which you assume the ideology was completely discredited).  The sad story of the USSR after 1963 does suggests that if the ideology is "man made" like is both the case with Marxism and neoliberalism, the collapse of ideology is the prolog to the subsequent collapse of the society (even if with a substantial lag). The collapse  of such a society is inevitable. It is just a matter of time.

Neoliberal society probably has at least the same staying power as Bolshevism. Probably more. So we can expect that  after 2008 -- when the ideology was discredited and neoliberalism entered zombie stage it will last around 50 years. If not more. The key fact that might speed up the collapse of neoliberalism is the end of cheap oil. As soon as the price of one barrel of oil exceeds some magic number (different researchers cite figures from $70 to $120; let's assume $100 per barrel) the USA like the USSR will enter the period of stagnation from which it might never emerge without dismantling neoliberalism first.

So the crisis of neoliberalism as ideology doers not signify the death of neoliberal as a social system. It will continue to exist in zombie state for some time. A development that some will indeed see as a curse, others as a blessing. Many people after 2008 declared that neoliberalism is dead or seen to be in its death throes. Many obituaries of finance capitalism and global free trade were written in 2008-2012. Nevertheless, neoliberalism has shown itself to be resilient and remains the dominant social system around the world( this resilience was called by Colin Crouch "the strange non-death of neoliberalism".)

The USSR managed to survive in a very hostile international environment more then 40 years (1945-1991) after Bolshevism was dead as an ideology. Absence of hostile environment, as well as the lack of alternative social system might prolong the life of neoliberalism. Also one advantage neoliberalism enjoyed is that collapse of the USSR was prompted by the ascendance of neoliberalism and betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura (which correctly decided that they will be better off under neoliberalism, then under Brezhnev socialism) is that socialism was discredited.   Also unlike KGB brass, which was instrumental in transition of the xUSSR space from Brezhnev socialism to neoliberalism (with the first stage of gangster capitalism) the USA and GB intelligence agencies (actually all five eyes intelligence agencies) still is ready to defend neoliberalism, as color revolution against Trump had shown.  

However, Brexit (and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as head of Labor) and the movements surrounding Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the United States are each in their own way symptomatic of a turning of the political tide against neoliberalism, especially such features as hyper-globalization and deregulation of financial markets. The benefits of free trade – of goods, services and capital – and outsourcing of labor to low-cost destinations are now being challenged across the political spectrum.

That means that the crisis of neoliberalism turned from the stage of purely intellectual  problems (collapse and discreditation of the ideology) to the stage of rising political challenges. Under Trump the effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda declined and start approaching the effectiveness of Soviet propaganda under Brezhnev. Neoliberal MSM are viewed by the majority of population of "fake news" -- the label in popularization of which Trump played an important role. Even "leading neoliberal economists" like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Piketty started voicing concerns.  Rising inequality lessen the cohesion of neoliberal societies and  created social tensions within them as we see in Marcon France. Even top economist from the IMF have recently acknowledged that neoliberalism has been “oversold”.

But we still do not see social system that will replace neoliberalism yet.  And that might prolog the life neoliberalism to the upper limit of the suggested range Meantime the crisis of neoliberalism created preconditions for the rise of far right movements and switch to "national neoliberalism" (or neoliberalism without globalization). Much like Stalinism was socialism within one given country with Trotsky idea of permanent world revolution till final victory of socialism sent to the dustbin). It is an interesting theoretical question if "national neoliberalism" promoted by Trump can be viewed as a flavor of neoliberalism or a flavor of neofascism. If the latter then neoliberalism already died around 2016 and existed in its classic form just 30 years or so.   I doubt  that we can do such equivalence.

At the current stage collapse of neoliberalism, if we can use this word, is still very slow and almost invisible.  Brexit and election of Trump in the USA are probably the first two most notable events after 2008 that can be interpreted as such. Both undermined "neoliberal globalization" -- one of the key components of neoliberalism, because like Communism before it is about building a global neoliberal empire (led by the USA financial oligarchy in close cooperation of other western oligarchies), without state borders.

Still "Great recession" which  started in 2008 is the fact of life. Nations took various roads out of the Great Depression and that's probably will be true for the Great Recession.  Some used deficit spending and the abandonment of the gold standard, which had to overcome resistance from business. In Germany, fascism removed "capitalist objections to full employment," wrote economist Michal Kalecki, by routing all deficit spending into rearmament and by keeping labor quiescent with political repression and permanent dictatorship.

We can envision  the same process of  the growing level of repression in the USA due to the growing gap between ideology postulates and the real life conditions, especially falling standard of living for most of the people (let's say, lower 80% in the USA. Top 20% including large part of "professional" class are doing just fine, much like nomenklatura in the USSR).

In the United States, the replacement ideology for unregulated capitalism on the early 20th was the New Deal. After some initial failed experimentation with planning, New Dealers settled on a framework of stimulus, regulation, unionization, progressive taxation, and anti-trust, heavily influenced by Louis Brandeis. To get people back to work and prime the economic pump, vast new public works were built, and millions were directly employed by the state. Business — especially finance — was regulated, above all to prevent concentration. Unions were protected under a new legal regime created by the National Labor Relations Act. Taxes on the rich were sharply increased, both to raise revenue and to deliberately prevent the accumulation of vast fortunes. Finally, world trade was managed under the Bretton-Woods system. New Deal ideology did not win at once and in 1937, FDR reversed the course and went back to austerity, instantly throwing millions out of work, and forcing him to return to deficit spending. It took the WWII war spending in 1941-1945 to entrench the New Deal and to eliminate mass unemployment. War also created the political space for Roosevelt to raise the top tax bracket to 94%. Think about it. Less then a century ago the top tax bracket in the USA was 94%. The erosion of the New Deal started almost immediately. For example, in 1847 trade union power was undercut by Taft–Hartley Act.

The New Deal framework held for about three decades after the end of the war — during which time the country also had the greatest economic boom in American history. Critically, this time the fruits of growth were also broadly shared. For all the many faults in the New Deal, in this period America was reformed from a country which functioned mostly on behalf of a tiny elite into one which functioned on behalf of a sizable chunk of population.

In this sense ascendance of neoliberalism was a counter-revolution against New Deal staged by financial elite:  fundamental economic bedrock is quite similar: deregulation, tax and spending cuts, union busting, and free trade. Its adherents resurrected the idea of the self-regulating market, creating an elaborate mathematic model in which depressions were always the result of structural problems, the economy is always at full employment, and nothing could be changed without making someone else worse off. Once again, the political message was that regulations and taxation should be kept as low as possible.

A generation of economists centered around the Chicago School, including Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Robert Lucas, provided the intellectual backbone, gaining strength in the 1950s and '60s. They argued that New Deal structures were a drag on economic growth, and that taxes, regulation, and social insurance needed to be cut. America simply couldn't afford the strangling red tape and high taxes of the New Deal. And this time, they assured everyone, things would be different — no 1929-style crash would be in the cards. That was all a very clever deception,  propaganda design at restoring the power of financial oligarchy undermined by the New Deal capitalism and increasing the rate of profits via financialization of everything. Plus a dream of world neoliberal revolution  taken directly from Trotskyite books (Neoliberalism can be viewed as a Trotskyism for the rich)

Neoliberals' opportunity came in the 1970s, when the world economy ran into difficulties and at the center of those difficulties was the rising price of oil. War spending, the baby boom coming of age, and the oil shocks created serious inflation and pushed the USA into a trade deficit, which broke the Bretton-Woods system. Profits declined and big business mobilized against labor and trade unions. The first wave of de-industrialization in the USA and offshoring of factories to Asia hit manufacturing.

I wonder if oil can serve as the grave digger of neoliberalism this time.

The limits of analogy between the collapse of neoliberalism and the collapse of the USSR

Like all analogies it far from being perfect.  Here are major objections:

  1. When the USSR collapsed neoliberal ideology was a clear alternative and the collapse of the USSR coincided with "triumphal march" of neoliberalism around the globe.  In a sense the USSR simply fall on the rails of the neoliberal train.
  2. Right now we do not see such a prominent alternative to the dominant neoliberal ideology, although it is clear that it is wrong and that neoliberal promise that high inequality speeds up economic development and "rising tide lifts all bots" proved to be a fake. But right now  neoliberalism  is still social system that is dominant globally (BTW this is true not only for the USA and Western Europe, but also for Russia and China).  Even after 2008 it managed to counterattack in Argentina and Brazil.
  3. Neoliberalism exists without  major geopolitical threat, unlike Soviet Union which existed in the hostile surrounding of major Western powers with their three letter agencies directly targeting this society. The "collective West" used huge money resources of Western financial system against the USSR, limit access to technology and scientific exchange, and created constant threat of the mere survival which justified huge military expenses (which in turn entrenched Soviet military-industrial complex which starved the civil society) and the burning desire (especially by the US neoliberal elite, which came to power in 1980 ) to get rid of competition by any means possible. 
  4. While Trump administration reminds in its incompetence Brezhnev administration, the gap is still tremendous. While Trump is definitely a third  rate politician, Gorbachov as a politician was simply a naive (and probably bought) idiot. In comparison with him Trump looks like a shrewd statesman (or, at least, a staunch nationalist.) Unless we assume that "Gorby" (cultivated by his handler Margaret Thatcher) was a traitor (the version that became increasingly popular in post Soviet space after 1991). But the complete absence of political talent (Gorbachov came to power as a protégé of Andropov)  is still the primary suspect, because you should not assume sinister motives when incompetence is enough for the explanation of the events (  The Soviet collapse Contradictions and neo-modernization ):

    The main charge that may be laid against Gorbachev as leader is that he lacked an effective strategy of statecraft: the mobilization of resources to make a country more self-confident, more powerful, more respected and more prosperous. Instead, Gorbachev frittered away the governmental capital accumulated by the Soviet regime, and in the end was unable to save the country which he had attempted to reform.

  5. Despite all difficulties the USA remains the owner of world reserve currency and the center of technological innovation (although in the later role it somewhat slipped). It military spending (which stimulate fundamental research) remains the largest in the world. The country still remains the magnet for immigration from other countries.
  6. Geographic location of the USA is such that it has no rivals that share common border.

Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich

There one, especially deep analogy between any neoliberal society and the USSR. Neoliberalism borrowed large part of its strategy and tactic of acquiring and maintaining power directly from  Marxism, specifically from the  flavor of Marxism, which partially originated (and remained popular until late 1940th) in the USA, and called Trotskyism (which Trotsky was a Russia émigré, he spend  his formative years in the USA).  Actually analogies with Marxism are to numerous to list.

The first notable analogy is the slogan "Dictatorship of "free markets"" instead of "dictatorship of proletariat."  With the same idea that the driving force of this social transformation is the intellectual "vanguard" recruited mainly from "Intelligentsia" (mainly right wing economists and philosophers of the  Mont Pelerin Society  created in `947 with the explicit goal to oppose socialism and Bolshevism) will drive steeple to the "bright future of all mankind" -- global neoliberal empire led by the USA. And that the end justifies the means.

In short, neoliberalism is a kind of "Trotskyism for rich." And it uses the same subversive tactics to get and stay in power, which were invented by Bolsheviks/Trotskyites. Including full scale use of intelligence agencies (during WWII Soviet intelligence agency -- NKDV -- rivaled the primary intelligence agencies of Nazi Germany -- Abwehr; CIA was by-and-large modeled on Abwehr  with Abwerh specialists directly participating in its creation ).  It also process the ideal of World Revolution -- with the goal of creating the global neoliberal empire. The neoliberal USA elite is hell-bent on this vision.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism generally needs a scapegoat. Currently this role is served by Islamic fundamentalist movements. But recently Russia emerged like more convenient scapegoat, at least for "CIA democrats" like Obama and  Hillary Clinton.

Also like Bolshevism before, neoliberalism created its own "nomenklatura" -- the privileged class which exists outside the domain of capital owners. Which along with high level management and professionals include neoclassical academic economists. Who guarantee the level of brainwashing at the universities necessary for maintaining the neoliberal system.  This "creator class" fight for its self-preservation and against any challenges. Often quite effectively.

 Deification of markets (free market fundamentalism) like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold"

Yet another strong analogy is that the deification of markets much like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold". This fact was clearly established after the Great Recession, and one of the most succinct explanation of the stupidity of the idea of self-regulating market remains Karl Polanyi's famous book The Great Transformation.  Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inextricably linked in history. And all talk about small state, state as "night watchman" are pure hypocrisy.  Like Marxism, neoliberalism really provides "the great transformation" because it both changes the human institutions and human morality. The latter in a very destructive way.  The book postulated that and "free market society" (where the function of social regulation is outsourced to the market forces)  is unsustainable because it is fatally destructive to human nature and the natural social contexts humans need to survive and prosper. 

Polanyi attempted to turn the tables on the orthodox liberal account of the rise of capitalism by arguing that “laissez-faire was planned”, whereas social protectionism was a spontaneous reaction to the social dislocation imposed by an unrestrained free market. He argues that the construction of a "self-regulating" market necessitates the separation of society into economic and political realms. Polanyi does not deny that the self-regulating market has brought "unheard of material wealth", but he suggests that this is too narrow a focus. The market, once it considers land, labor and money as "fictitious commodities" (fictitious because each possesses qualities that are not expressed in the formal rationality of the market), and including them "means to subordinate the substance of society itself to the laws of the market. This, he argues, results in massive social dislocation, and spontaneous moves by society to protect itself. In effect, Polanyi argues that once the free market attempts to separate itself from the fabric of society, social protectionism is society's natural response, which he calls the "double movement." Polanyi did not see economics as a subject closed off from other fields of enquiry, indeed he saw economic and social problems as inherently linked. He ended his work with a prediction of a socialist society, noting, "after a century of blind 'improvement', man is restoring his 'habitation.

But when 50 years passed and generation changed they manage to shove it down throat. Because the generation which experienced horrors of the Great Depression at this point was gone (and that include cadre of higher level management which still have some level of solidarity with workers against capital owners).

They were replaced with HBS and WBS graduates -- ready made neoliberals. Quit coup (in Simon Johnson terms) naturally  followed ( https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ ) and we have hat we have.  In a sense neoliberalism and Managerialism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managerialism ) are closely related.  Here is how  he "reinvents" the concept  of "Minsky moment" in the new conditions of neoliberal globalization"

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. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

Neoliberalism in zombie state (which it entered after 2008) remains dangerous and is able to counterattack

Unlike Bolshevism after 1945, neoliberalism in zombie state (which it entered after 2008) remains dangerous and is able to counterattack -- the US sponsored efforts of replacement of left regimes in LA with right wing neoliberal regimes were by-and-large successful. I two key LA countries neoliberalism successfully counterattacked and won political power deposing more left regimes (Brazil and Argentina ). That happened despite that this phase of neoliberal era has been marked by slower growth, greater trade imbalances, and deteriorating social conditions. In Latin America the average growth rate was lower by 3 percent per annum in the 1990s than in the 1970s, while trade deficits as a proportion of GDP are much the same. Contrary to neoliberal propaganda the past 25 years (1980–2005) have also characterized by slower progress on social indicators for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries [compared with the prior two decades ( https://monthlyreview.org/2006/04/01/neoliberalism-myths-and-reality/ ) :

In an effort to keep growing trade and current account deficits manageable, third world states, often pressured by the IMF and World Bank, used austerity measures (especially draconian cuts in social programs) to slow economic growth (and imports). They also deregulated capital markets, privatized economic activity, and relaxed foreign investment regulatory regimes in an effort to attract the financing needed to offset the existing deficits. While devastating to working people and national development possibilities, these policies were, as intended, responsive to the interests of transnational capital in general and a small but influential sector of third world capital. This is the reality of neoliberalism.

The danger of the end of "cheap oil" for neoliberalism

The Soviet Union collapsed partially due to the fact that collapse of oil prices (which might be engineered event) deprived it of the ability to buy the necessary goods from the West (which at this point included grain, due to inefficiency of Soviet model of  large centralized state owned agricultural complexes).

In case of the USA an opposite situation might also serve as a trigger: as soon as oil cross, say, $80 dollar per barrel mark most Western economies slide in "secular stagnation" and that means growing discontent of lower 80% of population. Also as  globalization is inherently dependent on cheap hydrocarbons and disappearance of cheap oil will male the current international patterns of flow of goods across countries with China as world manufacture  open to review.  

This is the situation when the irresistible force of globalization hits the brick wall of high oil prices. Also high cost of hydrocarbons means "end of growth" (aka permanent stagnation), and neoliberalism financial schemes based on cheap credit automatically implode in the environment of slow of zero growth. So expect that the next financial crisis will shake neoliberalism stronger then the crisis of 2008.

A lot of debt becomes unplayable, if growth stagnates. That makes manipulation of GDP numbers the issue of political and economic survival because this is the method of "inspiring confidence".  And the temptation to inspire confidence is too great to resists. Exactly like it was in the USSR. 

It might well be that the consistent price of oil, say, over $120 is a direct threat to neoliberal project in the USA. Even with prices over $100 the major neoliberal economics  tend to enter the stage of "secular stagnation". It also makes the US military which is a large consumer of oil in the USA much more expensive to run and virtually doubles the costs of  neoliberal "wars for regime change", essentially curtailing neoliberal expansion.

Election of Trump is just testament that some part of the US elite is ready for "Hail Mary" pass just to survive.  The same is true about financiering of color revolutions, which as a new type of neoliberal conquests of other countries, also require a lot of cash, although not at the scale of "boots on the ground".

 More on "zombie stage" of neoliberalism: the consequences of the situation when neoliberal ideology is already discredited

The implosion of the entire global banking/mortgage industry in 2008 has essentially delegitimized neoliberalism as an economic and social model which the U.S. has been pleased to espouse as the royal road to prosperity for decades. It signified the end of Washington Consensus.

At this point ideology of neoliberalism was completely discredited in a sense that promise prosperity for all via "free market" mechanisms. The whole concept of "free markets" is from now on is viewed as fake. Much like happened with bolshevism in the USSR.

It actually was viewed as fake after the Great Depression too, but the generation that remembered that died out and neoliberalism managed to perform its major coup d'état  in the USA in 1981. After trail balls in Chile and GB. 

Also its fake nature became evident to large part of global elite (which probably never have any illusions from the very beginning) as well, which is even more dangerous, a large part of upper middle class in many developing countries, the social strata from which "fifth column of neoliberal globalization" is typically recruited. 

Global neoliberal empire still is supported by pure military and financial power of the USA and its Western (and some Asian, such as Japan) allies as well as technological superiority of the West in general. So right now mainly ideological postulates of neoliberalism, especially as its "free market absolutism", started to be questioned.  And partially revised (the trend which is visible in increase financial regulation in most Western countries). So "self-regulation free market model proved to be neither self-regulating, not really free -- it just transferred the cost of its blunders on the society at large.  This form of neoliberalism with the core ideology intact but with modified one of several postulates can be called post-neoliberalism or zombie neoliberalism. 

Rule of financial oligarchy like the rule of "nomenklatura" in the USSR is under increasing scrutiny

While indoctrination now reached almost all adult population,  there are some instances of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is an act of violence against them and destruction of their future. And if it does not come to an end, what we might experience a mass destruction of human life if not  the planet itself. 

Both Obama and Trump proved to be masters of the "bait and switch" maneuver, but the anger of population did not dissipated and at some point still can explode.

Rule of financial oligarchy also gradually comes under some (although very limited) scrutiny in the USA. Some measures to restrict appetites of financial oligarchy were recently undertaken in Europe (bank bonuses limitations).

HFT and derivatives still remain off-reach for regulators despite JP Morgan fiasco in May 2012 in London branch. Trade loss was around two billions, decline of bank value was around $13bn (The Guardian) At this stage most people around the world realized that as Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger quipped in his CNBC interview Trusting banks to self-regulate is like trusting to self-regulate heroin addicts. At the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) heads of states in the spring of 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the death of “the Washington Consensus” — the famous list of market-liberalizing policy prescriptions that guided the previous 20 or 30 years of neoliberal expansion into third world countries  (Painter 2009).

Prominent economists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that after decades of reform, market-liberalizing policies had not produced the promised benefits for either economic growth or social welfare of countries were those policies were applied (Stiglitz 2002, 2006; Rodrik 2006). These criticisms further undermined the legitimacy of neoliberal governance, exactly the same way as similar criticism undermined socialist model of the USSR and Eastern Europe. the problem is that while socialist experiment could be compared with the Western countries capitalism achievement, here there is no alternative model with which to compare.

Still a backlash directed at the USA is mounting even from the former loyal vassals. Even the UK elite starts to display the behavior that contradict its role of the US poodle. The atmosphere is which the USA is considered "guilty" of pushing though the throats of other countries a utopia that harmed them is a different atmosphere for the US oligarchy that the role of it accustomed to.

Everybody is now aware of the substantial costs that the modern financial system has imposed on the real economy and no amount of propaganda and brainwashing can hide this simple fact. It is questionable that the "financial innovations" of the last three-four decades can compensate for those huge costs and that they warrants those costs. Shocks generated within the financial system and transformation of economies imposed by international financial oligarchy as the core of neoliberal elite, implies that the rule of financial oligarchy creates negative externalities for societies and that some types of financial activities and some financial structures should be treated like an organized crime (as purely parasitic, extortionist type of players).

Still this stage preserves several attributes of previous stage and first of all push for globalization and aggressive foreign policy. While economic crisis of 2008 destroyed legitimacy of ideology of neoliberalism, neoliberalism as an ideology continue to exists as a cult, much like communism as an ideology continues to exist, despite the failure of the USSR. And being phony ideology from the very beginning, a smokescreen for  the revanchism of financial oligarchy, it still can be promoted by unrelenting propaganda machine of the same forces which put it into mainstream albeit with les efficiency.  

Rise of nationalism as the reaction on neoliberal globalization
much like it was a reaction on Brezhnev's stagnation in the USSR

While no viable alternatives emerged, and inertia is still strong, and G7 block with the USA as the head is still the dominant world power, the crash are now visible in the global neoliberalism façade.  Like in 20th failure the globalization and unrestrained financial markets (which produced the Great Depression)  the financial crisis of 2008 led to the dramatic rise of nationalism, especially in Europe (France, Hungary, Ukraine). In some countries, such as Ukraine, the net result of neoliberal revolution was establishing  far right regime which has uncanny similarities to the régimes which came to power in 30th such as Franco regime in Spain.  The global neoliberal dominance as a social system still continues, it is just the central idea of neoliberalism, the fake idea of self-regulating market that was completely discredited by the crisis (it was discredited before during Great Depression, but the generation the remembered the lesson is now extinct (it looks like it takes approximately 50 years for humanity to completely forget the lessons of history ;-).

This rise of nationalism was also a feature of the USSR political space in 80th. Formally it was nationalist sentiments that buried the USSR.

Around the world, economists and policymakers now come to consensus that excessive reliance on unregulated financial markets and the unrestrained rule of financial oligarchy was the root cause of the current worldwide financial crisis. That created a more difficult atmosphere for the USA financial institutions to operate abroad. Several countries are now trying to limit role of dollar as the world currency (one of the sins Saddam Hussein paid the price).

Also internal contradictions became much deeper and the neoliberal regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Like any overstretched empire it became hollow within with stretches on potholes ridden roads and decaying infrastructure visible to everyone. Politically, the Republican Party became a roadblock for any meaningful reform (and its radical wing -- the tea party even sending its representatives to Congress), the Party that is determined to rather take the USA the road of the USSR, then change its ideology. All this points to the fact that neoliberalism as an socio-economic doctrine is following the path of Bolshevism.

Neoliberal propaganda gradually lost effectiveness,
 and now  invokes internal protest and rejection much like Marxist propaganda in the USSR

Neoliberalism failed to fulfill its promises for the bottom 80% of population. They became more poorer, job security deteriorated, good jobs disappear, and even McJobs are scare judging from the fact that Wall Mart and McDonalds are able to fully staff their outlets.  McJobs are jobs that does not provide a living wages.  Opiod epidemics reminds me epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR during Brezhnev period.  Cannabis legalization belong to the same trend.

But its media dominance of neoliberalism paradoxically continues unabated. And this is despite the fact that after the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. We can expect that like was the case with Catholicism in middle ages and Bolshevism in the USSR, zombie phase of neoliberalism can last many decades (in the USSR, "zombie" state lasted two decades, say from 1970 to 1991, and neoliberalism with its emphasis on low human traits such as greed and supported by military and economic power of the USA, is considerably more resilient then Bolshevism). As of 2013 it is still supported by elites of several major western states (such as the USA, GB, Germany, France), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation. That means that is it reasonable to expect that its rule in G7 will continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite probably interrupted by bursts of social violence (Muslim immigrants in Europe are once such force).

In the US, for example, income and wealth inequality continue to increase, with stagnating middle-class earnings, reduced social mobility, and an allegedly meritocratic higher education system, generously supported by tax exemptions, has been turned into the system whose main beneficiaries are the children of the rich and successful. Superimposed on this class divide is an increasingly serious intergenerational divide, and increases level of unemployment of young people, which make social atmosphere somewhat similar to the one in Egypt, although the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists is absent.

More and more neoliberalism came to be perceived as a ruse intended to safeguard the interests of a malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of rapacious multinationals. It is now more and more linked with low-brow cultural homogeneity, social Darwinism, encroachment on privacy, mass production of junk, and suppression of national sentiments and aspiration in favor of transnational monopolies. It even came to be associated with a bewildering variety of social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ trafficking, and other antisocial forms of conduct.

While ideology of neoliberalism is by-and-large discredited, the global economic institutions associated with its rise are not all equally moribund. For example, the global economic crisis of 2008 has unexpectedly improved the fortunes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization long famous for the neoliberal policy conditions attached to its loans that served to incorporate countries into a global neoliberal economic system. In 2008, a cascade of financial crises in Eastern Europe and Iceland fattened the IMF’s dwindling loan portfolio.

World Trade Organization (WTO), the key US-used and abused universal opener of markets to US corporations and investments is in worse shape then IMF, but still is able to enforce Washington consensus rules. The Doha round of negotiations is stalled, mostly due to irresolvable disputes between developed and developing countries. Consequently, the current crisis of neoliberalism raises many important questions about the future path of the current international institutions promoting the neoliberal order. But still Russia joined WTO in 2012 which means that this organization got a new lease of life.

The slide to "Neoliberalism in name only" under Trump

When ideology collapses the elite often resorts to corporatism (and in extreme case to neo-fascism) That happened briefly in the USSR under Andropov, but he did not last long enough to establish a trend.

Trumps "national neoliberalism" (neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization) mixed with economic nationalism can be called "neoliberalism in name only". Trump foreign economic policies look more and more like an economic aggression, economic racket, then a neoliberal economic policy (which presuppose treating financial oligarchy of other countries as equals). Looks like Trump's "national neoliberalism" became "Hail Mary pass" with which the US financial oligarchy seeks to maintain at all costs it global dominance (The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West , Foreign Affairs)

The financial and economic crash of 2008, the worst in over 75 years, is a major geopolitical setback for the United States and Europe. Over the medium term, Washington and European governments will have neither the resources nor the economic credibility to play the role in global affairs that they otherwise would have played. These weaknesses will eventually be repaired, but in the interim, they will accelerate trends that are shifting the world's center of gravity away from the United States.

A brutal recession is unfolding in the United States, Europe, and probably Japan -- a recession likely to be more harmful than the slump of 1981-82. The current financial crisis has deeply frightened consumers and businesses, and in response they have sharply retrenched. In addition, the usual recovery tools used by governments -- monetary and fiscal stimuli -- will be relatively ineffective under the circumstances.

This damage has put the American model of free-market capitalism under a cloud. The financial system is seen as having collapsed; and the regulatory framework, as having spectacularly failed to curb widespread abuses and corruption. Now, searching for stability, the U.S. government and some European governments have nationalized their financial sectors to a degree that contradicts the tenets of modern capitalism.

Much of the world is turning a historic corner and heading into a period in which the role of the state will be larger and that of the private sector will be smaller. As it does, the United States' global power, as well as the appeal of U.S.-style democracy, is eroding.

The USSR war in Afghanistan and the rampant militarism of the US neoliberal empire:
you can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them

The USSR occupation of Afghanistan was actually a trap created by Carter administration in order to weaken and possibly destroy  the USSR. They wanted that the USSR experienced its own Vietnam-style defeat.  As a side effect they created political Islam and Islam fundamentalist movement (exemplified by former CIA asset Osama bin Laden) that later bite them in the back.

The US elite got into this trap voluntarily after 9/11: first via occupations of  Afghanistan (the war continues to this day), then occupation of Iraq, Libya and initiating "color revolution" (and train and supply Sunni Islam fundamentalists, along with KSA and Turkey) to depose Assad government in Syria.

The USA still remains the most powerful country in the world with formidable military, and still can dictate it will military for small countries in a classic sense --  in a sense that "might makes right". It still can afford to behave as a word hegemon and the only source of justice ignoring the UN and other International organization, unless it is convenient to them.

But there are costs attacked and in case of Iraq war they are already substantial (to the tune of several trillion dollars). While effects on the USA economy of those set of wars of managing and expanding its neoliberal empire (and repartitioning ME, securing oil access and repartitioning the region in favor of Israel regional interests)  are still in the future, military adventurism was a gravestone on many previous empires, which tend to overstretch themselves and this fasten their final day. 

As Napoleon noted "You can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them". having first class military weakens is not everything when you face guerilla resistance in occupied country. Running aggressive foreign policy on a discredited ideology and relying on blunt propaganda and false flag operations is a difficult undertaking as resistance mounts and bubble out in un-anticipated areas.

Ukraine is one recent example, when neoliberal color revolution, which was performed by few thousands trained by the West far right militants, including openly neo-fascist squads, led to civil war in the country. Syria is another case of unanticipated effects, as Russia did not want to repeat experience of Libya and intervened, interfering with the USA goal of establishing Sunni-based Islamist regime, subservant to KSA and Turkey, and/or dismembering the country and creating   several weak Sunny dominated statelets with jihadists in power, the situation which greatly  benefit Turkey and Israel.  Israel correctly consider secular Assad régime as a greater threat and major obstacle in annexation of Golan Heights and eliminating Hezbollah in Lebanon.  It would prefer weak islamist regimes, hopefully engaged in protracted civil war to Assad regime any time.

Unfortunately, the recent troika of "neoliberalized" countries -- Libya, Syria  and Ukraine --  were not probably a swan song of muscular enforcement of neoliberal model on other countries. While sponsored by the USA and allies anti-Putin putsch in Russia (aka "white revolution") failed, events in Libya and, especially,  Ukraine prove the neoliberalism still can launch and win offensives at relatively low, acceptable cost (via color revolutions mechanism ). The main cost carry the population of the target country which is plunged  into economic and political chaos, in most cases including the civil war.  

But in the USA those wars also somewhat backfire with broken domestic infrastructure, decaying bridges and angered, restless, and partially drugged by opioids  population.  As well as thousands of crippled young men healthcare for whom till end of their lives will cost large amount of money.

In such circumstances chances of raising to power of an openly nationalistic leader substantially increase. Which was already demonstrated quite convincingly by the election of Trump.

Conclusions

Analogy of current crisis of neoliberalism in the USA and the USSR collapse is demonstrably far from perfect. The USSR was always in far less favorable conditions  than the USA, operating is a hostile environment encircled by Western powers interested in its demise; also the collapse of the USSR happened during "triumphal march of neoliberalism" which provided ready-made alternative to Brezhnev's socialism and stimulated the betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura of their old ideology and "switching ideological camps").  But the key to collapse of the USSR was the collapse of Bolshevik's ideology, which has happened some time from 1945 to 1963. And this is a common element with the situation of the USA now.

Which does not bode well for the USA future, if the hypothesis that the same fundamental forces are in play in both cases. In this sense the collapse of neoliberal ideology ("free market fundamentalism"), which happened in  2008 is a bad omen indeed.

There is still a chance that the US elite proves to be flexible again  and manage to escape this "ideological mousetrap" by switching to some new ideology, but they are pretty weak, if we look at the quality of Trump administration and the personalities in the USA Congress. The latter clearly resembles the level of degeneration of Soviet Politburo.

Some members of Congress and key figured in Trump administration way  too closely correspond to the depiction of sociopaths to stay comfortable.  Some are perverts. The same was true about certain parts of Soviet "nomenklatura", especially leaders of Komsomol (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League ), from which such questionable post-communist figures such a Khodorkovsky, in Russia (of "pipes and corpses" film fame), and Turchinov in Ukraine  later emerged.

The recent humiliation of the US representative in the UN Nikki Haley by Bolivian representative also suggest that neoliberal propaganda lost large part of its effectiveness and unilateral military actions by the USA are now questioned more effectively: Bolivian UN Rep Sacha Llorenti Blasts U.S. for Attacking Syria, Educates Nikki Haley on Iraq, UN & U.S. History

Llorenti’s fourteen minute address to the UNSC was a tour de force – a critique of unilateral military action by the U.S. (it violates the UN charter), an analysis of previous emotional appeals for urgent action (think Colin Powell in 2003), as well as a reminder of the United States’ long history of interventionism in Latin America. Llorenti also called the UNSC to task for its internal structure, which grants considerably more power upon its five permanent members than it does its ten non-permanent members.

It was a remarkable anti-imperialist display. Read a partial transcript and/or watch the full video below.

That closely corresponds to what had happened with Bolshevism ideology around 1980 -- when it became the source of jokes both inside the USSR and abroad.  Or a little bit later, if we remember "Tear down this wall!" -- a line from a speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. When  Paul Craig Roberts  claims that It Has Become Embarrassing To Be An American  that is a symptom of a problem, yet another symptom of the demise of neoliberal propaganda,  despite obvious exaggeration.

It would be  too much stretch to state that neoliberal and especially globalist propaganda is now rejected both by population within the USA (which resulted in defeat of Hillary Clinton -- an establishment candidates and election of the  "wild card" candidate  -- Donald Trump -- with clearly nationalistic impulses) and outside the USA. 


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

Home 2999 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016

For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section

[Apr 04, 2020] The real problem may eventually be can we prevent the deaths and destruction caused by the corporate neoliberal virus.

Apr 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Blue Dotterel , Apr 3 2020 19:26 utc | 15

The real problem may eventually be can we prevent the deaths and destruction caused by the corporate neoliberal virus.

We can deal with Covid 19.

[Apr 02, 2020] Putin says 'the rich must pay' for the corona-virus by Mike Whitney

Apr 02, 2020 | www.unz.com

cassandra , says: Show Comment March 28, 2020 at 9:03 pm GMT

Putin, like western leaders, often discusses national problems during his appearances. But afterwards, he'll query responsible ministers about questionable policies, and will make sure that an effective solution will be put in place. He'll also mention problems during his speeches, and will then follow the discussion, usually in some detail, with how progress is being made to fix them.

Western leaders, on the other hand, engage in hand-wringing about how difficult the problems are, and that we'll have to learn to helplessly adapt ("It's a new economy", "These jobs aren't coming back."), or fob off their responsibility with dysfunctional suggestions ("Learn to code," as if that were a solution, or impose an economic package on Greece that will take until 2040 just to find out whether it might be working), or just pride themselves on realizing there's a problem (like the EU, who considers it an accomplishment to "identify challenges", and who adopted a policy of wait and see for COVID-19).

There's such a palpable difference between actual leadership and play-acting.

Trump, Sanders and Tulsi all share 3 things: 1) proposals for policies to improve circumstances that involve making real changes to the status quo 2) strong grassroots based on disgust with elite policies 3) accusations that they are agents of Putin.

I dunno, if the elites kep attempting to thwart competent domestic leadership, maybe we should shoot for an amendment that puts Putin directly on the ballot. At least he would know how to get elected. Then, we cut through the innuendo and make it clear that what voters want is actual leadership. What have we got to lose?

[Apr 02, 2020] NY paying 15 times going rate to get crucial medical equipment report TheHill

Apr 02, 2020 | thehill.com

New York is paying inflated rates as high as 15 times the regular price to get crucial medical equipment such as masks, as the state struggles to contain the coronavirus, ProPublica

reported Thursday.

The state with almost 40 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is paying 20 cents for gloves that typically cost three times less and $7.50 for masks, which is 15 times the regular price, according to an analysis of payment data by ProPublica.

New York also has paid more than twice the typical cost for infusion pumps. A portable X-ray machine cost the state $248,841, when it should be between $30,000 and $80,000.

States across the country have complained to the federal government about severe shortages of equipment. They say they've been forced to compete with other states or countries for precious materials.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has compared the situation to "being on eBay with 50 other states" and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

New York expects to lose $15 billion in costs and lost revenue from the pandemic.

"We know that New York and other states are in the market at the same time, along with the rest of the world, bidding on these same items, which is clearly driving the fluctuation in costs," budget office spokesman Freeman Klopott said in an email to ProPublica.

[Apr 01, 2020] One Of The Worst Coverups In Human History MSM Attention Turns To Chinese Biolab Near COVID-19 Ground Zero

Apr 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

In late January we asked whether a prolific Chinese scientist who was experimenting with bat coronavirus at a level-4 biolab in Wuhan China was responsible for the current outbreak of a virus which is 96% genetically identical - and which saw an explosion in cases at a wet market located just down the street .

For suggesting this, we were kicked off Twitter and had the pleasure of several articles written by MSM hacks regarding our 'conspiracy theory' - none of which addressed the plethora of hard evidence linked in the post. These are the same people, mind you, who pushed the outlandish and evidence-free Trump-Russia conspiracy theory for years .

Whether or not the virus was engineered (scientists swear it wasn't) - it shouldn't take Perry Mason to conclude that a virulent coronavirus outbreak which started near a biolab that was experimenting with -- coronavirus -- bears scrutiny . Could a lab worker have accidentally infected themselves - then gone shopping for meat at the market over several days, during the long, asymptomatic incubation period?

In February, researchers Botao Xial and Lei Xiao published a quickly-retracted paper titled "The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus" - which speculated that the virus came from the Wuhan biolab.

Now, mainstream outlets are catching on - or at least have become brave enough to similarly connect the dots.

Earlier this week, Fox News ' Tucker Carlson suggested that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab.

Tucker Carlson is currently citing a report that he openly admits he can't confirm is true to question if coronavirus was made in a lab pic.twitter.com/CTxrJtw0Sh

-- Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) April 1, 2020

And now, the Washington Times is out with a report titled "Chinese researchers isolated deadly bat coronaviruses near Wuhan animal market."

Chinese government researchers isolated more than 2,000 new viruses, including deadly bat coronaviruses, and carried out scientific work on them just three miles from a wild animal market identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several Chinese state media outlets in recent months touted the virus research and lionized in particular a key researcher in Wuhan , Tian Junhua , as a leader in bat virus work.

The coronavirus strain now infecting hundreds of thousands of people globally mutated from bats believed to have infected animals and people at a wild animal market in Wuhan . The exact origin of the virus, however, remains a mystery. - Washington Times

"This is one of the worst cover-ups in human history, and now the world is facing a global pandemic," said Texas GOP Rep. Michael T. McFoul - a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee . McFoul believes China should be held accountable for the outbreak.

Meanwhile, a video from December funded by the Chinese government shows Tian collecting samples from captured bats and storing them in vials.

"I am not a doctor, but I work to cure and save people," said Tian, adding "I am not a soldier, but I work to safeguard an invisible national defense line."

The mainstream theory behind the virus is that it crossed over to humans after first infecting an intermediary species - such as a pangolin.

Read the rest of the report here .

[Apr 01, 2020] Pandemic-Related Unemployment And Shutdowns Are A Recipe For Social Unrest

Mar 31, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by J.D.Tuccille via Reason.com,

Could the stalled economy we've inflicted on ourselves in our frantic efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic lead to civil disorder? History suggests that's a real danger.

Around the world, high unemployment and stagnant economic activity tend to lead to social unrest, including demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of potentially violent disruptions. That's a huge concern as forecasters expect the U.S. unemployment rate in the months to come to surpass that seen during the depths of the Great Depression.

"We're putting this initial number at 30 percent; that's a 30 percent unemployment rate" in the second quarter of this year as a result of the planned economic shutdowns, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard told Bloomberg News on March 22. Gross Domestic Product, he adds, is expected to drop by 50 percent.

Unlike most bouts of economic malaise, this is a self-inflicted wound meant to counter a serious public health crisis. But, whatever the reasons, it means businesses shuttered and people without jobs and incomes. That's risky.

"Results from the empirical analysis indicate that economic growth and the unemployment rate are the two most important determinants of social unrest," notes the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency that maintains a Social Unrest Index in an attempt to predict civil disorder based, in part, on economic trends. "For example, a one standard deviation increase in unemployment raises social unrest by 0.39 standard deviations, while a one standard deviation increase in GDP growth reduces social unrest by 0.19 standard deviations."

Why would economic shutdowns lead to social unrest? Because, contrary to the airy dismissals of some members of the political class and many ivory-tower types, commerce isn't a grubby embarrassment to be tolerated and avoided -- it's the life's blood of a society. Jobs and businesses keep people alive. They represent the activities that meet demand for food, clothing, shelter -- and that develop and distribute the medicine and medical supplies we need to battle COVID-19.

President Donald Trump may be overly optimistic when he hopes to have the country, including areas hard-hit by the virus, " opened up and just raring to go by Easter ," but he's not wrong to include the economy in his calculations.

By contrast, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's insistence that "if it's public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health," sounds fine and noble. But it reflects an unrealistic and semi-aristocratic disdain for the activities that make fighting the pandemic possible at all -- and that keep social unrest at bay.

While the ILO has tried to quantify the causes of social unrest, its researchers certainly aren't the first to make the connection between angry, unemployed people and trouble in the streets.

At the height of the Great Depression, when U.S. unemployment hit a peak of 24.9 percent , Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration saw make-work programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a means of getting the jobless -- especially young men -- safely into "quasi-military camps often far from home in the nation's publicly owned forests and parks," Joseph M. Speakman wrote for the Fall 2006 issue of Prologue Magazine , a publication of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

"Bringing an army of the unemployed into 'healthful surroundings,' Roosevelt argued, would help to eliminate the threats to social stability that enforced idleness had created," Speakman added.

The program mostly worked -- at least , it confined revolts to the camps themselves , where they were suppressed by Army officers. Those same officers commanded the men when they were drafted and dispatched to even more remote destinations with the coming of World War II.

In fact, the connection between unemployment, stagnant economies, and social unrest is so clear that an important indicator for a large underground economy is relative peace prevailing alongside a chronically high unemployment rate.

If 21 percent of the workforce "were jobless, Spain would not be as peaceful as, barring a few demonstrations, it has so far been, say economists and business leaders," the Financial Times noted in 2011. Sure enough, researchers found that off-the-books businesses and jobs thrived in Spain -- accounting for the equivalent of a quarter of GDP at one point -- keeping people employed and defusing tensions.

Bullard of the Fed doesn't propose shipping the jobless off to the wilderness -- at least, not yet -- and he doesn't seem inclined to rely on the black market to keep people fed, warm, and healthy. Instead, to defuse the impact of the social-distancing shutdowns of normal economic activity, he calls for lost income to be replaced by unemployment insurance and other payments that would make displaced workers and business owners whole.

He better be right that government checks -- drawing on money from the thin air and not generated by an economy that has largely halted, I'll note -- can offset the pain of lost jobs and businesses, because the first wave of the unemployment he predicts is already here.

"In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level," the United States Department of Labor announced on Thursday, March 26.

"This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series."

Those disturbed by such economic collapse include public health professionals who take COVID-19 very seriously.

"I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life -- schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned -- will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself," wrote David L. Katz, former director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, in The New York Times last week.

"The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order."

Unemployment, impoverishment, and despair are frightening outcomes in themselves. They're also a recipe for social unrest that will afflict even those of us who weather both the pandemic and the accompanying economic storm.

[Mar 31, 2020] The Covid-19 pandemic is the physical manifestation of a deeper disease plaguing the West: Class Warfare

The US government was caught without pants. No supply of masks. Can you imagine that for a country with trillion military budget.
Notable quotes:
"... Take a look around: Unemployment may reach 30%. The poor are starting to protest–actually strike! GM, Amazon, Chicago Teacher's Union, GE, Instacart ..."
"... As jobs were outsourced to slave labor camps in China and elsewhere, the rich and privileged smiled as their portfolios grew, as CEO raked in the cash and then buried it in off-shore accounts. ..."
"... When the working class complained about jobs being lost, factories being closed, it was told to get a better education, to make itself valuable to the bosses. What a joke! ..."
"... The DNC always plays footsie with the rich as does the GOP–equal plunderers. Universal Health Care is just too expensive! Their all monsters, crafty grifters. ..."
"... The mass media, now firmly serve the DNC and the GOP, studiously ignore this rot. A rotten building will fall. Times up. Game is Over. ..."
Mar 31, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
The Covid-19 pandemic is the physical manifestation of a deeper disease plaguing the West: Class Warfare. The veil has been lifted. Social distancing, a legitimate response to Covid-19, predominately affects the working class.

Fortunately, Covid-19 is an equal opportunity plague: As the rich and powerful congratulated each other, as they moved among the rightfully adoring crowds oops, I think I caught something! Just hazards of the games they play. Certainly, it was never contracted on the factory floor.

Suddenly the rich and privileged claim they are in the same boat. Really? Mega-yachts are handy get-aways, as are well-protected island boltholes.

And who is supposed to do the nasty work, who has little opportunity to run and hide, who must do the the work that makes actual existence possible? Not the rich.

Who can work from home and not lose his or her job?

Rich and powerful women now have to cut their own nails! Oh, the shame of it. They have to dye their own hair–coif themselves! What no colorist?

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics-news/friends-cant-get-nails-done-coronavirus-fox-news-973716/

The rich and powerful want the poor to go back to work. Who else will make them money? Who else will save the Stock Market? Meanwhile, the poor are losing their jobs; they do not have fall-back pensions or able to take advantage of Capital Gains. How will they pay their rent? Their bills? Their healthcare? Their debts?

Take a look around: Unemployment may reach 30%. The poor are starting to protest–actually strike! GM, Amazon, Chicago Teacher's Union, GE, Instacart

As jobs were outsourced to slave labor camps in China and elsewhere, the rich and privileged smiled as their portfolios grew, as CEO raked in the cash and then buried it in off-shore accounts.

When the working class complained about jobs being lost, factories being closed, it was told to get a better education, to make itself valuable to the bosses. What a joke!

When many tried to get an education, they were faced with absurd college costs, incredible debt, and thanks to those in control an inability to declare bankruptcy! Thanks, Joe.

And now, ever thoughtful Nancy Pelosi wants to reward the rich and privileged with ta ta!.., a lifting of the Salt Cap.

The DNC always plays footsie with the rich as does the GOP–equal plunderers. Universal Health Care is just too expensive! Their all monsters, crafty grifters.

Meanwhile, economists sang the praises of Free Trade. The GOP loved it; the DNC loved it. Neo-liberalism: the goose that always lays the golden eggs.

The mass media, now firmly serve the DNC and the GOP, studiously ignore this rot. A rotten building will fall. Times up. Game is Over.

likbez , March 31, 2020 9:27 pm

Thank you Stormy,

A very good analysis. A lot of emotions too ;-)

When the working class complained about jobs being lost, factories being closed, it was told to get a better education, to make itself valuable to the bosses. What a joke!

Neoliberalism is an ideology make on a set of myths. In other words this is a secular religion.

The DNC always plays footsie with the rich as does the GOP–equal plunderers. Universal Health Care is just too expensive! Their all monsters, crafty grifters.

No question they are. That's by design. The key role of DNC is to squash political forces to the left of Clinton faction, and to neutralize/coopt politicians which do not support the neoliberal/neocon consensus.

Meanwhile, economists sang the praises of Free Trade. The GOP loved it; the DNC loved it. Neo-liberalism: the goose that always lays the golden eggs.

Neoliberal revolution which culminated in the election of Reagan (which started under Carter) was a coup d'état by financial oligarchy. It signified that the New Deal consensus was broken and countervailing forces were weakened enough to ensure the success of the coup.

One thing with which I respectfully disagree:

The mass media, now firmly serve the DNC and the GOP, studiously ignore this rot. A rotten building will fall. Times up. Game is Over.

Not sure the game is over. I do not see powerful enough social forces that can oppose financial oligarchy. The anger does built up, but it is powerless. And their control of the state is absolute (which also means the control of intelligence agencies).

The population is brainwashed and disunited via identity politics.

In modern USA society that means that any attempt to build such a coalition with be squashed by the national security state.

[Mar 30, 2020] Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43

Mar 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

dennis , Mar 29 2020 17:12 utc | 14

Likklemore | Mar 29 2020 15:27 utc | 6

US prescient healthcare (for billionaires), this is the bomb that will detonate over the next month:

Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43
https://time.com/5806312/coronavirus-treatment-cost/

If allowed to happen, and without the appearance of a significant medical therapy tool across the USA - the fallout of foreseeable foreclosures will make it a nuclear weapon. Given bank turnaround timescales this will be just in time for next winter/elections... Faced with this Trump of all people may be forced to adopt some major socialist principles.

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2020/what-are-state-officials-doing-make-private-health-insurance-work-better-consumers-during

[Mar 29, 2020] Why Didn't We Test Our Trade's 'Antifragility' Before COVID-19 by Gene Callahan and Joe Norman

Highly recommended!
Mar 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

On April 21, 2011, the region of Amazon Web Services covering eastern North America crashed. The crash brought down the sites of large customers such as Quora, Foursquare, and Reddit. It took Amazon over a week to bring its system fully back online, and some customer data was lost permanently.

But one company whose site did not crash was Netflix. It turns out that Netflix had made themselves "antifragile" by employing software they called "Chaos Monkey," which regularly and randomly brought down Netflix servers. By continually crashing their own servers, Netflix learned how to nevertheless keep other portions of their network running. And so when Amazon US-East crashed, Netflix ran on, unfazed.

This phenomenon is discussed by Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile : a system that depends on the absence of change is fragile. The companies that focused on keeping all of their servers up and running all the time went completely offline when Amazon crashed from under them. But the company that had exposed itself to lots of little crashes could handle the big crash. That is because the minor, "undesirable" changes stress the system in a way that can make it stronger.

The idea of antifragility does not apply only to computer networks. For instance, by trying to eliminate minor downturns in the economy, central bank policy can make that economy extremely vulnerable to a major recession. Running only on treadmills or tracks makes the joints extremely vulnerable when, say, one steps in a pothole in the sidewalk.

What does this have to do with trade policy? For many reasons, such as the recent coronavirus outbreak, flows of goods are subject to unexpected shocks.

Both a regime of "unfettered" free trade, and its opposite, that of complete autarchy, are fragile in the face of such shocks. A trade policy aimed not at complete free trade or protectionism, but at making an economy better at absorbing and adapting to rapid change, is more sane and salutary than either extreme. Furthermore, we suggest practicing for shocks can help make an economy antifragile.

Amongst academic economists, the pure free-trade position is more popular. The case for international trade, absent the artificial interference of government trade policy, is generally based upon the "principle of comparative advantage," first formulated by the English economist David Ricardo in the early 19th century. Ricardo pointed out, quite correctly, that even if, among two potential trading partners looking to trade a pair of goods, one of them is better at producing both of them, there still exist potential gains from trade -- so long as one of them is relatively better at producing one of the goods, and the other (as a consequence of this condition) relatively better at producing the other. For example, Lebron James may be better than his local house painter at playing basketball, and at painting houses, given his extreme athleticism and long reach. But he is so much more "better" at basketball that it can still make sense for him to concentrate on basketball and pay the painter to paint his house.

And so, per Ricardo, it is among nations: even if, say, Sweden can produce both cars and wool sweaters more efficiently than Scotland, if Scotland is relatively less bad at producing sweaters than cars, it still makes sense for Scotland to produce only wool sweaters, and trade with Sweden for the cars it needs.

When we take comparative advantage to its logical conclusion at the global scale, it suggests that each agent (say, nation) should focus on one major industry domestically and that no two agents should specialize in the same industry. To do so would be to sacrifice the supposed advantage of sourcing from the agent who is best positioned to produce a particular good, with no gain for anyone.

Good so far, but Ricardo's case contains two critical hidden assumptions: first, that the prices of the goods in question will remain more or less stable in the global marketplace, and second that the availability of imported goods from specialized producers will remain uninterrupted, such that sacrificing local capabilities for cheaper foreign alternatives.

So what happens in Scotland if the Swedes suddenly go crazy for yak hair sweaters (produced in Tibet) and are no longer interested in Scottish sweaters at all? The price of those sweaters crashes, and Scotland now finds itself with most of its productive capacity specialized in making a product that can only be sold at a loss.

Or what transpires if Scotland is no longer able, for whatever reason, to produce sweaters, but the Swedes need sweaters to keep warm? Swedes were perhaps once able to make their own sweaters, but have since funneled all their resources into making cars, and have even lost the knowledge of sweater-making. Now to keep warm, the Swedes have to rapidly build the infrastructure and workforce needed to make sweaters, and regain the knowledge of how to do so, as the Scots had not only been their sweater supplier, but the only global sweater supplier.

So we see that the case for extreme specialization, based on a first-order understanding of comparative advantage, collapses when faced with a second-order effect of a dramatic change in relative prices or conditions of supply.

That all may sound very theoretical, but collapses due to over-specialization, prompted by international agencies advising developing economies based on naive comparative-advantage analysis, have happened all too often. For instance, a number of African economies, persuaded to base their entire economy on a single good in which they had a comparative advantage (e.g, gold, cocoa, oil, or bauxite), saw their economies crash when the price of that commodity fell. People who had formerly been largely self-sufficient found themselves wage laborers for multinationals in good times, and dependents on foreign charity during bad times.

While the case for extreme specialization in production collapses merely by letting prices vary, it gets even worse for the "just specialize in the single thing you do best" folks once we add in considerations of pandemics, wars, extreme climate change, and other such shocks. We have just witnessed how relying on China for such a high percentage of our medical supplies and manufacturing has proven unwise when faced with an epidemic originating in China.

On a smaller scale, the great urban theorist Jane Jacobs stressed the need for economic diversity in a city if it is to flourish. Detroit's over-reliance on the automobile industry, and its subsequent collapse when that industry largely deserted it, is a prominent example of Jacobs' point. And while Detroit is perhaps the most famous example of a city collapsing due to over-specialization, it is far from the only one .

All of this suggests that trade policy, at any level, should have, as its primary goal, the encouragement of diversity in that level's economic activity. To embrace the extremes of "pure free trade" or "total self-sufficiency" is to become more susceptible to catastrophe from changing conditions. A region that can produce only a few goods is fragile in the face of an event, like the coronavirus, that disrupts the flow of outside goods. On the other hand, turning completely inward, and cutting the region off from the outside, leaves it without outside help when confronting a local disaster, like an extreme drought.

To be resilient as a social entity, whether a nation, region, city, or family, will have a diverse mix of internal and external resources it can draw upon for sustenance. Even for an individual, total specialization and complete autarchy are both bad bets. If your only skill is repairing Sony Walkmen, you were probably pretty busy in 2000, but by today you likely don't have much work. Complete individual autarchy isn't ever really even attempted: if you watch YouTube videos of supposedly "self-reliant" people in the wilderness, you will find them using axes, radios, saws, solar panels, pots and pans, shirts, shoes, tents, and many more goods produced by others.

In the technical literature, having such diversity at multiple scales is referred to as "multiscale variety." In a system that displays multiscale variety, no single scale accounts for all of the diversity of behavior in the system. The practical importance of this is related to the fact that shocks themselves come at different scales. Some shocks might be limited to a town or a region, for instance local weather events, while others can be much more widespread, such as the coronavirus pandemic we are currently facing.

A system with multiscale variety is able to respond to shocks at the scale at which they occur: if one region experiences a drought while a neighboring region does not, agricultural supplementation from the currently abundant region can be leveraged. At a smaller scale, if one field of potatoes becomes infested with a pest, while the adjacent cows in pasture are spared, the family who owns the farm will still be able to feed themselves and supply products to the market.

Understanding this, the question becomes how can trade policy, conceived broadly, promote the necessary variety and resiliency to mitigate and thrive in the face of the unexpected? Crucially, we should learn from the tech companies: practice disconnecting, and do it randomly. In our view there are two important components to the intentional disruption: (1) it is regular enough to generate "muscle memory" type responses; and (2) it is random enough that responses are not "overfit" to particular scenarios.

For an individual or family, implementing such a policy might create some hardships, but there are few institutional barriers to doing so. One week, simply declare, "Let's pretend all of the grocery stores are empty, and try getting by only on what we can produce in the yard or have stockpiled in our house!" On another occasion, perhaps, see if you can keep your house warm for a few days without input from utility companies.

Businesses are also largely free of institutional barriers to practicing disconnecting. A company can simply say, "We are awfully dependent on supplier X: this week, we are not going to order from them, and let's see what we can do instead!" A business can also seek out external alternatives to over-reliance on crucial internal resources: for instance, if your top tech guy can hold your business hostage, it is a good idea to find an outside consulting firm that could potentially fill his role.

When we get up to the scale of the nation, things become (at least institutionally) trickier. If Freedonia suddenly bans the import of goods from Ruritania, even for a week, Ruritania is likely to regard this as a "trade war," and may very well go to the WTO and seek relief. However, the point of this reorientation of trade policy is not to promote hostility to other countries, but to make one's own country more resilient. A possible solution to this problem is that a national government could periodically, at random times, buy all of the imports of some good from some other country, and stockpile them. Then the foreign supplier would have no cause for complaint: its goods are still being purchased! But domestic manufacturers would have to learn to adjust to a disappearance of the supply of palm oil from Indonesia, or tin from China, or oil from Norway.

Critics will complain that such government management of trade flows, even with the noble aim of rendering an economy antifragile, will inevitably be turned to less pure purposes, like protecting politically powerful industrialists. But so what? It is not as though the pursuit of free trade hasn't itself yielded perverse outcomes, such as the NAFTA trade agreement that ran to over one thousand pages. Any good aim is likely to suffer diversion as it passes through the rough-and-tumble of political reality. Thus, we might as well set our sites on an ideal policy, even though it won't be perfectly realized.

We must learn to deal with disruptions when success is not critical to survival. The better we become at responding to unexpected shocks, the lower the cost will be each time we face an event beyond our control that demands an adaptive response. To wait until adaptation is necessary makes us fragile when a real crisis appears. We should begin to develop an antifragile economy today, by causing our own disruptions and learning to overcome them. Deliberately disrupting our own economy may sound crazy. But then, so did deliberately crashing one's own servers, until Chaos Monkey proved that it works.

Gene Callahan teaches at the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University. Joe Norman is a data scientist and researcher at the New England Complex Systems Institute.

My Gana 20 hours ago
Most disruptive force is own demographic change of which govts have known for decades. Caronovirus challenge is nothing compared to what will happen because US ed system discriminated against the poor who will be the majority!
PierrePaul 12 hours ago
What Winston Churchill once said about the Americans is in fact true of all humans: "Americans always end up doing
the right thing once they have exhausted all other options". That's just as true of the French (I write from France) since our government stopped stocking a strategic reserve of a billion breathing-masks in 2013 because "we could buy them in Chine for a lower costs". Now we can't produce enough masks even for our hospitals.

[Mar 29, 2020] The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Is a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Washington Cronies by Marshall Auerback

Mar 29, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

When historians look back on our current government's response to a public health emergency and resultant economic depression, there won't be many paeans to profiles in courage. It may seem impressive that Congress has approved legislation worth $2 trillion to help sustain the American economy, but it's no New Deal. Rather it's a massive economic slush fund that does its utmost to preserve the old ways of doing things under the guise of masquerading as a response to a public health emergency. In reality, the relief provisions are barely adequate.

Had this been another financial crisis like 2008, it is doubtful that America's oligarch class would be able to secure such huge provision for themselves again. Under the guise of a public health emergency, though, serial corporate predators are being given dollops from this massive public trough with no means of engendering the kind of economic reconstruction that is truly needed right now, or even preventing a sufficiently robust response if this virus comes back in a second or third wave.

As one might expect in a massive bill (representing around 10 percent of U.S. GDP), there are some decent scraps in this dog's breakfast, but overall the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act represents yet another sad indictment of the American polity, even as it provides an excellent civics lesson in teaching us where power truly lies. There's $150 billion allocated to hospitals, many of which are already stretched to capacity, but that's nothing compared to the trillions directed to corporations with minimal disclosure on how those sums are to be allocated, or any conditionality attached. In fact, we appear not to have learned some lessons from 2008, when at least some members of Congress made efforts to scrutinize how we were spending the money. Pam and Russ Martens's superbly informative digging into the more than 800-page-long bill reveals that :

a) The Fed will leverage the bill's $454 million bailout slush fund into $4.5 trillion, and will hand it out through the New York Fed.

b) To ensure that they don't have to answer embarrassing questions about which of their cronies got the money, the bill suspends the Freedom of Information Act for the Fed.

Bloomberg has also confirmed that the NY Fed has outsourced picking the lucky recipients for this slushy cornucopia to a private contractor, BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager (Goldman Sachs apparently has done enough of " God's work " this time). The more things change in Washington, the more they stay the same.

By contrast, the relief provisions are barely adequate. They expand unemployment insurance (an additional $600 per week for up to four months), feature one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child. However, the bill neither addresses the chronic inequality that now characterizes the U.S. economy, nor is there provision for the self-employed or the millions of independent contractor workers who have no employee benefits.

A better template would have been something along the lines of what was legislated in Norway, although it is unrealistic to expect a U.S. Senate dominated by hardline Republicans to acquiesce to something proposed by a Scandinavian social democracy. But highlighting the contrast, Norwegian journalist Ellen Engelstad writes : "Workers put on leave will now get full pay for twenty days (an improvement even on the pre-coronavirus situation), but employers will only cover the first two days, while the rest will be paid by the state. After that period, a worker on leave will receive 80 percent of their previous salary, up to [about $29,000] a year, and 62.4 percent of everything they received on top of that."

So long as we continue to embrace a lockdown strategy, generous relief is key to securing widespread support for its maintenance. It will become politically impossible to sustain a government-mandated lockdown where workers are forced to stay at home, absent some income support to facilitate compliance with that order. So it is good that the government has also recognized that this relief had to take the form of grants, not loans, because additional private debt assumption would exacerbate long-term economic distress. The provision of $350 billion in "forgivable loans" to businesses are in reality grants, as these "loans" will be forgiven if the businesses targeted maintain payroll. That's precisely the kind of conditionality that should be attached to the relief provisions.

There will undoubtedly be other measures required once the scale of the economic fallout becomes clearer. But when we get past relief packages and move toward taking the economy out of its current cryogenically frozen state, the U.S. government must engage in a broader effort of reconstruction so as to finally make this an economy that works for all. Policy should not simply be about getting people back into resorts, malls or restaurants, or exhorting mass consumption as a patriotic duty ( as George W. Bush suggested after 9/11 ). Rather, we should be focused on ramping up mass-production essential goods such as food, as well support for the health care systems via expansion of testing kits, surgical masks, ventilators and palliative care, not only for this crisis, but also to ensure that the system is not overwhelmed in the event of future pandemics (or a possible recurrence of this one as we return to work and reintegrate with one another). It also goes without saying that we should also expend vast sums on research and development to find treatments and a vaccine, as well as rapid training of new medical workers. Substantial increases in funding to the National Institutes of Health would be a good place to start.

As for conditionality, a case has been made that a force majeure "Act of God" is not the time to play a "game of chicken" and impose major conditions for aid , especially as it is government policy itself that has precipitated the crisis. On the other hand, political realities and historic precedent suggest that crisis conditions are the only time one gets dramatic reforms; otherwise the elites regain their balance and suppress them (as occurred after 2008). Plus, there are corporate bailout recipients in this bill, such as Boeing, that were heading toward a death spiral , even before the epidemic.

Let's also make clear distinctions here: An "Act of God" argument was invoked in 2008 . That financial crisis was described as a "once in a 50-year event," something that couldn't have been planned for or insured against, etc. This was a lie. The banks were not blameless, and there was causation between the crash and their behavior. But Wall Street's bad actors weren't punished. There were, however, a lot of blameless victims who were and are still paying a price. They didn't receive compensation and received pain and punishment as if they were responsible, when they were in fact collateral damage.

In many respects, this crisis is even worse. We may not have a financial contagion, but we have a physical contagion that is literally exposing us to conditions comparable to the 1930s . But unlike the 1930s or, indeed, the 2008 global financial contagion, policymakers have a twin task with seemingly incompatible goals: stopping the spread of the virus in many ways exists in tension with the need to arrest the indirect economic fallout from the pandemic. The longer the economic restrictions apply to eliminate the health risk, the greater the economic fallout, which is precisely the dilemma President Trump exposed (in his typically inelegant way), when he signaled his desire to restart the U.S. economy by mid-April .

Trump's public musings were rightly denounced. His moral calculus is skewed; this president is transparently consumed by the desire to safeguard his narrow economic interests and the presidency (along with the fact that he stripped public health agencies of the staffing, resources, and authority they needed to function ). A serious president would send teams of epidemiologists to study other countries' success models, and adopt them. Instead, Trump is literally gambling with the lives of potentially millions of people as he tries to place this bet on an Easter miracle. Unlike Jesus, those lives lost won't be resurrected, even if the economy ultimately revives.

Beyond that is the question of how best to assist businesses paralyzed for the sake of public health. This is perhaps the most politically loaded part of the process when it comes to assessing how far we go in terms of changing the behavior of our corporate sector versus the notion of simply compensating businesses for losses sustained by an action deemed to be a public health emergency.

Oren Cass, executive director of the soon-to-be-launched think tank American Compass , has made the case for compensating businesses on the basis of the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution , which states that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation." Establishing "just compensation" is often in the eye of the beholder, and Cass suggests that a just principle is compensating businesses for the fixed costs they would normally incur in the event that they were able to function as normal operating concerns (as opposed to making estimates of likely profitability and compensating on that basis). The goal is clearly to avoid providing unfair windfalls but to keep businesses solvent until they reopen.

On the other hand, one of the principal complaints directed against the bailouts granted (especially to the banks) in 2008 is that bad corporate actors who were responsible for creating the crisis were given money with no strings attached. In that regard, the bailouts not only allowed them to revive profitability quickly (as the status quo ante was restored), but also actively lobbied against any kind of regulation to prevent a recurrence of the activities that created the crash in the first place.

The lessons many drew from the experience was that the only time to extract concessions and induce changes in behavior from bad corporate actors is at a time when they are economically vulnerable, even if the precipitating cause of that vulnerability was the government-mandated shutdown of the economy. It is impossible to remake an economy if, for example, corporate bailouts are used to perpetuate behavior that undermines economic prosperity. While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act does introduce some restrictions on buybacks and limiting stock dividends, it "avoids the more restrictive language that was included in the House version of the legislation," according to Defense News .

Many are trying to distinguish this bailout from 2008 (i.e., this time is a non-economic shock, something that couldn't have been planned for or insured against; businesses that are failing right now are doing so through no fault of their own and they're still good/healthy businesses), because saying "this is just how creative destruction works" is clearly untenable right now. In reality, the collapse in aggregate demand caused by the 2008 financial crisis arguably was just as exogenous to the consumer economy. Fatuous distinctions to justify further corporate predation simply provide another illustration that what we had before the coronavirus pandemic clearly was not working for most people. The truth is that for decades we've had a hollowing out of democracy, and a massive expansion of wealth inequality accompanied by Mussolini-style crony capitalism.

During the Great Depression, legislation was implemented to prevent a recurrence of the 1920s bubble. Roosevelt's New Deal did not legislate to restore the status quo ante but rather to create a very different sort of economy.

Under the cover of a public health emergency, however, the so-called "new normal" is looking a lot like the old normal. This bill gives the pigs yet another big feed at the public trough, and Congress is happily ladling out the goodies. Much like the 1930s, then, the very legitimacy of liberal capitalist democracy is at stake. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be an FDR ready to lead us in this acute moment of need.


Nicholas Crowley , March 28, 2020 at 6:25 am

Aloha,

Last week I was unable to apply for unemployment in my state, Hawaii, because I am self employed. I get kicked out of the application process after the first few qualifying questions in the online application process. Today, it went straight through. You make yourself your own ex employer and that's it. I'm assuming this has to do with this federal package. On a side note I am one of many self employed registered legal tour guide operators in the state that rely heavily on visitors and all of us are up in arms that somehow this bill is also going to give money to Uber and Lyft drivers who are not even legal in the state. Only partially in the county of Oahu.

Michael , March 28, 2020 at 9:54 am

I did something similar during the GFC.
I have a C Corp in Calif with myself as the only employee.
I applied for UI and received it for about a year.
However, my contribution rate ramped up and my rating declined to F. Still worth it.

Calif also borrowed a lot of money from the Feds last time and had to pay it back.
Employers were assessed a portion each year. Finally repaid after 5 or so years.

john bougearel , March 28, 2020 at 7:22 am

Rep Thomas Massey did some math. $2T from congress, and $4T from Feds so far = $68,000 per family of new Nat'l debt and dollar devaluation. Yet each household is likely to see only about $3000 of that $68000. Massey may have a point, perhaps there is just a tinge of maldistribution afoot here. And isn't that always the case in Crisis Capitalism, to never let a good crisis go to waste? Just maybe they could be doing a better job in the distribution of this package?

While many things were discussed about Covid and the Covid Recovery plan on Friday, what struck me was a reference to this stimulus bill that this is our Marshall Plan. While that sounds good, is it really? And another thing that struck me was how many striking similarities there are.

The final striking observation was Pelosi et al reminding us, that this is not the last stimulus bill that will be related to stimulating an economic recovery. In short, what Pelosi's telling us this is the prefatory Helicopter monies from our new "Helicopter Avenging Angels." Economist Murray Rothbard told a story about an angel looking down at the woes of mankind and decided that everyone would feel better if they all had an extra $1000. So, that is what the angel did, deposited $1000 into everyones bank account one night. Next morning, everyone woke up to an extra $1000. Those that spent it first on goods benefited most. Those that waited to spend it, got less bang for their buck bc the cost of goods rose.

So, it is with this stimulus story littered with maldistribution. Velocity of money in an economy increases most and therefore GDP or gross output if it is in the hands of households and consumers.

Over the past 12 yrs or so, fiscal and monetary stimulus packages have been referred to as bazookas. Today, they have mushroomed into "Nukes." And the Nukes, themselves, are mushrooming.

If Pelosi is right, this will not be the last stimulus bill relating to coronavirus, then this is not far from what happened with the Marshall Plan. The 1947-48 Marshall Plan was replaced by the Mutual Security Plan in 19951. The MSP plan was extended from 1951-1961. The MSP plan gave away about $7.5 billion annually until 1961 when it was replaced by yet another program – he United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The USAID is now one of the largest official aid agencies in the world, and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance -- the highest in the world in absolute dollar terms.

In short, the Marshall Plan kept transmuting itself into something new. Until it became a "perpetual entity."
And it is not so different than the Federal Reserve's QE programs or other so-called "temporary" facilities that somehow are resurrected, transmuted or whatever. But somehow, these programs mange to live on like zombies.

Zombie, Zombie, Zombie. They are fighting, With their tanks and their bombs, And their bombs and their guns.

It's the same old theme since the 1947 Marshall Plan
In your head, in your head, Their still fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs And their bombs and their guns

But I digress.

The question then becomes, how well did the Marshall Plan work to generate economic growth. According to Marshall Plan's own accounting, the MP only accounted for an increase of less than ½% of GDP growth a year. That ain't much folks! So be prepared to be underwhelmed! Very underwhelmed.

And this is precisely why our policymakers will be back with more and more stimulus ..mushrooming their bazookas into Nukes, and Nukes into what? Death Stars next?

The cost of the Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) resulted in the United States transference of over $12 billion (equivalent to over $128 billion as of 2020)[1] in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after the end of World War II. During the four years the plan was in effect, the United States donated $17 billion (equivalent to $202.18 billion in 2019)

Despite the billions of dollars each year thrown at the EU recovery the Marshall Plan which transmuted into the Mutual Security Plan, these plans have apparently contributed little to the EU economic recovery.

Over the past 12 years, central banks and gov'ts have thrown trillions of dollars at the fiscal system, and yet our financial and monetary system still doesn't function properly. Their solution: throw trillions more at the most recent crisis du jour. TINA baby! Surely with their Nuclear-sized Stimulus Package, this will solve and repair everything.

But perhaps, under a crisis capitalism, the aim is to ensure a crisis never goes to waste. So perhaps, the aim of these stimulus programs is never to fix the broken window. Only to give the appearance the window is being fixed. If you actually fixed the broken window, then there would be no need to perpetually repeat these stimulus programs that can be so damn self-serving to those closest to the monies. Then where would Nancy and her Cohorts be?

The Covid Bill our Marshall Plan are fiscal responses to disasters. To this extent, they both that into the context of French Economist Frederic Bastiat's Parable of the Broken Window.

"Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas" ("That Which We See and That Which We Do Not See") to illustrate why destruction, and the money spent to recover from destruction, is not actually a net benefit to society.The parable seeks to show how opportunity costs, as well as the law of unintended consequences, affect economic activity in ways that are unseen or ignored. The belief that destruction is good for the economy is consequently known as the broken window fallacy or glazier's fallacy. And yet, destruction of the economy can be quite beneficial to the "first financial responders" to the destruction of the economy.

My apologies Yves, I should have forwarded this to you as a separate post. Feel free to post if you like

Oh , March 28, 2020 at 10:37 am

Thanks for the informative comment. I'm not surprised to know that the Marshall Plan resulted in an increase of less than 1/2 % of GDP growth. I assume that you're referring to the GDP of Europe.
I contend that the billions doled out via the Marshall Plan helped the FInancial institutions and later, since we had destroyed all of the manufacturing facilities in Europe, it helped all large US corporations who had a ready made market in Europe.

Susan the other , March 28, 2020 at 10:59 am

What an interesting comment. From my perspective – long time observer of things never working properly – I think the Covid Crisis is just another example of the pointless but dedicated pursuit of profits – unless of course there is a "Treasury" willing to provide any and all shortfall to each and every private profiteer. Then it works in a very wasteful and illogical manner. It requires also bailing out the hapless consumers occasionally. Somehow I think we could do better.

john bougearel , March 28, 2020 at 11:51 am

Susan,

I don't see the powers that be as anxious to fix the broken windows. They want the broken windows to remain broken so they can continue to throw bazookas and nukes through them.

And I wonder,. and I think you too need to wonder why the Marshall Plan became the Mutual Security Plan after 1951. Presumably, the rapid EU economic recovery no longer necessitated the Marshall Plan. Facing an existential crisis as such, the Marshall Plan had to morph into some other purpose, such as "Mutual Security" to keep access to those slush funds alive and well.

Susan the other , March 28, 2020 at 3:20 pm

I'd say off the top it is because neoliberal capitalism cannot withstand competition from democracy – good social democracy. So we morphed into the policeman of the world and pretended like we were critical to the cause of a failing economic ideology. It has never worked and it has gradually become nonsense because we are continuously forced to save society. No matter that we never to a good job of it – we still do it to insure profits. I'd be more upset about it except for the fact that it is so transparently absurd and I like to think it proves it own uselessness. What more do we need?

Grebo , March 28, 2020 at 8:24 pm

I'm no expert on the Marshall plan but as a European I get the impression it was much appreciated. From the US' point of view though it had a geopolitical purpose. By getting Europe on its economic feet again it fended off the threat of Communism and created a customer for US exports. The Plan's successors are also primarily aimed at maintaining and extending US hegemony, they are merely dressed up as charity.

rd , March 28, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I think the primary problem over the past decade is the assumption that the wealthy need to be returned/maintained to their wealthy to trickle the wealth down. That clearly has not been working efficiently.

So I am a fan of saving companies that are stable in the absence of major crisis, but require large-scale management changes, and dramatically scale back executive compensation for several years. If the executives can find a better job with better pay in an un-bailed out company, they should take it. If the company would clearly have gone under due to massive debt-loads, then a pre-package bankruptcy like GM with the government holding equity in the final company should be the route.

The financial cries are simply creating bigger and bigger TBTF companies that can build up debt again to fund shareholder buybacks until they get bailed out by the Fed and Treasury. That cycle needs to stop. The country worked fine when there were many companies competing with each other.

michael99 , March 28, 2020 at 3:48 pm

This coronavirus relief act expands TBTF. It's not just the big banks and other finance/insurance/real estate corporations anymore. It seems to be about protecting financial wealth wherever it resides. It's moral hazard writ large. Why behave prudently if the Fed has your back?

I agree with "saving companies that are stable in the absence of major crisis, but require large-scale management changes, and dramatically scale back executive compensation for several years", and "if the company would clearly have gone under due to massive debt-loads, then a pre-package bankruptcy like GM with the government holding equity in the final company should be the route."

The government could enact an automatic stabilizer program to cover furloughed worker wages during economic crises while employers continued to cover fixed costs and worker benefits such as health insurance. Large corporations could be managed to cover theses things if required to.
Even better, pass M4A and take employee health insurance off their books.

Charles D Myers , March 28, 2020 at 7:50 am

Why does the Uber/Lyft bailout have to be funded by workers who have put money into unemployment insurance?

If they want to bail out the gig economy they should have said straight up we are bailing them out.

The States have to come up with the funding for the unemployed. So you can bet there will be a shortfall.

Why does the gig economy always takes but never give?

The biggest problem is laid off employees getting thru to the unemployment agencies.Then they throw millions of Uber/Lyft drivers to clog up the Queue.

Brooklin Bridge , March 28, 2020 at 8:18 am

I'm wondering what AOC did or didn't do re this package? A lot has been said about Sanders, but I'm fuzzy on AOC. I can't imagine she liked the thing. Did she have any way of throwing a stick in in it?

Troglin , March 28, 2020 at 8:41 am

AOC is an actor -- an Obama for the new generation.

Oh , March 28, 2020 at 10:39 am

Will she be eligible for the Best Actress Award?

Kiers , March 28, 2020 at 6:26 pm

that would "explain" her previous incumbent, a most malignant connected big money DNC machine pol, "stepping aside" for her. Watch out. Likely future Manchurian afoot. (Like showbama).

flora , March 28, 2020 at 10:00 am

Pelosi ordered a voice vote, not a recorded vote. There's no way to know how any Rep. voted. They can say they voted yea or nay, but there's no proof.

Brooklin Bridge , March 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Thanks, not surprised.

John Wright , March 28, 2020 at 7:27 pm

Here is a definition of a voice vote:

"A vote in which the presiding officer states the question, then asks those in favor and against to say "Yea" or "Nay," respectively, and announces the result according to his or her judgment. The names or numbers of senators voting on each side are not recorded."

If this bill was so G*d d**n important and potentially costly for the country it would seem that courageous politicians would have WANTED their wise and considered yea/nay votes known to their constituents.

I can see a voice vote for something trivial like a Proclamation of National Highway Appreciation Day, but not something this consequential.

Preserving the option of telling constituents in the future "I (voice) voted against this package" is hardly a profile in courage.

hermeneut , March 28, 2020 at 11:47 am

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/489863-ocasio-cortez-blasts-22t-coronavirus-stimulus-package-as-shameful-on-house

"What did the Senate majority fight for?!" Ocasio-Cortez asked. "One of the largest corporate bailouts with as few strings as possible in American history. Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong for crumbs for our families."

Pelosi dallies on instituting remote voting, thereby strengthening her own powers and that of the House leadership. AOC, like everyone else in the House, had to participate in a "voice vote".

Bobby Gladd , March 28, 2020 at 8:42 am

" The Mnuchin Opaque Autonomy Act of 2020 ."

There. Fixed the title.

human , March 28, 2020 at 9:00 am

I simply can not understand where $4T is going to go! As we here know, inanimate objects do not have agency. I demand to know whose pockets are about to be lined.

Another observation: As each "crisis" becomes more expensive, there appear to be additional lined pockets.

urblintz , March 28, 2020 at 10:40 am

first and foremost they saved the bond market i think . Powell has already used 4 trillion for "liquidity" whatever that means I have no working knowledge of economics so I don't begin to understand what any of it means except that we got family-blogged again.

JR , March 28, 2020 at 9:21 am

You know, there is common ground amongst and between the AOCs and Massies of the world. It is time to build those bridges.

Edr , March 28, 2020 at 10:04 am

The flu kills between 12,000 to 30,000 a year in the U S. Every year. In 30 some years of adulthood, I know 1 person that died of pneumonia in their 60s. When the confinement is over and people look around and ask around and can't name anybody they personally know who was affected with anything more than a cold????

I hope this whole thing isn't just hysterics because that would not be a positive sign of anything.

Oh , March 28, 2020 at 10:50 am

Knowing our politicians it's probably a lot of hysterics. The DimRats have been fooling their diehards with Russia! Russia! Russia! Now it's time to use CV to pay back their corporate supporters while throwing a few crumbs to their loyal followers with the chant Econmy! Economy! Economy!

Bob , March 28, 2020 at 1:17 pm

What are you talking about? Have you not been reading all the experts' reports on exactly how dangerous this disease is? Have you not seen the pictures and stories coming from Spain and Italy with morgues and trucks full of bodies? Have you not read the stories of medical personnel and hospitals being overwhelmed by this pandemic? How many have to die for this to matter to you? Sorry to be blunt but you lack of concern is frankly shocking. (P.S. I have a kid on the front line of this disaster and we are very very worried for him)

jonboinAR , March 28, 2020 at 2:11 pm

I keep hearing, mostly from people I know, how the CV is not much more than a way over-publicized version of the common cold or flu. I would counter that the common cold or even the annual flu pandemic does not threaten to entirely overwhelm the health care system of the countries and regions it infects. See Lombardy and New York, for example. Clearly, in terms of the seriousness of its symptoms anyway, the CV is pretty far beyond the flu.

Kurtismayfield , March 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-york-coronavirus-andrew-cuomo-728-deaths-covid-19/?intcid=CNI-00-10aaa3a

It's up to 700+ deaths in NY.

When do you think we should have taken these measures to slow the virus? When it hit 1000? 5000? 30,000? Tell me a number that you will be ok with so that we can hit that, then we can hit the emergency button.

The problem with this virus is that it hits the healthcare system all at once, and they have to choose who lives and dies Would you like to be chosen to live or die based upon an algorithm?

Kiers , March 28, 2020 at 6:29 pm

I don't think it's hysterics, but "was it planned" is a good question: operation covfefe.
"They" are not done with it yet, a mass fear op like this is too good to leave without milking further. THIS will be "THE" anchor event for the NEXT 20+ years of "policy". Mark my word. The top can not leave this gold.

John , March 28, 2020 at 10:11 am

About that Republican $500 billion corporate bailout slush fund the Dems said they won oversight on:

Trump Axed Congressionally-Mandated Pandemic Recovery Oversight with Stimulus Bill Signing Statement

In a signing statement, the president undermined a key safeguard Democrats had insisted upon as a condition of approving $500 billion in corporate relief in the $2 trillion law.

Susan the other , March 28, 2020 at 11:09 am

Could we ask for better proof that neoliberal capitalism not only doesn't work, it's a catastrophe all by itself. And nobody is saying a word about it. That will come later in disguised language just as the money is going out now in disguised give-aways.

tegnost , March 28, 2020 at 11:48 am

And nobody is saying a word about it
Rule #1. Don't mess with a dog that's not barking

There will be a price to pay for this, and I don't think the robot dogs will be up to the fight

steven , March 28, 2020 at 10:54 am

The population of Italy is (or was) 60.8 million. As of this morning, 9,134 Italians have died – and the disease hasn't crested yet. The population of the United States is 327.2 million. If our experience is similar to theirs (and with the 'leadership' exhibited by Trump and the US Congress it looks like it might be worse), we can anticipate ‭49,155 deaths.

That sure doesn't sound like "just hysterics" to me.

human , March 28, 2020 at 11:07 am

https://www.statnews.com/2018/09/26/cdc-us-flu-deaths-winter/

A normal and expected season then.

hermeneut , March 28, 2020 at 12:03 pm

https://www.nytimes.com/video/nyregion/100000007052136/coronavirus-elmhurst-hospital-queens.html?smid=tw-share

Please spit out the kool-aid. You're ignoring the magnitudes faster pace of this pandemic, as well as the fact that it falls on top of our regular flu season, not to mention other medical emergencies. If you have time to spread misleading information, please consider doing your homework and helping share helpful facts.

DJG , March 28, 2020 at 12:30 pm

hermeneut: Thank you. Naked Capitalism has had an informal policy against agnotology, which is culturally induced ignorance or doubt.

I see it often on the larger WWW, where facts regularly are gummed to death by the self-ignorant among us.

The coronavirus is producing death rates that are orders of magnitude above the flu's death rate estimated at 0.01 percent. Coronavirus is wildly contagious compared to the flu. Further, we don't know its long-term effects on anyone. People think that children may not be affected–until we have a spate of lung disease ten years from now.

Upthread, there are a couple of agnotologists discussing how they don't know anyone who has died of the flu or pneumonia. They must not get out much. Pneumonia is a co-factor in many deaths, so much so that doctors call it the old man's friend, old person's friend. Pneumonia means falling asleep and not waking up in the morning.

human , March 28, 2020 at 1:12 pm

I was responding to stevens' 49K calculation. Please take issue with his comment. I fully expect the mortality rate to increase beyond seasonal averages due to additional and more severe complications.

Cuibono , March 28, 2020 at 2:48 pm

what was misleading there? Trying to understand this the number of flu deaths wasnt that high or ?

neplusultra , March 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Yep, China enacted unprecedented lockdown measures just for fun. Good call buddy

Travis Bickle , March 28, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Ah, someone who wasn't paying attention to their lessons. Unlike flu there is no vaccine and the population is essentially a virgin host. Some people may be able to slough it off, but it'll be by happenstance, and they'll still be carriers.

Hence, the progress of the disease will be exponential, less the temporary suppression and mitigation you can see in countries like China and South Korea. The economic cost of these measures will eventually be too much, they'll have to ease off, and the disease will take off again. If you want to track the various countries "score" as this inevitability unfolds, go to http://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/

As to your "calculations", this disease will have its way and will need to run its course. It will increase exponentially and circle back in successive waves until the available supply of hosts has been exhausted or developed immunity. In the aggregate, the US will meet its wave in < a week, but every community will be hit at a different time depending on all sort so things; Italy has only really taken a significant hits in a few provinces and the fun for them is yet to come. The infection is just now gaining traction in the rest of Italy due to effective mitigation and the WAVE of casualties is yet to come, as soon as they raise their guard.

All this money being spent is just buying time and lining pockets. This is not a two hour movie, where Brad Pitt has a blaze of insight and cooks up a cure for the zombie apocalypse in a busy afternoon.

steven , March 28, 2020 at 1:06 pm

This is ever so cool! Thank you! track the various countries "score" as this inevitability unfolds

cnchal , March 28, 2020 at 1:57 pm

> . . . The economic cost of these measures will eventually be too much, they'll have to ease off, and the disease will take off again.

I agree and a link from the links page illustrates that.

China Shuts Down All Cinemas, Again Hollywood Reporter

On further reflection (I have a comment on this post that is either in moderation or disappeared) it seems that the pittance to workers with the right paperwork is to give the appearance of doing something but ultimately it is to starve people into submission, so that getting back to making money for the billionaires becomes the only alternative.

jonboinAR , March 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm

It taking off again is what I fear when I imagine what's likely to occur down the road. Trump is right at least when he points out that eventually we'll all have to return to work. Otherwise the economy will collapse completely, leaving us in some kind of Mad Max chaos. Eventually. So, what happens when the voluntary lock-down is lifted, whether that be Easter or a month or 2 or 3 later? If this thing is not completely eliminated by then will it not just roar right back and we'll be in the same situation we find ourselves in currently, only most of us even more precarious, financially? I can't seem to puzzle our current strategy out in my mind without finding a horribly disastrous outcome at the end.

It seems, then, like fairly severe social distancing is mandated by circumstance way into the future. If that's the case, then our previous ways of living, I mean a great deal of it, all or the casual gathering and traveling around we've been accustomed to is dead, whether we realize it now, or not. What the heck does this mean? What do we do with a good part of our work-force and many if not most of our small business owners? I ask these questions without any reasonable or acceptable answers in mind.

Travis Bickle , March 28, 2020 at 3:47 pm

..Here's the deal:

We are collectively going to have to take our licks here, painful though it will be, sooner or later. Countries which have managed to keep things tamped down, for the moment only, need to use that time to refine their hospital procedures and re-supply to save as many as they can when the lid has to be taken off. That means having triage protocols in place for COVID-19, as well as everyone else who comes in the door. Refer to the graphic in appendix B of the Imperial College forecast for the US. Hospitals are going to be overwhelmed in any of their scenarios, although every locality will have its encounter at at different time and the precise circumstances will vary.

The initial UK strategy of angling for "herd immunity' was roundly ridiculed and sheepishly withdrawn, but it was and is the only logical course. The disease simply doesn't give a whit about the "But, but, but, but every life is priceless whinning" of those who cannot face the reality. There is a BIG culling on the way, and all those Red State denialisms, and sanctimonious bigots at Liberty University are going to get a big dose of this, along with everyone else. This wave is coming, and all that can really be done is to delay it, which may reduce the pain in a given locality, depending on their unique circumstances and if the local authorities do their job right. This will be a battle fought on a thousand hills (a thousand public health settings), and some will do better or worse than others, even as the timing of the wave will vary for each: take notes on what is only now beginning to happen in NYC, and how events unfold over the next month or two there. This story will not be over by the eleven o'clock news or even next weekend.

Taking it up-front DOES help preserve the economy, allowing for recovery afterwards, and that's key. Otherwise, we start drifting toward the Mad Max scenario alluded to above. Even now, how are all the bodies going to be taken care of? Healthcare staff is already dying, and staffs can be expected to desert as events unfold in NYC and elsewhere. All the support people who make things work with their marginal salaries are noble, but stupid, if they stick around those places, which are nothing but huge disease vectors. Then there's the food supply chain, etc, etc, etc

Anyway we go this movie is not going to end well, and it won't end next week or even next month. The disease will keep on coming back around until there is nobody left for it grab hold of: meaning either there is a vaccine or herd immunity (usually thought of as 60-70% of the population having had its brush with the thing).

JBird4049 , March 28, 2020 at 7:41 pm

As a Californian, "Red State denialisms, and sanctimonious bigots at Liberty University" is an extremely unfair appellation given that I can see the same here in the Uber-Blue San Francisco Bay Area.

While the improved efficiencies of the medical services are not quite as deep as in the Red areas of California and in other states, the bigotry is just as strong. Only the targets are changed. The deplorables, the poor, conservatives, and, of course, the homeless tend to be fair game.

An infectious disease like COVID19 doesn't care about anything except reproduction and is taking advantage of our situation; both political parties have been quite happy hollowing out our nation-state condemning our nation to needless mass deaths and country's government to possible collapse in fealty to the wealthy and in increasing the size of their personal bank accounts.

Eclair , March 28, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Here is a link to a paper just made public by the University of Washington, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. It's predicting Washington's peak at around April 14th. Also, they evaluate each state, calculate its peak, and list the its available hospital beds and ICU beds and note the estimated shortfalls (as well as shortfalls in ventilators) at peak.

Looking at their projections for New York State, one can understand Governor Cuomo's urgency.

Travis Bickle , March 28, 2020 at 4:03 pm

For some reason your link didn't work, I found it with a quick google search and it really is quite worthwhile:

https://globalhealth.washington.edu/news/2020/03/26/new-covid-19-forecasts-us-hospitals-could-be-overwhelmed-second-week-april-ihme

All the credible studies I've reviewed in their own way have supported the essential thesis of the Imperial College curve, and this is no exception.

gc54 , March 28, 2020 at 5:06 pm

The simulator here has adjustable parameters for the pandemic and resolution down to county level in many states of the US. Of course we can expect patient transport between at least counties if not states until ICUs are saturated. Very sobering to see how long this may play out. Cases and outcomes are plotted too.

Kiers , March 28, 2020 at 6:42 pm

I ran a regression with Governor Cuomo's numbers (for NY State); Between March 3rd to March 23rd was the confirmed raw data, before extrapolating; a social isolation program was begun on the March 20th, so the data is pure "natural" "do nothing" dynamics; I fit the curve to the data, and it showed 100% of NY State population affected by April 12th. The data showed a slope co-efficient of 1.46 every day (46% increase in new cases every day). R-squared for the fit: 96% (yes, rather high, which tells me this virus rolls out like clockwork). However, we learn, even in Wuhan, a hard lockdown took two-three weeks to "begin to bend the curve". We are in for the herd situation no question. It's been too little too late by far. (but even one day saved from the 100% terminus is still quite a large population: we are talking exponential time, not linear.).

When "early" (really drastically "late": being in first weeks of March) estimates from Fauci, and other talking heads said US would likely see ~70% of population infected, that translates to ONLY being able to shave ONE DAY off 100% herd exposure given my regression showing just how contagious this is.

(It's my belief they lied to us, it's not just "droplets" but it is very nicely aerosolized: breathing and exhaling in the wrong quarters is enought to do it; but thats' just me, however do note, the Covid briefings at the top were state secret, not open to journalists. We only get the vaudeville versions of everything, highly politicized to boot).

Jeremy Grimm , March 28, 2020 at 1:50 pm

The Corona flu [I like Corona because it sounds better -- more like cholera -- as in Love in the time of Corona] is not the pandemic we need to worry about. That pandemic is still coming. The Corona flu is bad but it is only a 'test' of our healthcare systems and government, our knowledge, and our Media -- a live exercise. The U.S. is failing miserably in all these areas. The CARES package -- I can't think of a more catchy name for this bill and it really deserves a catchy name -- will do nothing to remedy the failings of our healthcare systems and government, our knowledge, and our Media but it reveals how unprepared we are for when the 'real' pandemic arrives.

[Mar 29, 2020] Don't believe the myth that we must sacrifice lives to save the economy by Jonathan Porte

Mar 25, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

Jonathan Portes Governments must do whatever it takes -- and whatever it costs -- in the interests of our health and our collective wealth

• Jonathan Portes is a former senior civil servant

Coronavirus -- latest updates

See all our coronavirus coverage

Wed 25 Mar 2020 14.13 EDT Last modified on Wed 25 Mar 2020 17.50 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email 'if, as the scientists predict, the result of loosening the restrictions was an acceleration in infections, then pretty soon many firms would simply stop functioning, as workers became sick.' Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images I s the cure worse than the disease? The Times claimed today: "If the coronavirus lockdown leads to a fall in GDP of more than 6.4% more years of life will be lost due to recession than will be gained through beating the virus." It's hard to know where to start with this nonsense. It's based on a paper currently under review at a journal entitled Nanotechnology Perceptions, which simply assumes that a fall in GDP translates mechanically and directly into a fall in life expectancy.

It's this sort of reasoning that appears to be leading President Trump to call for an early end to restrictions in the US, claiming that far more people would die of suicide from a "terrible economy" than from the virus.

But the premise is simply wrong. A recession -- a short-term, temporary fall in GDP -- need not, and indeed normally does not, reduce life expectancy. Indeed, counterintuitively, the weight of the evidence is that recessions actually lead to people living longer. Suicides do indeed go up, but other causes of death, such as road accidents and alcohol-related disease, fall.

So at the most basic level, this argument ignores what the evidence says. But perhaps more importantly, the idea that the way to minimise the economic damage is to remove the restrictions before they've done their job -- definitively suppressing the spread of the virus -- is a terrible one.

Does anyone believe that, whatever the government said, we could get back to "normal", or something close to it, any time soon? If we were all allowed to return to work, many or most of us would, quite rationally, choose not to, for fear of catching the virus. And if, as the scientists predict, the result of loosening the restrictions was an acceleration in infections, then pretty soon many firms would simply stop functioning, as workers became sick, or had to stay at home to look after family members.

More broadly, restoring the economy to normal requires, above all, confidence. Amid continuing uncertainty both about their own finances and the wider economy, households won't spend and businesses won't invest. And that simply isn't going to happen until the spread of the diseases has been contained.

So there is no tradeoff here. Health and economic considerations point in exactly the same direction in the short term. Do whatever it takes -- and whatever it costs -- and do it now, in the interests both of our health and our collective wealth.

But what comes next? It is entirely reasonable to point out that serious damage to the economy, if it persists over the longer term, will reduce our welfare and maybe even -- as austerity and its aftermath have done -- life expectancy. The last 10 days have seen universal credit claims rise more than five-fold , to half a million, while YouGov data suggests that 2 million people may have lost their job. The recession is already here.

But this need not, and should not, be permanent. The risk here is that we allow the inevitable fall in GDP that results from shutting down the economy to drive firms out of business and workers into long-term unemployment. And there is nothing inevitable at all about this.

After all, many European countries, such as France or Italy, probably, see their GDP fall by 10% or 20% or so in absolute terms every August when workers take their summer holidays. No one notices -- the numbers are "seasonally adjusted" to take account of holidays, which means it doesn't show up in the published data -- nor does it do any damage. Workers continue to be paid, and businesses don't go bust just because they're not making any money. Come September, everyone gets back to work as normal.

Of course this is very different -- that won't happen automatically with Covid-19. The impacts are more widespread and long-lasting -- and we don't know how long -- than an enforced extra holiday. But rapid and appropriate action by government can go a long way. Keeping workers in jobs and firms in business needs to be the priority. In the circumstances, the government's made a good start, although there's lots more to do .

So what we should be worried about -- both from an economic and a health perspective -- is not how much GDP falls. It's going to fall by a lot, and that's a good thing. If it didn't -- if people were still going to work despite being told not to -- then the lockdown wouldn't be working and we'd still see economic consequences further down the line. It's what happens to GDP in a year or 18 months that matters.

And the long-term consequences? It wasn't the sharp fall in GDP in 2008-9 that reduced, over the course of the next decade, life expectancy for the poorest in our society . It was how the government chose to address the economic fallout of the global financial crisis -- by underfunding and understaffing the NHS and social care, and by eroding the basic welfare safety net that people depend on when times are hard. As we are now discovering, these were false economies that left us less, not more, prepared for this crisis.

Similarly, if we allow Covid-19 to permanently damage our economic and social fabric, it will be our own fault, not that of the virus. This time we can, and must, do better.

• Jonathan Portes is professor of economics and public policy at King's College London and a former senior civil servant


WhereAreYourMorals , 25 Mar 2020 17:48

Compulsory procurement of half a dozen luxury yachts would go a long way with funding, as would the uber wealthy PAYING THEIR CORPORATE TAX.

These extreme right-wing leaders in this world are evil. They all claim to be practicing Christians, unbelievably. Anti-Christ more like. I'm not religious, but blind Freddy would tell you if Jesus had existed, then these guys are the Romans that killed him. They simply don't give a shit; swathes of people are expendable.

Didn't a corrupted prime minister get eaten by his people one time? Just sayin'.

kent_rules -> FMIIII , 25 Mar 2020 17:48
We have been weaning people off tobacco for a long time and this virus seems to love compromised lungs - tragically, young and fit Americans may succumb due to unregulated vaping products and decriminalised cannabis products - particularly if one survives but with severely damaged lungs.
chainedtomydesk , 25 Mar 2020 17:48
I’m sorry but recessions do cause a spike in suicide, mental health issues and stress related cancer deaths. The most vulnerable in society, on the breadline, will as usual be the people who struggle the most. To suggest life expectancy goes up in a recession is a fallacy.
Elias_Artifex , 25 Mar 2020 17:47
The latest US Trump policy (US open for business, do the right thing weaklings and die for the sake of the nation's financial interests) is basically identical with the original UK Cummings policy. Over the next few weeks are we going to see this policy re-asserted in the UK - probably. Why - because the alternative would be to attempt containment of Covis 19 - which would require a South Korean style program of testing and quarantine. And there is absolutely indication of any political appetite for doing so in the UK whatsoever.
Hornplayer , 25 Mar 2020 17:41
The risk here is a replay of austerity that we saw after the 2008 financial crisis, with many people left aside. Economically, this was to rebalance the books after the government injected cash to support the banks. Socially it was damaging.
If we repeat the same pay back and austerity model (on steroids this time) the social and political fallout could be horrendous.
But what are the alternatives?
FFC800 -> AJVC1991 , 25 Mar 2020 17:40

it really does strike me as unfair that their plan was "to do nothing" - I think it seems to be a bit nuanced than that; and terribly communicated

Yes, the plan was not 'do nothing', it was 'get at risk groups to isolate themselves and assume that the NHS could deal with the small proportion of low risk groups needing hospitalisation'. This is essentially what Sweden and NL are doing, with (like us last week) the addition of social distancing to slow down transmission.

This is a better idea than trying to avoid everyone getting it ('containment'), because as soon as you lift containment, you still have no immunity so you're basically at day 0 again. Unless the plan is to be under lockdown forever, the containment approach is a panic, not a strategy.

If you're going for herd immunity you do need to slow the infections down enough that the serious cases don't overwhelm your health service. That's what the social distancing and WFH guidelines are about, and outside the cities and a few visitor spots it was working well last week.

Continentalcyclist , 25 Mar 2020 17:38
Spot on.

What made European economies grow in 1948? Confidence, investment, a social security network, education for all, and building, building, building homes badly needed in destroyed cities and for the homecoming of millions of veterans and the ensuing baby boom.

The post-war recession feared by economists did not occur. Instead there was a quarter century of prosperity. Never had there been there so many people, and never before had they had it so good. Until the arrival of the family butchers. Who sold the family silver and sacrificed welfare on the altar of m-m-m-monetarism. Said Ssupermac in his maiden speech in the Lords.

[Mar 29, 2020] Medical Expert Who Corrects Trump Is Now a Target of the Far Right

Money quote " There is this sense that experts are untrustworthy, and have agendas that aren't aligned with the people"
That was always true about neoliberal economists. So it might well be true about mecuacl bureaucrats like Fauci. Did he disclose his stock holdingd and financial interests? Is he a part of neoliberal "medical-industrial complex" which wants to rake profits at the expense of people health?
His email to Hillary suggest that he is medical professional but a politician.
Actually any top medical honcho in Washing is compromised as they did nothing to stop "balance billing" fraud and too over of ambulance business by private equity sharks.
Notable quotes:
"... There is this sense that experts are untrustworthy, and have agendas that aren't aligned with the people ..."
"... In the email, Dr. Fauci praised Mrs. Clinton for her stamina during the 2013 Benghazi hearings. The American Thinker falsely claimed that the email was evidence that he was part of a secret group who opposed Mr. Trump. ..."
Mar 29, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

Adding that Dr. Fauci is bearing the brunt of the attacks, Mr. Bergstrom said: " There is this sense that experts are untrustworthy, and have agendas that aren't aligned with the people . It's very concerning because the experts in this are being discounted out of hand."

... ... ...

Anti-Fauci posts spiked, according to Zignal Labs. Much of the increase was prompted by a March 21 article in The American Thinker, a conservative blog, which published the seven-year-old email that Dr. Fauci had written to an aide of Mrs. Clinton.

In the email, Dr. Fauci praised Mrs. Clinton for her stamina during the 2013 Benghazi hearings. The American Thinker falsely claimed that the email was evidence that he was part of a secret group who opposed Mr. Trump.

... ... ...

In an interview, Mr. Fitton said, "Dr. Fauci is doing a great job." He added that Dr. Fauci "wrote very political statements to Hillary Clinton that were odd for an appointee of his nature to send."

...One anti-Fauci tweet last Sunday read: "Dr. Fauci is in love w/ crooked @HillaryClinton. More reasons not to trust him."

[Mar 29, 2020] The EU's Betrayal of Italy May Be Its Undoing by Francesco Giubile

Notable quotes:
"... The coronavirus emergency has exposed the failures and flaws of the European Union, while underscoring the importance of nation-states. In Europe, we've observed a series of events that have demonstrated the collapse of the supra-national model. First, the borders shut down -- Austria and Slovenia acted unilaterally, without asking approval from Italy's government. The move was also symbolic: Italy was not only isolated, it was abandoned to its own devices. ..."
"... Globalization may have its efficiencies, but an overwhelmed health care system suffers in the absence of internal production of the necessary materials -- life-saving ventilators, infection-preventing hazmat vests, face masks. The global evolution of supply chains exported manufacturing and relied heavily on the cheap imports of essential products from abroad. But with the spread of the coronavirus, many states are now forbidding the export of medical equipment. A good example is Turkey, a country that readily accepts EU funds and that many liberals would like to bring into the Union. Ankara blocked a shipment of 200,000 face masks already purchased by Italy for the hard-hit northern regions of Marche and Emilia Romagna. ..."
Mar 28, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a greater toll on Italy than any other nation. The Italians are facing their most severe crisis since the Second World War, with Lombardy in the industrial north particularly hard hit. Yet for all its rhetoric about global citizenship and solidarity, the European Union has all but abandoned them. That's even though communist China, arguably globalization's greatest and shrewdest state beneficiary, is ready to fill the void and help Italy put out the fire its own virus started.

The coronavirus first appeared in Italy on January 31 when two Chinese tourists from the Hubei province tested positive in Rome, eight days after they'd landed at the Milan airport in Lombardy. The two were immediately isolated and quarantined in the Roman Spallanzani hospital, and the situation seemed under control -- until February 21. That day, Italy confirmed 16 new coronavirus cases, 14 in Lombardy and two in Veneto. A 38-year-old Italian from Codogno near Milan with acute respiratory symptoms was identified as patient zero. Despite Italy's attempts to contain the virus by locking down the city of Codogno, coronavirus infections spread.

In just a few days, Italy had the highest number of infections in Europe, with Lombardy as the pandemic's epicenter. To avoid the spread of infections to the rest of Italy, the government locked down the entire region of Lombardy and other areas in northern Italy, effectively quarantining 17 million people. A few days later, as the situation deteriorated, the whole of Italy was declared an "orange zone" -- all "non-essential" commercial activities were shut down and the free movement of citizens was limited to grocery and pharmaceutical shopping and work obligations deemed by the state as of "prime importance."

The economic repercussions of a complete shutdown loomed large. Consequently, Italy asked the EU for more flexibility on its accounts and requested that emergency measures be deployed to support Italian citizens and businesses. At the time, the crisis was hardly felt in the European powerhouses, France or Germany. The EU's response was slow and inefficient, and Italians started to feel abandoned by European institutions. As the original signer of the Treaty of Rome, Italy is a founding member of the EU and the third largest economy in the eurozone.

On March 12, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, marked a point of no return -- she gave a highly anticipated speech outlining the measures the bank would introduce to combat the effects of the coronavirus. Lagarde decided not to cut interest rates, arguing against the policy of "whatever it takes," as had been outlined by former ECB president Mario Draghi. To Italians, the EU's indifference was a betrayal. The consequences of her words were immediate -- and disastrous for Italian stocks. Even the pro-EU president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, released a harsh statement asking the EU to correct its ways in the "common interest" of Europe.

The EU did change its position on the COVID-19 response, but not until the health care crisis had spread to France and Germany, making it their problem, too. By then, the damage done to the Italians' trust in European institutions was already beyond repair. With few viable options left, Italy's government is now considering the European "Save the State Funds," asking the EU to implement the €500 billion emergency bailout program from the European Stability Mechanism designed for EU member states -- a risky move that may saddle Italy with long-term debt on a scale similar to Greece.

The coronavirus emergency has exposed the failures and flaws of the European Union, while underscoring the importance of nation-states. In Europe, we've observed a series of events that have demonstrated the collapse of the supra-national model. First, the borders shut down -- Austria and Slovenia acted unilaterally, without asking approval from Italy's government. The move was also symbolic: Italy was not only isolated, it was abandoned to its own devices.

Globalization may have its efficiencies, but an overwhelmed health care system suffers in the absence of internal production of the necessary materials -- life-saving ventilators, infection-preventing hazmat vests, face masks. The global evolution of supply chains exported manufacturing and relied heavily on the cheap imports of essential products from abroad. But with the spread of the coronavirus, many states are now forbidding the export of medical equipment. A good example is Turkey, a country that readily accepts EU funds and that many liberals would like to bring into the Union. Ankara blocked a shipment of 200,000 face masks already purchased by Italy for the hard-hit northern regions of Marche and Emilia Romagna.

The Italians are coming together to fight the pandemic. Many Italian companies have converted production at home: those working in the textile industry have started producing face masks. Italy's only manufacturer of respiratory equipment, in the province of Bologna, is not able to meet the current needs and relieve the national shortage of ventilators. Army technicians are now helping to increase production capacity.

What has the coronavirus in Italy taught us so far? A great nation is doing what it can to become self-sufficient as the crisis proves daily that the propaganda of the prophets of globalization is false. We see that there are strategic sectors, such as health care, transport, energy, defense, and telecommunications, that have to be considered from the perspective of national security and not strictly business.

This is a new, unspoken understanding that unites Italy today. We have witnessed a return of patriotism: flags are hanging from windows and Italians are singing the national anthem. But there is something else to consider: our freedom. Some politicians, including former prime minister Matteo Renzi, are proposing to monitor the movements of individuals using their phones and data from telecommunication companies to police compliance with the lockdown rules and assess penalties for violations. This smacks of the Big Brother surveillance state. The collection of metadata for statistical ends, as practiced in Lombardy, should be separated from the indiscriminate control of individual citizens. Otherwise an Orwellian precedent will be set. Such an anti-democratic attitude seems to be one of the collateral ideological effects of what President Trump refers to as a "Chinese virus."

... ... ...

Francesco Giubilei is an entrepreneur, author, and independent journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is founder and president of the Nazione Futura magazine and foundation.

[Mar 28, 2020] With CODEK-19 epidemic revealing all the flaws of neoliberal globalization it looks like neo-liberalism is begging to be replaced

Mar 28, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Mar 27 2020 22:33 utc | 58

john@39
This article might interest you. The author makes the point that neo-liberalism is begging to be replaced.

"...Crises like these call for an interventionist state to keep the system together, or for mutual aid and solidarity, especially among people abandoned or targeted by the state. In some countries, the legitimacy of state administration and planning will grow, in others political legitimacy will fall precipitously, leading not just to mutual aid networks, but to attempts to build dual power.

"What economic paradigm – if any – may become dominant isn't clear. The prestige of Chinese-style state capitalism is growing. Keynesian and Modern Monetary Theory economists will find jobs in high places, and market socialism-with-nationalisations will continue to strengthen its position as the dominant economic doctrine on the left.

"However, the economic and ecological unsustainability of growth will raise hard questions of how to distribute or redistribute the losses in a non-growth world. Fascism and populist welfare chauvinism will offer the false security of disaster nationalism, national hoarding and resource wars.

Degrowth's offer of a planned and willed exit from growth will continue to gain followers, and communist strategies will grow in importance, as the surpluses that can be divided between contending classes shrink. Ecological breakdown and an absence of growth will pose questions that are already imposing themselves in the intense isolation of the lockdown: what are the joys of deceleration, what to do with an abundance of time and interdependence? And, more forcefully, it will radically narrow the space for social and political compromise.

"Struggle is unavoidable. The question is who will organise it and how."

https://novaramedia.com/2020/03/26/pandemic-insolvency-why-this-economic-crisis-will-be-different/

At the same site there is another piece on the way ion which the crisis has changed the NHS in the UK overnight.

https://novaramedia.com/2020/03/27/coronavirus-has-destroyed-the-nhs-internal-market-overnight-proving-that-it-never-worked/

[Mar 28, 2020] COVID-19 Is Forcing The World To Re-Think The Idea Of Monetary Value by Matthew Ehret

Notable quotes:
"... Decades of this modern religion have resulted in an incredibly tragic situation: a disproportionate wealth distribution in the hands of the 0.1%, an over-bloated services/consumer driven economy, increased rates of poverty and despair internationally as well as a dismal loss of vital skills, and productive capacity once enjoyed by advanced industrial nations just four decades ago. Vital infrastructure built up during the 1930s-1960s has been permitted to decay through simple neglect while un-payable debts have reached record highs. ..."
"... Banks in Spain have been nationalized (albeit only "temporarily") to force finance to act in accordance with the needs of society. ..."
"... This renewal of national sovereign powers breaks all of the monetary "laws of the neoliberal order" and with that defiance of globalization, a genuine positive potential for a paradigm shift is visible... ..."
Mar 28, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Western society has long been gripped by a deep seeded belief in money. Trillions of dollars of bank notes tied to ever-growing mountains of un-payable national debts has taken on a life of its own over the years. As the post-1971 years rolled by, society increasingly lost a sense that this human invention called "money" was created to serve humanity rather than rule it, and with that lost sense, money became an idol of worship.

Decades of this modern religion have resulted in an incredibly tragic situation: a disproportionate wealth distribution in the hands of the 0.1%, an over-bloated services/consumer driven economy, increased rates of poverty and despair internationally as well as a dismal loss of vital skills, and productive capacity once enjoyed by advanced industrial nations just four decades ago. Vital infrastructure built up during the 1930s-1960s has been permitted to decay through simple neglect while un-payable debts have reached record highs.

Then like a thief in the night, the illusion was ripped away.

The Confused Response to the Crisis

This ripping away took the form of an international pandemic which has resulted in western nations' economies grinding to a halt with a new $2 Trillion government emergency spending bill unveiled on March 24. The Washington Post reports that this bill will authorize "hundreds of billions of dollars sent to Americans in the form of checks as a way to flood the country with money in an effort to blunt the dramatic pullback of spending that has resulted from the coronavirus outbreak."

Governments across the Trans-Atlantic have also announced national interventions into banks and private industry in order to force production quotas of vital equipment like ventilators, masks and other medical necessities to meet the increased demand. Banks in Spain have been nationalized (albeit only "temporarily") to force finance to act in accordance with the needs of society. In America, the Defense Authorization Act and broader War Powers Act passed by President Trump gives the executive broad powers to take over vital industries if needed in order to mobilize the nation to respond to the crisis.

This renewal of national sovereign powers breaks all of the monetary "laws of the neoliberal order" and with that defiance of globalization, a genuine positive potential for a paradigm shift is visible...

... but something vital is still missing.

This "missing something" is clearly demonstrated by the continued obsession with money as new bailouts of the collapsing speculative banks have now risen to a $1 trillion/day overnight repo loan to collapsing banks which is added to the $1 Trillion 14 week loans offered every week that will dramatically increase the $9 trillion already emitted since helicopter money began in earnest in September 2019. With the mass panic and economic shutdown instigated by COVID-19, markets have lost over 30% of their value and fears of a new great depression have spread far and wide.

Rather than impose serious bank regulation like Glass-Steagall to break up the commercial from speculative banks as was done in 1933, the American government has merely unleashed unlimited money printing. This bipolar response is akin to trying to stop a raging fire with a combination of water and gasoline.

We thus find that the greatest crisis facing humanity is not caused by the market crisis, or even the coronavirus per se, but rather society's profound inability to understand the source of real from fictitious value.

What is REAL Value? Lincoln and FDR Revisited

"The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government's greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power."

These words were uttered by none other than America's 16th president Abraham Lincoln as he fought to take federal control of credit vis a vis the "greenbacks" that not only allowed him to win the war of secession but also construct the greatest infrastructure and industrialization programs of history driven by the trans continental railway . The dramatic success of Lincoln's "American System" not only saved the union, but spread successfully across the world from Japan's Meiji restoration, Russia's trans Siberian rail development, Bismarck's Zollverein in Germany and Sadi Carnot's France. This powerful spread of what German economist Friedrich List called "the American System of Political Economy" nearly annihilated the money-worshipping system of Adam Smith's Free Trade doctrine from the earth and only failed in this task via a plenitude of London-directed assassinations, and a couple of imperially-orchestrated wars and revolutions along the way.

The world spun out of control between the murder of the "last Lincoln republican" William Mckinley in 1901 and the orchestrated meltdown of the U.S. economy known as the great depression of 1929.

Amidst this dark period, Franklin Roosevelt called for the Democrats to claim the legacy of Lincoln from the corrupt republican party and faced a Wall Street-backed coup d'etat , survived a freemasonic assassination attempt and subverted a City of London-orchestrated bankers' dictatorship all in his first year in office. During his March 4, 1933 inaugural address, the president rallied the American people saying:

"I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption."

As I have outlined in my recent paper How to Crush a Bankers' Dictatorship , FDR took control of credit in a similar manner as Lincoln by forcing the Federal Reserve to obey a national mandate for the first time since the private bank was set up in 1913. He did so by imposing his ally Mariner Eccles into the position of Chairman who understood that money had to create infrastructure and industrial growth in order to acquire any claim to having actual "value". This was a stark break from the "hands off/laissez-faire" policy of President Hoover and his JP Morgan-run cabinet. FDR also emitted Lincoln-styled productive credit through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to fuel the New Deal. The RFC issued over $33 billion in low-interest loans by the end of the war (more than all private banks combined).

Describing his moral philosophy of political economy, FDR stated:

"We seek not merely to make government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity. We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude."

What is missing today

Today's America is confronting an existential crisis similar to that which both Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt battled in their time. Just as the proto-deep state of 1865 ran Lincoln's assassination from Montreal Canada, and took over the White House minutes after FDR's untimely death in 1945, today's deep state has attempted in vain to overthrow President Trump while successfully undermining the political viability of other "outsiders" like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.

The difference is that today's crisis combines elements of all previous crises of 1861-1865, 1929-1933 and 1938-1945: the very real new threat of chaos and civil war within, NATO-led wars with China and Russia without and economic collapse across the entire trans-Atlantic bubble economy. The other difference is located in the current presidency's inability to FOCUS with a clear mind on principled solutions to this multi-faceted crisis while instead finding itself trapped within contradictory impulses.

While FDR and Lincoln understood that VALUE was located the physically productive forces of labor which sustained and improved the lives of people and gave the constitution's pre-amble a real living character, today's American leadership has displayed a far greater ignorance to this basic fact of life. The vital difference between "need" vs "want" which has been obscured by decades of free market ideology has resulted in a loss of moral judgment necessary to properly put out the fires threatening to unleashing civil war, chaos and fascist global government "solutions" across the Trans Atlantic today.

The new multipolar alliance led by Russia and China have demonstrated what modern day New Deal policies can do. The Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Strategic Eurasian Partnership, Polar Silk Road and bold space exploration projects all reflect the type of principles of win-win cooperation and long term planning that characterized both FDR and Lincoln earlier. The Health Silk Road announced earlier this week by President Xi Jinping provides a brilliant maneuver to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic under a non-Malthusian worldview. This Multipolar Alliance exists as a form of a life raft for anyone wishing to escape the fate of the Titanic and embark on a new epoch of growth and cooperation.

The question is: Do western powers have the ability to act according to a scientific (and moral) standard of value by aligning with this multipolar alliance or will they choose to remain in Orwell's dystopic cage and succumb to a fate which Lincoln, FDR and other great leaders gave their lives to prevent?

[Mar 28, 2020] People's lives have absolutely zero value to these monsters at the top, who have gotten where they are because they are so ruthless and selfish.

Mar 28, 2020 | www.unz.com

Mustapha Mond , says: Show Comment March 27, 2020 at 2:49 pm GMT

@tomo Hi tomo!

Yes, I would believe it.

I was a partner in a law firm where I was ultimately responsible for all civil litigation we handled. I was continually shocked and disgusted by what I saw. It was incredible. People's lives have absolutely zero value to these monsters at the top, who have gotten where they are because they are so ruthless and selfish.

We, as a society, carefully select for these psychopathic types in all high-level competitive endeavors where large sums are hanging in the balance. Their only loyalty is 1.) to themselves; 2.) to the shareholders/partners, firmly in that order, and they are VERY highly rewarded for it. That the commoner's well being holds no value to them aside from how it can be exploited to their businesses' advantage, is a truism revealed and reinforced daily. The Ford Pinto, Dalkon Shield and other horrifying high profile cases (from the era when I practiced) come immediately to mind.

Pig Pharma is by no means alone in their utter disregard for the everyday man and woman, it's just that we intuitively expect people in the medical field to want to heal the sick, not prolong it. But as the Wall Street analysts remind the heads of Pig Pharma on a daily basis: curing disease is a bad business model. Prolonging and worsening illness, just short of death, is optimal. Just ask the lovely Sackler family.

Very sad to learn it's as bad or worse across the pond, but I guess that's to be expected.

I suspect the worst of it exists in the military environment, where service men and women are apparently routinely used as guinea pigs, and often completely unknowingly. But at least they know when they sign up that they are 100% expendable ..

[Mar 28, 2020] Covid-19 Hits the Dual Economy Incomes Destroyed at the Bottom, Profits Supported at the Top

Mar 28, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lance Taylor, Arnhold Professor of International Cooperation and Development, New School for Social Research. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

This note presents broad brush illustrations from a simple accounting model of the impacts of the coronavirus epidemic on macroeconomic balance, with emphasis on fiscal interventions. The premise is that supporting effective demand is essential for sustaining economic activity. The covid-19 epidemic created mass unemployment by shutting activity down. The resulting income loss undoubtedly reduced household consumption which makes up two-thirds of GDP. The only way to restore consumption is for the government acting as the "borrower of last resort" to raise its deficit and transfer the proceeds to households. A numerical example presented below suggests that an increase of ten percentage points in the ratio of government net borrowing (spending on goods and services plus transfers to households minus tax revenues) to GDP would do the trick.

The stimulus legislation now before Congress does not go far enough. Its size -- $2.2 trillion or ten percent of GDP – is the right order of magnitude but the breakdown of spending is biased away from households and toward business, viz. , payments that may flow more or less directly to households – checks in the mail, more unemployment insurance, small business support, state and local government support, and less than $100 billion to food stamps and disaster relief – come to $1.2 trillion or 5.7% of GDP.

Big business support in the form of loans and a range of other payments amounts to $800 billion or 3.8% of GDP. No doubt, politics aside, some of this money will be usefully spent, but its contribution to aggregate demand will be slow and indirect.

Before getting into the details of demand management, a few background observations are needed.

One is that both government and business have substantial debt overhangs. The simulations suggest that an increase of about $3 trillion in the deficit of the government sector (close to the total built into the various packages now in place or being enacted) is needed to offset the macro shock that the epidemic creates. Outstanding Federal debt is $22 trillion. New issues of three trillion may be difficult for markets to absorb.

Even worse, the corporate sector's outstanding debt is $10 trillion, five times total profits before depreciation, interest, and taxes. Share buybacks, largely financed by borrowing and ranging in the upper hundreds of billions per year, have been an important driver of growth of debt. The production side of once dominant firms – think of General Electric and Boeing – has been hollowed out by financial engineering. Politics will continue to be influenced by pressures to solve financial problems for firms created by their past mistakes.

On the real side of the economy, over the last two or three decades the share of employment in sectors with low real wages, productivity, and profits increased by around twenty percent. The share of profits in national income grew at around 0.4% per year for five decades, mostly flowing through various channels to households in the top one percent of the size distribution of income. Households at the bottom of the distribution became especially vulnerable.

The major impact on economic activity will come from falling consumption of goods and services due to income losses caused by businesses shutting down. Starting from an initial income level, household saving or the difference between income and spending will shoot up with further multiplier effects on output. High profit activities such as real estate rental and leasing, finance, and information will be protected. Sectors with high employment and low wages and productivity such as retail, accommodation and food, and other services will be hard hit (education and health will be the main exception). To offset the impacts, fiscal demand creation by the government will be essential, with the required outlays depending on the size of the consumption drop and other shocks such as lower private investment and exports.

We begin with details about differences across sectors, and go on to the macroeconomic effects of the coronavirus epidemic on incomes and output.

Dual Economy

The shifts in the structure of production just mentioned created an American dual economy with prosperity at the top and near subsistence living at the bottom. Table 1 presents details for sixteen sectors, ordered from the higher to lower rows by decreasing estimates of payments per hour to labor (including "supplements" or contributions for pensions and insurance).

Real wages and productivity vary over wide ranges. The same is true of sectoral profits. Real estate takes the lion's share, followed by manufacturing, finance, business services, and information. Profits are meager from retail on down the rows, while output and especially employment shares are relatively high. The three sectors mentioned above -- retail, accommodation and food, and other services – provide around 46 million jobs, more than one-quarter of the 162 million total. Their labor payments amount to $263 billion, about one percent of GDP of $21 trillion. This number can be contrasted with $600 billion of profits in real estate. Incomes of low-wage workers do not matter

greatly in the grand macroeconomic scheme of things, but for them even a ten percent income loss would be devastating.

Table 1: Structure of production in 2016 Wages and output used to calculate wage rate per hour and productivity per hour are deflated by the GDP deflator (2019=100). Shares of real output are deflated based on each sector's own industry price index (2009=100).

Macroeconomic Balance

Before turning to the impacts of covid-19, it makes sense to review previous macroeconomic shocks such as the great recession and the smaller Trump tax reduction of 2018. A simple accounting scheme can be built around "net borrowing" (NB) levels of four institutional sectors – households (HH), corporate business, government at all levels, and the rest of the world.

For households and business, NB is equal to gross fixed capital formation plus changes in inventories ("investment") minus saving. For government, it is current spending on goods and services plus investment minus the excess of tax receipts over fiscal transfers to households. Broadly speaking, foreign NB is the current account surplus or exports minus imports. It is negative for the USA. In the jargon, investment, government spending, and exports are demand "injections." HH and business saving, taxes minus fiscal transfers, and imports are "leakages." Overall macroeconomic balance requires that the sum of NB levels across sectors should equal zero (subject to a "statistical discrepancy" between estimates of spending and incomes in the national accounts). Table 2 summarizes data for selected years. The "rates" are calculated with respect to the relevant year's real GDP.

Table 2: Net borrowing behavior in the USA for selected years (levels in trillions of dollars at prices of 2019, rates are relative to GDP)

Each year's "multiplier" is the inverse of the sum of the four leakage rates. The multiplier times the sum of injections equals output.

In a further illustration, Figure 1 shows annual net borrowing rates in the form of a bar chart. High net borrowing by the government in response to the financial crisis stands out. Even more striking at the far right of the diagram is the fiscal response to the consumption loss due to the coronavirus as estimated in Table 3 below.

Figure 1: Annual sectoral net borrowing (in the past and estimated for 2020)

The diagram and table show that business retained earnings usually provide the main source of saving, with resources also coming from households and negative net borrowing by the rest of the world (positive net lending to the US economy). The government is the principal net borrower, as underlined by its role in recent macroeconomic events and especially now.

Recession and the Trump Tax Cut

The 2007-09 recession was precipitated by private sector retrenchment in wake of the financial crisis. Household consumption was flat, while private investment fell by 30%. Household saving and business retained earnings went up, meaning that the overall private saving rate rose from 19% to 22%. Output rose between 2007 and 2009. It would have dropped dramatically if the net government tax-minus-transfer rate had been stable. But in fact it fell from 15% to 6% due to automatic stabilizers and the Obama stimulus package of around 5% of GDP. The overall impact was that private net borrowing fell by 10.2% of output while government borrowing went up by 8.6%. Reduction of the external deficit by 1.7% made up the difference.

In sum, the recession was not a disaster because of fiscal realignment. Causality ran from a private sector shock to automatic and discretionary government responses. It went the other way for the more modest Trump tax cut. The tax-minus-transfer rate fell from 11.6% to 10.7%, or about $185 billion. Output did go up by 2.9%, but the increase would have been greater if there had been a strong business investment boom instead of only a $320 billion increase. Lower business taxes were in large part distributed via dividends and share buybacks to households at the top of the income ladder with high saving rates.

Both episodes show that changing government net borrowing plays a key role in macroeconomic adjustment. More government spending on goods and services (unimportant in 2007-09) will also have to help absorb the covid-19 shock

Coronavirus and Consumption

The biggest immediate impact of the epidemic is loss of economic activity as businesses shut down in a "supply" shock. Unless they reopen rapidly, both payments to labor and profits will fall. Household consumption makes up almost 70% of GDP and will drop accordingly.

As an illustration, we can consider a consumption decrease over 2020 of $1.5 trillion from a 2019 level of $14.6 trillion, or 10% (a high but not unreasonable estimate). That amounts to seven percent of GDP. Because they have low or negative saving rates, households hit by loss of low-wage jobs at the bottom of the Table 1 ladder would be major contributors.

For households, saving basically equals income minus spending for consumption, (mostly) residential investment, and taxes. A decrease in consumption translates into higher saving, or in Table 3 a jump of the HH saving rate from 0.086 to 0.156. More saving means less demand creation so that output falls from 21.06 to 18.34 trillion dollars.

Table 3: Possible effects of the coronavirus shock

In a quirk of national accounting, HH net borrowing falls from -0.045 to -0.108, or net lending to the rest of the economy rises to close to 11% of GDP. Presumably the higher "lending" would take the form of paying off debt. In practice, that will not happen. The proper policy response would be a decrease in the government's tax-minus-transfer rate from 0.101 to 0.031, taking the form of a $1.5 trillion transfer to households, which could hold consumption spending and output stable over the year. Government borrowing would rise by 7% of GDP, or from $1.56 to $3.03 trillion (compare the two rightmost bars of Figure 1). This hypothetical percentage increase exceeds the actual change between 2007 and 2009 recorded in Table 2.

In other words, the only way to maintain economic activity is for the government to borrow to transfer money to households to support consumption. Ideally, a few hundred billion could be targeted specifically at the poorly paid quarter of the work force in the sectors in the lower part of Table 1, along with poor households who don't receive labor income.

There are more potential complications. Table 2 shows that private investment fell by around 30% between 2007 and 2009. Lower capital formation along with stable profits drove up retained earnings so that business net borrowing fell. Broadly similar shifts could be expected during the epidemic. Exports could decrease as well. On the other hand, increased government spending on goods and services would raise aggregate demand. In the rightmost column of Table 3, a plausible outcome would be a visible recession, despite government borrowing of 17% of GDP, or $3.4 trillion.

Reality check

The initial impact of covid-19 has been to annihilate labor income through the loss of employment. The challenge is to create demand to offset lost wages and consumer spending. The calculations herein are illustrative at best, although government net borrowing in Table 3 is close to the total outlay of stimulus packages approved by Congress. But there are further complications.

` As noted at the outset, more than three trillion dollars of new government debt is a non-trivial increase over the $22 trillion outstanding. Advocates of Modern Monetary Theory suggest that the Federal Reserve could absorb the new issues, adding to the 15% of government paper that it already holds. In the USA such an experiment is yet to be run.

The Fed has offered to intervene massively to buy up corporate debt, which would also run up its balance sheet. Nevertheless, bailouts for business will remain in political competition with transfers to households in bottom tiers of the income distribution which really need the money. The Obama stimulus directed less than half its outlays toward households. There could be better targeting under present circumstances.

Table 1 suggests that profits in some sectors could be taxed to help offset transfers. Real estate, finance, and information jump to attention.

Timing matters. GDP over one year is the reference frame for Table 3. If, as is likely, job losses and demand decreases are not offset over a shorter period, the effects on economic activity could be devastating.

Finally, immediate direct action is needed to overcome supply shortfalls for vast amounts of new medical and caretaker services, not to mention production of personal protective gear for caregivers.

Support from INET and help from Özlem Ömer are gratefully acknowledged.


Another Scott , March 27, 2020 at 7:13 am

One issue I take with this article is that it often classifies money as going to either labor or profits. There is a third category – suppliers. In my experience payments to suppliers has dried up since the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown. Whether because AP and AR aren't considered essential functions, because businesses, even essential businesses, don't have enough cash to pay employees and suppliers, or because they simply don't want to pay supplier. This is creating a cash crunch for businesses, who are cutting down on discretionary activities like advertising and even turning away new sales out of fears new customers won't pay. I have not seen any analysis on the impact of the loss of trade credit.

Jesper , March 27, 2020 at 8:38 am

The importance of trade-credit has been ignored for decades. I had hopes that one positive effect of the ultra-low interest-rates would have been that large customers would stop paying their suppliers so late. It hasn't happened, banks love it as they force the small suppliers to go to the bank and borrow money at high(er) interest-rate and the money lent out by banks would be the low(er) interest-rate provided by the customer.
There is a risk now that the supply-chains freeze completely due to suppliers not being paid and suppliers then stopping supply – either voluntaritly or due to going under. It might be necessary to legislate and enforce maximum payment terms.
What might possibly be happening is more and better automation of the AP/AR-functions. The current automation is often so bad that it increases employment instead of what might be the intended reduction of employment, the next automation (done by skilled professionals, not like now by when it is often done talkers) might (in my opinion very likely) permanently reduce employment.

Grayce , March 27, 2020 at 11:49 am

Aren't suppliers also the likeliest creditors to lose out in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy? Time to write to legislators for nuance in the regs.

notabanktoadie , March 27, 2020 at 2:36 pm

AP? AR?

Now maybe I'm blind but I see no definition of those abbreviations.

Have a little mercy on laymen, please?

Jesper , March 27, 2020 at 2:51 pm

AP=Accounts Payable
AR=Accounts Receivable (most senior executives might not know they have AR, they believe they only have cash-collectors .)

notabanktoadie , March 27, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Thanks, those definitions also just occurred to me on my walk to the grocery store.

It's amazing how the mind works – if I'll just give it time.

But more accurately, in my considered opinion and experience, is this:

Lamentations 3:25-26

Vag , March 27, 2020 at 3:08 pm

accounts payable, accounts receivable

notabanktoadie , March 27, 2020 at 3:27 pm

Thanks to you also; no businessman I, except as a paper boy in High School.

jackiebass , March 27, 2020 at 8:25 am

This has been the M.O. forever and will continue to be the M.O. Te rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

[Mar 27, 2020] How coronavirus epidemics crushed neoliberal globalism: Now Germany one of the citadels of neoliberals in Europe prohibited export of ventilators to other countries

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

augusto , Mar 26 2020 20:46 utc | 41

We know how the USofA has been over last months now harassing, blackmailing an' threatening other countries NOT to adopt the chinese HUawei 5G technologies.
Many nations were threatened, UK, Berlin, Brazil etc

Now Germany the first vassal of the Empire, 'primus inter pares' has seemingly prohibited the exportation of breathers to other countries - who of course need them most.

So what is globalism after all.

A nice idea the rich sell the morons, and tamed nations of the world. But which gets zeroed as soon as their main interests are menaced.

[Mar 27, 2020] Senior officials in the Trump administration agreed to new measures to restrict the global supply of chips to China's Huawei Technologies, sources familiar with the matter said, as the White House ramps up criticism of China over coronavirus.

Mar 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Mar 26 2020 21:56 utc | 66

Is the troop deployment along the Canadian border is to stop anyone interfering in the coming chaos?

Posted by: Ian2 | Mar 26 2020 20:34 utc | 36

You have a point there --the coming chaos after the COVID-19 Health crisis.

Wondering if Trudeau knows about the fences that were erected this morning?

Maybe I missed Trump's tweet on his declaration of War.

- He has imposed more sanctions on Iranians.
- Indicted Maduro of Venezuela on narco trafficking, sponsor of terrorism; placed a $15 million bounty on his head --straight from the Panama playbook.

and this beauty - continues his trade war on China because -----

Exclusive: U.S. prepares crackdown on Huawei's global chip supply - sources

(Reuters) - Senior officials in the Trump administration agreed to new measures to restrict the global supply of chips to China's Huawei Technologies, sources familiar with the matter said, as the White House ramps up criticism of China over coronavirus.

The move comes as ties between Washington and Beijing grow more strained, with both sides trading barbs over who is to blame for the spread of the disease and an escalating tit-for-tat over the expulsion of journalists from both countries.

Under the proposed rule change, foreign companies that use U.S. chipmaking equipment would be required to obtain a U.S. license before supplying certain chips to Huawei. The Chinese telecoms company was blacklisted last year, limiting the company's suppliers.[.]
"This is going to have a far more negative impact on U.S. companies than it will on Huawei, because Huawei will develop their own supply chain," trade lawyer Doug Jacobson said. "Ultimately, Huawei will find alternatives."[.]

Huawei has been doing just that - finding alternatives. Trade wars have been proven to end badly. They end up going hot.

[Mar 26, 2020] COVID-19 and Class in the United States by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... Today supermarkets are playing a ground-zero role in our struggle to adapt to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. And grocery workers are bearing much of the the brunt of our anxiety and frustration, as we [who?] descend on depleted stores. ..."
Mar 26, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

In the United States, #COVID-19 began with globalization and globalizers. One thing we can be of is that grovery workers -- to whom the virus will "trickle down" soon enough -- didn't create the conditions for it, or introduce it. Let's take a look at the grocery workers before dollying back to the global. From the Los Angeles Times, " Column: How coronavirus turned supermarket workers into heroes ":

Today supermarkets are playing a ground-zero role in our struggle to adapt to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. And grocery workers are bearing much of the the brunt of our anxiety and frustration, as we [who?] descend on depleted stores.

Without masks or barriers, employees are working long hours, risking infection and battling exhaustion to do their jobs. They connect us to material essentials, like bread and toilet paper. But they're also part of the social fabric that holds us together in unsettling times.

That friendly chat with the guy restocking the egg case this morning might be my only social interaction on this shelter-at-home day. And I feel better whenever I see my favorite cashier at her register. There's something reassuring about the familiar in a world where everything has changed.

Markets are about the only place we're still allowed to gather en masse. And their employees -- pressed into service in ways they never expected -- are our new first responders. They're apt to see us at our worst, and they aim to ease our strain.

"They're dealing with a public that's fearful, apprehensive and frustrated, and it gets hostile," [said John Grant, a former meatpacker who is president of the union that represents grocery employees in Southern California]. "This wasn't what they signed up for, but they realize it's their responsibility. They've cursed how vulnerable they are, and yet they keep going out of their profound dedication to their communities."

Funny thing. The people who "connect us to material essentials" are suddenly more important than Senators and Represenatives (who can fly home), or all the MBAs in the head office, or the CEOs. Heaven forfend they collectively decided to withdraw their labor!

"Vulnerable" as the grocery workers are, they didn't bring #COVID19 on themselves or us. First, I'll look at how globalization made the "material essentials" to deal with #COVID19 so hard to obtain. Then, I'll look at how globalizers were vectors for the diseases spread.

Globalization

The story of how the United States 1% deindustrialized American by moving our manufacturing base offshore (mostly to China) is well known and I will not rehearse it here. From the New York Times, " How the World's Richest Country Ran Out of a 75-Cent Face Mask ":

The answer to why we're running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies -- the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs.

(By "reduce costs," of course, we mean "increase profits.") The shortage of masks has been the dominant narrative, but we don't make anything . If masks had not been "the long pole in the tent," as project managers say, something else would have been or will be: ventilators , gloves , nasal swabs for testing, extraction kits and pipettes , reagents , whatever. The real issue is not a shortage of this or that material essential, but a forty-year policy of globalization, supported by the ruling class as a whole, that has led to a shortage of all material essentials (and that's not even taking austerity and the general gutting of public services into account). I have altered the famous "flattening the curve" chart (here with "dotted line to show capacity") to show the effect"

Lack of "material essentials" reduces our capacity ("How many very sick people hospitals can treat"); it pushes the dotted line down. So we either have to flatten the curve further than we would otherwise have to do, or we don't, and lose lives. Thank you, globalization! And with that, let's turn to the globalizers.

Globalizers

By globalizers, I mean the 1% on down, plus the PMC (Professional Manager Class) who own and manage our globalized system. One effect of globalization has been the vast expansion of air transport and international travel, so that globalizers can do their jobs. And tha t's how SARS-COV-2 was brought to the United States :

The man who would become Patient Zero for the new coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. appeared to do everything right. He arrived Jan. 19 at an urgent-care clinic in a suburb north of Seattle with a slightly elevated temperature and a cough he'd developed soon after returning four days earlier from a visit with family in Wuhan, China.

(I'm not blaming any individual; I travel internationally myself, and there are many good reasons to do it. But international air travel was the vector that brought the virus to the United States. That is the system. I'm assuming Patient Zero travelled for professional reasons, since Wuhan is an unlikely tourist destination.)

We can make a highly suggestive correlation between globalizers and COVID-19 if we look at two simple maps. First, as is well known , one of the main distinctions between the places that are " optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward " (i.e., globalizers) and the dull provincials in flyover is the possession of passports. (A passport is a likely marker for the sort of person who asks "Why don't they just leave?"; "front-row kids," in Chris Arnade's parlance, as distinguished from, say, grocery workers, who he calls "back-row" kids.) Here is a map of passport ownership by state:

http://maps.unomaha.edu/Map_Sites/US_Passport_Map.htm

And here is a map of COVID-19 outbreaks:

The correlation is rather neat, don't you think? It makes sense that the first case was in a globalist, passport-owning city like Seattle on the West Coast; and it makes sense that the world capital of globalization, passport-owning New York City, now has a major outbreak.

Oh, and the ability to travel by air correlates to income (a proxy for class):

If one hypothesizes, as I am doing, that COVID-19 will trickle from globalizers downward, we might ask ourselves how that will happen. One answer, of course, is social interaction between the globalizers themselves. The New York Times describes " Party Zero: How a Soirée in Connecticut Became a 'Super Spreader ':"

About 50 guests gathered on March 5 at a home in the stately suburb of Westport, Conn., to toast the hostess on her 40th birthday and greet old friends, including one visiting from South Africa. They shared reminiscences, a lavish buffet and, unknown to anyone, the coronavirus.

Then they scattered.

The Westport soirée -- Party Zero in southwestern Connecticut and beyond -- is a story of how, in the Gilded Age of money, social connectedness and air travel, a pandemic has spread at lightning speed. The partygoers -- more than half of whom are now infected -- left that evening for Johannesburg, New York City and other parts of Connecticut and the United States, all seeding infections on the way.

Westport, a town of 28,000 on the Long Island Sound, did not have a single known case of the coronavirus on the day of the party. It had 85 on Monday, up more than 40-fold in 11 days.

It is the globalizers' ability to "scatter," in other words -- both internationally and domestically -- that made them such effective vectors. The Westport hot-spot was innocent, since nobody knew enough about COVID-19. Other examples are not innocent at all, where globalizers infect all those around them by trying to escape the disease. The Hamptons example is famous. From the New York Post, " 'We should blow up the bridges' -- coronavirus leads to class warfare in Hamptons ":

Every aspect of life, most crucially medical care, is under strain from the sudden influx of rich Manhattanites panic-fleeing, bringing along their disdain and disregard for the little people -- and in some cases, knowingly bringing coronavirus.

The Springs resident says her friend, a nurse out here, reported that a wealthy Manhattan woman who tested positive called tiny Southampton Hospital to say she was on her way and needed treatment.

The woman was told to stay in Manhattan.

Instead, she allegedly got on public transportation, telling no one of her condition. Then she showed up at Southampton Hospital, demanding admittance.

"Someone else took a private jet to East Hampton and did not tell anybody 'til he landed," the resident says. "That's the most horrendous aspect. The virus is already here, and we don't have any medical resources."

Everybody loves a "rich people behaving badly" story, but here's a second one. From the Los Angeles Times, " Some of Mexico's wealthiest residents went to Colorado to ski. They brought home coronavirus ":

The frantic effort to find the ski trip participants has highlighted an uncomfortable fact: It is people wealthy enough to travel outside the country who have brought the coronavirus back to mostly poor Mexico. Yet if the disease spreads, it is those with the least who will probably suffer the most.

"The virus is imported by people with the economic capacity to travel," wrote actor Tenoch Huerta on Twitter. "Those who ask that everything be closed and all economic activity stop, hurting the people who live day-to-day, why didn't they voluntarily isolate for three weeks so as not to spread it? Or should only the poor be responsible?"

The same dynamic can be inferred in Blaine Country, Idaho, home of ski resort Sun Valley :

Idaho has 123 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state's coronavirus website. That includes 37 in Ada County and eight in Canyon County. Blaine County, where Sun Valley is located, has the most confirmed cases at 52. Idaho's first case was reported 12 days ago, in Ada County. The number of people tested in the state is now up to 2,188.

(Many of the cases around the state came from travel to Blaine County.)

Finally, Berkshire County, MA:

In my home area of Berkshire County, MA, the superrich from the city who own second homes have come up en masse, buying up all the food and refusing to quarantine. The latter means they will overwhelm an already insufficient healthcare system.

-- Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) March 25, 2020

Conclusion

Of course, this rough-and-ready, anecdotal analysis is no substitute for formal, scientific contact tracing. But I don't think, at this point, we will ever be able trace the original outbreaks. And I didn't see anybody else making this argument, so I thought I'd throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. All I can say is that when I think of the grocery workers -- and all the workers -- in the Hamptons, Mexico, Idaho, and Massachusetts having COVID-19 brought to them, I become very ticked off. For pity's sake, at least can we practice social distancing by traveling only when it's essential?

[Mar 25, 2020] Rumour in the markets has it WHO held out as long as possible to avoid triggering the provisions of World Bank Pandemic Bonds

This is clearly corruption...
Mar 25, 2020 | www.unz.com

The Alarmist , says: Show Comment March 25, 2020 at 10:42 am GMT

@Oddly Enough

The WHO declared a pandemic 50 days later on March 11th.

Rumour in the markets has it WHO held out as long as possible to avoid triggering the provisions of World Bank Pandemic Bonds, for which investors enjoyed relatively high coupon rates in the current low interest-rate environment in exchange for running the risk of losing their principal investment if a pandemic was declared in the window period.

[Mar 25, 2020] By blockading health care products, most proably the same people who have caused all this, may seek that public health care collapsing gives a bad impression so as to get them privatized once the country in depression.

Mar 25, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

H.Schmatz , Mar 24 2020 23:57 utc | 112

WTF?
Six million protection masks for Germany disappeared at the Kenya airport. They were valued at a million dollars. Theft is suspected or that the manufacturer (Belgium) decided to destroy them. Nothing is accidental in disaster capitalism.

https://twitter.com/berlinConfid/status/1242413373830115329

I wonder whether those who seak war at all costs, are now trying to get us fighting for masks and ventilators....

Seeing the comments at SST on the necessities of NYC major, it seesm to me that the same people who seeks always confrontation is always ready to start a fight with its nationals for whatever reason....

In Spain, as I am seeing, even counting with the inability and greed of those at the helms, it seems to me that a "USSR 1990" effect on dissapearing health care items from the market to then make them appear at multiple times their price could be happening right now...

By blockading health care products, most proably the same people who have caused all this, may seek that public health care collapsing gives a bad impression so as to get them privatized once the country in depression.

[Mar 25, 2020] So if you are talking about people in SE Asia and the West hating Chinese for their behaviour, exemplified by the behaviour of Amy Chua to her own daughters and of her family to its Filipino servants, and the behaviour of people in Hong Kong and Singapore with their status-seeking and selfish materialist values, and their adherence to extreme Protestant Christian beliefs, bear in mind where they learned their lessons.

Mar 25, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Moa , Mar 25 2020 0:43 utc | 120

Jen, yes, I am very familiar with the program as I have an acquaintance who helps usher in very wealthy Chinese into Canada for a hefty fee.

That doesn't change the fact the Chinese are hated everywhere they go. This is very well documented in the book entitled World on Fire, by a Chinese American author Amy Chua who also wrote the book Hymn of the Dragon Mother.

She brags about how she pushes her children to achieve more in the second book.

In the first, she explains how her Chinese aunt was murdered by their Filipino servants because the servants were badly treated. Now, you can tell me if the two have any relation to each other.

Apart from TCM which the Chinese got from the Indians and developed, the entire Chinese civilization needs to be scrapped and started over.

Jen , Mar 25 2020 1:27 utc | 122

Moa @ 120:

The Chinese "scrapped" their civilisation starting in the 1950s. By then it was on its last legs anyway, after over 100 years of degradation from mass opium addiction brought by the British, followed by decades of foreign interference and the consequences of that interference: a messianic cult culminating in the Taiping rebellion in the 1860s and then the Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century, among other things.

Amy Chua is just one person whose mother's family came from Fujian province in SE China and settled in the Philippines, along with several other families from that part of China. (Former Philippines President Corazon Aquino also had family from Fujian.) People living in Fujian and Guangdong (the old Canton province) were exposed to more Western / European influences than other parts of China. Fujian and Guangdong are also the areas where most overseas Chinese communities living in SE Asia and the West, up to the 1980s, hailed from.

So if you are talking about people in SE Asia and the West hating Chinese for their behaviour, exemplified by the behaviour of Amy Chua to her own daughters and of her family to its Filipino servants, and the behaviour of people in Hong Kong and Singapore with their status-seeking and selfish materialist values, and their adherence to extreme Protestant Christian beliefs, bear in mind where they learned their lessons.

I speak as one of those you damn.

[Mar 25, 2020] Senator Rand Paul wisely proposed cutting war spending to help pay for the relief package. We should go much, much farther than he proposed and slash hundreds of billions of dollars in annual military spending and instead give it directly to US Citizens here at home.

Mar 25, 2020 | www.unz.com

RadicalCenter , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 4:22 am GMT

@Anon As for people with jobs supposedly not needing the relief checks, speak for yourself. Completely out of touch with how much tens of millions of working Americans are living and struggling, and not just the poor or minimum-wage workers by any means.

Middle-income and upper-middle-income people in many places are struggling with housing costs and medical costs above all, and their situation generally is not improving in recent years.

As a factual correction, the proposals on both sides are not for $1,000 per family; they are for $1,000 or $1,200 or more to each adult, plus $500 for each child, and I'm glad they are.

This would be a better use of taxpayer money -- or money conjured out of thin air by the federal reserve -- than most of what the fed gov has been doing. That includes the vast sums we have spent on unnecessary wars and occupations that are neither defensive nor retaliatory.

Senator Rand Paul wisely proposed cutting war spending to help pay for the relief package. We should go much, much farther than he proposed and slash hundreds of billions of dollars in annual military spending and instead give it directly to US Citizens here at home.

We should also consider placing a permanent floor under Americans, not just a fleeting relief package that ends when this virus quiets down. Very large cuts to the warfare state and the welfare-state bureaucracy alike can provide funding for a substantial monthly universal basic income for all US Citizens age 21 and over -- with less government borrowing than we have now.

Public ownership of our God-given natural resources could provide another large source of funding for the UBI -- without any government borrowing at all.

Of course, these ideas are too responsible for either Dems or Republicans to even debate. Instead, they'll do a sensible and just thing, directly helping Americans rather than big connected corporations and banks, but they'll recklessly borrow to do so.

There is a middle way and we should be negotiating it.

[Mar 25, 2020] When one of Reagan's top bureaucrats is calling for writing down the debt and nationalisation, it is obvious that neo-liberalism is dying

Mar 25, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Mar 24 2020 19:20 utc | 38

1/ @35 And you can include Ontario in that farewell too.

2/ When one of Reagan's top bureaucrats is calling for writing down the debt and nationalisation, it is obvious that neo-liberalism is dying.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/54068.htm

3/ Isn't chloroquine just a new name for Jesuit's (Peruvian) bark? Or quinine. The tonic in gin and tonic?

4/ Tom Paine's 1796 pamphlet 'The English System of Finance' and Cobbett's 'Paper against Gold' are coming into their own. What Disraeli called the Dutch system of finance is what is collapsing, almost 500 years after it began. That was the contradiction in globalisation, one that Rosa Luxemburg had pointed out more than a century ago: we have reached the limits of constant expansion. And not just in environmental terms.

[Mar 24, 2020] We are headed into the unknown. Like the first stages of the collapse of the soviet union.

Mar 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter , Mar 24 2020 10:59 utc | 212

A User
Six months down the track, duopoly voting majority may perhaps be looking to do more than vote for the duopoly, but that's only a maybe. It will take a lot of hardship to pull them away from reality tv...meantime, your comment fits in here like another brick in the wall. Another pissed off human having a winge.

Doing something... seems to me a group with structure, a plan and an endgoal is required and this got out to the wider public. End goal needs to be something that would be accepted by the reality tv watching public and step by step plan to get there...
We havn't hit bottom yet, still a long way from it. Any plan will have to match the situation at the bottom and the way back. But first you gotta get two people to agree on a plan.

We are headed into the unknown. Like the first stages of the collapse of the soviet union.

Putin when asked about Gorbochov and Yeltsin he just says "everyone knew we had to change but nobody knew how to go about it."
Here is somewhat different because in the mainstream types, nobody knows we have to change.
We are likely to go through something akin to the soviet nineties and only then will the population know we need to change because the old ways failed.
Best to play it by ear until that point. Nothing can be done untill the wider population realise that all they have known has failed and a different start must be made. I doubt too many of our countries will have a Putin that can pull us out of the shit. And by a Putin, I mean somebody that has a vision acceptable to the majority and comes to be trusted by the majority and also has the nous and ability required.


[Mar 24, 2020] I got the "flu" in November 2019 and I had the same symptoms as Coronavirus - I thought it was going to kill me

Mar 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Tim E. , Mar 23 2020 23:52 utc | 111

@68 - antares

I got the "flu" in November 2019 and I had the same symptoms as Coronavirus - I thought it was going to kill me - and while I missed some work - work demanded me back - and so I worked through some terrible times. Everyone at work was sick with different levels of symptoms. To this day I have still not 100% recovered - but I am poor and have no health insurance - and, well, everybody has been exposed for months so it doesn't even matter anymore. No one has died - but everyone has a low level persistent respiratory illness.


c1ue , Mar 24 2020 0:24 utc | 114

Again: if nCOV was really already in the US in November - where was the surge in hospitalizations? Regardless of age, ~20% of those who get it, get pneumonia or worse and need hospital care.

We don't even have that right now despite a huge number of cases. Maybe the US and Germany are different - we'll see in about 2 weeks.

Tim E. , Mar 24 2020 0:29 utc | 117
Again: if nCOV was really already in the US in November - where was the surge in hospitalizations?

Because most in US can't afford Hospitals or even have health insurance.

[Mar 24, 2020] With the neocon foreign policy of "full Spectrum Dominance" the USA seems well trapped in its rail tracks

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Daniel Chieh , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 1:21 pm GMT

@Divine Right American conflicts with Russia are based partly on self-serving fictions of the military industrial complex that need an enemy for their continued existence, as well as some more realistic conflicts involving Eastern Europe and rival interests over oil prices. The US need for hegemony, which is highly tied to the value of the dollar as a reserve currency, further thrusts this forward and center(and indeed, into conflict with China as well). This all is intermingled with a [fake and hypocritical] generalized rejection of "authoritarian" governments.

China, on the other hand, has no real current conflicts with Russia – most conflicts involve sales of weaponry and political influence over central Asian states, nothing of vast importance at least compared to being their the target of an enormous world-spanning sanctions order or a dedicated trade war.

Your argument has the weird self-contradiction that the CCP both is supposedly the mind-controlling alien brain of all Asians, while at the same time, not actually benefiting from any specific conflict with Russia. This also ignores the fact that Asians tend to assimilate the highest by any population(at nearly 40% intermarriage in some segments, that Chinese students in particularly no longer tend to stay in the US( only 20% by 2017 ), and that a overwhelming part of the demographic increase by immigration is Indian with long historical and cultural rivalries with China. And far more than Chinese Americans, who often engage in racial masochism(witness Gordan Chang ), Indian Americans are vastly more active and influential in American politics both due to cultural reasons as well as higher verbal IQ. This isn't even hypothetical: Indian American political writers dominate National Interest articles stressing for more hawkish Chinese attitudes and were directly contributory to renaming the South China Seas conflict to the "Indo-Pacific region."

I do agree that the US has long since crippled its resource base. But there's no evidence that Trump, or anyone else, is demonstrating the barest inkling of trying to resolve it(or that it is even possible, given the bueaucratic overload and red tape of regulations). Gould once described evolution as a "drunkard's walk" between complexity, where organisms sometimes fall trapped inside rail tracks, unable to stumble out.

The US seems well trapped in its rail tracks.

Blinky Bill , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 2:35 pm GMT
@Daniel Chieh

Indian American political writers dominate National Interest articles stressing for more hawkish Chinese attitudes and were directly contributory to renaming the South China Seas conflict to the "Indo-Pacific region."

Prime example Saagar Enjeti.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vkqq74knVXM?feature=oembed

neutral , says: Show Comment March 24, 2020 at 3:25 pm GMT
@Blinky Bill This is just further proof that there is a growing Indian problem in America.

[Mar 24, 2020] Trump owns hotels and casinos which will be devastated. that might explain his position on the virus and initial downplaying of the danger

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tor597 , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:30 pm GMT

Actually, Trump was downplaying Corona Virus as late as March 9th.

https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1237027356314869761

One thing I think played a role that is not mentioned is Trumps business that he owns. He owns hotels and casinos which will be devastated. Trump wont rule out government assistance for himself.

For Trump to shut down the economy and produce an effective containment, he would have had to do this knowing that his own business would be devastated.

https://mol.im/a/8138335

[Mar 24, 2020] Many Italians in Northern Italy sold their leather goods and textiles companies to China. Italy then allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan/Wenzhou to move to Italy to work in these factories, with direct Wuhan flights. Result: Northern Italy is Europe's hotspot for Wuhan Coronavirus

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Felix Keverich , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 4:37 pm GMT

@Anatoly Karlin There is apparently a large colony (100.000) of Chinese workers in Lombardy, with direct flights between Lombardy and Wuhan, so this Italian outbreak is not a coincidence.

Many Italians in Northern Italy sold their leather goods and textiles companies to China. Italy then allowed 100,000 Chinese from Wuhan/Wenzhou to move to Italy to work in these factories, with direct Wuhan flights. Result: Northern Italy is Europe's hotspot for Wuhan Coronavirus

-- George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) March 18, 2020

UK had a "herd immunity" strategy from the beginning. They made no real effort at containment. British government allowed their people to become infected, and only began to change course after public outrage.

Europe Europa , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 4:48 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich The large Chinese population in Italy has been completely ignored by the media, in fact China itself seems to have been let completely off the hook. The focus is now on how terrible Britain and the native British people are.

Someone even posted a Tweet above by a Vietnamese person trying to claim that BRITAIN of all countries is responsible for the outbreak in Vietnam, I mean what kind of ridiculous logic is that? Vietnam bloody BORDERS China, the origin and epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak, and the Vietnamese are trying to say Britain is the cause? It beggars belief.

[Mar 24, 2020] Manufacturing in cheap Third World countries and rewarding the local compradors with a permission to migrate to the West as contributing factor to the coronavirus epidemic

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Beckow , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 6:56 pm GMT

@AP

less globalization outside North America/Europe/Japan/Australia

You are missing the point of globalization: manufacturing in cheap Third World countries and rewarding the local compradors with a permission to migrate to the West. That's the deal, that's what globalization is.

With NA-Europe-Japan all you get is tourism and travel. I would be surprised if we can at this point convince Chinese and the other cheap labor countries to do the work and forgo the hope of migration. It was a Faustian deal and those as we know end in hell.

utu , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm GMT
@AP Calm down, man and stop the stupid blaming game. It seems that your Banderite spin also includes bashing Chinese which, on the second thought, should not be surprising as there is only one paymaster. Perhaps you should specialize in Ukraine only and leave China to more competent haters.

Compare Canada and Italy on Chinese residents: Canada has 5 times more Chinese than Italy but 62 times less infection cases and 539 times less fatalities than Italy (as of March 16). Furthermore France and UK have more Chinese than Italy.

What about tourists: In Canada 0.75 mil Chinese tourist but in Italy 3.5 mil Chinese tourists. So it must be the tourists, right?

So compare Japan with Italy on Chinese tourists: 8.4 mil Chinese tourist in Japan vs. 3.5 mil Chinese tourists in Italy. How many cases in Japan?

So what I am trying to convey is that the expression of the epidemic in different countries is not congruent with the number of Chinese residents or Chinese tourist.

We will never know where the patients zero (yes plural, there are many patients zero) really came from. For various political reasons we will not be told and what we will be told we must be skeptical about. I found interesting data about the first infected in British Columbia that has huge rather affluent Chinese population. There were as many Iranians as non-Iranians on the list.

In British Columbia cases 1 to 5 were from China though it does not appear they infected others while cases 6, 7, , 12 and 14, 15, 19 were traced to Iran. Then the case 22 was from Iran and also case 31. Case 32 was from Italy, case 35 was from Egypt and case 37 was from Germany. So out of first 37 cases over 50% were people came form Iran, Egypt, Germany and Italy. My point is that while Canada has huge Chinese population (1.7 mil) and gets 700,000 Chinese visitors per year it does not look like China was the main vector. In BC it is Iran and Europe.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/covid-19-coronavirus-canadian-cases

One should consider a possibility whether virus introduction to Iran and the Middle East did precede its introduction in China.

Now let's return to Italy. Most Chinese tourists go to Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities were not affected as much as Lombardy where there is not that many tourists. So we are told that Chinese workers could carry the virus. So look at Prato (in Tuscany near Florence) which has the highest density of Chinese population in Italy. Wiki lists 11,882 (6.32%) for Prato while the highest absolute number is Milan 18,918 (1.43%). The numbers are probably outdated as most likely they do not include illegal residents.

On March 11 Italy had 12,246 cases.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

So I checked what Prato had on March 11:

https://iltirreno.gelocal.it/prato/cronaca/2020/03/11/news/coronavirus-casi-triplicati-a-prato-e-il-giorno-piu-nero-1.38580402
Coronavirus, casi triplicati a Prato: è il giorno più nero

"In a single day the positive cases of coronavirus in the province of Prato have tripled: from 7 to 21 . It is the darkest day since the outbreak began. According to what was announced in the afternoon of today, March 11, by the bulletin of the regional council "

"Therefore, 314 patients are currently positive in Tuscany. This is the subdivision by signaling areas: 71 Florence, 32 Pistoia, 21 Prato (total Asl center: 124), 43 Lucca, 40 Massa Carrara, 34 Pisa, 16 Livorno (total North West Asl: 133), 12 Grosseto, 37 Siena , 14 Arezzo (total Asl southeast: 63)."

So clearly the 2nd largest Chinese community in Italy (and first in density) with 21 cases (out of 12,246 cases in Italy) did not contribute a lot to the corona virus outbreak in Italy.

utu , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:01 pm GMT
@AP Calm down, man and stop the stupid blaming game. It seems that your Banderite spin also includes bashing Chinese which, on the second thought, should not be surprising as there is only one paymaster. Perhaps you should specialize in Ukraine only and leave China to more competent haters.

Compare Canada and Italy on Chinese residents: Canada has 5 times more Chinese than Italy but 62 times less infection cases and 539 times less fatalities than Italy (as of March 16). Furthermore France and UK have more Chinese than Italy.

What about tourists: In Canada 0.75 mil Chinese tourist but in Italy 3.5 mil Chinese tourists. So it must be the tourists, right?

So compare Japan with Italy on Chinese tourists: 8.4 mil Chinese tourist in Japan vs. 3.5 mil Chinese tourists in Italy. How many cases in Japan?

So what I am trying to convey is that the expression of the epidemic in different countries is not congruent with the number of Chinese residents or Chinese tourist.

We will never know where the patients zero (yes plural, there are many patients zero) really came from. For various political reasons we will not be told and what we will be told we must be skeptical about. I found interesting data about the first infected in British Columbia that has huge rather affluent Chinese population. There were as many Iranians as non-Iranians on the list.

In British Columbia cases 1 to 5 were from China though it does not appear they infected others while cases 6, 7, , 12 and 14, 15, 19 were traced to Iran. Then the case 22 was from Iran and also case 31. Case 32 was from Italy, case 35 was from Egypt and case 37 was from Germany. So out of first 37 cases over 50% were people came form Iran, Egypt, Germany and Italy. My point is that while Canada has huge Chinese population (1.7 mil) and gets 700,000 Chinese visitors per year it does not look like China was the main vector. In BC it is Iran and Europe.

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/covid-19-coronavirus-canadian-cases

One should consider a possibility whether virus introduction to Iran and the Middle East did precede its introduction in China.

Now let's return to Italy. Most Chinese tourists go to Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities were not affected as much as Lombardy where there is not that many tourists. So we are told that Chinese workers could carry the virus. So look at Prato (in Tuscany near Florence) which has the highest density of Chinese population in Italy. Wiki lists 11,882 (6.32%) for Prato while the highest absolute number is Milan 18,918 (1.43%). The numbers are probably outdated as most likely they do not include illegal residents.

On March 11 Italy had 12,246 cases.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

So I checked what Prato had on March 11:

https://iltirreno.gelocal.it/prato/cronaca/2020/03/11/news/coronavirus-casi-triplicati-a-prato-e-il-giorno-piu-nero-1.38580402
Coronavirus, casi triplicati a Prato: è il giorno più nero

"In a single day the positive cases of coronavirus in the province of Prato have tripled: from 7 to 21 . It is the darkest day since the outbreak began. According to what was announced in the afternoon of today, March 11, by the bulletin of the regional council "

"Therefore, 314 patients are currently positive in Tuscany. This is the subdivision by signaling areas: 71 Florence, 32 Pistoia, 21 Prato (total Asl center: 124), 43 Lucca, 40 Massa Carrara, 34 Pisa, 16 Livorno (total North West Asl: 133), 12 Grosseto, 37 Siena , 14 Arezzo (total Asl southeast: 63)."

So clearly the 2nd largest Chinese community in Italy (and first in density) with 21 cases (out of 12,246 cases in Italy) did not contribute a lot to the corona virus outbreak in Italy.

Daniel Chieh , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 7:10 pm GMT
@AP

If this started in the USA and spread elsewhere the world would have good cause to condemn the USA and to judge any subsequent efforts by Americans to help others as "the least they could do."

Chinese shipments of medical goods are actually to the risk of the own population, where hospitals are still recovering. While in some ways it is a blatant PR play, its quite a significant cost amd self-risk that goes beyond "the least they could do."

[Mar 24, 2020] Chinese settlers in northern Italy.

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

AP , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:09 pm GMT

@TheTotallyAnonymous

The Chinese are showing an unprecedented amount of humanity, morality and basic decency by giving medical aid to more than half the world in genuinely useful forms despite almost everyone shitting on them by calling this a "Chinese virus" and other garbage.

... ... ...

Here is an article about them in the New York Times. Written soon before the onset of the plague. It would not be written now – there's too obvious a connection between open borders, multiculturalism, and death:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/business/italy-china-far-right.html

As Prato's factories went dark, people began arriving from China to exploit an opportunity.

Most were from Wenzhou, a coastal city famed for its entrepreneurial spirit. They took over failed workshops and built new factories. They imported fabric from China, sewing it into clothing. They cannily imitated the styles of Italian fashion brands, while affixing a valuable label to their creations -- "Made in Italy."

Chinese groceries and restaurants have emerged to serve the local population. On the outskirts of the city, Chinese-owned warehouses overflow with racks of clothing destined for street markets in Florence and Paris.

Among Italian textile workers who have veered to the right, the arrival of the Chinese tends to get lumped together with African migration as an indignity that has turned Prato into a city they no longer recognize.

"I don't think it's fair that they come to take jobs away from Italians," says Ms. Travaglini, the laid-off textile worker. She claims that Chinese companies don't pay taxes and violate wage laws, reducing pay for everyone.

Since losing her job at a textile factory nearly three years ago, Ms. Travaglini has survived by fixing clothes for people in her neighborhood. "There are no jobs, not even for young people," she says.

Chinese-owned factories have jobs, she acknowledges, but she will not apply. "That's all Chinese people," she says, with evident distaste. "I don't feel at ease."

:::::::::::

Lots of Ukrainians there also. They don't bring such a virus to Italy, but they bring the virus back to Ukraine.

::::::::::

So nice PR move after killing lots of European old people. One of the sacrificed in Milan to this virus, Vittorio Gregotti, was an architect who helped build the city. Killed by the Chinese virus. A symbol of native Italy replaced by migration.

[Mar 24, 2020] The Chinese have internal natural resources and have been vigorously working world wide to obtain rights to, develop, and extract mineral and energy resources in order to keep production going

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Alfa158 , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 3:25 pm GMT

@Kim The Chinese have internal natural resources and have been vigorously working world wide to obtain rights to, develop, and extract mineral and energy resources in order to keep production going. See the documentary Empire of Dust about Chinese getting the rights to African resources and developing the infrastructure to extract them. Also following the supposed "war for oil" in Iraq the oil contracts went almost entirely to China. China has a lot of the mines for the rare earths needed in modern technological products. The largest single mine used to be in California. A Chinese company bought and re-opened it.

In effect they already own or have contracts for what they need and are much less leveraged than we are.

As to whether their customers can continue to pay for it, that is a different kettle of fish. The rest of us have been running up our credit card with them. We have been paying it off by selling off our countries piece by piece through Chinese purchases of real estate, businesses, port facilities etc. As China has grown economically they have been developing their internal market to reduce dependence on Wal-Mart so that might reduce the impact of poorer foreign markets.

In any event they own a huge infrastructure in plants tooling and human expertise for making things. Our leaders have deliberately hollowed ours out for profits and cheaper consumer goods.

[Mar 24, 2020] Actual morality reinforces social solidarity, which is why our neoliberal overlords have been attempting to destroy it for so long.

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Dutch Boy , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm GMT

Actual morality reinforces social solidarity, which is why our overlords have been attempting to destroy it for so long. Social solidarity is the key to overcoming crises in general and not just the present Covid 19 pandemic.

[Mar 23, 2020] The West was exposed, not only for not being able to handle a pandemic, but also for having a ponzi scheme economy.

Mar 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

Tor597 , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:34 am GMT

Other things of note:

1) The West was exposed, not only for not being able to handle a pandemic, but also for having a ponzi scheme economy.

Having its citizens and its companies leveraged up to a point where America can collapse with any amount of hardship badly exposes America as being exceptionally weak.

2) Decoupling of Asia from America. For the West to try and target the Chinese, there will be fallout. It's not like white people bother to distinguish Chinese from Korean or Japanese when they harass Asians they see.

This will have consequences in Asia as Asian countries will just focus on trading with each other than have to deal with a hostile west.

3) America cannot exist in a multipolar world, it can only exist in a unipolar world that it controls. So it will not just be a decoupling of China and America, it will be escalation between America and China till one is left standing.

You can expect to see color revolutions in HK and Taiwan. Meanwhile China will have no reason to show any restraint in fighting back. China could target the west in Iran, Venezuela, or even in the US by tormenting color revolutions of it's own.

4) it is easy to say that America will just trade more with Europe, but how does that work? Drug prices are already too high in America, so now America will pay even higher prices?

Trading more with Latin America makes more sense to me, but I also don't think Latin America is up to it.

5) I honestly don't think America will be the same country after the outbreak is over. Things are already cracking early on, how will Americans pull together 3 months in?

How will America pull together if Trump pulls war time authority?

[Mar 23, 2020] Life and Death under Liberalism by Andrew Joyce

Mar 23, 2020 | www.unz.com

As stated in my review of Don DeLillo's White Noise (1985), we live in a decaying society that is in terror of death, and pathologically so. This pathology is rooted in mistaken beliefs that our civilization is dying from, or could imminently die from, disease epidemics, climate catastrophes etc., in the midst of willful and ignorant abdication of a future (via self-hate and industrialized abortion) in favor of mass immigration, consumerism, and instant gratification. Just as one has to confront death in order to truly live (or to become "authentic" in Heidegger's philosophy), our society is in constant flight from death and thus inevitably collapses into inauthentic decay. COVID-19, while not as lethal as media coverage would suggest, is a reminder of our mortality and human fragility and will necessarily have a jarring effect on a Western liberalism that has become increasingly distant from the confrontation with death.

Life under liberal finance capitalism is largely one of illusion, in which the prospect of real death is pushed far into the distance, both psychologically and culturally. Postmodern Western liberal culture is largely one of perpetual adolescence, in which the primary virtues are acting according to one's individual will, identifying oneself in a hyper-individualistic manner, and expressing these identities via conspicuous consumption and behavior. We do not "live towards" Death, with a sense of purpose and a feeling that we are part of a much grander civilizational trajectory. We do not understand that Death has shaped our historical path, and that it hangs over us in ways that should direct our actions in the present.

COVID-19, regardless of current confusion over its true mortality rate, is a corrective to illusions that "progressive" Man has overcome Nature and can shape the world according to the human image, and without consequences. Certainly throughout my own lifetime, I've grown accustomed to assertions that life expectancy will continue to increase, and that there will be an endless supply of innovations and social projects that will make the mechanics of life easier and more productive.

One increasingly expects that one will live a long life, mostly in very good health. Such a sense of security can breed all kinds of arrogance and fantasies, including the recent perverse luxury of the delusion that one can simply decide to be this or that gender. This new virus, however, presents the possibility, both in itself and its inevitable heirs, that Death is much closer than we ever thought, and that for all our technological advancement and self-congratulation, Nature need only tweak one molecule, so small our naked eyes could never perceive it, and the grave opens before us. The Age of Fantasy is confronted with the ultimate reality.

How the West responds to this realization will be a further cultural challenge. We have grown equally accustomed to the idea that we have "advanced" morally as a society, and that we have overcome some of the more "brutish" aspects of human existence that we perceive in the past. But in a world of apparently increasing plenty, such notions can be hard to test. It's always easy for a man with a full stomach to condemn the actions of the starving. The conceit of the full-bellied West that it has overcome and surpassed itself and its past will now be tested. I, of course, arise from a political and philosophical tradition that insists there is no shame in the past. I see little or no place for morality in the struggle for survival. And I also see the cracks already forming in the Western conceit. This society that is against "hate" and prides itself on "coming together" is already struggling to stop people rioting over toilet paper and bottled water. If civil order breaks down, will the proud feminists be seeking their own resources, or hoping for a strong man to protect them? If the death toll does rise dramatically, and if curfews and lockdowns are imposed and intensified, I ask: How well will your beloved multicultural societies respond? If resources become scarce and tensions rise, who will you trust? These tests are coming.

Economic and Political Fallout

Just days ago, JPMorgan projected that a recession will hit the US and European economies by July, with US GDP to shrink by 2% in the first quarter and 3% in the second, and Eurozone GDP to contract by 1.8% and 3.3% over the same periods. Sudden cessation of economic activity through quarantines, event cancellations, social distancing, and the almost complete shutdown of the tourist industry will have both immediate and longer term consequences for national economies and broader trade patterns. The mass closing of schools will expose pre-existing weaknesses in a modern system that sees women funneled en masse into the work place while their children are left in day cares or schools. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70 percent of American mothers with children under 18 work. Through the closing of schools alone, the impact of COVID-19 will almost certainly have the greatest impact on the role of women in the workplace since World War Two, with many forced to leave work and return to the home for an as yet undetermined amount of time. How this will impact the businesses or public entities employing these women remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly cause significant difficulties and necessitate some level of infrastructural change.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is also projected to test Western healthcare provision to the limit. It's been particularly interesting that the outbreak in Italy effectively broke the health system in Lombardy, widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Before the outbreak, it was remarked that:

The Lombardy healthcare system, characterised by quality and efficiency, is a model of reference both in Italy and worldwide. With the benefit of private partnerships in fact, it ensures its citizens and those who live in other regions or abroad have access to prime level health care with all the advantages of a public system. Lombardy has 56 University Departments of Medicine, 19 IRCCS (IRCCS means an institution devoted to excellence in clinical care and research) which represent 42% of the national total, 47 Institutes and 32 Research Centres. As a result, Lombardy and in particular Milan have always attracted the most renowned physicians in every field of expertise.

It took COVID-19 just four weeks to exhaust every hospital bed in Lombardy, force doctors out of retirement and medical students to graduate early, and provoke the creation of 500 triage tents outside hospitals nationwide. The different, and ever-politicized, healthcare systems of the United States and Great Britain are about to experience the most intensive test in their respective histories.

One of the most outspoken figures from the medical profession on social media in recent days is Eugene Gu , who has made a point of attacking the profit-seeking nature of much of the American medical establishment. Gu has argued that American medicine is essentially a pyramid scheme that profits those at the top by artificially restricting the number of doctors produced by the system:

The medical school and residency system in the United States is completely broken compared to other countries. Now that we are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, we need to reflect upon an abusive system that hurts patients and seeks to make a few specialists filthy rich. Even before the coronavirus, we created a huge physician shortage by limiting spots in medical schools to inflate doctors' salaries the same way De Beers fixes the diamond market. And we gutted primary care so that specialists like plastic surgeons and dermatologists can get rich. I took an oath to "first, do no harm." I cannot just stand by and watch as the corrupt cesspool we call our American medical system fails our patients while a few doctors, insurance executives, and Big Pharma get filthy rich. Medicine should not be a for-profit industry.

Whether or not one agrees with Dr Gu's perspective, the coming weeks and months will test both American for-profit medicine and Britain's nationalized health system, and perhaps leave long term political legacies for both.

Political consequences will also inevitably result from the approaches of individual leaders to the crisis. Boris Johnson is risking his political future on a " herd immunity " strategy that is radically different from the course of action pursued by other leaders. It's been criticized as involving the sacrifice of the older generation for a slightly prolonged period of economic normalcy and an entirely assumed future immunity among the young.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, is quickly trying to move on from a highly dismissive initial response to the outbreak. In both cases, and throughout the West, moderately "conservative" populism based on the celebration of finance capitalism and token gestures on borders will be tested to the limit by increasing strains on all aspects of social, political, and economic life. Trump, in particular, has managed to squeeze a lot of political mileage out of the performance of the stock market. With stocks tumbling, and the American healthcare system pushed to the limit, it remains to be seen whether Trump's drive to make gay sex legal in Africa will be enough to keep his voters happy.

In another return of the Real, of course, COVID-19 is doing more to close borders than any expression of political populism ever has. It was all well and good that "the world is a village" when this involved cheap and cheerful vacations, but all it took was a few houses in the throes of sickness for the rest of the villagers to wish there was somewhere they could escape to. The global village is in shutdown. All humans might be equally susceptible to this virus, but national borders, so often scorned until recently, now reveal they might have some uses after all – just one of them being the invaluable opportunity to seal and control a limited territory. How people grow accustomed to this renewed emphasis on border control may leave a lasting political legacy for the West also. In any case, we can only hope it will.

[Mar 23, 2020] Looks like the virus further damage neoliberalism

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Mar 22 2020 19:39 utc | 60

The idea advanced on the last thread [by Vk and here @7 and 39 I think] that governments should be organized around something different than economics is sound and worthy of everyone's input, ideas and objections; discussion is needed and welcome.

International human to human discussion should take place. Human experience with nation state globalism has shown just how vulnerable humanity is to organized and institutionalized corruption; the actions of the leaders of individual nations have shown the nation state system cannot be trusted.

The Covid 19 pandemic has reminded us all that we as humans <= have a right to a government that is of our collective liking, we have learned that governments must serve the best interest of the most persons, not special interest of a few. Governments which fail to serve equal right, open access and equal chance to those it governs are prima facia legitimates. Covid 19 brought the meaning of the principle of self-determination to the forefront. Everyone's life is challenged by submicroscopic beast. It takes the cooperation of all of us, to save most of us, and it takes the corruption of a few, to ruin it all, for most of us.

Human rights come first, long before economics . No economic rationale can support the delay or justify the cost of failure for those entrusted with the power to act, should they fail to timely act with diligence on threat that human lives are in danger. Experience suggest it is not possible to leave the power, function, and direction of government to those whose responsibility it is to operate it <= something very different is needed.

Covid 19 was a wake up call , that makes real the unfulfilled and failed campaign promises in a never ending trail of campaigns. Its time for everyone to insist on truth, truth in media, truth in political campaigns, open book truth from those appointed to government, and to bring everyone's troops home. Its time for nation states to stop supporting the private oil and gas bandits, the MSM, or any other special interest, its time to make a single global currency that bears no interest and that does not require repayment of principal, its time for governments to stop arming belligerents, their own or those of anyone else (gun control should be transformed into between governments, weapons control and the persons of all humans everywhere should be equally armed), its time to stop one nation instigating or supporting regime change in another, and its time to deny government leaders from using the governments they lead, to enable private or corrupt profits. Every human has a right to life, liberty and to pursuit of happiness: <=governments were instituted to secure to mankind the enjoyment of the privilege of those rights; but it seems mankind has been lax in making these governments conform to their privilege of existence.

A $0 military budget, and no interest, no repay currency could bring the credit needed to create multi many places of employment, AWA fix ailing infra structures, improve access to, even make access globally universal. It could improve the quality of education and open to everyone<= fair play, access to capital (instead of venture capital expecting reward of profit, how about advances of capital in search of human progress). which could enable real progress on earth for mankind.

Its time to eliminate the dependency on, or even the existence of those monopolies nation states like to create out of thin air by using their power to invent by rule of law, powers that restrain true competition (license, privatized government ownership, special authority, patents, copyrights, and the private property ownership).

It time to stop over hyped , Wall Street multi global type greed which only exist because currency is used as control devise, instead of a facilitator. Nation states should facilitate humans to interact, in ways transparent to the nation state boundaries (Its economics, that encourages non sharing attitudes, that cause competitors to seek ways to use governments to restrain human inter action). Humans should try to replace foreign products with locally made goods and the foreign goods producers should be encouraged to make goods in places where the goods have a demand because demand produces jobs and provides opportunity, globalism organized to produce economic gains, often attempt to steal from locals the benefits of demand created by the locals. The local province rule should apply: that is if locals want to make it, multinationals should be denied. The billions saved to the global economy in unexpended energy consumption (no transport cost), could bring prices of goods and services to comparative advantage adjusted market price levels. I predict, the poor would prosper because they would have an opportunity to contribute to our global human society, and government would be re instituted to encourage and enforce equality for all to those it governs. Governments should restrain and deny wealth, but they should encourage and facilitate local competition. At one time people elected their representatives based on performance in accord to those ideals. Currency that carries no interest and that never needs to be repaid, challenges economic induced greed and redirects the efforts of mankind to providing that which is needed.

In 1949 the income tax in USA governed America was layered into tiers (where different tax rates were applied); the USA taxed those who made big bucks at 90% in its highest tier .. Seem to recall Briton had something similar [100% of everything over $150,000 pounds of taxable Income?]. From here => http://www.milefoot.com/math/businessmath/taxes/fit.htm <=i made a table
year rate@personal taxable income level
1941 81% @$5,000,000
1942-1943 88% @$200,000
1944-1945 94% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate.
1946-1947 91% @$200,000 The tax limited to a 90% effective rate (85.5% >credits).
1948-1951 91% @$400,000 The tax limited to a 77% effective rate in 1948-1949, .
1952-1953 92% @$400,000 The tax was limited to an 88% effective rate.

corporate rate from http://www.milefoot.com/math/businessmath/taxes/fit.htm I made a small table.
1942- 1945 40% > $50,000
1946- 1949 38% > $50,000
1950 42% > $25,000
1951 50.75% > $25,000
1952- 1963 52% > $25,000
1964 52% > $25,000
1965- 1967 48% > $25,000
1968- 1969 52.8% > $25,000

These numbers suggest a long winded story of useless corruption.

[Mar 21, 2020] Tulsi Gabbard says insider traders should be 'investigated prosecuted,' as Left and Right team up on profiteering senator

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "better prepared than ever ..."
"... "akin to the 1918 pandemic." ..."
"... "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," ..."
"... "Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks." ..."
"... "stomach churning," ..."
"... "For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," ..."
"... "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself." ..."
"... "If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," ..."
"... "calling for immediate investigations" ..."
"... "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws." ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Mar 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, commenters from all sides have demanded swift punishment for US senators who dumped stock after classified Covid-19 briefings. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called for criminal prosecution. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) has received daily briefings on the threat posed by Covid-19 since January. Burr insisted to the public that America was ready to handle the virus, but sold up to $1.5 million in stocks on February 13, less than a week before the stock market nosedived, according to Senate filings . Immediately before the sale, Burr wrote an op-ed assuring Americans that their government is "better prepared than ever " to handle the virus.

Also on rt.com Liberal icon Sean Penn wants a 'compassionate' army deployment to fight Covid-19

After the sale, NPR reported that he told a closed-door meeting of North Carolina business leaders that the virus actually posed a threat "akin to the 1918 pandemic." Burr does not dispute the NPR report.

In a tweet on Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for criminal investigations. "Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated and prosecuted for insider trading," she wrote.

"Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks."

Congress/staff who dumped stocks after private briefings on impending coronavirus epidemic should be investigated & prosecuted for insider trading (the STOCK Act). It is illegal & abuse of power. Members of Congress should not be allowed to own stocks. https://t.co/rbVfJxrk3r

-- Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 21, 2020

Burr was not the only lawmaker on Capitol Hill to take precautions, it was reported. Fellow Intelligence Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and her husband sold off more than a million dollars of shares in a biotech company five days later, while Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe (R) made a smaller sale around the same time. Both say their sales were routine.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) attended a Senate Health Committee briefing on the outbreak on January 24. The very same day, she began offloading stock, dropping between $1.2 and $3.1 million in shares over the following weeks. The companies whose stock she sold included airlines, retail outlets, and Chinese tech firm Tencent.

She did, however, invest in cloud technology company Oracle, and Citrix, a teleworking company whose value has increased by nearly a third last week, as social distancing measures forced more and more Americans to work from home. All of Loeffler's transactions were made with her husband, Jeff Sprecher, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) have joined the clamor of voices demanding punishment. Ocasio-Cortez described the sales as "stomach churning," while Omar reached across the aisle to side with Fox News' Tucker Carlson in calling for Burr's resignation.

I am 💯 with him on this 😱 https://t.co/Gbi3i2BagY

-- Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 20, 2020

"For a public servant it's pretty hard to imagine many things more immoral than doing this," Carlson said during a Friday night monolog. "Richard Burr had critical information that might have helped the people he is sworn to protect. But he hid that information and helped only himself."

As of Saturday, there are nearly 25,000 cases of Covid-19 in the US, with the death toll heading towards 300. Now both sides of the political aisle seem united in disgust at the apparent profiteering of Burr, Loeffler, and Feinstein.

Right-wing news outlet Breitbart savaged Burr for voting against the STOCK Act in 2012, a piece of legislation that would have barred members of Congress from using non-public information to profit on the stock market. At the same time, a host of Democratic figures - including former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Kirsten Gillibrand - weighed in with their own criticism too.

"If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest," Yang tweeted on Friday.

If you find out about a nation-threatening pandemic and your first move is to adjust your stock portfolio you should probably not be in a job that serves the public interest.

-- Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) March 20, 2020

Watchdog group Common Cause has filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee "calling for immediate investigations" of Burr, Loeffler, Feinstein and Inhofe "for possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws."

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Mar 21, 2020] Tucker Senator Burr sold shares after virus briefing - YouTube

Highly recommended!
Mar 21, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Bowhead31 , 5 hours ago

The problem is these people no longer see themselves as public servants.

Maria Summers , 6 hours ago

The Georgia Senator is just as guilty as the rest of them, regarding "Insider Trading".

shane passey , 3 hours ago

She's a crook just like the rest of the politicians. They say they be there for the people. But they're really there to make themselves rich

[Mar 21, 2020] How neoliberalism treats workers in case of calamity

Mar 21, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Serf

Qantas Airways: the flag carrier of Australia Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia and its largest airline by fleet size, international flights and international destinations

The crisis hit and Qantas sends home 20,000 workers or two thirds of its workforce of 30,000. Go home with no pay . The company management is proud of implementing such measures to save the Australian icon.

Qantas, once a government owned entity, is a civilisational symbol of strength and prestige. But with such behaviour, shouldn't we ask the question: what are these Strength and Prestige built upon?

[Mar 20, 2020] ProPublica reported on Thursday that republican Senator Burr sold off up to $1.56 million in stock on February 13th, as he was reassuring the public about coronavirus preparedness.

Mar 20, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Augustin L , Mar 19 2020 23:39 utc | 231

Bernhard when will Chump and his neo-confederates drain the swamp ? "ProPublica reported on Thursday that republican Senator Burr sold off up to $1.56 million in stock on February 13th, as he was reassuring the public about coronavirus preparedness. At the time, Burr and the Intelligence Committee were receiving daily briefings about COVID-19.

Three weeks ago, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee privately warned dozens of donors about the harrowing impact the coronavirus would have on the United States, while keeping the general public in the dark.

In a secret recording obtained by NPR, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr is heard giving attendees of a club luncheon a much different message than most federal government officials, especially President Trump, were giving the public at the time.

"There's one thing that I can tell you about this," Burr said, "It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history." He added, "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic."

That pandemic claimed more than 600,000 American lives...

Burr warned the business leaders about effects on travel 13 days before the State Department released info on restrictions and 15 days before the Trump administration banned European travelers." https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/secret-recording-intelligence-chairman-warning-donors-about-coronavirus-weeks-ago-969767/?fbclid=IwAR3FdNapk5KbzhnftTNZy-PH7GGhIM-mk_0zDH2Uwj40mEXFa-nIM4B0oNM

[Mar 20, 2020] Tucker Carlson and China bashing

Mar 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Minnesota Mary , says: Show Comment March 19, 2020 at 11:37 pm GMT

@FB I, too, have been disappointed in Tucker Carlson's China bashing. I have thought that he was the best on FOX News, but now he is getting to be as bad as Sean Hannity.

We may never know the origin of the coronavirus. It is foolish to try and assign blame at this point.

[Mar 19, 2020] The neoliberal imperial regime is not only brittle and riven through with corruption but run by talents selected in an anti-meritocratic way

Mar 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Mar 19 2020 16:47 utc | 69

There is a common idea behind all the various theories that attribute the pandemic to government action, ruling class planning or financial manipulators.

And that is the idea that the ruling class/establishment/tptb,1%-call them what you will- are all powerful, wise, though evil, and capable of defeating any popular resistance.

The people claiming now that the virus was unloosed to enable an attack on Iran, those who claim that it was produced as a smokescreen to obscure the collapse of the financial system, those who see it as a means to steal away our last liberties and to knock a dying democracy on the head, even those who see it as an out of control experiment , if you look at their posts in the past, are generally going to be found to be the same people who thought that the US military could not be defeated, that Syria was bound to fall, that Venezuela and Cuba were toast. And that Hezbollah and Ansarullah stood no chance against the vast forces arrayed against them.

The idea is always the same: the Empire is indefatigable, the greedy mediocrities who run it (many of them public figures whose characters are daily open to examination) have foreseen all possibilities. Resistance is useless. We are all doomed.

In fact, as people who don't have the leisure to indulge themselves in these gloomy excuses for inaction and apathy are always demonstrating, the imperial regime is not only brittle and riven through with corruption but run by talents selected in an anti-meritocratic way. The reason that Petraeus, for example, rose to the top of the US military machine was that he was a slimy careerist of the sort we have all come across, and, if we have been doing our duty, trod on, in our lives: as a General he was clueless, unoriginal and, because he was immoral and cynical, quite unable to understand how Iraqis would react to his crude terrorist methods. Unfortunately he was caught out by his lust; had he maintained a respectable image he would probably, by now, be into his second term as President and making Trump look competent.

And what is true of the Pentagon is equally true of those running the US economy, Wall St and the banking system: they are utterly witless. Look around you for the fruits of their wisdom.

In fact the entire political class of the US, ably assisted by its clownish puppets elsewhere, has brought the system that they worship to the brink of dissolution. Class rule teeters on the edge of massive uprisings.

And this is not-I have already taken up too much space and time- because the pandemic was planned but because despite its predictability, the near certainty that the seven good years would be followed by plagues and famines, they could not restrain themselves from dismantling the safety nets-from flood controls to food reserves to healthcare services designed to be able to expand when needed to deal with emergencies.
(In the Canadian county in which I live the Public Health Unit founded in the aftermath of the First World War and the 'flu epidemics, was shut down, to save money, last year. Most of its functions were left to chance and the marketplace to fulfil. And now we have a pandemic.)
Instead the entire system is riddled with the weaknesses that usurious practises impose: there are empty hospitals in the Pennines because local health authorities cannot both pay interest on PPP loans and meet the payrolls of medical staff. So, following the logic of capitalism-first pay interest- local taxes, designed to maintain public health, are diverted to the money lenders. And then there is the cost of monopolised drug purchases.

And that is symptomatic of the entire system, in all its aspects: education, including the work needed to provide scientific and medical personnel, is crippled in the same way, by high fees, by capital costs swollen by interest payments, by professions designed to hoard rather than spread knowledge.

The entire system is corrupt and collapsing. And that is why,particularly in the "West" where mass indoctrination has long been part of the culture, it is necessary to recognise that it is not going to take much in the way of mass energy to bring the whole thing down. And to replace it with real democracy.


Rob20 , Mar 19 2020 16:55 utc | 72

The virus may not have been created in a laboratory but as a minimum it should be studied to learn more about its origin and spread. At the present time we only hace circumstantial evidence but it point in one direction. Certain facts are worth considering:

2)The Wuhan wet-market is not the first source of the coronavirus;

2) SARS-CoV virus was being studied and experimented on at a US Bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick. In August 2019, it was cited for unsafe conditions that may have led to contamination of wastewater;

3) The US sent over 300 military personnel to the World Military Games in Wuhan in late October 2019;

4) Four foreign military participants came down with an unknown respiratory illness during the games;

5) Genetic studies conducted in Taiwan and Japan indicate that the ancestral form of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 coronavirus does not occur in China but is found in the US and elsewhere.

Jonathan W , Mar 19 2020 17:28 utc | 90
African swine fever is also spread by man-made means even if it is not in itself man-made. Criminal elements spread it with drones The longer it takes to track down the origin even if the Chinese reportedly monitor everything, the more suspicious it becomes.

[Mar 19, 2020] The best we can hope for is that the depth of this crisis will finally force countries -- the US, in particular -- to fix the yawning social inequities that make large swaths of their populations so intensely vulnerable.

Mar 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

jpm , Mar 19 2020 16:35 utc | 61

Thanks, contributors, for all the (mostly) good well-thought-out information and views on this blog during this unprecedented time of world-wide crisis. Another valuable source I've found is MIT's Technology Review such as their latest article: We're not going back to normal:
Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever.
As might be expected from the source, a lot of solid technical information but also some pertinent political commentary. The way this piece ends:

The world has changed many times, and it is changing again. All of us will have to adapt to a new way of living, working, and forging relationships. But as with all change, there will be some who lose more than most, and they will be the ones who have lost far too much already. The best we can hope for is that the depth of this crisis will finally force countries -- the US, in particular -- to fix the yawning social inequities that make large swaths of their populations so intensely vulnerable.

[Mar 19, 2020] Much of the US elite is sinecured in the media, foreign policy, and national security state establishments

Mar 19, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [252] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment March 18, 2020 at 6:53 pm GMT

@Sean

Here was me thinking the Western elites wanted to continue making money on Chinese growth.

Much of the US elite is sinecured in the media, foreign policy, and national security state establishments, whose status depends on the relative power and prestige of the US state. The relative power and prestige of the US state is jeopardized by the continued growth of China.

If you follow US coverage of China in the US, you'll find that this US elite is generally critical of China, although style and presentation vary. The liberal "China watchers" among the US elite in the media and foreign policy establishment tend to focus on human rights, democracy promotion, and liberalism as vectors to attack the Chinese state. They tend to be polished and more subtle rather than explicitly hostile.

The US elite in the national security establishment tend to be more overt about military containment and or confrontation with China, and on developing an anti-China coalition in the Pacific.

[Mar 17, 2020] This pandemic is demonstrating once again that the global neoliberal economy is a fragile Potemkin construct that breaks down at the slightest tension

Mar 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Daniel , Mar 17 2020 0:59 utc | 106

Fully in agreement with b here. Instead of shovelling money at banksters and corporate scammers to prop up the collapsing market, the Fed, ECB and other central banks should give the cash to people who need it and will use it to buy things and stimulate the economy.

This pandemic is demonstrating once again that the global neoliberal economy is a fragile Potemkin construct that breaks down at the slightest tension. Finance capitalism is a busted flush, a blatant scam to line the pockets of the 1% at everyone else's expense. And when the going gets really tough they will sacrifice all of us to save their cowardly avaricious asses. Governments need to represent the interests of citizens, not central bankers and the obscenely wealthy. That means putting the well-being of people first, not spending trillions to "save" the stock market aka "the economy."

[Mar 16, 2020] Conswqunces of outsourcing the medical equipment and pharmaceutical supply chain to a different country are acutly felt during pandemic by Jason Morgan

Mar 16, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com
| ... ... ...

As the disease spread around Asia and then the world, however, the news focus gradually shifted, so that now many are questioning the wisdom of having so unthinkingly globalized everything and made so many industries -- including the medical industry -- dependent on a place like the People's Republic of China. "What is it like to shoot oneself in the foot?" is yet another question that has been bubbling up uncomfortably these past few weeks.

Outsourcing the medical equipment and pharmaceutical supply chain to a hostile communist dictatorship with perhaps the worst public health record on the planet is the equivalent of the Army Corps of Engineers' having put the emergency generators for the storm pumps at the bottoms of the levees, where they would be the first to flood during a hurricane. But globalists, like government engineers, are incapable of learning from mistakes. In fact, in their minds, disasters serve perversely to confirm the advisability of their follies. Which leads normal people to wonder, "What is going on in the globalist's mind?"

What, in other words, is it like to be a globalist? This is a question worth asking, because the answer will determine very much in the months and years ahead. Unless we can figure out how the globalist looks at the world, we will continue to be at his mercy, and will continue to face pandemics and crises that are the precipitate of his ideology. We have got to understand who these people are who have taken over our every doing, our every coming and going. Otherwise, we will keep getting done in by them.

... ... ...

Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan.

Putin Apologist an hour ago • edited

China: 1.4 billion with 3,099 deaths over a period of months

Italy: 80 million and 1,809 deaths over a period of weeks

Yet China has the "worst public health record on the planet"? Really?

Amicus Brevis 30 minutes ago • edited
"But globalists, like government engineers, are incapable of learning from mistakes. "

Is this supposed to be a serious statement? The piece is clearly written for the amusement of people for whom he has very little respect otherwise it would not contain so many nonsensical generalization. I dare he or anyone to provide a definition of a "globalist" which does not make nonsense of that claim.

Outsourcing the medical equipment and pharmaceutical supply chain to a hostile communist dictatorship with perhaps the worst public health record on the planet is the equivalent of the Army Corps of Engineers' having put the emergency generators for the storm pumps at the bottoms of the levees, where they would be the first to flood during a hurricane.

I really would like to know what is Professor Morgan's specialty. He should know that China is not a Communist country. Just because they choose to call themselves that doesn't mean that a professor anything remotely connected to politics, government or economics would be fooled. And where one puts a factory to manufacture goods, bears no relationship whatsoever with how that country deploys those goods among its own population. The piece is not serious. It is political entertainment. And for those who assume that criticizing the rigor of a piece is the same as supporting whatever the piece is attacking, I am 100% against what the writer seems to mean when he refers to "globalism". I personally consider our monied class who shipped American jobs wherever they could find semi-slave labor to be literally traitors. So, I have very strong views on "globalism". I just dislike the disrespect shown by writers who think that they can write any nonsense, once they show that they hate the same things that their audience hates, all in the search for cheap applause. Writers should treat their readers like thinking beings, not like an audience at a bullfight who are expected to howl with applause once you wave the red flag around and shed enough blood.

That won't do, either, though. China is a place, too! In swoops the World Health Organization (the aptly acronymed WHO?): it's COVID-19 now.

A much more serious comment would be about how China bullied WHO into expressing far more confidence in China's published numbers that it had any basis for expressing. How it lavished praise on China's handling of the outbreak rather than South Korea's excellent management in their country. But educated people know what WHO is and the excellent work they do all over the world. Of the millions of lives they have saved all over the world. And that they are empowered by the governments of the world to name new viruses. That every decent person in the world knows that country names attached to diseases can generate persecution of people which is not a good thing, regardless against whom it is directed. The WHO did not name the virus at the request of China. That is one of its normal functions.

This piece is nothing short of absurd hate mongering.

[Mar 16, 2020] 'Grotesque Level of Greed'

Mar 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Owned by World's Richest Man Jeff Bezos, Whole Foods Wants Workers to Pay for Colleagues' Sick Leave During Coronavirus Pandemic

Remember when Jeff Bezos, whose company owns Whole Foods, said he was so freakin' rich he didn't know how to spend his money so, heck, he'd start a space program? https://t.co/PjLe6MpQc8

-- Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) March 13, 2020

[Mar 15, 2020] Your country under neoliberalism: The CDC tested only 77 people this week for coronavirus.

Mar 15, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

According to Amazon's rankings, Camus' The Plague is now #7 in the Self-Help & Psychology Humor category, which is an irony Camus himself probably couldn't have gotten away with

+ The for-profit health care system in the US is already starting to crack under the pressure and the virus hasn't even really hit yet

+ Pence promised 8 million tests by the end of the week, but according to Lamar Alexander: "We are going to work as hard as we can to push this administration to continue to ramp up the number of tests but the reality is..they do not yet have the tests available and can't give us a date." South Korea, where the virus appeared about the same time it did in US, is testing 10,000 a day and has been for nearly a month.

+ Your country under neoliberalism: The CDC tested only 77 people this week for coronavirus.

+ Here in Oregon, the state health lab only has the capacity to perform 80 tests a day but that's still more than the CDC did all week.

+ Another sign of the impending crisis (and that ObamaCare was a disaster): The number of hospital beds in the US has fallen by 5% over the last ten years .

+ The US (pop. 330 million) has fewer hospital beds than Italy (pop. 60 million) and South Korea (pop. 51 million). And many of those are unaffordable for most people. Winning!

+ Larry Kudlow, who missed the great recession, "The virus is contained!"

+ On Weds night Sanjay Gupta asked CNN's Don Lemon to read the CDC's coronavirus testing stats off of his phone.

ZERO tests conducted today by CDC.

A grand total of 8 tests conducted by other public health agencies across the country.

EIGHT.

+ The Republican Governor for Ohio Mike DeWine confirmed on Thursday that only 1,000 tests are available to 11.69 million citizens who live in the Buckeye State. He further said that projections are that more than 100,000 Ohioans will be infected with the coronavirus

+ The projections for NYC are sobering, to say the least

(1/11) The #NYC Region is in trouble. Our #COVID19 case load is growing so quickly that we risk running out of hospital beds in UNDER TWO WEEKS. To avoid a crisis at our hospitals, we need to act now. 1,200 hospital beds are not enough. @BilldeBlasio @NYCSpeakerCoJo @NYGovCuomo pic.twitter.com/QLpWr6bIWQ

-- Michael Donnelly (@donnellymjd) March 12, 2020

+ Rebecca Nagle: "Look, I fully support banning travel from Europe to prevent the spread of infectious disease. I just think it's 528 years too late."

+ Matt "Gas Mask" Gaetz, one of the most ridiculous buffoons in a Congress filled with them, voted against paid sick leave. Now he's taking it , because he was exposed to COVID-19.

+ The Cuban health care system, whose doctors are even now in China testing interferon-based drugs against the virus, is going to look better and better to people in the US, as the COVID-19 does its thing here. Even the Miami Cuban nutcases may be singing Fidel's praises before this is over .

+ Maybe Jay Inslee (who promised tests would be "free") is a " snake " after all

Maybe Inslee (who promised tests would be "free") is a "snake" after all

Posted by Jeffrey St Clair on Thursday, March 12, 2020

+ The Senate won't take up House coronavirus bill until after its recess. "The Senate will act when we come back and we have a clearer idea of what extra steps we need to take," Sen. Lamar Alexander told reporters What if they never come back? One can hope

+ Why the Senate is refusing to act on COVID-19: "A key sticking point in the talks appears to be GOP demands to include Hyde amendment language in the bill to prevent federal funds from being used for abortion " Priorities, priorities

+ Joe Biden: "I don't like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don't think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body." (Biden said this in 2006 , not 1976.)

+ The World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract Covid-19. Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released. WHO let the dogs out! (The jokes will only get worse, as the virus spreads.)

+ To wit: Always scrub your hands like you just shook hands with the President

+ Come back, Marianne, your country (if not your lamentable party) needs you!

Uh, maybe we should cancel that order for 100 B-21 Raiders all equipped with nuclear bombs at the rate of $560M each, and use the money instead to pay for free testing and coronavirus treatment We need to change our thinking about all this, do it quickly, and speak it loudly.

-- Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 12, 2020

+ From The Plague:

"What on earth prompted you to take a hand in this, doctor?"

"I don't know. My my code of morals, perhaps."

"Your code of morals. What code, if I may ask?"

"Comprehension."

+ According to Amazon's rankings, Camus' The Plague is now #7 in the Self-Help & Psychology Humor category, which is an irony Camus himself probably couldn't have gotten away with. A viral pandemic is apparently what it takes to get Americans to read French existentialist literature

+ "Carbon Joe" Biden's entire climate change plan is budgeted at $1.7 trillion. The Fed just dropped that much on Wall Street in a single day without any public input

+ And they said we "can't afford" national health care!

[Mar 15, 2020] Priorities of the top one percent are not priorities of the bottom ninety-nice percent

Mar 15, 2020 | twitter.com

Uh, maybe we should cancel that order for 100 B-21 Raiders all equipped with nuclear bombs at the rate of $560M each, and use the money instead to pay for free testing and coronavirus treatment We need to change our thinking about all this, do it quickly, and speak it loudly.

-- Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 12, 2020

[Mar 15, 2020] The Jack Ma Foundation has just donated 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks to America. The Chinese have also sent aid to Italy.

Mar 15, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The Rev Kev , March 14, 2020 at 6:53 am

Just to underline the incompetency of neoliberalism, the Jack Ma Foundation has just donated 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks to America. One guy on twitter said-

'Many will welcome this. Some will see it as an insult. The real insult is that the richest country in the world has waged war on science and as a result is finding itself helpless..'

The real tragedy is this. Iran has been covering up the large number of their Coronavirus deaths in the past few weeks until satellite images showed mass burial sites outside their cities. Through gross negligence, the US has also been covering up the infiltration of Coronavirus in America and trying to cover it all up in the same manner.

So in a few months time, will the Russian and Chinese be releasing images of mass burial sites on the American mainland that the Trump government will seek to hide?

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/483102-china-jackma-coronavirus-aid-us/

BillS , March 14, 2020 at 7:25 am

The Chinese have also sent aid to Italy.

The EU and USA were notable in their absence. To be fair, the EU has promised assistance, but the Germans and Lagarde are still stumbling around with the conditions that they want to attach.

Neoliberal overlords don't give up easily.

[Mar 15, 2020] The Real Crisis Of neoliberalism Starts Now In Europe

Mar 15, 2020 | tomluongo.me

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden by Tyler Durden Sun, 03/15/2020 - 09:20 Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

I think it's safe to say the new crisis just killed the Schengen Treaty. That ridiculous document which guaranteed freedom of movement across the European Union finally hit something it couldn't bully, COVID-19. Regardless of whether you believe the pandemic is real or not, the reaction to it is real and is having real consequence far beyond the latest print of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The lockdown of Italy isn't a temporary thing. Oh, the suspension of free movement is temporary, but it portends something far bigger.

It's the beginning of the real political balkanization that's coming to the European Union over the next few years. Old enmities and prejudices have not been stamped out under the boot heel of oppressive legislation coming from a bunch of disconnected technocrats in Brussels.

They have only been suppressed.

Because when there are existential threats there's no time or desire to virtue signal about how we're all one big happy dysfunctional family. 1 minute ago The thing is most people at Zerohedge have no idea about the reality in Germany and the other European countries and the psychicological robustness of its people. This crisis is nothing compared to the catastrophies of the 20th century. In times of challenge one can see who is strong and effective and acting in solidarity. And this is it what the extended Euroland is going to show soon. A masterplan for Euroland how to overcome this Corona problems. It takes time to adopt but things do move already in the right direction. Banning travel is a harsh measure but the right thing in this situation.

The economy will take a deep dip but there will be no catastrophy. Even when Deutsche Bank should go down that would impact the situation only in the financial markets. But luckily Euroland has a worldclass manufacturing and agricultural sector, plus there is the ECB owned by Eurolands member states.

So there is money, there is food, there is production, there are raw materials as well as energy available from Russia,.. Europe is world leader in renewable energy and recycling of waste materials., ..

So nothIng to worry about in principle. Its only one real danger, the Anglo Saxon Jewish dominated financial sector and the MIC which is still dreaming about world domination. I hope their dream is shattered soon. 12 minutes ago Thanks Tom..

But we won't comment and why?

Because the cause of the crisis is still not being addressed..

Corona of virus is simply an accelerant to a serious problem..

And that's all we'll say... 43 minutes ago Old enmities and prejudices have not been stamped out .... This has been said a thousand times across EU social media and comments in national press in developed member states. Particularly during Brexit. That the EU was flawed from the start in imagining the ******, pretend EU would ever; by adopting developed EU rules and regulations, even begin to match up to the Real EU. Pretend EU would only ever pretend - many nothing more than 1st generation democracies. So the elite in the ****** EU hand picked who was to lead that ministry or council and then all levels of locally elite society and their friends and families were greased by jobs in the bloated public sector. Now Germany is supposed to keep this "Noses in the Trough" nonsense going!

It is mind blowing to realise the damage to the EU the 'Contra os Bretoes' EU retards have done in victimising the British! The UK - an advanced G7 country with many centuries of history of sorting out, at great loss to its citizens and economy, European squabbles - long before the US was encouraged to get involved as well.

UK Remainers need to focus their efforts on the ****** EU crashing (or being crashed) out and the UK rejoining the EU and helping make the EU work the way it was sold to us British decades ago. 44 minutes ago Feudal-Vassalism it is, extended into https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neocolonialism
The situation in Greece has been for about a decade worse off than in Gaza.

[Mar 15, 2020] Coronavirus update reason for alarm; (small) reason for hope

Mar 15, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
  1. likbez , March 15, 2020 11:57 am

    As Otto von Bismarck noted "God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America."

    That's a reason for hope.

    But there are multiple reasons for despair (hoarding epidemics has shown how brainwashed people are with neoliberal rationality)

    The neoliberal society with its twisted guiding philosophy of radical individualism and competition combined with a supremacist "that could never happen here" attitude quickly falls into panicked chaos when reality kicks in and reveals the society's underlying vulnerabilities.

    Countries with weak social safety nets and an ideological opposition to social responsibility are extremely vulnerable to systemic breakdown when their societies are hit with unexpected stress.

    That is what we see in the USA. This virus is revealing just how ineffective the neoliberal Social Darwinism ("every man for himself") ethic (aka "neoliberal rationality") is and how deeply in denial and out of touch with reality these societies are. Including first of all neoliberal politicians (aka Washington swamp rats)

    Casino capitalism economics is fragile and huge shocks are possible.

[Mar 15, 2020] Four Reasons Civilization Won't Decline: It Will Collapse by Craig Collins

Mar 15, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

As modern civilization's shelf life expires, more scholars have turned their attention to the decline and fall of civilizations past. Their studies have generated rival explanations of why societies collapse and civilizations die. Meanwhile, a lucrative market has emerged for post-apocalyptic novels, movies, TV shows, and video games for those who enjoy the vicarious thrill of dark, futuristic disaster and mayhem from the comfort of their cozy couch. Of course, surviving the real thing will become a much different story.

The latent fear that civilization is living on borrowed time has also spawned a counter-market of "happily ever after" optimists who desperately cling to their belief in endless progress. Popular Pollyannas, like cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, provide this anxious crowd with soothing assurances that the titanic ship of progress is unsinkable. Pinker's publications have made him the high priest of progress. [1] While civilization circles the drain, his ardent audiences find comfort in lectures and books brimming with cherry-picked evidence to prove that life is better than ever, and will surely keep improving. Yet, when questioned, Pinker himself admits, "It's incorrect to extrapolate that the fact that we've made progress is a prediction that we're guaranteed to make progress." [2]

Pinker's rosy statistics cleverly disguise the fatal flaw in his argument. The progress of the past was built by sacrificing the future -- and the future is upon us. All the happy facts he cites about living standards, life expectancy, and economic growth are the product of an industrial civilization that has pillaged and polluted the planet to produce temporary progress for a growing middle class -- and enormous profits and power for a tiny elite.

Not everyone who understands that progress has been purchased at the expense of the future thinks that civilization's collapse will be abrupt and bitter. Scholars of ancient societies, like Jared Diamond and John Michael Greer, accurately point out that abrupt collapse is a rare historical phenomenon. In The Long Descent , Greer assures his readers that, "The same pattern repeats over and over again in history. Gradual disintegration, not sudden catastrophic collapse, is the way civilizations end." Greer estimates that it takes, on average, about 250 years for civilizations to decline and fall, and he finds no reason why modern civilization shouldn't follow this "usual timeline." [3]

But Greer's assumption is built on shaky ground because industrial civilization differs from all past civilizations in four crucial ways. And every one of them may accelerate and intensify the coming collapse while increasing the difficulty of recovery.

Difference #1: Unlike all previous civilizations, modern industrial civilization is powered by an exceptionally rich, NON-renewable, and irreplaceable energy source -- fossil fuels. This unique energy base predisposes industrial civilization to a short, meteoric lifespan of unprecedented boom and drastic bust. Megacities, globalized production, industrial agriculture, and a human population approaching 8 billion are all historically exceptional -- and unsustainable -- without fossil fuels. Today, the rich easily exploited oilfields and coalmines of the past are mostly depleted. And, while there are energy alternatives, there are no realistic replacements that can deliver the abundant net energy fossil fuels once provided. [4] Our complex, expansive, high-speed civilization owes its brief lifespan to this one-time, rapidly dwindling energy bonanza.

Difference #2: Unlike past civilizations, the economy of industrial society is capitalist. Production for profit is its prime directive and driving force. The unprecedented surplus energy supplied by fossil fuels has generated exceptional growth and enormous profits over the past two centuries. But in the coming decades, these historic windfalls of abundant energy, constant growth, and rising profits will vanish.

However, unless it is abolished, capitalism will not disappear when boom turns to bust. Instead, energy-starved, growth-less capitalism will turn catabolic. Catabolism refers to the condition whereby a living thing devours itself. As profitable sources of production dry up, capitalism will be compelled to turn a profit by consuming the social assets it once created. By cannibalizing itself, the profit motive will exacerbate industrial society's dramatic decline.

Catabolic capitalism will profit from scarcity, crisis, disaster, and conflict. Warfare, resource hoarding, ecological disaster, and pandemic diseases will become the big profit makers. Capital will flow toward lucrative ventures like cybercrime, predatory lending, and financial fraud; bribery, corruption, and racketeering; weapons, drugs, and human trafficking. Once disintegration and destruction become the primary source of profit, catabolic capitalism will rampage down the road to ruin, gorging itself on one self-inflicted disaster after another. [5]

Difference #3: Unlike past societies, industrial civilization isn't Roman, Chinese, Egyptian, Aztec, or Mayan. Modern civilization is HUMAN, PLANETARY, and ECOCIDAL. Pre-industrial civilizations depleted their topsoil, felled their forests, and polluted their rivers. But the harm was far more temporary and geographically limited. Once market incentives harnessed the colossal power of fossil fuels to exploit nature, the dire results were planetary. Two centuries of fossil fuel combustion have saturated the biosphere with climate-altering carbon that will continue wreaking havoc for generations to come. The damage to Earth's living systems -- the circulation and chemical composition of the atmosphere and the ocean; the stability of the hydrological and biogeochemical cycles; and the biodiversity of the entire planet -- is essentially permanent.

Humans have become the most invasive species ever known. Although we are a mere .01 percent of the planet's biomass, our domesticated crops and livestock dominate life on Earth. In terms of total biomass, 96 percent of all the mammals on Earth are livestock; only 4 percent are wild mammals. Seventy percent of all birds are domesticated poultry, only 30 percent are wild. About half the Earth's wild animals are thought to have been lost in just the last 50 years. [6] Scientists estimate that half of all remaining species will be extinct by the end of the century. [7] There are no more unspoiled ecosystems or new frontiers where people can escape the damage they've caused and recover from collapse.

Difference #4: Human civilization's collective capacity to confront its mounting crises is crippled by a fragmented political system of antagonistic nations ruled by corrupt elites who care more about power and wealth than people and the planet. Humanity faces a perfect storm of converging global calamities. Intersecting tribulations like climate chaos, rampant extinction, food and freshwater scarcity, poverty, extreme inequality, and the rise of global pandemics are rapidly eroding the foundations of modern life.

Yet, this fractious and fractured political system makes organizing and mounting a cooperative response nearly impossible. And, the more catabolic industrial capitalism becomes, the greater the danger that hostile rulers will fan the flames of nationalism and go to war over scarce resources. Of course, warfare is not new. But modern warfare is so devastating, destructive, and toxic that little would remain in its aftermath. This would be the final nail in civilization's coffin.

Rising From the Ruins?

How people respond to the collapse of industrial civilization will determine how bad things get and what will replace it. The challenges are monumental. They will force us to question our identities, our values, and our loyalties like no other experience in our history. Who are we? Are we, first and foremost, human beings struggling to raise our families, strengthen our communities, and coexist with the other inhabitants of Earth? Or do our primary loyalties belong to our nation, our culture, our race, our ideology, or our religion? Can we put the survival of our species and our planet first, or will we allow ourselves to become hopelessly divided along national, cultural, racial, religious, or party lines?

The eventual outcome of this great implosion is up for grabs. Will we overcome denial and despair; kick our addiction to petroleum; and pull together to break the grip of corporate power over our lives? Can we foster genuine democracy, harness renewable energy, reweave our communities, re-learn forgotten skills, and heal the wounds we've inflicted on the Earth? Or will fear and prejudice drive us into hostile camps, fighting over the dwindling resources of a degraded planet? The stakes could not be higher.

Notes.

[1] His books include: The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

[2] King, Darryn. "Steven Pinker on the Past, Present, and Future of Optimism" (OneZero, Jan 10, 2019) https://onezero.medium.com/steven-pinker-on-the-past-present-and-future-of-optimism-f362398c604b

[3] Greer, John Michael. The Long Descent (New Society Publishers, 2008): 29.

[4] Heinberg, Richard. The End Of Growth . (New Society, 2011): 117.

[5] For more on catabolic capitalism see: Collins, Craig. "Catabolism: Capitalism's Frightening Future," CounterPunch (Nov. 1, 2018). https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/01/catabolism-capitalisms-frightening-future/

[6] Carrington, Damian. " New Study: Humans Just 0.01% Of All Life But Have Destroyed 83% Of Wild Mammals ," The Guardian (May 21, 2018). https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/21/human-race-just-001-of-all-life-but-has-destroyed-over-80-of-wild-mammals-study

[7] Ceballos, Ehrlich, Barnosky, Garcia, Pringle & Palmer. "Accelerated Modern Human-Induced Species Losses: Entering The 6th Mass Extinction," Science Advances. (June 19, 2015). http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253 Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Craig Collins

Craig Collins Ph.D. is the author of " Toxic Loopholes " (Cambridge University Press), which examines America's dysfunctional system of environmental protection. He teaches political science and environmental law at California State University East Bay and was a founding member of the Green Party of California.

[Mar 14, 2020] Complex Systems Collide, Markets Crash

Mar 14, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

At some point, systems flip from being complicated, which is a challenge to manage, to being complex. Complexity is more than a challenge because it opens the door to all kinds of unexpected crashes and events.

Their behavior cannot be reduced to their component parts. It's as if they take on a life of their own.

Complexity theory has four main pillars.

If you look out the window and see people bundled up in heavy jackets, for example, you're probably not going to go out in a T-shirt. Applied to capital markets, adaptive behavior is sometimes called herding.

Assume you have a room with 100 people. If two people suddenly sprinted out of the room, most of the others probably wouldn't make much of it. But if half the people in the room suddenly ran outside, the other half will probably do the same thing.

They might not know why the first 50 people left, but the second half will just assume something major has happened. That could be a fire or a bomb threat or something along these lines.

The key is to determine the tipping point that compels people to act. Two people fleeing isn't enough. 50 certainly is. But, maybe 20 people leaving could trigger the panic. Or maybe the number is 30, or 40. You just can't be sure. But the point is, 20 people out of 100 could trigger a chain reaction.

And that's how easily a total collapse of the capital markets can be triggered.

Understanding the four main pillars of complexity gives you a window into the inner workings of markets in a way the Fed's antiquated equilibrium models can't. They let you see the world with better eyes.

People assume that if you had perfect knowledge of the economy, which nobody does, that you could conceivably plan an economy. You'd have all the information you needed to determine what should be produced and in what number.

But complexity theory says that even if you had that perfect knowledge, you still couldn't predict financial and economic events. They can come seemingly out of nowhere.

For example, it was bright and sunny one day out in the eastern Atlantic in 2005. Then it suddenly got cloudy. The winds began to pick up. Then a hurricane formed. That hurricane went on to wipe out New Orleans a short time later.

I'm talking about Hurricane Katrina. You never could have predicted New Orleans would be struck on that bright sunny day. You could look back and track it afterwards. It would seem rational in hindsight. But on that sunny day in the eastern Atlantic, there was simply no way of predicting that New Orleans was going to be devastated.

Any number of variables could have diverted the storm at some point along the way. And they cannot be known in advance, no matter how much information you have initially.

Another example is the Fukushima nuclear incident in Japan a few years back. You had a number of complex systems coming together at once to produce a disaster.

An underwater earthquake triggered a tsunami that just happened to wash up on a nuclear power plant. Each one of these are highly complex systems -- plate tectonics, hydrodynamics and the nuclear plant itself.

There was no way traditional models could have predicted when or where the tectonic plates were going to slip. Therefore, they couldn't tell you where the tsunami was heading.

And the same applies to financial panics. They seem to come out of nowhere. Traditional forecasting models have no way of detecting them. But complexity theory allows for them.

I make the point that a snowflake can cause an avalanche. But of course not every snowflake does. Most snowflakes fall harmlessly, except that they make the ultimate avalanche worse because they're building up the snowpack. And when one of them hits the wrong way, it could spin out of control.

The way to think about it is that the triggering snowflake might not look much different from the harmless snowflake that preceded it. It's just that it hit the system at the wrong time, at the wrong place.

Only the exact time and the specific snowflake that starts the avalanche remain to be seen. This kind of systemic analysis is the primary tool I use to keep investors ahead of the catastrophe curve.

The system is getting more and more unstable, and it might not take that much to trigger the avalanche.

To switch metaphors, it's like the straw that breaks the camel's back. You can't tell in advance which straw will trigger the collapse. It only becomes obvious afterwards. But that doesn't mean you can't have a good idea when the threat can no longer be ignored.

Let's say I've got a 35-pound block of enriched uranium sitting in front of me that's shaped like a big cube. That's a complex system. There's a lot going on behind the scenes. At the subatomic level, neutrons are firing off. But it's not dangerous. You'd actually have to eat it to get sick.

But, now, I take the same 35 pounds, I shape part of it into a sphere, I take the rest of it and shape it into a bat. I put it in the tube, and I fire it together with high explosives, I kill 300,000 people. I just engineered an atomic bomb. It's the same uranium, but under different conditions.

The point is, the same basic conditions arrayed in a different way, what physicists call self-organized criticality, can go critical, blow up, and destroy the world or destroy the financial system.

That dynamic, which is the way the world works, is not understood by central bankers. They don't understand complexity theory. They do not see the critical state dynamics going on behind the scenes because they're using obsolete equilibrium models.

In complexity theory and complex dynamics, you can go into the critical state. What look like unconnected distant events are actually indications and warnings of something much more dangerous to come.

So what happens when complex dynamic systems crash into each other? We're seeing that right now.

We're seeing two complex systems colliding into each other, the complex system of markets combined with the complex system of epidemiology.

The coronavirus spread is a complex dynamic system. It encompass virology, meteorology, migratory patterns, mass psychology, etc. Markets are highly complex, dynamic systems.

Financial professionals will use the word "contagion" to describe a financial panic. But that's not just a metaphor. The same complexity that applies to disease epidemics also apply to financial markets. They follow the same principles.

And they've come together to create a panic that traditional modeling could not foresee.

The time scale of global financial contagion is not necessarily limited to days or weeks. These panics can play out over months and years. So could the effects of the coronavirus.

Just don't expect the Fed to warn you.

[Mar 13, 2020] Is the whole ideo of Trump tax holiday is to speed up the privatization of SS and Medicare. Look! The deficit's growing bigger.

Mar 13, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

allan , March 12, 2020 at 2:11 pm

President Trump's Payroll Tax Holiday: Budgetary, Distributional, and Economic Effects [Penn Wharton]

Summary: President Trump just announced his support for a full payroll tax holiday for the remainder of calendar year 2020, which PWBM projects would cost $807 billion. Households in the bottom 20 percent of incomes -- those households with the highest willingness to spend their tax savings -- would receive about 2 percent of the total tax cut, limiting the policy's stimulus potential.

But Penn Wharton's analysis might be based on unrealistically optimistic assumptions –
see the comments in the replies to this tweet.

Billy , March 12, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Don't forget the employer's half is also waived. Nice subsidy to business while helping cripple the Social Security funds for ultimate privatization. Doesn't do anything the unemployed, those laid off or fired as they pay no taxes. Now, if it were retroactive for a year or two, that'd be different.

Oh , March 12, 2020 at 4:34 pm

The whole idea is to speed up the privatization of SS and Medicare. Look! The deficit's growing bigger.

[Mar 12, 2020] Emergency Sick Leave Bill blocked from vote by Senate Republicans--Profit over People yet again.

Mar 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 11 2020 21:37 utc | 101

It's no different from the Republicans in the US Senate: Emergency Sick Leave Bill blocked from vote by Senate Republicans--Profit over People yet again.

[Mar 12, 2020] Neoliberalism in action in Italy: neo-liberal economic worship, all government bad, all private sector good, corruption good, banks worshipped as faultless guardians but actually kleptocrats.

Mar 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Mar 11 2020 3:26 utc | 72

coronawhy #48
Why has Italy not try very hard to scale up hospital bed capacity for the surge of cases over the last several days? They have deployed a military hospital but it doesn't look like it's making a big dent. Instead reports are now coming in of abandoning very old people or those with prior conditions to die largely unattended.

In Wuhan, 16 big barracks were built to treat the seriously sick. Why doesn't Italy requisition schools, move in equipment from the rest of the country, deploy doctors from other regions, call other EU member states for help?

Does it have something to do with the difficulty of getting things done even in emergencies in modern bureaucratic states?

Italy: neo-liberal economic worship, all government bad, all private sector good, corruption good, banks worshipped as faultless guardians but actually kleptocrats.

China: socialism with a mild capitalist twist, government good, private sector ok, corruption to be rooted out, banks established and policed for the public good (mostly).

Modern bureacratic states function well when government is respected and well resourced intellectually and financially. Italy has been gutted by the Thatcherite and US model of deep coercion and destruction of its socialist roots. Ditto USA and UK and the five eyes cheer squad. New entries to job markets are propagandised to avoid the state employment.

There are many nations in the world with modern functional bureaucratic states. As you can see China and perhaps Russia appear to be in that team. Perhaps some of the Scandinavian states, maybe Portugal. France abandoned its respect for the centrality of State service provider decades ago and Mitterand appears to have been an effective assassin on behalf of the neo-liberal economic monsters in France.

Jen , Mar 11 2020 3:48 utc | 73

Uncle Tungsten @ 71:

I'm sure in your comparison of Italy and China, you forgot to mention the infiltration of the Mafia (as in the real Mafia of La Cosa Nostra, La Camorra, 'Ndrangheta and maybe some others I've missed) in Italian national and regional governments, and the horrific levels of air pollution in the Po Valley region where COVID-19 hotspots like Milan are located.

Perhaps also the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church and their links to the financial industry in Italy are also a problem.

[Mar 12, 2020] COVID-19 puts neoliberalism on its knee

Mar 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 11 2020 14:25 utc | 100

COVID-19 puts neoliberalism on its knees:

Germany abandons "zero deficit" policy

[Mar 12, 2020] Experts warn flaws in US neoliberalized health system doom its readiness

Notable quotes:
"... medically fragile individuals ..."
"... there's not enough equipment. There's not enough people. There's not enough internal capacity. There's no surge capacity ..."
"... use their judgment ..."
"... epidemiologic factors ..."
"... we would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. ..."
"... bottom line, it's going to get worse. ..."
Mar 12, 2020 | www.rt.com

The epidemic that has so far spread to half of US states, infecting over 1,000 Americans and killing 31...

At least 10 states have declared emergencies as of Wednesday, and disease experts are throwing up their hands, urging the administration to take real-life events more seriously.

...Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield agreed that critical regions of the US are beyond the reach of containment, sliding into the " mitigation " stage, and blamed the botched rollout of test kits to local health workers.

The availability of accurate tests for Covid-19 has become a major sore spot, with official reassurances colliding with uncooperative reality in full view of the public. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar insisted on Tuesday that " millions " of tests were available, even as the CDC urged healthcare providers to save tests for symptomatic patients already hospitalized and " medically fragile individuals ."

In at least one case , federal officials warned a Seattle lab against testing flu swab samples for coronavirus in January, before the epidemic was widely reported, losing critical response time – mirroring the " crime " the Trump administration has tried to pin on China.

And some have warned that the US' inability to handle an outbreak is more dire than either side realizes. During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, a Republican congressman from Washington, the first Covid-19 hotspot to flare up in the US, demanded to know why his constituents were unable to get their test results while his fellow congressmen had no problem getting tested just days after coming into contact with an infected person at a DC political conference. A CDC representative admitted " there's not enough equipment. There's not enough people. There's not enough internal capacity. There's no surge capacity ." To conserve tests, the CDC has told healthcare providers to " use their judgment " and consider " epidemiologic factors " before using up a valuable resource.

Existing flaws in the US healthcare system have exacerbated the testing problem. The CDC has refused to set up standalone testing centers, placing COVID-19 screening out of the reach of the many Americans who don't have primary-care physicians and rely on walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for their healthcare. Just 8,500 Americans had been tested as of Monday, according to the CDC, and federal officials told reporters some 75,000 tests had been sent out to public health laboratories on top of one million sent to hospitals and other sites. The real-life infected numbers in the country are thus likely much higher than what is being reported.

Control measures have varied wildly across local governments and institutions and even within cities. Over 1,000 schools have closed nationwide, and cities and counties from Santa Clara, California to Westchester, New York have banned large gatherings. The National Institutes of Health's Anthony Fauci called on others to follow suit during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, announcing " we would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. " Asked if " the worst " was yet to come, Fauci answered unequivocally: " bottom line, it's going to get worse. "

Even as new Covid-19 cases in China dwindle to near zero and cases in Italy, Germany, and other European countries surge, the US has not stepped up screenings of passengers from those countries at airports accordingly. Instead, the administration has continued to congratulate itself on " saving lives " by halting flights from China weeks ago.

See also: Watching the Hawks: The military-industrial complex vs healthcare & common sense

[Mar 12, 2020] In there a shortage of some medicine or test kits in the USA, and the normal behavior of providers of medicines and other medical goods is extremely rapacious

Mar 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , Mar 11 2020 17:48 utc | 24

About testing: who makes testing kits, how reliable they are, what is the cost?

Seems that in USA there is a shortage, and the normal behavior of providers of medicines and other medical goods is extremely rapacious. For example, Gilead company found a cure for hepatitis C. In the first year of sales, they got more than 5 billion dollars because of enormous prices they demanded. In about 2 years almost all urgent cases were cured, which is fine, and competition emerged.

Unless forced, these companies will provide nothing at cost, only with enormous markup. If you want to get, say, 10 miilion kits that hypothetically cost 250 dollars to make, they would charge at least 10 billion. Actually, the price/cost multiples have no limit at all, as in Gilead case. In the face of that, Administration should use emergency powers to impose cost controls. Manufactures could be threatened delicately to ramp-up the production if they are not willing to do it just from civic sense of duty. That would violate the most precious human rights, i.e. the rights of billionaires. Not the American way.

[Mar 11, 2020] Coronavirus Reveals the Cracks in Globalization

Notable quotes:
"... "The companies suffering from their short-sightedness FULLY DESERVE what they're getting." ..."
Mar 11, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on March 11, 2020 by Yves Smith Yves here. While this article has a lot of helpful suggestions, it does not acknowledge that public health is a state and local, not a Federal matter. The Federal government can intervene only by invoking emergency authority, which in every case I can recall, has been done only when asked (begged) by the relevant authorities. Thus I cannot see the Federal government taking the lead with coronavirus on the medical front, as much as that is desperately needed. Look, for instance, at how it was New York State that imposed a containment area around coronavirus hot spot New Rochelle , and how New York State has started making its own hand sanitizer.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

The coronavirus will eventually pass, but the same cannot be said for the Panglossian phenomenon known as "globalization." Stripped of the romantic notion of a global village, the ugly process we've experienced over the past 40 years has been a case of governmental institutions being eclipsed by multinational corporations, acting to maximize profit in support of shareholders. To billions of us, it has resembled a looting process, of our social wealth, and political meaning. Governments that wanted to stay on top would have to learn to master soft power to learn to be relevant in a globalized world, mostly acting to smooth transactions and otherwise stay out of the way.

In a globalized world, nation-states were supposedly becoming relics. To the extent that they were needed, small national governments were said to equate to good government. This hollow philosophy's main claims now appear badly exposed, as the supply chains wither, and the very interconnectedness of our global economy is becoming a vector of contagion. In the words of author David Goodhart, "We no longer need the help of rats or fleas to spread disease -- we can do it ourselves thanks to mass international travel and supply chains."

To be sure, there were many warning signs that called into question our hitherto benign assumptions about globalization: the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 (during which the Asian tiger economies were decimated by unconstrained speculative capital flows), the vast swaths of the Rust Belt's industrial heartlands created by outsourcing to China's export juggernaut, the concomitant rise in economic inequality and decline in quality of life in industrialized societies and, of course, the 2008 global financial crisis. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz described many of these pathologies in his book Globalization and Its Discontents, as did economist Barry Eichengreen, who lamented that "the nation state has fundamentally lost control of its destiny, surrendering to anonymous global forces." Both noted that globalization was severing a working social contract between national governments and their citizens that had previously delivered rising prosperity for all.

Those who would argue that the inexorable march of globalization cannot be reversed should consider the parallel during the early 20th century. Globalized economic activity and free trade were dominant before the onset of World War I; in 1914, trade as a proportion of global GDP stood at 14 percent. Needless to say, two world wars, and the Great Depression (which brought us the Smoot-Hawley tariffs), reversed this trend. The Cold War sustained regionalization and bifurcated trading blocs. Its end, and China's accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO), ushered in a new high-water mark in globalized trade.

But while it is true that viruses do not respect national boundaries, nothing has blown apart the pretensions of this New World Order as dramatically as the coronavirus, a pandemic now assuming global import, as international supply chains are severed, and global economic activity is brought to a screeching halt. We are increasingly seeing the hollow political content at the core of supranational entities such as the EU, structured more to comfort merged investor groups than strengthen public health systems.

Speaking of Europe, while the coronavirus started in China, its most long-lasting impact might be in the EU, as it has dramatically exposed the shortcomings of the latter's institutional structures. Take Italy as the most vivid illustration: The spread of COVID-19 has been particularly acute there. Being a user of the euro (as opposed to an issuer of the currency) the Italian national government risks exposing itself to potential national bankruptcy (and the vicissitudes of the volatile private capital markets) if it responds with a robust fiscal response, absent the institutional support of Brussels and the European Central Bank (which is the sole issuer of the euro). According to MarketWatch, "Italy needs a €500 to €700 billion ($572 billion to $801 billion) precautionary bailout package to help reassure financial markets that the Italian government and banks can meet their debt payment obligations as [the] country's economic and financial crisis becomes more fearsome."

The tragic case of Italy (where the entire country is now in full quarantined lockdown) provides a particularly poignant example of the gaping lacunae at the heart of the eurozone. There is no supranational fiscal authority, so the Italian government has been largely left to fend for itself, as it is trying to do now, for example, providing income relief by suspending payments on mortgages across the entire country. Here is a perfect example of where European Central Bank support for the Italian banking system would go a long way toward mitigating any resultant financial contagion. But so far, as Wolfgang Munchau of the Financial Times has noted, the ECB remains in "monitoring" mode. Indeed, the eurozone as a whole lacks the institutional mechanisms to mobilize on a massive, coordinated scale, in contrast to the U.S. and UK, and eurozone finance ministers remain incapable of agreeing on a coordinated policy response.

Other eurozone countries may no longer be complacent about the threat posed by COVID-19, but their national governments are more focused on the need to stockpile their own national resources to protect their populations. Italy remains particularly vulnerable to the ravages of this virus, as it has an aging population, so if coronavirus runs rampant through the country, it could potentially crash the nation's entire hospital system, as this account by an Italian doctor suggests.

EU solidarity, showing cracks on issues ranging from finance to immigration, increasingly resembles every country for itself.

Defenders of the EU may well retort that health care is designated as a "national competency" under the Treaty of Maastricht. But how does one expect national competencies to be carried out competently in an economic grouping devoid of national currencies (the key variable as far as supporting unconstrained fiscal capacity goes)? Additionally, the evil of decades of Brussels-imposed austerity has meant there aren't enough hospital beds, materials and staff anywhere in Europe, let alone Italy. This might well represent the death knell for a European project based on aspirations for an "ever closer union."

In spite of the manifest incompetence of the Trump administration, the U.S. at least has institutional mechanisms in place via the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide Americans with clear, credible instructions devoid of political spin.

As Professor James Galbraith has persuasively argued, the U.S. government has the capacity to "establish a Health Finance Corporation on the model of the Depression-era Reconstruction Finance Corporation. Like the RFC, which built munitions factories and hospitals during and after World War II, the HFC should have broad powers to create public corporations, lend to private companies (to fund necessary production), and cover other emergency costs. Even more quickly, the National Guard can be deployed to deal with critical supply issues and to establish emergency facilities such as field hospitals and quarantine centers." Likewise, Senator Marco Rubio has "sought to expand what's called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which allows the Small Business Administration to start lending money directly instead of just encouraging banks to do so," as Matt Stoller has written.

Parenthetically, this represents a marked break with historic GOP policy, which for the most part has accepted the embedded assumptions inherent in globalization.

And while traditional monetary policy tools such as interest rate cuts are hardly adequate to stem a supply shock, Galbraith also points to the ability of the Federal Reserve to offer emergency financial support to help American companies through the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, by "buy[ing] up debt issued by hospitals and other health-care providers, as well as working to stabilize credit markets, as it did in 2008-09." Andrew Bailey of the Bank of England has made similar recommendations to the UK government.

Even with the measures proposed by Galbraith, Bailey and Rubio, virtually all Western economies, having largely succumbed to the logic of globalization, are now vulnerable, as supply chains wither. China, the apex of these offshored manufacturing supply chains, is in shutdown mode. Likewise South Korea and Italy. Worse, there appears to be a singular lack of understanding on the part of many multinational companies as to how far these supply chains go: "Peter Guarraia, who leads the global supply chain practice at Bain & Co, estimated that up to 60 per cent of executives have no knowledge of the items in their supply chain beyond the tier one group," reports the Financial Times.

A "tier one" company supplies components directly to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that sets up a global supply chain. But as is now becoming increasingly recognized, there are secondary-tier companies, which supply components or materials to those tier-one companies. When goods are widely dispersed geographically (instead of centered in a localized industrial ecosystem), it is harder for executives to have full knowledge of all of the items in their respective companies' supply chains, so the deficiencies of the model only become apparent by the time it is too late to rectify.

In the U.S. specifically, the mass migration of manufacturing has seriously eroded the domestic capabilities needed to turn inventions into high-end products, damaging America's ability to retain a lead in many sectors, let alone continue to manufacture products. The country has evolved from being a nation of industrialists to a nation of financial rentiers. And now the model has exposed the U.S. to significant risk during a time of national crisis, as the coronavirus potentially represents.

There is no national redundancy built into current supply networks, with the most problematic consequences now evident in the pharmaceutical markets. Countries such as China or India are beginning to restrict core components of important generic drugs to deal with their own domestic health crisis. This has the potential to create a major crisis, given that the U.S. "depend[s] on China for 80 percent of the core components to make our generic medicines," writes Rosemary Gibson in the American Conservative. She also notes that "generic drugs are 90 percent of the medicines Americans take. Thousands of them, sold at corner drug stores, grocery store pharmacies, and big box stores, contain ingredients made in China." Constraints on production, therefore, intensify as more and more of the manufacturing process pertaining to the drugs themselves is geographically globalized. And in regard specifically to research-intensive industries, such as pharmaceuticals or biotech, the value of closely integrating the R&D with manufacturing is extremely high, and the risks of separating them are enormous.

These are by no means new problems. We've been dealing with supply-side shocks emanating from hyper-globalization for decades, and the response of Western policymakers has largely been in the form of fiscal or monetary palliatives that seldom address the underlying structural challenges raised by these shortages. To the contrary: democratic caveats to globalization have been characterized as inefficient frictions that hinder consumer choice.

For now, we should start by reducing our supply chain vulnerabilities by building into our systems more of what engineers call redundancy -- different ways of doing the same things -- so as to mitigate undue reliance on foreign suppliers for strategically important industries. We need to mobilize national resources in a manner akin to the way a country does during wartime or during massive economic dislocation (such as the Great Depression) -- comprehensive government-led actions (which runs in the face of much of today's prevailing and increasingly outdated economic and political theology). In other words, the revival of a coherent national industrial policy.

To save the global economy, paradoxically, we need less of it. Not only does the private/public sector balance have to shift in favor of the latter, but so too does the multinational/national matrix in manufacturing. Otherwise, the coronavirus will simply represent yet another in a chain of catastrophes for global capitalism, rather than an opportunity to rethink our entire model of economic development.


Harry Shearer , March 11, 2020 at 3:12 am

But but but ."redundancy", which engineers like, is in direct conflict with "efficiency", which economists revere. Think of how many "smart" appliances we can invent and market if we don't have to make health-care and manufacturing robust again.

vlade , March 11, 2020 at 5:27 am

Cheetah paradox. The fastest land animal, but often dies if injured as can't hunt and has no fat to speak off to take it through lean times.

NC has discussed number of times that you can't have "efficiency" and "reduncancy". Of course, if your drive is short-term profit, it requires efficiency, and redundancy is just a cost.

The smarter companies that have built redundancy, will be the predators left once the injured cheetahs die off.

jaratec , March 11, 2020 at 6:07 am

Out of curiosity, can you name some companies that have built redundancy?

Amfortas the hippie , March 11, 2020 at 8:25 am

does my little farm/doomstead count?
multiple redundancies has been a large part of The Goal for a long time.

as for actual businesses, no except maybe for the more esoteric sectors of FIRE .are "exotic financial instruments" redundant?

"just in time", "warehouse on wheels", as well as globespanning supply lines have worried me since i learned of them.
"efficiency" as a weapon, that eventually gets turned on oneself.

Wukchumni , March 11, 2020 at 8:34 am

My favorite tale of redundancy going away was the oxygen system on commercial airliners. In the past it had 3 or 4 independent redundant systems built in and cost around $20k per seat, and then the cost cutters came up a single digital oxygen system costing only around $500 per seat.

Synoia , March 11, 2020 at 1:07 pm

Yes: Ford and General Motors. If you cannot buy from one company, there are alternatives. The companies are single points of failure. The combination of multiple single point of failure provide redundancy and resilience.

Supporting the Historical US concept of "truce busting" and encouraging competition in all markets.

flora , March 11, 2020 at 3:19 pm

old joke:
Libertarian market CEOs used to be called financial tigers. What are they called now? Ans.: financial cheet'ahs.
ba dum tsssh

-- –

Thanks for this post.

Paul O , March 11, 2020 at 5:30 am

Indeed. As an both an engineering (core mobile network infrastructure) and an econ graduate (PPE and life long interest) this has been an (perhaps, the) issue for me over the last 30 years. There are many ways in which redundancy and resilience have been degraded. Not least in terms of people with the combination of deep technical understanding and problem solving skills.

Baking in fragility in the name of efficiency. Efficiency? Well maybe, but only on a short enough timeline. And timelines have been getting shorter (to validate 'cost cutting').

urblintz , March 11, 2020 at 4:18 am

I don't like to be a smart-fanny and do appreciate the thinking and expertise that shines through this fine essay. I learned an enormous amount and feel better prepared to argue the subject.

But the second half of that last sentence

" the coronavirus will simply represent yet another in a chain of catastrophes for global capitalism, rather than an opportunity to rethink our entire model of economic development."

taken by itself, makes everything before it, well redundant. of course it will.

alex morfesis , March 11, 2020 at 4:18 am

and and and .the "tax planning" departments at majorco international will be crying on about all their masterful overseas tax siloing now having to come apart by having to actually re-shore production oh the pearl clutching to come .

Lambert Strether , March 11, 2020 at 4:50 am

> To billions of us, it has resembled a looting process, of our social wealth, and political meaning

What do you mean, "resembled"?

Ignacio , March 11, 2020 at 5:37 am

I usually like reading Auerback's posts but in this exceptional case I had to stop reading at about the 10th paragraph or so. It is the case that in the heat of the moment we are not having good reaction and fear is driving us a little bit mad.

Leaving our personal phantoms and demons to ride free when we should be carefully thinking on our personal safety and the fate of the social structures that sustain us is not good idea. For instance, identifying Italy as the core of the problem is IMO a misrepresentation of facts. A small city in Northern Italy was, just by chance, the first place in EU where the outbreak started showing all its virulence and it took us by surprise because we were all in denial.

Not only in the EU, a few days ago Mr. Strether left a link in his Water-cooler citing American economists saying that the US would probably not be reached by the epidemics. As an example on how in denial we have been, take a look at this letter sent to the editor of eurosurveillance the 21st of January by physicians from Marseille asking why so much fear about the new disease when they had tested and identified 0 Covid cases in their hospitals while we should focus on flu or rhinovirus. It is almost certain they are now regretting having this letter sent.

Though M. Auerback IMO rigthly crtitizices the fragmentation of the institutional and political framework in the EU, in comparison with the all powerful globalized supply chains, I cannot agree more, I also think he is missing how the institutional response is being organised. After the initial denial, the response to the emergency is necessarily reactive (think of equipments in short supply). In Madrid we are just about 7 days behind of Italy in epidemics development and I can see the same phenomenon here. We are starting to see that we could soon be in short supply of treatment equipment in hospitals. Schools and universities are closed starting today and large gatherings prohibited and yesterday some panic scenes in supermarkets were seen, just like in Italy. The government has programmed a set of measures that are going to be implemented as their necessity is seen such as delaying tax or mortgage payments, and some other help with a focus in small companies and autonomous workers. Both Italy and Spain will almost certainly give a kick in the ass to austerian stupidity and do things necessary to try to mitigate the damage and I bet there won't be any EU institution denying whatever support needed because, ya know, the BCE and other institutions will realise their survival is at risk if they try to be too orthodox in an emergency situation. So far, IMO, the biggest mistakes have been made in China from the very beginning of the outbreak to the brutal quarantines imposed. I think that in the EU, keeping open borders was good reaction.

We will see how this unfolds in the US. This said, I wish the best for Americans of both Americas, Asians, Oceanians, Europeans etc. I hope that authorities around the world have good reaction with this emergency.

ObjectiveFunction , March 11, 2020 at 7:46 am

Good comment, I agree. I've been offline for a bit, so forgive me if mentioned already, but early irruption of the virus in Italy is no mere accident. Chinese groups have bought up Italian luxury brands and then imported thousands of Chinese sweatshop migrants to preserve the coveted Made In Italy label while keeping costs low. Same arrangements in Spain I think, but you would likely know better than I.

For so long as people can't be arsed about where their food clothing and shelter really comes from, there will always be loopholes devised by the unscrupulous. The arbitrage toothpaste is very hard to put back in the tube.

I greatly enjoy Auerback's (and Hudson's) work although I am no socialist (to my mind, today's bankster or McKinsey wanker simply becomes tomorrow's third deputy minister for banana bending – regardless, it's still a small club and most of us ain't in it).

But in order for nations, however defined, to regain self-sufficiency, cartelization of labor enforced in law is going to have to become a thing again, whether it's via unionization, craft guilds or certification (credentialism by any other name would smell as sweet).

Hayek's Heelbiter , March 11, 2020 at 6:41 am

One question: Why does Thomas L. Friedman, author of The World is Flat , extolling the glories of globalization, still have a job paying no doubt tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while many better informed and infinitely more prescient NCers have trouble putting groceries on the table?

Curious minds wonder.

John Wright , March 11, 2020 at 11:29 am

I realize your comment was rhetorical.

But..

Why does Friedman still have a job after all of his globalization cheer leading and war mongering?

Answer: Because he writes what his bosses want him to write.

In the upside-down world of USA media, people who give good advice (Chris Hedges and Phil Donahue on the Iraq War) get fired, while those who give bad advice (Friedman on almost everything) keep their jobs.

The contempt Friedman has for people may be illustrated by his "Suck on this" comment directed at innocent Iraqis who he judged needed to see US military power directed against them.

This is the USA, where harmful media people are brought down by sex-scandals (Charlie Rose, Chris Matthews) not by the quality of their media work.

Synoia , March 11, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Does this make me look fat?
Yes your majesty.
Off with his head!!

It is a human problem. Not just a US behavior. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The CEO of a large company is no different from the Baron in a Feudal Barony. The President of the United States is an Elected Monarch.

Mike , March 11, 2020 at 8:58 am

I don't get the article's point about a fractured EU response vs a coordinated American response. CDC has been torched by budget cuts and the nurses association in the USA – didn't they say few hospitals have any plans in place for an outbreak? Each country is going to have it's own challenges – good show on Joe Rogan this week and goes into 45% of Americans are obese – a big risk factor when combating Covid-19.

Also a revelation was nearly all generic drugs use in America are sourced from India and China. EU borders have been very fluid for decades, its not an easy thing to shut down for any reason and yes a lot of the response has been reactionary. So back to Globalisation – there are risks, this is the price.

David , March 11, 2020 at 9:02 am

Some good points, but a couple of quibbles.

Globalisation is not the same as trade. Trade, it's sometimes hard to recall, was originally "I'll swap you what you want for what I want." So the English exported wool, for example, and imported silks and spices. Globalisation is an attempt by an insane MBA student to restructure the world economy to be maximally "efficient" without concern for externalities. Globalisation is going down for sure, but of course it will take a lot of perfectly respectable trade with it.

I'm also getting a bit tired of reading that viruses "don't respect national borders." Of course, if there were groups of independently moving viruses, travelling through Europe on their little feet, they wouldn't think to contact the authorities when they cross national borders. But viruses have to be transported by something, usually people, and people (as in China recently) can be required to respect borders. Already there are signs that Free Movement in Europe is coming under strain (Slovenia closed its border with Italy yesterday) and judging by the violent reactions of the "no borders" lobby, they are worried that it may be one of the many types of collateral political damage.

One other thought: this epidemic may be the first in living memory where the PMC, politicians and media figures are disproportionately affected. (I can't think of a single case of a politician who's ever died of flu). The PMC etc. travel a lot more, get out a lot more and mix a lot more with foreigners. When there's no cure, some of them – CEOs, Ministers, media pundits, bankers – are going to die. What then? Already, the more contacts you have, especially with other countries, the worse things will be. Lawyers will find courts closed, consultants will find organisations less ready to consult them, business junkets and conferences will be cancelled, holidays postponed and upper middle-class parents will find that Tarquin and Miranda are unexpectedly at home because the European School in Florence has been closed. Some things will be very hard to bear.

Wukchumni , March 11, 2020 at 9:44 am

The changes coming on account of the virus will be substantial, and if we're all sitting on the sofa, afraid to leave the house for a year, supply chains will be rusty @ best when Coronavirus finally makes off for parts unknown, or pretty much wrecked.

There are very few among us who can afford to miss work and paychecks, and not only that, but those crazy preppers for once are 100% correct (why they don't concentrate on food primarily, is a mystery) in that everything we eat comes from somewhere else typically.

The extraordinary plum of the USD being the worlds' reserve currency looks to be in trouble too, and in a weakened state of things, might just turn into any other fiat monetary instrument.

The internet will change as well, with much of the world stuck in place, i'd expect traffic on here to explode, in that I can't think of a better time waster.

There's also the aspect of the Coronavirus hangover even after it departs, survivors won't let loose of their newfound way of living so easy.

periol , March 11, 2020 at 12:03 pm

I will never forget reading the Wikileak where the US state department was strong-arming an African government on behalf of Shell Oil. It drove home for me the reality that governments and corporations both serve their wealthy elite masters, and don't even pretend to serve the people they ostensibly represent.

That made me realize it's always been this way.

I was in high school when NAFTA went through. I remember reading all the dire warnings from people opposed, and all the glowing thoughts from those in favor. Now, in hindsight, it has been much worse for everyone except the wealthy. The dire warnings weren't dire enough.

Coronavirus isn't a black swan. People have been predicting a pandemic would strike a blow to globalization for a long time. The companies suffering from their short-sightedness FULLY DESERVE what they're getting. I'm sure hoping the fallout hits the corporate landscape hard . Let's see some naked capitalism in action.

Massinissa , March 11, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Your comment reminds me of Smedley Butler's 'War is a Racket' from about 100 years ago. It was true then and its true now. And I'm talking about government practices in general, not just war: You could take 'War' out of the title and replace it with anything else the american government does these days and it would still hold true.

Stratos , March 11, 2020 at 1:31 pm

"The companies suffering from their short-sightedness FULLY DESERVE what they're getting."

They do indeed. That is why they are lobbying the White House for bailout economic assistance funds. It would be a real stinker if they are bailed out with tax dollars and the average citizen is forced to pick up their own medical and time-off-the-job tabs.

[Mar 11, 2020] Fatalism, neolibralism and the USA society

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Paul Bogdanich , Mar 11 2020 21:09 utc | 83

I should have clarified, I'm an American living in the United States. That said, it bothers me. The absolute lack of any detectable level of courage or fortitude in the face of diversity (hard times) is just stunning. Old people die. Everyone dies over time. Viruses like the flu or SARS, or COVID-19 accelerate that process from time to time. It's just what viruses do. There is no cure for either death or viruses. If you want the biblical "Ye shall surely die."

The worst estimates of "excess deaths" in the U.S. is currently 480,000. Let's call it 605,000. 605,000 out of a population of 310 million is a death rate of 0.2%. Point two percent. If this was a deer heard and the managers were assured that the virus did no other damage and that the point two percent would be overwhelmingly composed of the aged and infirm they would consider intentionally introducing the virus to other herds that were too large.

The panic and cowardice is doing more damage than the disease. The level of fear and panic and the lack of dignity about a life process that you know or should have known was coming for as long as you were sentient is just appalling. The whole society is pusillanimous. There's just no other conclusion. It's outrageous compared to the whole of human history. No other generation in history panicked so much over so little.

/div>

Paul Bogdanich@111

America society is not organized to deal with crisis on its own soil at a community based level due to globalization and the warfare economy that you are well aware of.

First, the closing down of schools is a good example as the increase in poverty among the 99% has resulted in schools having to take on providing food to a large segment of children. It is even worse for the children who are homeless in America while millions of dollars a day go to overseas wars. In New York City along there are about 110,000 homeless children. America has no means to deliver such food aid to children except through school attendance! Even worse is that most of this food is ultraprocessed junk and food like substances as required by the corporate food industry.

Second, most workers must continue to show up even if sick or they face going bankrupt and are already deep in debt to the banks. This creates another petri dish for transmission of the virus which is otherwise going to happen due to a lack of food supplies, except in Mormon and similar communities.

Third, About half of Americans have one or more serious medical conditions, most of which are due to either bad diet (hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) or drug use (alcohol, tobacco, or hard drugs).

Fourth, Americans are generally sedentary and cocooned indoors leading to vitamin/hormone D3 deficiencies and toxic organics exposure in home products.

Fifth, we have a sick care system in the US that tries to maximize revenue flow to medical corporations through excess drug distribution and other symptom treatments (think snake oil salesmen in the old west). Once again, prevention via better diet is the correct but unprofitable choice. See books such as "food fix" and "The Hacking of the American Mind" for further details.

Sixth, oil people who will die generally have deficient immune systems which make them susceptible to secondary infections and lung inflammation responses. Strategies to improve immune response are not profitable compared to vaccines and thus lots of old people will die.

Seventh, as hospitals rapidly fill up with patient with coronavirus secondary infections anyone with injuries or disease conditions (e,g, gall bladder and appendix infections will have a much higher chance of dying). As some 97% of prescription drugs are imported from China there will be dramatic shortages.

Eighth, even with calling out the national guard, there will be a large increase in crime as America has over million gang members who are generally well organized. Pity those who cannot defend themselves.

Ninth, collapse of the food and other essential services distribution over several months will contribute to violence and perhaps starvation, especially among pets and farm animals.

Tenth, since most political leaders in the US attended the AIPAC and CPAP conferences, where they were exposed to infected individuals, they will have a much higher infection rate, especially since they tend to be old and in bad health. The collapse of government decision makers will lead to local communities having to sink or swim.

You are correct about the lack of courage in Americans. More importantly, response to a crisis is 80% mental Americans generally are unwilling to give up their comfort and conformity mindset.

Do not know why anyone would want to serve in the US military. Seems like you now recognize your mistake.

Paul Bogdanich@111

America society is not organized to deal with crisis on its own soil at a community based level due to globalization and the warfare economy that you are well aware of.

First, the closing down of schools is a good example as the increase in poverty among the 99% has resulted in schools having to take on providing food to a large segment of children. It is even worse for the children who are homeless in America while millions of dollars a day go to overseas wars. In New York City along there are about 110,000 homeless children. America has no means to deliver such food aid to children except through school attendance! Even worse is that most of this food is ultraprocessed junk and food like substances as required by the corporate food industry.

Second, most workers must continue to show up even if sick or they face going bankrupt and are already deep in debt to the banks. This creates another petri dish for transmission of the virus which is otherwise going to happen due to a lack of food supplies, except in Mormon and similar communities.

Third, About half of Americans have one or more serious medical conditions, most of which are due to either bad diet (hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) or drug use (alcohol, tobacco, or hard drugs).

Fourth, Americans are generally sedentary and cocooned indoors leading to vitamin/hormone D3 deficiencies and toxic organics exposure in home products.

Fifth, we have a sick care system in the US that tries to maximize revenue flow to medical corporations through excess drug distribution and other symptom treatments (think snake oil salesmen in the old west). Once again, prevention via better diet is the correct but unprofitable choice. See books such as "food fix" and "The Hacking of the American Mind" for further details.

Sixth, oil people who will die generally have deficient immune systems which make them susceptible to secondary infections and lung inflammation responses. Strategies to improve immune response are not profitable compared to vaccines and thus lots of old people will die.

Seventh, as hospitals rapidly fill up with patient with coronavirus secondary infections anyone with injuries or disease conditions (e,g, gall bladder and appendix infections will have a much higher chance of dying). As some 97% of prescription drugs are imported from China there will be dramatic shortages.

Eighth, even with calling out the national guard, there will be a large increase in crime as America has over million gang members who are generally well organized. Pity those who cannot defend themselves.

Ninth, collapse of the food and other essential services distribution over several months will contribute to violence and perhaps starvation, especially among pets and farm animals.

Tenth, since most political leaders in the US attended the AIPAC and CPAP conferences, where they were exposed to infected individuals, they will have a much higher infection rate, especially since they tend to be old and in bad health. The collapse of government decision makers will lead to local communities having to sink or swim.

You are correct about the lack of courage in Americans. More importantly, response to a crisis is 80% mental Americans generally are unwilling to give up their comfort and conformity mindset.

Do not know why anyone would want to serve in the US military. Seems like you now recognize your mistake. /div

[Mar 11, 2020] Another big bonus is that the virus will primarily kill old people, which means that European governments can pay out less retirement pensions and welfare benefits in the future. Neoliberal economics is the big winner here.

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

occupatio , Mar 11 2020 23:01 utc | 132

Italy's economy will be crushed, but the bankers will still get their money. In fact, it's another opportunity to impose further 'austerity' on Italy (as neoliberal economics abhors spending on government services), and to force Italy to take out more loans from Germany and France.

Another big bonus is that the virus will primarily kill old people, which means that European governments can pay out less retirement pensions and welfare benefits in the future. Neoliberal economics is the big winner here.

[Mar 11, 2020] Experts warn flaws in US neoliberalized health system doom its readiness

Mar 11, 2020 | www.rt.com

The epidemic that has so far spread to half of US states, infecting over 1,000 Americans and killing 31...

At least 10 states have declared emergencies as of Wednesday, and disease experts are throwing up their hands, urging the administration to take real-life events more seriously.

...Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield agreed that critical regions of the US are beyond the reach of containment, sliding into the " mitigation " stage, and blamed the botched rollout of test kits to local health workers.

The availability of accurate tests for Covid-19 has become a major sore spot, with official reassurances colliding with uncooperative reality in full view of the public. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar insisted on Tuesday that " millions " of tests were available, even as the CDC urged healthcare providers to save tests for symptomatic patients already hospitalized and " medically fragile individuals ."

In at least one case , federal officials warned a Seattle lab against testing flu swab samples for coronavirus in January, before the epidemic was widely reported, losing critical response time – mirroring the " crime " the Trump administration has tried to pin on China.

And some have warned that the US' inability to handle an outbreak is more dire than either side realizes. During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, a Republican congressman from Washington, the first Covid-19 hotspot to flare up in the US, demanded to know why his constituents were unable to get their test results while his fellow congressmen had no problem getting tested just days after coming into contact with an infected person at a DC political conference. A CDC representative admitted " there's not enough equipment. There's not enough people. There's not enough internal capacity. There's no surge capacity ." To conserve tests, the CDC has told healthcare providers to " use their judgment " and consider " epidemiologic factors " before using up a valuable resource.

Existing flaws in the US healthcare system have exacerbated the testing problem. The CDC has refused to set up standalone testing centers, placing COVID-19 screening out of the reach of the many Americans who don't have primary-care physicians and rely on walk-in clinics and emergency rooms for their healthcare. Just 8,500 Americans had been tested as of Monday, according to the CDC, and federal officials told reporters some 75,000 tests had been sent out to public health laboratories on top of one million sent to hospitals and other sites. The real-life infected numbers in the country are thus likely much higher than what is being reported.

Control measures have varied wildly across local governments and institutions and even within cities. Over 1,000 schools have closed nationwide, and cities and counties from Santa Clara, California to Westchester, New York have banned large gatherings. The National Institutes of Health's Anthony Fauci called on others to follow suit during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, announcing " we would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. " Asked if " the worst " was yet to come, Fauci answered unequivocally: " bottom line, it's going to get worse. "

Even as new Covid-19 cases in China dwindle to near zero and cases in Italy, Germany, and other European countries surge, the US has not stepped up screenings of passengers from those countries at airports accordingly. Instead, the administration has continued to congratulate itself on " saving lives " by halting flights from China weeks ago.

[Mar 11, 2020] COVID-19 puts neoliberalism on its knee

Mar 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 11 2020 14:25 utc | 100

COVID-19 puts neoliberalism on its knees:

Germany abandons "zero deficit" policy

[Mar 11, 2020] Six Quick Points About Coronavirus and Poverty in the US by Bill Quigley

Mar 11, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

... ... ...

One. Thirty-four million workers do not have a single day of paid sick leave. Even though most of the developed world gives its workers paid sick leave there is no federal law requiring it for workers. Thirty seven percent of private industry workers do not have paid sick leave including nearly half of the lowest paid quarter of workers. That means 34 million working people have no paid sick leave at all. As with all inequality, this group of people is disproportionately women and people of color. More than half of Latinx workers, approximately 15 million workers , are unable to earn a single sick day. Nearly 40 percent of African American workers, more than 7 million people , are in jobs where they cannot earn a single paid sick day.

Two. Low wage workers and people without a paid sick day have to continue to work to survive. Studies prove people without paid sick days are more likely to go to work sick than workers who have paid sick leave. And workers without paid sick days are much more likely to seek care from emergency rooms than those with paid sick leave.

Three. About 30 million people in the US do not have health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation . Nearly half say they cannot afford it . They are unlikely to seek medical treatment for flu like symptoms or seek screening because they cannot afford it.

Four. Staying home is not an option for the homeless. There are about 550,000 homeless people in the US, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless . Homeless people have rates of diabetes, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS at rates three to six times that of the general population, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Shelters often provide close living arrangements and opportunities to clean hands and clothes and utensils are minimal for those on the street. Homeless people have higher rates of infectious, acute and chronic diseases like tuberculosis.

[Mar 10, 2020] Mr. Market Loses It Over Coronavirus Risk Oil Tanks, S P Futures Trades Halted on Limit Down Overnight, Gold Jumps naked cap

Mar 10, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Mr. Market has finally digested that the world isn't prepared for coronavirus and the US is particularly poorly set up to cope, thanks to our fragmented public health system and overpriced, privatized and less than comprehensive health care. That bad situation is made worse by the CDC being short on resources and hamstrung further by the Trump Administration's PR imperatives.

At a minimum, the market rout may force the Administration to go into overdrive on real world responses, but I doubt it has the capacity. For starters, Pence is badly cast as a crisis manager. But as we'll discuss briefly, the US has such hollowed out capacity on the medical front that a better response would have needed to start weeks ago to have much hope of blunting outcomes.

The US' best hope is that hotter weather will slow the infection rate, but that's not coming soon enough to rescue the Eastern corridor or the West Coast from San Francisco Bay north from serious propagation till at least mid May (and San Francisco doesn't get all that hot except when the weather gets freaky).

... ... ...

A Bloomberg story described how the prospect of low oil prices weighs directly on stocks

While the energy sector is now the third smallest in the S&P 500, a change from a decade ago when the industry made up 11% of the benchmark, tumbling oil prices is yet another risk for traders to contemplate.

"If WTI falls into the low $30s and stays there, it's going to cause lay-offs in the oil patch and stresses in the high yield market -- like it did when oil fell dramatically in 2015," said Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

Real World Situation Ugly

The US is still in Keystone Kops mode. We don't have remotely enough coronavirus tests being done. We have no idea when we will have enough test kits ready. No one is even talking about how to implement a system like the drive by tests in South Korea which is not only efficient but even more important, greatly reduces risks to patients and doctors versus having to show up in a waiting room. We have lots of ad hoc measures, like conferences cancelled, businesses ordering travel bans, some schools halting classes (most recently Columbia University ).

But too many people are operating on a business as usual basis, including Congress. An estimated 2/3 of its members attended the AIPAC conference, where two a participants tested positive for coronavirus (oddly, the press has taken little note). An attendee at CPAC, a large conference for conservatives, also tested positive for coronavirus, but only two Congresscritters are self-quaranting .

Readers Monty and Leroy R posted a link to an account from a surgeon in Bergamo on how a hospital in one of the badly-hit areas is holding up . I strongly urge reading it in full (Leroy also linked to the original in Italian ). Key sections:

I myself looked with some amazement at the reorganization of the entire hospital in the previous week
I still remember my night shift a week ago spent without any rest, waiting for a call from the microbiology department. I was waiting for the results of a swab taken from the first suspect case in our hospital

Well, the situation is now nothing short of dramatic The war has literally exploded and battles are uninterrupted day and night. One after the other, these unfortunate people come to the emergency room. They have far from the complications of a flu. Let's stop saying it's a bad flu. In my two years working in Bergamo, I have learned that the people here do not come to the emergency room for no reason. They did well this time too. They followed all the recommendations given: a week or ten days at home with a fever without going out to prevent contagion, but now they can't take it anymore. They don't breathe enough, they need oxygen .

Now, however, that need for beds in all its drama has arrived. One after another, the departments that had been emptied are filling up at an impressive rate. The display boards with the names of the sicks, of different colors depending on the department they belong to, are now all red and instead of the surgical procedure, there is the diagnosis, which is always the same: bilateral interstitial pneumonia

I can also assure you that when you see young people who end up intubated in the ICU, pronated or worse, in ECMO (a machine for the worst cases, which extracts the blood, re-oxygenates it and returns it to the body, waiting for the lungs to hopefully heal), all this confidence for your young age goes away And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has overwhelmed us.

The cases multiply, up to a rate of 15-20 hospitalizations a day all for the same reason. The results of the swabs now come one after the other: positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing. Emergency provisions are issued: help is needed in the emergency room. A quick meeting to learn how the to use to emergency room EHR and a few minutes later I'm already downstairs, next to the warriors on the war front. The screen of the PC with the chief complaint is always the same: fever and respiratory difficulty, fever and cough, respiratory insufficiency etc Exams, radiology always with the same sentence: bilateral interstitial pneumonia. All needs to be hospitalized. Some already needs to be intubated, and goes to the ICU. For others, however, it is late. ICU is full, and when ICUs are full, more are created. Each ventilator is like gold: those in the operating rooms that have now suspended their non-urgent activity are used and the OR become a an ICU that did not exist before. I found it amazing, or at least I can speak for Humanitas Gavazzeni (where I work), how it was possible to put in place in such a short time a deployment and a reorganization of resources so finely designed to prepare for a disaster of this magnitude .Nurses with tears in their eyes because we are unable to save everyone and the vital signs of several patients at the same time reveal an already marked destiny. There are no more shifts, schedules.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has another fine piece on the coronavirus outbreak. He flags that the UK is very poorly situated to handle it, with only 1/6 the ICU beds per capita of South Korea. As an aside, the US has 10x as many per capital as the UK but read the Bergamo piece again. The entire hospital has been turned into a coronavirus ward. Lord only knows what happens to accident victims .are some hospitals in each region being set aside for regular emergency care?

Here is AEP's take on Italy and the implications :

Data from China suggest a death rate of 15pc for infected cases over the age of 80. It is 8pc for those in their seventies, and 3.6pc in their sixties (or 5.4pc for men). No elected government in any Western democracy will survive if it lets such carnage unfold .

Unfortunately, the early figures from Italy seem to be tracking Hubei's epidemiology with a horrible consistency. The death rate for all ages is near 5pc. While there may be large numbers of undetected infections – distorting ratios – Italy has tested widely, much more than Germany or France.

For whatever reason, the Italian system seems unable to save them. The death rate is six times the reported rate in Korea, even adjusting for age structures. Is it because the Italian strain has mutated into a more lethal form (we don't yet have the sequence data) or because Europeans are genetically more vulnerable?

Is it because Italy's nitrogen dioxide pollution is the worst in Europe (the UK is bad too), leading to chronic lung inflammation? Is it the chaotic administration that led to a catalogue of errors in the hotspot of Codogno? If you think Britain's NHS has been starved of funds, spare a thought for Italy, Portugal, Spain, or Greece .

The US is about to face its grim reckoning. It has the best health care in the rich world – and the worst. Pandemics exploit the worst.

Let's tease out AEP's line of thought. The US is sorely wanting in operational capacity despite being able to provide top flight care for certain types of ailments.

US hospitals are now overwhelmingly run by MBAs. It's difficult to conceive of them being able to execute the sort of rapid reordering of space and duties described in Bergamo. It's not simply that the top brass is too removed from the practice of medicine to have the right reflexes. Unless ordered to do so, they will also be loath to devote enough resources to tackling the disease. When a crisis hits, they won't be allowed to charge (in their minds) for coronavirus services. They'll want to preserve as much hospital capacity for "normal" full ticket services as possible. They might rationalize that by arguing that they don't want to risk more of their staff's health than necessary.

But even worse, remember that most hospitals no longer control much their staffing. They've outsourced specialist practices like emergency room doctors .and those have been bought up by private equity. If you think private equity won't exploit this crisis for their gain, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

One possible silver lining to this probable tragedy is if the US medical system performs as badly as it appears likely to is that it might finally end the delusion that there's a lot (aside from individual doctors and nurses) in the current system worth saving. The broad public needs to make sure that their crisis does not go to waste.

[Mar 10, 2020] Since advent of neo-liberal economics and the fifty plus year assault on the government sector, they have a partisan employment service instead of classic bureaucracy

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

uncle tungsten , Mar 10 2020 6:41 utc | 111

dltravers #103
The response is reasonably good considering the size of the bureaucracy they have to move. ... Let us hope both sides put aside the nonsense for a while and get it together.

Unfortunately they don't have a bureaucracy. Since neo-liberal economics and the fifty plus year assault on the government sector, they have a partisan employment service instead. Little skill or intelligence, a century of wisdom erased, no capacity to act and totally ossified in manoeuvrability.

To trust in any meaningful bureaucracy to motivate, let alone move, you would have to look for a state that values human rights, trusts its citizens and scientists and administrators and refrains from denigrating public medicine and health services.

Good luck finding that effective and resourced public medicine in the USA right now.

... ... ...

[Mar 10, 2020] Italian healthcare system vs the USa healthcare

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Andrea , Mar 9 2020 22:27 utc | 69

Everyone here talking badly about our national health system while we have one of the healthiest and oldest population in the world. Nothing it's collapsing here and we are doing our best, something that I'm not sure can be said about other Nations.
We have many positives because here, in Italy, we test a lot of people and for free. How much does it cost to be tested in US? Are you sure that a very expensive health care system, like the one in US, can handle this virus better than our free for all health care system?
In a couple of months you'll get the answer, don't worry.
Good luck to everyone from Italy.
Andrea

[Mar 10, 2020] Should big corporations get another bailout then

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

SteveR , Mar 9 2020 20:16 utc | 39

Likklemore@32

"Should big corporations get another bailout then ."

Of course corporations will be made whole again just like in 2008. Yet they will continue spouting that Medicare for All is an evil socialist program - the very thing that would allow all people to get taken care of and at least helping contain the spread. The Democrat leadership in the House is now looking at a $350 billion corporate bailout ( how will they pay for it) - yet are viciously against Medicare for All and Bernie. A new Yale Study shows Medicare for All will prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths and will save $450 billion - each and every year. And of course Trump also would like to cut health programs and social security. Trump and Pelosi are both on the same donor team - it is like professional wrestling working for the wealthiest against the workers.

[Mar 10, 2020] In certain European countries private hospitals are already deriving their Covid-19 cases to the public system

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

H.Schmatz , Mar 9 2020 22:11 utc | 61

I am seeing how irresponsible people at certain blogs where they have themselves as oustanding intelligent people, probably only thinking in ther shares´ value, are spreading disinfo in the same sense of that twitted by Trump.

Laissez faire will not work. In certain European countries private hospitals are already deriving their Covid-19 cases to the public system ( of course the government should act asap on this taking extraordinary measures to force them absorbe their clients or even requsition their beds for a public health emergency as it is this one ). This only will accelerate the rate of lack of ICU beds and respirators.

There are already Twitter threads by health personel as the one linked by b, estimating the exponential grow will easily come of this epidemics.
A Spanish doctor in Madrid was already saying that the time will come where triage will be needed to prioritice who accedes to the respirators/ICU beds once the health system overwhelmed...I only hope those irresponsibly denying this is a global pandemic emergency and spreading disinfo through their media to be the first discarded by triage, as they are only making things worse, along with guarantor of their tax cut Trump. I bet them there will be a respirator for Trump, but for them, that is in the air.

In Madrid, after the huge demonstrations of Women´s Day yesterday, new cases have jumped to the rate of Italy. Today all schools and universities closed in the same city. Heads shoukd be already rolling.

Then, we are not counting on the possibility that thing here will not go so orderly than in China. In Italy, to the public health crisis, they add a probably public order one, with several revolts in jails because of restriction of visits...
Just some hours ago some dozens of inmates of a prison in Foggia were running free in the streets taking advantage to commit crimes as they go out robbing cars and menacing commercial activity...

https://twitter.com/Matteo_LT/status/1236982039439646720

Probably as a result, already the whole Italy closed, there is no more red zones, prohibited to move throughout the peninsula. 60 million people.

For those irresponsibly claiming from the same blogs that this will cease with the good weather, people are reporting from Argentina where today there was around a hot summer day, that there are increasing cases there.

Harvarad University and the WHO have already discarded this epidemics will behave like the estational flu..

Coronavirus 'highly sensitive' to high temperatures, but don't bank on summer killing it off, studies say


[Mar 10, 2020] Virus spread and umpaid sick leave

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Mar 9 2020 22:16 utc | 63

Dear B,

In the hospitality industry in Australia, paid sick leave is available to full-time and part-time employees. The man employed at the Grand Chancellor Hotel in Hobart (in Tasmania) was likely employed as a casual. He is known to be a student in his 20s and is currently in isolation at hospital.

From FYA.org.au: If You're Young and Work In Hospitality, You Need To Read This.

"... Don't come to work sick. You will spread your gross germs around, make everyone else sick (including customers!) and you'll be pretty useless anyway. Australians recognise that it's in all our best interests if you STAY THE HECK HOME while you're unwell, and that's why you've got the option of paid sick leave if you're employed on a full time or part time basis.

If you're employed on a casual basis, you're entitled to unpaid sick leave. You are supposed to subsist during your illness on all the lavish savings you've accrued from your extra four-bucks-fifty-five-an-hour in casual loading. This is clearly problematic, and a lot of young casuals are forced to attend work sick out of economic necessity ..."

It is likely that many if not most COVID-19 cases in several countries so far have also been spread by people working in health, hospitality and other related service industries where most workers are on casual or temporary contracts with either unpaid sick leave or no sick leave.

[Mar 10, 2020] Japan to punish reselling of masks for profit with year in prison, 1 million fine -- or both

Mar 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 10 2020 11:41 utc | 122

Japan to punish reselling of masks for profit with year in prison, ¥1 million fine -- or both

I thought these "totalitarian" measures were only possible in China...

Shizuoka politician apologizes for making ¥8.8 million selling pricey virus masks

I thought this kind of local level corruption and cronyism only happened in the "degenerated" ranks of the CCP...

--//--

More circumstancial evidence the South Koran government is cooking the numbers:

Government's 'self-praise' in virus fight taking flak

"The number of tests is large because the nation has a large number of people suspected to have caught coronavirus. However, the government is declaring a victory by turning it the other way around," Hong said on his Facebook.

All the evidence indicates South Korea is just following the capitalist modus operandi of chasing the rabbit: it is only testing the people who are already showing symptoms. There's no evidence those containers with fast food tests are working on a significant scale: there are a lot of factors that make a random individual in South Korea to stop in one of them to get itself tested; just making them freely available is not enough. Besides, just because an individual who stopped by the container tested negative, it doesn't mean it won't get infected after, as it will go back to its daily routine (because capitalism can't stop, it needs to keep its wheel spinning).

I don't trust the capitalist numbers around the world for one simple fact: they don't have the means to test everybody and to stop their own economies in order to preserve the non-infected from being infected in the near future. An illustrative example of this can be observed in the Czech Republic, which went from just five cases on March 3rd (three on March 1st) to 40 on March 10th - one of the new infected having just arrived from Italy. Those numbers indicate Czech Republic did absolutely nothing to stop the epidemic, and that they probably have much more than those 40 - they just haven't tested enough.

[Mar 10, 2020] The USA is particularly poorly set up to cope with COVID-19 epidemics, thanks to our fragmented public health system and overpriced, privatized and less than comprehensive health care. That bad situation is made worse by the CDC being short on resources and hamstrung further by the Trump Administration's PR imperatives

Mar 10, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

New Wafer Army , March 9, 2020 at 5:29 am

The glue appears at the start of the article:

"the US is particularly poorly set up to cope, thanks to our fragmented public health system and overpriced, privatized and less than comprehensive health care. That bad situation is made worse by the CDC being short on resources and hamstrung further by the Trump Administration's PR imperatives."

Basically, it is expected that Europe manages the crisis less badly.

Eustache de Saint Pierre , March 9, 2020 at 12:18 pm

It has been interesting watching Dr. John Campbell's growing realisation & some shock that everything is not well with the US healthcare system & he has received some abuse but also support from Americans for his growing criticism.

His listing as requested of his 2 degrees & Phd, never mind his long front line experience & his books I think shut some up for perhaps thinking that he was only a nurse, but perhaps he shouda gone to NakedCapitalism.

[Mar 09, 2020] Cooperation, not hoarding is the key in overcoming any epidemics

Mar 09, 2020 | blogs.scientificamerican.com

It also feels like a scam: there is no shortage of snake oil sellers who hope stoking such fears will make people buy more supplies: years' worth of ready-to-eat meals, bunker materials and a lot more stuff in various shades of camo. (The more camo the more doomsday feels, I guess!)

The reality is that there is little point "preparing" for the most catastrophic scenarios some of these people envision. As a species, we live and die by our social world and our extensive infrastructure -- and there is no predicting what anybody needs in the face of total catastrophe.

In contrast, the real crisis scenarios we're likely to encounter require cooperation and, crucially, "flattening the curve" of the crisis exactly so the more vulnerable can fare better, so that our infrastructure will be less stressed at any one time.

[Mar 09, 2020] One day, Americans will fully understand , with horrible consequences, that not every single human transaction must revolve around making a few people obscenely rich

Mar 09, 2020 | www.unz.com

TKK , says: Show Comment March 9, 2020 at 5:06 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike In America, you are on your own.

At international arrivals in Atlanta, the overwhelmingly black TSA staff are not taking temps by infrared or taking any pro active measures. If they are, it was hidden from me. It seems- obtuse- to constantly harp on the catastrophe that is AA hires- but there it is.

Its the busiest airport in the world, BTW.

A sinister side note; Delta offered me an $83 upgrade for first class when I went in to delay another trip. It's a $6000 ticket to fly first class. My total would have been a little over $500. Dangling the carrot as everyone cancels.

One day, Americans will fully understand , with horrible consequences, that not every single human transaction must revolve around making a few people obscenely rich.

[Mar 09, 2020] COVID-19 and the Working Class by Jack Rasmus

Highly recommended!
Mar 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

US politicians and media are reporting approximately 500 cases of the virus in the US as of March 8. The actual number is almost certainly much higher, however. Perhaps as much as 10-fold that number, according to some sources. Why?

There's the problem of reporting only tested cases so far, and there's still a lack of available tests even to test and to verify all those infected without symptoms.. And even those showing symptoms may have been determined initially as not infected by the tests, since reportedly many of the early test kits were defective. Meanwhile, those without symptoms or pre-symptomatic are not being tested at all.

The Fiction of Voluntary Quarantine

Then there's the policy of voluntary quarantining those who have come into contact with someone who was tested and found infected. It's not working very well. Those who have come in contact with carriers of the virus are asked simply to stay home. But do they? There's no way to know, or even enforce that. The case example why voluntary quarantining doesn't work well is Italy.

Most of the northern Lombardy region, including the financial center of Milan in that country, is in 'lock down' right now. But all that means is voluntary quarantining. People are asked not to leave their town, or the larger region. But is that stopping them traveling around their town in public places? Or within the larger region? And spreading the virus there? Apparently not. Reportedly, infection for those tested have risen in just two weeks to more than 6,000 in Northern Italy. CNBC reports that, in just one day this weekend, that number increased by 1200! So much for voluntary quarantines. There's no way, no sufficient personnel, not even accepted procedures, with which to daily check on those (in Italy that means hundreds of thousands) in voluntary quarantine.

The Real Costs to Workers

Average working class folks cannot afford to voluntary quarantine themselves. Or to stay home from work for any reason. Even if they have symptoms. They will continue going to work. They have to, in order to economically survive.

Consider the typical scenario in the US: there are literally tens of millions of workers who have no more than $400 for an emergency. As many perhaps as half of the work force of 165 million. They live paycheck to paycheck. They can't afford to miss any days of work. Millions of them have no paid sick leave. The US is the worst of all advanced economies in terms of providing paid sick leave. Even union workers with some paid sick leave in their contracts have, at best, only six days on average. If they stay home sick, they'll be asked by their employer the reason for doing so in order to collect that paid sick leave. And even when they don't have sick leave. Paid leave or not, many will be required to provide a doctor's slip indicating the nature of the illness. But doctors are refusing to hold office visits for patients who may have the virus. They can't do anything about it, so they don't want them to come in and possibly contaminate others or themselves. So a worker sick has to go to the hospital emergency room.

That raises another problem. A trip to the emergency room costs on average at least a $1,000. More if special tests are done. If the worker has no health insurance (30 million still don't), that's an out of pocket cost he/she can't afford. They know it. So they don't go to the hospital emergency room, and they can't get an appointment at the doctor's office. Result: they don't get tested, refuse to go get tested, and they continue to go to work. The virus spreads.

Even if they have health insurance coverage, the deductible today is usually $500 to $2000. Most don't have that kind of savings to spend either. Not to mention copays. So even those insured take a pass on going to the hospital to get tested, even if they have symptoms.

The media doesn't help here either. Reports are typically that those who are young, middle age, and in reasonable good health and without other complicating conditions don't die. It's the older folks, retirees with Medicare, or with serious other conditions, that typically die from the virus. Workers hear this and that supports their decision not to go to the hospital or get tested as well.

Then there's the further complication concerning employment if they do go to the hospital. The hospital will (soon) test them. If found infected, they will send them home for voluntary quarantine for 14 days! Now the financial crises really begins. The hospital will inform their employer. Staying at home for 14 days will result in financial disaster, since the employer has no obligation to continue to pay them their wages while not at work, unless they have some minimal paid sick leave which, as noted, the vast majority don't have. Nor does the employer have any obligation legally to even keep them employed for 14 days (or even less) if the employer determines they are not likely to return to work after 14 days (or even less). They therefore get fired if they go to the hospital after it reports to the employer they have the virus. Just another good reason not to go to the hospital.

In other words, here's all kind of major economic disincentives to keep an illness confidential, to go to work, not go to the hospital (and can't go to the doctor). That risks passing on the highly contagion bug to others–which has been happening and will continue to happen.

Here's another financial hit for the working class: child care. Schools are beginning to shut down. Even where no cases are yet confirmed. Stanford University just decided to discontinue all in class sessions and revert to all online education. But what about K-6 and pre-school? Or even Jr. high schools? When they shut down, kids must stay at home. But most working class parents can't afford nannys or baby-sitters. Not everyone works in an occupation or company where they can 'work from home'. Do they send the young kids to grandma's and grandpa's, who are more susceptible to the virus? With their kids required to stay home, they must miss work, and risk even losing their jobs. We're talking about millions of families with 6 to 12 year olds. And who knows how long the schools will remain shut down.

In short, wages lost due to self-quarantining, forced voluntary quarantining after hospital testing, the cost of hospital emergency room visits (whether insured or not), the unknown cost of the tests themselves (the government says it will reimburse them but they don't have the $1,000 or more cash out of pocket in the first place), the cost of paying for nannys or baby-sitters for young school age children when schools shut down–i.e. all result in a massive out of pocket expense for most workers that they don't have.

Workers figure all these possibilities of financial disaster pretty quick and know that the virus will mean a big financial hit if they miss a day's work, or even if they don't. So they keep working, hoping they'll recover on their own, refusing to get tested because of the potential loss of work, wages, and income, and crossing their fingers that their kids' school districts don't shut down.

Economic Contagion Channels: Supply Chains, Demand, Asset Deflation, Defaults & Credit Crunch

What this all means for the US economy is obvious. Household consumption was already weakening at the end of last year. Most of consumption was driven by accelerating stock valuations, which affect those in the top 10% who own stocks; or by taking on more credit–credit cards, which affects the middle class and below.

Over $1 trillion in credit card debt is what has been largely driving middle income and below consumption. Mainstream economists argue that defaults on credit card debt are only 3% or so, and thus not a problem. But that's a gross average across all 130 million households. When this data are broken down, middle income and below family credit card debt is around 9%, a very high number more like 2007 when the last economic recession began.

Then there's auto debt. As of 2018, reportedly 7 million turned in their keys on their auto loans. As in the case of credit cards, auto debt defaults will rise as well in 2020. Then there's student debt, over $1.6 Trillion now. Defaults there are much higher than reported as well, since actual defaults (defined as failure to pay either principal or interest) have been redefined to something else other than actual default.

Add to all this the likelihood is very high that job layoffs will now begin by April, as the global supply chain crisis due to virus-related cuts in production and trade. More job loss means less wage income and thus less household spending and more inability to deal with the costs of the virus for most working class families.

Let's not also forget the price gouging for certain products that is beginning now to appear, both online and in stores. That reduces working class real incomes and thus consumption too. Meanwhile, certain industries are already taking a big hit and layoffs are looming in travel companies of all kinds (airlines, cruise ships, hotels, entertainment). In places where the virus effect is already large, a big decline in restaurant, sports and concerts, movies, etc. has also begun.

The two big economic contagion channels impacting employment thus far are supply chain production and distribution reductions, and local demand for certain services (travel, retail, hospitality, etc.).

But a third major channel has just begun to emerge: that's financial asset deflation in stocks, oil & commodity futures, junk bonds & leveraged loans, and currency devaluations.

Stocks' price collapse leads to business shelving investment and even cutting back production. That means more job loss, reduced wage incomes, less spending, and economic slowdown.

Oil and commodity prices now collapsing also lead to energy industry layoffs. More importantly, in turn that will lead to energy junk bond market collapse–potentially spreading to all junk bonds, leveraged loans, and even BBB grade corporate bonds (which are really redefined junk bonds not investment grade bonds).

In other words, the collapse of supply chains, production-distribution, and industry by industry demand in the US may become even worse should the financial markets price collapse can lead to a general credit crunch. And that translates into a general economic real contraction. That's precisely what happened in 2008, in a similar chain reaction from financial crisis to real economic crisis.

Workers are aware of all this possibly leading to longer run economic stress. In the short run, they consider possible wages loss if they reveal or report they have the virus, or get tested: i.e. lost wage incomes: the cost of immediate medical care; the cost of child care, etc. Better to tough it through and continue to go to work is a typical, and rational, response.

This is already going on. Hundreds of thousands with, and without, symptoms are not being tested; nor will most of them volunteer to be. Except for those on cruise ships who are forced to be tested (and they're mostly retirees and elderly), few workers can afford to allow themselves to be. The infection rate is thus already much higher and will continue to rise. Voluntary quarantining doesn't work much (again just look at Italy, or even Germany, where in one week cases (tested) rose from 66 to more than 1000). So out of economic necessity and to avoid personal economic devastation, they continue to work. But that doesn't have to be.

US Policy Response: No Help for Working Class

US policy has been, is, and will continue to be a disaster. Trump's cuts to health and human services in the past seriously hampered the US initial response. Tests had to be sent to Atlanta and the CDC for processing. Early test kits often failed. Only now are they getting to the states–to late to have a positive initial effect on the spread. Those suspected of exposure to others confirmed infected were simply sent home for 'voluntary quarantine'. Initial legislation of $8.3 billion just passed by Congress provides for 'reimbursement' for voluntary testing, with no clarification if that covers the $1,000 hospital visit as well or just the cost of the actual test!

There could be, however, a government response that financially supports workers and allows them to be properly tested and treated.

An Alternative Policy Response

Why doesn't the government simply say 'go get tested for free' and the hospital will bill the government for the costs? Not the worker pay up front with money he/she likely doesn't have. Why isn't there emergency legislation by Congress or the states to require employers to provide at least 14 days of paid sick leave, like other countries? And law guaranteeing employers can't fire a worker sick with the virus for any reason? Or tax credits to working class families for the full cost of child care–paid to a nanny or to the worker–if they have to stay home in the event of a school district shutdown?

While business-investor tax cuts will almost certainly be the official government response, few of the above measures for working class Americans are likely. In America working class folks always get the short end of the economic stick. Congress and presidents pass trillions of dollars in tax cut legislation ($15 trillion since 2001 to investors, businesses and the 1%), but have raised taxes on the working class. Companies with billions of dollars in annual profits pay nothing in taxes–and actually get a subsidy check from the government to boot. Just ask Amazon, IBM, many big banks, pharmaceutical companies and more!

It can be expected the virus will have a large negative impact the standard of living and wages of millions of working class families. They will have to bear the burden of the cost with little help from their government. Meanwhile, businesses and investors will get bailed out, 'made whole', once again. In the process Consumption spending–the only area holding up the economy in 2019–will take a big hit. That means recession starting next quarter is more than a 50-50 likelihood.

In fact, the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, has just forecast that the effect on the US economy in the coming second quarter of this year will be a collapse of GDP to 0% growth.

Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com .

[Mar 09, 2020] COVID-19 Reveals Trump's Planned Obsolescence by JP Sottile

Notable quotes:
"... Trump's narcissism obscures something both far more pernicious and far more permanent than his oft-televised obsession with himself and that's the fact that he's been busily making Milton Friedman's "Supply Side/The Bottom Line Is The Only Line" dream an intractable reality. ..."
"... Since taking office and taking complete control of the news-cycle, Trump has been systematically starving Federal agencies of resources, personnel and attention. He has, through the sycophants and lobbyists he's installed around the Executive Branch, been pushing out career professionals and barely replacing them with also-rans. And he is dismantling every aspect of government he cannot use to reward his corporate clients or punish political apostates. ..."
"... The idea is to cripple the Federal government from within instead of doing the hard legislative work of changing the laws that legally compel government action. As a result, many of the regulations on the books are becoming functionally irrelevant . Some laws are being rewritten by the lobbyists who used to lobby against 'em, but mostly the Executive Branch is being systematically emaciated by the political equivalent of chronic wasting disease. ..."
"... And any coronavirus-related "incompetence" you see being reported is a feature, not a bug, of this Re-Great'd America. And that's because Trump is not an outlier. He is a culmination. ..."
Mar 09, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

As COVID-19 begins its inevitable "community transmission" phase around the United States, the purveyors of the conventional wisdom are largely focused on President Trump's (and by extension, prayerful Vice President Pence's) incompetence and his self-serving, empathy-free approach to the coronavirus. And it is true that, as with all things Trump, it seems that all he really cares about is the stock market and its effect on his reelection bid. But Trump's narcissism obscures something both far more pernicious and far more permanent than his oft-televised obsession with himself and that's the fact that he's been busily making Milton Friedman's "Supply Side/The Bottom Line Is The Only Line" dream an intractable reality.

It was a dream that first took flight when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. The dream was often made manifest by the neoliberal lurch and deregulatory impulses of President Bill Clinton. But it is Trump who's come closest to fully realizing the dream of ending responsive government. It should come as no surprise, though. Trump lifted, among other things , his " Make America Great Again " slogan from the Gipper. He's also taken Reagan's anti-FDR pitch about the dangers of government (see "The Deep State") and, with the help of a motley crew of Tea Partiers, Evangelicals and corporate Republicans, transformed it into, as Steve Bannon calls it, a " War on the Administrative State ."

Since taking office and taking complete control of the news-cycle, Trump has been systematically starving Federal agencies of resources, personnel and attention. He has, through the sycophants and lobbyists he's installed around the Executive Branch, been pushing out career professionals and barely replacing them with also-rans. And he is dismantling every aspect of government he cannot use to reward his corporate clients or punish political apostates.

The idea is to cripple the Federal government from within instead of doing the hard legislative work of changing the laws that legally compel government action. As a result, many of the regulations on the books are becoming functionally irrelevant . Some laws are being rewritten by the lobbyists who used to lobby against 'em, but mostly the Executive Branch is being systematically emaciated by the political equivalent of chronic wasting disease.

It's an approach first pioneered by Reagan devotee Grover Norquist, who advocated " starving the beast " of government down to a manageable size before "drowning it" in a bathtub. It's an idea currently being implemented with wide-ranging effect by Trump, who, like Reagan before him , is accelerating the bankrupting of the already debt-laden treasury with a combo of tax cuts and massive spending on a world-dwarfing defense industry. Eventually, the theory goes, the "safety net," a.k.a. "entitlements," and other "common good" spending will collapse under the weight of the financial limitations generated by profuse borrowing to fund market-distorting tax cuts and to dole out subsidies and tax gifts to cronies and key corporations. All the while, the ever-less regulated chemical, oil, defense, agricultural and (most importantly of all) financial industries will continue to hoard assets through the rinsing and repeating of the supply side boom-and-bust scheme, a.k.a. the business cycle.

Frankly, this all looks like the endgame of a long plan to undo the demand side economy created by the New Deal. Along with the seemingly (but not) contradictory spike in Unitary Executive power (which is about protecting rackets, shielding enforcers from prosecution and about enforcing political compliance), this is a transformation decades in the making and Trump is the perfect salesman for this final episode even better than Reagan or Clinton because his "flood the zone" narcissism is the ultimate, 24/7 distraction for a people addicted to binge watching, inured to scripted reality shows and motivated by belligerent infotainment.

Reagan was the first actor to hit his marks on a stage set for him by the interlocking forces of Big Oil, Big Defense and Wall Street. Not coincidentally, this same Venn Diagram of power has profited mightily from Trump's Presidency. Rather than an actor, though, Trump is the barking emcee of the final season of the American Dream Gameshow a program that was initially cancelled in 1980, but somehow kept running in syndication on one of the two crappy channels a "free" people have been given to chose from. But now, the final credits are closer to rolling that ever before.

As such, Trump is the omega to Reagan's alpha. And any coronavirus-related "incompetence" you see being reported is a feature, not a bug, of this Re-Great'd America. And that's because Trump is not an outlier. He is a culmination.

This article first appeared NewVandal .

JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, published historian, radio co-host and documentary filmmaker (The Warning, 2008). His credits include a stint on the Newshour news desk, C-SPAN, and as newsmagazine producer for ABC affiliate WJLA in Washington. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa.

He blogs under the pseudonym “the Newsvandal“.

[Mar 09, 2020] Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will self-quarantine after CPAC interaction

Mar 09, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

ARN , Mar 9 2020 1:14 utc | 47

It seems this nice;) senator may have corona CNN reporting..

"Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will self-quarantine after CPAC interaction"

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz will self-quarantine in Texas after interacting with an individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference who tested positive for the coronavirus.

"The interaction consisted of a brief conversation and a handshake," Cruz said in a statement. "

Cruz said in a statement he is "not experiencing any symptoms" but "out of an abundance of caution" he will remain in Texas until a full 14 days passes after the interaction.

"The people who have interacted with me in the 10 days since CPAC should not be concerned about potential transmission," Cruz said.

[Mar 09, 2020] COVID-19 burst the asset price bubble. In a new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

Mar 09, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

CitizenX , Mar 9 2020 2:58 utc | 57

"Perhaps this will finally burst the out-of-control asset price bubble and drop-kick the Outlaw US Empire's economy into the sewer as the much lower price will rapidly slow the recycling of what remains of the petrodollar. Looks like Trump's reelection push just fell into a massive sinkhole as the economy will tank."

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 9 2020 1:29 utc | 49
....

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.

Don't worry...just continue to go shopping and take those selfies.


vk , Mar 9 2020 3:37 utc | 60

Pompeo accuses China of giving "imperfect data" on COVID-19, blame it for US failure in containing the virus:

In new low, Pompeo passes buck to Beijing

It will be hard for the American people to swallow that one. From day 1 I've read a lot of "articles" and "papers" from know-it-all Western doctors and researchers from commenters here in this blog, all of them claiming to have very precise and definitive data on what was happening. A lot of bombastic conclusions I've read here (including one that claimed R0 was through the roof - it's funny how the R0 is being played down after it begun to infect the West; suddenly, it's all just a stronger cold...).

And that's just here, in MoA's comment section. Imagine what was being published in the Western MSM. I wouldn't be surprised there was a lot of rednecks popping their beers celebrating the fall of China already.

--//--

China to back global virus fight with production boost

Since China allegedly had a lot of idle industrial capacity - that is, if we take the Western MSM theories seriously (including the fabled "ghost towns" stories) - then boosting production wouldn't be a problem to China.

Disclaimer: it's normal for any kind of economy - socialist or capitalist - to have a certain percentage of idle capacity. That's necessary in order to insure the economy against unexpected oscillations in demand and to give space of maneuvre for future technological progress. Indeed, that was one of the USSR's mistakes with its economy: they instinctly thought unemployment should be zero, and waste should also be zero, so they planned in a way all the factories always sought to operate at 100% capacity. That became a problem when better machines and better methods were invented, since the factory manager wouldn't want to stop production so that his factory would fall behind the other factories in the five-year plan's goals. So, yes, China indeed has idle capacity - but it is mainly proposital, not a failure of its socialist planning.

--//--

... ... ...

vk , Mar 9 2020 3:56 utc | 61
This is important. The only reason I didn't comment about it is I hadn't the data:

Follow the money: Understanding China's battle against COVID-19

By the latest count, in addition to yuan loans worth 113 billion U.S. dollars granted by financial institutions and more than 70 billion U.S. dollars paid out by insurance companies, the Chinese government has allocated about 13 billion U.S. dollars to counter fallout from the outbreak.

The numbers could look abstract. However, breaking the data down reveals how the money is being carefully targeted. The government is allocating the money based on a thorough evaluation of the system's strengths.

...

Local governments are equipped with more local knowledge that allows them to surgically support key manufacturers or producers that are struggling.

Together, they have borne the bulk of the financial responsibility with an allocation of equivalently more than nine billion U.S. dollars. It is carefully targeted, divided into hundreds of thousands of individual grants that are tailor-made by and for each county, town, city and business.

This is the mark of a socialist system.

The affected capitalist countries will simply use monetary devices (so the private sector can offset the losses) and burn their own reserves with non-profitable palliatives such as masks, tests, other quarantine infrastructure etc.

Pft , Mar 9 2020 4:44 utc | 64
Sounds like US socialism. Basically corporate socialism. Loans are just dollars created out of thin air, same as in US. Insurance payouts come from premiums, nothing socialist about that, pure capitalism. Government hand outs to provinces, cities, state owned corporations,well all of these are run by the party elite, its called pork. US handed out a lot of pork during the last financial crisis. None of it trickled down to the little people. I doubt it does in China either.

All crisis are opportunities for the elite to get richer. Those Biolake firms in Wuhan will make out like bandits. Chinese firms will double the price of API's sold to India and US. China will knock out the small farmer in the wake of concurrent chicken and swine flu so the big enterprises take over, a mimicry of the US practice over the last century. China tech firms will double up on surveillance apps, censoring tools, surveillance and toughen up social credit restrictions. 5G will allow China to experiment with nanobots to monitor citizens health from afar (thanks to Harvards Dr Leiber).

Oh yes, socialism with Chinese characteristics is a technocratic capitalists dream. Thats why the West has never imposed sanctions on China since welcoming them to the global elites club. Sanctions are reserved for those with true socialism, especially those who preach equality and god forbid, democracy.

uncle tungsten , Mar 9 2020 8:35 utc | 83

CitizenX #57

Call me crazy- but this Virus provides great cover as to why the economy plummets, the Murikan sheeple will eat it up. Prepare for the double media blitz on the virus AND the economy tanking as its result.


Don't forget the Russians.. They have to be to blame. See they just kept the price of oil low so now the rest of the world gets gas cheaper than the USA. The USA motorist now has to bail out the dopey frackers and shale oil ponzis.

Global envy will eat murica. Maybe they will just pull out all their troops and go home. ;)

[Mar 09, 2020] Tucker Carlson was correct when pointed out that Biden Super Tuesday victory was cruel and unusual punishment of Dem voters on the part of the DNC

DNC installing a man with obvious cognitive impairment is a staggering display of arrogance. While Bush and Obama were empty suits this is completly another level.
In way I think Stupor Tuesday was a huge win for Trump.
Mar 09, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Vegetius , 07 March 2020 at 03:48 PM

The oldest organized political party on the planet is advancing a senile globalist meatpuppet (with a son known to be a philandering crackhead) to handle nuclear launch codes.
Mathias Alexander , 08 March 2020 at 04:37 AM
Choosing Biden hands the election to Trump and that's a deal that has already been made. The DNC don't like Sanders because they are adraid he might win, not because they are afraid he might loose.
Jack , 07 March 2020 at 03:56 PM

I agree with you that it is not going to be a slam dunk for Trump. Just like Trump wasn't damaged by the Access Hollywood tapes, Biden's not going to be damaged by his senility, gaffes and his prior plagiarism, Wall St cronyism and corruption. The vote for the "lesser evil" mindset will consolidate along traditional lines. The Obama machine will run Biden's campaign and consolidate the Democrat support. The election will hinge on a few states in particular Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

.... ... ...

[Mar 09, 2020] "What's the difference between a cannibal and a neoliberal like Senator Warren?"

Mar 09, 2020 | nymag.com

"A cannibal doesn't eat his friends."

[Mar 08, 2020] Neoliberalism shows its ugly face during the COVID-19 epidemic

Notable quotes:
"... the American little people of all stripes are feeling frightened and abandoned by the great GDP god of the globalists. Being prepared for something is about all we little people can hope to do. And all the chattering class can do is still call us names. The joy of that. ..."
Mar 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Trailer Trash , Mar 6 2020 22:48 utc | 41

US Dear Leaders face difficult decisions regarding mass closures of everything. The poor social infrastructure can't handle major disruptions. Closing schools could maybe cause more harm than staying open, since many students depend on going to school just to get two meals. Some places even have special summer programs so kids can eat all year round.

In addition, without public school babysitters many families would be f*cked but good. There is nobody to look after kids while the parent(s) are struggling to make a living. It is just as bad if the kids get sick - who will stay home and take care of them?

Closing schools would also devastate school finances since many revenue sources pay based on number of bums-in-seats. If the bums-in-seats drops to zero...

Hourly workers like bus drivers and custodians and food service workers would be laid off. Some might qualify for unemployment compensation, many others would not. Lots of economic devastation among those folks in any case.

The medical consequences may get bad, but for the overall economy already stretched to the limit, mass closures will be a catastrophe.


CitizenX , Mar 6 2020 22:55 utc | 44

... The virus appears to be real. If part of this is a psy-op, would that not also link to a higher probability that it could be bio-engineered? Released intentionally? Another 9/11-esque? Cover for an Western Economy in collapse? Myriad possibilities.

I'm in Seattle, it's no joke around here. I may have had it myself which I posted about here recently. Comparing this to people dying from car accidents or "normal" flu every year is retarded. This will (and already has) have profound impact on local and international economies- ie peoples lives dumbass.

I've seen enough humans living in tents, cars and streets around here to make my stomach turn. The impact from this may put many more in dire scenarios that do not even get the flu. Certainly the potential implications of where this came from and how far it will go should at least raise eyebrows from anyone with a shred of critical thinking and compassion.

daffyDuct , Mar 6 2020 23:16 utc | 47
I heard a Wall Street expert today say on CNBC that, in some US states, if an employer demands or permits a sick employee to be at work, any other workers who contract the disease can get worker's comp. The employer is liable.

Apparently there's also an uptick in PC/laptop sales for those working from home.

jared , Mar 7 2020 0:09 utc | 55
We dont have a government in the US in the sense of people who manage policy and services and budgets and laws and such. At this point its pretty much every man woman child for themselves. We know how those people stuck on cruise ship feel.

And of whom Trump said (reportedly):
"he wanted the passengers to remain on the ship because he doesn't want to see the total US case numbers 'double' as soon as it docks"

karlof1 , Mar 7 2020 1:20 utc | 71
The coming economic fallout from Coronavirus will test the advice I've given people over the years about where to work within the overall economy: Make certain you're on the "Needs" side of the economy, not the "Discretionary" side.

As when the shit hits the fan, needs will always be needed while discretionary demand fades to zero.

Frackers are already using euphemisms to cover their massive Ponzi Scheme failure, while the entire Just-In-Time Neoliberal business model gets ready to collapse. The massive debt bomb created by the Fed is close to imploding. The great irony of it all stems from the revelation that the virus likely originated within the Outlaw US Empire--the parasitic worm is close to entering the host's brain.

vk , Mar 7 2020 3:06 utc | 84
@ Posted by: Grieved | Mar 7 2020 2:18 utc | 77

Even if it turns out to be a "nothing burger", the resultant will be that the capitalist countries affected by the virus will emerge poorer and even more unequal than before. That's because they are resorting to monetary devices to try to "fight" the virus. These will only give big business the tools and the narrative to play siege economy (a.k.a. Disaster Capitalism); they'll hoard what is most needed, wait for small and medium businesses to go bankrupt and reap the spoils from the ground when the epidemic is over.

Some people in Wall Street are even celebrating the COVID-19, since it is basically just killing the elder . That's because, if the elder die sooner than later, it would be a boon to the pension funds, who are betting against (shorting) their clients' life expectancy.

Old and Grumpy , Mar 7 2020 14:25 utc | 130
People are panicking because they don't trust the American system of doing governance and business. Gone are the days of local communities working together, or even having say over their hospitals that they built. Still wondering why the communities didn't get any money when said hospitals were sold to some network, but I am digressing here. Sorry. Then it was not that long ago (Reagan presidency) that drugs, materials, food, and so on were made here.Our financial overlords said that wasn't efficient, and we need to ship abroad. Now we just make parasitical managers. I dare anyone to say what tangible gain the managerial class brings other than college degrees and a insatiable lust for power.

So with a possible bioweapon escaping, or released, the American little people of all stripes are feeling frightened and abandoned by the great GDP god of the globalists. Being prepared for something is about all we little people can hope to do. And all the chattering class can do is still call us names. The joy of that.

It didn't start with Trump. There are plenty of Democrats to blame. Harry Truman gets the primary "buck stops here" award for allowing the CIA to be created. Trump will never do this, but he needs to appoint someone apolitical to start investigating our myriad deep state biolabs. Watch who first comes out with a vaccine.

[Mar 08, 2020] Rich usually misbehave during the epidemic

Mar 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Mar 7 2020 14:40 utc | 131

A weekend reading for your amusement:

Rich People Have Always Been Assholes During Plagues

When the first waves of plague swept medieval Europe, the disease killed both the rich and the poor indiscriminately. In July 1348, King Edward III of England's 12-year-old daughter died on her way to Spain to marry King Pedro of Castile. And though he was still mourning, the king threw a giant tournament at Westminster in the fall, despite instructions from clergy and doctors that moderation and abstinence were the key to survival. Nearly 672 years later, rich people still want their travel and amusement even amid coronavirus fears, and in typical fashion, they're doing everything they can to make sure sickness remains the province of the poor.

--//--

[Mar 08, 2020] The working class and the rich Class distinctions exposed by response to Covid-19 pandemic

Mar 08, 2020 | www.wsws.org

bipartisan cuts have been made to public health programs and emergency preparedness readiness. Opportunities afforded by the experiences with SARS and the Middle East Respiratory syndrome to develop vaccine programs have gone unheeded, citing costs to produce such vaccines. This is the nature of for-profit medicine that demands a guarantee on such investments. The estimates for a vaccine discovery and production can run over a billion dollars.

Compounding this dire situation is the barbaric reality that almost a quarter of workers have no guaranteed sick leave. This impacts the service industries most harshly which are also the most exposed to the public because of the nature of their work. In the starkest expression of utter disdain for the health of Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former drug company executive, told Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat from Illinois, that no promises could be made to make a vaccine affordable, let alone free for the public. "We can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest."

According to an Uber driver by the name of Alvaro Balainez, 33 years old, "If one of us gets sick, we will have no choice but to keep driving. We don't have medical savings, because we're barely making enough to pay our rent or bills." Despite public health warnings, these workers will be compelled, by the sheer realities of their non-existent bank accounts, to carry on working and gamble with their own health and those they will expose.

The Washington Post noted that workers who prepare foods at restaurants and school cafeterias or nursery and child day-care workers have the nation's lowest rates of paid sick leave in the private sector, at 58 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that at least one in five food service workers have reported to work despite having symptoms of diarrhea or vomiting.

President Trump's remarks only cut across the warnings made by health providers and infectious disease experts about the contagiousness of the disease and higher than expected fatality it poses when he said, "a lot of people will have this and it's very mild. They'll get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor. They don't even call a doctor. You never hear about those people. So, you can't put them down in the category of the overall population in terms of this corona flu- or virus. We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work -- some of them go to work but they get better."

[Mar 08, 2020] The depth of Warren betrayal

Notable quotes:
"... How is it that Warren pulling out of the race is a victory for patriarchy and sexism, but Amy Klobuchar pulling out of the race is not causing grief and angst? We Midwesterners just don't get enough respect–and melodrama. ..."
"... She and her dead-end supporters are giving a good run at being the most pathetic story in a primary that includes Zombie Joe Biden ..."
Mar 08, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

XXYY , March 6, 2020 at 2:54 pm

"Why Elizabeth Warren lost" [Ryan Cooper, The Week].

In a press conference discussing her campaign's end, Warren said that she had not decided yet whether to endorse anyone. "I need some space around this," she said.

Astonishing and amazing that Warren, claiming to be a "progressive", did not immediately endorse Sanders, especially when the alternative is the hapless "Senator from MBNA", Joe Biden. Warren also repeatedly refused to endorse Bernie in 2016, a time when the early and enthusiastic support of a prominent woman with progressive credentials would have really helped and perhaps been decisive in the race against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders is the best shot at a progressive US president we have seen in a century, yet Warren apparently needs time to cogitate on the matter for some reason. I hope whatever she ultimately gets for herself is worth it.

False Solace , March 6, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Bernie held out on endorsing Hillary until she signed on to his free college plan. What concession will Warren demand? Something for the people or something for herself? Force Bernie to make his taxes more regressive? She's a joke.

Rory , March 6, 2020 at 9:12 pm

Let's suppose that the one unchangeable goal of the Democratic Party establishment is that Bernie Sanders must not be the party's 2020 nominee. Any other realistic candidate will do, but it must not be Bernie. Let's also suppose that by the time of the party's convention Vice President Bden's weaknesses and unfitness have become so evident that the party simply can't put him forward as its nominee.

Suppose that Senator Warren sees that and thinks of herself as a realistic choice for the party to replace Biden. A veneer of leftishness, but no real threat to Wall Street. I suspect that her entertaining that hope may explain why since suspending her campaign Senator Warren has criticized the idea of Vice President Biden being the party's nominee, but has had nothing favorable to say about Senator Sanders.

urblintz , March 6, 2020 at 3:47 pm

And here's the email I sent Warren:

"You cried yesterday because you can't be POTUS then went on CNN and trashed Bernie AGAIN (when has he ever trashed you?) by way of his supporters. BOO-HOO. You should have focused your attention on the factory floor (working women) not the glass ceiling.

Politics is a nasty game which you have proven to be expert at. You have earned every criticism in whatever form it comes, frankly. But because you can't be POTUS this time, you will take your ball and go home, so there! with the emotional maturity of a 5 year old.

DJG , March 6, 2020 at 4:26 pm

urblintz

A worker wonders:

Matthew , March 6, 2020 at 9:44 pm

She and her dead-end supporters are giving a good run at being the most pathetic story in a primary that includes Zombie Joe Biden.

Just mind-bogglingly entitled upper and upper middle class trash. I regret ever thinking of voting for her, I regret ever hearing her name, and I look forward to the day she endorses someone so I never have to think about her again.

Matthew , March 6, 2020 at 9:47 pm

The person who read her Twitter mentions for her was on Twitter begging for Venmo donations for, I guess, her emotional trauma. Christ I hate these people.

[Mar 08, 2020] Times changed and FoxNews changed with them: the most highly rated show on Fox, Tucker Carlson is vehemently anti-imperialist and consistently hurls insults at neocons such as Lindsey Graham

Mar 08, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

NemesisCalling , Mar 7 2020 0:11 utc | 56

Furthermore, the most highly rated show on Fox, Tucker Carlson is vehemently anti-imperialist and consistently hurls insults at gay assholes such as Lindsey Graham

What you are hearing is the last vestiges of neocon and neolibs grasping at straws and trying to drag China through the mud. No one is listening, just as no one really cares about CNN or MSNBC (ironic, though, that Foxnews is now indeed the most "fair and balanced" of the major networks) or any political trifles.

... ... ...

[Mar 07, 2020] Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next to Nothing for Women'

That art of betrail, demonstrated by notable ruthless female careerst.
Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

jo6pac , March 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm

What did Anita Hill ever do warren or now?

"Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next to Nothing for Women'

Eureka Springs , March 6, 2020 at 2:58 pm

There's always a tweet rebuttal for what fails us )

https://twitter.com/KatQannayahu/status/1235986901741395968

In 1995, Gloria Steinem, spoke of making @BernieSanders an "honorary woman" because his advocacy for women was so strong then, and has continued strong over the decades.

curlydan , March 6, 2020 at 3:33 pm

exactly. Look at the prime examples of how Biden treats women in the public sphere: treating Anita Hill like crap and nuzzling random women. And N.O.W. wants Warren to endorse Biden? Sheesh.

Titus , March 6, 2020 at 4:06 pm

And Warren wonders why she didn't get the votes. Does Warren think being a women per se means only she is capable of going something for women. How childish.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 2:01 am

Because when Sanders jawboned Amazon into raising wages, none of the workers who got the raised were women.

That's because to the PMC feminists of NOW -- another NGO to euthanize given how poorly they have performed as measured by their stated goals -- only PMC women are truly women. The working class is an undifferentiated mass without individual identities. That is, in fact, what the Bernie Bro " meme conveys. No female supporter of Sanders can possibly be a real woman, and even more revealing, Sanders supporters are coded male by default, a patriarchal semiotic that would drive NOW and its ilk, er, bananas in any other context.

Rhondda , March 7, 2020 at 8:40 am

"Bernie Bros" = all Sanders supporters [coded male]. Wow, yes! -- Exactly! That's a penetrating insight, Lambert. Thank you!

[Mar 07, 2020] Democrat Establishment deliberatly hands control over the nomination to the political establisment in states they will never win in the general elections

So sellout by Clinton of the Democratic Party to Wall Street proved to be durable and sustainable...
Bernie again behaves like a sheep dog with no intention to win... "Let's be friends" is not a viable strategy...
Notable quotes:
"... the same character traits that make him an honorable politician also make him fundamentally unsuited for the difficult task of waging a successful outsider campaign for the nomination of a major political party. ..."
"... Why hasn't Sara Nelson, head of the Flight Attendants' Union, endorsed Bernie? (Personally I have always thought she'd be a good VP.) ..."
"... Robinson is dreaming if he thinks Non-Profit Industrial Complex entities like EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood will lift a finger to help Sanders, or busines unionists like Randi Weingarten. To his credit, though, Ady Barkan switched immediately. External support, though is correct: IIRC, there are plenty of union locals to be had; the Culinary Workers should be only the first. ..."
"... "Corporate Lobbyists Control the Rules at the DNC" [ ReadSludge ]. "Among the 447 total voting DNC members, who make up the majority of 771 superdelegates, there are scores of corporate lobbyists and consultants -- including many of the 75 at-large DNC members, who were not individually elected . ..."
"... The 32-member DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee contains the following 20 individuals: a health insurance board member co-chair, three surrogates for presidential campaigns (two for Bloomberg, one for Biden), four current corporate lobbyists, two former corporate lobbyists, six corporate consultants, and four corporate lawyers." ..."
"... "Joe Biden is a friend of mine" is the 2020-updated version of "enough about the damn e-mails, already". No amount of ground-level organizing can make up for a candidate willing to publicly overlook what should be high-office-disqualifying fundamental character traits in his opponents out of "niceness". ..."
"... It's easy to do a post Super Tuesday defeat analysis of Sanders but remember, everything seems to work before SC where I think the Democrats fixed the election and the same holds for Super Tuesday. ..."
"... post-dial-up-modem ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Sanders (D)(1): "Bernie Sanders needs to find the killer instinct" [Matthew Walther, The Week ]. I've heard Useful Idiots, Dead Pundits, and the inimitable Jimmy Dore all make the same point, but Walther's prose makes the point most forcefully (as prose often does). The situation:

There is no greater contrast imaginable than the one between the popular (and frequently exaggerated) image of so-called "Bernie bros" and the almost painfully conciliatory instincts of the man they support.

This was fully in evidence on Wednesday afternoon when Sanders responded to arguably the worst defeat of his political career by chatting with journalists about how " disgusted " he is at unspecified online comments directed at Elizabeth Warren and her supporters and what a " decent guy " Joe Biden is.

He did this despite the fact that Warren, with the connivance of debate moderators, recently called him a sexist in front of an audience of millions, effectively announcing that she had no interest in making even a tacit alliance with the only other progressive candidate in the race and, one imagines, despite thinking that the former vice president's record on virtually everything -- finance, health care, race relations, the environment, foreign policy -- should render him ineligible for office.

It should go without saying that offering these pleasantries will do Sanders few if any favors.

Lambert here: This is a Presidential primary, not the Senate floor. There is no comity. Walther then gives a list of possible scorched earth tactics to use against Biden; we could all make such a list. But then:

Sanders's benevolent disposition does him credit. But the same character traits that make him an honorable politician also make him fundamentally unsuited for the difficult task of waging a successful outsider campaign for the nomination of a major political party.

Corbyn had the same problem...

Sanders really must not let Biden and the Democrat Establishment off the hook. He seems to have poor judgment about his friends. Warren was no "friend." And neither is Joe Biden.

If Sanders wants friends, he can buy a dog .

He should forget those false friends, go into the next debate, and slice Joe Biden off at the knees. Trump would. And will, if Sander loses.

His canvassers and more importantly his millions of small donors deserve no less. The race and the debate is now between two people, and only one can emerge the winner. Sanders needs to decide if he wants to be that person, and then do what it takes . (If the outcome of the Sanders campaign is a left that is a permanently institutionalized force, distinct from liberal Democrats, I would regard that as a net positive. If that is Sanders' ultimate goal, then fine. He's not going to achieve that goal by being nice to Joe Biden. Quite the reverse.)

UPDATE Sanders (D)(2): "Time To Fight Harder Than We've Ever Fought Before" [Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs ].

"Biden now has some formidable advantages going forward: Democrats who no longer see him as a failed or risky bet will finally endorse and campaign for him. He will find it easier to raise money. He will have "momentum." Bloomberg's exit will bring him new voters.

Sanders may find upcoming states even harder to win than the Super Tuesday contests. But the one thing that would guarantee a Sanders loss is giving up and going home, which is exactly what Joe Biden hopes we will now do."

Here follows a laundry list of tactics. Then: "The real thing Bernie needs in order to win, though, is external support. Labor unions, activists, lawmakers, anyone with a public platform: We need to be pressuring them to endorse Bernie.

Why hasn't Sara Nelson, head of the Flight Attendants' Union, endorsed Bernie? (Personally I have always thought she'd be a good VP.)

Now that Elizabeth Warren is clearly not going to win, will organizations like the Working Families Party and EMILY's List and people like AFT president Randi Weingarten and Medicare For All advocate Ady Barkan switch and endorse Sanders?

Where is the Sierra Club, SEIU (Bernie, after all, was one of the first national figures to push Fight for $15), the UAW, Planned Parenthood? Many progressive organizations have been sitting out the race because Warren was in it."

Good ideas in general, but Robinson is dreaming if he thinks Non-Profit Industrial Complex entities like EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood will lift a finger to help Sanders, or busines unionists like Randi Weingarten. To his credit, though, Ady Barkan switched immediately. External support, though is correct: IIRC, there are plenty of union locals to be had; the Culinary Workers should be only the first.

Warren (D)(1): "Why Elizabeth Warren lost" [Ryan Cooper, The Week ]. "Starting in November, however, she started a long decline that continued through January, when she started losing primaries . So what happened in November?

It is hard to pin down exactly what is happening in such a chaotic race, but Warren's campaign certainly made a number of strategic errors. One important factor was surely that Warren started backing away from Medicare-for-all, selling instead a bizarre two-step plan.

The idea supposedly was to pass universal Medicare with two different bills, one in her first year as president and one in the third year. Given how difficult it is to pass anything through Congress, and that there could easily be fewer Democrats in 2023 than in 2021, it was a baffling decision. Worse, Warren then released a plan for financing Medicare-for-all that was simply terrible.

Rather than levying a new progressive tax, she would turn existing employer contributions to private health insurance plans into a tax on employers, which would gradually converge to an average for all businesses but the smallest. The clear objective here was to claim that she would pay for it without levying any new taxes on the middle or working classes. But because those employer payments are still part of labor compensation, it is ultimately workers who pay them -- making Warren's plan a horribly regressive head tax (that is, an equal dollar tax on almost all workers regardless of income).

All that infuriated the left, and struck directly at Warren's branding as the candidate of technical competence. It suggested her commitment to universal Medicare was not as strong as she claimed, and that she would push classic centrist-style Rube Goldberg policies rather than clean, fair ones. (Her child care plan, with its complicated means-testing system, had a similar defect).

Claiming her plan was the only one not to raise taxes on the middle class was simply dishonest. In sum, this was a classic failed straddle that alienated the left but gained no support among anti-universal health care voters. More speculatively, this kind of hesitation and backtracking may have turned off many voters." • On #MedicareForAll, called it here on "pay for" ; and here on "transition." Warren's plans should not have been well-received, and they were not. I'm only amazed that these really technical arguments penetrated the media (let along the voters).

Warren (D)(2): "Warren Urged by National Organization for Women Not to Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next to Nothing for Women'" [ Newsweek ]. • Establishment really pulling out all the stops.

* * *

"Why Southern Democrats Saved Biden" [Mara Gay, New York Times ]. (Gay was the lone member of the Times Editorial Board to endorse Sanders .) "Through Southern eyes, this election is not about policy or personality. It's about something much darker. Not long ago, these Americans lived under violent, anti-democratic governments. Now, many there say they see in President Trump and his supporters the same hostility and zeal for authoritarianism that marked life under Jim Crow .

They were deeply skeptical that a democratic socialist like Mr. Sanders could unseat Mr. Trump. They liked Ms. Warren, but, burned by Hillary Clinton's loss, were worried that too many of their fellow Americans wouldn't vote for a woman."

Well worth a read. At the same time, it's not clear why the Democrat Establishment hands control over the nomination to the political establishment in states they will never win in the general; the "firewall" in 2016 didn't work out all that well, after all. As for Jim Crow, we might do well to remember that Obama destroyed a generation of Black wealth his miserably inadequate response to the foreclosure crisis, and his pathetic stimulus package kept Black unemployment high for years longer than it should have been. And sowed the dragon's teeth of authoritarian reaction as well.

"Corporate Lobbyists Control the Rules at the DNC" [ ReadSludge ]. "Among the 447 total voting DNC members, who make up the majority of 771 superdelegates, there are scores of corporate lobbyists and consultants -- including many of the 75 at-large DNC members, who were not individually elected .

The 32-member DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee contains the following 20 individuals: a health insurance board member co-chair, three surrogates for presidential campaigns (two for Bloomberg, one for Biden), four current corporate lobbyists, two former corporate lobbyists, six corporate consultants, and four corporate lawyers."


ewmayer , March 6, 2020 at 6:03 pm

"Joe Biden is a friend of mine" is the 2020-updated version of "enough about the damn e-mails, already". No amount of ground-level organizing can make up for a candidate willing to publicly overlook what should be high-office-disqualifying fundamental character traits in his opponents out of "niceness".

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 1:57 am

> Bernie is thinking like an organizer

That's fine, but if his organization is then put at the disposal of Joe Biden, I don't see how the organization survives. (That's why the DNC cheating meme* is important; it provides the moral cover to get out of that loyalty oath (which the Sanders campaign certainly should have had its lawyers take a look at)).

NOTE * Iowa, Texas, and California have all had major voting screw-ups, all of which impacted Sanders voters disproportionately. The campaign should sue. They have the money.)

dcblogger , March 6, 2020 at 2:15 pm

I once met an union organizer and he said he could go back to any site he had worked and be on friendly terms with everyone. Bernie is thinking like an organizer. I think that making this about Social Security is his best bet. It demolishes Biden in a way that makes the election about the American people.

pretzelattack , March 6, 2020 at 2:25 pm

he needs to go after biden on the issues in a much more forceful manner than he typically does, with lots and lots of specifics. did i mention lots of specifics? and lots of pointed references to biden's past positions, and a focus on pinning him down on his position now. he needs to ask questions biden will not be prepared for with easy scripted responses.

JohnnyGL , March 6, 2020 at 2:59 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hcEljDeFEI

Well, he's baited Biden into a spat about SS for now, so that's a positive sign.

drumlin woodchuckles , March 6, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Perhaps if Sanders can keep successfully baiting Biden with hooks baited with Biden's own past statements over and over and over again, that Sanders can then go on to practice some very well disguised passive-aggressive pointing/not-pointing to Biden's mental condition by asking Biden at every opportunity: " don't you remember that, Joe? You remember saying that, don't you Joe? Don't you remember when you said that, Joe?"

Titus , March 6, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Except 70% of Women according to Stanford finding these kind of confrontations distressing to very distressing. Tricky. One changes emotions by using emotions so the trick here is "allowing" Biden to act deranged and expressing sorrow over it. For 70% of guys they won't get the emotional content, but will understand the logic of the questions and lack of answers. It can be done, Bill Clinton and Obama were very good at this. Look you want to be president you got to play the game at the highest level. Good practice for dealing with trump.

Oh , March 6, 2020 at 3:51 pm

Timing was right for both Obama and Clinton. After the GFC voters would have gone for any Democrat because Republicans were toxic. Similarly, it was fortuitous for Clinton because Perot was running and he quit the race a couple of months before the election.

Obama got loads and loads of money from Wall Street. Neither of these guys would stand a chance in an election year when the economy was doing well.

It's easy to do a post Super Tuesday defeat analysis of Sanders but remember, everything seems to work before SC where I think the Democrats fixed the election and the same holds for Super Tuesday.

I didn't see anyone pointing out that Bernie had to be confrontational when he seems to be winning.

Mo's Bike Shop , March 6, 2020 at 8:59 pm

Wait. How many days ago was the field of candidates wide open?

If Bernard does not roast Biden on Social Security I will be disappointed. If Smokin' Joe doesn't lash out with his typical aplomb, I'll be disappointed. I'm saving myself up for bigger disappointments.

I'll be happy with the Vermont interpretation of Huey Long. I'm glad that people are finally noticing we have one Socialist Senator.

Idea for an 'own the slur' bumper sticker: "I'm tickled pink by Bernie" -- Although I don't know how the post-dial-up-modem crowd might misinterpret that?

foghorn longhorn , March 6, 2020 at 2:56 pm

This is such bs.
Trump insulted the f*ck out of mccain, mittens, jeb, cruz, pelosi, schumer and the rest of the clown posse and what did they do?

Passed every gd thing he sent to them.

Are we gonna fight or dance, it's past time to get it on.

Zagonostra , March 6, 2020 at 6:01 pm

"I admittedly don't even know what to call Pelosi and Schumer at this point, besides a simple "past their sell date".

How about corrupt, immoral dishonest, greedy, sociopaths for starters (for more accurate adjectives I recommend viewing Jimmy Dore)

Glen , March 6, 2020 at 5:22 pm

Bernie cannot say it, but I can.

I support Bernie because Bernie supports the polices I think we need to save the country: M4A, GND,$15/hr min, free college, etc. To me, being an FDR Dem like Bernie is the moderate position, we've done it before, we know it works. Biden's support of neoliberal polices that have wrecked America is the extreme position.

But the DNC does not support FDR's Democracy. They have ended up to the right of Ronald Reagan. Pelosi could have pushed a M4A bill but did not. Pelosi could have pushed any number of polices to show how Trump is failing the working and middle class, but she did not.

So if Bernie is not picked for the general, I no longer have a reason to support the Dems, and will stay home. Actually, I will probably not stay home, I will work to get Dems out of office, and in general, work to burn the party to the ground. Why? Because it is in the way, and does not support the working class or the middle class.

The Dem party has to decide – do they really support the working and middle class or not. Because only Bernie supports those polices, and the rest of the Dems running for President do not.

[Mar 07, 2020] The neoliberal establishment does firmly control 2020 elections. The regular voters just does not matter

Identity groups are user proved to be powerful forces to derail undesirable candidates.
Mar 07, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

tempestteacup , March 6, 2020 at 2:40 pm

I'm going to take my chance while I have it and before having to say "I hate to be that old Marxist but "

I am 36 years old and therefore the same age as most of those speaking for millenials in the DSA, writing for Jacobin, and organising for Bernie or those of his satellites on their respective fool's errands in opposition to the entrenched Democratic Party panjandrums.

Half American and half British, I have also experienced some similar issues with the Corbyn/Momentum movement and its recent car crash with ruling class reality.

Just as an intro because of course I am going to say, "I hate to say this but "

The DSA and the semi-organised American left are selling their increasingly, justifiably radical followers a pig in a poke. In a sense, I except Bernie from that condemnation – running for President, it is what it is. But those who are supposed to be to his left are performing an invidious game by preventing further political education or raising consciousness in favour of peddling the myth of reforming the Democratic Party from within that have been tried, and have failed, so many times in the last 120 years.

The fact that these same groups are doing the same thing when it comes to labour struggles, endlessly shepherding wildcat momentum behind union leadership and justifying sell-out deals instead of fostering a realistic preparation for the struggles ahead, suggests that this is not an accident.

The cognitive dissonance is almost as horrible as that on offer when technocrats like Obama and Clinton accept the facts of climate change while endlessly sandbagging real responses to it. Which shouldn't be surprising, since the American and British new left is engaged in an infernal slow dance with their liberal or corporate beefcakes.

If I sound flippant, I apologise – I don't mean to. I also don't necessarily disbelieve in the potential for at least some change within existing conditions – but historically such changes have been won because there was a more radical extra-electoral/parliamentary movement of workers leveraging their strength, not because it was all within one cosy political bubble.

And that only happens when workers and students are educated about the struggles involved in forcing changes in the teeth of ruling class interests, institutions and political heft. Peddling illusions about the all-encompassing power of the electoral process, or complaining endlessly about the the latest example of back-stabbing from whichever corporate liberal stooge last wielded the shank, is increasingly not just useless but something worse – an expected part of the system itself as it reproduces its frozen dialectics of power and exploitation.

This is not (at least not entirely) a call for revolution. But I am increasingly certain that change is impossible without first preparing a broad swathe of people to fight, fight, fight instead of entrusting the struggle to this or that figurehead (Bernie, AOC), let alone their clarion-callers in an increasingly cosy upper middle class den of pseudo-leftists.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 6, 2020 at 2:52 pm

You might read that Politico article on the DSA. I found it rather encouraging but you might differ. If so, I'd like to know your opinion of the concrete details.

> peddling the myth of reforming the Democratic Party from within

If the ultimate outcome were to split the Democrats, would you change your mind?

tempestteacup , March 6, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Reading the Politico article now. You're right – it is encouraging, at least in the sense that it features articulate, radicalised individuals and their early attempts to organise. It chronicles absolutely necessary early steps in the process. I am very encouraged with the justified, even pragmatic, way they look beyond presidential politics in a dialectical way – both the wider context and the more local, direct implications.

So far, so good.

But there are problems. The sudden, total collapse of the International Socialist Organization is an example of what can happen to a seemingly lively left(ish) group when it grows on shaky ground. You have chronicled some of the contortions of the DSA in their regional elections and controversies. Growing pains – or something more fundamental?

What I'm trying to say is what are they about and how do they reconcile disparate forces and interests without tearing themselves apart? The DSA has its own particular history in the wider context of the American left and its sudden expansion doesn't make that go away. Without adequate theory your praxis will tend to fall apart when it collides with reality.

To give a concrete example that is suggested in the Politico piece, I'm not sure how they are discussing and understanding the identity politics education of the (upper)middle class students drawn to the movement with the different perspectives of the labour movement or, beyond that, the exciting, potentially revolutionary hinterland of the actual working class(!!!)

Lenin didn't know what identity politics was but he described it in a different context: haggling for privileges. I don't want to make this a diatribe on one subject or to suggest that I'm not sensitive to the discrete forms of oppression facing different groups but – and I know you write about this brilliantly – without some kind of radical reckoning with these issues, groups like the DSA are liable to sectarian disasters of exactly the kind envisioned (I suspect) by those who have most insidiously articulated identity over class as the most significant feature of our social relations.

I would say similar things about Extinction Rebellion. I have friends who are deeply involved in it and they are brilliantly committed to its cause. But they struggle when it comes to connecting the realities they rightly identify with the material pathologies that produce them. They are not interested in why, for example, the ER leaders ban socialist sub-groups as "political" while welcoming those for bosses or landlords(?!)

These are, to me, fundamental problems. If you cannot identify your enemy you cannot plan your campaign. And I worry that the DSA, or ER, dine out on identifying symptoms while studiously avoiding an uncomfortable meeting with their cause. And that doesn't mean, either, a schematic link of every social ill with capitalism, nor a demand that everyone be schooled in the dialectic. Just a plan to educate, to find other forms of solidarity, and gird ourselves for the struggle to come.

But that's probably more than enough! In answer to your last question -- - I think a serious split with the Democratic Party is an absolute necessity for anything that follows. It will come one way or another – even if Bernie wins the nomination, then the presidency, I fully expect he will be sandbagged by Democrats at every turn. At some point, it will be necessary to realise that the Democratic Party is not called the graveyard of social movements for nothing – and that American duopoly is the greatest impediment to democracy, no different really from the Congress of All-Russian Soviets in its day.

Billy , March 6, 2020 at 4:06 pm

Forget splitting the Democrats. I like the idea I first saw here, of turning to and leveraging the Republicans as the party of progressive change. Let the Democrat donors hold their bag of defeated candidates while harnessing progressive populists, like Tucker Carlson, or Josh Hawley, as an example, to change the country for the better. My vote in November is for Bernie if he's on the ballot. If not, Tulsi.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 2:37 am

> Forget splitting the Democrats

The Democrat Establishment may not split (though as I think Taibbi pointed out, Sanders might have been able to peel off some opportunists with a Texas win).

However, the Democrat base may split. Taking "Bernie Bro" and "He's not a real Democrat" as a proxies, the Democrat gerontocracy (to use the term for the Breshnev era) is systematically and openly alienating the Latin vote, youth generally, young blacks, and younger women. As for the working class, they are not even a mental category for liberals. That reduces their base to older Blacks and the PMC, especially PMC women. As 2016 showed, and as the (PMC women) Warren campaign showed, that's barely enough to win an election, and its certainly not enough to rule.

At some point, the contradictions have to break out into the open, as it becomes obvious the Democrats have failed to represent -- indeed, have disenfranchised -- too many people. As Lincoln wrote to Lyman Trumbull in 1860..

Stand firm. The tug has to come, & better now, than any time hereafter.

The Iron Law of Institutions is looking better every day.

Left in Wisconsin , March 6, 2020 at 4:15 pm

Look, no one knows the future and everyone is always flying by the seat of their pants. This is always true, only more apparent now. I would speculate that at least half of the newly motivated DSA membership couldn't really articulate a vision of socialism if you asked them to. In the future that might be a problem but it is certainly not a problem now. I am much more skeptical of those people now claiming to have "fundamental" answers.

Most of us have a clear if general sense of the enemy (capitalists) and their henchmen (politicians, "policy advocates," etc.). On the other hand, as Stoller points out, we are really bereft of people who actually understand production. I would argue that is our biggest problem, not lack of ideological clarity. Because once we gain power we need to know how to wield it.

tempestteacup , March 6, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Fair enough but I'm not really talking about ideological clarity or sectarian strife. I think we agree – I also mean a thorough understanding of how the world works. But that also means rigorous critique of where things might go wrong – and, for example when it concerns identity politics (a phrase I hate and apologise for using!) I think we have a good example. That doesn't mean class above all, by the way – just not ceding intellectual ground to liberal formulations of who we are and why we are that way!

(I didn't really mean to harp on about identity stuff but I think of it when I think of, for example, the DSA, and some of the divisive disputes that have bedevilled them)

Lost in OR , March 6, 2020 at 7:34 pm

I attended one DSA meeting. The order of business was something like this:
Each person declared how they chose to be identified.
The group overruled those who didn't want to do anything until some minorities could be recruited.
Some movers and shakers volunteer to draw up the chapter charter. As they were all men, they would recuse themselves from further action so the chapter wouldn't be dominated by men. The group was about 90% men.
The Patriarchy was soundly denounced.

I haven't been back.

Carey , March 6, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Similar experience with DSA in Central CA: so much talk about preffered pronouns and the like that I felt not getting to the point *was* the point..

divide 'n' rule is working really, really well.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 2:42 am

> divide 'n' rule is working really, really well.

Yes. I don't see this as malevolent; the impulses are good-hearted (which is exactly what makes "intersectionality" so dangerous). Kimberle Crenshaw endorsed Warren, by the way. OTOH, one of the Combahee River Collective founders endorsed Sanders. Of course, Crenshaw's a lawyer. PMC class solidarity is an impressive thing .

dearieme , March 6, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Look, no one knows the future

Marxists always did – or so they claimed.

tempestteacup , March 6, 2020 at 5:30 pm

Playing the long game -- so ask me what happens to the price of nectarines next week!

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 3:02 am

> Marxists always did – or so they claimed.

What with a billionaire openly purchasing a large portion of the political class, I'd say The Bearded One is looking pretty good right now.

Deplorado , March 6, 2020 at 4:28 pm

You write forcefully and lucidly; if you write or post anywhere online, please share – I want to read it and follow it!

Also if you speak as you write, you will be a formidable leader.

Lambert Strether Post author , March 7, 2020 at 3:06 am

> Lenin didn't know what identity politics was but he described it in a different context: haggling for privileges . I don't want to make this a diatribe on one subject or to suggest that I'm not sensitive to the discrete forms of oppression facing different groups but – and I know you write about this brilliantly – without some kind of radical reckoning with these issues, groups like the DSA are liable to sectarian disasters of exactly the kind envisioned (I suspect) by those who have most insidiously articulated identity over class as the most significant feature of our social relations.

"Brilliant" [lambert blushes modestly]. Back at ya for "haggling for privileges."

> At some point, it will be necessary to realise that the Democratic Party is not called the graveyard of social movements for nothing

History is a hard teacher. And where its lesson has been sadly confined to a small group of cadres, as it were, this lesson is now going to be taught to millions by the Democrat Establishment, and with whacks to the knuckles and expulsions, too. That's why I put up that link to Mike Duncan on the Russian Revolution of 1905 the other day .

a different chris , March 6, 2020 at 3:25 pm

And when you answer that, can you make clear which context you are steeped in? I don't know which side of the pond you live on, but our hallowed Constitution, in hindsight, pretty much leads us here. It just ratchets everything rightward.

The claim is – and I am not sophisticated enough to either support or deny it, but others I respect have made it – that our political structure via said Constitution will only support more than two parties for only an election cycle or two. Lincoln introduced himself as a Whig, but had to run as a Republican.

Yes, it goes that far back. Given today's sophisticated hold on the media levers by our Elites, I think an effective third party is less likely than ever. Sure there's things called the Working Families Party and stuff here and there, but their job is basically wrenching Dem primaries.

PS: I actually am registered Green. It's my attempt to signal where my vote is. Little good that seems to have done me.

inode_buddha , March 6, 2020 at 3:12 pm

In America at least, it's easy to be leftist when your personal well-being is not at stake -- the left in the US has always had an upper-class tint and co-opted by the professional-managerial class. BUT their well being does not depend on the outcome like it does for the working classes. The UK and other countries have stronger social safety nets and that does make a difference in people's politics.

As an older worker ( I could be your father) I know how these fights go -- it takes decades of sheer intransigence to get anywhere. In a zillion little ways, every day, for years. I don't know if Millenials understand this, its not a dress rehearsal. It's real. I do believe the movement needs solid organizers and figureheads though -- most likely AOC will be next, I hope. There needs to be a clear method of succession, among people who do *not* compromise. A single stated set of goals, for a decade. And those who get out and volunteer and vote.

Titus , March 6, 2020 at 4:12 pm

+10

tempestteacup , March 6, 2020 at 4:25 pm

I agree with some of what you write but I have yet to see any really adequate figureheads of the sort you suggest as necessary. AOC, after her praise for John McCain is not one of them.

I know this makes me sound intransigent and sectarian but it is and has always been a problem in the left to fight beyond just nation-based working class interests. I'm not saying AOC does that but she, like so many before her, have definitely sacrificed critique of imperialism for a certain amount of mainstream coverage as far as her social democratic advocacy goes.

AOC praised John McCain, Bernie has played up to Russiagate and the enduring myths about Castro's Cuba despite making an obvious, uncontroversial point in the first place. This is how it goes. And that's what I mean – it is a standard thing for Western politicians to throw foreign affairs over the side when they are pressed – especially because the Borg is most concerned with matters of Empire and therefore will attack on that above all else (knowing, too, that the voting public cares much less about such issues than, say, Medicare for All). Corbyn did the same thing when it came to Trident renewal, then Iraq, and finally Israel.

(By the way, such capitulation got him nowhere – he was still slandered as an anti-semite and I just finished an awful book about Oleg Gordievsky in which it is suggested he was a useful idiot for the Czech intelligence services, along with Michael Foot!)

Socialism does not exist without a critique of imperialist/capitalist wars is what I mean.

But I'm sorry, I know this isn't what you were talking about. The reason I brought it up, however, is to illustrate the insidious ways in which freshly elected, occasionally 'radical' politicians are institutionalised. It doesn't happen with bread and butter domestic issues but rather foreign affairs, those distant concerns of experts and spooks.

And yet bringing this up gives a kind of window of opportunity and hope. There is no group with better understanding of the real-world consequences of Empire than the urban and rural working class. They are the ones providing sons and daughters for endless wars. The overextension of empire is always going to provide its weakest points.

Sorry, I've rambled – these are just some thoughts as I try and get to grips with what is to be done!

inode_buddha , March 6, 2020 at 5:04 pm

Well, no, actually its a good thing that you rambled -- I completely agree but from a different angle perhaps.

The fact that socialism is even in contention in the US I think is a referendum on imperialism and capitalism.
And the US way has certainly opened itself to criticism.

Frankly it amazes me that it is even happening at all, being that the Overton window has been dragged so far to the Right in my lifetime.

I remember watching Nixon on TV, stating that he was not a crook. Today, he would be considered to be an unelectable liberal, too far left.

I am not completely happy with the way that AOC and Sanders have had to toe the line with the Establishment regarding foreign policy and etc. (and I don't think McCain was any kind of saint). But I do believe that AOC and Sanders are trying to please multiple Masters. If they don't do the whole "red-baiting" routine then they lose credibility with the system they are part of -- and thereby lose influence. The voters are a different issue -- foreign affairs are just not on the radar at all for most of the working class. The sole exception is those who have family in the armed services. And yet without those voters, they wouldn't have any influence to lose.

So basically, its a chess game. Washington DC has never ran on the truth. I'm pretty sure AOC was just mouthing the words so she can accomplish some of her own left-wing goals. And maybe Sanders is too --

Grachguy , March 6, 2020 at 6:49 pm

If I might inject my two cents into this very interesting discussion, I believe tempestteacup's ultimate point still stands: the Blob/industrialists/parties will suffer no contest to their claims on power. Sure, they allow the occasional voice in the wilderness – to do otherwise would lead to more radical activity I imagine – but the power structures themselves seem quite robust to disturbances from the likes of Sanders and AOC. While I agree that they are likely mouthing the words (Sanders once discussed abolishing the CIA and one does not simply reconsider that view once one has reached that point ideologically), I question whether it even matters It seems to me that a realistic vision of socialism must be brought about independently of the existing state. After all, the social groups that dominate the state also control the media, the military, the educational institutions, and just about every other organ of power. In this framework, hijacking the state as it exists is a tall order and actually reforming it within the rules of the game is even more difficult. Isn't it worth considering the idea that left energy is better devoted to forming alternative institutions and power structures?

The circle of wagons we are seeing around Biden's husk shows that they will fight tooth and nail to keep from implementing even the most benign and basic social democratic reforms. I can only see someone like Bernie or AOC winning real power in the face of a massive economic meltdown and even then, they can win the social democratic reforms (which are desirable) but why couldn't that same opportunity + working class radicalism be channeled into actual systemic change; ie destroying the state as it currently exists and replacing it with a people's democracy? (not the Chinese type please). This would require decades of hard work, but so would replacing the democratic party with our version of Labour (and look where they are).

inode_buddha , March 6, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Isn't it worth considering the idea that left energy is better devoted to forming alternative institutions and power structures?

Very much agree -- I don't think I'm disagreeing with tempestteacup so much as looking from a different angle.

For any of it to work, I think we will have to establish parallel institutions on a far greater scale than Sander's campaign. One favorite of mine is worker co-ops, particularly in the Rust Belt and Midwest.

I dream of being able to unite and organize existing co-ops and strengthen them to the point that they could replace the old Sears Roebuck. Effectively workers would have to work two jobs and participate in two different economies, to the extent that they were able -- but having a fallback via co-op would certainly give them far more autonomy and power than any existing structure.

The only reason the existing structures have any power at all, is due to their death grip on the economy, and directly on peoples lives via economic means. Breaking that grip will also require economic means I think.

Grachguy , March 7, 2020 at 1:32 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said!

[Mar 07, 2020] In the Land of the Gerontocrats by Jacob Bacharach

Notable quotes:
"... Nowhere, though, is the rusty, rickety nature of America's civic society more recently evident than in the hilariously, harrowingly inept response to the advent of the COVID-19 virus as a global contagion. Whether it is more or less dangerous and deadly than the media portrays is quite beside the point. The abject incapacity of any government, least of all the feds, to offer even simple, sensible guidance, much less mobilize national resources to examine, investigate and ameliorate the potential threat to human health and well-being is astonishing, even to a tired old cynic like me. At present, the most proactive step has been to pressure the Federal Reserve into goosing the stock market -- the sort of pagan expiation of dark spirits that you'd expect in a more primitive world, when a volcano blew or an earthquake hit. ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

As much as I like Bernie Sanders and hope he prevails in the Democratic primary, I confess that there's something gray and depressing about a crusty, seventy-something, New-Deal liberal representing the great electoral hope of the American left. There are, of course, a number of engaging young progressives in office now, but the fame and near-celebrity profiles of newcomers like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez belie the still fundamentally local power bases of these congresswomen, none of whom has yet been tested even in a statewide election. Victories at the state and local levels have been far outpaced by gains by so-called moderates and centrists, and even these barely dent the thousands of seats and offices lost to radical conservatives during the desultory administration of Barack Obama.

In the campaign for the presidential nomination, and in the aftermath of the multiple "Super Tuesday" primary contests, the Democratic race has become a two-man contest, pitting the insurrectionary Sanders against the increasingly incoherent Joe Biden. In Biden, Democrats are presented with a former senator for America's onshore but off-shore-style tax haven, Delaware, and a man who was selected as the most demographically inoffensive running mate for the then-seemingly-radical campaign of Barack Obama.

Until an eleventh-hour victory in South Carolina, the predominant narrative in the media was that Biden was cooked -- a spent force whose residually strong national poll numbers reflected name recognition and reserves of nostalgia for the Obama years. Biden's revival was buoyed by the support of the state's relatively conservative, older African American population, and then by his Super-Tuesday success just a few days later. (It didn't hurt that the vagaries of election season allowed him to avoid another crackpot debate performance or other testament to his rambling incomprehensibility in the interim.)

But that single victory and the synchronized withdrawals and endorsements by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar created a new narrative. Seemingly overnight, Biden had become a scrappy fighter with a never-say-die attitude, a Clintonian Comeback Kid.

This drove many older Democratic voters -- an inherently timorous group conditioned by decades of "The West Wing" and MSNBC to believe they're consultants and strategists rather than citizens and constituents -- toward the more familiar, pedigreed candidate. They simply did not care that Biden has been wrong, often aggressively and outspokenly so, on every significant issue for the last forty years.

After blowing half a billion dollars on a vanity campaign that won him American Samoa, Michael Bloomberg promptly bowed out and endorsed Biden as well, promising to dedicate his vast resources toward electing Joe.

Beyond the quixotic and indefatigable Tulsi Gabbard, the only candidate left standing was Elizabeth Warren -- also in her 70s and running on fumes since an ill-conceived and ill-fated pivot away from "Medicare for All." This ruined her relationship with the socialist left and any chance of serving as a bridge between the activist wing of the party and its constituency of urban professionals, if one could have existed to begin with. ( Editor's note: Warren has since dropped out. )

Looming is yet another septuagenarian, Donald Trump, whose ongoing mental decompensation remains the great unspeakable truth in corporate media. Although frequently hostile to him, with the obvious exception of Fox News, mainstream outlets continue to edit his transcripts "for clarity and concision," as the publishing saying goes, laundering the self-evident lunacy of his almost every public utterance like a gaggle of Soviets turning the somnolent ravings of an agèd commissar into readable prose for the next day's news.

I use the Soviet metaphor consciously. Long before I started dating and then married a scholar of Russian, I had a certain soft spot for the country, alternately maligned as an eternal basket case and an implacably cunning enemy that had sacrificed something like fifty times the number of Americans killed in every American war combined to defeat the Nazis. And now that I am shacked up with a Russianist and have visited the place a couple of times, I've come to see it not as a shadow or opposite of our own vast, weird nation but as a sibling of sorts.

The crass red-scare fantasies that characterize so many of the present narratives around election interference and the criminal Trump-Russia demimonde are as infuriating as they are baroquely silly. And yet there is a certain late-Soviet pallor hanging over America, even if on a material level our empire really does seem more robust than theirs ever was. (Once again, it bears mentioning that we never lost fifty million people in a war.)

There is a sense, despite the apparent ideological contestations of our ongoing presidential elections, of a group of gerontocrats battling to run what looks less and less like a traditional state than the palace apparatus of an ancient empire that has acquired its imperium almost by accident. As the press critic and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen observed in the fall of last year, "There is no White House. Not in the sense that journalists have always used that term. It's just Trump -- and people who work in the building. That they are reading from the same page cannot be assumed. The words, 'the White House' are still in use, but they have no clear referent."

The hollowed-out nature of the American state has been evident for some time and certainly predates Donald Trump, even if his simultaneously feckless and malicious administration exacerbates the sense of social and economic precariousness. Our biggest city can't build and maintain its transit system. Our bridges collapse. We can't marshal our resources to even pretend to do something about climate change.

The few actual achievements of the Obama administration -- its rapprochements with Cuba and Iran -- collapsed almost immediately on the whims of his successor while his cruelest policies -- the drone assassinations; the militarized border; the detentions -- metastasized and grew crueler.

Our municipal jails have become debtors' prisons as strapped municipalities turn to shaking down poor people and people of color to manage shrinking tax bases. Meanwhile, our health care system is the worst in the developed world -- an impenetrable skein of rent-seeking local monopolies that cost society trillions and bankrupt hundreds of thousands of individuals each year.

Nowhere, though, is the rusty, rickety nature of America's civic society more recently evident than in the hilariously, harrowingly inept response to the advent of the COVID-19 virus as a global contagion. Whether it is more or less dangerous and deadly than the media portrays is quite beside the point. The abject incapacity of any government, least of all the feds, to offer even simple, sensible guidance, much less mobilize national resources to examine, investigate and ameliorate the potential threat to human health and well-being is astonishing, even to a tired old cynic like me. At present, the most proactive step has been to pressure the Federal Reserve into goosing the stock market -- the sort of pagan expiation of dark spirits that you'd expect in a more primitive world, when a volcano blew or an earthquake hit.

Even elections seem beyond our capabilities at this point. In Texas, people waited for up to seven hours to cast votes on decrepit machines, and we still do not have official final results from the Iowa caucuses -- a fact little mentioned now that the primary season has moved on.

On the eve of the French Revolution, the Swiss-born theorist, journalist, and politician Jean-Paul Marat wrote, "No, liberty is not made for us: we are too ignorant, too vain, too presumptuous, too cowardly, too vile, too corrupt, too attached to rest and to pleasure, too much slaves to fortune to ever know the true price of liberty. We boast of being free! To show how much we have become slaves, it is enough just to cast a glance on the capital and examine the morals of its inhabitants."

Donald Trump is in the White House, and his allies in Congress, smarting from his impeachment and failed Senate trial, will now come out with allegations about the sketchy business dealings of one of his likely opponent's adult sons. Well. Here we are.

Jacob Bacharach is the author of the novels "The Doorposts of Your House and on Your Gates" and "The Bend of the World." His most recent book is "A Cool Customer: Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking."

[Mar 07, 2020] Dr. Drew Pinsky Threat Of Coronavirus An Overblown Press-Created Hysteria Video

Notable quotes:
"... We have in the United States 24 million cases of flu-like illness, 180,000 hospitalizations, 16,000 dead from influenza. ..."
Mar 07, 2020 | www.realclearpolitics.com

After a community transmitted case of coronavirus was reported in California,

Dr. Drew Pinsky talks about the coronavirus:

PINSKY: I don't know what they're talking about. We used to point at the way Indiana responded to the opiate and the HIV epidemic as the model for the country. I don't know what they're talking about. The only reason I felt comfortable with Pence as Vice President was I was aware of his track record in Indiana in handling these serious problems, and they handled them better than most states did, almost any other state. So, I don't know what the hell people are talking about. That is fake news...

We have in the United States 24 million cases of flu-like illness, 180,000 hospitalizations, 16,000 dead from influenza. We have zero deaths from coronavirus. We have almost no cases. There are people walking around out there with the virus that don't even know they have it, it's so mild.

So it's going to be much more widespread than we knew. It's going to be much milder than we knew. The 1.7% fatality rate is going to fall. Where was the press during the Mediterranean Corona outbreak, where the fatality rate was 41%? Why didn't they get crazed about MERS or SARS?

This is an overblown press-created hysteria. This thing is well in hand. President Trump is absolutely correct.

[Mar 06, 2020] Paul Singer vulture fund, has reportedly snapped up a four percent ($1 billion) stake in Twitter, nominating four directors to its board as the start of a bid to oust Dorsey.

Mar 06, 2020 | www.rt.com

by Helen Buyniski , RT A notorious hedge-funder who's left a trail of broken companies (and countries) in his wake has set his sights on ousting Twitter's Jack Dorsey. Users complaining about new features should know the platform may never be the same. Elliott Management, euphemistically called an "activist investor" by timid media who fear its legendary founder Paul Singer, has reportedly snapped up a four percent ($1 billion) stake in Twitter, nominating four directors to its board as the start of a bid to oust Dorsey. The hedge fund supposedly resents the CEO dividing his attentions between Twitter, Square, and a six-month move to Africa, believing Twitter is capable of churning out bigger profits. Like any good hedge fund – so the narrative goes – they just want the value of the company to increase (stock jumped seven percent on the news).

What this coverage leaves out – and what makes Twitter's plight more than the usual business scrap – is Singer's history. A major Republican donor and huge booster for Israel, he's also a notoriously ruthless businessman who embodies "vulture capitalism," leaving a trail of asset-stripped companies and even a few economically-ruined countries in his wake over his insanely profitable career. Media coverage of Singer's interest in Twitter has gone to great lengths to present his interest in the platform as " strictly business-related ," however, and some conservatives have even gotten excited by the thought that the neocon Singer will end the ideologically-motivated censorship they claim to experience on the platform – but nothing could be further from reality.

Here come the vultures

Fox News' Tucker Carlson profiled Elliott Management's strategy in December thus: "Buy a distressed company, outsource the jobs, liquidate the valuable assets, fire middle management, and once the smoke has cleared, dump what remains to the highest bidder, often in Asia." Amid the financial crash of 2008, Elliott, with other hedge funds, acquired distressed US auto parts supplier Delphi, took billions in bailout money from the Obama government (a transaction the president's "auto-czar" compared to "extortion" ), then offloaded so many jobs overseas that 25 factories were forced to close, putting tens of thousands of union and white-collar workers out on the street, as well as slashing pensions. Elliott Management made over $1 billion from the deal .

Also on rt.com Laid-off IT workers plan to sue UC San Francisco as jobs outsourced to India

When Singer's fund sinks its teeth into its prey, it does not let go, and most victims have learned to give up and hope for a quick death. When Elliott bought an 11 percent stake in outdoors retailer Cabela's, it began pushing for a sale of what was then a profitable company. The management so feared Singer that it sold within a year, sending stock prices through the roof but putting almost 2,000 people out of their jobs, setting off a downward spiral that, Carlson says, "destroyed" Cabela's hometown of Sidney, Nebraska, whose residents feared to even speak about the hedge funder on camera four years later. AT&T similarly ran for its life when Singer's fund bit off a $3.2 billion stake of the company in September, acquiescing to several demands within a month (and there's still time for the rest).

Those who don't acquiesce are guaranteed to suffer. After Elliott Management bought up a chunk of its debt, the country of Argentina defaulted, holding out for 15 years on Singer's attempts to collect. A 13-year legal battle ensued, during which Singer's fund seized an Argentine naval ship to prove they were serious about getting paid. Then-president Cristina Fernandez denounced the "Vulture Lord," but her replacement, Mauricio Macri, finally agreed in 2016 to pay up – just in time for the threat of another debt default .

Also on rt.com Argentina not negotiating multimillion debt, say holdout creditors

Peru and Congo have similarly felt the sting of Elliott Management's tactics, having their distressed debt snapped up and then weaponized against them in court. And even when Singer doesn't win, his opponents lose. Korean electronics giant Samsung was able to fight off his takeover efforts when he tried to block a move by the Lee family to consolidate their holdings, but the bitter battle ended in a five-year prison sentence for company head Jay Y. Lee on bribery charges and the impeachment of South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

the ideologically-motivated vultures, that is

Singer's corporate interests overseas don't stop at outsourcing to cut costs, however. He founded an organization called Start-Up Nation Central to facilitate the transfer of huge chunks of the US tech industry to Israel. The initiative seeks to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement by making Israel essentially boycott-proof, and Singer has accordingly used his billions to push American tech firms into Israel – Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple all have research and development centers there as of 2016. If he gets control of Twitter, the company's US employees may be surprised to find their replacements speaking Hebrew, not Chinese.

As for the conservatives who think Singer will defend them from Twitter censorship? Singer was a hardcore anti-Trumper in 2015, backing Florida Senator Marco Rubio and funding the prototype of the notorious Steele dossier. Former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon " declared war " on the billionaire in 2017 upon learning of his involvement. While Singer financially backs Trump now, journalist Philip Weiss and others have suggested the hedge funder "cut a deal with Trump on Israel," offering his support in exchange for Trump going all-in on "protecting" the Jewish State.

Singer is the second-largest donor to the bloodthirsty think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies and also supports JINSA and the American Enterprise Institute – all dyed-in-the-wool neocon groups cheerleading for war with Iran as they did in Iraq. If Trump's "America-first" base thinks Singer is going to fight for their free speech on Twitter, they're about to get a rude awakening. Anti-war voices on both sides of the spectrum will likely find the censorship intensified to the point where they long for the days of mere shadow banning.

Battle of the billionaires

Dorsey is prepared to stand and fight – for now. He announced on Thursday he'd put his plans to live in Africa for six months on hold, supposedly due to the coronavirus epidemic. Meanwhile, Dorsey's fellow tech tycoon Elon Musk has pledged to help him fight the takeover, tweeting his support on Monday, and Twitter employees pledged their support with the #webackjack hashtag.

Also on rt.com 'NO ONE asked for this': Twitter testing self-destructing post feature as users beg for 'edit' button instead

Twitter users complaining about the "Snapchatization" of their beloved platform should realize they're looking at something quite a bit more serious than the rollout of an unpopular feature. Twitter, despite its numerous flaws, remains a vital communication channel for many. Whatever lies ahead for the platform – a stripped-down MySpace-esque husk, a megaphone for the never-Trump wing of the GOP, another addition to Israel's Silicon Wadi – only one thing can be certain: it will be profitable for Elliott Management.

Subscribe to RT newsletter to get stories the mainstream media won't tell you.

[Mar 06, 2020] Warren presidential campaign postmortem

Notable quotes:
"... The Pow Wow Chow Native American Cookbook ..."
Mar 06, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

. In the spirit of charity, we should give credit where it's due: Warren really did become the " unity candidate " that she always proclaimed herself to be. She displayed an astounding capacity to bring together a polarized country around their shared distaste for her candidacy.

Compiling a complete discography of Warren's detractors would be an impossible feat, but for the sake of partisan schadenfreude, we should briefly revisit the greatest hits. These include the Native American tribal leaders who weren't particularly fond of a wealthy white Harvard professor claiming their ethnicity for personal gain (even co-authoring a cooking guide titled The Pow Wow Chow Native American Cookbook ), the Bernie Sanders supporters infuriated by Warren's cynical attempts to paint their candidate as a woman-hating misogynist, police unions offended by Warren's open dishonesty about violence in law enforcement, religious conservatives who found her contemptuous dismissal of anyone with traditionalist views of sexual morality to be in profoundly bad taste, and pro-lifers (who still comprise 34 percent of the Democratic electorate ) for whom Warren's radically pro-abortion policy objectives were unconscionable.

It's worth noting, of course, that this is just a small slice of the groups that found Warren enormously unlikeable. The senator's casual-at-best relationship with the truth ( listing herself as as "woman of color" in Harvard's faculty listing, claiming that she was fired from a teaching position for being pregnant, refusing to admit that her various spending plans would require raising taxes on the middle class, and so on) probably didn't help. And shockingly, her painfully contrived attempts at catering to the woke activist base (vocal support for reparations, pledging to let a transgender child pick her secretary of education, endorsing affirmative action for non-binary people) paired with her technocratically manicured professorial wonkiness -- she's got a plan for that! -- never caught fire in the blue-collar neighborhoods in the Midwest and South.

... ... ...

Senator Warren, we hardly knew ye.

Nate Hochman is an undergraduate student at Colorado College and a Young Voices contributor. You can follow him at Twitter @njhochman .

[Mar 06, 2020] Over eighty percent of the medicines used in the United States are manufactured in China

Mar 06, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anon 2 , says: Show Comment February 25, 2020 at 5:39 am GMT

As far as I know, no one here has mentioned that because of the globalization drive by Clinton, Bush, and Obama, 85% of the medicines used in the United States are manufactured in China. Even U.S. troops depend on medicines from China! China could bring the entire health system in the U.S. to a stop in a matter of months. This is what our inept elites have done to America – they gave away the shop. People are beginning to realize that manufacturing our own medicines is a matter of national security but it'll take years to bring the factories back to the U.S. So much for globalization.

Rod Dreher's blog IMHO is the best source for quick info on the coronavirus because he is in touch with American M.D.'s who are married to women from China who in turn are in contact with relatives at home and the Chinese media. Of course, Rod himself can be hysterical at times but, apparently, that's what it takes to have a successful blog. The M.D.'s are reporting that the U.S. is already beginning to run out of certain medications, and recommend stocking up on the basic necessities, i.e., recommend assuming the mental framework of the survivalists – have plenty of canned goods, etc and refill your prescriptions ASAP. This is what many people here seem to forget – the coronavirus's indirect effects due to having no access to medications may be much worse than the direct pathogenic effects.

[Mar 05, 2020] What is Globalism? Globalism is Neoliberalism which is Corporatism

Mar 05, 2020 | www.reddit.com

The term Globalism has been around from at least the 1960's but its origins come from Cecil Rhodes Round Tables which were set up around 1900 as a mechanism for Rhodes and his allies from the British and South African Oligarchs to take over the world. Globalism is another term for Neoliberalism, which is another term for Corporatism. It is principally pushed by Fake Liberals who pretend to be lefties, but are actually Corporatists or Corporate Fascists.

Globalism

The aim of Globalism is to transfer all power and wealth from ordinary people to a handful of Banking Elites, Oligarchs and major Corporate CEO's. The ultimate aim is to set up an anti democratic, authoritarian one world government where ordinary people are effectively serfs and have no say, in a system of Neo-Feudalism. We are very nearly already there.

This is being constantly carried out by transferring ever increasing powers from elected local governments to massive governmental Super States, such as the EU or the Federal government in Washington DC.

A great example of a Globalist policy was Obama's Corporate Power Grab TPP and TTIP, Corporate protectionist deals, which transferred power from elected legislatures to transnational tribunals staffed by Corporate lawyers acting as Judge and Jury.

TPP, TISA and TTIP agreements are massive Corporate power grabs dressed up as trade deals http://ian56.blogspot.com/2015/11/tpp-tisa-and-ttip-agreements-are.html

"Neo-libs" are NOT Centrists. They are extremist supporters of Perpetual War, Corruption, Corporatism, Authoritarianism & the Transfer of all wealth & power from ordinary ppl to the Oligarchs & CEOs in the top 0.01%.

What is Globalism? Clue: Its NOT what the Corporate Establishment tells you it is http://ian56.blogspot.com/2017/11/what-is-globalism.html

Neoliberalism. The ideology that dare not speak its name is actually a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/index.shtml

[Mar 05, 2020] Warren as Biden's Trojan horse

Notable quotes:
"... She can attack him from "the left" if she's on the debate stage. I've always thought she's in cahoots with Biden. We'll see soon. ..."
"... poor showing in the first 3 contests made it clear she had no substantial and broad enough base. ..."
Mar 05, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

@wokkamile

She can attack him from "the left" if she's on the debate stage. I've always thought she's in cahoots with Biden. We'll see soon.

wokkamile on Wed, 03/04/2020 - 11:23am

She already hurt Bernie

@Wally by not dropping out and endorsing him b/f ST, after poor showing in the first 3 contests made it clear she had no substantial and broad enough base.

My sense this morning is that Bernie might need her to get the nomination, and Biden might need her as VP to win the election.

[Mar 05, 2020] Season of the Switch Dissident Voice

Notable quotes:
"... If you are holding out hope that Bernie can slay the dragon of the existing system at its belladonna roots, then be my guest. I see too many people spending their hope on Elizabeth Warren, which will only serve to suck power away from Bernie, who is the ONLY Democratic candidate movie that has the potential to actually INSPIRE voters, just as Trump does. Bernie deserves credit too for actually CHANGING the nature of the campaign conversation and who just MIGHT even begin to change it at the national level, assuming that time, tide and tyranny allow him four years safe passage to reach his pending retirement. ..."
"... In any case, after a year of endless media barrage, it is rather late now for the gods to intervene. All I would hope is that a few more of us can open our eyes to see past the silly "lesser of two evils" and "#votebluenomatterwho" memes, to the reality of how every one of these candidates serve as puppets to SOME specific mix of master control forces and thus make our choice in THAT more realistic light, rather than thinking that any of them offer "real" independent solutions or that any of their "heroic" feet are NOT already embedded knee, waist or neck-deep in the Big Muddy river of our dissolute illusions of Democracy. ..."
Mar 05, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org

Season of the Switch

Revising History Before It Happens

by Mark Petrakis / March 3rd, 2020

As people march off to the polls today to pick their favorite political actor of the year, I hear precious few voices openly asking what seem to me to be obvious questions, like WHO produced the movie that is their candidacy? Who directed it? Who wrote the script? Who are the investors that will be expecting to see returns on their investment, if their movie and their best actor should somehow win? And how far do the networks of wealth, influence and control extend beyond those public faces inside the campaign? None of these questions strike me as tangential; rather they are all essential.

Let's imagine for a moment that one of these actors can somehow out-thespian Trump once on stage which is HIGHLY unlikely – even for folksy Bernie – UNLESS he can somehow win himself 100% DNC buy-in and 24/7 mainstream "BLUE" media support. But assuming that he (or some "brokered" candidate) wins, it will still be their production teams (along with their extended networks) who will be making their presence felt on Day One of any new presidency. These are the people who will be calling in the favors and calling the shots.

I recall how moved I was by Obama's 2008 election. I was buoyed with hope, because I did not understand then what I understand now – that NO candidate can exist as an independent entity, disconnected from the apparatus and networks that support and produce the narratives that advance them and their agendas. I also recall the day that Obama entered the White House and instantly handed the keys to the economy (and the recovery) back to Geithner, Summers and Rubin – the same trio that had helped destroy it just a year earlier. And he did this at the same moment he was filling his cabinet with the very people "suggested" in that famous leaked letter from the CEO of Citibank. My hope departed in genie smoke at that moment, to be followed by eight years of spineless smooth talk and wobbly action, except where the agendas of Wall Street and pompous Empire were concerned.

Do you see how this works? The game is essentially rigged from the start by virtue of who is allowed to enter the race, what can and what can't be said by them and by who the media is told to shine their light on, and who to avoid. Candidates can, of course, say pretty much anything they want (short of "Building 7, WTF!!" of course) in hopes it will spark a reaction that the media can seize upon.

But just based on words, we know that NONE of these happy belief clowns will forcefully oppose existing "Regime Change" plans for Venezuela, Bolivia and Syria. We know that NONE of them will stand up to Israel – or to a Congress that is, almost to a person, in the pocket of Israel. We know too that NONE of them will bring more than an angry flyswatter to the battle with Wall Street or the corporations. We further know that NONE of them will do more than make modest cuts to military spending or god forbid, call out the secret state's fiscally unaccountable black budget operations, which by now reach into at least the 30 trillions.

Personally, I'm not FOR any candidate simply because I cannot UNSEE what it has taken me 12 years to get into focus; namely, how everyone of them are compromised by a SYSTEM that talks a lot about FIXING what's broken, but which is simply INCAPABLE of delivering anything other than what has been pre-ordained and decreed by the global order of oligarchs, which exists as the "ghost in the machine" that ultimately controls every part of the political "STATE" – at high, middle, low and especially at DEEP levels.

I will say in defense of Bernie that his production team early-on made the very unique decision to crowd-source the campaign's costs. That was a PROFOUND decision, which has paid off for him and which may well buy him a certain level of lubricated control over what is to come, even though the significance of that decision is not well appreciated because the DNC and the MSM simply refuse to discuss it in any depth.

Warren was TRYING to play the populist "people's campaign" game too, until last week when she must have been startled awake by the "Ghost of Reagan's Past" and decided to take the money and run as a Hillary proxy which (big surprise) was what she was all along anyway.

Let me just say this about Joe Biden. From his initial announcement, I never felt he was in his right mind. He seems rather to be teetering on the edge of senility and fast on his way into dementia. Also, the man has openly sold his soul so many times in his career that we shouldn't at this point expect any unbought (or even lucid) thought to ever again escape his remarkably loose lips. Joe might have run with the old skool Dems when he was a big deal on the Delaware streets, but now, like Bloomberg and Romney, he's just another Republican in a pricey blue suit.

I understand how people are feeling stressed, obsessed and desperate to get rid of Donald Trump. It's just that until we take a collective step back and see things at the level from which they actually operate and NOT at the level from which we are TOLD they operate, then we will never be successful in turning our public discourse around or in beginning to identify and eliminate the fascist and anti-human agendas that we associate with Trump, but which actually lie behind the subservient to power policies and preferences of BOTH parties.

If you are holding out hope that Bernie can slay the dragon of the existing system at its belladonna roots, then be my guest. I see too many people spending their hope on Elizabeth Warren, which will only serve to suck power away from Bernie, who is the ONLY Democratic candidate movie that has the potential to actually INSPIRE voters, just as Trump does. Bernie deserves credit too for actually CHANGING the nature of the campaign conversation and who just MIGHT even begin to change it at the national level, assuming that time, tide and tyranny allow him four years safe passage to reach his pending retirement.

In any case, after a year of endless media barrage, it is rather late now for the gods to intervene. All I would hope is that a few more of us can open our eyes to see past the silly "lesser of two evils" and "#votebluenomatterwho" memes, to the reality of how every one of these candidates serve as puppets to SOME specific mix of master control forces and thus make our choice in THAT more realistic light, rather than thinking that any of them offer "real" independent solutions or that any of their "heroic" feet are NOT already embedded knee, waist or neck-deep in the Big Muddy river of our dissolute illusions of Democracy.

– Yet Another Useful Idiot.

Mark Petrakis is a long-time theater, event and media producer based in San Francisco. He first broke molds with his Cobra Lounge vaudeville shows of the 90's, hosted by his alter-ego, Spoonman. Concurrently, he took to tech when the scent was still utopian, building the first official websites for Burning Man, the Residents and multiple other local arts groups of the era. He worked as a consultant to a variety of corps and orgs, including 10 years with the Institute for the Future. He is co-founder of both long-running Anon Salon monthly gatherings and Sea of Dream NYE spectacles. Read other articles by Mark .

This article was posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 at 8:34pm and is filed under Barack Obama , Bernie Sanders , Deep State , Democrats , Donald Trump , Elections , Joe Biden , Presidential Debates , United States .

[Mar 04, 2020] From now on Warren is a Biden's Trojan horse. Warren staying in through Super Tuesday certainly hurt Sanders, while disappearance of Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Steyer helped Biden; that smells like the return of the smoke fills room deals

The art of backstabbing, textbook example...
Mar 04, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

... Although it cannot be assumed that all her voters would have gravitated to Sanders, certainly some would have, and with an extra ten points Bernie would have won some states he lost. If she departs after coming in third in her home state, that will help Sanders going forward.

Sanders performed well below the polling. Polls had him competitive in Virginia, where he was crushed by Biden. Polls showed him winning Texas, whereas that turned into a close race.

[Mar 04, 2020] In Defense of Elitism Why I'm Better Than You and You are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy Thi

This guy does not understand (or do not what to understand) what neoliberalism is. Do not buy this book. It is junk. Look at the idiotic quite beloe. Tha guy is unable to think coherently. When Hillary called her opponents "deplorable" she clearly means thos who oppose neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization and who suffered from outsourcing and financialization craziness, that destroyed the USA manufacturing. She means those who do not belong to the neoliberal elite, independent of their IQ.
Notable quotes:
"... The tragic flaw of elites is that they fail to see the hypocrisy in their own cries for tolerance and equality. ..."
"... It was the "deplorables" moment that opened my eyes to the current trajectory of America. I fear that intellectual elites, of which I am admittedly one, have not learned from this unfortunate blunder. And time is running out for us. Perhaps all we elites need to start toting Reader's Digest crosses. ..."
Mar 04, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The populist revolution succeeded tonight for the same reason it did nearly two centuries ago. The main reason Trump won wasn't economic anxiety. It wasn't sexism. It wasn't racism. It was that he was anti-elitist. Hillary Clinton represented Wall Street, academics, policy papers, Davos, international treaties, and peo- ple who think they're better than you. People like me. Trump represented something far more appealing, which is beating up people like me. A poll taken a month before the 2016 election showed that only 24 percent of voters disagreed with the statement "The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream America and the ruling political elites."

People are foolish to get rid of us. Elites are people who think; populists are people who believe. Elites de- fer to experts; populists listen to their own guts. Elites value cooperation; populists are tribal. Elites arc masters at delayed gratification, long-range planning, and
controlling our emotions...

...We can t afford that. Populists believe our complex society is so secure that disaster is near impossible no matter who is in charge. Elites know it's not. Most of our work is calculating risk and planning for contingencies. We invented reinsurance, and if you give us a few years, we'll come up with rereinsurance. The myth that the elite are selfishly rigging the system while do- ing nothing useful conveniently ignores the fact that the system we've built is great. If this were a book about any other group of people besides the elite, this would be the part where I list all the amazing contributions we've made throughout history. I do not need to do that because elites created everything that ever existed...

4.0 out of 5 stars Hamartia of Elitism Exposed Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase With In Defense of Elitism, Joel Stein goes where few elites would dare step foot, intellectually or literally - to the panhandle, bible-thumping, gun-toting town of Miami, Texas.

At this first stop on his tour of populist and elite hotspots of America, Stein elucidates a no-brainer: nobody is always right all the time about everybody else. That includes we elites.

What is my takeaway from this marvelous book, besides the fact that Stein is completely hilarious? That elites need a crash course in tolerance. Populists could use a big dose of it too, but at least when they do not demonstrate this virtue, they don't pretend to possess it. The tragic flaw of elites is that they fail to see the hypocrisy in their own cries for tolerance and equality.

It was the "deplorables" moment that opened my eyes to the current trajectory of America. I fear that intellectual elites, of which I am admittedly one, have not learned from this unfortunate blunder. And time is running out for us. Perhaps all we elites need to start toting Reader's Digest crosses.

>

Bonnie Cobert Millender , Reviewed in the United States on December 4, 2019

Important Message Delivered with Humor and Insight!

Joel Stein's new book is both engaging and enlightening. He begins by immersing himself in the small town culture of rural Miami, Texas, where he mingles with the locals and tries to understand their customs. He enjoys their hospitality but examines their values with a critical eye. The rest of the book is mostly a comparison of "elitism" with the ethos of Miami. He distinguishes between two kinds of elitism: "boat elitism" which worships money and power, and "intellectual elitism" which elevates reason and intelligence. Stein obviously champions intellectual elitism which he feels is imperative for a successful democracy: "Democracy is a government of the nerds, by the nerds and for the nerds. And the Boat Elite do not respect nerds." Ultimately, Stein concludes, "The elite, with our pesky qualifiers and annoying exceptions, are the thin line between democracy and tyranny." The great charm of this excellent book is that these very valid truths are presented with so much humor and insight that the reader cannot help but agree with Joel Stein's illuminating conclusions.

Chele Hipp , Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2019
If This Book Were a High School Debate, Mr. Stein Would Lose

If this book was evaluated like an elite high school debate held on the Stanford campus each year, Mr. Stein would be winning the debate handily in each round and scoring exceedingly high speaker points. But, in the end, while he would still get the Top Speaker Award, he would not win the tournament trophy because he gave up his argument in his closing statement. This book is written five parts, four of which are hilarious and compelling arguments for finding connection with every type of elite and populist one can come across. Those four parts make equally compelling arguments for why having experts and intellectual elites run the world does the greatest good for society as a whole. Mr. Stein is winning the debate with compassion, good humor, and style. I'm rooting for him to win the debate! My debate judge objectivity has flown out the window. And then part five happens. His closing argument. Oh no! Mr. Stein decides to withdraw from the battle for expert and intellectual elite leadership. He says it's not our time. It's time to wait out the populists. That we can do that. That we must do that. And then he says that the need for human connection is greater than anything - that humility is the job elites need to pursue. Wait. What? You just contradicted your entire case. You surrendered your position. Your conclusion is the opposite of your thesis! That's it. You lose on technical failure. Victory awarded to your opponent. If this book were a research project using the scientific method, it would be entirely possible to have a conclusion that did not match the hypothesis. But the title of the book, "In Defense of Elitism" is suggestive of a debate or an argument. And, in such case, the conclusion must necessarily match the opening statement. If I were to recommend this book to a friend, which I still may very likely do, I would recommend that my friend read only parts one through four. Or, maybe read all five parts with very low expectations for intellectual follow-through on part five. Mr. Stein still has my utmost respect and admiration for both his efforts and his humor. I almost wonder if his editor insisted on a soft landing for the book and the conclusion was a negotiated settlement.

Flying Scot , Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2019
Elite People Make Superior Choices

The thing I most admire about intellectual elites is how skillfully they choose their parents.

José Sotolongo , Reviewed in the United States on February 7, 2020
A Sly Sociological Study

In self-deprecating, often hilarious language, Joel Stein gives us a study of the gulf between the bicoastal United States and the heartland. The socially and politically conservative, religious citizens of Miami, Texas, vastly different from the author in values, religion, and background, are profiled with humor and affection. By establishing common ground with these citizens and shedding light on their beliefs, Stein lets us understand them despite the different, even foreign ideas compared to those of us who are "elites." By "elites" the author means reasonably educated, anti-racist, not-very-religious-if-at-all folks who tend to vote for progressive candidates. The middle of the book puts us back in California, where Stein lives, and his gimlet eye skewers the elites that surround him, again with humor and insight. I am somewhat surprised that this impressive work, which has so much to say about the present divisions and polarization in our country, has not been better promoted by the publisher. A search in the New York Times fails to find a review or even mention of it, and a full web search renders scant results. Highly recommended.

Reginald H. Henderson , Reviewed in the United States on November 2, 2019
Elite by cheating your way to wealth, versus an elite level of intelligence

Being anti-elite can make sense if you're against the elite due to wealth gained by taking advantage of people (Stein refers to as the "boat elite"), but being against elite by intelligence doesn't make sense (the "intellectual elite"). Stein talks with anit-elite Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) who talks about a medical issue for which he had to go to the most elite doctor there was to be cured, and Scott somehow concludes that this is why doctors are useless and he knows better than them. Stein points out Sarah Palin bragging that she will never claim to know more than anyone else, instead of trying to study and learn more. You read about people striving to make a difference, and somehow Republican America rejecting intelligent elite and embracing wealthy elite (which is the opposite of what a democratic government should do, it should reign in those that gain all the power through wealth). The jokes make this serious and passionate subject fun to read.

Reviewer Dr. Beth , Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2019
Make America elite again

How can one be both self-deprecating and aggrandizing at the same time? Somehow author Joel Stein manages this. A long-time humorist writer for TIME (who was eventually fired, as he points out), Stein offers a book that is as insightful as it is funny. Stein's humor ranges from cheap to clever, and yet is unfailingly smart and on the mark. The premise of this book has already been thoroughly covered. Stein seeks to explain the backlash against so-called elites which led to the election of Trump. He starts by visiting the county in the US which had the highest percentage of Trump voters in the 2016 election. He finds many things that he expected to find (religion, guns) and many things he did not. Does he leave Miami, Texas thinking that the Trump voters were right? No. But he leaves with a better appreciation of people different from him and less of an us versus them mindset. After spending time with the populists, Stein visits with his own group, the elites, providing a short and somewhat mocking look at our country's most privileged...living in ivory towers, maybe, but also doing great work. Next come the populist elites, a group which includes Stein's "boat elites," or people like Trump. The section on elite populists is the shortest in the book; obviously elites generally aren't wining any popularity contests. Finally, in "Saving the Elite," Stein attempts to figure out how elites can re-emerge on top, where they belong. Solutions include fighting back, which many liberals seem to be doing to little or no avail; taking the high road, which appeals to the self-satisfied nature of elitists but which tends to be ultimately frustrating; and moving towards change, perhaps through greater humility, kindness, and--dare we say it?--love. Stein himself admits both that he is smug...and also that his smugness is his downfall. We cannot dismiss those with whom we do not agree. Stein makes this point in a way that is intelligent, compelling, moving...and also very, very funny.

Ryan Mease , Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2019
Fun Tour of (Right-Wing) Populism in America

This is a sometimes-humorous, sometimes-serious review of different populist voices in the Trump era. Klein scored a number of perfect interviews with figureheads in / critics of the populist movement -- Tucker Carlson, the Dilbert guy and Bill Kristol. It's a shame he couldn't get Steve Bannon. He's very effective at interviewing opponents. I actually walked away from the Tucker chapter feeling less confused about Tucker's position on race and immigration. I can see his journey and his current rhetorical postures seem wrong, but reasonable. He has a point of view that's well-reasoned. The Dilbert guy is another story. I'm not even sure if he belongs in this book; he's just a sophist like Ann Coulter or Milo. I'm trying to use that term precisely, in the elitist Plato's dialogue sense of the term. If you read the book or listen to an interview with him, you'll understand what I mean. He's a bad faith relativist who enjoys attention. There's a lot more to this book! I didn't even mention the long opening section where the author travels to Texas to interview Trump supporters while living with them for an extended period. There are moments in the book where we're allowed to see how we might heal our national wounds. The major flaw here is the lack of depth concerning left-wing populism. The author points to Bernie Sanders and the populist left without really interviewing anyone or considering those voices too carefully. That's a shame, because they would have made an excellent companion chapter to the content on Tucker. The author ends up luring elite readers to a place where they feel comfortable receiving criticism. It would have been nice to hear that critique from each side. This was a fun read. Definitely recommended.

plubius tullius , Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2020
Less about elite, more about [neoliberal] aristocracy

I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Joel Stein himself. Even as read by the author, I can't tell if this book is a joke or supposed to be taken seriously. An honest discussion of experts vs non-experts would be useful. This is not it. Stein picks points that back his views up, which extend well beyond expertise, and into entitlement, connection, and general condescension to the "great unwashed." For example, he interviews cartoonist Scott Adams... why not Nassim Nicholas Taleb - on the fallacy of expertise. Of course, lots and lots of name dropping in this book. Figures - thats how those insecure in their elitist claims attempt to establish their membership.

[Mar 04, 2020] May the Best Man Win

Mar 04, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Cant Stop the M... on Wed, 03/04/2020 - 8:28am We base our entire politics on the idea that we're living in a meritocracy. In other words, like the knights of old at a joust, we find out who is best through competition, a competition assumed to be both fair and honest. In the old days, the joust was assumed to be fair and honest because God was both omnipotent and just and therefore, obviously, would not allow a bad man to win. Nowadays, even most of us who believe in God don't believe that God controls the outcome of competitions in that way. Yet the assumption of a fair and honest competition persists, despite blatant evidence to the contrary.

In the case of U.S. elections, it is assumed, not that the will of God controls the outcome of competitions, but that the will of the people does. Voter suppression and election fraud are hand-waved away on the dubious grounds that any candidate strong enough could overcome such things. Or maybe the people are to blame. The supporters of the defeated candidate must not have worked hard enough, or maybe the people generally are to blame for not voting in large enough numbers. Those who challenge any of these assumptions are defeated, either by institutional inertia or by gaslighting.

Nothing happens, so nothing happened

Here's what I mean by institutional inertia.

In 2000, there was ample evidence that George W. Bush had committed fraud in the presidential election, with the help of his brother, the governor of Florida. In 2004, there was ample evidence that George W. Bush had committed fraud once again, famously in Ohio, and less famously in Florida for a second time. However, in the first case, Gore stopped fighting after an obviously partisan and corrupt Supreme Court decision, and not a single member of the U.S. Senate was willing to help the Congressional Black Caucus challenge the election. In the second case, Kerry refused to challenge the election in Congress, and the legal case he brought about election fraud, after the fact, did not even make it to the Supreme Court.

In 2016, when New Yorkers brought a case that there had been election fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primaries, the case was thrown out on the grounds that each county in New York had to file such cases separately, and, by then, the election would be over. Pleas to delay the vote count, or to delay declaring a winner, until the voting rights of the people could be secured, were brushed aside. Much later, when a civil lawsuit was brought against the DNC, the case was once again thrown out for lack of standing, but not before the DNC lawyers had defended their client on the grounds that the DNC didn't have to provide a fair competition, or any competition at all, really, and certainly didn't have to care what the people thought.

The effect of this institutional inertia is not simply that cheaters win the day, or that the people, whose will is being suppressed, lose morale and give up. The complaint itself begins to fade from people's minds. People begin to make excuses for what happened, to justify it, to act as if there never were cheating to begin with. Even many of those who dissent find that, over time, the injustice they remember mellows: no less a person than Jimmy Dore, hardly a weak-minded hack for the establishment, talks now about Gore's "loss" in 2000 as an evil caused by the electoral college. While the electoral college is obviously a tool for elites to control American politics (and never has that been so obvious as over the past two election cycles), such a narrative ignores and erases the police checkpoints that were set up in 2000 near predominantly African American polling places in Leon county, Florida. It ignores the Republican Speaker of the House, Tom DeLay, sending Republican staffers to Dade County to break up Miami's vote count by marching into the Supervisor of Elections office and screaming at the top of their lungs so that no accurate count could take place. It ignores and erases the digital Jim Crow that purged the voter lists of African American Democrats by claiming, falsely, that they were felons. It ignores the fact that emails between the State of Florida and the company that created the Jim Crow software revealed that the company had warned that their software would draw too many false positives, and that the State of Florida had replied "That's just what we want."

Similarly, the DNC's perfidy in 2016 has been reduced to the following: 1) that they had pre-selected their candidate, and didn't provide a real or fair competition, 2) that they gave debate questions ahead of time to Hillary Clinton, 3)that they used the electoral college, most particularly superdelegates, to overwhelm the Sanders movement, and that 4) the party primaries were often closed, not allowing independents the right to vote. Left out, or forgotten, are the multiple polling places closed in states from Arizona to New York (in New York, sometimes even the open polling places had no staff or broken machines), the media calling California for Clinton before the votes were counted, the 136,000 voters purged off Brooklyn's voter rolls (no doubt because Bernie Sanders was born and grew up in Brooklyn and that might have given him an advantage there), and the much larger multi-state purge of the Democratic party through changing people's voter registration without their knowledge and consent.

I'm not bringing this up to attack Jimmy Dore, who is one of the most reliable truth-tellers in the media today, but rather to point out what people's minds do under the stress of watching the establishment normalize corruption again and again. If there is no power to challenge institutional corruption, most people, over time, make of the corruption something less unjust and outrageous. Simply smothering objections to injustice with institutional inertia, will, over time, allow the victors to erase the evidence of their crime.

Sore Loserman

Since we believe, with the faith of fanatics, that competition must be honest and fair, it's easy to gaslight the losers (or the apparent losers). The Republicans in 2000 did not need to disprove the fact that George W. Bush had committed fraud and contravened the will of the people when he climbed up a staircase of disenfranchised Black faces to become President. All the Republicans needed to do was issue tens of thousands of bumper stickers that replaced the words "Gore/Lieberman" with "Sore Loserman." The RNC was using the same argument that was bruited about in the 1980s about poverty and employment. Unemployed poor people had lost the economic competition. Therefore, there must be something wrong with them. Maybe they weren't educated enough, smart enough, clean enough, hard-working enough; maybe they were people of bad character. Bloomberg's racial profiling worked much the same way. Black people are losers in the judicial game because they commit more crimes. That's why we put more police in their neighborhoods, because there are more criminals among young Black men than anywhere else. Corruption can't bring down a meritorious man. If you're good, you'll win. If you complain about cheating or any other form of injustice, you must be a Sore Loserman, attempting to cover up your own inadequacies by whining.

It's pretty obvious that this way of thinking makes it literally impossible to stop even the most outrageous injustice, as long as the perpetrators of that injustice have enough power to spread their "Sore Loser" messaging far and wide. So if I commit identity theft today and access one of your bank accounts, I can be brought to account. But if Wall St cheats homeowners, there was probably something wrong with the homeowners, or with the government for suggesting that those homeowners should get loans. If George W. Bush cheats in an election, there was probably something wrong with the other candidate, or with the voters.

People tend to get upset when I bring this up, because they think that talking about the corruption of the system will demoralize voters, making such discussions their own form of voter suppression. But I bring this up because the worst damage that can come out of Bernie Sanders losing contests in a highly compromised electoral process is that the idea of meritocracy be preserved. There are valid reasons for voting even in a corrupted system (of the "make 'em sweat" variety). There are valid reasons for not voting in a corrupted system. But whatever a citizen chooses to do on Election Day, the idea of meritocracy must die.

Despite all the truly horrendous policies, from both the Democrats and the Republicans, that have laid our society, our people, and the world to waste, the most poisonous effect of the tyranny we live under is its fraudulence: its pretense of being a fair, accurate, and reasonable expression of the will of the people. Even the Democrats' attacks on Trump, who is supposed to be a Manchurian candidate placed in office by Russian intelligence operatives and an existential threat to our democracy, have, in the past two years, increasingly focused on the people who support Trump. It's the voters fault for supporting the bad man. So even when we are supposedly in a situation of foreign powers changing the outcome of a presidential election, it's still the people's fault. Why? Well, there was a competition, and somebody won, so the person who won must be there by the will of the people. It has to be the people's fault.

Corruption among the powerful isn't a thing.

System-wide corruption in all the various infrastructures of our country, especially the political ones, isn't a thing.

Or, if it is, you just didn't do enough lifting at the political gym to be able to fend it off.

[Mar 04, 2020] Warren was the henchwoman of the right-wing takeover to destroy the left-wing curriculum a the University of Pennsylvania

Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , Mar 3 2020 8:00 utc | 107

Philosopher Drucilla Cornell on Elizabeth Warren at the University of Pennsylvania (vid, 3:21):
I knew Elizabeth Warren when I was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She was a right-wing Reaganite. And the University of Pennsylvania had the most progressive law school curriculum in the country. And this is Elizabeth Warren.

And I taught a first year class called income security. Elizabeth Warren said "there is no more ridiculous idea than national healthcare". That's the Elizabeth Warren I knew. She was in her 30s at this time.

She was the henchwoman of the right-wing takeover to destroy the left-wing curriculum. I taught Worker's Rights, I taught the National Labor Rights Act, which doesn't exist anymore, for the most part, it's not taught in any law school in the United States, I taught Income Security, and I taught Jurisprudence. Elizabeth was against all those things. I don't really know Elizabeth Warren personally, I just know her as a right-wing Republican. And somehow or another, God came out of the heavens and turned her into a Democrat, probably at the very moment that Derrick Bell stepped down from Harvard because he would not work anymore until they hired an African-American woman.

Now she couldn't pretend she was Black, so she pretended she was African. She was Native American. That's not what we call people who are Native Americans, because they're First Nations people. Apaches and Cherokees were nations. There's no such thing as a Native American. Elizabeth checked that box just as Derrick Bell was stepping down. She goes to Massachusetts and she becomes a Democrat.

There is no more [of a] relentless, ruthless, nihilist that I have ever met in my entire life. Not Elizabeth Warren. She's right up there with Donald Trump. So I can't really support her. She did succeed in destroying that progressive curriculum. And that progressive curriculum is, you know, it's one of those life things that you hold onto, right? So I don't trust Elizabeth Warren as far as I can throw her.

She has no policy, she doesn't understand imperialism, and she has said she's a capitalist. What she really is is a technocrat who clawed her way to Harvard. I mean, that's where you want to end up, right? If you're a law professor, you want to be at Harvard. Ok, she did that. She succeeded.

But as President of the United States I wouldn't even dream of supporting her. Because Bernie Sanders, whatever you think of him, like me, was chaining himself to schools to [de]segregate them. Was protesting against the Vietnam war. There are people who have held onto values for a lifetime, and those, Slavoj, are the people I trust.

Russ , Mar 3 2020 8:22 utc | 109

S 124

Presumably Sanders always has known about Warren's record (it's never been obscure for anyone who took a few minutes to look; years ago when I focused on Wall Street and participated at the econoblogs I always knew she was a fraud), yet he's always helped propagate the fraud that she's some kind of "progressive". Same as he's always lied about Russiagate (he certainly knows it's a lie).

So according to the party line, Sanders wanted Warren to run in 2016 and only ran himself after she demurred. This can only mean he preferred for her to act as the sheepdog for Hillary, since he certainly knew she was no "progressive".

[Mar 04, 2020] Trump Slams 'SPOILER' Elizabeth Warren For Sinking Sanders

A pretty sharp political thinking from the President
Mar 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

The Democrat establishment came together and crushed Bernie Sanders, AGAIN! Even the fact that Elizabeth Warren stayed in the race was devastating to Bernie and allowed Sleepy Joe to unthinkably win Massachusetts. It was a perfect storm, with many good states remaining for Joe!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

20 minutes later, Trump tweeted that it was " So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race ," as she has "Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly."

"So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!"

So selfish for Elizabeth Warren to stay in the race. She has Zero chance of even coming close to winning, but hurts Bernie badly. So much for their wonderful liberal friendship. Will he ever speak to her again? She cost him Massachusetts (and came in third), he shouldn't!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

Three hours later, Trump tweeted: " Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas , not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER! "

Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn't in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, not to mention various other states. Our modern day Pocahontas won't go down in history as a winner, but she may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020

[Mar 04, 2020] Warren is a Reagan Republican, a neoliberal. She only switched in the middle of the 1990s when she was 47 and the GOP had gone so far off the deep end that Clinton's center-right New Democrats better represented her neoliberal views.

Notable quotes:
"... On Sanders etc I just read this excellent piece at Greanville Post . Dated March 2. ..."
Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Benjamin , Mar 4 2020 3:04 utc | 100

@94

Warren is a Reagan Republican. She was a Republican until she was 47 years old, which means she lived through the Reagan years thinking 'this is fine'. She only switched in the middle of the 1990s when the GOP had gone so far off the deep end that Clinton's center-right New Democrats better represented her Reaganite views. She claims it was because of abuse by banks, which doesn't make sense, since by that point it was the Democrats leading the charge on bank deregulation.

She isn't a leftist, by any definition.

She built a reputation because of the very narrow range of finance issues she's actually good on (the CFPB is the cornerstone of her entire progressive reputation). And in this election she hasn't been a candidate of the left. She's run on the veneer that she is, but like a snake she's been shedding that pretense over time, backing away from any and every progressive policy position. Her base is white suburbanite professionals, especially women who want to see one of their own be president.

The Warren-Sanders divide perfectly illustrates everything Marx ever wrote about the dangers of Liberals. They aren't the Left's friend. When the revolution comes, they'll be the first to be shot.

uncle tungsten , Mar 4 2020 3:07 utc | 101

Warren is a detestable, lying, hypocrite and probably a scumbag to boot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvdrkSUVn70

Jimmy Dore and Stef Zamorano do a great job here.

S , Mar 4 2020 3:56 utc | 108
@uncle tungsten #100:
Warren is a detestable, lying, hypocrite and probably a scumbag to boot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvdrkSUVn70

A scumbag or a Sumerian bag?

S , Mar 4 2020 4:02 utc | 109
Jokes aside, here's the correct link to the latest The Jimmy Dore Show episode on Warren: Chris Hayes Calls Out Warren On Super-Pac B.S.
Sunny Runny Burger , Mar 4 2020 4:25 utc | 116
Benjamin: Ronald Reagan famously used to be a Democrat, lots of people forget that. He went Republican in 1962.

Lots of people also don't know or realize how extremely likeable Reagan was as a person when he was young, much more so for most people than Kennedy ever was or could ever be (the Kennedy family was/is as nasty as any).

I got this link a few US election ago, Reagan was still a Democrat at this point in time: "What's My Line - Ronald Reagan (1953)" , it's only three and a half minutes long.

Circe , Mar 4 2020 5:00 utc | 121
Elizabeth Warren really hurt Sanders tonight and she's getting no delegates cause her percentages are under 15% (except in her own state that she's losing IN 3RD PLACE)! If she had gotten out of the race Bernie would be sweeping everything for Progressives!

It's like Warren took a sledgehammer to the Progressive Movement and said: If I can't lead it to the White House, then neither will YOU Bernie Sanders!

That's how selfish she was this week.

Thank goodness Sanders might still be able to get a majority, because BIDEN IS THE TITANIC. Biden cannot be the Nominee, he's a walking disaster and Trump will crush him!

Ugh. What a stupid Party.

uncle tungsten , Mar 4 2020 9:51 utc | 153
S #107
A scumbag or a Sumerian bag?

Thats a good one. The anunaki wouldn't even shit on Warren. The ancient south American Indians would have found a fitting sacrifice for her type of lying, sleaze.

I have seen that video and watch most of his posts as he has a sharp enquiring mind. Most importantly he is comfortable to be challenged.

I discovered Robert Temple and the science of geopolymers through one of his references.

On Sanders etc I just read this excellent piece at Greanville Post . Dated March 2.

[Mar 04, 2020] I just can't be sympathetic with Bernie and his voters tonight. Remember how Bernie came out to support Tulsi Gabbard when she was having such a hard time with the establishment? Neither do I

Mar 04, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

SharonM , Mar 4 2020 3:34 utc | 104

I just can't be sympathetic with Bernie and his voters tonight. Remember how Bernie came out to support Tulsi Gabbard when she was having such a hard time with the establishment? Neither do I. Remember how Bernie's supporters made sure Bernie would speak the truth about russiagate, or they weren't going to support him? Neither do I. Remember how Bernie made it clear in every debate and every interview that the choice is endless war or medicare for all? He didn't. Watching someone with a few leftist atoms in him being defeated in State after State by a warmongering sociopath who belongs in a hospice with bars on the windows, is like watching what he deserves.

Jackrabbit , Mar 4 2020 6:10 utc | 129

Copeland @122
People who casually tell you that Bernie is for the Empire--and not for the repair of society-- are people trafficking in lies.
I encourage everyone to look at Bernie with a critical eye and decide for yourself. Anyone in political life for any length of time (like Bernie) must know that USA is EMPIRE-FIRST. Empire priorities (military and intelligence focus; 'weaponized' liberalism; neoliberal graft; dollar hegemony; Jihadis as a proxy army; etc.) dictate the limits of domestic politics.

Bernie's quixotic insurgency was doomed to fail unless Bernie attacked the Democratic Party's connection to Empire and use of identity politics to divide and conquer. Oh, and Bernie would have to threaten to leave the Democratic Party -- but then would become the independent Movement that Bernie and the Democratic Party have tried so hard to prevent!

!!

[Mar 04, 2020] Donna Brazile who among other things gave Hillary the question for presidential debate in advance just told the @GOPChairwoman to "go to hell" for suggesting that the Democratic establishment was once again worked to manipulate a nominee into frontrunner status

Mar 04, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Former DNC chairman who gave Hillary Clinton debate questions in advance during the 2016 election, exclaimed on Fox News that Biden's victory was "the most impressive 72 hours I've ever seen in U.S. politics," and told another analyst to " go to hell " for suggesting that the Democratic establishment was once again working to manipulate a nominee into frontrunner status.

The Democrats are in chaos and melting down on live TV.

Donna Brazile just told the @GOPChairwoman to "go to hell" when asked about the chaos.

Best of luck, Donna! Meanwhile, Republicans are more unified than ever! pic.twitter.com/hCwotuF9tx

-- Trump War Room - Text EMPOWER to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 3, 2020

[Mar 03, 2020] Elizabeth Warren's Foreign Policy Team is Stacked With neocons which would also shine in Hillary team

Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AntiSpin , Mar 3 2020 21:09 utc | 51

For everyone puzzling over Warren's actions and intentions, this should help -- a lot.

Woke Wonk Elizabeth Warren's Foreign Policy Team is Stacked With Pro-War Swamp Creatures
Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal – 2-26-20

"With her new list of foreign policy advisors, Warren unveiled a cast of pro-war think tankers, Cold Warriors and corporate careerists united in support of the Beltway consensus. So much for 'big, structural change'."

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/01/26/elizabeth-warren-foreign-policy-team-pro-war-regime-change/

[Mar 03, 2020] Why is Tulsi Gabbard Still In The Race by Pam Ho

Notable quotes:
"... Biden and Warren are both enthusiastic supporters of neocon foreign policy which is in line with their phony support for the working class. What happened to Warren's glittering M4A plan? It turned back into a pumpkin didn't it? It was all smoke and mirrors. No surprise if you know her history. ..."
"... Imperial Borg Assimilation ..."
"... The Foreign Policy Establishment ..."
"... Warren is an establishment social climber. She took off the mask and her true colors shone through when she viciously attacked Bernie Sanders as a misogynist. Yet still many people surrounding the Sander's campaign support Warren. Why is that? Big money on the left supports her, that's why. That big money also pays a lot of salaries in the liberal political job market. Have you heard of the The Democracy Alliance ? ..."
"... Why do so many liberals or even progressives dislike Tulsi and are so eager to see her gone? Propaganda from the media. The media for a year has relentlessly promoted Red Baiting towards Tulsi because Tulsi challenges the "Washington Consensus" (unfettered elite rule over America and the world with an iron fist). ..."
"... Everyone in the pro-Israel lobby (myself included) is already talking about how to make sure that Tulsi Gabbard's campaign is over before it even gets off the ground -- If you're going to bet on a Dem candidate, look elsewhere. ..."
"... There are many reasons behind that. The main reason though is Tulsi trying to stop war. The Neocons and Saudis have been pushing American politicians, celebrities, media owners, think tanks, foundations and so on for years -- to destroy Syria. Supposedly because Syria is close allies with Iran. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | medium.com

As I was checking the news earlier today I noticed that the coronavirus had killed another top government official in Iran, bringing the total to 3. Or at least the 3 they have released info on. There's a chance it's worse among the Iranian leadership but they don't want to cause a panic. I checked the Twitterverse after that for my daily dose of madness and surprisingly kept seeing people ask rhetorically:

Why is Tulsi Gabbard still in the primary race?

Turns out that Amy "She Hulk" Klobuchar had dropped out of the primary race apparently to suck up to Joe Biden for a VP slot. And so had Pete "Honestly I'm Not Annoying" Buttigigieididisjjd. This of course should surprise no one since the threat of Bernie Sanders to the financial criminal syndicates greasing the palms of practically all politicians and media to do their bidding have seen the writing on the wall. They realize they need candidates to drop out in order to coalesce centrist votes around one or two to stop what they perceive to be a huge problem for them in Bernie Sanders.

... ... ...

Biden and Warren are both enthusiastic supporters of neocon foreign policy which is in line with their phony support for the working class. What happened to Warren's glittering M4A plan? It turned back into a pumpkin didn't it? It was all smoke and mirrors. No surprise if you know her history. Did you see her on Pod Save America regaling us with how much she believes in crippling countries by sanctions if they dare to resist the racist Imperial Borg Assimilation Machine aka The Foreign Policy Establishment ? That doesn't sound woke to me Miss Thang .

https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FC79AV_22NPg%3Ffeature%3Doembed&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DC79AV_22NPg&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FC79AV_22NPg%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube

Warren is an establishment social climber. She took off the mask and her true colors shone through when she viciously attacked Bernie Sanders as a misogynist. Yet still many people surrounding the Sander's campaign support Warren. Why is that? Big money on the left supports her, that's why. That big money also pays a lot of salaries in the liberal political job market. Have you heard of the The Democracy Alliance ?

The Democracy Alliance is a semi-anonymous donor network funded primarily by none other than Democratic mega-donor George Soros. Since its inception in 2005, it is estimated the Alliance has injected over $500 million to Democratic causes. While it isn't typical that they would endorse a candidate outright, they focus more on formulating a catalog of organizations and PACs that they recommend the network of about 100 or so millionaires and billionaires invest in. Democracy Alliance almost literally have their hands in every major left-leaning institution you have (and haven't) heard of -- John Podesta and Neera Tanden's Center for American Progress, David Brock's Media Matters, Center for Popular Democracy, Demos (we'll come back to this one), and the Working Families Party. All of these organizations are listed on the Alliance's website as recommended investments for it's members; and invest they do. Here's the rub: Democracy Alliance's membership isn't made entirely public -- but we know enough that alot of the people that have sat in the highest levels of that organization have an affinity for Elizabeth Warren.


... ... ...

Why do so many liberals or even progressives dislike Tulsi and are so eager to see her gone? Propaganda from the media. The media for a year has relentlessly promoted Red Baiting towards Tulsi because Tulsi challenges the "Washington Consensus" (unfettered elite rule over America and the world with an iron fist).

That is why we got this from Jacob Wohl after Tulsi declared her candidacy last year:

Everyone in the pro-Israel lobby (myself included) is already talking about how to make sure that Tulsi Gabbard's campaign is over before it even gets off the ground -- If you're going to bet on a Dem candidate, look elsewhere.

There are many reasons behind that. The main reason though is Tulsi trying to stop war. The Neocons and Saudis have been pushing American politicians, celebrities, media owners, think tanks, foundations and so on for years -- to destroy Syria. Supposedly because Syria is close allies with Iran.

But they are not the only ones who want Syria destroyed. Other reasons may have to do with massive profits at stake. A natural gas survey team from Norway some years ago discovered that Syria has the largest untapped deposits of natural gas in the world . After that secret discovery became known by various powerful people plans were drawn up to split up the profits after the destruction of the Syrian government. But after Syria asked Russia for help that changed their plans.

Tulsi meanwhile kept going on CNN to tell the American people that our government was waging a secret war in Syria by giving advanced weapons to Al-Qaeda in order to help them topple the government. America, Israel , and the Saudis weren't the only ones with a plan for Syria. Turkey and Qatar had their own plans. The UK and other leading EU nations had a plan as well . And the only politician in any of those countries telling the public the truth of what was going on -- was Tulsi.

... ... ...

She is not having our country become a plaything for rich a-holes who use the lives and limbs of service members for their greedy scams. Because of that the idle rich sociopaths ruling America with their political and media henchmen went after Tulsi with a full barrage of lies , media blackouts, and massive amounts of propaganda -- all to stop her message from getting out so they can create a false image of her in people's minds. Everything and anything they can throw at her, they do.

https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FOBArkIbMybU%3Ffeature%3Doembed&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOBArkIbMybU&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FOBArkIbMybU%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube

There are two politicians whom they fear. Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. Which is why Bernie Sanders has unsurprisingly been trying to stay out of the foreign policy debate, or he even goes along with the establishment for the most part. He saw what they unleashed against Tulsi. He knows from long experience that propaganda works on a lot of people. The financial elites are not naive though, they probably believe he is going along with their ridiculous foreign policy as a political strategy -- until he gains more power. They fear that if he gains that power he will, like Tulsi, not go along with their imperial stormtrooper agenda.

[Mar 03, 2020] Super Tuesday Bernie vs The DNC Round Two

Highly recommended!
Mar 03, 2020 | off-guardian.org

No matter who comes away with the nomination, it has to be asked "was any of this process legitimate?". We know from a plethora of examples that US elections are not fair. They border on meaningless most of the time. The DNC's doubly so, having argued in court they have no duty to be fair.

Any result, then, you could safely assume was contrived, for one reason or another.

If the Buttigieg-Klobuchar-Biden gambit works, we end up with Trump vs. Biden. And, realistically, that means a second Trump term.

Biden is possibly senile and definitely creepy . Watching him shuffle and stutter through a Presidential campaign would be almost cruel.

Politically, he has all of Hillary's weaknesses, being a big-time establishment type with a pro-war record, without even the "I have a vagina" card to play.

He'll get massacred.

Is that the plan?

There's more than enough signs that Trump has abandoned all the policies that made him any kind of threat to the political establishment. Four years on: no wars ended, no walls built, no swamp drained. Just more of the same. He's an idiot who talked big and got co-opted. It happens.

The Senate and other institutions might talk about Trump being a criminal or an idiot or a "Nazi", but the reality is he's barely perceptibly different from any other POTUS this side of JFK.

#TheResistance was a puppet show. A weak game played for toy money. When it really counts, they're all in it together. Biden getting on the ticket would be a public admittance of that. It would mean the DNC is effectively throwing the fight. Trump is a son of a bitch, but he's their son of a bitch. And that's much better than even the idea of President Bernie.

... ... ...

falcemartello ,

Does it really matter?
Empire of kaos will never move one inch to change the status quo.
The quaisi fascist state that most western /antlantacist nations have become it will make no difference
Gianbattista Vico"Their will always be an elite class" Punto e basta.
Name me one politico that made any difference to we the sheeple in the modern era.
If someone were to mention FDR I will scream.
Aldo Moro got murdered by the deep state for only suggesting to make a pact with Berlinguer the head of Il Partito Communista Italiano.

[Mar 03, 2020] It is shocking to see such a disgusting piece of human garbage like Joe Biden get so many working class voters to vote for him. Biden has never missed a chance to stab the working class in the back in service to his wealthy patrons.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... It's astonishing that so many people will just blindly accept what they are told, that Biden is. "moderate." Biden is so far to the right, he makes Nixon look like Trotsky. ..."
Mar 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

TG , Mar 3 2020 22:02 utc | 56

Yet another circus. The proles get to scream and holler, and when all is done, the oligarchy gets the policies it wants, the public be damned. Our sham 'democracy' is a con to privatize power and socialize responsibility.

Although it is shocking to see such a disgusting piece of human garbage like Joe Biden get substantial numbers of people to vote for him. Biden has never missed a chance to stab the working class in the back in service to his wealthy patrons.

The issue is not (for me) his creepiness (I wouldn't much mind if he was on my side), nor even his Alzheimer's, but his established track record of betrayal and corruption.

From wiping out the ability of regular folks to declare bankruptcy (something supported by our founding fathers who were NOT socialists), to shipping our industrial base to communist China (which in less enlightened days would have been termed treason), to spending tens of trillions of dollars bailing out and subsiding the big banks (that's not a misprint), to supporting "surprise medical billing," to opening the borders to massive third-world immigration so that wages can be driven down and reset and profits up (As 2015 Bernie Sanders pointed out), Backstabbing Joe Biden is neoliberal scum pure and simple.

It's astonishing that so many people will just blindly accept what they are told, that Biden is. "moderate." Biden is so far to the right, he makes Nixon look like Trotsky. Heck, he makes Calvin Coolidge look like Trotsky.

Mao , Mar 3 2020 22:01 utc | 55

Ian56:

Joe Biden is a crook and a con man.

He has been lying his whole life.

Claimed in his 1988 Campaign to have got 3 degrees at college and finished in top half of his class.

Actually only got 1 degree & finished 76th out of 85 in his class.

[VIDEO]

https://twitter.com/Ian56789/status/1234914227963518977

[Mar 03, 2020] Russia hysteria re-purposed by the neoliberal establishment to attack the left of the center politicians like Sanders

Mar 03, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Originally from: Dems Converge Around Dementia-Addled Warmonger Ahead Of Super Tuesday Zero Hedge

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Back in January, well before the Democratic primary race had taken on its current composition, independent journalist Ruth Ann Oskolkoff reported that a source had heard from high-level Democratic Party insiders that they were planning to install Joe Biden as the party's nominee, and to smear Bernie Sanders as a Russian asset.

"On January 20, 2020 at 8:20 p.m. PDT I received a communication from a reliable source," Oskolkoff wrote.

"This person had interactions earlier that evening with high level party members and associates of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who said that they have now selected Biden as the Democratic Party nominee, with Warren as the VP. They also said the plan is to smear Bernie as a Russian asset."

Now, immediately before Super Tuesday, we are seeing establishment candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar drop out of the race, both of whom, along with former candidate Beto O'Rourke , are now suddenly endorsing Biden. Elizabeth Warren, the only top-level candidate besides Sanders who could be labeled vaguely "left" by any stretch of the imagination, has meanwhile outraged progressives by remaining in the race, to the Vermont senator's detriment.

The day before Super Tuesday also saw The Daily Beast , whose corporate owner IAC has Chelsea Clinton on its board of directors , publishing an article titled " Kremlin Media Still Like Bernie, 'Cause They Love Trump " which aggressively smears Sanders as a tool of the Kremlin.

Prior to the South Carolina primary, Russian state media were touting Bernie Sanders as the most likely Democratic nominee, and it won't be surprising if they do the same after Super Tuesday https://t.co/mH98PVmcjr

-- The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 2, 2020

This latter development is becoming a conspicuously common line of attack against Sanders and, while we're on the subject, also tracks with a prediction made by journalist Max Blumenthal back in July of 2017. Blumenthal told Fox's Tucker Carlson that "this Russia hysteria will be re-purposed by the political establishment to attack the left and anyone on the left -- a Bernie Sanders-like politician who steps out of line on the issues of permanent war or corporate free trade, things like that -- will be painted as Russia puppets. So this is very dangerous, and people who are progressive who are falling into it need to know what the long-term consequences of this cynical narrative are."

So we're seeing things unfold exactly as some have predicted. We're seeing the clear frontrunner smeared as a tool of Vladimir Putin, accompanied by a deluge of op-eds and think pieces from all the usual warmongering mass media narrative managers calling on so-called "moderates" to rally around the former Vice President on Super Tuesday.

Sanders has not been pulling in anywhere near the numbers he'd need to pull to prevent a contested convention. This means that even if he gets more votes than any of his primary opponents, party leaders can still overrule those votes and appoint Biden as their nominee to run against Trump. Establishment spinmeisters as well as all Sanders' primary opponents have been working to normalize this ahead of time.

"Whatever the case for either Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren...neither is going to be the nominee. And...it's not going to be Mike Bloomberg either. So it's Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden." Tomorrow, if you live in one of 14 states, you can choose Biden. https://t.co/btuPbGtWxG

-- Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) March 2, 2020

And the prediction markets have seen a massive surge for Biden and plunge for Bernie...

With Biden now surging into the lead

The only problem? Biden's brain is turning into sauerkraut.

There are two new clips of video footage making the rounds today, one featuring Biden at a rally telling his supporters that tomorrow is "Super Thursday" , and another featuring the former VP saying (and this is a direct quote ), "We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women created -- by the -- you know, you know the thing."

I've written about Biden's recent struggles to form coherent sentences before, and it seems to be getting worse. There's simply no comparing the befuddled, fuzz-brained man we see before us today with the sharp, lucid speaker we were seeing even a few years ago . The man's brain does not work.

And yeah, it's unpleasant to have to keep pointing this out. I'm not loving it myself. I resent Biden's handlers and the Democratic Party establishment for making it necessary to continually point out an old man's obvious symptoms of cognitive decline. But it does need to be pointed to, and it's creepy and weird that they're continuing to prop up this crumbling husk of a man while pretending that everything's fine.

Imagine putting all your eggs in the Joe Biden basket. https://t.co/nRPX4gqol5

-- Krystal Ball (@krystalball) March 3, 2020

Not that Biden would be an acceptable leader of the most powerful government on earth even with a working brain; he's a horrible war hawk with an inexcusable track record of advancing right-wing policies. But even rank-and-file Americans who don't pay attention to that stuff would plainly see a man on the debate stage opposite Trump who shouldn't be permitted near heavy machinery, much less the nuclear codes. And Trump will happily point that out.

It's been obvious since 2016 that the Dems were going to once again sabotage the only candidate with a chance of beating Trump in favor of a scandalously inappropriate candidate, but wheeling out an actual, literal dementia patient for the role is something not even I would have imagined.

2020 is weird, folks. And it's going to get a whole lot weirder . Buckle up.

[Mar 01, 2020] It was her waffling, insincerity, and attacks on Sanders that caused voters to realize not only that she was not committed to solving the most important issue dacing the nation and would likely accommodate to powerful interests in Obama-esque fashion.

Notable quotes:
"... not only did Warren botch the rollout, her plans were bad, and were seen as bad. ..."
"... "Elizabeth Warren cries and tries to regain ground with voters" [Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe ]. The deck: "Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, her ideological soulmate, rolls along, tears-free." Ouch. ..."
"... IMO it was her later waffling, insincerity, and backtracking on M4A that caused progressives to realize not only that she was not committed to solving the most important issue identified by Dem voters, but that she may not have a fire in her belly to address the nation's other urgent crises and would likely accommodate to powerful interests in Obama-esque fashion. ..."
"... Trump as the not-Democrat has such an edge among the disaffected who are still angry enough to vote ..."
"... I think that I can answer that. Jimmy Dore put out a 5-minute video showing her in action. A protestor heckled her in front of a meeting and she went into deer-in-spotlight mode and shut down. In the end she had to be rescued by Ayanna Pressley and I was thinking – "She really wants to debate Trump? Will she shut down then too?". (Some language) ..."
Dec 04, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Warren (D)(1): "What is happening with Elizabeth Warren?" [Chris Cilizza, CNN ].

"Less than two months ago, it looked as though Elizabeth Warren might just run away with the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination . Then that Warren wave hit a wall. Starting right around mid-October, Warren's numbers not only stopped moving upward but also began trending down

Add it all up and there's plenty of reason to believe that Warren's full-fledged support for Medicare for All -- coupled with her less-than-successful attempts to defend that position in the last two debates -- led to her current reduced status in the race."

If this were true, Sanders should drop as well. I think Cilizza should give consideration to the idea that not only did Warren botch the rollout, her plans were bad, and were seen as bad.

"Elizabeth Warren cries and tries to regain ground with voters" [Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe ]. The deck: "Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, her ideological soulmate, rolls along, tears-free." Ouch.

More: "According to the Des Moines Register, "after a long pause and with tears in her eyes, the senator from Massachusetts said 'yeah,' before telling the story of the divorce from her first husband," and how painful it was to tell her mother that her marriage was over.

To showcase the significance of the encounter, Warren tweeted out a clip."

Dead Lord. You don't tweet out your own tears to show sincerity. Have somebody else do it! Isn't anybody on her staff protecting her?

XXYY , December 3, 2019 at 3:40 pm

I think Cilizza should give consideration to the idea that not only did Warren botch the rollout, her plans were bad, and were seen as bad.

The establishment is trying mightily to salvage something useful from Warren's surprisingly rapid decline in the polls, constantly pushing the refrain that M4A was somehow the kiss of death for her.

In fact, she rose to prominence by riding on Sanders policies like Medicare for All, canceling student debt, and free college. "I'm with Bernie" was her frequent reply on several policy issues, and she co-sponsored Sanders' Medicare for All Senate bill to great effect on her own "progressive" cred.

IMO it was her later waffling, insincerity, and backtracking on M4A that caused progressives to realize not only that she was not committed to solving the most important issue identified by Dem voters, but that she may not have a fire in her belly to address the nation's other urgent crises and would likely accommodate to powerful interests in Obama-esque fashion.

Mo's Bike Shop , December 3, 2019 at 8:23 pm

Six years wait for the ACA to piss almost everyone off.

Trump as the not-Democrat has such an edge among the disaffected who are still angry enough to vote. Especially since the whole and only DNC message will be 'you can't possibly vote for Trump!!!'

The Rev Kev , December 3, 2019 at 6:38 pm

"What is happening with Elizabeth Warren?"

I think that I can answer that. Jimmy Dore put out a 5-minute video showing her in action. A protestor heckled her in front of a meeting and she went into deer-in-spotlight mode and shut down. In the end she had to be rescued by Ayanna Pressley and I was thinking – "She really wants to debate Trump? Will she shut down then too?". (Some language)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CeRiG9jdF0

flora , December 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Warren seems to have a tin ear when it comes to political give and take. IMO.

[Feb 29, 2020] Boris Johnson s Incredible Landslide by Catte Black

Notable quotes:
"... Corbyn's weakness was always the elephant in the room but was fully revealed when he had to step up to plate and fight. No leader can survive without being able to fight his enemies and no country should be led by such a person. Saddly he squandered the enormous opportunity handed to him in the last election: in hindsight, that opportunity was handed to him by an electorate steeped in wishful thinking ..."
"... Of course it's criticism of the state of Israel. And of course that's not anti-Semitism. But the label "anti-Semitism" is the kiss of death to the executive class i.e. that middle layer who "inform" the masses. If you are one of them and you get called "anti-Semitic", it's the equivalent of your boss saying, "I want a word – and bring your coat!" ..."
"... Corbyn seems like a nice enough guy, an honest, yet unremarkable footsoldier MP, but the idea he was suited to leading the Labour Party into an epic struggle with a revitalised Tory Party under a strong leader like Boris Johnson, is a fantastic notion. Johnson had to be cut down to size, before the election. ..."
"... And, finally, Corbyn could have turned the media bias against him to his advantage, only he's not suited to the strategy that's required. That strategy is the one Donald Trump employed, taking on the media and identifying them as the enemy and explaining why they publish lies. Corbyn should have publically taken on both the Guardian and the BBC, rather than appeasing them, unsuccessfully, because appeasing them isn't possible. ..."
"... Why didn't Corbyn express anger and shock when he was accused of being a paedophile, sorry, an anti-Semite? Those MPs who went along with that sordid narrative, should have been kicked out of Labour immediately by Corbyn himself. ..."
"... "A big part of why Labor and Corbyn lost so badly is the complete abdication of "the Left" on Brexit. The left were supposed to be anti-globalists, in which case their task was to join battle offering an egalitarian, left-populist version of Brexit which would have benefited the people. Instead, faced with a real decision and a real opportunity they punted and ran home to globalist mama. This removed one of the main reasons to bother supporting them. ..."
"... The point about the EU not being directly responsible for Tory austerity is technically true but it is nonetheless a neo liberal monster crushing the shit out of the most vulnerable ..."
"... Especially when it comes to countries like Greece. I don't understand the constant veneration of the EU. By design, our membership did nothing to protect us from the carnage of this Tory crime wave. The EUs constitutional arrangements contains baked in obligations to maintain permanent austerity in the service of ever greater corporate profit. ..."
Dec 13, 2019 | off-guardian.org

... ... ...

No one feels like recalling, for example, that more people voted against the Tories than for them (13.9mn for and 16.2mn against).

Or that 10.3 million people still voted Labour despite the entirety of the unprecedentedly vicious and Stalinist hate campaign conducted against them – and Corbyn in particular – since the latter became leader in 2015.

Which fact, along with Labour's near-win in 2017 and the surprise Brexit victory in 2016, implies the mainstream media's ability to direct and manipulate public opinion is a lot less wholesale and guaranteed than we oftentimes assume, and that this is unlikely to be a single explanation for yesterday's result.

More importantly, no one – even those who are boggling at the implausibility – is questioning the validity of the result.

No one.

It's as if even suggesting election fraud can happen in a nice majority-white western country like the UK is improper and disrespectful. Election fraud is – as every good racist knows – done by brown people or Orientals, or 'corrupt' eastern European nations, not by fine upstanding empire builders like the British.

This seems to be so much of a given that the results of any vote are simply accepted as 100% valid – no matter how improbable they may seem.

And apparently even in the face of clear evidence for at least some level of shady activity.

Remember this? It only happened on Wednesday but it's already some way down the Memory Hole.

Laura Kuenssberg, being the true idiot she really is, blabbing off on prime time telly about apparently institutional election malpractice – and not even having the basic brains to see the import of what she's letting slip.

There's been a lot of effort expended in minimising the significance of this in social media and in the mainstream press – and indeed by resident trolls on OffG. There have been claims it's 'routine' – as if that somehow makes it ok. Or that Kuenssberg was misinformed, or 'tired'.

.... ... ...

Consider the facts

Labour's socialist policies are known to be popular . Poverty has increased so much under the Tories that 22% of the country now lives below the poverty line , including 4 million children. 200,000 people have died as a result of austerity-driven cuts, foodbank use is increasing by tens of thousands year on year . The mortality rate is going up and up . And Boris Johnson was caught in a direct, proven lie about "protecting" the NHS.

And after all this, Labour heartlands – red since World War 2, through Thatcher and Foot and every anti-Labour hate campaign the media could muster – all voted Conservative?

Does that seem likely?

I don't know, all I do know is I think that discussion needs to start. I think it's time to think the unthinkable, and at least open the prospect of electoral fraud up for real discussion.

How secure is our electoral process? Can results be stage-managed, massaged or even rigged? What guarantees do we have that this can't happen here? In an age of growing corruption and decay at the very top, do the checks and balances placed to safeguard our democracy sill work well, or even at all?

This Friday the Thirteenth, with BoJo the Evil Clown back in Downing Street, looks like a good moment to get it going.


aspnaz ,

Corbyn's weakness was always the elephant in the room but was fully revealed when he had to step up to plate and fight. No leader can survive without being able to fight his enemies and no country should be led by such a person. Saddly he squandered the enormous opportunity handed to him in the last election: in hindsight, that opportunity was handed to him by an electorate steeped in wishful thinking. Should he apologise to his supporters, probably not, they backed the wrong horse but the limp was visible from day one.

Bootlyboob ,

NHS in for a rough ride. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JpseLa9_txw

Gezzah Potts ,

How do you mean 'weird'?

That inequality and poverty will continue increasing under neoliberal economic policies, and the majority of us will continue being ground into the dirt, or that Julian Assange will end up in the U.S for certain to face a Stalinesque show trial, or the observation about George Galloway.

George Mc ,

I know it's bad for my health but oh I just can't stop myself. Had another Groan trip. Here's one from that good time gal Jess Phillips:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/14/working-class-voters-didnt-trust-labour-jess-phillips

I only supply the link to see if anyone can see any actual content in this. I suppose it must be a real cushy number to get paid for pitching in a lot of foaming waffle that feels purposeful but remains totally non-commital. That and those nice cheques rolling in from that Hyslop and Merton quiz fluff.

George Mc ,

You have to understand that it's all showbiz. Why did the Tories prefer Boris to Jeremy Hunt? Because Hunt looked and sounded like the oily little tyke everyone wanted to kick. Whereas Boris was the cutesie country womble from a Two Ronnies sketch. When Boris appeared on his test outing as host for Hignfy, all he had to do was to be incompetent i.e. all he had to do was turn up. Oh how we all laughed.

As for Jess – well, she's the ballsy fake prole tomboy – like a WOKE verson of Thatcha. I doubt anyone is "buying this" (to use one of the Americanisms we'll all be spouting as we become the 51st state) but it's all part of "the movie".

ricked by its sharp thorn anywhere near the heart. Don't know what the street name will be for it but it has two current codewords i heard 'stellar' & 'jessa'.

George Mc ,

"Share On Twitter" target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=When+I+said+%26%238220%3Bcome+clean%26%238221%3B+I+meant+as+...+&url=https%3A%2F%2Foff-guardian.org%2F2019%2F12%2F13%2Fboris-johnsons-incredible-landslide%2F%23comment-106199">

When I said "come clean" I meant as in "reveal yourself". I really think you should calm down. Take some deep breaths. Have a nice cup of tea.

Chris Rogers ,

Alan,

By all means comment, but when you slander those who actually felt it important that their vote counted, that their opinion mattered and then were told to fuck off by the very people asking them for their opinion, its expected you get blow back, which is what has happened.

Now, may i enquire, do you have a belief in democracy and upholding democratic outcomes, do you believe that Russian interference actually resulted in the Brexit vote itself, and do you believe that the working class is so fucking pig ignorant that it should never be allowed to vote.

In summation, are you a Blairite by any chance as they way you communicate shows an utter contempt for those poor sods slagged off by Remainiacs for so long to just fuck off.

As for economic decline, strange, but the UK is one of the top 10 wealthy nations globally, much of said wealth now from the FIRE Economy, which means its extractive and put to no real purpose, whilst the break-up of the Union is up to the constituent parts itself – as i support Irish reunification, i don't weep for Northern Ireland, whilst the Scots have every right o be free of Westminster, its not as if they held an actual Referedum on it prior to the signing of the Act of Union is it.

And as for wales, well, here's a small country who's political establishment are incapable of recognising it elected to Leave the EU, which sometimes has aspirations itself to Independence, an Independence it will never gain due to the fact nearly 800K English live within our lands, but the fantasists persist none the less.

Now, as the EU, via the Treaty named after Lisbon is very much a neoliberal organisation, one that puts monetary union above the welfare of its own citizens, please explain why I must support such an Institution that does not benefit the average Joe in most member States?

Alan Tench ,

What you must remember is that a democratic decision isn't always a good one. In my view, the current one concerning Brexit, is a bad one. The fact that a majority support it doesn't make it good or right. We just have to live with it. Consider the death penalty. I'm sure the vast majority of voters in this country would vote in favour of it. Would that might it right?

Ruth ,

Don't blame them. In all likelihood they had their votes hijacked by MI5

Alan Tench ,

All this anti-Semitism stuff – anyone know what it's about? I assume it had zero influence on the electorate. Just how does it manifest itself? Is most of it – maybe nearly all of it – concerned with criticism of the state of Israel? If so, it's not anti-Semitism .

George Mc ,

Of course it's criticism of the state of Israel. And of course that's not anti-Semitism. But the label "anti-Semitism" is the kiss of death to the executive class i.e. that middle layer who "inform" the masses. If you are one of them and you get called "anti-Semitic", it's the equivalent of your boss saying, "I want a word – and bring your coat!"

MichaelK ,

I think the Labour Party's election strategy, and long before, was fatally flawed. I'm shocked by it. How bad it was. First they should never have agreed to an election at this time. Wait, at least until Spring. The idea, surely, was to keep weakening Johnson's brand and splitting the Tories apart. Johnson wanted an election for obvious reasons, that alone should have meant that one did everything in one's power not to give him what he wanted. Labour did the exact opposite of what they should have done, march onto a battleground chose by Johnson.

Of course one can argue that the liberals and the SNP had already hinted that they would support Johnson's demand, but Labour could have 'bought them off' with a little effort. Give the SNP a pledge on a second referendum and give the Liberals a guarantee of electoral reform, whatever.

The Liberals actually had an even more stupid and incompetent leadership than Labour and suffered a terrible defeat too. Why is it that it's only the Tories who know how to play the election game, usually?

Corbyn seems like a nice enough guy, an honest, yet unremarkable footsoldier MP, but the idea he was suited to leading the Labour Party into an epic struggle with a revitalised Tory Party under a strong leader like Boris Johnson, is a fantastic notion. Johnson had to be cut down to size, before the election.

Allowing the Tories to become the People's Party, the Brexit Party in all but name; was a catastrohic mistake by Labour; unforegivabel really.

And, finally, Corbyn could have turned the media bias against him to his advantage, only he's not suited to the strategy that's required. That strategy is the one Donald Trump employed, taking on the media and identifying them as the enemy and explaining why they publish lies. Corbyn should have publically taken on both the Guardian and the BBC, rather than appeasing them, unsuccessfully, because appeasing them isn't possible.

Why didn't Corbyn express anger and shock when he was accused of being a paedophile, sorry, an anti-Semite? Those MPs who went along with that sordid narrative, should have been kicked out of Labour immediately by Corbyn himself. He needed to be far more aggressive and proactive, taking the fight to his enemies and using his position to crush them at once. Call me a kiddy fiddler and I'll rip your fucking throat out! Only Corbyn was passive, defencesive, apathetic and totally hopeless when smeared so terribly. People don't respect a coward, they do respect someone who fights back and sounds righteously angry at being smeared so falsely. Corbyn looked and sounded like someone who had something to hide and appologise about, which only encouraged the Israeli lobby to attack him even more! Un-fuckin' believable.

What's tragic is that the right understood Corbyn's weaknesses and character far better than his supporters, and how to destroy him.

Ruth ,

I agree with you about the election timing

Derek ,

And, finally, Corbyn could have turned the media bias against him to his advantage, only he's not suited to the strategy that's required.

Yes you are absolutely right, he should have stolen a journalists phone or hid in a fridge, maybe stare at the ground when shown a picture of a child sleeping on a hospital floor. Now that's turning turning events to your advantage right?

He made many mistakes and you are right, but caving into "remain" the perceived overturning of the referendum by the Labour party is what dunnit, the final nail in his coffin. I am sorry to see him go.

tonyopmoc ,

Judging by the spelling of "Labour", I guess an American wrote this on The Moon of Alabama's blog. It is however very accurate and I know that MOA is a German man, running his blog from Germany. His analyses, are some of the best in the world.

Tony

"A big part of why Labor and Corbyn lost so badly is the complete abdication of "the Left" on Brexit. The left were supposed to be anti-globalists, in which case their task was to join battle offering an egalitarian, left-populist version of Brexit which would have benefited the people. Instead, faced with a real decision and a real opportunity they punted and ran home to globalist mama. This removed one of the main reasons to bother supporting them.

Posted by: Russ | Dec 13 2019 7:09 utc | 33″

MichaelK ,

I thought the left were supposed to be internationalists too? I dunno. I think they should never have supported the referendum scam in the first place. If the Tories wanted it, that alone should have made them oppose it. Look at what's happened, the referendum and Brexit have massively benefitted the Tories and crushed everyone else. Isn't that an objective fact, or am I missing something; seriously?

What does 'anti-globalist' really mean? The tragedy was allowing the Tories to blame Europe for the devastating consequences of their own 'austerity' policies which hit the North so hard. These policies originated in London, not Bruxelles!

The truth is harsh. Corbyn was a terrible leader with awfully confused policies that he couldn't articulate properly and a team around him that were just as bad.

Pam Ryan ,

The point about the EU not being directly responsible for Tory austerity is technically true but it is nonetheless a neo liberal monster crushing the shit out of the most vulnerable.

Especially when it comes to countries like Greece. I don't understand the constant veneration of the EU. By design, our membership did nothing to protect us from the carnage of this Tory crime wave. The EUs constitutional arrangements contains baked in obligations to maintain permanent austerity in the service of ever greater corporate profit.

Thom ,

'Incredible' is the word. We're expected to believe that for all his personal and intellectual flaws, Johnson achieved a landslide on the scale of Blair and Thatcher; that he drew in Leave supporters from traditional Labour voters while holding on to Remain Tories; that all three major UK opposition parties flopped, including the one party pushing for outright Remain; and that turnout fell even though millions registered just before the election. Sorry, but it doesn't add up.

nottheonly1 ,

"Share On Twitter" target="_blank" href="https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=What+just+happened+was+an+inverted+U.S.+selectio...+&url=https%3A%2F%2Foff-guardian.org%2F2019%2F12%2F13%2Fboris-johnsons-incredible-landslide%2F%23comment-106262">

What just happened was an inverted U.S. selection. In the U.S., a confused rich man got elected, because the alternative was a psychopathic war criminal. In the U.K. a confused upper class twat got elected, because the alternative was too good to be true.

Something like that?

tonyopmoc ,

Something strange going on in Sedgefield. What the hell is Boris Johnson doing there today? Tony Blair Labour, Boris Johnson Tory. What's the difference? Same neocons. Same sh1t?

tonyopmoc ,

Dungroanin, Jeremy Corbyn is 70 now. He's done his bit. Now its time for him to take it easy.

Incidentally "Viscount Palmerston was over 70 when he finally became Prime Minister: the most advanced age at which anyone has ever become Prime Minister for the first time."

George Mc ,

The Groan is keen to highlight the sheer thanklessness of the BBC's undying fight to objectively bring The Truth to the masses:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/dec/14/bbc-staff-express-fear-of-public-distrust-after-election-coverage

And for all the tireless work they do, they are open to accusations of "conspiracy theory" and worse:

"The conspiracy theories that abound are frustrating. And let's be clear – some of the abuse which is directed at our journalists who are doing their best for audiences day in, day out is sickening. It shouldn't happen. And I think it's something social media platforms really need to do more about."

Sickening social media abuse? Echoes of all those frightfully uncivil – and never verified – messages that wrecked poor little Ruth Smeeth's delicate health.

Thom ,

The only way the BBC and Guardian will understand if people don't pay the licence fee and don't click on their articles (and obviously don't contribute!). Hit them in the pockets.

George Mc ,

It didn't take long for the Groaniad to "dissect" the Labour defeat. Here we get THE FIVE REASONS Labour lost the election:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/13/five-reasons-why-labour-lost-the-election

Interesting. Note the space given to Blairite toadies Ruth Smeeth and Caroline Flint. Note the disingenuousness of this:

"In London, antisemitism and what people perceived as the absence of an apology appeared to be a key issue."

It's always suspicious when we get that expression "what people perceived". What "people"? And note that the dubiousness relates to the absence of an apology for anti-Semitism – not the anti-Semitism itself which is, of course, taken for granted.

Also note the conclusion:

"With a new Conservative government led by Boris Johnson poised for office, the Guardian's independent, measured, authoritative reporting has never been so vital."

Yes – The Groaniad is yer man, yer champion, yer hero!

[Feb 29, 2020] Meghan McCain Has To Ask Warren Three Times To Admit Soleimani Was A Terrorist

So the person who saves Syria from occupation by IGIL is a terrorist ? Just a few years ago, CNN praised # Iran 's Qassem # Soleimani for defeating ISIS.
Jan 08, 2020 | t.co
Sarah Abdallah ‏ @ sahouraxo 16h 16 hours ago More

Just a few years ago, CNN was praising Qassem # Soleimani for being the driving force behind the defeat of ISIS. Today they call him a "terrorist" and expect you to believe them.

[Feb 29, 2020] A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior. ..."
"... The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not. ..."
Feb 29, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , February 29, 2020 7:38 pm

A very interesting and though provoking presentation by Ambassador Chas Freeman "America in Distress: The Challenges of Disadvantageous Change"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvILLCbOFo4

I think this would be very informative for anybody seriously interested in the USA foreign policy. Listening to him is so sad to realize that instead of person of his caliber we have Pompous Pompeo, who forever is frozen on the level of a tank repair mechanical engineer, as the Secretary of State.

Published on Feb 24, 2020

In the United States and other democracies, political and economic systems still work in theory, but not in practice. Meanwhile, the American-led takedown of the post-World War II international system has shattered long-standing rules and norms of behavior.

The combination of disorder at home and abroad is spawning changes that are increasingly disadvantageous to the United States. With Congress having essentially walked off the job, there is a need for America's universities to provide the information and analysis of international best practices that the political system does not.

Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. is a senior fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Chargé d'affaires at both Bangkok and Beijing. He began his diplomatic career in India but specialized in Chinese affairs. (He was the principal American interpreter during President Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972.)

Ambassador Freeman is a much sought-after public speaker (see http://chasfreeman.net ) and the author of several well-received books on statecraft and diplomacy. His most recent book, America's Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East was published in May 2016. Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, appeared in March 2013. America's Misadventures in the Middle East came out in 2010, as did the most recent revision of The Diplomat's Dictionary, the companion volume to Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. He was the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on "diplomacy."

Chas Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and in Taiwan, and earned an AB magna cum laude from Yale University as well as a JD from the Harvard Law School.

He chairs Projects International, Inc., a Washington-based firm that for more than three decades has helped its American and foreign clients create ventures across borders, facilitating their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries.

He is the author of several books including the most recent

Interesting times: China, America, and the shifting balance of prestige (2013)

[Feb 26, 2020] The neoliberal globalists and bankers are engaging in a massive ripoff of the "99%" (although I think the ratio is more like 80-20% rather than 99-1%). But I don't think Bernie has the solution.

Feb 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Dr. X , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:10 pm GMT

This article correctly describes how the neoliberal globalists and bankers are engaging in a massive ripoff of the "99%" (although I think the ratio is more like 80-20% rather than 99-1%). But I don't think Bernie has the solution.

Frankly, the Democratic Party had the solution -- the New Deal, which actually did create economic security for the white working class.

But they threw it out the window, and sided with the neoliberal oligarchy to finance their hedonistic post-1960s lifestyle of porn, drugs, miscegenation, integration, and recreational sex.

They've completely destroyed the culture. I don't think there is any solution at this point.

RadicalCenter , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm GMT
It's interesting: Hudson calls Democrat's "the servants' entrance to the Republican Party" and refers to the republican party's agenda in favor of the one percent.

Meanwhile, also on unz.com this very day, Boyd Cathey has a column "The Russians are Coming" wherein he calls Republicans "a sordid and disreputable second cousin of the advancing leftist juggernaut."

Perhaps they are both correct, and each of their own party's ruling apparatus is no better than the "other" party's ruling apparatus at all.

Jake , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:46 pm GMT
The motto of both Democrats and Republican Neocons and Republican Country Clubbers: Don't Think; Don't Ask; Pay Taxes; Vote for Us; Never Doubt 'Our' Filthy Rich; Blame 'Them' for Everything 'We' Call Bad.

American Democracy, WASP created democracy, is a whore's game. It is con artistry.

RadicalCenter , says: Show Comment February 26, 2020 at 1:55 pm GMT
@Anon 123 No, there still is enough money even now to take care of the vast unemployed and underemployed class of people, WITHOUT further taxing those of us still working full-time and increasingly struggling.

1. Place natural resources -- oil, gas, and minerals -- under public ownership. Distribute the proceeds from their extraction and sale as an equal dividend to every US Citizen. (As part of the grand bargain, make it MUCH harder to gain US Citizenship, e.g. no birthright citizenship and no chain migration aka "family reunification.") This is a more thorough, more equitable national version of Alaska's resource-funded permanent fund.

How much do executives and shareholders of energy corporations profit each year off of our God-given natural resources? That becomes revenue available for all US Citizens as a universal basic income. (To minimize price/rent inflation, we can start the UBI very low and phase it in gradually over a period of, say, 8 years.)

2. Stop the us government's constant aggressive wars and occupations far from our borders, and close the majority of our bases abroad. Bring the troops home from Europe, Japan, and South Korea -- they can guard our southern border instead, and the new bases will provide a sustained boost to the hundreds of towns around the new bases here at home.

What if we reduced direct war, occupation, and foreign-base spending by $400 billion per year. Seems like a conservative figure. Here is a website that still has 2018 fed gov spending stats -- and seems to undercount military spending -- but a place to start:

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/interactive-data/trade-offs/?state=00&program=14

Of course, since we are borrowing a large chunk of the fed gov's current spending, we should not simply re-spend all of the military savings. Allocate part to other spending, but simply don't spend the rest (thereby borrowing less each year).

3. The current federal "Alternative Minimum (Income) Tax" kicks in at far too low an income level. Conversely, the AMT rate is far too low for extremely high incomes. What a coincidence. Apply the AMT only to household annual income above $2 million, amply adjusted for inflation, but tax the starch out of the oligarchs and billionaires. Yes, they can be forcibly prevented from moving their assets and themselves out of the country. Bloomberg, Zuckerberg, Buffet, Trump, the Sacklers, et al., can be confined and their property confiscated as needed to pay the AMT on their income and a wealth tax.

Even now, the money is there to directly help the American people with no increase in taxes on 99.5% of us, and with less fed gov borrowing than now.

[Feb 25, 2020] The Economic Anxiety Hypothesis has Become Absurd(er)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The key promise of neoliberalism, which came to power in the USA in 1980 with the election of Reagan (aka "the Quiet Coup") was that "the rising tide lifts all boats." -- the redistribution of the wealth up somehow will lift the standard of living of lower strata of the population too. This was a false promise from the very beginning (like everything about neoliberalism, which is based on lies and fake economics in any case). So anger accumulated and now became the key factor in elections. This anger is directed against the neoliberal establishment. ..."
"... The anger toward immigrants is, in fact, a displaced and projected anger against the elimination of meaningful and well-paid jobs and replacing them with McJobs, the process that was the key factor in lowering the standard of living of the bottom 80% of the population. ..."
"... The other part of this anger is directed toward the USA financial oligarchy (personified by such passionately hated figures as Lloyd "we are doing God's" Blankfein, private equity sharks, and figures like Wexner/Epstein) and "political establishment" the key figures of which many people would like to see hanging from street lamp posts (remember "Lock her up" movement in 2016). ..."
"... That's why the neoliberal establishment was forced to use to dirty tricks like Russiagate to patch the cracks in the neoliberal façade. ..."
"... In Marxist terms, the USA entered the period called the "revolutionary situation" when the ruling neoliberal elite couldn't govern "as usual" and "the deplorable" do not want to live "as usual". The situation when according to Hegel, "quantity turns into quality," or as Marx said "ideas become a material force when they grip the mind of the masses." ..."
Feb 25, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

I am old enough to remember when many very serious people ascribed the rise of Donald Trump to economic anxiety. The hypthesis never fit the facts (his supporters had higher incomes on average than Clinton's) but it has become absurd. The level of self reported economic anxiety is extraordinarily low

Gallup reports "Record High optimism about Personal Finances in U.S." with 74% predicting they will be better off next year.

Yet now the Democratic party has an insurgent candidate candidate in the lead. I hasten to stress that I am not saying Sanders supporters have much in common with Trump supporters (young vs old, strong hispanic support vs they hate Trump etc etc etc). But both appeal to anger and advocate a radical break with business as usual. Both reject party establishments. Also Warren if a little bit less so.

Trump's 2016 angry supporters still support him *and* they are still angry. He remains unpopular in spite of an economy performing very well (and perceived to be performing very well).

Whatever is going on in 2020, it sure isn't economic anxiety.

Yet there is clearly anger and desire for radical change.

I don't pretend to understand it, but I think it probably has a lot to do with relative economic performance and increased inequality. I can't understand why the reaction of so many Americans to this would be to hate immigrants and vote for Trump, but, then I don't watch Fox News.

One other thing which it isn't is rejection of the guy who came before Trump. Obama has a Real Clear Politics average favorable rating of 59% and unfavorable of 36.1 % vastly vastly better than any currently active politician. (Sanders is doing relatively very well at net -2.7 compared to Obama's + 22.9) He is not rejected. He is not considered a failure. Yet only a small majority is interested in any sort of going back to the way things were.


likbez , February 25, 2020 12:37 am

Robert ,

Trump's 2016 angry supporters still support him *and* they are still angry.

Many Trump "angry supporters" in 2016 used to belong to "anybody but Hillary" class (and they included a noticeable percentage of Bernie supporters, who felt betrayed by DNC) .

They are lost for Trump as he now in many aspects represents the "new Hillary" and the slogan "anybody but Trump" is growing in popularity. Even among Republicans: Trump definitely already lost a large part of anti-war Republicans and independents. As well as. most probably, a part of working class as he did very little for them outside of effects of military Keynesianism.

I suspect he also lost a part of military voters, those who supported Tulsi. They will never vote for Trump.

He also lost a part of "technocratic" voters resentful of the rule of financial oligarchy (anti-swampers), as his incompetence is now an undisputable fact.

He also lost Ron Paul's libertarians, who voted for him in 2016.

How "Coronavirus recession", if any, might affect 2020 elections is difficult to say, but in any case this is an unfavorable for Trump event.

EMichael , February 25, 2020 10:39 am

"I can't understand why the reaction of so many Americans to this would be to hate immigrants and vote for Trump, but, then I don't watch Fox News."

Coming to you since 1965. It's just that immigrants are now added to blacks. Trump took 50 years of the Southern Strategy, took the dogwhistles completely out of the closet and wore his racism right on his chest. Helped that he had over 50 years of experience as a racist, it came naturally to him.

And he attracted a new rw base, those who were not satisfied with dog whistles and/or did not hear them.

likbez , February 25, 2020 12:19 pm

I don't pretend to understand it, but I think it probably has a lot to do with relative economic performance and increased inequality.

It is actually very easy to understand: the middle class fared very poorly since 1991. See https://www.cnbc.com/id/44962589 . Now "the chickens come home to roost," so to speak.

The key promise of neoliberalism, which came to power in the USA in 1980 with the election of Reagan (aka "the Quiet Coup") was that "the rising tide lifts all boats." -- the redistribution of the wealth up somehow will lift the standard of living of lower strata of the population too. This was a false promise from the very beginning (like everything about neoliberalism, which is based on lies and fake economics in any case). So anger accumulated and now became the key factor in elections. This anger is directed against the neoliberal establishment.

The anger toward immigrants is, in fact, a displaced and projected anger against the elimination of meaningful and well-paid jobs and replacing them with McJobs, the process that was the key factor in lowering the standard of living of the bottom 80% of the population.

The other part of this anger is directed toward the USA financial oligarchy (personified by such passionately hated figures as Lloyd "we are doing God's" Blankfein, private equity sharks, and figures like Wexner/Epstein) and "political establishment" the key figures of which many people would like to see hanging from street lamp posts (remember "Lock her up" movement in 2016).

Resentment against spending huge amounts of money for wars for sustaining and enlarging the global USA-centered neoliberal empire is another factor. In this sense, impoverishment and shrinking of the middle class in the USA is similar to the same impoverishment during the last days of the British colonial empire.

That's why the neoliberal establishment was forced to use to dirty tricks like Russiagate to patch the cracks in the neoliberal façade.

In Marxist terms, the USA entered the period called the "revolutionary situation" when the ruling neoliberal elite couldn't govern "as usual" and "the deplorable" do not want to live "as usual". The situation when according to Hegel, "quantity turns into quality," or as Marx said "ideas become a material force when they grip the mind of the masses."

In 2016 that resulted in the election of Trump.

Add to this the fact that the neoliberal establishment (represented by both parties) now is clearly anti-social (the fact that a private equity shark Romney was a presidential candidate and then was elected as senator tells a lot about the level of degradation) and is unwilling to solve burning problems with medical insurance, minimal wage and other "the New Deal" elements of social infrastructure.

Democratic Party platform now is to the right of Eisenhower republicans.

That dooms the party c